Insights: The EGC Blog

BreakupBreakups are inevitable. Dynamics change. Eyes wander. Needs evolve. 

Breakups are also bitter and painful. And arguably the most painful part of the breakup process is “giving back the stuff.” That rare Kinks album. The perfectly worn Red Sox hat. The engagement ring.

And of course, the most valuable asset of all, the Google Adwords account. 

If you’re a client looking to change your digital or advertising agency, you might stress and lose sleep over this. Do I own my Google Adwords account? Does the agency? I want to transfer accounts from my old agency to my new agency, what happens next?

First, you are justified in losing sleep to this. Why? Because if you can’t get your account transferred over back to you, or your new agency, you lose the history and all important Google quality score, something built over time. 

Visibility into the account history will have a huge impact on your strategy going forward and in setting benchmarks for success. Maintaining the existing AdWords account will also save time by keeping all your current goal tracking in place. Having to create a new account means having to create and add all new conversion tracking to landing pages.

Here’s what you need to know: 

First, your Google Adwords account should belong to you. Even if an agency is hired to manage, optimize an account for you, the account with all of its history, is yours, paid for by you and should be owned by you. 

As a client, you should always have access to your Adwords account at all times. You’ll want this to be sure your reporting is honest, accurate and fully transparent.

You’ll want the ability to own that data in your account. No matter who manages it, it’s associated with your account, your brand, your company. That data is critical in helpful in predicting future conversion rates, proper campaign structure and how ad copy tests performed. 

But my ex-agency is not playing fair, and won’t transfer access, what now?

While this is not the act of a solid or reliable digital marketing agency, it does happen. Sadly, the time and money you spent in investing in a client manager to optimize your account is gone. Wasted. 

And even Google themselves can’t help you fight an agency that won’t do the right thing.

You are essentially starting from scratch on your quality score. 

Your best option is to have the agency export the account history and data, and move on and start over. 

And at the beginning of your new relationship, make sure you maintain ownership or have contractual language that assures account transfers. Consider it a digital pre-nup. 

A reputable agency won’t fight you. 

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Are you ready to get stressed out about a new change in Facebook advertising? Did the 20% rule get your blood boiling? Did your limit on Page posts on the Timelines lead you to redirect budgets in a hurry? Well now, we have to prepare to be smarter and spend more. Challenge accepted, Facebook.  

Agencies and brands alike have spent hours, sometimes even days, creating content for Facebook and other social networks. The goal is to place the brand message in front of the potential consumer and have them engage with it. Somewhere along the line, brands just got too pushy, and now Facebook is pushing back.

Starting in January 2015, Facebook will not only require Fan Page posts to be unique and engaging, but if a brand does want to post “promotional” content they will have to put money behind it. Facebook is not just a media spend; it is an engagement media spend. You can reach the targeted audience and compete with competitors, but you have to make sure it is meaningful to the end user.

Earlier this year, brands spent time and countless dollars building up their Facebook communities, spending a “Post Engagement” budget in order for 5% of  the “fans” to see their content. With this most recent addition, they also have to make sure their message engages the audience. Every year Facebook will find a way to stir the pot and drive more marketing dollars in their direction.  

A “Promotional” Post according to the Facebook Blog:

According to people we surveyed, there are some consistent traits that make organic posts feel too promotional:

  1. Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app

  2. Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context

  3. Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads

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(Posts from Waldbaums and Fancy Feast.)

What is the best formula to reach a community on Facebook now? It seems like agencies and brands will have to budget for a combination of Facebook campaigns, early in 2015.   Growing the community with Like Ads will still be an important vanity metric, but placing more budget behind the Post Engagement ads will be more important than ever.  

It will be without a doubt necessary to design content that speaks to your audience instead of just repeating a commercial or posting about an iPad giveaway that companies have done 20,000 times.  If you plan to execute a smart Facebook content strategy in 2015, you imperatively need to treat this as a media spend on one of the biggest channels in the world.

 

 

 

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communicationIn 1996, Bill Gates wrote an essay entitled Content is King.He began, “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.” 

