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 www.CardinalWebSolutions.com 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 – https://youtu.be/0fHwT4kMQsE

Best Tech Startup – https://youtu.be/jQuTd_KrFb0

Best Overall Entertainment Campaign Winner –  https://youtu.be/z0NsI2boTdA

Lifetime Achievement Winner – https://youtu.be/b6d1Nc1wwg4

Lifetime Achievement – Acceptance Speech – https://youtu.be/D4OyTvSuEA4

Corporate Marketer of the Year – https://youtu.be/y7F4Wxd99IQ

Agency Marketer of the Year – https://youtu.be/f0jZQzMysgM

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

January 27, 2016

PowerPoint and passion aren’t two words typically associated together, but when you add renowned presentation designer Nancy Duarte into the mix, you are inspired to change the world through effective presentations. The AMA Atlanta Chapter recently hosted “An Evening with Nancy Duarte,” and this post will offer a recap of the main takeaways.

A Bit of Background on Nancy Duarte

Duarte is the principal and CEO of Duarte Design, and the author of several books including:

She also worked with Al Gore to develop his keynote presentation “An Inconvenient Truth” which was so compelling that filmmaker Davis Guggenheim directed a documentary based on the presentation, and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.Duarte is also a frequent TED Talker, and works with the organization to improve other TED Talk presentations.

Duarte’s passion is to help people effectively communicate their ideas and vision for the world.

Communicators are Torch Bearers

Duarte opened with the idea that as marketers and communicators, we are torch bearers. We help people take the next step into a new concept, idea, or pitch. New ideas can be scary, intimidating, and filled with resistance, but as the torchbearer we hold the guiding light that illuminates the way into something different.

The Best Presenters and Presentations are Focused on Storytelling and Empathy

The greatest communicators use the story format.

PowerPoint slides should be a great narrative with assisting visuals and data. Duarte reminds us that slides can be beautifully designed but if they don’t tell a story they will not be effective [side note: Edward Tufte’s theories on visual data design and avoiding chartjunk are a great reference to utilize when designing your slides]. Duarte believes that stories impact our belief system and shape our collective conscious, so we can use stories to shape the perceptions and opinions of others.

To tell a great story, you must have empathy.

Duarte stated that the single most important element to begin a presentation with is empathy. She encourages spending time inside the skin of your audience to develop empathy so you can better communicate your vision. If we want to change our audience’s perception and get them on board with our idea, then we must empathize and tell our story within our audience’s perspective. Duarte calls this resonating with the audience. As presenters, we must “hit their frequency” if we want to effectively communicate our vision.

Tips on Presenting Change

An audience member asked Duarte for tips on presenting change, especially when your audience may be primed to resist. Duarte’s recommendations include considering the two polarities as you design your presentation – who will be motivated by your ideas, and who will resist?

Brainstorm a “bucket of resistance” by writing down all the potential ways your audience could resist, and then empathize with your audience through this resistance to bring them over to your goals and vision. Duarte reminds us that if we have to push people, then we haven’t thought about the situation empathically.

A Brand is a Story

The best brands tell a story. When corporations have a great story to tell, people want to join in on your journey and be a part of your brand. Duarte recommends hiring staff who share the same values of your brand because skills can be taught. To protect your brand’s story and ideals, sometimes you have to make decisions that value reputation over revenue.


Empathy and storytelling are rhetorically effective strategies that enable us to design compelling PowerPoint presentations, and convince the world that our vision and ideas are worth pursuing.

Blog written by Caroline Moore

January 27, 2016

2016 is off to a bang at AMA’s Atlanta Chapter! For those of you not able to attend this year-opening event, here are a few noteworthy recaps:

  • AMA Atlanta has 59 new members since the close of 2015.
  • AMA Atlanta is the 3rd largest Chapter nationally, quickly catching up to Houston.
  • AMA Atlanta now boasts 55 Group Members, being companies with four or more members.

Upcoming AMA Atlanta Events 

It’s worth noting that the first BKV Social Series event is coming up on January 21st, and our February Signature Luncheon on consumer trends (featuring Heidi Browning Pearson of Pandora) will be February 23rd. For those of you still in school, the 30th Annual Collegiate Conference Mixer is coming up on February 25th, with the actual Collegiate Conference & Job Fair itself being held on the 26th. Also, the 59th Annual AMY Awards at the fabulous Fox Theater are quickly approaching quickly, so plan accordingly and get your tickets before it’s too late!

