Join us for the #ADClubNY’s first-ever i’mPART Master Class Series: Women’s Edition on 5/2


The AD Club and i’mPART have made a pledge to you to continue to advocate for diversity not only in our industry but also in all industries, everywhere. Stemming from the success of our first diversity campaign back in October, we will be launching our first-ever Master Class Series that will focus on all women in the advertising, marketing and media industries! In order to help women in these industries and beyond, this Master Class will feature influential women business leaders such as Tami Erwin, Senior Vice President & Group President of Verizon, and more. They will speak about their own successes and offer advice to become successful. Our strategic workshops, keynotes and panels will offer top-notch, invaluable tips and tools to enhance professional development and help get you to the next level of your career path. Whether you’re just starting out or whether you’re one of your company’s senior executives – this Master Series is for you. Join us on Monday, May 2nd, and register here today!

Y&R Staff Worldwide Make McWhoppers in Adorable Video Celebrating Major Ad Award Win

Originally Posted on Adweek

By Tim Nudd

Y&R New Zealand’s celebrated McWhopper campaign took home the highest honor, the Grandy, at the 52nd annual International Andy Awards on Tuesday night. And Y&R staffers from around the globe celebrated in a fun (if not very healthy) way—by making their own handmade McWhoppers, as seen in the cute video below.

It’s rare and refreshing to see this kind of network camaraderie, particularly around awards, where offices far from the winning one might not ordinarily feel much of a connection.

For the McWhopper stunt, which happened last August, Burger King reached out to McDonald’s and suggested they partner up and actually make a McWhopper for Peace Day. McDonald’s politely declined, which meant it was never officially made—outside of the rudimentary efforts of amateurs (including, at the time, AdFreak’s own official fast-food tester David Griner).

Y&R had a brilliant showing at the Andys. In addition to the Grandy for McWhopper, the network won the Richard T. O’Reilly Award for Outstanding Public Service for its “Melanoma Likes Me” work, created by GPY&R Brisbane in Australia.

“We are simply ecstatic,” Tony Granger, global chief creative officer of Y&R, said in a statement. “We are so proud of winning the two top awards. Both ideas are terrific proof that brave clients get the work they deserve.”

For Digital Marketing and Advertising Technology, 2016 will be the Year of the Wheat


Originally appeared on DMA’s Data-Driven Marketing Blog.

By David Kohl, CEO, Morgan Digital Ventures

Many of us frequently use the phrase, “separating the wheat from the chaff.” But I’m willing to bet that few of us really know what it means — unless you happen to be a grain farmer. Farmers know that chaff is the inedible husk surrounding a seed, and that it is frequently thrown away. I know I’ve used the phrase when distinguishing between something valuable from that which is not, or comparing individuals that have a track record of getting the job done vs. those with whom I have much less confidence. A purist might use this phrase to compare useful to useless, but in the vernacular, most refer to wheat and chaff in a less binary fashion.

I find myself recalling the phrase when my clients ask about the plethora of well-intentioned, innovative startups that dot the landscape between marketer, agency, publisher and consumer. Here’s a marketplace of literally hundreds of young companies with names that sound strikingly similar to words in the dictionary, sometimes ending in “ly.” More often than not, these early-stage startups tout the power and growing size of their datasets, and they reference their respectable list of brand-name clients while issuing press releases that suggest they’re “the global leader” in something or other. This is not to diminish the value that many innovate adtech and martech startups provide within the digital ecosystem. In fact, these companies are the engines of innovation. But for so many seeking to buy products and services in this market, when looking out across the field, it isn’t easy to distinguish the incredibly powerful disrupters from those that are, well, not so much. It’s hard to separate the wheat from the chaff.

It hasn’t always been this way.

