To Activate Video Content, Stop Treating It Like Broadcast

You see it again and again on corporate YouTube channels: a random smattering of videos, often with different tones and themes, none with any significant number of views. That’s usually because their channels function as a parking lot for whatever video content they have on hand. Hey, it’s free, what’s there to lose?

Opportunity for starters. As the world’s second largest search engine with a reported three billion searches per month, YouTube may be a ridiculously crowded platform, but it’s the premiere destination for anyone looking for video-based communication. And companies should be there because people are looking…


But companies shouldn’t be there simply with recycled broadcast spots. Digital video works 180º differently than broadcast; instead of being intentionally general to reach 500,000 people, digital video narrowcasts to reach the right 5,000 people. The point is to target an ideal audience (or audiences), customize our story messages to engage them, and communicate as specifically and singularly as we can, hoping to earn their attention by speaking directly to their wants, needs, and interests.

Audiences are selfish.

If you grew up in the broadcast era, that’s a hard pill to swallow, but it’s definitely reality. The digital environment empowers everyone to select programming they want to watch and avoid whatever they don’t. As a result, we each create our own networks around our own interests. This doesn’t mean there’s no place for corporate messages, it simply means we must adapt them to fit the environment. The more we find ways to align our corporate wants and needs with the wants and needs of a specific audience, the more our messages resonate. And the more our audience will share that content with like-minded people across their own networks, expanding our ideal audience for us. Simply put, the more we embrace narrowcast, the more success we’ll have with our digital video content.

And the less likely we’ll be to have meager view counts on our YouTube channels.


unsplash-logoFrank Okay

Inundata: We Have Infinite, Immediate Information, So Why Don’t I Feel Smarter?

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, OlsonYep, “inundata.” I just made that word up; coined it without consulting Merriam or Webster, Funk or Wagnalls, Strunk or White. I didn’t invent it because the world needed a new noun, but because I needed some way to describe the intellectual slippage I feel daily, trying to keep up with the crushing flow of breaking news and fresh research and relevant posts–the whole Force Five intensity of the mobile information superhighway that’s never far from hand.

But the critical distinction is that what we live with today is a blitzkrieg of data, not actual knowledge.

I don’t believe we are smarter, I think we’re more distracted.

I don’t think we multi-task, I think we do more things with less commitment.

And I truly don’t believe any of us are wiser despite today’s omnipresence of information. We have always been able to find or conjure data to support whatever belief we hold. It may not stand up to the rigors of the scientific method, but it doesn’t need to; we’re not scientists. At least, most of us aren’t.

Which is why we should all take time to stop and make art. We should all try things, create things and play. Because in the end, creativity is the human data that defines ourselves.

Oh, and it’s also why every brand needs a really well thought out search strategy.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

Read All About It…

Dennis Ryan, Olson, AdvertisingThere’s a lot of irony in the latest report on World Press Trends from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). Sure, there’s the expected:

  • newspaper advertising’s 25% global decline over the past five years, with North America driving nearly three quarters of that drop
  • digital news’ growth and struggle to monetize
  • television continued dominance, with 40% of the world’s advertising
  • search’s dominance of internet ad revenue at 58%

But some of their findings were not so expected. Like how newspapers may be down and yet they’re still pretty pervasive. Globally, they amount to a 200 billion dollar annual industry and domestically, with ad revenues at $96 Billion in 2011, they represent 20% of the overall ad market. The biggest hit on newspapers has been the drop in classified revenues, which has dropped 65% in five years.

The real lesson here is that newspapers remain a viable media platform, particularly for an older, more educated audience. And unlike search, they can actually help you build a brand.

Besides, crosswords stink on an iPad.

Happy Friday!


Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

Poetry Made Immediate And Accessible, Thanks to Google

I have a confession: though I graduated as an English major, I never found poetry particularly moving. Song lyrics? Sure (Josh Pyke’s “Middle of the Hill” anyone?), but classic poetry? The kind set in oddly-cadenced type bound in slim leather volumes?  Nah, not so much.

Which is why I was more than a little surprised by how fascinating I found the website Google Poetics. The notion is disarmingly simple: a sort of poem appears when you begin typing a phrase into Google’s search bar. Their algorithms create verses from predictive autocomplete suggestions based on previous searches by real people around the world. Because of this, the resulting lists of lines frequently resonate with more impact than you might expect from a clever parlor trick. After all, Google is the oracle most of us turn to when something consumes our attention. So their autocomplete suggestions spring from a deeply human repository of questions and doubts.

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, Olson

Go there. Try it. See if some accidental adjacency of inputs doesn’t spark new ideas for you. It ain’t Whitman, but that might be why I actually stayed with it.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson


And The World Gets Smaller Still: Google’s Move Into Translation

In an interview with The Telegraph, Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice president for search products and user experience, discusses issues from platform extension to privacy to personalized search, which remains a huge hot-button issue for online pundits and privacy advocates.  People can get very fiery over how their searches will be catalogued or skewed–if I lean left, should I only ever see search results that mirror my opinion?  Doesn’t an educated republic feed upon a multiplicity of viewpoints and the healthy debate that encourages?

