March 15, 2017

By Ashley Reed, Social Media Director at BKV

In late January, Instagram introduced live videos as part of its Stories feature. This move comes as little surprise, given that parent company Facebook has helped propel the trend toward live video streaming. This move by Instagram meshes the live video trend with the quick-hitting presentation and disappearing act popularized by Snapchat.

The following is a look at the basics of the Instagram live video feature and some ideas on how your brand can leverage this opportunity for enhanced social media marketing.

Basic Live Video Features

The Instagram live video feature is part of a platform of tools the company calls Instagram direct. You can record live videos for up to 60 seconds to connect with users or to deliver targeted messages to followers. After the video ends, it disappears from the app. If your messages offer real value to your followers, this process helps drive interest and scarcity motivation for your messages.

More Details on Instagram Live Video

You can go live at any point by selecting “Start Live Video” on your camera after swiping right from your feed. After you select this option, you have a 3-second countdown before the recording actually begins. If you want to target particular users while leaving some out, you can identify specific people you don’t want to see the video.

As part of video engagement, you have significant control over comments, including whether to keep them on and to “Pin” your favorite messages. You can also preset your comments’ preferences to prevent messages with particular words and phrases from making it into the conversation during your video. This ability helps combat negative or crude messages from distracting from your video.

How to Leverage Instagram Live

Snapchat has done a great job establishing a tool that allows users to interact authentically. This approach has created opportunities for marketers to brand these interactions with influencers and filters. Instagram is attempting to enhance its engagement and connections for the same purpose.

The only limitation for brands is their level of creativity. You could have influencers at industry events or in other particular settings go live to show off their experiences. Promote this planned event on your social channels.

Show off behind-the-scenes happenings at your company or in the field to tease new product launches or exciting activities. Invite users to post live videos documenting their experiences with your products. You could even hold competitions for the best videos.

digital advertising, marketing, social media


With Instagram live video, you can leverage authentic interactions on a popular social media platform to promote your brand. Build a fan following and utilize influencers to help spread the word.

As a top social media agency, BKV can help your company take advantage of Instagram live video and other popular social media tools. Contact us to discuss how!

February 18, 2017



Personalization in ad messaging is one of the most important trends in marketing in 2017. Therefore, to optimize your advertising and direct marketing investments, your business must deliver personalized ads that resonate with the intended target market.

The following is a look at several strategies to help you improve the level of personalization in your advertising efforts.

Know Thy Audience

The only way to optimize ad personalization is to target your messages to the right audience. In 2017, top marketers develop detailed buyer personas that represent the ideal customer profile for each brand or solution they sell.

Deep data dives allow you to build clear pictures of your target based on existing customer behaviors. Generate reports through CRM and analytics tools that tell you the traits and behaviors of your most profitable customers for a given solution. Figure out what these people have in common, and build your customer profile around the most critical shared traits or values.

Segment Your Segments

Another benefit of data-driven targeting is the ability to get more precise with market segmentation. You can get more refined in your segments knowing that digital strategies allow greater affordability and flexibility to tailor messages to distinct segments.

In your online campaigns, use filters to deliver your ads to people based on demographic and behavioral data. Create images and video ads with characters and stories that resonate with distinct groups of customers. The more your segment relates to the message, the greater the ability to connect with your brand’s story.

Integrate Social Media

Few communication platforms offer greater opportunities to personalize your message than social media, and all major social channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, have significant paid ad opportunities. Each of these tools has a large audience that relies on text, image and video content to share ideas and feelings and to connect with other users.

Your brand can obviously leverage social personalization organically. However, paid posts allow you to expand your reach and to pinpoint messages to filtered audiences. Snapchat filters are an authentic opportunity to get your brand in front of a young audience. Amp up the impact by including your background image or design on personal photos.

Align with Passions

Certain markets have customers with shared passions or interests. Millennials, for instance, tend to have heightened passion for social justice and environmental causes. Including these causes or relevant themes in your messages can earn you favor with buyers of this generation.

Depicting family values or settings, like with a backyard barbecue scene, could resonate with young parents who prioritize family life. Including these lifestyle interests with your brands embedded in the story can have a powerful effect.

digital advertising, personalization,


Personalized ads affect the emotions and behaviors of customers more than general message strategies. To personalize your ads, balance thorough data-driven research to put together precise customer profiles and segmented messages. Leverage communication channels like social media that are structured for personalized message delivery. Align your brand with passions important to typical buyers.

BKV can help your company enhance personalization in advertising. Contact us now to get started!


February 7, 2017

By: Alice Youna Oh – Georgia State University ’17

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a hot topic across all businesses and industries alike.  IoT refers to the connectivity between the Internet and everyday objects that impact our daily lives and includes any internet-connected device that can be controlled from a remote location.  The increasing connectivity of people and technology paves the way for the growth of IoT.

When it comes to promoting products and services while regarding the potential of IoT, it’s ultimately the marketer’s responsibility to spread knowledge of their products so consumers can understand their full capabilities. It’s important that digital marketers use the rise of IoT as an opportunity to reinvent marketing strategies.

While the implementation of IoT is on a significant rise, the capacity of IoT technology is hard for some to fully understand. Consumers have heard of this concept before but many are skeptical of investing in IoT products and services due to various factors such as high cost and a lack of need. This is where valuable marketing comes into play.

The Internet of Things Today and How It Affects Marketing

“More connectivity leads to more data, leads to smarter data, leads to more relevant campaigns, leads to more customer engagement” (Marketo).

According to Neil Patel, we don’t just “access” the Internet anymore – it’s ingrained in almost every part of our daily lives.

So how does IoT affect marketing? “It operates as an automated entity that can carry out functions that reflect and affect the physical world. We conduct business, live our lives, and dictate our affairs in its presence and based on its rules.”

It’s predicted that there will be more than 13 billion IoT devices by 2020 – that’s more than today’s world population! The essence of IoT is data and as data continues to grow, the relationship between consumer and brand deepens. The amount of information through IoT is limitless! The surge of information overload has led to more sophisticated marketing methods, such as sending out personalized e-mails or retargeting a customer after abandoning their cart.

