Blog Archives

Allison Tocci


This month we celebrated not one but two five-year anniversaries at PPBH. Both Christin and Christina work in the Public Involvement department here at PPBH and both of them have helped raise the bar with their hard work and PI know-how.

Christina 5-YearChristina came to PPBH in 2009 to work on the I-15 CORE project and has since worked with many of our PI clients. Her love for the outdoors, volleyball background, amazing work ethic and great sense of humor were the inspiration for her poster.

Christin 5-YearChristin started with PPBH in 2009 as well and has become our expert on air quality and transportation. She juggles motherhood and work like a pro and never fails to impress us with both her quality of work and her outstanding fashion-sense.

We want to say thank you to both of these women and we look forward to working with them for years to come.

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Online Gaming

Gamification isn’t something necessarily new, but it is a tried and true method of improving a brand’s image that is often times left unutilized. In case you didn’t know, gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage with users.

In simpler terms, gamification takes some function or message and turns it into something that feels like, or in some cases is, an interactive game. That might sound labor intensive and wallet draining, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Here are some interesting examples of gamification. If you’re currently struggling to find some new ideas, maybe these examples (which are in no particular order) are something you could explore.

5. Code Academy: Badges + Day Counter


Code Academy is an awesome website that’s designed to help people learn how to code everything from basic HTML to PHP. The problem? Getting someone to sit down and work through an entire tutorial can be difficult to say the least. In order to keep people interested in learning how to code, Code Academy implemented gamification into their website. As you’re working through a particular lesson you’ll be awarded with small badges and achievements. You’re also rewarded for coming back everyday as the website keeps track of how many days in a row you’ve spent studying. These are simple changes that can make a big difference in motivating people to continue using the Code Academy website.



4. TravelWise Tracker: Competition + Badges


TravelWise Tracker is a cool website that helps people combat pollution. Instead of driving your car everywhere you can earn points by logging in all of your energy conserving trips like carpooling, walking, biking or using the transit. This gamification functions similar to Code Academy by rewarding participants with badges when they complete certain tasks (like logging in 10 walking trips for example) but then takes the idea one step further by putting everyone into competing groups. The easy-to-use layout combined with the competitive nature of the website makes you want to come back again and again.


3. Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream: BuzzFeed Quiz









The rise in popularity of the BuzzFeed quiz has been shocking to say the least, but statistics show that a vast majority of people who start a quiz, finish it. As such, many brands have started taking advantage of this by creating snarky, quick-witted and very targeted BuzzFeed quizzes. Ben & Jerry’s created one about Ice Cream flavors. Not only was this viewed nearly a million times, but I’m willing to bet that more than one person went out and tried a new flavor of ice cream after this quiz told them which version matched best with their personality.

2. M&M: Facebook Game Ads


An even simpler way to add some gamification to your marketing strategy is to use social media. Considering how easy it is to share pictures online, one idea is to create an image that functions as a game, like M&M did with this “I Spy,” knock-off. It was actually met with a great deal of success and helped solidify M&M’s social media presence on Facebook.

1. Burger King Video Game


Of course, if you have enough money and time you could always make an actual video game advertising nothing but your product. That’s what Burger King did. In a shockingly successful stunt, Burger King created three entire video games based around their character/mascot “The King.” With the popularity of the smart phone a mobile game might be a more realistic and wise choice if you do want to make a full-fledged video game, but if you’ve got the money and the time, this could be the idea you’re looking for to better engage with your users.


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Ad fraud is a scary concept. The whole idea that there are fake websites with robots simulating clicks and actually perusing YOUR website is terrifying to marketers.

To get more background, all advertising mediums have a certain amount of discrepancy. TV ratings only need to deliver 90% of what was ordered. Radio isn’t typically posted on, but strives for 90% delivery. Print has a bit of waste with people who receive the magazine/newspaper but don’t see the page with your ad.

