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  • feedwordpress 00:21:01 on 2016/03/05 Permalink  

    Is an emoji worth 1,000 words? 

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    The use of visual language is skyrocketing with 2015 seeing a sharp increase in its use. The Oxford Dictionary choose an emoji – officially known as ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ – as the word of the year in 2015. Last year also saw GIFs become a mainstream way to explore and explain the world. Memes are a large part of our online experience, especially on social channels.

    At first, digital imagery was used as punctuation for text, but now it can transfer the subtext, or even the entire message itself. The rise of emoji use on Instagram and Facebook correlates directly with a decline in the use of slang; people are replacing words with pictures. If your brand uses social media for insights and metrics, it’s time to find ways to get smart about possibly including visual language in your brand voice, and definitely in your analysis.

    There may be data for brands in consumers’ use of pictures, but at this point it raises more questions than answers: What does a blue heart vs. a yellow heart vs. a purple heart mean? If a user puts an image next to a product, is she more likely to buy it? And unfortunately, social listening tools do not yet read or analyze images like emojis or GIFs, so if consumers are using them to talk to your brand you may have a hard time “hearing” them.

    Just like consumers, brands significantly increased their use of visual language, emojis in particular, on Facebook and Twitter in 2015. And at least 250 brands created their own emoji keyboards last year. Many brands seem to be using emojis just for the sake of using emojis. While there is certainly nothing wrong with experimenting with the growing visual language trend, especially if it fits with your brand strategy, make sure you aren’t just jumping on the hip bandwagon without adding value or utility (see examples below). Go for clarity over “cool.”

    Fortunately, there are some examples of brands that are using the visual language explosion in a thoughtful way:

    Perhaps the most well known example is the award winning Domino’s Emoji Ordering, in which consumers simply tweet a pizza slice emoji to the restaurant to order a pizza. That’s taking something that is often relegated to being punctuation and making it highly functional, baked right in to the (extremely easy) customer experience.

    With a petition signed by over 33,000 taco fans, and a lot of accompanying PR, Taco Bell successfully petitioned for a taco emoji. Part of the reason this stunt went over so well is because it was about the target audience and a broader love of tacos rather than just about Taco Bell.

    World Wide Fund for Nature created a fundraising campaign that encouraged users who frequently use existing emojis of animals to donate towards the conservation of real endangered animals. This tapped into an emotion and was more about the cause than the organization.

    Popular with educators, GE launched EmojiScience to encourage youngsters to expand their knowledge of science through a series of experiments. The brand extended the campaign with a web series featuring Bill Nye explaining scientific topics using easy-to-understand emojis.

    Visual language is not right for every brand. Memes are sarcastic and humorous by nature. Cute, candy-colored emojis don’t inspire a tone of authority and trust. And a brand accidentally using an off-tone, misunderstood GIF has PR-disaster written all over it.

    Brand managers need to be sure they understand the emoji/GIF/meme, etc. to prevent it from being hijacked or interpreted in a negative way. It ALWAYS comes down to your audience – how will they react and will they understand it in the intended way. Brands that people turn to for serious insight and advice – like finance, insurance, and healthcare – should probably shy away for the time being. No one will think less of you for never using visual language, but they might if you use them poorly. 

    Visual language is here to stay and, like any living language, will continue to evolve. Emojis have become more inclusive, for example representing different skin tones and same sex couples. But this brilliant new effort from Always shows that there is still work to be done – female emojis are stereotypical and limiting, especially in the professional emojis. Visual language is all about better communication, so people need to be able to see themselves and their exact feeling or reaction in their choices of visual language.

    It’s natural for brands to want to humanize their marketing efforts and mimic how real people communicate – and these days that means including imagery in the equation. If your brand is considering visual communication to connect with their customers, let’s talk. Email me:

  • feedwordpress 22:15:38 on 2016/03/04 Permalink  

    Copyranter quotes Kleinberg 

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    Is Traction driving a reshaping of the digital advertising ecosystem? Perhaps, we’re playing a part. In today’s Digiday, in a column "The ad tech bubble is about to explode," Mark Duffy mentioned Adam and his recent take on "Why Ad Tech Is the Worst Thing That Ever Happened to Advertising."

