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Jason Alleger

PPBH was intrigued when Foursquare announced last October that it would allow small businesses to advertise on Foursquare.

The premise behind the mobile check-in app being able to actually track a click to a physical visit into your location was promising. Real foot traffic! Measurable ROI!

We set up a campaign using our agency as a guinea pig, writing several ads that looked like this:

Foursquare Ads Review from a Local Agency













But here’s the thing – that was all there was. We could not specify our geo-fence, target audience, or even our cost per click. Foursquare reassured us in their FAQs that our ads would be shown to potential customers based on their location and where they normally check in. We warily treaded forward, hoping for the best.

DISCLAIMER: We realize we are an advertising agency and that new clients won’t just walk through the door (however if you are our dream client and wish to, we are located here). We did, however, expect to garner some insights as to how Foursquare identifies our customers and potentially recommend the service to our clients.

We let our campaign run for nearly four months (11/25/13 – 3/17/14), and here are the stats that Foursquare showed us:

Foursquare Ads Dashboard ScreenshotWe can toggle between actions and impressions, but that’s it. We cannot see who checked in, who “tapped” our ad or even which ad copy is performing best. These are must-haves for digital advertising and Foursquare doesn’t have them.

We agree that the cost per action is comparable to a cost per click for display ads, and the click through rate is much higher than the industry average. It’s also so neat that you can track check-ins to your location.

When running online ads there is a reasonable expectation for traceable results and Foursquare doesn’t deliver quite yet. There is a small group of us at the agency who check in religiously, and we did not see any new check-ins to our location (according to Foursquare’s analytics and personally checking through the app). We’d like to know how Foursquare counts the check-ins if we can’t see them.

Once these issues are addressed, we could see this service becoming a powerhouse in the retail arena because of its ability to track real visits. Until then, we’ll stay confined to the archaic question “So, how did you hear about us?”

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Image contributed by:

Contributed by Eugene Kim

TPP. Most of you have probably never heard of this acronym but for the past month TPP has driven over 36 million users to a single website to watch hundreds of thousands of people help an interactive Pokemon trainer become the world’s very best. Over 122 million commands were sent to TPP from all around the world, and through collaborative (and sometimes not so collaborative) efforts, Pokemon Red was completed in just over 16 days.

Now completing a single player game using commands from thousands of users is a feat in and of itself, but the really impressive thing is just how much interaction TPP stirred outside of the game. Not only did it bolster brand loyalty in the United States and inspire individual users to create hundreds of thousands of memes, it also sparked mini “religions” within its community, most notably of which was the fanatical following of “Lord Helix”.

Now most brands would drool and claw for brand interaction like this, so let’s break it down to see how TPP rebooted the Pokemon fad in the US.

That is just plain rude of me, I haven’t even explained what TPP stands for! The acronym, simply spelled out, is Twitch Plays Pokemon, but the actually meaning of TPP goes much deeper…

Twitch is a website that broadcasts games to over 45 millions users a month. Now for those of you who don’t know how fanatical gamers can be, this is a huge deal. It is a single source for people to go watch the best gamers compete online, and not only that, Twitch hosts some of the world’s largest online gaming tournaments as well. It’s like ESPN for the button/key mashing crusaders of the interwebs.

About midway through February, Twitch hosted something called Twitch Plays Pokemon. Dubbed a “social experiment”, TPP provided hundreds of thousands of users the ability to control a Pokemon trainer (also dubbed TPP) in the classic game Pokemon Red. Though it moved like molasses for the first day (Friday, February 14 to be exact), things quickly gained steam and TPP became an internet trend within 5 days of its launch.

Now that you know what TPP is, we can look at how Twitch Plays Pokemon changed the Pokemon Brand.

This is easy enough. For those that played, watched, collected and dressed as Pokemon, TPP was the kindling they needed to light up all those childhood memories of super powered animals electrocuting, burning, drowning, punching, kicking, sleeping, flowering, burying, body slamming, laser beaming, fairying and singing each other into submission. Fueled with the passion of one hundred Charmander tails, millions of users poured their heart and soul into getting TPP through the game.