This phrase has ruled our thinking in marketing to a large extent since then. From Google’s Matt Cutts, Head of the Webspam team, repeatedly saying that what matters in terms of SEO is content (and quality content), to the findings of the latest annual Effies Survey (which found content as being listed in the top three areas that marketers are primary focusing on this year), it’s clear content is a big deal.

But at the same time that content has enjoyed its coronation, there’s been a trend toward shorter and shorter forms of content – with the seeming assumption that our attention spans are getting shorter. Is our fast-moving culture of today, with smartphones and/or tablets always at our sides, and the ubiquitous use of “ttyl” (talk to you later), “totes” (totally) and “b4” (before), among others, literally spelling out the death of language?

Will our obsession with truncation leave language in as sad a state as samples of ancient parchment found in a museum? Are emoji symbols the new hieroglyphs? What does it all mean?

Yes, our daily communication has been transformed drastically. We’re not fully writing out thoughts, feelings and ideas (emphasis on “fully”) in the course of our rapid-fire, bite-sized messages. We’re communicating more and sharing more, with countless social status updates from Tweets to Snaps to text messages. 

Are we hurting language as a whole? And what does it mean for our jobs as marketers when language is such a big part of what we do?

Mobile technology has been very beneficial. And short form pieces can be helpful, providing easily digestible insights. Quick videos and infographics are great tools, too. But is there no room for long form content in the mix?

We are certainly obsessed with our technology. An interesting study from the International Center for Media & the Public Agenda (ICMPA) and the Phillip Merrill College of Journalism, A Day Without Media — 24 Hours: Unpluggedsurveyed students and questioned them about their love of mobile technology. What were the results? Unsurprisingly, contemplating giving up a mobile device for one single day was unthinkable.

Well… there’s hope for those of us who love language and revel in the powerful storytelling that can be found in long form content. 

On the marketing front, serpIQ found that the top-rated posts in search query results have more than 2,000 words. And KISSmetrics reports that more comprehensive content with multiple pages in a guide increase page views and time spent on a particular site.

Medium found that the ideal blog length (in terms of the time spent on each post) is seven minutes (or 1,600 words). A post with imagery and graphics brings the word count down to 980 words. But still, this evidence strongly disproves the notion that only short form content gets all the attention in today’s world.

Yes, people are busy. Short and sweet works well on social and can bring in high engagement rates. But if what you have to say is worthwhile, or if a brand is sharing content that resonates and adds value to people’s lives they’ll spend time with you. They’ll read, and share, and engage.

So what does it all mean? Marketers have more tools at their disposal for sharing brand messaging, and people have more options for how to receive content.

Still worried about the state of language and the art of writing today? While Snaps are gaining in popularity (and can be an effective marketing tool in a comprehensive advertising plan), for those of us who love the written word, there is a sign that love holds strong. Longreads,a site dedicated to helping people find and share the best long-form stories, currently has more than 91K fans on Facebook and regularly sees healthy engagement with the content it shares.

 

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Ties

While the Mean Girls may have to wear pink on Wednesdays and company dress codes are making headlines, like today’s news on the new Starbucks policies,here at EGC we have Tie Thursdays. Is it company policy? No. We do it because we want to.

Evan-3My first week working at The EGC Group, I did notice people wearing ties on Thursdays, but didn’t think anything of it. We wear ties on other days, of course, attending events and meeting with clients. A few more weeks of people particularly wearing ties on Thursdays and I finally asked someone about it. “Tie Thursdays” I was told.

“Marketing is more relaxed in that, you don’t usually have to wear the suit and tie daily, but every Thursday we try to keep it as classy as we can!” – Evan Calafates (Co-Founder of Tie Thursdays)

Tie Thursdays seemed like a great idea. I get to be a part of a fun office tradition. And I get to show off my great style. Honestly, the first time I put on my tie for Tie Thursday – I didn’t feel so much like the new guy anymore.

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OK. So you’re still wondering: ”Why would people wear ties if they don’t have to?”