Marketers need to utilize the power of data and information to better uncover consumer preferences and serve their needs. By doing so successfully, businesses can drive efficiency and other measurable metrics. It’s important for marketers to realize how IoT poses great opportunities for brands to market their products and services in an innovative way.

Using IoT to Propel Your Marketing Efforts

Now that you know what IoT entails and how it’s changing the world of marketing, here are a few steps you can take to approach your marketing strategy with it in mind.

  1. Spread the knowledge

First things first. It’s essential to understand how IoT works and its full capabilities before crafting your marketing strategy. Learn everything there is about IoT and how it empowers your brand’s products and services. Spread your knowledge to educate your team and consumers!

  1. Tailor your marketing

Ensure that you’re directing your marketing strategy toward a specific target market by tailoring your campaign to fit your target consumer. Use customer data to reach your intended consumer at the right time and through the right channel.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning software crawl the web to learn and discover patterns. Browsing behavior is like a digital footprint and can be used to tailor search results and suggestions that appeal to users and their specific needs. Utilize this type of data to identify your intended target market and to effectively push your goods and services.

  1. Deliver value

The transformation of digital and the rise of IoT lead to the increase in consumer expectations. Today, every brand has to be on their toes and stay agile to keep up with their consumers’ ever- changing needs.

Let’s face it – humans (at least most) are lazy. If they can take a short cut to get something, they certainly will. Customers know they can place an order at a restaurant in the comfort of their own home and have it ready for pick at their convenience. If your brand isn’t able to deliver value and meet on-demand expectations, you’re falling behind.


“When the devices around our person – including our smart watches, smart homes, and smart cars – begin to transmit data to and from one another, we will have entered into what the Marketing Journal heralds as ‘the Fourth Industrial Revolution’” (IoT Revolution).

IoT affects the scope of marketing in many ways such as driving consumer expectations, driving engagement, and introducing channels through which brands can market their product. These all in turn affect important measurable KPIs such as conversion rate and SEO.

July 30, 2016

by Alex Membrillo, CEO, Cardinal Web Solutions

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
Just two short years ago, Facebook users around the world were up in arms that CEO Mark Zuckerberg would have the audacity to force people to download an entirely separate app to message with their friends and family.

“What’s the point?” many asked.

In 2016, I think we’re all beginning to see the point. Brands have begun to use Messenger – coupled with chatbots – to connect with their audiences on a far more personal, and targeted, level than ever before.

Those marketers who had the foresight to see this trend coming are now leading the charge, reshaping how businesses converse with their audiences and stealing market share from their competitors.

Isn’t it your time to do the same in 2017?

Building a marketing strategy for the upcoming year requires you to be equal parts Nostradamus and Weathervane: You have to be able to make some predictions while gauging which way the wind’s blowing. But predicting the trends to hit the marketing world in 2017 isn’t as daunting a task as one would think. The signs are out there. You just need to know where to look.

Integration is the buzz word

A few years ago, the terms chief content officer and social media manager didn’t exist. Now résumés and LinkedIn profiles are littered with these titles.

In some ways, this is great; it shows that the world of marketing can adapt to consumer behavior, expectations, and the technological tools that have disrupted the human race.
But in other ways, these additional titles have stalled the progress of a marketer’s goal: to deliver the best possible customer experience.

Take, for example, the title digital strategist.

A digital strategist is the guru of your digital marketing campaigns. If it’s on Google, Facebook or a mobile device, your digital strategist is on top of it.

The problem is, by establishing a “digital” role on your marketing team, you’re creating walls that stifle collaboration and communication. Sure, digital is an important part of your marketing strategy. But it’s time to think past the digital era and move toward (and, essentially, revert back to) the blanket term of marketing. Be it a newspaper, TV commercial, social media or your website, each of these channels serves as an opportunity to connect with your audiences.

Start breaking down your silos before 2017 and you’ll be in a better position to adapt to consumer behavior because, I can promise you, the hottest trends of today (Pokémon Go, for example) won’t be here for long.

It’s time to accept the role of the podcast

So much talk these days is around video, and for good reason. A stat by Video Explainers in 2015 revealed that 63% of senior executives visited a vendor’s site after viewing a video.

Videos tap into the emotional side of your audience; but, they can be costly (and a pain) to make.

About a decade ago, podcasts were thought to be the next big thing. And while that never panned out, it’s not like podcasting’s gone away. In fact, you should be looking at this channel for your 2017 marketing plan because few people are talking about its impact.

From a content creator’s standpoint, podcasting is far simpler to produce than a video, particularly if you’re looking to create an ongoing series. Whereas videos are effective as one-off pieces that pack the potential to go viral, podcasting gives you the opportunity to establish yourself as an influencer while building a following or loyal listeners.

From a user’s standpoint, podcasting remains the only medium where folks can multitask while still consuming your content.

No one’s watching a video while jogging down the street. I can’t name a single person in the history of time who simultaneously read an article from their phone while gardening.

Your audience is overbooked with things to do. They can’t dedicate enough time to brush their teeth, let alone consume your content. Podcasting gives them the ability to check-off their to-do lists while listening to your pearls of wisdom.

Ah, but here’s the kicker (and a good rule of thumb for all your content in 2017 and beyond): you can’t just create a podcast made up of useless information and hope to build an audience.

Podcasts are about the story. The Serial podcast was a huge success because of the way the story was told, over a series of episodes.

NPRs podcasts, like Fresh Air, are popular because they engage the audience.

Your brand can do the same. Don’t think of your podcast as a good channel to overtly push your product or service. Rather, find ways to tell stories of people, places, and things that fall in line with your messaging.

Start building out your physical web plan

As soon as consumers started being able to watch TV on their own terms (through DVRs and Netflix), the balance of power shifted. No longer do brands dictate conversations. No longer can a business be in charge of how, when, or why information is released.

Consumers hold all the power, and they know this.

That’s why so many consumers respond negatively to traditional forms of marketing. They don’t want over-the-top sales pushes that they didn’t ask for.

They want engagement.

The physical web falls in line with the modern-day consumer mindset.

The physical web relies on the use of beacons, but unlike how beacons are currently used, the physical web doesn’t push notifications to a consumer’s mobile device.