Online advertising, unsurprisingly, has some waste as well. The current industry standard is 80% of valid activity, with up to 20% of fraudulent activity being accepted. Digital is traceable at all levels, so it seems to fall under a bit more scrutiny than other advertising mediums. That being said, if you have a good digital firm they can work to reduce the amount of fraudulent activity and maximize ROI.

The first line of defense against fraudulent activity is to use an ad server. Ad servers empower the advertiser (as opposed to the media channel or network) to reduce fraud. Here are the ways PPBH uses its ad server:

  • Check websites where ads are running. Oftentimes advertisers will generate reports with which websites our ads are running on with the impressions delivered by site. Advertisers will manually go through the list and whitelist and blacklist sites.
  • Above the fold. Oftentimes your banner ads are running on legitimate websites to real people, but the ads themselves aren’t seen because the user doesn’t scroll to that part of the screen. Although we do acknowledge that in some cases having a banner ad within content is good, generally having above the fold placements (where they are seen 100% of the time) is better.
  • Geography. Most companies have some sort of target location, and you need to ensure your ads are being shown in that area. Ad servers can be set to limit the location of where your ads are shown, so you’re not reliant on the website or network you are running through.

Another essential step to preventing ad fraud is to run on trusted websites, networks and real-time bidding networks (RTB). If you’re running your ads on a specific website, spend some time on it to make sure there’s no dummy content or below-the-fold ads. If you’re running on a network, ask for a full list of sites. Lastly (and probably most importantly), if you’re running through an RTB network, know which exchanges they tap into and look them up on ComScore.

A third step is to use a third-party ad fraud technology. Any reputable network or exchange will work with dozens of them already, so ask them who they use and for reports. Also some agencies will use their own third-party ad fraud technology on top of their ad server and media partners.

The best way to tell if you have fake activity is to look at your results. A high bounce rate is usually a good indicator, but with how advanced bots are some go as far to browse your website, watch video content or even place items in a cart! What no bot will do however, is complete a purchase. You’ll really be able to see the quality of your ad placements by how many purchases are made as a result.

Ad fraud is scary but combatable. By using an ad server, partnering with reputable media companies, using ad fraud technologies and measuring your results you’ll be set for effective digital advertising.

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Flip Flops

Contributed by Jane Putnam

Summer: A time when most of us would rather be outside, swimming, hiking or anything other than working. We may be in the “dog days” of summer, but that doesn’t mean our work or productivity has to suffer. Make the most of the “slow” time—clients on vacation, team members taking time off, etc.—to get organized and kick off planning for the new year.

Yes, I said plan for the new year. But, it’s only July you may say. Well, time flies and now’s the time to take a step back and really evaluate/identify your approach and strategic plan for the new year. This doesn’t mean you have to have that 2015 strategic plan done, set in stone and bound in binder. Rather, use this time to do some research, investigate and search for new tools, media and opportunities to take your brand, company or product to the next level in 2015. Taking the time now, while things may be “slow” and vacations are in full swing, will reap many benefits in the months to come and most certainly in 2015.

Not sure where to start? Here are a few areas and ideas on where to start:

  • Evaluation. Take a look at the first six months of the year (even just some informal notes or thoughts) and think about what worked, what didn’t, what could be done differently, etc. “Lessons learned” often serve as great drivers for future planning.
  • Editorial Calendars. Some media outlets have already released their editorial calendars for 2015, especially those that require longer lead times. How about creating an editorial calendar for your company? This could encompass trade shows, seasonal products, etc. If you sell tires, you could note some important times/trends on your calendar, like when to trade out snow tires, etc.
  • New Media. What new media can your company/brand take advantage of in 2015? This doesn’t have to be brand new media, but could be media or channels, like Vine or Instagram, that you haven’t used before.
  • Staffing. Sometimes, the sky may be the limit, but how high that sky is can be determined by your bandwidth. Evaluate what staffing needs you may have. Whether funding for a new position comes with the new year or needs other approval, starting early will help you define the new role and allow ample search time.