“We wore ties every time we would go into a client meeting, which did seem like it particularly happened on Thursdays. So sometime in October 2012 Evan and I decided to declare Thursdays as Tie Thursdays. It’s a nice nod to the classic advertising look. Plus, honestly, we like wearing ties. It keeps things fresh and it’s a great way of unifying the office.” – Jeremy Waszak (Co-Founder of Tie Thursdays)

Wearing ties may seem like a silly thing to some people, but to me it’s an opportunity to bond with coworkers. People compare ties, sparking conversation. The comradery makes this an office that’s enjoyable to work in.

So what does your company do to bring employees together? Bagel Fridays, Goofy Shirt Tuesdays, a Fantasy Sports league… How do you create team spirit? 

Photo: EGC Group President Ernie Canadeo sporting a tie with DMC backstage at the LI Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at the Paramount in Huntington, NY.

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We sat down with Jim McCune Executive Director, Craft Beverage Marketing, EGC Group. (Well, with all of the amazing things Jim’s working on right now, it was more of chasing him down in the office and asking for a chance to take a peek into what he’s working on, and also to talk about the world of Craft Beer.)  He shared insights into the growing industry, its challenges, and where it is headed.

The craft beer industry seems like it’s exploded recently. What do you think are the key reasons for this phenomenon?

It started this month in 1978 when Jimmy Carter legalized home brewing in the US. It was the precursor to today’s craft beer revolution. As people began exploring handcrafting their own beers, experimenting with new and exciting styles of beer, exploring new techniques and sourcing fresh, local ingredients – they changed the game.

As people experienced these full-flavored beers and acquired a taste of fresh hops, there was no going back. It created a conversation – a movement.

In a marketplace dominated by just a couple of industrial beer companies, craft beer gave us freedom of choice. Now, all of a sudden, we have local freshness and we have flavor.

But without huge advertising budgets, craft beer brands didn’t have the same opportunity to broadcast their message. With the advent of social media, the Locavore and Farm-to-Pint movements (locally sourcing ingredients) quickly gained serious traction. Millennials became early adopters of social media and microbrewing, sharing their passion for the distinctive flavors of craft beer – setting the industry on fire.

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Is there a downside to the rapid rise of craft beer culture that creates particular challenges for craft brands?

The downside of craft beer for the big beer makers has been a solid, fast-growing loss of market share. While the movement has been growing for decades, the sudden recent growth took the industry – and the world – by surprise.

Similar to the fast food and soda brands that faced a massive decline because of the rise of the healthy living movement (and reacted with menu options like fruit and yogurt or brand extensions into bottled water) the big beer brands are reacting.

The loss of 20% of their market share has prompted them to market “krafty” beers to look like authentic craft beer. The downside for craft beer is it has caused some confusion in the marketplace. But one of the things craft beer consumers are is savvy. And there’s a growing backlash.

Another serious issue from the rapid rise is the shift in how retailers are displaying craft beers. It’s the “wineification” of craft beer. It’s similar presumption that wine shoppers don’t seek brand names, but look for a particular style – Merlot, Cabernet, Pino. We’re now seeing craft beers being grouped and sold by style as well – IPA, Pumpkin Ale, Pale Ale.

The loss of shelf-space and sheer volume of choice has made building brand loyalty very challenging.

How are you helping brands overcome these challenges and shape the conversation going forward?

People are tired of mediocrity in their beer and in advertising. They want something above and beyond the norm, and we’re trying to help connect extraordinary craft beers to customers in new ways.

Just like the way Apple’s 1984 ad refreshed the technology industry, digital media is allowing us to reach new customers using magnetic digital content. Our branding philosophy is iconoclastic in nature, celebrating the unique personas of the independently owned and operated microbreweries we work with, and craft messaging that’s authentic to who they are and the quality they represent.

We’re working to educate consumers who haven’t yet been convinced that craft beer is the better value. And it seems to be working.

I was actually recently in Yakima Valley, WA, with our client Hopsteiner the world’s largest hop grower and distributor. We produced a documentary-style video, capturing one of the largest hop harvests in history, which was driven by the sheer volume of aroma variety hops needed for craft beer. So we’re helping raise general awareness about these farm-fresh, high-quality hops, as well as their exciting new experimental hop varieties.

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What trends have you seen this fall?

Seasonal beers continue to grow in popularity. It’s one of the things that really helped craft beer grow.

