Autoplay Is Here To Stay

August 02, 2018

Autoplay Videos Are Not Going Away. Here’s How to Fight Them.
Videos that start without your consent are prominent across the web. Our tech columnist explains how the industry got here and what we can do.

By Brian X. Chen

August 1, 2018

The web is in a dark place, as I plan to examine in the next several columns. If you need proof, look no further than autoplay videos, the first example.

You’re probably familiar with this horrendous experience: You are perusing a website, and suddenly an annoying voice or unfamiliar music blasts through your speakers.

You wonder, where is this coming from? You scroll up and down the webpage only to realize that a video is playing without your consent. And the noise polluting your ears is coming from an ad preceding a video you had never clicked to watch.

Autoplay videos are all over the web and inside apps. They are prominent in your Facebook and Instagram feeds. Some major news sites embed them into features and news articles.

Nobody seems to likes autoplay videos — not even people I’ve talked to in the ad industry. The indiscreet videos demand your attention while burning through your mobile data plan and sucking up your batteries. Yet they have become a necessary evil for many media publishers trying to survive in the digital age.

“I think we’ve ended up in a really crappy user experience right now with video advertising,” said Dave Morgan, the chief executive of Simulmedia, which works with advertisers on targeted television ads. “Video has been pushed into every user experience whether or not it fits, because it’s a way to make more money.”

Well, I come here bearing some good news and bad news about these abominations. The bad news is that autoplay videos are here to stay, and that the tools to combat them are far from perfect. The good news is that they are evolving to be less annoying, and that some sites let you turn them off. Here’s what you need to know about how we got here, what you can do and where autoplay videos are heading.

How Did We Get Here?
In digital media, video advertising was always the ultimate goal. Twenty years ago, web publishers dreamed of delivering video ads online: It was the perfect format, already proved by the TV industry to be engaging to audiences and a big revenue generator.

“Sight, sound and motion can make people laugh, make people cry, make them hug somebody,” Mr. Morgan said. “It can make them love a brand. It can make them whistle a brand’s theme song when they’re walking a dog.”

Yet publishers faced technical hurdles, like slow internet connections, that made video ads untenable. Instead, publishers served ads that were static images, which eventually evolved to become graphics with some animations and sound.

Over the last decade, fast wired and wireless connections spread, as did computers and smartphones. Consumers also became acclimated to streaming video services like Netflix and YouTube. Serving an online video became easy. So advertising firms like BrightRoll and Tremor Video, along with tech companies like Facebook, began testing video ads.

Once they got started, there was no turning back. Video ads generated 20 to 50 times more revenue than traditional display ads, and the best way to get money was to make the videos play automatically, Mr. Morgan said. Tech platforms like Facebook and Twitter liked autoplay videos, too, because they were effective at getting people to stick around on their sites, said Taylor Wiegert, a director of user experience strategy for the Martin Agency. Automatically playing videos went from a rarity a decade ago to a prominent online advertising medium today.

When Will This Madness Stop?
As annoying as they may be, autoplay videos are here to stay — largely because the ads generate so much money. But they are thankfully becoming less obnoxious.

Increasingly, advertising firms are shifting toward making autoplay videos with the assumption that people have muted their devices. Mr. Wiegert of the Martin Agency said his firm primarily makes ads with sound off by default. It designs them to communicate a company’s branding and message without requiring sound.

Tech companies, too, are evolving their products to make autoplay videos less of a nuisance. For example, Google says that part of its criteria for allowing autoplay to work in the Chrome browser is for the videos to be muted or have no sound. And on Instagram, automatically played videos are muted by default unless you manually turn on the audio.

“Autoplay with sound on is just going to go extinct,” Mr. Wiegert said. “It’s been deemed as a poor quality experience for users. Even I’ve gotten annoyed when I’ve been on a webpage and all of a sudden I hear sound coming through my speakers.”

Read the full article here.

Posted By: The Martin Agency

Martin Hires Tasha Dean As Head of Integrated Content

July 30, 2018

Tasha Dean has joined The Martin Agency as its new head of integrated content. She will report to Steve Humble, Martin’s chief operating officer. Working closely with creative, strategy and account leads, Dean will help bring customer journeys to life, impacting culture and driving growth for Martin’s clients. She will lead Martin’s digital production teams, content and production groups.

Dean began her career with Air Ambulance in Canada, flying alongside flight paramedics, filming accidents and disasters onsite and preparing content for an online paramedic e-learning system that she set up. From there she moved to Canadian agency Taxi where she worked in production, strategy and development. Within a few years she was running a production group. Next it was on to TBWA in Canada, then Chicago, followed by her most recent role of five years--running digital operations for TBWA\Chiat\Day New York. 

Dean’s client roster over the years includes global brands such as Nissan, Visa, Apple, Gatorade, McDonald’s, Michelin, Kraft, Johnson & Johnson, H&M, Travelers and Accenture. She has also received accolades from Cannes Lions, One Show, Webbys, Clios, ADDYs and London International Awards.
 