Instead, it allows consumers to see a list of URLs being broadcast in their immediate environment (be it a parking meter, store, poster). That consumer can then choose to access the URLs the he or she deems most relevant or engaging at the moment. With the physical web, brands no longer have to disrupt their audiences with potentially unwarranted notifications. Rather, it gives consumers the control they demand.

Brush up on your landing page skills

It’s no secret that the folks at Facebook want to essentially kill the web. They want to make it possible for users to access everything they need online, without ever leaving their platform.

I don’t see that happening anytime soon; but I do see consumers performing less and less deep site browsing.

A lot of this has to do with the influx of mobile devices, and the onslaught of apps (although I predict serious app burnout over the next year or two, which is yet another reason to start planning for the physical web).

Consumers don’t want to be forced to navigate through pages of your site, no matter how nicely that site might be designed.

That’s why you have to make sure you’ve mastered your landing page game. So, what’s that mean?

A/B testing on everything. There are so many services out there now that make it easy for you to A/B test your pages. Use them! From headlines to button colors, to font choice and more, there is no shortage of landing page elements you can test.
Personalization. Personalization. Personalization. If you’ve broken your audiences up into segments based on location, job title, and income, then you’ve only scratched the surface. In 2017, harness the massive amounts of data you can mine through your social ad campaigns and more. Segment your audiences based on micro-moment behaviors, and then target them with relevant ads that lead them to personalized landing pages. The technology is out there. Your landing pages should make your readers gasp, as if to say, was this written specifically for me?
Expanding your paid campaigns. Your landing pages won’t do much good if you’re not promoting them through campaigns. Take a good, long, hard look at where your audiences spend their time. I don’t want to break it to you, but it’s my job to: most people spend a ton of their time on their smartphones and, specifically, social media. Stop procrastinating and coming up with reasons why social isn’t worth the investment. It is. I promise.

Make 2017 the best year your business has ever seen – get back to marketing basics

Like you, I’ve heard it all before:

• Email is dead
• SEO is dead
• Social media isn’t worth investing in

It’s easy to get caught up in buzzwords and industry jargon; but if you want to hit a grand slam in 2017, it’s time to put aside those acronyms and focus on marketing as a whole.

Your goal is simple: target the right message, at the right time, to the right people. Whether that’s on social media, through email, or from the side of a bus all depends on your specific industry and goals.

More importantly is to understand that trends come and go, but the message of marketing remains the same: deliver the best possible customer experience.

About the Author

Alex Membrillo is the CEO of Cardinal Web Solutions, an award winning digital marketing agency based in Atlanta, GA. Named Technology Association of Georgia (TAG)’s 2015 Digital Marketer of the Year, his innovative approach to digital marketing has transformed the industry and delivered remarkable results to clients of all sizes and markets. Cardinal has been 3-time consecutively named on Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing privately-held US companies. Visit to find out more about Cardinal Web Solutions. Follow him on Twitter @Alex_Membrillo

July 30, 2016

by Alex Membrillo, CEO, Cardinal Web Solutions

Want to boggle your mind and impress your friends? Share with them this factoid:

More than 1 million pieces of content are shared on Facebook every minute, and the average user misses 70% of the feed. That doesn’t sound promising for your Facebook marketing strategy, does it?

Twitter, on the other hand, still retains its chronological newsfeed, which users think they like, but makes it nearly impossible for brands to reach their audiences.

At least, organically.

This isn’t just a downward trend – where organic social strategies are getting overshadowed due to sheer volume of content.

It’s a paradigm shift.

Now I’m not Chicken Little here, running around screaming that Organic Social Media is Dead! Organic Social Media is Dead!

I’m a bit less hyperbolic: organic social media isn’t dead. It’s just not as impactful today as paid social media is. If you want to get seen and noticed on platforms like Facebook, you have to be willing to invest.

I can hear the collective groans of budget-strapped organizations. Do we really have to start spending on social media? Is it really worth it?

Allow me to answer your questions: Yes.
And yes.

By next year, social media ad spend is slated to surpass $41 billion, meaning your competitors are investing in Facebook and the like. Their investments are robbing you of screen time with your audiences.

I know what you’re thinking now: Sure, but just because my competitors are doing something doesn’t mean I should.

True. Going against the grain is a fundamental precursor for disrupting the marketplace. But during Facebook’s Q1 2016 earnings call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that users are spending more than 50 minutes each day across its apps.

If you subscribe to the adage go where your customers are, then doesn’t it make sense to invest in social media?

Don’t worry, you can still follow the herd – so to speak – by accepting that an organic approach can no longer drive your social strategy – while still going against the grain.

Let me show you how.

Get personal – target your posts to your audience

Email marketing continues to provide one of the most successful returns on investment for marketers. Why?


You can target your emails to audiences based on actions (or inaction), demographics, job title and more. When you segment readers into various lists, you can tailor your messages to speak to that audience.

The same goes for paid social media.

Let’s examine this by comparing an organic post vs. a paid post on Facebook.

Let’s say your business has a Facebook audience of 5,000 people. These 5,000 people could have “liked” your page for any number of reasons, including:

• A campaign you created
• A link on your website
• A blog post you published on a 3rd-party site
• From a related page they found on Facebook
• Because you convinced your friends and family to like the page (admit it)

Now let’s say that you publish a post promoting a sale that’s specific to a certain population of prospective customers. Great! Except, how many of those 5,000 followers actually fit the mold?
When you post organic content on Facebook, you have little control over who sees it, meaning your efforts could fall upon irrelevant ears (not to mention an organic post is confined to just your followers). With a paid strategy, you’re opening your post up to the entire Facebook community.

Of course, targeting an entire global community isn’t an effective marketing plan, which is why you can narrow down your audience (essentially creating little list segments) by choosing from a massive database of potential determinants (want to get your post in front of folks who just bought a car, moved, or got married? Great, you can! Facebook knows all.). This allows you to place your promotion directly into the news feeds of the people you want to see it and who are most likely to jump into action.

Retargeting – create a conversion funnel based on action

Personalization is the key to your social success, and remarketing to folks who’ve interacted with your content help you get downright personal.

Retargeting, which is only available through paid social strategies, allows you to target users with the most relevant possible content.