Mary also took this opportunity to point out two opportunities for AMA Atlanta members. First, the AMA Atlanta job board, where you can try a 30 day free trial and then post for as little as $145. Second, the AMA Atlanta Mentorship program that we highly recommend checking out if you see value in giving/receiving career advice.

After some networking and finding our seats, the crowd calmed as Kate Atwood was introduced and brought to the stage to begin her presentation.

Choose ATL: Creating a Movement

Kate promptly captured our attention by opening with the brand new ChooseATL video (below), and a depiction of a longtime project of hers that sits very close to her heart, Kate’s Club. For those unfamiliar, Kate’s Club is an organization on a mission to empower children and teens facing life after the death of a parent or sibling.

Kate explained the new promotional video as a love letter to Atlanta, and it was extremely well received among the attendees. Kate explained the thought process behind this video, explaining her perspective that Atlanta is a very unique community. “Our hospitality is Atlanta’s secret sauce for new college grads looking to make something happen.” Here, in Atlanta, young people have the unique opportunity to step in and immediately get their hands dirty, similar to how Kate started her Club.

As you can see, Kate’s Club is as unique an organization as Atlanta is a city, and Kate explained her journey as a young person getting her hands dirty in bringing it to life. From hosting a bar night which raised $1,200, to now residing in a Midtown clubhouse (tour here!) with a full-time staff of five; Kate’s Club has come a long way and the passion + hustle to pull this off was thanks to Atlanta’s hospitable ecosystem. As Kate explained, people surrounded her concept and mission, and we are seeing similar support with her ChooseATL initiatives.

In creating a powerful ChooseATL brand, and driving social impact, it’s important that we are collectively intentional about who we attract and bring to our city, as they hold an integral part in shaping the future of our community. Kate has been working relentlessly over the past few months to promote narratives around the special energy we all feel in Atlanta, and learning to boast,

“Look at us! We are a global star!”


Kate then highlighted two main strategies around the ChooseATL.com branding:

1- Meet them where they are.

Meaning, meet the candidates, who are weighing various choices and options, in the virtual space where they’re already playing. Show them all the neighborhoods Atlanta has to offer. Describe to them the vibrant scene that is downtown, and the walkability. The website should reflect these key attributes, and candidates should walk away feeling virtually connected and aware of all Atlanta has to offer.

2- Evolve perceptions.

Share with the world what Atlanta has to offer! From movies, to entrepreneurship, to startups and major corporations; Atlanta is rockin’. Kate even joked about starting a hashtag #WhoKnew to exemplify all of Atlanta’s attributes and misinformed perceptions. This is where the Imagine ad campaign concepts were derived.

imagine kate7

An interesting finding within the Metro Atlanta Chamber, that Kate shared, is that other competitive cities of similar size have been successfully marketing themselves all along! Look at Houston, Columbus, and Nashville for example. It’s time we begin sharing with the world what we have to offer, and creating a sense of connection to those who may not have an opportunity to visit prior to making a career decision.

A few new tools, or engagement tactics, Kate is considering introducing include a Neighborhood Quiz to determine where you might fit best in the City, as well as a dedicating a portion of the website to Atlantans sharing their stories and perspectives on why they chose Atlanta. Stay tuned. . .

Kate’s most recently organized event, the Ultimate Job Interview Contest, opened for entries back in October 2015 and the finale event was held this January 5-6 at the Georgia General Assembly in Ponce City Market. The contest was for college students looking to Choose ATL and leave their mark on the city. Kate hopes to grow the size of the competition each year. There’s no doubt that this is a winning recipe, as the opportunity to directly pitch top executives for jobs (as well as a hefty check) will surely capture the attention of college students. Although engagement was not as high as initially expected, ChooseATL was still able to capture valuable evergreen content, and new platforms for marketing the city through each of the contestants’ entries. As always, feedback is invaluable, so feel free to provide your feedback and ideas via the Contact Us form here. Congratulations to all the #UJIC finalists and winners!