Come September, you’ll be happy you put the time in now, in the dog days of summer, to get some initial planning done. Here’s to a wonderful 2015!

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Newest Employees

It has been a busy summer for PPBH and we have added a few new members to the team! We are proud to say that we have hired eight very talented individuals over the last couple of months.

It is PPBH tradition to ask all newbies a few random, yet extremely useful, questions. Here are some important facts that you should know about our newest team members.

(From left to right above).

James Taylor is our newest designer. His favorite book is Peter Pan and if he were stranded on a desert island, the one food he would miss most is Graham Canyon Ice Cream.

Brian Shaw joined the PPBH team as a copywriter. His desk is decorated in the finest Star Wars collectibles, his life motto is “Chwaaaaaaaaaaargh!” – Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) and his favorite jingle is the Imperial March.

Jennifer Whitaker has joined the media team as our newest media planner. Her dream car is a black Aston Martin DB9, preferably outfitted with James Bond type gadgets. Her favorite way to spend the weekend is either doing something outdoors or hanging out with Brad… her cat.

Abby Young is an account manager who comes to us from New York. She loves bacon, and her favorite movie quote is “Do you have anything besides Mexican food?” – Dusty Bottoms, The Three Amigos.

Rochelle Creager has joined our Zero Fatalities Utah team as the community outreach manager. The top two favorite books are 1984 and The Great Gatsby, and if she could meet one person living or dead, it would be Mr. Rogers.

Jason Marty is now a senior account manager at PPBH. When asked his favorite year in school he replied, “Senior year in high school I spent many weekends in Santa Cruz and Tahoe so that was fun. But my final year in college will just be awesome! I’ll be happy to not feel the need to continue onward once I have a masters, I hope!”

Sarah Beth Stephenson has joined our Zero Fatalities Utah team as a community outreach coordinator. She likes Mini Coopers, Jane Austen and chocolate lava cake. And the motto she lives by? “When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.” – Maya Angelou.

Andrew Bennett – Andrew is the newest addition to our Las Vegas office and is the public outreach coordinator for Zero Fatalities Nevada. He is also the official chef of our Vegas office. He loves pulled pork sandwiches, the beach and Steve Jobs.

Welcome to the crew everyone! We are excited to have you.

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Fitness Apps

People like to get in shape so it’s not surprising that mobile health and fitness apps are doing well. According to Flurry Insights, health and fitness app usage increased by 62 percent in the past six months and health and fitness tracking apps are growing 87 percent faster than any other app category.

So, with that in mind, here are a few fun a fresh ways that advertisers are jumping on the opportunity:

  • RunKeeper and Pebble incentivized the first 500,000 RunKeeper users who logged an activity from March 11 – April 21 with a $25 discount on Pebble smart watches.
  • Apple launched a ‘Strength’ TV ad to advertise wearables and fitness apps.
  • Nexercise and Livestrong incentivized users who check into gyms by automatically entering them to win a $250 gift card to Dick’s Sporting Goods.

What kind of advertisements and promotions have you seen on health and fitness apps?

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Fresh Ideas

Ah, the “dog days of summer.” There’s not much that is better than languishing, lollygagging and sipping cool drinks during the long, hot days. While I’m all one for a good lollygag, why not take advantage of those extra hours of daylight—at least for a couple of days—to energize and fuel a few new marketing ideas to mix it up and get your target audience to take notice. A few ideas to jump start and inspire some new thinking:

Stir up social—One of the most agile communication platforms to try something new. If your contests and posts have become a bit more routine than you’d like, shake it up. Add more polls or quizzes in your posts, share some “behind-the-scenes” photos with a day in the life post of a person in your company, share a list of products to help your fans or followers succeed in their business, ask for fan/follower predictions of an upcoming big game, election, etc., or highlight a fan of the month.