For example, let’s say you create a paid post promoting a How-to article you wrote on growing tomatoes in your backyard. Using the analytics made available through Facebook’s ad manager, you can target the users who read that article by promoting a new ad, pushing an eBook: The Complete Guide to Transforming Your Backyard into a Garden Paradise.

You’ve now just pushed your readers further down the conversion funnel.

Paid social media gives you tremendous insight into the actions your audience takes, so that you can remarket to them with not only relevant content, but content designed to get them closer to a conversion.

You know how to get personal. Now you have to get creative

At the core of a good paid campaign is the ability to personalize your message. But just because you think you’ve tailored your message to your narrowed audience, doesn’t mean you’ve actually succeeded.

I’m reminded of an article by Erin Sagin at WordStream, where she highlights 8 Super Creative, Crazy Effective Display Ad Ideas.

While the focus is on display ads, the message is translatable to social.

Within her article, Sagin shares two ad examples from one of WordStream’s clients. The first ad shows a stock-photo image of a generic female doctor, with the headline:

Healthy Weight Loss Solutions from Medical Professionals.

Not very personal, and not very effective.

The WordStream team decided to target a male-only audience for the revamped campaign. Smaller population, but the ability to get personal. They replaced the generic doctor with the unsightly profile of a bare, protruding male belly. This time, their headline read:

Size Does Matter.

The latter ad yielded a 47% higher CTR than the original ad. In other words, now that you know how to target a narrowed audience, make sure you deliver with your messaging.

Use the tools social platforms give you
When it comes to creativity, also consider the tools at your disposal. Both Instagram and Facebook give marketers the ability to use carousel ads to promote their goods and services.

Use these tools to their full capacity, the way Tieks by Gavrieli has. For example, let’s say you only sell one product (as Tieks does). You might not think the carousel format works for you.

Try again.

Tieks used the multiple-image layout to highlight their only product – women’s flats. Each tile card focuses on, and highlights, a different feature of the shoe. Not only that, but the company’s use of a woman’s hand (which appears to be dragging her fingers to zoom in to the shoe’s image) encourages readers to do the same.

Brilliance and worth checking out.

Try not to forget about storytelling

Whether it’s on a billboard, in a magazine, on a webpage, or on social media. I find myself inundated with advertisements that lack creativity and fail to engage.

The very notion of social media is about storytelling, conversation, and engagement. Just because you’re putting dollars behind your messaging doesn’t mean you should sacrifice the story.

With the tools and data that platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter now offer to marketers, there’s no reason why you can’t develop a highly targeted ad, that reaches a highly motivated audience, and captures their attention. But, you’re going to have to pay to play.

About the Author

Alex Membrillo is the CEO of Cardinal Web Solutions, an award winning multi-local digital marketing agency based in Atlanta, GA. Named Technology Association of Georgia (TAG)’s 2015 Digital Marketer of the Year, his innovative approach to digital marketing has transformed the industry and delivered remarkable results to clients of all sizes and markets. Cardinal has been 3-time consecutively named on Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing privately-held US companies. Visit to find out more about Cardinal Web Solutions. Follow him on Twitter @Alex_Membrillo

July 30, 2016

by Alex Membrillo,CEO, Cardinal Web Solutions

Each month, an average of 275 million people log onto Kik, a free instant messenger app for mobile devices.

Realizing the potential associated with that many users, the beauty brand Sephora decided it was worth its while to get on board. Now, by conversing with a chatbot designed by the company, Kik users who communicate with Sephora can take a quick quiz to receive:

• Specific product recommendations
• Reviews
• Video tutorials & beauty tips

Users can even purchase Sephora products directly from the app.

Pretty impressive seeing as the entire conversation between user and brand was conducted by a machine. But that’s the power and potential of the growing number of messenger apps out there: use technology to personalize the customer experience for thousands – or even millions – of customers.

Face it: 3.6 billion people can’t be wrong

Advisory firm, Activate, states that around 2.5 billion people are registered to use at least one messaging app. By 2018, that number is expected to rise to 3.6 billion or, in other words, 90% of people on the planet who have access to the web.

While many people use these apps, initially, to remain connected with friends and family, it’s inevitable that messenger app users will discover the benefits of connecting with brands as well. Rather than sift through dozens of webpages, monitor and maintain a flurry of phone apps, or endure the frustrations of a call-center conversation, users could simply use their existing messaging apps to reach a company.

Brands, conversely, will realize that they can address the needs and requests of most of their customers, and attract new prospects, through automated chatbot conversations. In other words, it’s a win-win for all.

While messenger apps include the likes of Yik Yak, Kik, WeChat, and even Snapchat, the two biggest names in the game at the moment are both, not so surprisingly, Facebook related:

• Messenger
• WhatsApp (acquired by Facebook in 2014 for $19.3 billion)

As you introduce yourself into the world of messaging apps as a way to engage with your customers, it’s best to start with these two juggernauts. Once you’ve mastered – or at least warmed up to – the concept of messaging and chatbots, you might consider expanding your reach.

First, understand who uses these messaging apps

Just because 2.5 billion people are registered with at least one messaging app, doesn’t mean they use them regularly … at least not yet.

Those who do actively engage on messaging apps tend to be young, connected, and used to having conversations with brands in a personal space (so long as the conversations are of worth to them). That means you (and by you, I mean your chatbot, of course), have to speak the language of this audience. When striking up a conversation with a customer, don’t start with: Hello, or even How do you do?

The former is stale, and the latter comes across a bit Eddie Haskell-esque (the wise-guy neighbor in Leave it to Beaver).

Try using more fluid language, like: Hey there, or Got a minute?

Now, how can you engage these users?

No matter what direction you eventually take with your messaging strategy, remember the purpose of these apps: conversations.

Social media introduced the notion of brands conversing with customers; but apps like WhatsApp and Messenger take it to a whole new level.

Take Colgate India as an example. The company created a contest-based campaign, using WhatsApp, where they invited users to send smile selfies to a specific phone number displayed on the toothpaste packaging.

By submitting these selfies, the users entered to win a makeover by the brand’s ambassador stylist, and Colgate India found a way to connect on a personal level with its customers (not to mention they were also provided with invaluable user-generated content).

Brands are also harnessing the convenience-factor of these apps as well. Remember, users have no problem connecting with brands on a personal space (like a phone app) if the connection offers value.