Kate wrapped up the presentation by discussing the four key roles required to grow the ChooseATL program. Along with the importance of being intentional, Kate noted the need to be transparent – to highlight the good and the bad about Atlanta – since we’re far from perfect. The roles are listed below:

Honest Evangelists: Realistic and honest. Atlanta is a place where you can make a difference. Just look at Detroit and Baltimore—Millennials flocked there following unsatisfactory newscasts, and decreases in public opinion, because they’re places that at 21 you can get involved quickly and make an immediate difference.

Enthusiastic Hosts: This points back to capturing Atlanta, and the South’s, hospitable nature. We must find a way to convey this message on social media, like LinkedIn, which is growing immensely in the 18-24 year old demographic.

Valued Connectors: Think jobs, social initiatives, and volunteering. The Ultimate Job Interview Contest is a start, but we must continue to provide resources for young people considering our community.

Creative Storytellers: Provide those considering Atlanta with a lens to look through. Otherwise, they might not know what they’re looking at! This is the space where creative marketing and advertising campaigns will be of the utmost importance, as they’ll shape the first impression many receive of the professional landscape Atlanta has to offer.

Lastly, for those of you attending SXSW Interactive this year, the Metro Chamber and Choose ATL will have a house on Congress March 13th and 14th. I’ll be there, various AMA Atlanta members will be there–Kate surely will–and we hope to see Atlanta show up in big numbers for the takeover!

With ChooseATL as the platform, this is just the beginning. Exciting initiatives to come!

For more information on why you should #ChooseATL, check out their sites here:

And be sure to connect with AMA Atlanta and join in on the conversation:

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

November 23, 2015

Originally posted on Interface Blog by Lauren White on November 23rd, 2015

Tell me who you run with and I’ll tell you who you are. This was one of many words of wisdom from a group of highly successful business men and women who spoke on a panel at an American Marketing Association Atlanta Chapter event moderated by Interface’s own CMO Jo Ann Herold.

From left to right: Jo Ann Herold, Kate Atwood, Steve Behm, Ken Bernhardt, Julie Bowerman, William Pate and Shannon Harlow

From left to right: Jo Ann Herold, Kate Atwood, Steve Behm, Ken Bernhardt, Julie Bowerman, William Pate and Shannon Harlow

The topic? “A Tribute to Mentors.” It was fitting that all of the participants were mentors or mentees of Jo Ann. And, wow! What great company she keeps! The panel included Kate Atwood, executive director at the Arby’s Foundation; Steve Behm, president of Edleman South; Ken Bernhardt, professor at Georgia State University; Julie Bowerman, vice-president of ecommerce at Coca-Cola Company; William Pate, president of the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau; and Shannon Harlow, vice-president at 22Squared.

Jo Ann learned early in her career the value of seeking out mentors to help her along her journey. “You’ll be surprised at how honored people will be when asked to be a mentor,“ she told the group. “Don’t be afraid to reach out for guidance.”

How do you find a mentor?
Shannon suggested starting your search with “people you admire,” and Julie added that it’s important to “have a few different types of mentors.” Ken also advised that, when seeking a mentor, “it’s important to have people you trust to tell you the truth, like your own personal board of advisors.” He added, “When faced with difficult decisions, don’t hesitate to ask for advice. Just like professional sports players have a coach, we all need a coach.”

Who can be a mentor?
As it turns out, we all can. Mentors can be those who already hold advanced positions in your career field, people who are in a different career field that you aspire to enter, college professors and other educators or even someone who is just getting started. Steve reflected on a time when he received some great advice from a junior member of his staff and the importance of having a relationship with people at all career levels. Kate said, “Don’t under value how powerful you [as a mentee] can be for a mentor.” The panel explained that mentors should be humble leaders, have integrity and be willing to tell the truth with kindness because, as Steve noted, “Words matter.”

Members of the Atlanta AMA and friends gathered to learn about the importance of mentoring programs.

Members of the Atlanta AMA and friends gathered to learn about the importance of mentoring programs.

Advice from a mentor
Mentors offer real-life examples of challenges and lessons that may help you find the answer in one of your own challenges. One of William’s biggest lessons learned was a time he “almost got fired” over an advertising campaign in the mid-90s for a product that integrated emails, fax and pagers (oh my!). After the initial pitch, the CEO didn’t like the campaign but William believed in it. “He told me ‘I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’ll give you the money for it, but if it doesn’t work, then you’re fired.’” The campaign ended up being successful and William learned to “believe in what you’re doing.”

