New Stuff and Inspiration
Digital creative optimization. Why so many syllables and so much confusion?
We’ve all been there. In a meeting or on a call and someone lobs out a term that we’re sort of familiar with, but don’t totally understand. Digital creative optimization is one of those.
Explain it to me in a way that won’t give me an aneurysm.
Using fancy-robot-math to learn which versions of your digital ads are working the best with certain types of people. Then running more of those.
That sounds okay. But should I care?
It helps increase the likelihood that the ads you are running are working with the people you are trying to reach.
It can also help you learn some lessons about what types of messages might be more effective with certain types of people. For example, maybe Millennials aren’t crazy about the idea of booking a test drive of your fancy new car model, but are really into going to your social page to see video reviews.
When does it work the best?
Research has shown that it can increase click-through-performance by 47% and post-click conversions by 69%. But there are certain industries where it is more commonly used: automotive, travel, finance and retail (e-commerce).
Why? These are industries that sell a ton of different stuff. And pricing and promotions are always changing. Which is why dynamic marketing becomes really helpful.
What’s the process like?
- Start with your messaging strategy, then build different variants of your ads.
- Set up different algorithms to measure the important KPIs of the campaign. Things like conversion rates or social shares are great.
- As the campaign launches, the algorithms will track the performance of the different variations against the goal you’ve defined. Once the campaign has run long enough to determine which ones are working best, it automatically increases the frequency of those variations.
What shouldn’t I do?
Start trying to optimize the hell out of everything at once.
Testing multiple ads at once can cause a lot of confusion and make things much more difficult to manage. To avoid making that headache for yourself, start small. Try looking at the impact of a few different message variants on a single audience with one small campaign.
Sukle Launches Campaign for Southern California’s Irvine Ranch Water District
New social marketing campaign targets outdoor watering waste.
Irvine Ranch Water District has a reputation as one of the most innovative water agencies in the country, so when they hired us to create a campaign that helps change the culture around water conservation in Orange County, we couldn’t wait to get started.
After working with their team to analyze water usage data and patterns, we uncovered an opportunity to make a substantial dent in water savings – the fall shoulder months of the outdoor watering season. In southern California temperatures tend to remain high through the fall. For many SoCal residents, this led to a belief that they needed to keep their sprinkler systems running full bore until the weather cools off.
But the reality is that your lawn isn’t affected as much by the temperatures, but by the amount of sunlight and the intensity of it which lessens as the seasons transition into fall. We needed to help people understand that.
To make our point in a memorable way that stuck with customers, we turned the perspective on its head, asking them to see the situation from their lawn’s perspective and dial back the H20.
To make that idea come to life, the solution was simple: blast people in the face with water in slow motion. We cast people with loose cheeks and a high pain tolerance and got to work. Our production team used a combination of leaf blowers and hoses to mimic the effect of what it must feel like to be an overwatered lawn and we had one of our most fun shoot days yet. To make sure everyone in Orange County got the message, we developed specific Spanish, Chinese, and Korean campaign executions and spread it across a variety of media, including cinema, TV, social and targeted digital advertising.
Sukle Scores Five Awards at The ONE Club for Creativity – Denver
We’re proud to report we were awarded two Gold and three Silver awards at The ONE Club for Creative – Denver 2017 Award Show.
This year’s award show showcased some of the best work done by Denver/Boulder creative agencies and included work for Nike, Yeti Cycles, Procter & Gamble, and our very own campaigns for Great Outdoors Colorado and Gates Corporation. We’re honored to have taken home five awards, spanning digital advertising, packaging design, outdoor advertising, identity design and print advertising.
“Clients come to us for work that helps to drive their business forward. We believe that smart strategy paired with unexpected creative ideas that get people’s attention have always been the best way to do that,” said Creative Director and Founder Mike Sukle. “It’s always an honor to be acknowledged by your peers, especially for such a diverse group of work in a show that’s as competitive as this one.”
Sukle was awarded the “Top Honors” Gold for the Great Outdoors Colorado Generation Wild outdoor campaign as well as our holiday gift, “We have gifts for everyone” identity and packaging design project.
Silver awards were given to the Generation Wild brand identity, Gates’ The World’s Best Hoses print advertising campaign, and the Generation Wild digital advertising campaign.
A full rundown of Gold winners and work can be seen here.
You’re never too old to roll down a hill.
It looks like this past weekend at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park some Phish fans were inspired by Generation Wild (and maybe a few other things) to let their inner child out and roll down a hill.
The Night is Dark and Full of Affordably Priced Scandinavian Furniture
File this one under ideas we love. Game of Thrones’ chief costumer recently revealed that the Night’s Watch characters are actually clad in IKEA rugs. IKEA Norway quickly jumped on the buzz around this reveal and posted DIY instructions on how to keep warm this winter by making your very own Night’s Watch cloak. Media coverage included Time, Creativity Online, and Mashable.
Park County Travel Council Selects Sukle as Advertising Agency of Record
We couldn’t be happier to announce that we’ve been tapped as Park County Travel Council’s agency of record after a review of nine agencies.
