The 15% Rule Has No Place In Today’s Digital World

Read “Where The Suckers Moon.” Seriously. Before you continue with this post, go to Amazon, add it your cart and check out. Get the Kindle version and the softcover version. Why? Simple; it’s the greatest book ever written about the advertising industry. That’s broad. For the purposes of this post, Randall Rothenberg in a few hundred pages, gives all the background you could ever want or need, to help understand why the 15% model was created and why it’s been so challenging to move off of that outdated model.

In the earliest days of advertising, an agency took a straight commission off of placing and buying media. That commission eventually settled around 15%. There were companies still using this model 10 years ago. Old habits die hard. That 15% commission became a defacto standard for how much an agency should be compensated relative to the media spend. If you spend $10M in media, you shouldn’t spend more than $1.5M to produce the creative needed to satisfy that media buy. Depending on who you talk to or what association you belong to, that 15% is as low as 10% for some categories or as high as 20% in others. But, the general average is STILL 15%.

The model was simple. It was clean. It enabled planning to be easier and faster, because everyone knew the compensation model. It was also a model that was born when we were only planning against a limited number of communication channels: TV (3 channels at most), print, radio and outdoor.

The model worked well for legacy media channels, because the distribution was expensive, but production was relatively cheap. Let’s take a real world example: the cost to create a commercial is roughly 600K. The media cost for a 30-second Super Bowl spot is roughly $4M. This places the ratio of agency spend to create the ad, right at 15%, which is right in line with historical averages used for the last 50 years. It’s also quite consistent with reports from major industry associations and reports.

Today, where we have such high media fragmentation this model falls apart. Marketing in a digital world, requires a completely different set of models and requires us to rethink how we’re spending our money. With digital, distribution is relatively cheap. It’s the creative that’s expensive. Those who understand and embrace this have settled between 30% and 40% for the dollars needed to support a digital driven campaign. It makes sense. The rough cost to create the famous Oreo Super Bowl tweet was $2,000. That figure is based on the 15 minutes it took to create and publish the image, multiplied by the list of people who were attached to the Cannes submission for the ad, multiplied by a simple conservative blended rate of $200/hour.

Before we continue, let me clear, I’m not suggesting that Oreo actually paid 360i $2,000 for that tweet. I’m sure the cost to create that tweet, from an already once used image, was accounted for as part of a broader client/agency fee agreement. The $2,000 is a real number however. It’s the real dollars needed to create that tweet as a one-off piece of creative…just like the $600K is the relative cost to create a one-off Super Bowl commercial.

With that said, think about that…$2,000 for 1 tweet. What if you need 8 great tweets a day, every day for a year? Well then you’d be spending $4.38M in just twitter creative. Even with a volume discount of 50%, you’re talking $2.19M per year. AND, that’s just twitter? We know the digital patch quilt world we operate in is much larger than just twitter. We need creative and content for Facebook, Pinterest, your emails, Instagram, your website, Tumblr and so on.

But, for the sake of simplification, let’s just focus on twitter. And more specifically, let’s just focus on a 1 day twitter campaign. The most recent publicly documented cost for a promoted trend is $200K. A promoted trend can generate upwards of 90M impressions as seen my Coca-Cola, more is more generally in the 30M impression range. Let’s split the difference at 50M impressions for an average trend campaign.

Creative wear-out is a reality. If you show someone the same ad enough times they either take action or start tuning it out. With digital display, the rule of thumb is you need 1 creative unit per every 1.5M – 3M impressions. The variance is tied directly to the reach/frequency model you need for your category (eg auto vs. CPG). Twitter, of course, isn’t display. We check twitter several times a day. If anything you’d need more messages/creative units because the wear out would happen faster. That said, since there’s no publicly available data to substantiate that, we’ll roll with the following campaign specifics:

  • 1 Promoted Trend Campaign
  • $200,000 for the cost of the trend campaign
  • The campaign would yield 50M impressions with creative wear-out happening at 1.5M impressions
  • The cost to create an award winning tweet is $2,000

So with the above, we would need 33 creative units/messages at a cost of $2,000 per piece of creative for a total cost of $66,000. At that cost and the cost of the promoted trend, we’ve clearly exceeded the 15% “rule.” We’re at 33% (I did the math for you). If we get our bulk discount of 50%, we’re at 16.5%. Based on my experience, when you consider the cost of the account coordinator to open the job # to the Chief Creative Officer to sign off on the job, the cost is going to be more than $750.

Keep in mind, our example is limited to twitter. We haven’t even started looking at the costs to then produce creative unique to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and other large social platforms, across the very fragmented digital landscape.