BabelMaybe, but from a practical perspective, her thoughts on the issue of worldwide translation seem far more interesting.  “Imagine what it would be like if there was a tool built into the search engine which translated my search query into every language and then searched the entire world’s websites,” she says.  “And then invoked the translation software a second and third time–to not only then present the results in your native language, but then translated those sites in full when you clicked through.”

Imagine indeed.  Assessing, analyzing and then translating the billions of pages of the web and more staggeringly, the rush of data generated by the real time web–all those tweets and updates and hours and hours of uploaded video: the scope of this project boggles the mind.  The plan Mayer outlines is dizzyingly audacious.  At the same time, this has long been the promise of computers–to automate the mundane.  Using that automation to eliminate barriers to communication makes perfect sense.

The human consequences of the biblical Tower of Babel, Nimrod’s immense construction of sun-dried clay that threatened the gates of heaven in an act of unholy hubris (or something like that), were the destruction of uniform communication and the rise of separate, alienating tongues.  From that perspective, the notion that Google could eliminate those barriers, in a way that Dr. Zamenhof’s esperanto never quite could, represents a huge win for the peace movement.  Seriously.  The notion that we could understand each other’s writings, and by extension, our widely-varied philosophies and hopes dreams, provides a huge breakthrough in addressing our fundamental divide as a species.  One world sharing one language–admittedly, the language of the for-profit Google–could actually become a safer, more tightly knit place.  I’m hoping Ms. Mayer’s team makes it work.

Then again, I’m still not sure we’ve gotten Macs and PC’s talking to each other yet.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

Memo to Twitter Users re: What The Bing Announcement Really Means–Prepare To See The Whale More Often


Microsoft’s announcement that they signed both Facebook and Twitter to bring real-time updates to their Bing search engine has many posters aflutter over the possibility that their one-liners could find a huge audience far beyond their own friend lists.  And the news that Bing will expand contracted URL’s to more clearly reflect Tweet content is both critical and technologically impressive.

But from that same perspective, the tech demands on Twitter’s API could cause its already wobbly stability to overload and crash even more frequently.  On the upside, Bing isn’t particularly huge yet and the market for social search remains an unknown, but any additional back-end service call volume on their database threatens a system that already delivers a breathtaking volume of data.

Interestingly, the deal is non-exclusive, which means the behemoth Google may be taking a wait-and-see policy before jumping into the fray.

If that happens, get ready for a Shamu-fest of whales.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

Don’t Underestimate Old Dogs…

Experience Generates Perspective...and Discernment

Experience Generates Perspective...and Discernment

A Consumer Electronics Study reports that people from their fifties to their seventies are nearly as tech savvy as their younger counterparts.  For all practical purposes, this demographic will use a hi-def TV, a cell phone or a search engine just as often as an eighteen to thirty-four year old.  In fact, the only real difference was that the older generations prefer a more personal touch; while they research online, they like to talk to a sales associate before buying.

Frankly, this comes as no surprise.  All the nonsense about people under thirty being digital natives disregards the basic reality that older consumers are far more discerning and demanding.  They only use tools that make sense to them; they don’t just try something because it’s new.  They don’t Twitter?  That’s not because they don’t get it; it’s because micro-blogging makes no sense to them.  Instead, they e-mail, because it fits their notion of community.  I can’t be the only guy with a seventy-ish father-in-law who way over-indexes on forwarding funny–or allegedly funny–clips and jokes, albeit without ever erasing the long legacy strings of duplications and e-mail address headers…

Underestimating, or far worse–disrespecting, your market is an inexcusable professional sin for any marketer.  To be a top practitioner of this craft, one must possess genuine empathy.  Just plain liking people helps too.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

comScore’s 12 Month Study: Display Ads Significantly Lift Online Search Activity

It's Not Quite This Simple...       

Sorry: It’s Not Quite This Simple…

So banner ads work.  Specifically, consumers exposed to banner ads are more likely to search for brand terms than those who aren’t. Display ads boost both paid and organic searches and clicks.

According to an article on MediaPost, the post-campaign lift numbers ran like this:

Automotive   144%    CPG   22%    Health   260%
News & Media   144%    Personal Finance   206%
Retail   69%    Travel & Tourism   274%
Source: comScore Ad Effectiveness Data, December 2008

So basically, these people spent twelve months and god knows how much money to learn… ADVERTISING WORKS!

Why is this news?  Does anyone in our business read this story and think “well, that’s a bit of a shocker”?

Sadly, experience says that too many do: too many marketing people lack faith in our business.  To me, that says they have either gotten too far away from the core of the advertising business…or they should get away now.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79