The Underblog

What’s Old is New Again in Television Advertising

Milton Berle Phillies Cigar Spokesperson


It’s been nearly eight decades since the first TV commercial break aired for Bulova Watch Co. just before the first pitch of a televised baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies in July 1941. Only two months earlier, the FCC approved of TV commercials. Once brands realized the power of television advertising it was the wild west. Ad Agencies thought they were going to be developing television shows along with all different formats of advertising.


In the early days, announcers would step away from the camera to read messages from Procter & Gamble, Goodyear, and more. Sometimes a product would be introduced to the audience from the stars as with Winston cigarettes plugged by Fred Flintstone. Other times, a brand would headline the show, like the 1950s series “The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom.” The singer would introduce the newest model as “the most important guest star of our show.”


When you look at the historical arc of broadcast advertising, advertisers have been continuously pushed away from the content of the show and relegated into their 30 second time spot. But that is starting to change. Three trends are forcing networks to look at creative ways to integrate with their advertisers: 1) In 2016, digital ad spending eclipsed television.; 2) Nielsen has recorded an 8 percent drop in prime-time TV viewing among the coveted 18-49 age ; 3) the traditional model has being uprooted by ad-skipping technology and services, like Netflix and Amazon Prime. These add up to a big problem for networks.



Networks and agencies have been forced to innovate or revisit some ideas from yesterday to cope with changes in the media landscape. They are bringing back old favorites like NBC’s Will & Grace and bringing advertisers to the party. With the launch the network and advertiser developed an “innovative” cross-platform partnership. “Will & Grace” prompted Honda to create a 90-second spot that features actors from the show in character, one of whom is driving a new Honda Accord. Another popular NBC show, “This Is Us,” recently joined with State Farm in a similar relationship. The insurer has produced family-themed ads that incorporate flashback sequences like those seen in the drama series. Voiceovers will even be delivered by cast members from the show. The State Farm ads will run during the live airing of the episode as well as video on demand, and the company will see additional distribution through social media and on custom pages on


Even late night shows are following this formula. In an effort to avoid being forced to let go of producers on his show due to budget issues, comedian Jimmy Kimmel decided to incorporate brands into segments of his show. While taping a week’s worth of shows in Brooklyn instead of his usual Los Angeles studio, Kimmel filmed a bit where he asked silly questions of local bartenders — complete with a Smirnoff logo on camera. And another late night host, Conan O’Brien, has spent several years pushing video games on his show in a segment called “Clueless Gamer,” where O’Brien and a celebrity guest will play the game on the show with plenty of humorous antics.


All that is old is new again in TV land. The concept of program integration by the guys who pay the bills is alive and seems to be working.


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The future of voice search should make agencies and brands concerned about their SEO

amazon voice search, atlanta ad agency

Amazon made a splash on Super Bowl Sunday with its event campaign “Alexa Loses Her Voice,” where celebrities filled in for the standard robot voice that Echo users traditionally hear.


It’s a clever ad that highlights the functional commands that allow users to engage with Alexa as well as reinforce the popularity of the device. Geekwire reports that as of December 2017, there were 31 million Amazon Echo bases installed in the U.S. alone, with Google Home following with just 14 million but growing fast in units sold.


It’s still early for voice interactive search and engagement and the facilitating technologies. But its development is quickly accelerating, leaving some brands and businesses to feel as thought they’re already behind the times.


And that’s largely because of SEO – it’s not just for typed text anymore. It’s for voice search, too.


Whether at home or on the go, consumers are now able to effortlessly seek information with either a button or by voice command. More importantly to brands, they can also make purchases just as easily, so optimizing SEO for mobile and voice should be a top priority for businesses moving forward.


Fortunately, many of the best practices for SEO carry over into voice search. The target for optimization, however, is to be the featured result that voice devices reply with to a user’s inquiry. Because some devices may only reply with a single result, this means achieving “ownership” of a top ranking like Google’s featured snippet, also known as an answer box. The reason this search result is now more valuable than ever is because it will require new thinking on keywords and mobile-first content strategies.


Forbes offers three key tips on how to be prepare for this new phase of Web search:


Consider speech patterns. When typing on a keyboard, even on a mobile device, users tend to stick with shorthand searches. For example, if I wanted to know the weather forecast for today in Atlanta, I would most likely type “weather Atlanta” or “Atlanta weather.” The results on most search engines or devices would likely give me the current temperature and weather conditions.