If you don’t have a mentor, seek one out. And be available to mentor others. We can learn a lot from one another.

September 30, 2015

Originally posted by on

You may have heard it said that content is king for digital marketing, but have you ever wondered why? Below is a summary of key points from our CMG Local Solutions partner’s eBook, 7 Reasons Why Content is King.

1.  Content is king, but it must be quality content.

Keyword stuffing can penalize you in Google, but good quality content with relevant keywords scores high points with search engines.

2.  Focus on producing content that helps improve your customers’ business or lifestyle.

60% of consumers are influenced by their friends’ social media posts, according to the IBM Institute for Business Value.

3.  Content-based emails generate more leads. 

Emailing customers with tips and informational content generates 388% more leads than primarily sales-focused emails, according to MarketingSherpa.


Click here to download the 7 Reasons Why Content is King eBook for additional advice on how to maximize your content marketing.





August 4, 2015

by Katherine Jianas, Group Media Director at BKV

It seems like every day we read about new technological advancements in the search marketing space. There is no doubt search is changing rapidly, making it an exciting time to be a search marketer! We have identified the three main reasons for changes in the landscape.

new paid search engine marketing updates

  1. Mobile

    As speculated already this year, mobile search has surpassed desktop. While mobile has naturally grown with the increase in smartphone usage, it has been further fueled in the paid search engine marketing space with the migration to Google Enhanced campaigns in 2013, and more recently with Bing Enhanced and Yahoo Gemini. And in the organic space, most recently “Mobilegeddon”, Google’s mobile SEO algorithm update, has further powered the importance of mobile. Gone are the days when you can target mobile and tablet separately from desktop. Now, search marketers must input mobile bid modifiers on an ad group level to manage mobile exposure. And organically, mobile search engine optimization must be accounted for as a site’s rank could be penalized if the site is not mobile-friendly. The growth of mobile over the last year has been astounding. According to Google, many categories are seeing upwards of 70% of all search queries occurring via mobile. While searches are as high as they’ve ever been and it is becoming easier for searchers to purchase via mobile, many are still finishing the purchase cycle via desktop or continuing their research across other devices. Here lies the challenge of identifying multiple searches as coming from one searcher on multiple devices. Leading us to #2…

  2. People-Based Marketing

    Stella searches on Google for “dog bed” from her mobile device over breakfast, clicks a sponsored ad and finds a few options of interest. During her lunch break at work later in the day, Stella goes back to Google on her work laptop and searches “tempur-pedic dog bed”. She visits the same site and purchases a new tempur-pedic dog bed. Using “last click” conversion data, we would see Stella’s two searches as two different users. However with Facebook’s “people-based marketing”, we are able to see that Stella is the same searcher on both desktop and mobile. Facebook’s 2014 acquisition of Atlas Solutions makes this possible by leveraging Facebook login data to determine searchers across multiple devices. And in recent news, it has been rumored that Google will leverage Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps, search queries and other Google services that require sign-in to better target search ads. Leading us to #3…

  3. Targeting

    New technologies will allow for search marketers to better target ads based on known data. Using login data to determine searchers across multiple devices, Google and Facebook will also soon use collected data to better target search ads. Search marketers currently have several ways to personalize search results, such as using search query and location information and running certain betas that allow for bid modifiers on demographic information (like household income, gender and age). We can also remarket to a searcher when we know he/she has previously visited an advertiser’s site. As Facebook has done with “custom audiences”, Google could soon leverage email data to target users in an advertiser’s database with an applicable message when they are searching. For example, if the user previously purchased a product, it could be used to upsell another product. Google could also leverage “lookalike” audiences across the search platform to enable advertisers to extend an advertiser’s targetable reach.

    Search marketing is changing for both SEM and SEO. Growth of mobile usage, people-based marketing tactics and targeting capabilities are primarily responsible for recent and upcoming changes in paid search. We can speculate that a paid search campaign in the future will look more like a display buy. For instance, we will have to buy on target rather than or in conjunction with the keyword. The search engines know to serve the right ad to the right person at the right time and on the right device whenever the searcher’s query is relevant in some way (i.e. on the advertisers landing page, similar to keywords on the advertiser’s landing page, is a top autofill search, etc.). As marketers, we’ll be able to better target and better optimize our search marketing campaigns by leveraging these initiatives.

    Don’t get left behind as these changes roll out.