So, offer value to your audiences.

Uber and Lyft, for example, allow users to hail drivers right from Facebook’s Messenger app; Taco Bell is testing out a Slack bot that will let users order without leaving their desk or picking up a phone.

Don’t forget the fun factor

Users love convenience, but they remember fun experiences, and share those experiences with others.

That’s why, for all if its shortcomings in terms of user analytics, Snapchat is a pretty exciting messaging app for brands to use.

Brands can create specialized filters which people can use as part of their snaps in the hopes of becoming a part of the brand’s limited time story. Sporting events have harnessed this approach well.

Users love these filters because it gives them the opportunity to flex their creativity; you should use them because it gives you the opportunity to use this user-generated content for future marketing purposes, even outside Snapchat.

The conversation era of marketing is here. Don’t be the wallflower

For years, brands had only television, radio, and print ads as a way to “connect” with their customers. I’ve branded the term “connect” with quotation marks because, well, connections were hardly formed.

These traditional marketing channels allowed brands to merely speak at their audiences. Now that your audience has the power to speak back, brands need to join in on the conversation or risk being left behind.

About the Author

Alex Membrillo is the CEO of Cardinal Web Solutions, an award winning digital marketing agency based in Atlanta, GA. Named Technology Association of Georgia (TAG)’s 2015 Digital Marketer of the Year, his innovative approach to digital marketing has transformed the industry and delivered remarkable results to clients of all sizes and markets. Cardinal has been 3-time consecutively named on Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing privately-held US companies. Visit to find out more about Cardinal Web Solutions. Follow him on Twitter @Alex_Membrillo

April 21, 2016


Event Overview
April Signature Luncheon: Finding the Profit in TCM Fan Passion
Speaker: Jennifer Dorian (@JRDorian), General Manager at Turner Classic Movies

In our April Signature Luncheon, we featured Jennifer Dorian for a presentation on finding fan passion and realizing the profitable opportunities therefrom. From TCM-branded cruises to festivals and wine clubs, TCM is super-serving their biggest fans using customer insights and data to build brand extensions as well as optimizing the portfolio of new expenditures.

Top 5 Takeaways

  1. TCM has become the trusted keeper of the flame for classic movie culture.
  2. TCM has maintained a strong brand promise for over 21 years, never losing focus of their fans by showcasing uncut video, commercial free, with engaging themes and background content.
  3. 19 Moments You Knew You Were Addicted to TCM: You know you’re doing a good job staying relevant when Buzzfeed publishes a listicle!
  4. Film Festivals, Cruises, Theater Screenings, Wine Clubs, and Twitter Parties. Talk about innovation! (more info on each below)
  5. The brand perception is high among fans: TCM is consistently in the Top 5 stations that fans want to hold on to. They provide feedback and work with TCM to perfect the product.
    (Jennifer provided some takeaways from her presentation, listed at the Conclusion of this recap.)

Upcoming Events

TCM Signature Luncheon, Full Recap

Jennifer had a phenomenal presentation built for the luncheon, so it’s only right we include images of the relevant slides in our recap below. Let’s begin with some background information on TCM, a “411” from Jennifer in what we’ll call Act I, then the “Hardcore TCM” fan insights in Act II.

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 3.51.16 PM

Turner Classic Movies, Background

Even if you don’t regularly tune into TCM, you’ve undoubtedly heard of the classic movie channel. Well, it’s no mystery why the brand is still alive and kicking, thanks to the marketing prowess driving new ideas and extensions internally at Turner. With a strong brand promise for over 21 years, TCM has never lost focus of their fans by continuing to bring uncut video, commercial free, with curated themes and exciting background conversations through their program hosts.

A little more background: Turner Classic Movies was launched around 22 years ago this month, in April ‘94, a short while after Ted Turner acquired MGM. After the film libraries were compiled, Turner began to distribute the films for release, and ultimately launched the channel on April 14, 1994, 6:00 PM. Interestingly, this exact date was chosen for its entertainment significance as “the exact centennial anniversary of the first public movie showing in New York City.”

TCM has continued to build out licensing deals in Hollywood to expand their movie selection and become the category market leader. Currently, the channel is available in the US, UK, France, Spain, the Nordic, Middle East and Africa. You can read more on TCM’s history on Wikipedia here.

Act I: TCM 411

Jennifer began by expressing her gratitude for being a part of this brilliant TCM team. These self-acclaimed nerds collectively care about the TCM mission and approach their daily duties with sincere and genuine interest. They’ve innovated the brand to best-in-class status beginning with an official TCM App, which receives overwhelmingly positive reviews and thousands of downloads (see below). Integrations in the app as simple as their Now Playing Guide are receiving big praise when it’s really just a simple schedule reformatted and optimized for a quick, mobile experience. app review

TCM houses over 17,000 classic films, the largest collection of old movies. Well, “how do you define a classic?” you might ask. Basically, anything from between 1890-2010 with varying characteristics based on topic, director, style, etc. Let’s leave categorization to the experts.

TCM consistently curates different categories of programming, including the Condemned. This Programming Spotlight, launched February 2016, airs 27 films which were labeled “condemned” or “objectionable” by the Catholic Legion of Decency (Catholic Church). The movies air on Thursday nights and dive into the influence that the powerful Catholic Legion of Decency had on the film industry. Very interesting.

Over time, publications such as the New York Times have proven supportive and occasional align their content with that of TCM (the NYTimes even provided a Letter of Recommendation for TCM back in 2015, one of their first ever). Publications like Buzzfeed are also providing earned media with quizzes and “19 moments you knew you were addicted to TCM”–type content.

So, the strategy has remained constant: Continue bringing casual movie lovers over to the classics. The AMC’s and HBO’s of the world are all delving into original content now, to increase their ratings, however, TCM has stayed true to their original brand promise and it’s paying off.
(Jennifer declared this the end of TCM 411, now let’s dive into the Hardcore TCM fan insights.)

Act II: Hardcore TCM

No joke, TCM’s fans are hardcore. So hardcore that they’re right up with Apple (and other leading fan-driven brands) in terms of passion.