Screens are getting smaller and more varied.  The number of “media” channels consumers are flocking to is exponentially increasing. Consider that Vine, Jelly, SnapChat, Medium and so many others didn’t even exist a year ago. We’re adding more and more places to visit every day…yet the time we’re spending at those places is becoming more and more fleeting. To me, this means we, as marketers, get even less time to make an impact with our consumers. And that’s why you need award winning level creative every single time. You can’t deliver C-level creative experiences. They all need to be A-level. Creating A-level creative, means making your creative unique to each publisher, placement, consumer segment and person.

For years, traditional marketers have taken issue with a “shotgun” approach to marketing. The argument is that it’s too broad and not focused. Some I’ve worked with, favor a “champagne pyramid” approach to marketing, where you fill up the top glass (usually TV) and only delve into another marketing channel, after the first glass is full. This trickle down approach to marketing spend simply isn’t consistent with today’s digital world; it’s antiquated, but easy to manage.

Is it any wonder that people who cling to a champagne pyramid approach to marketing, still cling to the 15% rule; something created over 50 years ago?

I can’t tell you if the right percentage is 20%, 30%, 50%. But, I can tell you the 15% rule has no place in today’s digital world.

Now, go buy Where The Suckers Moon…now!

Friday Five – February 14, 2014

What Would Happen If You improved Everything by 1%: The Science of Marginal Gains
Probably my must read of the week. Great post. Real world application. Can’t beat it. In short…not a whole lot changes by improving something 1%…initially. But, over time these small improvements add up in big ways. There’s not right or wrong answer here. You could bet big like Google and want to change the world instantly. Doing so could lead to complete failure (eg Knoll, Google Wave and so far Google Glass). Or you can take the slow and steady path.

Pinterest Is Impacting The Real World
So I know this is supposed to be 5 links total, but 3 different pieces of interrelated Pinterest news happened this past week. First, Target announced it would launch “collections” from top pinners. Yes, I’m serious. Then Caribou Coffee created a 5-story Pin Board, built around #CaribouInspires. They of course, placed it in the Mall of America in Minnesota. I saved the best for last. The Redwood City police are using Pinterest to share items that have been stolen. That. Is. Brilliant.

Native advertising: Too expensive and too much effort for agencies?
Surface level analysis, but they’re spot on. The reason why it’s too expensive and too much effort is simple. It’s the shackles of the old media world, holding agencies back. Let me explain. In the earliest days of advertising, an agency took a straight commission off of placing and buying media. That commission eventually settled around 15%. There were companies still using this model 10 years ago. Old habits die hard. That 15% commission became a defacto standard for how much an agency should be compensated relative to the media spend. If you spend $10M in media, you shouldn’t spend more than $1.5M to produce the creative needed to satisfy that media buy. This might work for TV or Print, where distribution is expensive, but production is relative cheap. For example, the average Super Bowl spot costs between $800K and $1.25M to create. The media cost for a Super Bowl spot is roughly $5M. But, in digital, distribution is cheap. It’s the creative that’s expensive. Those who understand and embrace this have settled around 40% for the dollars needed to support a digital driven campaign. It makes sense. The rough cost to create the famous Oreo Super Bowl tweet was $1,500. That figure is based on the 15 minutes it took to create and publish the image, multiplied by the list of people who were attached to the Cannes submission for the ad, multiplied by a simple conservative blended rate of $200/hour. Think about that…$1,500 for 1 tweet. What if you need 8 great tweets a day, every day for a year? Well then you’d be spending $4.38M in just twitter creative. Even with a volume discount of 50%, you’re talking $2.19M per year. AND, that’s just twitter? Native ads shouldn’t be churn and burn banners. They need to be crafted specifically for that publisher and that placement…just like a tweet, or a pin or a status update. Right now, most clients still live in a 15% world and that’s just not going to cut it for agencies. The juice isn’t worth the squeeze.

Event Marketing Media Releases in 60 Seconds
It’s all about reducing friction and making it easier to get great social done. One of the single biggest friction points for organizations is making sure the appropriate rights for images and assets. Percolate has been attacking this space, with their platform, for years. Their most recent feature, acts like the mobile checkout at an Apple Store. Images are taken and the sign off for the usage rights are done right on your iPhone’s screen. Smooth, simple and awesome. Although, I’m sure some in-house counsel will find something wrong with it. When it comes to social media and legal, it’s a lot like whack-a-mole: there’s always some new issue to smack down.