Cider is another big trend. We’re lucky here in NY to live where local, fresh apples abound. Craft beer paved the way and provided the methodology for hard cider to grow in popularity in half the time.

We’re also seeing the growth of hard cider heavily tied to the Locavore movement, and it is gaining steam with people who want to enjoy a fresh and crisp handcrafted alcoholic beverage.

What do you predict will be the biggest trend in 2015?

Sour beer.

And quite possibly, small and big beer companies working together to collectively make great, tasty beers that are well-distributed. Because when the tide rises, all boats float.

Follow Jim on Twitter @JimMcCuneBev and visit our Craft Beer Portfolio: Craft Beer Branding.

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What doThe Walking Dead, Jane the Virgin, Zach Galifianakis and Transparent mean for your budget in 2015?

October means “premiere season” for some of TV’s most highly-anticipated shows.The Walking Dead premiered last week saw record viewers, making it the most watched episode of the hit series to date. The premiere of Jane the Virgin (an adaptation of a popular telenovela) won the CW network its most-watched Monday in years.

angela-mertz_thOn the digital side, Transparent is making headlines for its rates of binge-watching, and this monthAmazon Prime (new to content production)announced it has ordered a second season. Netflix has seen its Orange is the New Black series become a monster hit, and last spring a presidential interview with Zach Galifianakis on Funny or Die's web-based Between Two Ferns was credited with a 40% boost to visits of HealthCare.gov. (And the episode received anEmmy nomination.)

Despite the pronouncements to the contrary, it is clear TV is not dead. It’s very much alive. And digital is an exciting new frontier for advertisers. So how should brands approach the development of an advertising strategy?

Angela Mertz, EGC Group’s Media Director, shares her insights. “TV is still strong. We need to look at broadcast and online video as part of the same TV budget. They can work together to support each other, increasing brand impressions.”

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ROI is top of mind for brands as they evaluate the effectiveness of their investments. And there’s been a push in the industry to develop a standard metric across platforms.

jarredd-400x400aAnalytics giants like Nielsen are looking at ways to achieve this, but EGC Group’s Jared Del Prete, Director of Digital Strategy & Search, cautions, “Advertisers ultimately want to measure the impact of their ads, looking beyond reach and frequency and homing in on engagement, sales or ROI. TV and digital play a vital role, but because they’re consumed differently, there are still many challenges with adopting a unified GRP-style (gross rating point) measurement.”

Angela agrees. She says just as a PPC campaign can’t operate alone, it requires the support of online and offline efforts that create intent. TV and digital don’t work alone.

“We’ve seen a direct link between TV spots and PPC success, for example,” Angela notes. “The TV ads are a catalyst to action, driving traffic to a brand’s website. We’ve seen when the spots stop running, there’s a definite dip in PPC.”

The way she’s approaching media buying with her clients in 2015 is an integrated approach that looks at TV and digital as part of one overall budget. “It’s like a funnel,” Angela explains. “Think of the top of the funnel as the broad, high-level TV audience, generating impressions, creating interest. As you narrow down the funnel, there are creative ways we can approach targeting specific audiences with digital video, reaching people likely to convert and become customers.”

“SEO, PPC, TV, digital videos – if you marry all of these strategies together,” Angela adds, “planning ahead about the best ways to allocate components of the overall TV budget, you can reach your desired audience in creative ways.”

Brands partnering with media buyers have an opportunity to shift from reactive buys and break down silos that divide spending between TV and digital advertising, moving to a holistic strategic planning approach. It’s time to take a bigger picture view of impact and how to achieve it.

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EGC Group held its 7th Annual CreateAThon event, which began Thursday, October 16 and finished on Friday, October 17, serving three incredible nonprofit organizations, Team Jesse Foundation, Melissa’s Rainbow of Joy and CN Guidance & Counseling Services. The entire agency came together to work across disciplines, donating their creative and strategic thinking.

Take a look at perspectives from creative, digital, social and account management on what working on each team was like during CreateAThon 2014.

Dillon Winegar, Jr. Marketing Analyst
(Team: CN Guidance & Counseling Services) –

This year was my first year participating in the EGC Group’s CreateAThon event as a full time employee. (I was here as an intern last year. This year was SO much better. It was great being an intern at EGC, but last year I couldn’t participate in the whole event because I had exams going on.)