Their fans are passionate, social, of all ages, and have accepted TCM as the trusted keeper of the flame for classic movies and the culture. Now with this heavy responsibility, TCM naturally launched a “Fan-thropology” study to see what the options were marketing-wise. The TCM Opportunity Map (seen below) highlights different opportunities weighed against the attractiveness and potential fit to their audience.


This sparked the launch of TCM’s Classic Movie Festival, which held the inaugural event in 2010 in Los Angeles. This year marks the 7th consecutive festival, running from April 28 – May 1st, with emotions in the movies (titled “Moving Pictures” as the theme. TCM expects 28,000+ seats to be filled and over 2,000 official badge holders. However, the biggest win may be their press coverage as the festival is held in Los Angeles’ most popular venues including the TCL Chinese Theatre and Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

Following TCM’s success in the Film Festival and the notion that their Opportunity Map model was correct, TCM launched the Classic Cruise. Yes, this is a real thing, and to prove it there’s a video below. This activation serves around 2,000+ participants and has been running consistently for six years now. It’s proving profitable and worth investment, so TCM is growing the program and the itinerary continues to expand. They’ve partnered with Disney to use their cruise ships, and head down to the British Virgin Islands this November — Book Now!

Now that you’ve found a cruise you never knew you wanted to go on, let’s move on. Next up, TCM partnered with Fathom Entertainment to screen ~75-year-old movies in modern theaters. With flexibility in the P&L to try new things, this resulted in a win/win/win, earning money for TCM, the venues and studios alike.

To no surprise, TCM kept going. Following some research that an average TCM viewer is twice as likely to drink wine, TCM introduced the Wine Club. This Club has taken off in popularity and offers exclusive wines such as the True Grit Limited Edition Zinfandel where TCM works with the vineyards and bottlers to create original wines paired to taste with specific movies.

To continue the brand extensions, TCM created a Film Noir MOOT (Massive Open Online Course) program with over 50 hours of classes on Canvas, for free, and partnered with Ball State University to offer the course there. Only The Walking Dead’s course had a higher completion rate, begging us to ask the question of whether or not TCM could open a for-profit online movie school. Stay tuned!

To get all this done, partners are critical to TCM’s success. For example, Disney for the cruises, Canvas and Ball State for the eClass, and Running Press publishing for books.

Bonus: #TCMParty Twitter Party: Yes, this exists, and people love it!


Jennifer wrapped up with six takeaways and some audience questions.

  1. Be expansive in ideation.
  2. Let the mission guide you.
  3. Prioritize and find partners.
  4. Stick with it, traction takes time.
  5. Your portfolio will continue to build over time.
  6. You will reach unexpected riches; reinvest the riches to your core brand.

Q1: What about the program distributors?
A1: The consumer is always first, not the distributor. Turner feels comfortable taking risks with TCM, and so far they’ve all paid off.

Q2: What about the aging population?
A2: We have cohorts of fans interested in the classics, and for nostalgic reasons. Mostly 55+ and general film enthusiasts. TCM continues to focus on the 55+ as they’re living longer and longer these days (90+) with more time/money to fine dine, relax, and travel.

Q3: How about targeting families?
A3: Co-viewing is the on-ramp for the next generation. This is how people get into TCM, think millennials watching a black & white with their parents. Last year, TCM used a #LetsMovieDay activation to bring the action to the second and third screens.

Q4: I know you have an app, but what about Video On-Demand?
A4: VOD houses approximately 45% of our movies. The Watch TCM app has around 90% of the movies available. 100 movies a week, changed weekly, keeps the content fresh and engaging!

That wraps up the April Signature Luncheon recap! For a recap of our last Signature Luncheon, an insightful presentation from Pandora Radio’s Heidi Browning, click here.

For more AMA Atlanta information, event updates, and recaps, follow AMA Atlanta on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Instagram: @AMAAtlanta and #AMAATL

Blog by: Steffan Pedersen | Director of Digital Marketing, Object 9 | @steffanpedersen

April 12, 2016

The AMY Awards is usually described as a “Night of Fun” and this year was no different. Amidst the silent auction, digital caricature drawings, delicious food and cocktails, nearly 300 attendees came dressed to the nines to celebrate each other’s accomplishments inside the Fabulous Fox Theatre’s Egyptian Ballroom.

There were 28 award categories that honored Atlanta’s best marketers who have made their mark in our community and beyond.  We broke records with over 104 entries and for the first time ever, we recognized Atlanta’s unique startup culture with the city’s only Best Marketing/Advertising Tech Startup award.

View our honoree videos here:

Marketing for Good –

Best Tech Startup –

Best Overall Entertainment Campaign Winner –

Lifetime Achievement Winner –

Lifetime Achievement – Acceptance Speech –

Corporate Marketer of the Year –

Agency Marketer of the Year –

I cannot thank the fantastic committee of volunteers enough for their selfless contributions. We also had several amazing cash and in-kind sponsors and without them, there would have been no AMY Awards.

View pictures of the event by clicking here. If you were not in attendance, I hope they make you want join us next year and inspire you to #MakeYourMark!


March 4, 2016

Recognizing the achievements of Atlanta’s marketing community

The AMY Awards spotlight Atlanta’s most creative and talented marketers, chosen from among the most impressive candidate pool to date.  With over 100 entries this year, the 2016 nominees showcase the quality, success, and outstanding strategic methods of local organizations. Atlanta’s marketing community will gather on the evening of Thursday, March 10th at the Fabulous Fox Theatre to celebrate those who make their mark. View the Judging Day video for a behind the scenes look at how we chose the winners!

New award for 2016 – Best Marketing/Advertising Tech Start Up Award

Atlanta’s climate of innovation and surplus of workforce talent speaks to those who choose to ignite business in our city. As entrepreneurs launch new endeavors, Atlanta marketers are rising to the challenge and impacting industry. The 59th Annual AMY Awards signal that influence with the presentation of the first ever award honoring marketing and advertising tech start ups.

Tickets & tables are still available

The 59th Annual AMY Awards offer an opportunity to share cocktails with the game changers and extraordinary talent that Atlanta’s marketing community has to offer. Sponsorship tables are still available. What better way to inspire your marketing team? What better way to meet the people impacting the industry? What better way to get involved with and learn more about AMA Atlanta? Fellowship with industry titans and mingle with the leaders of tomorrow, all at one amazing event. Buy your tickets or table here!