Ordering fast food by mobile app is the new drive-through
Great mobile apps offer great utility. Taco Bell is now letting you pre-order your meal before you even go through the Drive-thru. I know his technology isn’t new. Chipotle has been doing this for some time. But while Chipotle and Taco Bell both offer Mexican food, they offer completely different experiences and in theory target different consumers. This starts to change the dynamics of the traditional fast-food restaurant experience.

At iMedia Summit Old Challenges Become New For Marketers

I love iMedia Summit. It’s on my must attend list, every year. Great locations, great content and great people, make for a valuable experience.

At this year’s summit, it was clear we’re getting closer and closer to dropping “digital” from titles and org structures. We are on the precipice of people across all industries accepting, it’s less about digital marketing and more about marketing in a digital world.

As I connected with marketers across a wide range of industries, there were 3 familiar themes that could not be ignored.

Talent: The conversation about digital talent has evolved. At one of my 1st summits, nearly 10 years ago, the conversation was about getting funding to hire someone…anyone…who could be that digital subject matter expert. While we’re definitely past those days, talent remains a thorn. Today though, it’s a thorn because we need new recruitment models to find the right talent, we need a better talent investment plan to retain talent and we need a better plan for creating leaders in organizations who have a deep and wide grasp of digital.

Content: It’s king, right? Every marketer I talked with identified different challenges in dealing with content. The most consistent pain points were how to produce enough content in a financially viable way, how to safely source and share content (legal and Pinterest apparently are still not good friends) and how to distribute content the right way. With respect to distribution, this is a battle waiting of happen in a very epic way. The old model that classical marketers still adopt where your cost to create content should not be greater than 15% of the media but, is dead and doesn’t apply to digital and social content. You will spend more than $100k to create enough quality content to support a $1M ad but across twitter and facebook. In digital, unlike TV, distribution is cheap, but the content is expensive.

New Operating Models: What should you be doing internally? What should your agency’s role be? When do you bring social in-house…and do you bring it all in-house? We need new models and approaches to building internal capabilities and for setting our partners up for success. This will require our partners to pivot quicker than they ever have before. They will need new offerings, new types of talent and different pricing approaches. We are in a sea of disruption that’s not going to calm down any time soon.

This year’s iMedia summit reaffirmed some thoughts I had and offered new perspective to think about as I lead our Social Media and Content efforts for Walgreens. It’s also fair to say, iMedia once again reminds me of why I’ve stayed in digital for 16 years…the pace of change isn’t for the weak and it’s bloody good fun to try and keep up.

Friday Five – February 7, 2014

Johnson & Johnson Takes Newspaper Readers Back With Ads That Smell Like Baby Powder
Print advertising doesn’t have to be boring. It can be fun, interesting and multi-sensory. I love how Johnson & Johnson took a relatively predictable ad channel, like print, and turned it into something you’re intrigued to interact with.

This just in: Paper is the best Facebook app ever
I think the Facebook team has been really smart in how they’ve approached mobile. By building stand alone apps that run outside of the core Facebook app experience, they can test different designs, features and approaches, without messing with the core experience. Then, after they’ve learned enough, they fold the best features into the base/core app. This allows them to innovate and improve quickly. It’s smart. It’s also why I like Paper. The other reason I like Paper is how simple, intuitive and fun the interface is. Definitely worth the time to download.

Foursquare Gets $15M And Licensing Deal From Microsoft To Power Location Context For Windows And Mobile
I guess all that Foursquare data must be worth something? Good move by Microsoft and another validation that Foursquare’s stubbornness to sell or change strategy, is going win, long term.

Arby’s Social Media Manager Gives Inside Scoop On Tweet To Pharrell That Rocked The Grammys
Sometimes being lucky is better than being good. But, when preparation meets lucky/opportunity, you get something truly outstanding. I love this article from Arby’s social lead on how they quickly took advantage of Pharrell’s strange hat choice during the Grammy’s. Three things really stuck out. First, there was no warm room or command center. Sometimes simple, wins. Second, they were prepared and clearly didn’t have 100s of layers of approval to work through. Third, I loved this quote “Our CMO has created an environment for our team to have freedom and flexibility.” It’s nearly exactly what I said in predicting why most Super Bowl Real Time Marketing Efforts would fail: “Fast doesn’t come from committee. It doesn’t come from running every single tweet by the brand team, legal team, corporate communications team, media team and so on. Fast comes from trust.” Kudos to their organization and to Josh Martin for being prepared, on brand and fast.

