An Integrated Approach: When a Commercial Becomes More Than a Commercial

When we set out to create a new commercial to promote the versatility of Hood Sour Cream, we tapped into creative thinking, proven techniques, and rallied the power of social media to get the word out and engage consumers. And did we ever.

Hood Sour Cream Integrated Approach

Click here to see more of our work with Hood Sour Cream.

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It’s a Jungle Out There: How to chose the perfect Facebook ad format for your goals

Facebook advertising is more sophisticated than it was a year ago, or even 6 months ago. When advertising was first introduced to the platform, Right-hand Side Ads were the only option, but now the options are almost endless (at least with the various types they seem endless!).

Navigating these different ad options can be tough for a marketer to do without a ton of experience under his belt. There are so many things to consider:

  1. What are your goals?
  2. How are you measuring success?
  3. What kind of content do you have at your disposal?
  4. What kind of content does your target audience engage with the most often?
  5. How do you want users to change with your content?

To help you more easily choose the right ad type for your specific needs, here’s a rundown of the different ad types and the best ways to use them:

Right-hand Side Ads

Right-hand Side Ads

Right-hand Side Ads

These are the traditional ads provided by Facebook that allow advertisers to get in front of users who are on their desktop devices. The important word here being…DESKTOP. They aren’t served on mobile devices, so if you’re trying to reach people when they’re on the go, this is not the best option for you. Also consider that at the end of January 2014, Facebook mobile users surpassed desktop users.

Right-hand Side Ads work well as a means of awareness and continuity for the rest of your campaigns – they’re a great way to keep your brand and message top of mind throughout your campaign.

With a platform like AdRoll, you can use Right-hand Side Ads to retarget users and get them back to your website or landing page to achieve higher CTRs and engagement rates.

Facebook Promoted Post Ads – Link & Image

Recently, Facebook changed its algorithm (EdgeRank), making it nearly impossible for brands to appear in a user’s News Feed without serving an ad. So, if you want to make sure your post gets seen, you’re going to need to put some money toward it. The good news is that promoted posts (when done correctly) are very engaging and see low CPCs.

There are two different types of Promoted Posts to use for different purposes.

Image Promoted Posts

Image Promoted Posts

Image Promoted Posts used to be the only option for Promoted Posts. This was based on the knowledge that users interacted with image posts more often than link or text posts. In fact, photos on Facebook generate 53% more Likes than the average post. So if you’re looking for user engagement in the form of page Likes, post Likes, comments, or shares, Image Promoted Posts are a great way to go.

The one downside to Image Promoted Posts is that you cannot ensure a click to your landing page or Facebook tab with one of these posts. When a user clicks on the image, he or she is taken to a larger version of the picture, not to your website, so there is no way to guarantee that a user actually gets to your site. When bidding on a CPC basis with these posts, you aren’t paying for a click to your landing page, you’re paying for a bigger image view.

The best way use Image Promoted Posts is to increase your Page Likes or interactions with your brand in general, as they garner more shares and Likes (in my experience) than any other format.

Link Promoted Posts

Facebook Link Promoted Post

Facebook Link Promoted Post

A month or so after Facebook introduced the new link post format with much larger images, they also introduced Link Promoted Posts. Like Image Promoted Posts, Link Promoted Posts can be served to users on both mobile and desktop devices and are best used for directing users to another landing page or Facebook Tab, because no matter where a user clicks on your post, he will be directed to your landing page. In that vein, if you’re measuring success by the amount of leads your campaign as generated, or entries your contest received then Link Promoted Posts are the most efficient use of your budget.

Facebook has also introduced Cost Per Action bidding, which allows an advertiser to pay only when a user has visited your website or when a user completes some pre-determined action (like filling out a form). In my experience, though, the average cost per action is much higher than your average cost per click AND Facebook will generally serve fewer impressions of your ad because they’re not guaranteed to make as much money off of it.

Page Like Ads & App Install Ads

There are a few other ad types I haven’t mentioned, like Page Like Ads & App Install Ads. As their names suggest, Page Like Ads are used to help you generate more Likes to your page and App Install Ads (allowed only on mobile devices) are used to advertise a new app to user.