The Logistics
This is extremely important to note, and will come back in the next section so perk up and pay attention. To make it so that thousands of people could control a single character, TPP had to come up with a system. The system allowed users to turn on “Anarchy” or “Democracy”. Whichever was chosen to run at that time is the method of how commands were issued.

  • Anarchy: everyone’s command is registered and TPP is forced to act out EVERYTHING. It is absolutely chaotic and it feels like a good deal of work gets done when it really doesn’t.
  • Democracy: people vote on moves. Instead of people mashing their keys and causing viewers to have aneurisms, every action is carefully thought out and voted upon. Though it is assumed that this is the slowest way of going about things, this actually got tasks done MUCH quicker.

Getting Users to Spread the Word
TPP players became engrained into the process and became so passionate that they actually got emotional about it. Now it’s not just because they were feeling nostalgic, it was because TPP’s method allowed for users to make a visual difference. When they said “up” in “Anarchy” they saw TPP move up. When they said “down” in “Democracy” they saw their vote get counted in real time. They knew they could make a difference, so they did everything they could to make it happen. They recruited friends and they talked to strangers. They interacted like an internet politician by campaigning their ideas to everyone who could see it. Soon, players gathered behind a purpose they believed in and supported. Strategic planners gained followers and the page saw even more visits just from people who wanted to see what was going on.

The Results
As you can see in the picture below, Google searches for TPP rocketed, making it an internet trend within five days of its release. I would have to say this is pretty good for a website that most of you have probably never heard of.

First Peak


Here, you’ll see that it also bolstered Google searches for Pokemon Red, giving life to a term that had been pretty much stagnant.

TPP and Pokemon Red Comparison

Along with becoming a trend within days, TPP also created multiple breakout keywords and topics that related directly to Twitch Plays Pokemon.

But what does that mean for the long-term? As you can see in both charts, this trend seems to have dropped off the map almost days after its completion.

The Long-Term
Yes, I made another headline for this. If it bothers you, tough luck, it’s been done.

If anything TPP has created a new connection with old Pokemon fans in a way that hasn’t been tried before. They realized that Pokemon’s old groupies were aging, so they took an inventive approach to appeal to their inner child. TPP rekindled old memories, created new ones and drove users all over the world to connect with each other beneath the banner of Pokemon. They spiked visits to their website, dramatically increased searches for the Pokemon Red game and the ads on that page were exposed to over 778,000 viewers. In the end, what this shows us is that innovation and creative thinking can go a long way, and in this case, bring a flat brand back into the limelight.

And, this is just my theory, but I’m positive it has convinced millions of people to force Pokemon on their children so that they can live vicariously through them.

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A PPBH contingent will be at AdTech in San Francisco this week, exploring digital advertising technology trends. Here are just some of the topics we’ll be looking at:

  • Online video is growing up. TV still gets all of the ad dollars, but digital video is seeing huge growth as advertisers are discovering big uplifts in reach and recall.
  • What do we do with mobile? The ubiquity of smart phones should correlate with a sharp increase in ad growth. But the industry still hasn’t figured out a seamless way to advertise a message on mobile without interrupting, annoying and crossing privacy lines. As mobile visitors outpace desktop visitors for the first time this year, will advertisers lose out on a potentially huge opportunity?
  • Connected devices – as everything becomes a “smart” device, including our cars, what does it mean for advertisers? Will they ever be able to scale the disparate pieces of data that will flow from these devices into a meaningful and powerfully relevant message for consumers?
  • Finally, what do Ronnie Lott, Punky Brewster and Puff Daddy all have in common? They’re all giving keynote addresses at AdTech, of course!

Don’t be sad you’re missing out – we’re here for you. Stay tuned for more updates on AdTech happenings right here on the PPBH blog.