Hashtags win in Super Bowl ads, and Facebook gets even with Twitter
The game was a snoozer. The ads were hit and miss. But, one thing that was clear, social integration is here to stay for a while. 58% of Super Bowl ads integrated hashtags into their commercials. Some did it really well. Some just tacked it on at the end. The 58% number shows us that more and more brands are trying to solve for the multi-screen use of their consumers.

The Job Hopper Fallacy

“She’d be great for the role, but I’m concerned that she seems to job hop every few years.”

“He’s the perfect candidate. The only red flag for me is he seems to change jobs every couple of years.”

“I love her experience, but she doesn’t seem to stay at one place very long.”

I’ve heard those comments far too often over the last 16 years. I myself, have even uttered a similar statement, when assessing a candidate. So, yes, I’m a hypocrite, when I say, the marketing and advertising industry needs to realize, switching jobs and roles is part of today’s workforce and it’s here to stay.

My father worked for 1 company, through a few mergers, for 20+ years…till he was laid off. My mom has been with the same company since she was in her early 20s. For 30+ years she’s given 1 organization her very best. They are the exception today, especially when it comes to the marketing and advertising industry. Today, the data shows you’re fortunate if you can keep someone for 3 – 4 years in the private sector. Keep in mind that 3 – 4 average, looks at all jobs in the private sector; the average agency tenure is even shorter.

The phrase “job hopping” has with it an indelible black mark. It connotes, and we tend to perceive it, as a bad thing. People who job hop, after all, must be hopping for only bad reasons. Yet, if you were interviewing someone who told you first they went to Harvard for their undergrad, then they went to Stanford to Master in something else and then went to MIT to earn a Ph.D it something else., we’d talk about how diverse their background was and how well rounded they were. But, have 4 jobs in 10 years and you’d be potentially unstable and a flight risk.

I also believe, most talent evaluators tend to over-value a person who’s had many roles in the same company. But, is there really a difference between someone who’s had 4 roles at the same company in 10 years and someone who’s had 4 roles, at 4 companies in 10 years?

In my opinion, based on what I’ve seen and experiences, I think job hopping happens for 4 major reasons:

  1. They believe they deserve more, whatever that more is, and they know they aren’t going to get it. It could be the promotion they deserve, but won’t receive, because there isn’t a piece of business to sustain the increased level and compensation. It could be the mentorship they crave, but aren’t receiving. The more, can be any number of things, but there’s always something.
  2. In an industry that is still very much time and materials, the account funding the majority of your salary is no longer with the agency or scales back the budget significantly. In both of those situations the agency, can’t float your overhead so you’re laid off. It happens. Often.
  3. Wrong place for the wrong person at the wrong time. Sometimes it really is just the wrong place, with the wrong culture, the wrong role and the wrong account.
  4. The role outpaces your talent. The organization wants more from you, you’re not able to keep delivering the A-game needed. In this situation you have 3 options. 1, you leave on your own terms. 2, you stay, but you’re stuck at the same level and compensation. 3, you’re let go, because the organization needs better talent.

There are a bunch of other reasons that come up, but I feel like we’ve covered 80% of situations with the above.

With the average tenure of a CMO being roughly 3.5 years and every new CMO seemingly choosing to “pitch the business”, is it really any wonder people need to job hop? Then, add in the fact, employees want more training and work life balance; both of which, it’s been well documented, they aren’t getting, and the desire to hit the reset button and start fresh is understandable.

All that aside, I want to focus on two elements of evaluating why people may job hop: Title/Seniority and Compensation. I believe there’s so much more than those two, but the other elements aren’t easily quantifiable. Thanks to the mountains of big data out there, Title and Compensation are easily measured, evaluated and compared.

Only once in my career did I take a job because of the money. It was one of the biggest career mistakes I’ve ever made. I was young. It was the boom/bust days. The company imploded in 6 months. Since that mistake I’ve always used my TPRP model for evaluating opportunities. For me the role is always the most important. That said, “role” is arbitrary and subjective. Two people looking at the same role, will value it differently. That’s why I want to focus on Title and Compensation.