Special Event Award Presentation Winners

Speaking of our #MakeYourMarkATL theme, join us in honoring these special award winners who have done just that.

Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
David Christopher

Marketing for Good Award Winner
Kate Atwood
Metro Atlanta Chamber Vice President of Marketing

Corporate Marketer of the Year
Janna Ducich
Cricket Wireless Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer

Agency Marketer of the Year
Richard Ward
22squared CEO

Black tie optional? Yassss

Gentleman, we know you have been waiting for an opportunity to wear that new shawl tux or midnight blue-slim fit suit you purchased last year. Ladies, will you choose a cocktail dress or gown? Either way, let’s get in formation for the 59th Annual AMY Awards!

February 26, 2016

Event Overview
AMA Atlanta February Signature Luncheon: Consumer Trends and Truths: How Marketers can Master Engagement and Build Passionate Fans at Villa Christina.

How are streaming media companies able to allow their users to shape their experiences while driving brand loyalty? Join the conversation to learn how Pandora, the world’s most powerful music discovery platform, leverages robust data to create powerful and engaging experiences for its nearly 80 million active listeners. Our innovative guest will discuss macro trends around consumers of today, the importance of knowing who your audience is, where and how they connect with your brand, and how you can leverage the power of music to captivate the attention of future fans.

Heidi Browning, SVP of Strategic Solutions, Pandora – @Heidi_Golightly

Event Recap

On a brisk and overcast Atlanta day, the AMA Atlanta community gathered at the wonderful Villa Christina for a memorable Signature Luncheon session, featuring Pandora’s Heidi Browning Pearson. I’d like to start by thanking Heidi for her availability and continued support of our chapter! It’s no surprise that the tables were packed full in a larger-than-average room for this special occasion.

After last minute registrations, some quick power networking, and shuffling to find our seats, Mary Stenmark took the stage to provide some chapter news and introduce the session. A few noteworthy updates from Mary:

  • 34 new AMA Atlanta members since January!
  • 55 group members — most in AMA!
  • Jessica Mash recognized as Volunteer of the Month – congrats Jessica!
  • Finally, don’t forget to check out AMA Atlanta’s Job Board and Mentorship program.

Upcoming events:

Now for the meaty and insightful recap content that you all came here to see!

Heidi opened by explaining her passion behind the work being done at Pandora; creating meaningful connections between bands, brands, and music. When she’s travelling, and it happens to come up in conversation that Heidi works for Pandora, the stories and love for the brand expressed by mere strangers is overwhelming. Everyone has their story and passion behind the brand, often pointing to their favorite station or time spent listening.

Here’s a quick look at Heidi’s customized Atlanta presentation slides — so fun!

Atlanta Loves Music!
1 Million Unique Listeners
561 Million Songs Streamed
37 Million Hours Listened
25 Million Total Thumbs

Atlanta Gets Down!
Top Artists for Women: Kehlani, Tink, Ciara, K. Michelle, Jacquees, Meghan Trainor, Ariana Grande, Beyoncé, Keyshia Cole, Selena Gomez.
Top Artists for Men: Metallica, N.W.A., AC/DC, Young Jeezy, Ariel Camacho & Los Plebes Del Rancho, Eminem, Wiz Khalifa, Los Temerarios, 2 Chainz, Tupac.

Atlanta Keeps it Hot!
Top Genres for Women: Today’s Hits, Today’s R&B And Hip Hop Hits, Pop & Hip Hop Power Workout, Today’s Hip Hop and Pop Hits, R&B Love Songs, 80’s R&B, 90s R&B, Rap Strength Training, Today’s Country, Twerk.
Top Genres for Men: Rap Strength Training, Today’s R&B And Hip Hop Hits, Today’s Hits, 80s R&B, Today’s Hip Hop & Pop Hits, Rap & Hip HOp Pre-game, Trap Rap, Pop & Hip Hop Power Workout, Rap 2015, Today’s Country.

Very interesting insights to the Atlanta consumers and music scene, highlighted by Workout stations, and a few surprise Latin artists. Heidi took this opportunity to mention that the Latin segment is one of their fastest growing markets — also very interesting.

Nationwide, an impressive 80 million people listen to Pandora monthly, which was accomplished with little-to-no paid media, as Heidi explained. They built the passion and engagement organically, but realize that this technique is not sustainable and they must continue to deepen relationships for more engagement.

Heidi then took us through a few trends and truths, followed by some campaigns and results we’ll dive into later on.

Macro Trends

#1 – Fragmented, Shrinking Consumer Attention Spans (in regards to media)

It’s been said that humans now have a smaller attention span than that of a goldfish. Well, Heidi reiterated this development and honed in on how valuable it truly is to get a share of someone’s attention.

#2 – Personalization Everywhere: “Now Playing – You!”

Personalization impacts everything these days. A strength of Pandora’s is seen in their personalization and recommendations algorithm. They’re among the best-in-class, and are looking for ways to increase your thumbing to continue to personalize and build a deeper relationship.

#3 – Data, Data Everywhere

Between the Internet of Things, wearables, connectivity, etc. etc. we’ve become obsessed with our “quantified-self” and self-improvement. With these obsessions come inherent sharing. Lots, and lots of social data sharing. (We’re looking at you, Mrs. 15,000 Fitbit steps per day!)

#4 – Show Me You Know Me!

This derives from the Millennial-based expectations of any given brand. Millennials expect a two-way dialogue, and have (for the most part) learned to tune out mass media. Make Millennials feel invested in with personalization, and your brand will ride the coattail of Millennial love for years to come.

#5 – Sonic Boom.

Heidi described this macro trend as a complete transformation. At CES (the International Consumer Electronics Show, held annually in Las Vegas) we’re seeing a switch from touch screen innovations to sound-based innovation. Think voice activation, voice recognition, and the various other uses of sound in the future. Today, if your strategy includes audio, it will help you dramatically in breaking through the clutter and get in with the “earphone culture.” Fact: You can process multiple visual cues at once, but can only process one sound.

Truth Trends

#1 – Time spent in mobile apps has passed TV for the first time. (via Flurry)


#2 – 75% of people choose music as their top choice of entertainment. (via Nielsen)

Music is the universal language that connects us. It’s a deeply emotional experience, and transcends culture. Example: shawnthezombie tweeting that he lost 75 pounds thanks to Pandora!