    “... brands are beginning to realize that most all of the ad tech results data is doodoo. That’s because honest digital ad folk (like Adam Kleinberg, CEO of digital agency Traction) are speaking out, realizing that their own survival hinges on the elimination of these bullshit numbers and the discovery of real numbers."

    Duffy of Digiday the potential bursted bubble of ad tech, telling how "hundreds of fraudulent, dishonest companies will be sent screaming into cyberspace never to land anywhere ever again.” 

    Adam sends his thanks for the complement, Mark! In a world where ad tech companies and publishers facilitate fraud and holding companies conceal hidden profits in trading desks, simply being called an "honest digital marketer” feels like high praise. We’ll keep on keeping it real. Read the rest of the article here.

  • feedwordpress 21:36:32 on 2016/02/18 Permalink  

    Traction CEO Featured in Huffington Post 

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    Adam Kleinberg, Traction’s CEO was mentioned this week in Huffington Post’s Business section. “The digital ad business is in a bad place,” AJ Hartnett of Huffington Post writes, "Advertising was quickly becoming a predictable and trackable science. So what happened along the way to this new advertising world order?” 

    AJ then highlights Adam’s recent article featured in Ad Age how ‘Ad Tech is the Worst Thing that Ever Happened to Advertising.” To read more on Adam’s insight to this hot topic issue, click here

  • feedwordpress 23:57:54 on 2016/02/17 Permalink  

    Adam Kleinberg speaking at Digiday Summit 

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    Traction’s CEO is headed to the Big Easy to speak at the Digiday Programmatic Summit about Why Ad Tech is the Worst Thing That Ever Happened to Advertising. The Summit will be held at Ritz Carlton in New Orleans. Digiday editor, Brian Morrissey will interview Adam on stage live about what is sure to be a contrarian view at the event. 

    Adam recently argued in the pages of Ad Age that " the lawless landscape in which this technology has emerged has created an environment that has undermined its own potential. It has had a dramatically negative impact on the perceptions of customers and the way they respond to marketers seeking their attention. An absence of accountability and limited transparency has resulted in bad user experiences and deceased loyalty—exactly the opposite of what marketers seek to achieve with advertising.” 

  • feedwordpress 23:45:52 on 2016/02/17 Permalink  

    Traction and Lenovo’s ‘Downtime Drama’ 

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    In order to drive engagement around Lenovo servers, Traction recently created a series of branded entertainment videos illustrating how intense moments of technology failure can have a lighter side. 

    We called them “Downtime Drama." Mediapost recently chatted with Traction’s CEO, Adam Kleinberg, "We took a content-first, 'edu-tainment' approach to engage audiences at the top of the funnel through branded entertainment illustrating the audience’s pain point that’s actually fun to watch," says Traction's Adam Kleinberg, “The audience connects with the brand when we develop meaningful content for them, instead of just trying to sell something.” To read more about our latest campaign, click here

  • feedwordpress 21:32:12 on 2016/02/10 Permalink  

    Feel the love with joy marketing 

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    With the help of psychologists, ‘joy’ marketing is a hot advertising trend. Here are a few examples of brands bringing a little joy to consumers:

    Reddi-wip: Share the Joy 

    Johnnie Walker: Joy Will Take You Further

    John Lewis: Man on the Moon

    McDonald's: #Imlovinit24

    Want help identifying the ways joy can be linked to your brand? Traction would love to help :) Email me:

  • feedwordpress 18:47:38 on 2016/02/09 Permalink  

    The 5 Ws of Traction 

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    At Traction, our consistent organizing principle is around the idea that to be effective, marketing should meet the needs and desires of today’s digital consumer. This is a consistent thread that drives all of the work we do from the video content we develop to omni-channel experiences we help produce to emails we develop to the keywords we buy. 

    wanted to articulate how this thread weaves its way through the who, what, where, when, how, and why of Traction. 