The following chart represents a 10 year look at the career of someone in account management in the advertising industry. Before you pour over the chart a few details first:

  1. For the starting salary of an Account Coordinator, I pulled the Chicago market advertising agency average from Glass Door.
  2. You’ll notice I also included a column showing the average salary for positions. That data also comes directly from Glass Door. To be specific it comes directly from the Leo Burnett Glass Door page. Given Leo’s long history, their size, market location and holding company status, they make for a great data source.
  3. The national average for raises in the same title is 3%. That comes from a multitude of sources. For the sake of argument and this post, it comes from Forbes and SHRM.
  4. I connected with several folks on the talent management side at different agencies to understand the average pay increase in between account roles. It’s 7%. So if you go from an Account Executive to a Sr. Account Executive, you can expect a 7% increase on average. This tracks with my experience working in leadership roles at agencies.
  5. The same people I spoke with validated the age old belief that when you leave one agency in a more junior role for another agency in a more senior role, you get about a 20% pay bump. Those changes are highlighted in green.
  6. No one stays at one agency for 10 years and just gets the average. I’m aware of that fact. A good manager at some point looks at that person’s compensation relative to their contribution and is able to get a “market correction” put in place. This essentially raises the person’s salary so that it’s still within the range of the role, while still allowing for margin to be made.
  7. This analysis is purely to look at tittle and salary. It doesn’t take into account things like work life balance, retained knowledge or other factors.
  8. An often unmentioned fact is that your first salary does dictate, on some level, future salaries. Every future increase is based on the last one, so if you negotiate 45K as an Account Coordinator, you end up better off financially, than if you negotiated and accepted 35K. That’s just basic economics.
  9. You’ll see a column that outlines the importance of #9. The “Straight 10% Increase” column, simply applies a 10% increase every year. That never happens, but it’s a good comparison point to look at.
  10. Every situation is different and this not meant to be final law.

Job Hopping Data

What does this data tell us? A lot and nothing. It tells us that there is certainly a financial and status gain to be had by job hopping in the agency world. You climb the ladder faster and earn a fairer compensation faster when you job hop. I say fairer, because as has been well-documented, when you consider the number of hours the average agency person works, their per/hour rate doesn’t seem like a fair wage. Anyone who’s worked in agency life for 8+ years, I think would agree.

What the data doesn’t tell us and what I believe is the most important aspect of the value that comes from job hopping, is the experience you gain. Today’s world moves quick. Technology changes fast. Consumer behavior changes fast. To keep up with that change, organizations continually create and try new operating and organizational models. If all the people in your organization have only worked at 1 company before they joined you, the field of view becomes limited. Take if you will the person who’s only worked at P&G his their entire career. They know 1 company, 1 culture, 1 process and 1 approach for addressing challenges. But, what if you have a person who’s worked at P&G, Red Bull, Nike and Ford? Now, you have diversity in thought. And that diversity becomes invaluable.

I believe that a patchwork tapestry approach to building “YOU” is where the future is now and it’s not going to change. Don’t attach a stigma to someone who’s sought career diversity. Instead, value the immense diverse experience they can bring to your organization.


On Friday, February 7th I received an email from a recruiter that stated:


I left you a vm about 2 social media roles that I would love to have your help with. I’m helping recruit for [company withheld] (Chicago area) and [company withheld] (DC Area). I offer generous finders’ fees and from your LI profile, you look like someone who would know qualified folks. If you hadn’t just taken a new role, I would have tried to directly recruit you.

Do you want me to send you job descriptions?

[name withheld]

I responded and offered to help. Even provided a few recommendations. The response I received back was:

Thanks for the referrals. I’ve just started working on these roles via the internal recruiters and don’t yet have the names of who the roles report to–so you know more than I do.

I checked out the profiles of both of the folks you referred, and though I trust your judgment, I’m concerned that they may look too much like job hoppers to be desirable –but with social media being a pretty new field, that may be common and not a red flag for hiring managers.

Perfect timing and one that clearly supports we haven’t evolved our perceptions about “job-hopping.”

Reflecting On Campbell

“To be the most digitally fit consumer packaged goods organization, in the world.” That was the lofty vision I set for The Campbell Soup Co., when I first joined. Nearly 2 years later, the organization has leaned in, for the most part, into that vision. I’m proud of where the organization sits today. The progress was dramatic and it was something you could feel. It went well beyond the surface. When leaving Campbell, I had a mix of pride, satisfaction and excitement. Being the 1st digital leader for such a historic and iconic organization was exciting. I think the organization and I were both initially unsure how this partnership would work. I was certainly unlike their normal hire. And I was skeptical how much they really wanted to change. But, 2 years later, it’s clear the partnership was mutually fruitful. I’m certainly a better, wiser digital leader today, than I was before I joined. And, it’s fair to say, the organization is in a much better position to succeed in digital, than it was before I joined. Pride I often remark to people that the work I was apart of at Campbell, was some of the best work I’ve ever been part of. There are 3 initiatives that come to mind and fill me with pride:

  1. Changing Our Digital Investment: In year 1,  digital media investment was increased by more than 40%. The headlines talked a lot about that number. It’s a big increase. It was increased even more in year 2. But, spending more, wasn’t the goal. Spending right, was. I’m proud of how those dollars were being spent. They were much more in tune with how consumers were spending their time across devices, screens, platforms, etc. The change in spend also lead to new partners and ways of thinking about the role of media. It certainly also helps that the ROI on many of the digital initiatives provided a real tangible positive return.
  2. Hack The Kitchen: This was the first major initiative that publicly demonstrated how far the org had come. From going beyond the traditional agency partners for ideas to enabling others to mashup intellectual property, Hack The Kitchen broke every traditional rule that existed, internally. The output was pretty damn good too. Sometimes initiatives are a success because of the cultural, process and mindset changes that occur. This was one of those initiatives.
  3. Launching The Consumer Learning and Interaction Center: Do you need a social media command center? I don’t know. I think launching one, just to have one, is a bad idea. But, I believe that launching one because you want to demonstrate to an organization the importance of social, real time decision making and that you can’t always do what you’ve always done, is a great idea. CLIC started out as a theoretical idea, the kind that starts on a white board and with people saying “it’ll never happen.” But, the people in that first meeting refused to let this idea die. I let others drive this initiative and I was so proud of their perseverance, drive and desire to bring upon something that would change the organization for the better.

Satisfaction In the Fall of 2013 we shared our progress with the Board of Directors and the Major Share Owners. One board member remarked that they never thought we’d get to where we were…ever, but to see it in only 2 years was nothing short of exceptional. At the end of the day, Campbell, like all public companies, answers to investors. A good board of directors, helps you deliver on shareholder return, while ensuring the company is well positioned for future long-term growth. To have the board validate our model and decisions, be impressed by the measured ROI of our digital investment and endorse our roadmap satisfied the burning question in my mind: are the choices I’m making, the right ones? Excitement My 2 years at Campbell were an amazing learning experience. As a marketer, leader, mentor, evangelist, business driver, etc., I’ve grown leaps and bounds. Building something from scratch is fun. It’s also incredibly draining. Every decision weighs on you. There’s no playbook to learn from, no original blueprint to assess and no trail to follow. The excitement that comes from blazing a path, creating a direction and building a capability is matched by the stress of wanting to be a perfectionist and do the organization, no harm. Heavy is the crown, and every day is something new. That’s where the excitement comes from! Building on that, I’m also excited about what’s next. The shelf life of a change agent is complicated. But, the ride, is exhilarating. Having helped build organizations, more than a few times, there’s 3 things I’ve definitely learned:

  1. The right talent is important, but perhaps not as important as the right cultural fit. You need a great team. Not a team of Super Stars, but a great team. When you hear stories about championship teams, you often hear about how great their chemistry was. Whether you’re building a Super Bowl team or a world class digital organization, chemistry matters. Individuals who are blessed with raw skills and technical prowess, but lack the cultural fit, aren’t worth the stress they cause.
  2. You need to know what you’ll comprise on. Some things are non-negotiable. Everything can’t be non-negotiable, but trust me, there are many times where compromise made in the sake of being a “team player”, simply sets you, your team and the organization back.
  3. Communication must be clear, simple and tailored to the communication medium. Seems like a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how complicated communication creates an inefficient organization.

I’m thankful Campbell believed in me and brought me on to be their first global digital marketing and social media leader. I have no doubt the world class team at Campbell, will build on the strong foundation we created and continue their progress toward being the most digitally fit consumer packaged good organization in the world.

Friday Five – January 31, 2014

21 real-time marketing Super Bowl prop bets
On Sunday, most of America will tune in to watch the Super Bowl. I’ll be one of them. A smaller group, will be watching the “2nd” screen just as much as their TV, to see what advertisers do during the Super Bowl. Arik Hanson has put together a very funny list of prop bets that outline some of the seemingly preposterous, but potentially likely actions by brands on Sunday. You’ll chuckle.

The Death Of Expertise
This is a long read. I’m just warning you. But, it’s also a great read. In an always on and always connected world, are we losing the reason to learn and retain knowledge? This author seems to think so. I think he’s on to something. How many times have you been in a situation where someone asks you a relative basic question and you offer the response of “just google it.” I’m guilty. Is that behavior contributing to a slow down in the development of critical thinking skills, which negates the ability to create expertise? Grab a cup of coffee and read this thoughtful post.

