Now is what’s next.

That is how Ben Jones, creative director for Google’s agency team, ended his presentation on creativity in real-time at the 4A’s Transformation conference.

Jones went on to explain that reacting quickly to tent-pole television events with creative yields strong results, and a strong mobile strategy is what will increase brand recognition and loyalty with consumers. Long gone are the days when people would talk about social and mobile as “nice to haves” or “the next big thing.” Mobile and social took a front seat this year for all major brands and agencies.

Like many conferences over the past year, there was a lot of discussion about programmatic and the increasing need for automation within these platforms.

The topic attracted debate, and the question was asked, “Is programmatic ready for prime time?”

Amanda Richman, president of investment and activation at Starcom USA, drove the point of addressability and targeting the audience. (read more…)

There’s an industry gathering for everything these days: Cannes, CES, Social Media Week, and my new personal favorite, South by Southwest.

Although all tend to appeal to marketers, CES historically has been the most technology-driven, whereas SXSW has owned the culture and entertainment space (due to its three-pronged nature of Interactive, Film and Music). However, this year’s festival seemed particularly focused on technology — virtual reality, mobile shopping apps, and beacons dominated sessions and conversations.

Technology and advertising have long gone hand-in-hand. From radio to TV and the Internet, innovation has undoubtedly affected the context in which brands reach their consumers. More interestingly, I’d argue, is the influence of technology on media.

Millennials are particularly familiar with the evolution of media. We’ve been through it all — from e-mail to chat rooms to Myspace and Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram, and — gasp — Meerkat.

Rather than focus on what wearables or beacon tech means for consumers, at SXSW, I chose to learn more about the future of distributed media, in a session led by BuzzFeed’s Summer Anne Burton. (read more…)

Many companies today are just starting to get a grasp on content marketing. They’re reading about it, testing it out, and trying to figure out what it is and how to do it. While content marketing is a complex operation that requires many different resources such as SEOs, graphic designers and creative teams, social media marketers need to understand how they fit into the workflow.

There are three main phases to content marketing, and social media has a special place in each:

1. The Ideation Phase

Your brand wants to make a content marketing piece, but what should it be about? Since your goal is to create something people will consume and share, you need to find out what your audience wants to hear about and gear your content toward that. How? Ask your social media manager. Social media marketers have a wealth of information such as what types of trends and topics are doing best on social media right now, what competitors are doing successfully or poorly, and general social media insights that allow you to create a piece that is most relevant to the people you are targeting. (read more…)

Google any of the following phrases: real estate, home loan, insurance, handyman, donation, hosting, lawyer, credit. Imagine you offer one of these services.

Recognized names often dominate search results. Service consolidators, companies with many physical locations and firms with magnificent ad budgets can leave smaller brands wondering whether competition is even feasible.

A business owner might take this on as search engine optimization, and go looking for an SEO geek to fight his battles. Yet, facing the giants with the slingshot of SEO could be a mistake. You beef up your website and lob over endless bags of cash, but the impact is absorbed in the endless algorithmic folds of the merciless beast. Search is shrugging off all attempts at bribery or force, and the big guys just stay bigger.

So, let them. Since search has tightened up, small brands actually have a great shot at it. To reach for the new tools, though, requires letting go of your rocks. (read more…)

Mobile marketers from around the world will gather in New York next week at MMA Forum to discuss the latest in multi-channel engagement and connections with consumers that go beyond the point of sale. They’ll also hear from leaders in the field about real-world tools and campaigns that have effectively used mobile to reach target audiences and elevate brands. We caught up with two of the speakers at this year’s event to get a sneak peek of what they plan to share.

Mitchell Reichgut is CEO of advertising platform Jun Group. He has worked in the advertising industry for two decades on both the creative and agency sides and will be speaking on how marketers can find an audience for mobile video content.

Kathy Sheehan is executive vice president and general manager of GfK Consumer Trends, a forecasting and market research company. Her presentation at MMA Forum New York will focus on reaching millennials. (read more…)