    The Who of Traction

    Who are we? Traction is a full-service digitally-focused, interactive agency built for the needs and desires of today's consumer. We describe ourselves as "full-service, digitally-focused"  because we know clients want to put agencies in a box and 85% of the work we do is digital. We include the words "interactive agency built for the needs of today's consumer" because we use whatever channels make sense to create an interaction that aligns those needs and desires with our clients' goals.

    The What of Traction

    We create content and experiences that deliver impact. I'm aware that "content" and "experience" are fairly broad terms used by agencies and agency-like-beings to describe everything and everything under the sun. We focus on creating work that delivers impact. 

    That content might be a video that provides value through "edu-tainment," it may be visual content developed around a unifying insight about the consumer, or it may be something else. We often use that content in advertising, but our approach is always to try and create marketing that people actually want to consume. 

    That experience might be any digital customer experience: an app, a website, an email, a message on your Apple Watch, or a platform that incorporates all of the above. Again, the unifying principle is to do what we do in a way that is designed for the consumer.

    The Where of Traction

    We believe everything is interactive so we look to the customer's journey to tell us where it makes sense to meet that consumer. People move in and out of their day in a seamless flow potential "media moments" for brands to meet them. The content and experiences we design, build, and distribute need to meet people where they are in their journey—both mentally and physically.

    The When of Traction

    We tend to have two types of clients. The first are large brands. They call us when they are looking for digital support through our lens of customer needs and desires. The second are challenger brands. They engage Traction when they are looking to make an impact. If you're one of these, drop us a line.

    The How of Traction

    Our organizing principle influences how we approach each of our core competencies. 

    Strategy.  We leverage data and we talk to people to develop insight about the human beings at the other end of your marketing. Our fundamental approach is to triangulate on audience, brand and cultural factors to identify the "One Thing" (yes, we capitalize it) that represents the value we deliver. We call our planning process Engineered Marketing (more caps) and it allows us to clearly articulate a plan to align your goals with your customer's journey. 

    Creative.  We have two phases of our creative process, regardless of the tactic. Concept and Design. Both are tied back to our organizing principle. In the Concept phase we are working off of a tight brief that clearly identifies the One Thing that will drive our work. Great creative starts with strategy, which is why we have structured our agency so that both groups are highly integrated. The Design phase is where we apply design and writing across tactical elements of an Engineered Plan. We take it very seriously because we believe deeply in the power of words and design to imbue trust and human connection.

    Media.  We approach media with an eye on three principles. First is that the integration of media and creative creates opportunities for greater impact. We believe that brands need to not just focus on counting impressions, but on making them. We look to distribute content leveraging partners, tools and data that will help us achieve that. The second principle is meaningful measurement. We work hard in strategy to make sure we understand the customer journey so that when we get to media planning we are focused on delivering results that actually provide meaning to brands. The third principle is transparency. We are thoughtful in our application of tools like programmatic when we use them so we have an understanding of where your ads are running, what kind of user experience they are providing to customers, and that a human being actually saw them. We also are sensitive to the needs and desires of our clients because you are our customers, so we offer transparency in how we structure the fees and never hide profit in trading desk arbitrage.

    Technology.  Our in-house developer team codes for the needs of today's consumer as well. We have deep expertise in the development of rich, multi-channel experiences. We choose technologies that are known for high-performance. We are fanatics about the quality of our code. We are pixel perfect. We do all this because we know consumers have choices. A better built experience downloads faster. A more delightful experience is more engaging. A multi-channel experience will not be ignored if it's opened on the wrong device. Being able to bring ideas to life has been at the core of how we've built Traction for the past 15 years because we are keenly aware that a great idea is only as strong as the execution of that idea.

    The Why of Traction

    We believe it's the experience that matters. We started Traction because we wanted to work with great, talented people doing work we could proud of—and we wanted to have a good time doing it. The experience really does matter. The experience we have as a team; the experience our clients have partnering with us; and the experience our clients customers ultimately have with the work we create. That is the why that Traction exists.