The best campaigns use a mixture of all of these ad formats (except for the App Install Ads, which don’t apply to all situations). As they all serve a different purpose, they’re complementary in that manner – Increase awareness with Right-hand Side Ads, increase user engagement with Image Promoted Posts and, further down the funnel, capture a user’s information with link promoted posts.

What other questions do you have about the different Facebook ad types?

We’re more than happy to answer them – just tweet @dbrboston.

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Chocolate, Coffee, and Jeans: The True Symbols of America

We were delighted to have Kelsey, a junior at Boston Collegiate Charter School, intern with us for a couple of weeks. During her time here, she wrote an excellent blog about some of the country’s iconic brands. Check it out below:

Chocolate, Coffee, and Jeans: The True Symbols of America

When asked what symbolizes America, most people would say something cliché like, “the American flag,” “a bald eagle,” or “the White House.” Yes, these things do symbolize America, but in my view, it is everyday brands that best capture the American spirit.

Brands that we interact with on a daily basis are American icons because they’re founded in our values and beliefs. For example:

1. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups seem so simple at a glance, but if you look a little closer you’ll see that they represent the purity of American innovation. Putting chocolate and peanut butter together was indeed a simple idea…anyone could have done it. But who actually did? The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup that we love today was first made by Harry Burnett (H.B.) Reese, a poor American farmer, who’d failed at many of his other dessert-like inventions. It took years for H.B. Reese’s invention to become as popular as it hAS, but its ingenuity and deliciousness showcase the American drive to innovate.

2. Dunkin’ Donuts
What’s more representative of our dedication to hard work than a good cup o’ joe? Americans are known for being some of the hardest working people in the world, and because of this, we drink ridiculous amounts of coffee.

Every morning as I get on the MBTA, I look around, and just about everyone has a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee in their hand because many of them need their morning coffee just to get their day started. Then, on my walk home ,I pass three coffee shops, two of which are Dunkin’ Donuts.

After restless hours of work, nothing is more representative of our early rise, late to bed, hardworking mentality than a genuine cup of caffeine.

3. Levi’s Jeans
Today, jeans are a way for people to express their individuality, but they got their start in a very different way. The first pair of jeans was worn back in the 19th century when the Gold Rush hit America.  Miners found themselves unable to work without ripping their pants, so a man named Levi Strauss invented canvas pants (now called jeans) that were able to withstand the harsh conditions that workers faced in mines. Before he knew it, just about every miner owned a pair of Levi’s. If that doesn’t represent American perseverance, I don’t know what does!

Iconic brands such as Reese’s, Dunkin’, and Levi’s contribute to what it truly means to be an American.

Which brands represent your vision of America?

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A Decade of Facebook

In just a few weeks, Facebook will turn 10 years old.

To put it differently, I’ve been using Facebook for a decade.

Somehow it’s not even a teenager and it’s one of my best buds.

But it’s not just a reliable pal, it’s also revolutionized the way the world communicates.

Don’t get me wrong, Facebook didn’t go it alone, but it did give social media the mass appeal it now enjoys, paving the way for some of our favorite networks (Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram…Jelly?!) to thrive.

I remember when I built my original profile on thefacebook.com. I’d known about “the Facebook” for a little while, but I had to wait for my .edu email address to sign up. Yeah..remember that? When only college students could sign up??

Back then, I used it for the basics: posting pictures and finding out if my fellow classmates were single (I sort of don’t want to admit that). It became the first stage of profiling, even before the exchange of numbers for old-school texting.

Soon it was event central. If you were having a party at your dorm, you were definitely making a Facebook event and inviting all of your friends (well…maybe not all of them).

My first Facebook profile picture

My first Facebook profile picture

It wasn’t until my sophomore year that Facebook finally launched their Newsfeed. Yes, I’m serious…there was a Facebook without the feed…which I, at the time, checked probably 17 million times a day.

