Today’s Terrifying Media Reality: It’s ALL E-E-E-E!

It’s Earned-Earned-Earned-Earned.Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 8.23.54 AM

By 2010, most advertisers and agencies had woken up to recognize the convergence of Paid, Owned and Earned content. Many even added Shared to that troika. This construct still forms the basis of most media plans.

Unfortunately, it’s garbage.

The notion that Paid or Owned media reach like they did before the digital revolution is adorable. They simply don’t. And that’s an unsettling realization for brand managers.


You can’t buy attention anywhere anymore. You can invest millions in air time and it will work, but not like it did ten years ago…unless you treat your paid content like earned content. Only then will it be shared, forwarded and commented on, extending it’s reach and engagement. And here’s a fun fact: adblocking grew by 41% YoY in the past twelve months. Yikes.

Brands must migrate to better, more attention getting creative ideas. And that reality totally upends a brand manager’s traditional definition of risk; what might have been considered ‘taking a chance’  five years ago is now the most prudent choice because it has a higher likelihood of earning attention.

Today, all content must stand on its own to really reach people. Does it intrigue, captivate, and delight? Does it provoke, inform, or galvanize? Does it beg to be passed along to other specific people?

If it does, your content will work brilliantly. If it doesn’t, you’re wasting money. And trusting a model that’s no longer relevant.

This may sound like a radical notion in these days when brands falls over themselves to embrace big data as their savior. But big data is only a means; it is not an end.

We can use data to lead the metaphoric horses of our target audience, but to get them to drink?

We have to earn that. Every day. Every time.

By Mike & Dennis

Iteration Is Not “First to be Second,” It’s First To Be Next

Advertising creativity values originality above all. Firsts have long been considered its highest expression.

In less than two months, we’ve already been through lots of iteration.

But that’s so last millennium. One of the best aspects of digital development is its embrace of fast iteration; whether that means improving your own idea or someone else’s. Fast-following is not copying; it’s adapting and learning in real time.

Back in the mid-90’s we all used the AltaVista search engine. Two years later, Larry and Sergei introduced their own search engine, which added popularity ranking based on backlinks. Now the platform they iterated is so omnipresent it’s become a verb.

We believe today’s creative agencies must make a practice of fast-following and fast-adapting. As choices for platforms and technology-enabled executions expand at exponential rates, we must keep learning and reviewing, simply to keep pace with what’s possible, what’s been tried, and how it’s worked. We need to be heat-seekers, because that helps our clients engage with relevant immediacy. And makes our ideas louder.

Happily, the endless waterfall of information shared on the web make this not just possible, but inspiring. So every client deck we present cites breakthrough ideas from other places and other agencies that inspire our iterations to solve the problems at hand.

Building ideas on proven foundations provides a measure of assurance when the stakes are high.

And these days, when aren’t they?

Mike & Dennis

Profiting from Social Media: Instagram Stars Earn Luxury Hotel Stays

If you want to get comped in Vegas, develop a big gambling habit. To get comped in luxury suites pretty much anywhere, develop at least ten thousand followers on Instagram. With any luck, you’ll soon be ordering room service and lounging spa-side in an embroidered bathrobe, uploading the occasional selfie with a prominent location tag.

Next time, try to avoid reflecting your smartphone in your designer sunglasses, Marianna.

Next time, try to avoid reflecting your smartphone in your designer sunglasses, Marianna.

This article from tells the story of 28 year old lifestyle blogger Marianna Hewitt who takes an international trip about once a month, all expenses paid. It highlights her trip to The Mulia Resort in Bali, Indonesia where her entire stay was comped in exchange for some prominent mentions on her Instagram posts.

Marianna is not signed to CAA. She isn’t part of Maker Studios. She is simply a photogenic woman with a good sense of personal style and a predilection for shooting tastefully-composed selfies with a narcissist’s bent. Oh, and she has 431,000 followers on Instagram. Let’s not forget that.

This is the brave new world of individual network broadcasting, the same one that transformed the Kardashians into ultra-wealthy moguls of modern media. Most of these social stars lack representation, many want to monetize, and all juggle the balance between the content that built their reputations and the corporate dollars that can make them pay off.

Today, any advertiser willing to do some social media research can find bloggers, vloggers, Instagrammers, Viners or Tweeters with an audience they would like to reach. And they can usually find those audiences at a far lower cost then they will at the annual television upfronts. As Allison Sitch, vice president of global public relations for the Ritz-Carlton, contends, these social stars deliver extremely qualified audiences. “If they have a luxury audience and a passion for luxury travel, the engagement, that metric, is way more important to us than the fan count. We don’t want to have 100 million fans that we never ever hear from.”

Some stars like Marianna play on photogenic looks and a crowd-endorsed editorial photography style that promoters consider a proven commodity. Others play on their ability to build engaged communities around various passions, some of which inevitably overlap with advertiser’s needs. And some will never really find a home in corporate America, at least not without risking the following they’ve earned through their own, original voice.

We’re living in a brave new world filled with all kinds of valuable social ad networks to leverage. This is where your best content should play. Because this is where you best audience probably is.

Dennis & Mike