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As a marketing analyst, I work with almost all of the clients at The EGC Group. The fast paced environment is exciting and something I love about what I do here, but I don’t always get the chance to experience all of the components of an account because I need to quickly switch gears and pull reports or help out with work for another account.

The awesome thing about CreateAThon (in my opinion) isn’t the seemingly endless food or even the onsite masseuse (although those are awesome perks!), but the ability to see the entire process through from start to finish. From the initial client phone call and all of the “pre-game day” prep we do, to the 24-hour event itself, you get to experience the creative process, the digital process, the social process, and even how the account team manages and delegates tasks to maintain efficiency and help the team present our final products to the client at the end of the event. It really is an amazing experience.”

Amanda Mauceri, Account Executive
(Team: Team Jesse Foundation) –

“CreateAThon is an extremely rewarding event. Success during CreateAThon hinges on a dedicated team of eager participants who can put their heads together and work collaboratively and efficiently under pressure. The additional twist is that every team is randomly selected with different members from the agency, so you won’t necessarily be working with the same people that you would on your average day.

As the briefing lead on the team, I worked with our director of strategic planning to develop the creative brief and guide the team. One aspect of this year’s event that I found especially challenging was the tremendous amount of deliverables that seemed to keep snowballing at every regroup we had. Fortunately, we had some really great, dedicated team players who were able to band together and bring about some really great work for a great cause.

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EGC has some truly great minds, and I continue to be blown away by the work we end up producing during such a short time-frame. It’s an emotional and fulfilling experience, especially when we get to present the final finished products to the charities and non-profits that would otherwise not be able to afford to produce these materials that are so vital to their organizations.”

Jaclyn Fede, Graphic Designer
(Team: CN Guidance & Counseling Services) –

“This year was my third year participating in EGC’s CreateAThon as a Graphic Designer…and it just keeps getting better!

The great thing about CreateAThon (for me) is getting to work closely with our teams and being able to work together from start to finish! Don’t get me wrong – teamwork is our motto. However, as the job bags pile up on a normal work day, it gets difficult to see a project all the way through. And with CreateAThon, in 24 hours, the job is done and our clients are always so appreciative.

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This event brings me back to reality. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle of a daily routine, but I love being able to do great work for a great cause and really get to share a sense of pride in what we do as an agency. I’m very proud to be a part of the EGC Group team for CreateAThon…It’s really amazing what we all can do!”

Adam Chan, Social Media Community Manager
(Team: Melissa’s Rainbow of Joy) –

“It surprised me how much fun my first CreateAthon was here at EGC Group. Don’t get me wrong, it is a blast working on the Social team on a daily basis, but it was a nice change of pace to work for a great local cause for the 24-hour period.

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I normally only work with a few members of the EGC team, but it was a great opportunity to get to know and work with some new faces around the agency. I didn’t really know what to expect.

I had a great time: from making vines with the coffee donated by Starbucks, to stuffing my face with chips and guac after getting a “snacks are in the kitchen” email, and then again after the “pizza’s in the kitchen,” email.

It was especially amazing to see how much of an impact the advertisements and marketing strategies we created for our client will make. My team actually created a brand new website for the client in almost no time!

It was a great experience and I can’t wait for next year!”

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We’ve been sharing behind the scenes peeks at our event on Facebook and Twitter – and stay tuned for an update on the work we presented to these amazing nonprofits.

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CreateAThonAs we get set to participate in our 7th Annual CreateAThon Event here at EGC Group tomorrow, brainstorming ideas for the incredible nonprofits we're working with this year, we're taking a look back at the work we've done over the years. We're proud of what we've created and happy to donate our brains and time – seriously, who needs sleep?

 

What is CreateAThon? Nearly 100 agencies around the globe have participated in marathon creative events, donating talent to help nonprofits raise funds and awareness. More than 1,300 nonprofits have been served, receiving nearly $17 million worth of agency work. Over the years EGC has worked with diverse organizations, including The Rainforest Alliance, The Junior League of Long Island, The Education and Assistance Corporation, Girl Scouts of Suffolk County, AHRC of Nassau County and The American Mutt-i-Grees Club.