But if I want to know what the weather was going to like on Friday as I’m making a sandwich, I’d likely say aloud to my nearest Android device, “OK, Google. What’s the weather forecast in Atlanta on Friday?” And I would hear the information I wanted to know.


Long-tail keywords. Let’s say you play golf and you’re in the market for a new driver and you want to test it out at a nearby brick-and-mortar store today. You might initially search Google for “golf driver” and see a return SERP full of different brand names and prices for a various makes and models of drivers.


Perhaps you know which brand you want based on experience and now you just want to know where you can buy one, so you search for “Callaway golf driver stores in Atlanta.” Google replies with Edwin Watts Golf store in a featured snippet, with its website link, street address, operating hours and 24 reviews – plenty of information that countered the specificity of your search.


Agencies and brands should go the extra mile to test and incorporate as many keywords as they can that answer questions their target consumers may ask their smart device through a voice search.


Continued emphasis on mobile. A mobile-friendly website is going to keep a brand’s website higher on a SERP than one primarily formatted for a desktop computer. That shouldn’t be news to anyone working on the Web in the past few years, but with a shift toward voice search – especially among younger generations – there will be a growing war for the top results on the SEO battlefield unless agencies can help their clients stay ahead of the curve.


Like it or not, voice-activated search is on the horizon and headed our way. Unlike a typical web search, voice search usually comes up with just one or two choices. This could be a huge problem for brands like CPG in the future, especially with Amazon buying Whole Foods and their plethora of private-labeled 365 products. Brands that don’t pay to play will have to pinpoint their SEO to particpate in the voice-activated marketplace in the future. Ad agencies and advertisiers need to get up to speed and keep on top of the information if they want to stay relevant.

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Ad Agencies and Clients Choose Instagram to Reach the Mobile Shopper

Atlanta Advertising Agency, instagram, Social media




Instagram has gone from a simple photo album app to a dominant marketing force in social media. The app, bought by Facebook in 2012, has evolved into a seamless experience that can shares photos, videos and live streaming produced by users to share with their digital followers.


TechCrunch said the app eclipsed its closest competitor, Snapchat, in total number of users in just one year after the introduction of Instagram Stories, a feature that allows users to temporarily post select photos and video for 24 hours. Instagram lists on its business site that the app now has more than 500 million daily users and a total audience of more than 800 million. And at least 80 percent of Instagram accounts follow at least one business.


For digital marketers, these numbers represent a sea of opportunity, and Instagram’s advertising options can potentially engage all of them with your brand. Instagram provides four different advertising methods: photo, video, carousel and Stories. Each of these options includes, at minimum, a call-to-action link for users to learn more information about your brand or to shop immediately online.


Also, there’s an increased level of engagement opportunity with each option. For example, you can upload high-definition videos and, with carousel and Stories, include multiple photos and videos to engage users.


With Instagram ads, marketers are given the tools they need to maximize their reach on the platform. They can select basic targeting categories from location, age and gender to clicked interests and behaviors based on Instagram and Facebook activity. They can also refine targeting a step further through custom audiences, using email addresses and phone numbers, and lookalike audiences, which share traits of existing customers.


And marketers realize goals by observing data rooted in awareness (reach, frequency, brand awareness), considerations (website clicks, video views) and conversions (website visits, mobile app engagement).


The most significant difference between Instagram and other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter is that its niche is simplistic mobile-first design and function. The desktop browser version of Instagram doesn’t come with all the advanced bells and whistles that its iPhone/Android counterpart includes such as hashtags and global search. Just like users can find on Twitter and Facebook, Instagram users can search for specific brands by name or hashtags, resulting in a collection of connection posts that feature posts and discussions about a brand and its products or services.


Today, even the most passive browsing experiences can lead to engagement and new customers with Instagram. Making it incredibly easy for users to shop while on the go steers users away from the desktop version, thus further pushing digital marketers to always be thinking mobile first advertising.