A decade ago, the marketing and advertising ecosystem was smaller and simpler. Terry Kajawa’s original LUMAscape (an internal LUMA Partners reference until 2009) highlighted less than 100 display-advertising companies. That compares to 11 separate LUMAscapes today boasting thousands. And Scott Brinker’s Marketing Technology Supergraphic featured roughly 150 companies in 2011 compared to 3,874 logos across 3,500 separate organizations in its 2016 revision. The explosion in the number of smaller, more nimble innovators reflects the last decade’s unquenchable thirst for the next new thing.

But something has changed.

“Ten years ago, digital marketing and advertising was considered experimental. And in an experimental market, our members didn’t always feel compelled to justify trying out a new adtech or martech product with a quantifiable plan to generate returns,” said Lindsay Hutter, DMA’s SVP of Communications and a co-producer of their HOT ZONE startup competition.

A decade later, however, the term “digital” is mainstream. “Now, digital is at the center of all things media, marketing and customer experience. Digital is business … it’s about results. And results are measured,” Lindsay continued. “Which means that marketers, agencies and publishers are losing their appetites for trying out innovation that fails to perform.” This is why it’s harder for startups to get in front of potential customers, and why it’s harder for these customers to invest without a higher-degree of confidence in the potential returns.

So what can these two players do to increase the odds of success? What can the startup do to get in the door, and what can the customer do to increase efficiency in finding performers, while lowering the risk of wasting valuable time and money?

Let’s start by understanding the customer.

“In a typical week, I’ll receive a dozen or more unsolicited emails from startups trying to get an audience with my team,” Kelli Parsons shared with me when we last spoke on the subject. Kelli is SVP and Chief Communications & Marketing Officer at New York Life, an organization that is deeply interested in data-driven, cross-channel consumer engagement. Kelli said that she typically spends her Friday commute scanning email pitches, and that she’ll sometimes pass one of the week’s more promising solicitations to a colleague or two for their opinions. In the course of a year, Kelli estimates that her team invests time for calls with ten startups, and invites about a third for a deeper look, sometimes resulting in a project. Only occasionally do the results lead to a long-term relationship.

“Working with startups can be rewarding, but it’s very time-consuming to find the performers. The earlier-stage companies can be incredibly innovative, and they’re motivated to adapt to our needs.” But Kelli’s team applies the same rigors – including an anticipated ROI calculation – in evaluating a startup’s solution as it does any other potential partner.

“This is why we built DigiTech,” explained Cary Tilds, GroupM’s Chief Innovation Officer. “We wanted to help our agencies improve the signal-to-noise ratio.” DigiTech is GroupM’s internal repository of highly detailed, searchable information on adtech vendors, networks, exchanges and apps. “Before DigiTech,” Cary explained, “it felt like every account team in every agency was burning hours evaluating business partners and vendor solutions independently.” The process is now far more efficient, and the agencies are consolidating their spend with fewer, but higher-quality partners and vendors. “The business is focused on productive testing and learning, rather than on random experimentation.”

Which is why fewer startups are getting invited to the dance.

A decade ago, a startup with some capital and some cool tech could make it through the door. Marketers, agencies and publishers were having fun playing with shiny new objects. Buyers were willing to throw a little time and money behind these ventures with only the smallest regard for ROI-generating performance. High performers still won in the long term, but even the disappointments got an audience. Over time, the bar has been rising slowly. In this past year, it’s been much more dramatic.

Which doesn’t bode well for the chaff.

The odds have always been bad, even for the most promising tech startups. And when buyers raise the bar, the odds get even worse. Except when you can control the odds.

I recommend that my clients bear in mind five strategies, that when used consistently, not only increase the likelihood they’ll be invited to the dance, but improve the odds they’ll end up in long-term relationships. These steps make it easier for buyers to filter out the noise, and give a significant leg-up where it’s deserved.