Revive/re-energize referrals—“Advertising is saying you’re good. PR is getting someone else to say you’re good.” As a PR person, this Jean-Louis Gassee quote is the foundation of influence that inspires me every day. And with 70 percent of consumers noting they trust brand/product recommendations from people they know compared to only 15 percent on a brand’s channels*, these hard numbers show a referral program is a smart marketing move that has the potential to deliver a significant ROI for the investment.

No time or budget for a program even on a small scale? Social channels are great platforms for referrals. Don’t be shy about asking your fans, followers and pinners—that have already converted to your service or product—to retweet, share and pin with their friends and followers.

Location-based mobile marketing—Why not take advantage of this geo-targeted push tactic to reach and trigger your audience to action with a special message, coupon or time-based offer at a specific time and location? A few good examples:

Volkswagen tapped into the cinema audience to deliver an experience-based ad warning against distracted driving. (Credit to PPBH’s Christie Rasmussen for sharing the Volkswagen “Eyes on the road” spot airing in cinemas.)

Luxury brand Tiffany recently used mobile banner ads that targeted shoppers in Manhattan with ads directing them to its new SoHo store.

Don’t tell ‘em, show ‘em—Send a custom email embedded with an informational tutorial either using a Slideshare deck or video. It can be a how-to for using your product, tips with downloadable resources, and answer those frequently asked questions in a fun and creative way. And while you’ve got their attention, use the opportunity to ask for ideas of what your target would like to see—and then deliver.

With a handful of ideas to get the wheels turning, what ideas can you add for how you’re going to reach your targets in a new or new-to-you way?

*Forrester Research, “How To Build Your Brand With Branded Content”

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Loud Personality

Contributed by Eugene Kim

Business on social media for some people, is a fickle beast. One day you are rolling in the likes and shares and other days you are getting that single slow clap from your supportive mother. There are many ways you could improve your social media engagement, like reviewing your analytics or promoting your posts, but in this post we will only be touching on one very important piece, building your social media personality.

Many of you should already know that personality is key on social media. Oreo and Taco Bell have proven this to us, but what they haven’t shown us is that testing limits, talking to individuals and talking back are key to fine-tuning a workable personality.

Testing Limits
Question the status quo, but do it in a moderate way. Instead of just accepting who you are, make changes and adjustments based on how your audience reacts to edgier content. Like Frank’s Red Hot Sauce’s “I Put That Sh*t on Everything” campaign, push the marker, but don’t knock it over.

Talk to Individuals
Something that people miss is that most social media superstars, like Whole Foods Market, aren’t usually talking to an audience. They are talking to one person. It’s a conversation, not a presentation. Get yourself in the habit of saying “you” and relaxing a little bit.

Talk Back
When I say talk back, I’m not saying be a wise guy. What I’m saying is recognize your audience and implement the two items noted above. Take the opportunities that are given to you by the public to test your limits and converse. Practice makes perfect, and even though perfect is hard in the ever-changing world of social media, you can still do it.

This is self-explanatory. Do the three steps consistently and don’t get stagnant, or risk becoming an out of touch super senior.

There’s not much to say here other than get out there and get to work. Build that personality and let the world see how you shine. And if you’re worried in anyway, follow in the wise words of Nike and “Just Do It.”

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New Thinking

With it’s long days and high temperatures, summer is a time for family trips and relaxing in the sun. It is not necessarily a time that we associate with fresh thinking or exceptional productiveness.

The weather may be calling our names, but that does not mean that we shouldn’t make the best of the time that we have to be inside. So, PPBH has decided to spend the month of July talking about new ideas and providing refreshing insight.

We’ve come up with topics across all disciplines that we hope might help get your mind going and potentially spark some mid-summer innovation:

Get a Personality…on Social Media
An Early Start to 2015 Strategic Thinking
Innovative Ways to Fight Ad Fraud
Fueling the Health and Fitness App Frenzy
4 Refreshing Marketing Approaches for the Dog Days of Summer


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