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Businessman like an ostrich

Think about some of the good interviews you’ve seen recently and then of the cringe-worthy. Preparation, practice and many other aspects are involved in a good interview, not the least of which is a well-informed, well-coached spokesperson.

However, in any situation, whether you are sharing your latest success or breaking bad news, there are some working with media rules that you just shouldn’t break. The following while certainly not a comprehensive list, is a sampling of some of the worst offenders.

You’ll look less rehearsed if you just speak ‘off the cuff.’

Actually, the exact opposite is true. Putting in the time to become familiar with the interviewer’s style, defining the three to four key takeaways for the audience and practicing with a trusted source that will give you honest feedback and coach your delivery. And be sure to give some extra time answering “that” question that you hope you won’t be asked—because, more than likely, you will.

Some other considerations:

  • Work to keep your answers to a sound bit of about 7 seconds.
  • Don’t use jargon.
  • Examples are great to help paint a picture and make your point.
  • Help give relevancy to numbers. For example: ‘One of five shoppers’ instead of “Twenty percent of shoppers.”

Ask to see the story before it runs or airs.

With an extremely technical and complex topic, a journalist may allow you, or even request, that you review the content before it goes public. However, this is the exception. Even if the journalist would be willing, it is often their editors that are enforcing policies against reviewing.

If you are concerned about how you will be represented, a safe guard is to bring a digital recorder and disclose that you are taping the interview. This way, if you are misquoted you will have a record if you determine you want to pursue requesting a correction.

It’s ok to say ‘no comment’ or ‘just don’t return a journalist’s call.’

First, we all know that no comment is a comment and is interpreted as an admission or confirmation that you have something to hide.

Putting off returning a call isn’t a solution either. We’ve all seen in the news that media reports in their stories when sources were contacted and requested for information went unanswered.

Compounding these issues, even if you don’t comment, others outside your business or organization certainly will and frame your position for you. Inevitably creating an even tougher situation where you’re playing catch up and trying to correct the situation.

[Note: It’s also key to know that even if you say something is ‘off the record,’ there is no such thing. If you say it, expect that you will see it in your story.]

Don’t get personal with journalists.

Like many of us, journalists only get feedback when we disagree with a story. Make it a point to give good feedback to journalists. Share their stories on your company and personal social channels. Send an email – or better yet – a handwritten note thanking them for their time to talk with you. Stay in touch by sending relevant information about your product, cause or company. They’ve shown an interest, building that relationship and keeping the channel of communication open makes future interviews easier when there is good and bad news to share.

Media like ribbon cuttings and podium press conferences.

Nope. Nada. Not even one little bit.

First ribbon cuttings. Good for a community event to get people involved. Just don’t count on media covering it as your reason for having one.

Turning to podium press conferences, each media outlet works to present an unique take on the story to their readers/viewers and talking at a podium makes that challenging. Granted, in situations where everyone needs to receive the same information at the same time, such as public health/welfare emergency or an initial response to a crisis situation, this type of information format works. But, most often, it’s better to individualize. Create a number of varying angles and visuals to offer up.

Then, when you do land that coveted space or airtime, prepare, practice and avoid these media landmines to make the most of your interview.

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The New Marketing Breed

Today’s marketing person has grown past their textbook definition. Often today’s marketing people bring to the table the traditional disciplines they learned in their formal education, but that just isn’t enough anymore. They need to bring a new skill set with them, a skill set that increases their ability to understand their audience, employ communication mediums, and leverage available technology – faster then ever before.

Here are 4 traits you must posses to be successful as the new marketing breed.

Adaptability is critical to their survival. In the past, new techniques and methods came slowly and developed over months or even years of use. Powerful techniques emerge almost daily now, in fact, the more they emerge the faster they come. This supports the notion that technology breeds technique – exponentially. So, if you are still carrying around a nice leather day-planner, don’t look behind you because the competition is hot on your tail.

