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Varick Media

Campaign minimums got you down?

Although all clients and campaigns are significant, they don’t always have budgets for massive campaigns. While there may be a perfect media channel for your campaign, it may not be executable due to minimum budget constraints. Varick Media is one of many great partners who have created solutions to this very problem.

Who is Varick Media?

Varick Media Management LLC offers digital advertising consulting services. It provides campaign planning, research, consumer insight, campaign monitoring and measurement services. The company was founded in 2008 and is based in New York, New York. Varick Media operates as a subsidiary of MDC Partners Inc., a marketing and communications network. MDC Partners has 50+ advertising, public relations, branding, digital, social and event marketing agencies under its umbrella.

What is the technology?

In 2012 Varick Media Management built its own in-house digital monitoring product.

That product, called The Lens, is paired with an internal pixel server so that Varick can track its online display and video ad campaigns across the various demand-side platforms and plug the resulting data into one central data repository that their clients control.

In October of 2015, Varick Media released Alveo—a planning, buying and reporting platform. Operating originally as more of an internal trading desk, Alveo can now be used by Varick’s clients to manage and visualize data as well as access reports across multiple campaigns. Alveo is available as a managed service “with all of the access and data of a self-service offering,” described Jim Caruso, SVP of product and client strategy at Varick. While agency trading desks aren’t renowned for open access and transparency, Caruso said, “Alveo was designed to be agnostic across media channels, DSPs and inventory sources.”

What is the solution?

Combining both The Lens (DMP) and Alveo (trade desk) technology, Varick’s clients can access inventory through a robust channel inventory and layer with premium custom audiences to manage through one platform. This married opportunity allows for accurate performance and audience insights across multiple channels. Because Varick is a subsidiary of umbrella network MDC Partners, campaign minimums can be achievable for a wider set of clients.


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Q1 Media

A lot of innovative media and technology providers pass through the halls of Penna Powers. We’ve decided to showcase some of these partners, tell you a little bit about what they do and/or how they have been a part of campaign solutions.

“We could always open up the targeting a little bit”

Hyper-targeted campaigns can be difficult to deliver on the local level. Too often local campaigns are faced with an inability to scale against the targeting that has been sold in. Common “solutions” to this under delivery is to open up the targeting, eliminating the customization that a campaign requires. Q1 Media has a solution that historically has delivered without compromise.

Q1 Media established their business 14 years ago in Austin, Texas. They recognized at that time that smaller publishers would need help moving into the digital media age and monetizing their websites. They saw this as an opportunity to begin establishing partnerships with publishers to develop custom digital media placements. In return, Q1 Media received premium inventory not available anywhere else.

As Q1 has grown, so has their breadth of publisher partnerships and targeting capabilities. One of their relatively recent partnerships includes targeting capabilities using polygon location targeting. Polygon targeting allows an advertiser to map an area -or multiple areas- to expose those within, to the campaign messaging. In our case, we used this technology to map specific road ways. This targeting allowed our campaign to capture all the people who had traveled through the mapped area.

With this captured audience pool, we could serve media to them in the mapped area as well as save them to serve later throughout the entire campaign. Additional customization included audience segmentation to deliver custom messaging. Q1 Media proved to an excellent vendor, in combination with the Polygon targeting and premium publisher inventory, our campaign earned an engagement rate 8x above the industry average.

Thank you Carlos Casas and Drew Warriner, we are excited to see what’s next.

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Penna Powers is celebrating Shark Week! While considered a bona fide holiday for many, we’re using the cherished event to drive awareness for our client Zero Fatalities. Over the course of Utah’s “100 Deadliest Days,” the majority of deaths on Utah roads happen between Memorial Day and Labor Day. We’re creating original content for every single deadliest day in order to decrease deadly driving behaviors. For Shark Week, Penna Powers created Snapchat and Instagram Stories ads for Zero Fatalities. Utilizing these ad placements will be a first in Utah, with each social channel finally opening their ad platforms to agencies of all sizes.

In our research process, one thing we noticed was Utahns did not realize the extreme risk of buckling up when you’re in a car crash. Statistics from the CDC show that you have a 50 percent chance of surviving a car crash if you don’t wear a seat belt. However, many Utahns still refuse to buckle up when they get in the car.

Kenny Hammond, senior art director, designed the Snapchat and Instagram Stories ad to coincide with our “What are the Odds?” campaign that plays to the availability heuristic principle. Our goal is that Utahns will realize the gravity of not wearing a seat belt. The ads started running Sunday, July 23 and will run until Sunday, July 30.