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AR Nurtures Emotional Engagement for Brands and Consumers


Our 21st century technology has gradually produced numerous channels for digital escapism, but none have pushed the boundaries more than recent advances in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).
Since its release in summer 2016, Pokémon GO made a splash in the arena of smartphone AR. As an entertainment brand born in the formative years of the millennial generation, Pokémon stretched across video games, playing cards and other merchandise. The AR iteration, however, where players individually or in teams visit real-world locations to “capture” monsters, became the most downloaded mobile game app in 2016 with mass appeal for social connectedness through a nostalgic experience.
Many brands are already developing ways to integrate digital- and real-world engagement to shorten the journey between browser and buyer. Here are a few examples of brands that have already undertaken experiments in AR:
Moxie, an Atlanta-based marketing company, decided in 2017 to forego sending out the traditional holiday cards and candy to clients and vendors. Instead, it decided to experiment with the interactivity of augmented reality with “rapping” giftwrapping paper. With the help of a local muralist and recording artist T-Pain, Moxie sent AR wrapping that, when using the company’s Gift Rap app, featured a singing animation all over the pattern. Such a feature might have made it more difficult to rip up the paper for any gift found inside.
Ikea is pushing the limits of AR by bringing the retail browsing experience directly to your smartphone. Want to see how a coffee table might fit in your living room, or how a futon will look in a guest bedroom? The furniture maker has created a free app that allows users to use their cameras and view any of more than 2,000 products as though it were appearing in a room. The app, called Ikea Place, uses data picked up by your camera to map objects in a room to render a 3-D image of a product at scale with 98 percent accuracy. An AR application like Ikea Place has the potential to streamline the furniture shopping experience – removing the longtime woes of measuring spaces, comparing fabrics and colors, and seeing how the products look in the home only after buying them.
Porsche is aiming to improve its technician services with a set of AR smart glasses used in a process called Tech Live Look. In the event that a technician at any Porsche dealership can’t immediately determine a car’s problem or find the solution, they can use the smart glasses to link with the support team at the Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta. The smart glasses include a high-resolution camera that can examine very small objects among the vehicle’s parts as well as LEDs provide illumination in dark crevices. The support team in Atlanta can send instructions and other assessments directly to the glasses, thus preventing a technician from wasting time with opening an email on a remote computer. With this system, customers can expect to get their cars back faster as the eight dealerships that have implemented this technology have decreased resolution time by 40 percent.
As VR’s focus is largely shifting toward the future of gaming, AR is headed toward disrupting the norms of daily life. Advances in technology and their applications in retail shopping and the producer-consumer relationship will dramatically improve the overall customer experience for a growing number of industries in the near future. Agencies today need to bring clients ideas and examples of how the brand experience can be richer and more personal via AR and VR applications.

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Go North Young Man

Silver, Andy and Melanie judging the Mid-Michigan Addy Awards.


Heeding the call to judge the Addys of the great wild north.

Every creative loves awards, and you should gird your loins around those who say they don’t. They’re a fantastic measuring stick for the high standard of quality we toil over day to day. Its icing on the cake that when they’re recognized by peers in the industry. But, far less creatives, love judging award shows. This is where I’m cut from a different cloth.

Award shows, especially hyper local ones, have a reputation for fewer entries we’d call killer by standards set by The One Show, CA and the like. Its hard to argue that stuff coming out of Little Rock or Cheboygan could ever compete with work produced in larger markets by larger agencies. This is where I want to prove that notion utterly wrong.  I have been trying to do so for the last 10 years or so making my way around the local Addy judging circuit.
Often, I leave a judging weekend super impressed with creative efforts emerging from markets you wouldn’t consider perennial advertising powerhouses or even sesquicentennial powerhouses. That’s the beauty of what we do, no matter where you are, or what agency you call home, the originality of an idea transcends regionality and agency size.
Over a month ago, I had the pleasure of joining Andy Azula, Executive Creative Director of The Martin Agency, and Melanie Weisenthal, Principal at Deerfield Design NYC, to judge the Addy awards for the Mid-Michigan Creative Alliance in Lansing, Michigan. We met the entrants in a casual Q&A session at a local brewery the night before judging. One of the big themes addressed regionality as a measurement for creative worth.
My argument reinforced that great thinking can exist anywhere. It doesn’t matter that agencies in smaller markets don’t have armies of retouchers, or the deep pockets of a global holding company. In fact,  creativity often flourishes when given a small sandbox to play in. Limits force you to be more creative and arrive at solutions with less tools available. In Michigan, we judged some of the best design work I’ve seen in any advertising annual or show.
Its markets like this that force every creative to adopt a pioneer  attitude to work. They make the work  and they demand nothing but the best because they are the ones on the frontier. The next time you find yourself in Duluth or Sioux Falls, search for the local shops carving out their own paths in the advertising landscape. The work is wild.

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