  1. Start with “why?” I first heard Simon Sinek advocate starting with why in his 2009 TEDx talk, which so clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of this more emotional opening to the conversation. My personal experience is that the typical startup marketing or sales executive will kick off the conversation by saying something like, “We’re an advertising technology company that does this and that.” And frankly, that opening line could describe hundreds of startups. It is totally non-differentiating. Opening instead with why the startup exists and how it solves a customer need will immediately elevate the conversation. Start by answering “why?
  1. Really listen to the customer. No matter how good you think you are, the customer is still always right. I’ve heard the argument (often from over-confident startup founders) that customers don’t know what they want or need. I’ll concede that some customers can’t articulate, or even imagine, what an innovative or disruptive solution might look like. But most know when they have a problem that needs solving, and they’ll only buy your services when they believe you can bring a solid solution.

    Every startup CEO and CTO must make it a point to engage directly with current and prospective customers. You’ll better align your capabilities with their needs, and you’ll concurrently develop a reputation as a collaborative organization that adapts to the needs of the marketplace. This stands out.

  1. Invest to earn street-cred. Your ability to ramp up your customer base can be dramatically accelerated when your clients and business partners are extensions of your sales team. And while picking some early advocates as initial clients is helpful, if you can engage with organizations that represent pools of potential customers – for example, agencies, consulting firms, trade groups or industry coalitions – go out of your way to do so, and then focus on aligning your capabilities with their clients’ or members’ needs.

    Your demonstration of high-quality capabilities to these groups means access to a pool of future clients. And as a bonus, many of these organizations publish case studies in the trade press, to industry blogs and through internal and external communications across their professional networks. If you’re successful in meeting the organization’s goals, you’ll often get their implicit (and sometimes explicit) stamp of approval.

  1. Get rid of the “fail fast” culture. Succeed a bit more slowly instead. Since Ryan Babineaux and John Krumboltz published their 2013 book on the topic, entrepreneurs have been celebrating a culture of trying, failing and quickly moving on. There’s a lot to say for the authors’ advice, but too many startups misinterpret the message.

    We’ve all seen startups go down a well-lit path only to give up because of their own inability to execute. Sometimes, these startups mistakenly substitute their execution problems with a strategy problem. If you’ve listened to the customer, and the market is agreeing with your answer to “why?” then keep at it. Focus on execution while staying the course, and you’ll distinguish yourself for the experience you gained along the way.

  1. And speaking of delivery, make sure to do so … every time! In this market, very few startups get a second chance to close the gap between their promise and delivery. Going to market with puffery is only setting you up for failure.

    It is far better to speak the truth and miss an opportunity than to over-promise and disappoint. The number of buyers is significantly smaller than the number of startups. Buyers talk. They confer with one another. Do the diligence on the challenge at hand, and propose a solution you know you can hit out of the park.

 Startups that can operationalize these five strategies will more quickly become noticed in the market, and will enjoy longevity (the wheat) as others are thrown away (the chaff). Some argue that the startup marketplace is consolidating. Along with the slowing of capital we began to witness in 2015, the higher-bar for startups are signs of weakness for marketing and advertising technology. I argue quite the opposite. What we’re seeing are the visible signs of maturation. For those technology companies that have a distinctive value proposition, it’s good news. For those startups capable of demonstrating that value, it’s great news.

Since the birth of the Internet as a commercial media platform, startups have led the market in disruption and innovation. We witnessed the explosion of startups filling up real estate on their respective LUMAscapes and Martech Supergraphics, and we’ve all benefited as participants in this high-growth digital media and marketing economy.

What’s happening in the market today is healthy. We’re transitioning from an age of experimentation to a time when words like “digital” and “mobile” are now an integral part of the holistic marketing and media equation. There’s still innovation, and there’s still a significant playing field for disruptive martech and adtech startups. However, while the competitive landscape in the past may have been more tolerant of the under-performers, in 2016, the market is becoming more discerning. What we’re seeing are buyers applying traditional ROI metrics to their innovation budgets. What we’re seeing is a more conscious movement toward separating the wheat from the chaff.