Fast-forward four years, and Facebook (& Twitter & YouTube & LinkedIn) had become a mainstay of my job, even though there were no classes about it in my undergrad advertising program. The marketing world was changing while I was in school, and by the time I had my first “real” job, social was the topic of conversation for CMOs across the country. Four years…that’s it.

By the time Timeline was introduced in 2011, small businesses and huge marketing companies alike knew that social media (not just Facebook), could not be ignored. And it’s not because it was another outlet to shout at consumers, it’s because consumers were now growing up, as I had, with social media. It was not only a part of our everyday, but Facebook was now a part of our story.

Sure, there are still significant negative associations with social networks (privacy risks and big data are a few), but I challenge you to consider the significant strides we’ve made since Facebook gave social media its popularity.

Family, friends and brands are able to connect and converse (like actually converse) with each other, while also communicating with an entire circle of people, so that it’s not just one conversation, but it’s one and many simultaneously. We’re able to remember the important things happening in each other’s lives and feel connected, even if we haven’t seen or heard from someone in years.

So I’m sappy. But Facebook is one of my oldest friends and I interact it every single day, multiple times a day. So, to me 10 years is a big deal. And I’m anxious to see what will happen in the next 10.

What’s your first memory of Facebook?

If you’re interested in a little more Facebook history, check out this infographic by Inside Facebook.

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db&r 25th Anniversary Tribute – 1989 in Songs

Ever wish you had a theme song or a soundtrack for your life? People have such powerful connections to songs, especially the ones that bring you right back to a perfect moment in time. You hear the notes, and you remember where you were, what you were doing, and who you were doing it with.

So in honor of db&r’s 25th anniversary, we took a look back at some #1 songs from 1989 that were seemingly written about our first year in business…call it the soundtrack for the year that started it all!

My Prerogative – Bobby Brown
(We quit our day jobs and started an agency to do what we wanna do!)

Every Rose Has Its Thorn – Poison
(Starting an agency isn’t all fun and games.)

Two Hearts – Phil Collins
(Dave and Stan realizing they really, really needed Joyce.)

When I’m with You – Sheriff
(Like every good band, we needed a group with talent and really big hair.)

Straight Up – Paula Abdul
(Seeking out clients that were really gonna love us forever. Oh oh oh)

Lost in Your Eyes– Debbie Gibson
(Type and image came together like a symphony of piano and electric guitar, and we didn’t mind not knowing what we were headed for.)

Eternal Flame– The Bangles
(We’re guessing this was envisioning how long the agency was going to last.)

The Look – Roxette
(Creating the look and brand identity that would define the agency for years… until we stopped wearing scrunchies and gave it a makeover.)

Like a Prayer – Madonna
(Really hoping to stay out of the red long enough to make it.)

I’ll Be There For You– Bon Jovi
(The first client pitch. It was probably more than 5 words, but it was epic.)

Rock On.– Michael Damian
(We were in the groove and thought we were so cool, especially with our member’s only jackets and Flock of Seagulls hair, but we didn’t let it get to our heads.)

I’ll Be Loving You (Forever) – New Kids On The Block
(When the first client said yes, our shrieks of joy hit octaves only dogs could hear.)

Satisfied – Richard Marx
(Job done and client happy.)

Baby Don’t Forget My Number– Milli Vanilli
(Trying to get repeat business from clients wasn’t easy, but we never gave them any lip-sinc when they called back.)

Hangin’ Tough – New Kids On The Block
(Staying strong during the slow periods by practicing our running man and arm swings.)

Listen to Your Heart – Roxette
(Knowing we were making the first of many right decisions, followed by lots of bad fashion choices.)

When I See You Smile – Bad English
(We saw the positive impact we made on clients’ businesses, and we were ready to face the world oooooooohhhhhhhh and we could do anything!)

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Consuming for Good – 2013 Holiday Gift Guide

db&r's top ten Good Gifts for 2013Consumers (that means you) are the most
powerful people on the planet.