Millennials Not That Into ‘Things’ and That Goes for Cars Too
Solid short read. If given the choice between renting/leasing or buying, millennials would choose the former. That behavior goes across things big (cars) and small (phones). Perhaps this behavior and mindset is why marriage rates and home ownership rates are on the decline with this demographic. As a marketer, you need to rethink the value of the carrot you put in front of these consumers. Experiences will be viewed as more valuable, than tangible items.

TV Remains the Reigning Champ, but Display Internet Ads are the MVPs of 3Q
Lots of great data in the latest report on Nielsen, covering media spending habits. Nearly 60% of budgets go to TV, with only 5% going towards digital. On one hand, shocking. On the other hand, not really; old habits die hard. Keep in mind that massive gap is even AFTER digital investment increased nearly 33% year of year.
Nielsen Ad Spend Shift

Full report can be downloaded here.

13 Things You’re Not Outsourcing (But Totally Should)
Loved this post. A great mix of things you could be outsourcing at work and things you could be outsourcing in your personal life. My personal favorite on the list was “waiting.” Totally agree with how much of a life suck waiting can be.

Why Your Super Bowl Real-Time Marketing Will Fail

The Super Bowl is a peculiar American tradition. Over 100 million people will tune in, with the advertisements as big a draw as the game itself.

Last year, with the success of the tweet from Oreo heard around the marketing world, a new tradition was born: big-event real-time marketing through the second screen. Since the Oreo tweet, brands big and small have attempted to recreate the perceived success of that one tweet. No doubt, judging from what we saw at the Grammys, we’ll see many, many more attempts to replicate the “Oreo moment” during this year’s Super Bowl. And they’ll all fail.

Having been on the inside of large complex organizations and having worked at agencies challenged with leading large complex organizations, I have seen up close and personal how brands grapple with being successful in social media.

From our couches, it’s always easy to second-guess a brand’s decisions and motives for engaging in real-time marketing. It’s even easier to critique those efforts. It’s become a bit of an event within the event, for marketers to make fun of a brand’s efforts and tag their efforts with the dreaded “#fail” hashtag.

That said, here’s why real-time marketing will come up short at the Super Bowl.

Immature client organizations.
Can you believe it’s 2014 and organizations still debate the value of digital and social marketing? It happens more often than you think. When you’re part of a team trying to change that fact, you’re looking for anything to demonstrate the merits and value of your team. You’re hoping that one tweet, that one blog post or that one Vine video catches lightning in a bottle and starts creating some type of buzz internally. Buzz eventually leads to interest, which leads to funding. It’s tough to fault an organization that’s so early in their digital maturity, for delivering something not at a Cannes Lion-worthy level. That said, you probably shouldn’t step onto the Super Bowl field, if you’re playing at a junior varsity high school level. Rarely, does something good come from that.

Social media by committee.
Social media is a team sport. Since it’s the Super Bowl, let’s look at a football analogy. The Broncos have a game plan that they’ve created for the game. The coach created that game plan. Members of the team know their role in executing that game plan. Some are meant to block and tackle. Some are meant to score. When Peyton gets into the huddle, it’s his huddle. The plays are chosen by a single person, not a committee, and only one person (Peyton) can audible the play. The person you’ve empowered with the responsibility and accountability for hitting the “send” button to deliver something on brand, on message and in context is in effect, Peyton Manning. He or she needs to have their finger on the pulse of the game, what people are talking about online during the game and how their brand fits in, if at all. For them to be effective, they need to be fast. Fast doesn’t come from committee. It doesn’t come from running every single tweet by the brand team, legal team, corporate communications team, media team and so on. Fast comes from trust.

Not enough preparation.
Measure twice, cut once. When it comes to social, 90 percent of the time should be spent on preparing and 10 percent on executing. If your planning is poor, if you haven’t thought through scenarios, if you haven’t identified your goals and if you haven’t pre-created a base foundation of content to pull from quickly, you’re not preparing enough. You can’t prep on the fly. You can make adjustments to the game plan in real time, but you shouldn’t be creating your game plan as the game is unfolding.

The wrong objectives.
What’s measured matters. It’s a tried and true maxim of corporate America. If your objectives are to make sure you drive “frequency of message” or drive “reach,” you’re more apt to post often; even when you don’t have great content to deliver at the right time. If your objectives are generic (e.g., engagement) or if they aren’t aligned with the nuances of each social platform and how people consume, share and interact with branded content, they won’t be successful.

Mistakes happen.
If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough. Peyton Manning has thrown 219 interceptions in his career. But without forcing it sometimes, he wouldn’t have 491 TD passes. The best thing you can do after you make a mistake is learn from it and apply the knowledge to the next effort. Being able to do that is made so much easier if your organization understands that mistakes happen. And sometimes being lucky is better than being good. For example, Miley Cyrus could incorporate your product into one of her songs and all you need to be doing is paying attention to hit social media gold.