At Penna Powers, we strategize media plans backed by research to show ads only where the audience interacts with content on a daily basis. We jumped on the chance the use the new Instagram Story and Snapchat ad placements to reach the key millennial demographic of 25-to-34-year-olds in Utah. Using the shark creative, we are able to split-test the two channels against each other with identical spends to see which performs best. For this flight, we will compare CPM, CPC, and CPV.

This Shark Week, Penna Powers hopes you realize the true danger at hand: not wearing a seat belt. Trust us, not wearing a seat belt is a risk you don’t want to take.

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Is the content marketing program you’re paying for really a content marketing program? Is it delivering results?

Content marketing is more than flooding online channels with 500 million pieces of content. It is a well thought out strategy delivering valuable, relevant and consistent content that drives a highly qualified audience to take action. For the most part, agencies large and small are still using push marketing, not content marketing, as a way to reach their audience.

Spotting a content marketing campaign is easier than you may think. Content that makes the audience seek further information, click through deeper and want to consume more rather than avoid it, is content marketing. Here are three essential questions to get you to the content marketing sweet spot:
– How is this right for my audience?
– Where is my audience?
– Will this deliver the results I’m looking for?

You may be saying to yourself, “I still don’t get what content marketing is. This is another industry buzzword for 2016.” What may have been a buzzword in 2016, however, is going to be a mainstay in 2017. A recent Forbes article even said, “Content marketing isn’t going anywhere.” The key to unlocking content marketing for your brand is to understand and recognize the value delivered to your audience in each piece of content. To get you started thinking like a content marketer, you need to be thinking about channels in your content marketing strategy.


Content Marketing Channels

Social Media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr) Social media channels are usually tossed to the intern who puts it at the bottom of their to do list. Today’s social media landscape requires pinpoint audience targeting with content to match. Active channels are only relevant if your audience is using them. Social media channels can be effective in that it opens a two-way conversation with the audience leading to further content consumption.

Native People view native, or sponsored, content 53 percent more frequently than traditional ads. Native provides the opportunity to have the audience engage with your content naturally within the website they are currently on. Tying into a strong blog content strategy increases your chances of increased website traffic, SEO ranking and further audience engagement. Video also plays a strong role in native content whether you’re using the video to retarget the audience or to drive engagements.

Podcasts Looking to stand out in a completely different world? Podcasts are your answer. Written off for dead a few years ago, podcasts are back with vengeance. This format provides a much more intimate way of getting content in front of the audience by communicating verbally to the listener. As we’ve mentioned the key to content marketing is creating valuable content and podcasts do just that. It is an on-demand technology giving the listener the power to decide what they want to hear and when they want to listen. Podcasting is also time and cost efficient medium compared to other forms of marketing.

Video 2015 was dubbed “The Year of Video Marketing,” thanks to the development in software tools creating valuable and engaging video content is easier than ever. Is your agency pushing the envelope? Are they using iPhones to shoot quick :15-:30 videos? If not, they should be. Videos and podcasts have untapped potential because of their association of costing large sums of money and being hard to create. This is simply not true. We are entering the age of real time video, this being an important pillar of a content marketing strategy.

SEO Some will say SEO is all about content marketing. You may be asking yourself, “Don’t we use two different agencies for SEO and other content?” Does SEO even fit into content marketing?” The main problem is the two are not integrated in many agencies and teams nationwide. Strong SEO is reflected in valuable blog content that is optimized in a targeted, native campaign. The truth is, there is a lot of overlap with SEO and content marketing with each still maintaining their own unique differences. SEO states the requirement. Content marketing fulfills them.

Paid Search Going hand in hand with SEO, Paid Search is on the frontlines of any marketing effort. Paid search ads are becoming more robust, creating yet another channel of content for users to consume. It is crucial to deliver a relevant and engaging message to people at the exact moment when they are searching for information.

Blogs once considered dead, like podcasts, are back again. A strong website presence includes a dialed in blog acting as a library full of valuable content the audience can search and engage with. For blogs the name of the game is quality over quantity, similar to many other content marketing channels we’ve covered. Blogs drive website traffic every time you write a post along with keeping your social presence strong. At the end of the day a strong blog helps convert your audience with each new blog post generating new leads.

You’ll notice all of these channels form the pillars of content marketing. The strategy for marketers is to determine the right rotation based on client’s unique needs and tailored content marketing strategy. For clients, we create strategic content marketing plans backed by research. If conversations and strategy sessions with your agency don’t mention content marketing, maybe it’s time to start the search for a new plan that will take your brand to the next level. Penna Powers started as an advertising agency, evolving into a full service communication firm with a team dedicated to creating content marketing strategies that benefit clients from retail to government.