You may not feel so mighty when you are doling out the dollars for that new iPad or that designer denim, but let’s face it, when you open up your wallet or swipe that plastic, you are contributing support and investing in something. YOU decide what businesses thrive and what brands make it big. From the coffee you drink to the shoes you choose, every decision you make counts.

As we navigate through the most commercialized time of year, let’s make the decision to give for good and spend our hard-earned dollars on those that deserve it most. Here are my top ten picks for good giving in 2013:

  1.  For the Beauty Queen
    Acure
    Consider this food for your skin. All natural, plant-based organic skin care made from the purest ingredients around. I started using the facial cleansers about a month ago, and can’t say enough good things. Not only does ACURE make great products for bettering your skin, they are also committed to bettering the planet, and 5 percent of all proceeds go to Bright Pink., a national non-profit organization that provides education and support to young women who are high risk for breast and ovarian cancer. Take that, and stuff it in your stocking.Acure Organics
  2. For the Craft Afficionado
    Etsy – Handmade Shops
    There is something to be said about giving someone a homemade gift for the holidays. But if the crafty ideas on your Pinterest feed cause you to break out in hives, maybe you should leave it to the more handy-dandy folks to help you out. Etsy is full of talented people who make everything from reclaimed wood furniture to beautiful handcrafted jewelry and clothing. My personal favorite this year are these handmade mugs from Owl & Brew:Owl & Brew Handmade Mugs
  3. For Our Furry Friends
    Polka Dog Bakery
    I am such a dog lover, that if I had one I would probably make him his own steak dinner every night. A more sensical approach may be to rely on the canine-culinary talents of Polka Dog Bakery. I bought these fun holiday treats for all of my four-legged friends last year, and had so much fun playing with the vintage packaging. (You twist the top to create different doggie portraits.) Also the treats are made with really good ingredients – no fillers for Fido!Polka Dog Baker
  4. For Field Trip Families 
    Zoo Memberships
    In the words of the late great Whitney, I believe the children are our future. So buying them gifts that help them learn about the world that they live in (like a membership to the local zoo) will only make the world a better place.  Also, supporting your local wildlife conservation will ensure a future home for your favorite baby gibbons and mother marsupials. Family memberships are a great gift for multi-kid families.

    Zoo Memberships

    Source: Getty Images

  5. For the Planner
    The TUTU Project Calendar 
    They say that laughter is the best medicine. And seeing a man in a pink tutu will make you LOL for sure. That’s the idea that photographer Bob Carey had when his wife Linda was diagnosed with cancer. He wanted to make her laugh. The result: a pink tulle-filled collection of self-portraits in the most unexpected places. This calendar is a reminder to us all to laugh at life in 2014. Proceeds go to the Carey Foundation.

    The Tutu Project Calendar

    Source: NPR

  6. For the Nostalgic
    Project REPAT 
    Having a hard time parting with that track & field tee circa 1991? We all have that drawer full of memorable, not necessarily wearable t-shirts taking up real estate in our dresser. Project REPAT will make something out of them. Not just something – a handmade quilt, cut and sewn in the USA – making it possible to treasure your cotton collection forever. The T-Shirt Quilt Blanket Box makes a great gift for any t-shirt hoarder.Project Repat
  7. For the Foodie
    Mortgage Lifter Tomato Sauce
    My love affair with the Beekman Boys started back in 2010 when I got hooked on their charming show on Planet Green. I fell even further after reading Josh Kilmer Purcell’s Book The Bucolic Plague, and The Heirloom Dessert Cookbook (also great gifts!). But the most noteworthy piece of  merchandise from these fab farmers has to be the Mortgage Lifter Tomato Sauce. After winning the Amazing Race in 2012, they decided to pay it forward and help local farmers pay off their mortgages too. Here’s the story and here’s where to buy it.Mortgage Lifter Tomato Sauce
  8. For the Meat Lover
    Fleisher’s Butcher Shop T-shirts 
    If you’re looking to hoard more t-shirts, then at least wear a funny one that supports a mom and pop shop. Fleisher’s Butcher Shop has been a Brooklyn hot spot for almost a decade, serving up the best grass-fed beef, free-range poultry and homemade bacon that New York has to offer. And their apparel is even fresher than their meats.  A perfect gift for any meat-lover, the “Live and Loin” Tee is my personal favorite.Fleisher’s Butcher Shop Tee-shirts
  9. For the Wine Enthusiast
    House of Mandela 
    The legacy of Nelson Mandela lives on through sustainable values and fruitful libations. House of Mandela Wines is the bottled conception of his daughter and granddaughter, rooted in the idea of making delicious South African wine the right way. All of their wines are ethically and environmentally responsible, and a portion of the profits go to the House of Mandela Family Foundation. You can buy it here.House of Mandela Wines
  10. For the Little Ones
    Goldie Blox
    Princesses, Barbies, and babies oh my! Little Susie may be fun to buy for, but ever feel like we are guiding our girls down the pink path of girly goodness?  Engineer Debbie Sterling feels the same way. That’s why she created Goldie Blox – a fun, smart series of toys and books that introduces girls to engineering and science concepts.Goldie Box