David Kohl is CEO of Morgan Digital Ventures, a strategy and operations consultancy that grows digital businesses. David has nearly 25 years of experiencing delivering top-line revenue growth and improved operational performance to some of the world’s largest entertainment companies, global advertising agencies, early-stage digital media service providers and several media industry trade organizations, including the DMA, for whom he leads DMA’s HOT ZONE startup competition. David was formerly the Advertising Sector Leader with Ernst & Young’s Media and Entertainment Advisory Practice, and prior, was a member of PwC’s Global Entertainment, Media and Communications Advisory leadership team.


Masters of Media Panel for Ad Club of NY

Originally Posted on ImageThink


How do you survive in a content driven world? Storytelling is integral, but you don’t have to do it all by yourself. At Ad Club‘s Media: Now 2016 conference, ImageThink was graphic recording the Masters of Media Panel. Attendees received valuable insights into engagement, integration and smart partnerships when telling their stories.


  1. Creative agencies are storytellers, the trend now is letting the CONSUMERS tell the story
  2. Make smart strategic partners
  3. Focusing on ART will change the future of marketing in agencies
  4. The INDUSTRY has to be the content
  5. Cross brain your teams! It is all about agility: diversify your team and problem solve quickly like a small creative agency

We are all about content, so it was a perfect match to work with Ad Club on this event. Attendees responded well to the real-time capture of the tactics discussed, and we loved hearing what the speakers had to say.

The Age of Advertising Creativity in a Time of Disruption

By Charlene Weisler

Originally Posted on MediaVillage

We are entering the age of advertising creativity and while it may feel disruptive and challenging, it is also exciting and inspiring. That was the message yesterday from the Ad Club’s Media:Now conference.

As with other parts of the media industry, agencies are experiencing transformative change. It is no longer enough to ply spots and dots in siloed media. Agencies that succeed are employing a range of innovative, creative driven solutions to better connect with their consumers and, ultimately, reinforce the brand personality and drive sales. “We need to reach out beyond the traditional media plan,” explained Rob Rakowitz, Director of Global Media for Mars, Inc.

Jack Myers, Chairman of MediaVillage and a noted media ecologist, spoke of the future-looking trends impacting our industry. “We are entering the golden age of advertising creative,” he stated. “The economics around content are challenged and questioned. We are dealing with a lot of issues in an age of algorithms, data science, ad-blocking, ad clutter and ad avoidance. If we make it all science and too little art, advertising becomes moot and irrelevant. The emphasis on ad creative is pivotal.”

But concentrating on ad creative is challenging. Alison Tarrant, Executive Vice President, Client Partnerships Group, NBCUniversal explained, “We have been in the custom content space for many years. What has changed is how we need to adapt high quality TV creative to advertising and be nimble across platforms. How we can be faster, cheaper, better. Being nimble in the market is one of our biggest challenges. The need to develop creative at a high production level is another big challenge.”

But there are many success stories; companies such as Mars and Mondelez presented their efforts on creating content that serves both the consumers’ need for entertainment and engagement as well as the advertisers’ need for reinforcing and strengthening the brand personality and maximizing ROI.

Mars – Reaching Out Beyond the Traditional Media Plan

“We at Mars are expanding role of media beyond mass reach,” Rakowitz explained. To do this, the company needed to get a sense of the “Mars journey” – the blurring of lines between commerce, data and creative and driving the idea of more convergent media. “How it [effects] content, weaves into tech and how it drives commerce,” he added. “We look at outcomes, not just outputs to drive brand growth.”

Mars contends with a range of “mores” — more data, platforms and disruptions. “It is a confusing, exciting, exhilarating time to work in this space, trying to make sense of it all,” Rakowitz admitted. Some examples of how Mars is serving change include its work in creating online vignettes for Twix and cooking demonstrations to show the value of adding grains to a meal for a specific Uncle Ben’s packaged rice product. Rakowitz says Mars strives for two vectors: “Timeless and timely. Timeless tells a consistent brand story that is enduring and memorable and timely brings in the moment and driving talk ability.”