Just as we’ve adapted to the changing world of communication, we can help your brand adapt to any audience and any medium. Don’t wait, give us a call today, and we’ll show you what a real content marketing strategy looks like.

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Brand Hijacking

Brand hijacking could be one of the most effective ways to get your brand noticed. In the example to your left, a boutique kitchen supply company named Gygi in Salt Lake City designed its billboards to match that of Cavalia, arguably the largest billboard advertiser Salt Lake City has ever seen. This year, there was a Cavalia billboard on nearly every mile of the freeway and dotting every neighborhood.

This marketing tactic, brand hijacking, works because of the media phenomenon of frequency. When one sees an ad, one does not actually “see” it the first time. Your eyes looked, but the connection to your brain about the message just isn’t usually made in the first impression. In the case of billboards, it usually takes up to 10 ad impressions (times seeing the billboard) to actually recognize it. Between 10-20 impressions in a month is the sweet spot, because when one sees the billboard one understands the message.

Now here’s where brand hijacking comes in.

A brand, such as Cavalia, has spent a lot of money to get its audience up to a 10 frequency to really start understanding their message. Now when Gygi, runs it doesn’t need to spend the money to get up to a 10 frequency, the audience has already seen it. But with the subtle differences the audience recognizes it immediately. Their brains start comparing it to the boards they’re familiar with. And all of a sudden, when it’s time to buy kitchen supplies, they find themselves at Gygi.

Brand hijacking is used in every media channel. Probably one of the most common examples is where a commercial is shot with the same look and feel of the television show it’s running on. For example, you’re watching The Walking Dead and fast-forwarding through the commercials, when all of a sudden you see zombies so you unpause. You then realize it’s not The Walking Dead at all, but just an Audi commercial. Clever, huh?

Hopefully the next time you see a familiar ad you’ll think twice.

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Digital analytics is booming, but it’s still so new and everchanging that there aren’t any textbooks yet. Sure, there are online certifications like Google Analytics, but those are really specific to a channel. And those keep changing too! After teaching a course on digital analytics and interacting with students every day, here’s what I have learned:

You don’t need to have technical skills to be an excellent analyst. You need to be curious. Ask questions. Be unafraid to shake the boat. Oftentimes, the big insight isn’t in the raw data – it’s in the patterns.

I’ll walk you through an example.

After running a digital campaign with interactive banner ads (the user could draw on them), we had a standard summary report which included impressions, placements, clicks, actions, interactivity with the units, time of day, and all the normal stats that come with a summary report. But then we were curious – did the interactive units really move the needle? Would it have been better to have just run static ads with more impressions? Here’s the data:

Type Impressions Clicks CTR Submissions Submission Rate
Rich Media 5,135,652 1,326 0.03% 121 0.00236%
Static Images 477,143 1,110 0.23% 11 0.00231%
Total 5,612,795 2,436 0.04% 132 0.00235%

Rich Media additional stats:

  • Display time – 322,395,407 seconds (613.39 years)
  • Interaction time – 970,907 seconds (1.75 years)
  • Average interaction time – 5.0 seconds
  • Interaction rate – 3.6%
  • Total interactions – 184,702


If we would have just looked at CTR, then the static images were far better (0.23% compared to .03%). If we were to just look at the submission rate, then the rich media units barely beat out the static ones (.236% compared to .231%). But then we started to weigh interactions. On a static banner, one can just see it and click. On a rich media unit, one can interact with it. The rich media units had a 3.6% interaction rate, with each user spending five seconds in the unit, spending a cumulative time of 920,907 seconds (1.75 years) interacting with the units.

So to take it the next step further, does 1.75 years of interactivity outweigh a lower click through rate? Does it justify a higher ad serving cost? We did the math and found the cost-per-click to be 9x higher with the rich media units. However, if you looked at cost-per-action (interaction or click) the cost was actually 2x lower with the rich media units. The end goal was awareness and submissions, and the rich media units played a vital part in the success of the campaign.

Lastly, if you’re asking yourself why the conversion rate was so low – first please apply for a job at Penna Powers, but then rest assured that we dove into this as well. We looked at the conversion funnel and identified an area where most users were dropping off and were able to correct it.

Obviously every campaign is different. If one learned to always look at CTR, then one would miss the impact of the rich media units.

Curiosity helps in the approach. None of these calculations required more math than division or multiplication.

When teaching my students how to approach problems analytically, we start with creativity exercises, such as writing down 20 uses for a thumbtack. We then do a mountain of case studies. Even though every problem is different in the real world, the case studies help students become familiar looking at patterns. Lastly, we just do a lot of analysis on real companies. Again, every analytical problem is a little different, but for example it helps to see a few ecommerce problems along the way.