So there you have it. Hopefully you can find something for everyone on your nice list this holiday season. But as you’re buying, remember to be nice to the little man trying to make it big, and the brands that are trying to make a difference. You are the consumer. You make the decisions. You have the power to buy for good.

Happy shopping!

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Social Psyche: What Makes Us Go Social

This past week I had a really engaging conversation with someone about my job (I’m a social media specialist). He asked some interesting questions – things like, well, why has social media become so prevalent? What is it about tweeting and iterations of new technology that has consumers so entranced? I had one simple answer for him: it’s a part of our social psyche.

Why do people “check-in”? Why do they set up social profiles? Why do they blog? (If you’re a marketer, try not to rely on your own reasoning…it’s usually biased… I know mine is!)

The impetus for the average user, though, is complex and simple at the same time. The reasons we engage on social networking sites draw from the principles of basic human nature.

Natural Law philosophers (like Aristotle) emphasize that “man is by nature a social animal” Social media gives us yet another outlet to be this “social animal.”

But, it’s more than just that. At the heart of it all is our need to expose our identity – to show who we are. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs shows us that self-actualization and esteem are both necessary components of a healthy life.

In fact, if we look at the top three levels of his hierarchy we can find many ways social media helps us to accomplish these needs. The third level of the model is made up of our psychological needs like family, love, relationships, work groups and community. The next level is more ego-driven needs, like our needs of achievement, responsibility and reputation. And at the top, there’s self-actualization, as we mentioned before, which encompasses our personal growth and fulfillment.

maslow's hierarchy of needs with social media

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Foursquare, etc. all give us the ability to send signals to others about our selves (two words).

Think about it. When we like a brand on Facebook, tweet a link, or even answer a question on Quora, we are helping to establish ourselves as a unique individual. When we share our thoughts via a blog we’ve just written or an intelligent tweet, we’re fulfilling our need to achieve and grow.

When we’re connecting with others via social networks, whether it be tweeting back and forth or commenting on an endless Facebook comment string, we’re achieving our social need to connect and be a part of the community.

So what does this mean for brands and marketers?

We need to help people not only identify with our brand, but we must also help them see a piece of themselves reflected in the brand. We don’t share a link or “Like” a brand to promote that company (again, unless you’re a marketer), rather we share these things because they ultimately say something about our identities, our priorities, who we are. We “Like” a brand or share something, because we want to connect with our community, be responsible, and share our experiences with others.

For instance, one of my favorite social media campaigns since 2007 has been Liberty Mutual’s Responsibility Project, which coincided with their pass-it-on commercials. When I “Like” the Responsibility Project, I’m telling people that I like the idea of “passing it on,” that I identify with the notion that community members should look out for one another. In doing so, I’m also spreading the word about Liberty Mutual. If I didn’t identify with their message, I would never have liked or shared it.

There are certainly other reasons why people join and engage in social networking, and it’s important for marketers to know, understand and leverage them all.

How do you satisfy your human needs via social media? How might your brand take advantage of these?

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