  • feedwordpress 22:31:10 on 2016/02/08 Permalink  

    Ad Tech vs. Marketing Tech? 

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    Our CEO, Adam Kleinberg, recently described to CIO Magazine "What the hell is the difference between ad and marketing technology?" "[Ad tech and marketing tech] are both broadly based terms used to describe an assortment of technologies and data sources" and "they are both fundamentally aimed at reaching the right audience with the right message at the right time and place," Kleinberg says. To read more of Adam’s insights on the matter, click here

  • feedwordpress 05:40:25 on 2016/02/06 Permalink  

    What problem are you solving? 

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    This was a busy week. 

    On Wednesday, I had good fortune to be a judge in the first round of the Effie Awards. It was a refreshing treat to take some time out of my day and spend time really giving deep thought to what makes great work great. It was also very interesting to see how other agencies articulated the effectiveness of their best work.

    One of the four criteria judges were asked to rate the entries on was the goal of the work. The other criteria were the strategy, execution and results, which all made perfect sense—but as I started the voting I was unclear how I'd rank an objective. Then I started reading entries.

    Most of the entrants described their goals from the point of view of their clients' business. We had to raise awareness. Drive sales leading up to the holiday. Increase website traffic by 10%.

    But a few entries—by far the best entries I scored—described their goals differently. They positioned their goals from a consumer point of view. The customer believed X and we needed to get them to feel Y in order to get them to do Z. 

    Without fail, the work that was described in these terms was the smartest, most innovative, and most effective work I saw. They knew what problem they really had to solve.

    Thursday was another busy day. I was honored when my friend Bill Pearce asked me to guest lecture for his MBA students at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. To say Bill has had an impressive career is an understatement. He's currently the Executive Chairman of Rich Relevance, and has been the CMO of both Del Monte and Taco Bell, the VP of Marketing at Cambell's, and spent 11 years as a Marketing Director at a small company called Procter & Gamble. 

    So, when I say I was honored that he asked me to help shape these young minds... well, I really mean it.

    I presented a case study of work Traction did for our client Lenovo for their IT customers. When they hired us, all of the content they had produced was aimed at the bottom of their funnel—and 87% of their database was inactive. Of course it was. This was like asking someone to marry you on the first date. Lenovo had to first engage customers and prospects and start a relationship if they wanted to go steady later on. 

    Knowing this was the problem they had to solve, led our client to hire an agency with expertise in engaging customers (which happens to be what we do very well). And it allowed us to create great content which lifted Lenovo's engagement rates by 400%.

    After class, Bill and I got to talking about this notion of the right goals. He told me that when he was a CMO and his team came to him asking for budget, he always told them that no requests would be approved until they could answer one question:

    What consumer behavior, belief or perception are you going to change?

    Too often in this business, we are so focused on measurement that we forget what advertising is all about. Particularly with the advent of digital, we measure what's easy to measure instead of what's right to measure. We define our accountability with countability.

    People have more choices today than they ever have before. Literally, at their fingertips. Too many marketers get so caught up in CTRs and CPAs and GRPs and a litany of other KPIs that they forget: there are humans out there on the other side of your tracking pixels. It's the experience you provide to those people that matters. 

    If brands want to achieve truly meaningful results, they need to make sure they first understand what problem it is that they are solving. Do that first, and the KPIs will follow. 

    Do you know what problem you need to solve for?

  • feedwordpress 22:22:50 on 2016/01/27 Permalink  

    Traction at Digiday Awards 

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    Traction received two shiny trophies this past week, both finalists for the 2015 Digiday Video Awards. We are honored to be finalists for the "Best Brand Video: Traction & Lenovo for Ökocat Litter Meet Rufus," and the "Best Video Ad: Traction & Lenovo for Users Happen." 

    We came in runner-up to Valspar’s Color - All Best Brand Video and Vox Creative’s - Applebee’s Taste Test Best Video Ad. It was a privilege competing against these successful agencies and companies. Congratulations to our clients at Lenovo and Ökocat and to the whole Traction team to some tremendous work in 2015.

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