Teaching students entering the workforce has so many parallels to our self-learning at work. I’m amazed at how few professionals develop the analytical skills necessary to excel in their jobs. Whenever someone tells me that they’re “not a numbers person” I just think to myself that few people are. We’re humans and all like pretty pictures over an Excel spreadsheet. But we all are curious. So take an hour out of your day and go hunting for some patterns. You might be surprised what insights you find.

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Ad agencies are full of young and ambitious people, all aspiring to change the world for the better. So it’s no surprise that we have some of the hottest individuals in the Utah ad agency marketplace…


…And no, we’re not talking about physical hotness, we’re talking about what roles are most sought-after in marketing. Here’s a list of the top six emerging roles that our clients are asking for.

Social Media. We all know Facebook is huge. Twitter is dying, slowly. Pinterest and Instagram are booming and everyone is secretly using Snapchat. Plus, there are thousands of other niche social channels out there. Social media strategists are abreast of what channels customers are using. Also, large ad agencies have entire departments devoted to future hunting, where they just find emerging channels to advertise on.

Behavior Change. If a company is looking to change someone’s behavior (e.g. stop texting and driving), a typical marketing campaign just won’t work. You’re trying to change behavior, not sell a product. Many of our healthcare, government and nonprofit clients ask for our behavior change experts to be in the room. These people specialize in grassroots efforts, community outreach and know the psychology behind changing one’s behavior.

Digital Media. Nearly everyone consumes digital media, and almost every channel has the option to click through to a website. Digital media includes channels such as Pandora, Google AdWords, Hulu, Xbox and YouTube. We’re seeing trends for these channels to become more programmatic (automated), which means that we’re less concerned with the channel itself and much more interested in the audience. We’re also seeing television ad buying becoming programmatic over the next few years.

ROI Analysts. Ad agencies capture tons of data when running a marketing campaign, and ultimately need to show what worked and what didn’t. Our ROI analysts use advanced software, such as Tableau, to look at correlation coefficients between media channels, campaign flight times and purchase data. This creates efficiencies and learnings. For example, we mapped the correlation between a radio ad schedule to website visits to show they were positively correlated, but when we mapped a television ad schedule to website visits there was little correlation. So we cut television and moved the dollars to radio.

Creatives. I’m not making this title up. Ad agencies have a team of creatives, which include designers, copywriters and production. This is the engine of an advertising agency. These people come up with the messaging and actually create it. You cannot have a good marketing campaign without the marketing content being on-target.

Account Strategists. Yes, it’s important to have someone who can hit deadlines and take your phone calls, but ultimately, clients need a strategist who understands their business. Our account strategists walk our clients’ hallways. They dive into research. They see emerging category trends. Most of our clients don’t know they need an account strategist until they have one, and after they do, they are in every meeting and working tirelessly behind the scenes.

These six roles are the hottest in the advertising industry. Did we miss any? Did you feel this article was just clickbait? Let us know in the comments!

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Is the student ‘very interested’ or ‘fascinated’?iStock_000068846113_Medium

Do you prefer being described as ‘very smart’ or ‘brilliant’?

Is the celebrity ‘very attractive’ or ‘pulchritudinous?

Don’t worry, I had to look it up too. But I wanted to prove a point. This point: The English language holds a flood of wildy descriptive words, ripe for the choosing. Nothing should be ‘very scary’ when there’s ‘alarming’, ‘chilling’, ‘horrifying’, ‘spine-curling’, ‘hair raising’, ‘bloodcurdling’ … the list goes on.

‘Very’ does nothing to support your writing, rather, ‘very’ subverts it. None of us are perfect. I’m the first to admit ‘very’ sometimes feels right. When that happens, let’s apply the following:

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” — Mark Twain

Got it? ‘Damn’ good.

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Working as a media planner gives me the opportunity to interface with a lot of sales reps. Their titles vary from account managers, business development executives, marketing specialists, or sales managers, but they all share the same central role – to get people to use their company’s services.

Media planners act as giant filters. They are tasked with analyzing all of the opportunities available and fitting them into a client’s media plan that helps achieve specific goals.

Sales reps and media planners have a symbiotic relationship. One thrives along with the other. A good media planner is always looking for new opportunities, and a good sales rep provides those opportunities.