As Jeremy Waszak, Search Marketing Coordinator, wrote in the countdown to last year's event, we break into teams, brainstorm and get to work. "And now we’re off and really running because the clock is ticking but we’re moving finally. It’s a fair race, now."
We work well into the night and regroup the next day to present to our clients. We get to know these organizations and get to know each other as the entire agency comes together to bring a full-service approach to our Create-A-Thon work.
Take a look at some of what we've produced:
Rainforest
Our work for The Rainforest Alliance
EGC worked overnight for CreateAthon to develop an entire campaign for Girl Scouts of Suffolk County. This television ad is just a part of the work we did during the 24 hour event.
Muttigrees-2_AnimalPeopleAD
The Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum is an innovative PreK-Grade 12 program that builds on children’s affinity for animals and highlights the unique characteristics and desirability of Mutt-i-grees®, or shelter pets.
Music
Music is Medicine connects artists with pediatric patients.
Jr
The Junior League of Long Island is is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and to improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.
heart
The American Heart Association's mission is to build heathier lives free of cardiovascular disease.
To see more of our past CreateAThon projects, check out our 2013 board on Pinterest and our 2012 board. And stay tuned for updates on FacebookTwitter and here on the blog throughout the event, starting tomorrow! 

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For years, marketers have been using the “Fan-Gate” or “Like-Gate” method on Facebook pages to increase the ever-so-important vanity metric of “Likes.” What is it? While it sounds like the latest juicy scandal with a Watergate-inspired nickname, it’s more like a gated community’s gate but a digital gate in a social community.

The Facebook API allowed app developers to create a mechanism to prevent people from accessing select content without passing through the gate – accessed only when they clicked Like to the page. Hide a prize behind the door and gain a larger community.  

It is so simple. But in Facebook fashion, this doesn’t serve the primary purpose. What is the value of that fan? Does he/she increase overall engagement or sales? The end of Fan-Gating is both a blessing and a curse.  

From a semi-recent Facebook API blog post

You must not incentivize people to use social plugins or to like a Page. This includes offering rewards, or gating apps or app content based on whether or not a person has liked a Page. It remains acceptable to incentivize people to login to your app, check in at a place or enter a promotion on your app's Page. To ensure quality connections and help businesses reach the people who matter to them, we want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives. We believe this update will benefit people and advertisers alike."

If you read some of the comments on this blog posts, marketers are ANGRY.

But this is exciting! This is why we got into social media marketing in the first place.  

We are always challenged with new ways of thinking about how to attract somebody to something. If marketers were solely relying on Facebook Fan-Gating to build page Likes and engagement, something was wrong in the first place. Brand messaging on Facebook has to become more about the conversation, the tone and voice; the content rather than: “Look at the iPad we are giving away if you can just PLEASE LIKE OUR PAGE.”

 

If you are still relying on and/or bullying people into Liking your page, you’re doing it wrong. Social media content has to supply relevant value to your end user. 

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How is this a blessing?

As a social media marketer, I am constantly challenged to identify the value of a “Like.” Is it purely vanity or does it really define social equity? How solid is that data when coercing users to “Like the page?   

Vanity metrics are not cheap, nor are they purposeless. This will create growth in valuable metrics. The community should be people who join by choice (not coercion) and are excited to engage with the content offered.

How is this a curse? 

Well, it isn’t a curse. It just requires stronger strategic thinking. Like-Ads aren’t going away. To ensure the community numbers grow (and continue to increase) will cost more and not be as simple as giving away free things. This doesn’t mean that it is not possible to grow; it just might require more of a budget or a shift in budget attribution.  

Facebook App developers have stated that November 1, 2015 will be the official date that Fan-Gating will end. However, there are some blogs that are posting on November 5th. Either way, it is time to start thinking more effectively and efficiently. 

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Is advertising doomed?

We're living through a cultural and technological revolution. And it's changing everything. 

Is there any hope? 

Advertising has never been for the faint of heart. It's time for a - NSFW - honest look at the state of things today and strategic plan for the future. Read on...

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