There is no formula for real-time marketing success, even if the endless debates over it seem to expect one to emerge. On Super Bowl Sunday, there are only two guarantees: One team will win, and real-time marketing won’t.

Please note, this post was also published on DigiDay.

What CEO’s Need To Know About Digital

A colleague of mine works with CEOs across a wide variety of categories. His company provides coaching and consultation to CEOs with a focus on helping them navigate an increasingly digital and disruptive world.

Earlier this week he reached out with a very inspiring ask.

A client recently asked us, as the CEO:

What are the 2 to 3 most important things I should know about digital?
What are the 2 to 3 things I should avoid (mistakes) in making digital investments in the company?

What an incredible ask from the CEO and it certainly had my wheels turning. Here’s the advice I sent back.

2 to 3 To Know

  1. Digital isn’t a vertical channel or offering. An organization that ascends to a truly high level of digital fitness is one that looks at digital as a horizontal capability that can impact everything from supply chain to marketing.
  2. In true fundamental economics principles, there is a limited supply of exceptional digital talent. With limited supply and high demand, you need to rethink your entire recruiting, compensation and retention model. For example, at Twitter, the highest paid non-exec makes over $1M a year; he’s one of the smartest technical engineers in the world. The battleground for exceptional digital talent is serious business and one that most orgs aren’t equipped or prepared for.
  3. The space moves so fast. Your 5 year business plan approach doesn’t hold water in a space, like digital, that changes completely every 18 months. You need 5 year horizons, 3 year strategic plans and 18 month action plans.

2 To 3 To Avoid

  1. You can’t fix your digital capability gap by spending more. Spending more in digital, without the right internal capability and talent is an instant recipe for disaster.
  2. Building on my #1 of What To Know, you have to avoid making digital seem like a “thing”, “experiment” or the responsibility of 1 team or department. It needs to be something that every Sr. Exec is thinking about and investing in.
  3. Picking the wrong partners. Seems simple enough, but again, without the right internal champion vetting partners, who’s really capable of separating pretenders from contenders? If you pick the wrong partner (s) it can set you back and have a catastrophic ripple effect on your organization.

I’d love your feedback on my list and certainly welcome your thoughts on what CEO’s should know about digital. I’ll aggregate the feedback and pass it on to my colleague.

10 Quick Thoughts About The Grammy’s And The State Of Music Today

  1. Today we rarely have musicians. We have entertainers. Sir Paul is a musician. Miley is an entertainer. Few have ever been both. Prince and Michael Jackson are two who come to mind that excelled at both.
  2. To mask the lack of musical talent, these “artists” turn to time honored approaches like amplifying the sex appeal. Take away the backing tracks and post editing, and most of these folks wouldn’t make it in a high school glee club.
  3. To put an exclamation point on #1 and #2, I give you Whitney Houston. At her pinnacle, no one was a finer singer. You never saw her half-naked on a rope, because she didn’t need to.
  4. Music has always been political. Music and politics go hand in hand. I think everyone is entitled to get divorced eventually. Equality for everyone. Though, I wouldn’t have opted for a Grammy Wedding; just a bit too showy for me.
  5. Macklemore is fun, let’s see if he can be more than a one album wonder. I hope he can deliver on that.
  6. I’m over Taylor Swift and I wish she’d just go away.
  7. Sometimes the mashups of musicians work really well. I think when Guns n’ Roses partnered with Elton John for November Rain, it was one of the most amazing musical performances I’ve ever seen. Other times, it’s very forced and just doesn’t work. The Robin Thicke and Chicago mashup, just didn’t work for me. I think on the whole, these forced partnerships fall flat.
  8. The work the Grammy team did in planning, creating and distributing so much behind the scenes content for the “2nd screen” was A-level. They should create a text book for companies to follow.
  9. Building on 6, I’m sorry, but I’m not a Beyonce fan. Never have been. I don’t think what she does is earth shattering. I just don’t. I think Adele has more musical talent in her big toe than Beyonce does in her entire body.
  10. Lastly, I leave you with this about the state of today’s music. And now I’ve dropped the mic.

Beyonce vs. Talent

Digital dad to Cora and John. Love ironing, bourbon and BBQ; no necessarily in that order. Living life, like I stole it. I'm always up for a

spirited conversation. These are my thoughts and ramblings, not those of my employer.
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