“Tasha is a force of nature,” said Humble. “Whether it’s creating a Star Wars Twitch experience, a mobile-first Facebook Live game of tag, or programming robots in the desert, her work is provocative, compelling and wakes people up.”

Dean said that The Martin Agency’s “leadership and work have grabbed and held my attention. Both continue to ask what if? I am honored to have the opportunity to help shape and grow a modern production collective.”

The hiring of Dean continues a series of moves made by new leadership at Martin. Most recently was the appointment of Kelsey Larus as director of strategic engagement for the agency’s Talent & Culture unit. Larus has an extensive background in strategic implementation having worked for the Obama administration, the Democratic National Convention and two presidential inaugurations. 

Read the full story here.

Posted By: The Martin Agency

Martin Creates Talent and Culture Unit

July 16, 2018

The Martin Agency Creates Talent and Culture Unit Led by Former Obama Administration Staffer
Kelsey Larus will help drive organizational change

IPG’s The Martin Agency has created a new Talent and Culture department aimed at driving change and progress among its staff.

To lead the department, The Martin Agency hired Kelsey Larus as director of strategic engagement. Larus will report to chief culture officer Carmina Drummond, who picked up that title in March.

Drummond told Adweek that Larus is an “interesting, interesting hire,” as her background is certainly not in advertising. Larus worked for the Obama Administration, both in the White House and on President Obama’s campaigns. She also served as the director of housing for the 2012 Democratic National Convention and worked on two presidential inaugurations.

The Martin Agency discovered Larus through LinkedIn, and Drummond said the shop was immediately drawn to her background in “driving organizational change,” as internal issues that needed to be addressed were not solely “advertising issues or Martin Agency issues, but company issues.”

“We went through a really tough December, and the agency needed to heal,” Drummond added. “We needed someone objective and who valued us. We actually brought her in for an interview not knowing how we might utilize her.”

Drummond said Larus came aboard about six weeks ago.

The Talent and Culture department will focus on three areas: talent resources, talent development and strategic engagement.

“We are always looking for new talent but we also have tremendous talent at the agency,” Drummond said, explaining that the department will be responsible for making sure all employees have the resources they need to be supported and the “foundation to own and nourish their careers.”

Drummond said the new department was born from the ideas of several “really smart people” who realized there is “a real hunger for aligning culture with business initiatives.” The department will ensure The Martin Agency is fostering an environment where staff can form relationships, have the right impact on the agency and feel they are fulfilling a purpose, according to Drummond.

“It just really clicked that this is how it needs to be done,” Drummond added.

The addition of the Talent and Culture department is just the latest development in The Martin Agency’s cultural transformation after Alexander left in December.

Most recently, the agency promoted senior creative Danny Robinson to the newly created role of chief client officer. Robinson is the first African American to serve on The Martin Agency’s executive committee and has been tasked with working with account management and creatives to unlock innovative ideas and identify growth drivers for clients.

Drummond noted that Robinson’s appointment also highlights The Martin Agency’s commitment to “understanding the capabilities of our talent” and transitioning them in roles that allow them “to look at things in a new way.”

Drummond was given the chief culture officer title after serving as the agency’s senior vice president and director of operations. She was promoted as part of The Martin Agency’s March initiative to double the representation of women on its executive committee. That initiative was led by The Martin Agency’s first female CEO in its 53-year history, Kristen Cavallo.

Cavallo previously elevated Karen Costello to the chief creative officer role to replace Alexander. Costello is also The Martin Agency’s first female CCO.

“Corporations often hide behind ‘fit’ and not ‘contribution’ as a metric,” Cavallo said in a statement. “Fit can be a rationale for homogeneity, and that’s dangerous. This is our chance to do things differently.”

Read full article here.

Posted By: The Martin Agency

Danny Robinson Named Chief Client Officer

May 17, 2018

DANNY ROBINSON MOVES UP IN NEWLY CREATED EXECUTIVE ROLE AT THE MARTIN AGENCY

In a move that is being deemed unusual, The Martin Agency has created an executive committee-level position of chief client officer, which Danny Robinson, one of its top senior creatives will occupy.

He will be responsible for working with account management to promote creative ideas, collaborate with creative teams to determine what drives clients’ businesses, and partner with clients to sell breakthrough work throughout their organizations—all in the interest of fighting against “brand invisibility.”

“The brands we represent need to be talked about within culture at large,” The Martin Agency CEO Kristen Cavallo told Adweek. “Because of that, we needed to increase the linkage between culture and business, and we created the role of chief client officer with the ambition of doing just that.”

Before joining The Martin Agency in 2004, Robinson co-founded Vigilante, his own creative shop and served as its chief creative officer where he helped develop the Pontiac giveaway integration with the Oprah Winfrey Show (276 audience members on the program were given Pontiac G6s), according to the Media Post. During his time there, Vigilante was awarded the AAAA Multicultural Agency of the Year Award two years in a row, runner-up in its third year and was nominated the subsequent two years. His work for General Motors’ Pontiac brand and Snapple’s Mistic earned several London International and Mobius Awards. His work for Heineken won an ANA Multicultural Excellence Award and was also featured in Communication Arts.