The Park County Travel Council is responsible for tourism marketing in Park County, Wyoming which includes much of Yellowstone National Park. Needless to say, it’s a dream come true for our team.
“Cody, Wyoming is a truly incredible place. It’s an important part of our country’s heritage and it’s been a bucket list destination for hundreds of thousands of people. We couldn’t be more excited about helping to introduce it to even more people across the country,” our Founder and Creative Director Mike Sukle said in a statement. “Not often are you lucky enough to have the opportunity to help market national icons like Cody and Yellowstone.”
Sukle will be responsible for strategic planning, design, creative campaign development, digital and media planning. We’ll be hard at work developing a new campaign to launch in 2018.
“Sukle demonstrated deep knowledge of our audience and a unique understanding of what makes Cody and Park County so special. They shared a unique vision of how to bring our story to life and drive our business forward that left a very positive impression on the selection committee,” said Claudia Wade, Park County Travel Council’s Marketing Director. “We are looking forward to working with the Sukle team to help move our brand forward.”
Changing the story for underprivileged kids.
There’s a crisis in American education that has been brewing for decades. More and more kids from low-income families are falling through the cracks. It’s a situation that no one denies and yet for the last 40 years the debate about how to solve it has raged on. These kids can’t wait for the bureaucrats and administrators to agree on a universal solution. They need help now.
That’s where ACE Scholarships comes in. They provide partial scholarships to low-income kids so they can go to the school that best fits their needs. And their approach is achieving incredible success. 90% of ACE Scholars graduate high school and 78% go on to college. You can’t argue with those numbers.
With this kind of success, ACE is poised to expand across the country. But like many organizations and brands on the verge of growth, they needed help crafting their story. They needed to make their message and brand even more compelling in order to attract a larger donor base. We helped them infuse emotion into their solid facts-based argument. And we also helped them change the way they told their story. ACE always began by telling people how they do it – with school choice, a politically charged idea that shuts down far too many potential donors. We helped them understand and communicate why they do it. ACE Scholarships exists to help change the story now, for kids from low-income families. This approach makes all the difference. It entices everyone to lean into the conversation to understand more.
ACE Scholarships has always had proof of their effect on kids’ lives. Now they have a way to communicate their brand and mission in a way that will attract a much larger set of donors.
Subversive Cross Stitch
Apparently that’s a thing. Who knew?
See more on the internet here.
Generation Z, we now dub you Generation Wild.
Kids today spend less time outdoors than any other generation.
In fact, they only spend an average of 4-7 minutes a day outside in unstructured play. While that does mean they’re doing a great job of keeping off our lawns, it’s not so great for their health and happiness. Our friends at Great Outdoors Colorado, an organization that builds parks and trails around the state, were brave enough to take on this tremendous challenge, and they called on us to help. They challenged us to do something that had never been done before: create a campaign that would inspire kids to want to trade their phones and tablets for rocks and stinkbugs.
So we devised a plan to change this generation of kids, to turn them from Generation Z, a generation known for being helplessly addicted to their devices, into Generation Wild, a generation known for loving nature and enjoying the outdoors.
In order to do this, we had to first get inside the heads of the people who run these kids’ lives: their moms. We conducted ethnographic research with moms from all different ethnicities, backgrounds, and income levels around the state. What we found was that moms connected their own memories and experiences to the outdoors and already understood all the benefits that being outside had for their kids. The issue was finding the time and energy to organize and encourage their kids to play outside. Their lives were already packed full of responsibilities and commitments. Practices. School events. Countless other activities. What they needed was some inspiration and a little bit of help reprioritizing outdoor playtime.
Our idea was to make life easy on moms and remind them that getting your kids to enjoy nature doesn’t require a trip to the mountains; it’s right outside your door. Plus, to get kids interested, we would show off just how fun the outdoors can be. We launched Generation Wild with an enticing bucket list of things to do outside called 100 Things to Do Before You’re 12. Because while there are millions of amazing things to do outside, there are 100 things that you’ve absolutely gotta try when you’re a kid. It was the perfect way to give kids a taste of how fun the outdoors can be and inspire a lifelong love of nature in them.
To introduce Generation Wild and 100 Things to Do Before You’re 12, we created an integrated statewide campaign. Since moms spend a lot of time in front of screens, we knew we would need a strong digital campaign to get our message out. We used a highly-targeted, cross-platform approach. We leveraged video, display, and social media on desktop and mobile to hit moms wherever they may be online and coupled that with data analysis and optimization to ensure we were reaching moms who are the most receptive to our messaging. By combining a strong digital effort with our billboards and bus shelters, we were able to drive higher awareness and improved recall.
With the help of artists from Belgium, Israel, Toronto, NYC, and right here in Colorado, we created seven 15-second TV spots. The first spot introduced Generation Wild and the other spots each highlighted a different task from the list.
We also put up billboards and interactive bus shelter installations that helped kids tick things off the list.
And of course, we hit parents where they are most, social media.