At the pace target audiences are changing technologically, the new marketing person will be driven to reach out even further in front of their audiences. This means they will need to leverage research data and often times make risky assumptions to anticipate audience behavior. We no longer have the luxury of testing concepts over a long period of time. It is a wise marketer that assumes their competition knows what they know. Getting out in front of the audience is a critical piece of the game.

Understanding human behavior and knowing what makes people tick is an invaluable skill. Knowing how to conduct and interpret research will prove to be one of the key elements setting great marketing people apart from good ones. Aligning messaging with target audiences is potentially the most important aspect of a marketing and communication campaign. The ability to “get into the head of the buyer” will prove invaluable.

The days of short burst campaigns are evaporating as long-tail campaigns prove to generate longer and deeper brand relationships. Being able to help clients understand that just because they are tired of their campaign and branding doesn’t mean you should scrap it all and start over. With the amount of messaging our society is exposed to these days, frequency and consistency will pay off in the long run. Great marketers know how to leverage their dollars and insure that messaging and tactics change at the right time to maximize ROI.

Our marketing and communication world is rapidly changing, by the time you finish reading this 20 new tactics will have hit the medium channel. That is no reason to give up, but you absolutely can’t stop swimming – or the sharks will have you.

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Social Media Apps on Apple iPhone 5

Contributed by Jane Putnam 

We’ve said it before and I’m here saying it again: mobile is no longer an “option.” For example, when building or rebuilding a website, having a mobile counterpart shouldn’t even be a question. It should automatically be assumed that mobile is a part of the scope.

Trends in Mobile
Every year, the stats come out saying, “more people are accessing X, Y and Z via mobile.” I can guarantee, that number isn’t going to decrease any time soon ever. Rather than ignore the necessary mobile component, it’s time to embrace it and use it to your advantage.

Instagram started as mobile-only and only recently added a web-based interface (which still doesn’t have all of the features/abilities of the app version).

Our long-beloved right hand side bar ads on Facebook don’t show up for mobile users. So if your ad plan only included right-hand side ads, you’ll be missing out on reaching a chunk of people. Say hello to more promoted posts and the use of newsfeed ads. (Truth be told, I was never a huge lover of exclusively using the right hand side ads, so I’m excited to see the options increase.)

Last month, Pinterest launched a totally revamped and redesigned mobile site, since 75 percent of all daily Pinterest traffic comes from mobile applications.

In my opinion, the “second-screen phenomenon” is no longer a “phenomenon” and is now just a part of every day user engagement and behavior. Look at the Sochi Olympics, for example. When the US beat Russia in men’s ice hockey, there were more than 72,000 Tweets per minute.

Embracing Mobile – and Owning It
Anticipate: Everything you post, tweet, share, etc. should be done with the expectation that a large portion of those reached, will be reached via mobile. Change your process to anticipate this, and make sure your content reflects this.

Experience: Think about the experience mobile users will have with your content on social media. Is the content your posting and sharing optimized for mobile? Is it something mobile users can even access? Many third-party contesting apps (e.g., Woobox, Grosocial, ShortStack, etc.) even provide a responsive link that will get the user—regardless of mobile or computer or tablet—to the tab or page in the preferred environment.

Grow: You may have limited resources or content that caters to mobile users right now, but just keep mobile front of mind as you develop new content, shoot new videos, etc., so that mobile will be included as a primary channel.

Own it: The mobile field is vast and ripe with opportunity to own it. Grow your brand awareness, engagement and reputation in part by owning mobile. How? Well, that varies by brand—but we’re constantly working to deliver that on behalf of our clients, so stay tuned to our work to see what’s new, fresh and working.


Here’s to your mobile social success!

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Online quizzes are the next frontier of content marketing. Odds are, you have recently taken a quiz about “Which sandwich are you?” or “Which city should you actually live in?” These quizzes have been gaining popularity since December 2013, and we foresee this becoming a part of brand’s content strategy moving forward.

Well, PPBH has made its own quiz. Take our quiz to see how much you actually know about PPBH:

Let us know your score in the comments!

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