“You don’t meet many creative directors who have an M.B.A., have worked in brand management and have founded their own ad agency known for leveraging pop culture,” said Chris Mumford, president of The Martin Agency. “But then again, there’s only one Danny Robinson. Danny was even a part-time stand-up comic for ten years. He’s a unicorn, which makes him uniquely qualified for this role.”

In addition to bridging the gap between the creative and account departments, Robinson will also work with clients to identify the types of problems the agency can help them solve that “don’t typically show up in creative briefs.” During his time at The Martin Agency, Robinson has worked with Alliance for Climate Protection, Pizza Hut, Hanes, Tic Tac, Chevrolet, Oreo and the AMC Network.

“My entire career has been in the creative department,” Robinson said. “I’ve always approached my job with the understanding that I’m in a business and working for businesses.”

According to Adweek, Robinson’s promotion makes him the first African American to join the upper echelons of the agency’s C-suite. Cavallo told the advertising trade publication that the agency has made a significant investment in promoting diverse talent to leadership positions over the past five months, including doubling female representation in the C-suite.

“Often we at agencies try to hire people that fit a culture,” pushing out “disruptive ideas that don’t fit in the process,” Cavallo said. The leadership team that the agency wants moving forward is one that employs “diverse perspectives on the way to solving business problems,” she added, calling this “the kind of culture that has always been Martin at its best.”

Robinson began his career in marketing as a product manager after earning his M.B.A. in 1984 from Clark Atlanta University.

Read full article here.

Posted By: Danny Robinson

Times up, advertising. Join us.

May 02, 2018

Our industry is evolving. And time is officially up.

 

Time’s up, advertising. 

Time’s up on sexual harassment.

Time’s up on lack of representation.

Time’s up on inequity. 

Time’s up on silence. 

 

As a founding member of TIME’S UP™/ADVERTISING, The Martin Agency is inviting female advertising industry professionals in Richmond to join the conversation. We need your voices.

 

TIME’S UP™/ADVERTISING mission is to drive new policies, practices, decisions, and tangible actions that result in more balanced, diverse, and accountable leadership; address workplace discrimination, harassment, and abuse; and create equitable cultures within our agencies.

  

We’d like to invite the women of your agency in Richmond to join in the historic opportunity to be a part of the growing TIME’S UP™/ADVERTISING movement by participating in a town hall hosted by The Martin Agency on Monday, May 14th. This event is happening in 15 cities nationwide, and will be streamed on Facebook Live. In each city, this inaugural town hall meeting is intentionally for the females in our industry, inviting them all to bring their voices to this conversation. 

 

What is our goal with this? The answer is simple: change. Real change. And the necessary first step in the process is talking face-to-face with the women of our industry. While the first TIME’S UP™/ADVERTISING meeting is ladies-only, this movement as a whole depends on participation from everyone, and together, we’ll draw the rest of the road map. 

 

Martin will be handling logistics for this first event, so all you need to do is extend this invitation to fellow female colleagues in your agency and show up. Please R.S.V.P. here.

 

Any additional information about the TIME’S UP™/ADVERTISING vertical can be found at www.timesupadvertising.com.

 

When: Monday, May 14th from 3:30pm-5:30pm

Where: Byrd Theatre, 2908 W Cary St, Richmond, VA 23221

Who: Women who work in the advertising industry

 

We hope to see you there!

Posted By: The Martin Agency

For KAYAK, Confidence is king

April 13, 2018

Martin Agency Brings Its Signature Zaniness to Kayak After Years of Tomfoolery for GEICO
Confidence is king in the brand's weird vignettes

It’s been a little more than two years since Kayak decided to shift its creative account from one set of acclaimed weirdos to another, leaving Barton F. Graf for the Martin Agency.

Martin’s first outing with the brand was the “Kind of Like Kayak” campaign,which compared the travel booking aggregator to various other resources, like an army of body doubles to help you try on pants, or a personal style forecaster who’ll tell you when your man bun is past its prime.

The agency’s newest Kayak work is still odd, but this time it’s a bit more in the vein of Martin’s longtime, high-profile client, Geico. Martin has spent decades honing Geico’s ad approach, which typically centers on unexpected situations that fit tightly into a 15- or even 6-second space.

To highlight the idea of being “Kayak confident”—ie, secure in your decisions based on the app’s sprawling amount of travel data—Martin has created a series of short-form spots, including a dentist working on a shark and a snowman hitting the tanning bed.

There’s also a set of ads showing how the app helps you change your scenery, from the drudgery of workaday life and home improvement fails to floating fountain-side at a resort or watching hula dancers on the beach.

Read full article here.

Posted By: The Martin Agency