What creates the most value for a media planner (and their client) is for a sales rep to provide relevant information for their product. This is the best form of selling. My favorite reps send regular updates, for example:

  • Showing what’s new in their platform
  • A recent success
  • A new product
  • An idea they’ve had for one of my clients

That keeps them top-of-mind, and I make updates to a spreadsheet of all the companies and their product offerings that I work with. I’ll oftentimes pass along this list to my colleagues and clients, which creates long-term value.

Bad salesmanship usually falls into one of four categories, with all being related to selling blindly without an objective in mind. Some of the worst things sales reps can can do are:

  • Wildly ask to get on the next proposal
  • Just follow up casually
  • State that they’ve seen our client advertising and asking why it’s not with them
  • Do the above mentioned items through email

A good salesperson cultivates relationships with their clients. Because those relationships typically aren’t built through email, neither should their sales pitches. I’ve compiled a few emails my colleagues and I have received that showcase this form of poor salesmanship.

Example 1 – Overselling

I wanted to reach out to you to get the specs for the upcoming digital campaign for client X. Are we looking at $3,500 -5,000 for this campaign? Please let me know so that I can reserve the impressions for you. It’s a hot commodity because of its efficiency and I want to ensure that we can fulfill your request.

Example 2 – Blind Selling

I want to gain your endorsement as a visionary in the digital space. There have been features integrated into our platform which I believe you’ll find impressive. I implore you to get on board, grab the future by the lapels and run a native advertising campaign to amplify your branded content. May we count on your support?

Example 3 – Why Isn’t It Me?

We noticed that you guys have a billboard on the I-15 talking about this and that. We can take this to the next level for you guys. We can run banners on the site. Press releases. You could even sponsor our X show that goes out through the FB feed, on the website, etc. Seriously, Jennifer, you guys are not taking advantage of our services. We even have the coupon of the week that goes out to X email subscribers that KILLS it. Let’s do something. How do we get started?

Example 4 – Casual Follow Up / Passive Stalking / WTF?

Just popping by and checking in on your current planning at Penna Powers. Below are two photos of what I would look like if I were a caterpillar of sorts just checking in, or a dolphin just popping by. Let me know the scoop when you’re able.

Bad Sales Emails

Bad Sales Emails





These images were actually embedded into the email.

We hope our clients appreciate the work we do to filter these, and that anyone selling can learn what is most valuable to provide to media planners.

What’s your worst sales email? Let us know in the comments.

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Google Advertising Cost | Cute Puppies

We’ve all seen (and probably clicked) on an ad in Google. In fact, 1-2% of all Google ads are clicked on. But what did it cost the company?

Advertisers are only charged per click. The price ranges from $.01 per click to over $100 per click, based on the search term. Don’t worry though, the majority of advertisers pay between $1-2 per click.

Advertisers select a list of searches (keywords) they want to have their ad run on. Then, based on the keywords they select the maximum they are willing to pay for someone to click on their ad. I’m going to use an example of a pet store, PetMo.

Keyword List for PetMo

  • PetMo
  • Dogs for sale
  • Dog food

Obviously this list is overly-simplified, as most small businesses have around 1,000 keywords they target. Let’s walk through how much they would be charged per click. PetMo is willing to pay up to $2 per click.

  • PetMo – since this keyword is directly related to the company, even if other competitors might bid on this keyword, PetMo would only be charged around $.03 per click because it’s very relevant to the search. It makes sense for advertisers to bid on their own company name to avoid competitors ranking above them.
  • Dogs for sale – this keyword has little competition, as there are only a few stores in town that sell dogs. Each other store is only willing to pay $1 per click, so PetMo would pay $1.01 per click because of their bid of $2. Google charges $.01 more than the next highest bidder.
  • Dog food – this keyword has high competition, as a lot of stores sell dog food. One store is willing to pay $3 per click, PetMo is willing to pay $2 and other stores under $2. PetMo’s ad would show up in the second position and would be charged the full $2 per click.

If PetMo received clicks on these three ads their average cost-per-click would be $1.01 (.03+1+2 = 3.03 total, then divide by 3 to get average). The costs are dependent on relevancy, the advertiser’s bid and competition for that keyword.

The real question is do Google ads work? The short answer is yes! As an advertiser I have found Google search ads typically outperform any other form of paid advertising. One thing companies should consider before just running Google ads is to actively work on their site’s organic search ranking. Google ads are clicked on 1-2% of the time, but the top search result is clicked on over 33% of the time.

If you’re interested in how much ads cost on some other channels, here’s our suite of articles.

How Much do Ads on YouTube Cost?

How Much do YouTubers Make?

How Much do Ads on Facebook Cost?

How Much do Ads on Twitter Cost?

How Much do Ads on Instagram Cost?

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