As it turned out, GOCO wasn’t the only organization that loved Generation Wild. We helped recruit more than 50 others to join the cause, including the U.S. Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, REI, Cabela’s and Girl Scouts of Colorado.
After only a few days of launch, word is spreading. The campaign was has been featured on television news channels, Colorado Public Radio, the Denver Post, and more.
And moms are doing just what we thought they’d do, spreading the message among friends and family with hashtag, #100ThingsToDo. And we’ve had over 20,000 visits to the website in the first few weeks.
Your move, Minecraft.
A common mistake most social marketing efforts make. And how to fix it.
Stanford Social Innovation Review took a closer look at diagnosing why so many social marketing campaigns are ineffective and a framework for making them more successful.
This was especially of interest to our team, as Sukle’s work for Denver Water was highlighted in the report as an example of a successful approach to social marketing. After a decade long run, our Denver Water conservation campaign enjoyed unparalleled success dealing with an issue that dozens of entities had previously tried to take on unsuccessfully.
So what are the key considerations for marketers and organizations trying to tackle a social issue and create real change?
There’s a tendency for organizations creating a social marketing effort to focus on building up awareness of the issue or cause, believing that will address the problem. This goes a long way to explaining why we have Co-dependency Awareness Month, Glaucoma Awareness Month, National Mentoring Month, Radon Action Month, Stalking Awareness Month and a dozen others in January alone that we’ll spare you from reading.
The assumption made here is that if people just understood what was happening, they would change their behavior. This comes from a communication theory introduced in the 1980s called the Information Deficit Model which was built on the notion that the key issue at hand is a lack of knowledge. And once your audience becomes aware, they adjust their behavior accordingly.
Unfortunately, there’s abundant research that shows that people who are only given more information are unlikely to change attitudes, beliefs and behavior. And as marketers for non-profits and for-profits alike, that’s not acceptable.
So how do brands and organizations go beyond awareness to an effort that creates change?
Four important aspects to consider:
- define the audience to target as specifically as possible
- create a compelling message with clear calls to action
- develop a theory of change
- use the right messenger
Defining the Audience
Audience segmentation is about making tough decisions. By selecting the group of people who can make the most dramatic impact on achieving your goal, you put yourself in the best position to create real change. It’s also critical that you really understand the mindset and attitudes your audience has and what the greater context around those might be. Without that understanding, it’s difficult to convey the right idea to them in a way that they’ll respond to.
In the case of Denver Water, we started by targeting a mindset: very eco-conscious people. Although small in number, we knew they would be very receptive to the message and would help us by creating initial momentum behind the idea, and then carrying and amplifying the message within their social circles.
Create a Compelling Message with Clear Calls to Action
By truly understanding the audience including their attitudes, beliefs and the context that’s behind it, you can determine how best to craft a messaging strategy that will resonate with them. As important is to create clear calls to action that tie into the attitude or behavior change you’re seeking to make.
For example, because we spent a great deal of time understanding our audience for Denver Water, we uncovered their sensitivity to the concept of waste. That helped inform the campaign message: Use Only What You Need. It didn’t feel like a sacrifice. A message that spoke to conserving or saving would not have had nearly the same impact.
Our overarching goal was to change the culture of water conservation in Denver, but to do that, we needed to chip away at specific behaviors that contributed to waste. Incorrect sprinkler settings. Unaddressed leaks. Outdoor watering during the heat of the day. So, we focused each campaign on targeting one specific behavior which we educated our audience on while we promoted the desired behavior, like “water two minutes less”.
Develop a Theory of Change
So how do all these pieces come together? Is it blind luck? Hardly.
Creating an effective social marketing campaign requires developing a theory of change, which is a road map for how we can get from today’s status quo to the desired goals that we’ve sought to achieve. That entails creating a plan that maps objectives, strategies, tactics and evaluation. If something in the plan doesn’t tie back to influence a change in attitudes or behaviors, it doesn’t have a place in your effort.
Use the Right Messenger
Even if you’ve identified the right audience, message and a theory of change, there’s still a great deal of importance when it comes to identifying the right messenger to deliver that message.
Persuading people to adopt a new way of thinking or behaving isn’t easy, especially if it runs counter to their current beliefs. That influence has to come from the right source, messengers they’ll trust and listen to.
That’s why tonality and the execution for Denver Water was so critical. Utilities are not exactly everyone’s favorite entities and people are very reactive to being preached to. So we wanted to make Denver Water come across like the anti-utility, like your neighbor instead. We wanted every interaction someone had with the campaign to be fun and unexpected. That approach, combined with our eco-conscious audience serving as ambassadors for the campaign helped embed it within the culture of Denver rapidly. We used non-traditional marketing and provided tactics like yard signs, t-shirts and other schwag to give people an opportunity to participate and show their visible support, which helped transform it into a groundswell of passionate supporters.
This approach helped to amplify and accelerate success for Denver Water, touted as one of the most successful social marketing campaigns. At the start of the campaign, we were tasked with a ten-year goal of reducing water consumption by 22%. The campaign delivered a 21% reduction in the first year.