#3 – The music you listen to when you’re between ages 16-22 is the most meaningful in your life in regards to nostalgia, memories, etc. (via Edison Research)

#4 – Experiences > Things.

67% of millennials would rather spend $150 on an experience, over a physical item. Interestingly enough, this trend was also true in 74% of women. Fact: Millennials are a generation that are NOT hoarding and collecting things.

Heidi then took us through some marketing challenges.


Challenge #1: Fragmented Media
Challenge #2: Data, Data Everywhere
Challenge #3: Creative for Mobility
Challenge #4: Measuring ROI

Solutions: Pandora is always looking for ways to win share of attention, and by doing so have placed the consumer at their core. They’re beginning to humanize their data, with insights as to, “What does this really mean?” By putting the consumer at the core, Pandora’s been able to connect on a deeper and more emotional level, thus raising engagement.


In leveraging the passion point of music, Pandora created their “Thumb Moments” campaign. We watched the clip featuring Nick Jonas surprising fans with one-on-one concerts. The idea behind these campaigns was simple: Increase the amount of thumb actions (critical to Pandora’s long term business), thus increasing the long term retention strategy and enhancing user customization/personalization. Clearly this type of campaign is not scalable or sustainable, so Pandora needed to come up with something else…

Meet Thumbprint Radio, a uniquely personal station comprised solely of your thumbed-up songs! The concept was product of a Pandora Hackathon, and has been wildly popular since launch. To get this station: Create a Station –> “Thumbprint Radio” –> Enjoy! In launching the product, Pandora activated 33 influencers to describe their experiences with Thumbprint Radio. Reaction – That’s my Ish! 

The initial takeaways (after 1-2 months) of Thumbprint Radio seen below, with significant results in the Recaptured Fans, Station Ranking in Listening Hours, and Increase in Thumbs categories.



Case Studies

#1 – Huggies + Kimberly Clark

Simply put, Huggies partnered with Pandora to create a Baby Making Station around Valentine’s Day. Yes, you can imagine the playlist includes lots of Barry White. The station lives on for as long as you’re opted in, meaning the brand needs to refresh the playlist every few weeks to ensure listener retention.

This introduces the concept of Sponsored Listening, still somewhat new to world of Pandora. Basically, ad-free music for uninterrupted music “moments” we’ll call it. 🙂

#2 – Taco Bell

Taco Bell had a very different challenge, being a physical fast-food location with specific price points, as they hoped to raise awareness of a new menu innovation – the breakfast menu and a free Biscuit Taco. The campaign was aptly titled, “Breakfast Defector.” In creating this campaign Taco Bell partnered with Pandora to take Sponsored Listening to another level. Basically, an ad would appear for a free Biscuit Taco, and offer for 60 minutes of uninterrupted music if you opted-in. Taco Bell was able to hit 40+ million Millennials through Pandora, and integrated a layered mobile campaign to include audio, display, and video ads to recapture the audience.

The campaign launched successfully through the concept of offereing the audience a sipmle chose and a reward. By opting-in and engaging around a 15 second ad, you received a free Biscuit Taco and 60 minutes of uninterrupted music. Of course, Taco Bell’s brand messaging would be placed throughout the 60 minutes, but without disrupting the music experience.

Awareness Results: +16% lift in “Biscuit Taco” product association, +28% lift in “Breakfast Defector” message association, and +26% greater awareness of the Biscuit Taco than unexposed survey respondents. (via Millward Brown)

Localized Results: 15% more likely to visit a Taco Bell location, and 1 in 7 of the exposed listeners who visited ended up returning within a 10-day period. (via Placed)

Heidi wrapped up with a touching story of how personalization drives 1:1 engagement. Enter the lives of Maggie and Kyle, two lovers united by their love of music (in Maggie’s case, Pandora). Kyle decided to make his engagement personal, memorable, and creative; so he reached out to Pandora and was able to secure a custom ad on a specific station during their car ride that evening. Thankfully, the ad played while they were in the car and Maggie gave Kyle the “I do” (how could she not??). This is just one, small example of what Pandora is capable of, and how spending time on personalizations can mean the world to their biggest fans.

Before opening up to audience questions, Heidi reiterated that it’s time to take industry-wide risks and share success stories, as marketing/advertising are changing as a whole. We’re at a crucial crossroads where we need to move the industry forward as a group, and every collective effort helps. We agree, Heidi, and that’s why we bring powerful and engaging speakers like you to Atlanta!

Audience Questions:

Q1: How do you find and activate influencers?

Heidi: Our agency finds the influencers. Pandora will internally find influencers who participate in sharing the stations/service in general, but most of the efforts are on the agency side.

Q2: Demographics of Pandora listeners?

Heidi: Roughly 50% iOS and 50% Android. 80% mobile, 20% desktop. However, Smart TVs, Sonos, Xbox and Playstation, etc. usage is increasing rapidly. This falls in the social listening category, as an in-home experience, as people are utilizing the service while hosting guests.

Q3: What’s a major challenge that keeps you up at night?

Heidi: Growing the user base. The music industry is complex by nature, and you must stay on top of the latest news/trends related to radio, on demand, and live events. However, this presents an opportunity in data mining as well. Based on data analytics, Pandora is able to activate local, live events (i.e. Atlanta hip hop show for Pandora listeners) as the artists are trending in an area. Pandora does this about 54 times per year, and the shows are complimentary to listeners as sponsors foot the bill.

To supplement the live event activations, Pandora acquired TicketFly in late 2015. TicketFly specializes in selling tickets to smaller/mid-sized venues, where a 40% unsold ticket figure is not uncommon. Pandora is able to target the right people at the right times to sell more tickets.

That wraps up the February Signature Luncheon blog recap! For those of you who attended, thank you, and for those of you who missed out – we hope this provided a thorough takeaway. A previous version of Heidi’s engagement presentation can be found on SlideShare, here.

For more AMA Atlanta information, event updates, and recaps follow AMA Atlanta on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and Instagram: @AMAAtlanta and #AMAATL

Blog by: Steffan Pedersen | Director of Digital Marketing, Object 9 | @steffanpedersen