Mondelez – Building Dragons, Not Unicorns

Mondelez’ Chief Media and eCommerce Officer B. Bonin Bough demonstrated that even an established brand like Oreo can expand its brand story and make it relevant and valuable to today’s consumer. “Disruption sits on the shoulder of giants,” Bough explained. “You needed Hilton to get to Airbnb and Henry Ford to Uber vs taxis.” In the case of Oreo, Mondelez allowed customers to design their own custom packaging and then directly shipped the product to the consumer. “It is all about communicating to customers. Even a cookie can sit in the chain from disruption to wonder,” he added. “It could change a brand forever.”

Oreo celebrated Gay Pride in 2012 with Rainbow icing layers demonstrating that a cookie could have a point of view on culture. In 2014 Mondelez used a 3-D printer to print a customized Oreo based on current trends. “We are planting the seed of innovation and building ‘mass custom,’” he said. “There is a huge opportunity for disruption.”

But finding and nurturing the right talent is a big challenge. Bough admits that, “Right now everyone is looking for unicorns, but few unicorns survive past five years. We have a unique opportunity to build dragons, not unicorns. We need to reskill our entire organization in order to disrupt in a large corporation. We need to find a coalition of the willing: Those in the organization who want to bring about change. We need intra-preneurs, and to celebrate those in organizations who bring about change like we celebrate outside entrepreneurs.”


The disruptive future looks bright for companies like Mars and Mondelez. But more needs to be done. As Jack Myers concluded, “We need to bring more young people and more multiculturalism into our business. Our business must reflect the audience we are talking to.”

Image at top courtesy of Corbis. The opinions and points of view expressed in this commentary are exclusively the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of MediaVillage/MyersBizNet management or associated bloggers.


Here Are the Ideas That Dominated SXSW

By Brad Jakeman, President Global Beverage Group, PepsiCo

Originally Posted on LinkedIn

With only 24 hours to pack in the best that South by Southwest Interactive festival has to offer, I hit the ground running as soon as I landed in Austin, TX last Friday night. My visit was brief, but it was loaded with thought-provoking moments. Here are my favorites:


My first stop was an intimate fireside chat with Mashable CEO Pete Cashmore where we discussed how culture drives innovation. One thing I love about SXSW is that you get to hang out with the new generation of entrepreneurs, and Pete is one of the best. This generation is so smart, tech-driven, and purpose-driven. They truly want to make a difference and know that doing what’s best for people and communities is the right thing to do and good business strategy, which we also believe at PepsiCo.


One of the hot chat topics was the difference between disruption and innovation. Innovation has to happen each and every day. At PepsiCo, it’s all about building aculture of innovation, not innovation departments, so great ideas can come from anywhere in—and outside—the organization. Disruption, on the other hand, requires a profoundly changed business model. We aim to disrupt ourselves before we’re disrupted. (Because if we don’t, one of the entrepreneurs here surely will!)


A great example of innovation: Gatorade Fuel Lab, which showcases the brand’s evolution from a sports drink company to a technology-driven, sports fuel company. I dropped by on Saturday to check out their hydration customization platform, featuring digital sweat patches and hydration-tracking Gx bottles. See, our brands have become so strong and global that they have to offer more than just products; they have to create experiences, like the Fuel Lab, Kola House(opening in NYC this spring) and Pepsi Spire technology (described as the beverage version of  the iPad).


My next hit of inspiration came during a dinner with Megan Smith, U.S. Chief Technology Officer at the White House. We chatted about the amazing work she’s doing to drive technology into government. Technology isn’t just central to companies like PepsiCo; it’s central to countries, too. Plus, President Obama delivered the festival’s keynote earlier that day—focused on the importance of tech-driven government solutions—showing a huge shift in ideology.


Finally, I wrapped up my trip by hanging in the Girls’ Lounge, a destination for women to connect and collaborate. Technology is one of the most male-dominated sectors in the world, so it’s great that Shelley Zalis, the CEO and founder of the organization, is here promoting and empowering female entrepreneurs. Gender diversity is critical to innovation, so I love that Shelley is working to #changetheratio.



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