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SXSW: Always be Innovating - Thinking Like a Startup

DigitasLBi is on the ground at SXSW! We'll be live-tweeting, snapping photos, and recapping sessions for the next few days: follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Flickr for more insights. Plus check out our own speakers and sessions here.

Friday afternoon’s session at SXSW, “Always be Innovating: Thinking Like a Startup”, posed the question, “how is it that start ups can launch a new product in a matter of months, when it takes most companies just as long to make updates to their website?” In addition to not having years of entrenched bureaucracy, startups have a culture of innovation that allows them to be nimble and make decisions quickly.

Corporations do have one big advantage over the nascent startup, however, because they are more likely to have the resources to subsidize a startup program without being distracted by fundraising efforts. But it goes beyond funding. Establishing a culture of innovation is key, and it must be driven by the passion and the vision of the founder and extend to all employees. It's the founder who lays out the company’s mission and shows a motivation for creating something amazing, not simply making money. A business leader must be unshackled from their day-to-day responsibilities to foster this type of culture.

In addition, startups approach product development in a unique sequence: first they create the product, then scale it, and then finally begin to profit from it. This can be anachronistic for most organizations that have a very short window for which they need to show positive financial results.  For startups, the benchmark for success isn't always profitability—instead, it might be measured by relevant metrics such as the number of daily active users.

Finally, startups understand that timing is everything. They understand how critical it is to have a product with market fit at the right time and not miss their window. This is especially true of technology, where cycles are vicious and a new category can go from the early adopter stage to mainstream—and then evaporate completely—in just 18 months. That's something that every company, big or small, should always keep in mind.

Written by Tony Bailey, VP/Group Director, Technology Lead, DigitasLBi Chicago and San Francisco


OMMA @ SXSW: Vine vs. Instagram

DigitasLBi is on the ground at SXSW! We'll be live-tweeting, snapping photos, and recapping sessions for the next few days: follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Flickr for more insights. Plus check out our own speakers and sessions here.

Today at OMMA at SXSW, DigitasLBi’s Dave Marsey, Managing Director of the San Francisco office, moderated a panel discussion on the opportunities for brands using Vine and Instagram—and which one they preferred for various marketing campaigns. Panelists included Katrina Craigwell of GE, Mark Smith of USA TODAY, and Brad Walters of Lowes.

A common theme across all brand manager experiences was the process of helping their brands discover a new, authentic voice. Each panelist explored their various platform approaches and a few of their brand’s most shared posts.  For Katrina and GE, the focus on Instagram is first primarily a ‘show, don’t tell’ approach around some of GE’s biggest innovations, such as jet engines, health solutions, and other major productions that regular consumers are not exposed to.

With Vine GE embraced the challenge of six seconds by filming their own short science experiment—seeing what happens when you combine milk, food coloring and dish soap. The Vine was so successful that they launched the #6SecondScience fair.

Brad Walters of Lowes pointed to the brand’s focus on curating innovative usage occasions of products – rather than focusing too much on selling.  #FixInSix is a how-to Vine program by Lowes.  The brand provides the tip and then challenges the Viners to layer in the entertainment value. Marsey called it a prime example of “Marketing as a service.”

Both Katrina and Brad reported that these efforts are translating into bottom-up branding and unique opportunities for these companies.  GE now leverages the imagery created on their Instagram account in building out their new brand books.  For Lowe’s, bringing social video to scale with native advertising in pre-roll and display has proven to drive much higher response rates and performance metrics. 

While ultimately there was no true “winner” declared in terms of Vine vs. Instagram, the real takeaway is that for mediums like these that demand native creation, the process of discovering a new, authentic voice is driving a new era of brand marketing.

Written by Michael Fasciano and Landon Nyugen, Associate Directors, Social. Content, DigitasLBi

Want to hear more about microvideo? Dave Marsey will revisit the topic this Sunday in a live webcast with The Economist Group—watch it here.


OMMA @ SXSW: Should Brands Be Part of the Real-Time Convo?

DigitasLBi is on the ground at SXSW! We'll be live-tweeting, snapping photos, and recapping sessions for the next few days: follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Flickr for more insights. Plus check out our own speakers and sessions here.

This morning's OMMA session on real-time social engagement featured panelists from a variety of brands -- CapitalOne, Whole Foods, Dell and McDonald's -- and every organization takes a different approach to social responsiveness. The one fundamental principle that everyone agreed on, myself included, is that a brand should only join (or initiate) conversations on topics that the audience gives them permission to participate in. It has to make sense. Without a clear connection between topic and brand, backlash will occur—and it's a waste of your team's time and energy. 

Each brand approaches the idea of joining the conversation in real-time differently. CapitalOne and McDonald's take the stance that if they're sponsoring a sporting event, for example, they're free to join related conversations in social, even without a specific product connection. On the other hand, Whole Foods seems to focus on day-to-day interactions that are meaningful to their customers, rather than investing in a big team for a single event like the Super Bowl. They also adamantly empower their local store reps to respond via social on individual store handles/pages for a more personal touch. Dell, too, is primarily focused on creating a an employee network to empower them to use social on the brand's behalf. 

The takeaway? Everyone is on the same page. We as marketers share an undocumented agreement, encouraging brand conversations in social to maintain relevance between topic and brand. This "contract" is crucial to continuing our progress in growing successful brand-to-consumer social connections. As soon as brands begin playing in areas that they don't have permission to play in, consumers will rebel—and our progress as an industry in social will falter. I'm comforted to walk away with that unspoken consensus.

Written by Devon Herrington, Account Manager, DigitasLBi


New DigitasLBi Innovation Lab Brings the 'Art of Possible' to Chicago

DigitasLBi Chicago has unveiled its new Innovation Lab, part of DigitasLBi Labs, a global, tech-inspired incubator dedicated to exploring new and emerging technologies.

The Innovation Labs are physical spaces for clients and teams to test interactive experiences first-hand. Equipped with emerging technologies, the rooms facilitate rapid deployment of brand-specific prototypes that bring digital products to life.

Following on the success of the existing Innovation Labs in Boston, Costa Rica, Paris, London & New York, the newest Chicago space is a presentation platform for visitors, as well as a workroom to inspire employees with the latest digital and creative tech.

Leveraging furniture from the Whirlpool Gladiator line and equipped with wearables, 3D printing, gaming, sensors, connected home, SDKs and more, the room is an ideal environment to apply a number of different options to real world client challenges.   

"We're servicing many clients in and around the Chicago area, many of which also have an innovation program of some type.  In those cases, we aim to concentrate our thinking around emerging technology and consumer expectations with their perspective and knowledge of their business and products. What we've created is an open, collaborative workspace that's accessible to the entire agency. This lab is not a museum that's only available via guided tours. It's alive," says Tony Bailey, VP/GD, Technology Capability Lead, Chicago & San Francisco, DigitasLBi

DigitasLBi is the only digital agency in Chicago making a significant investment in the exploration of consumer technology, educating clients and partners on What’s Next – and why it matters. 


Social Media Week 2014: Art, Science, YouTube – and the Emerging Talent Tracker

"When you try and just sell on YouTube, people start to ignore you. Authenticity is the name of the game." – Michael Fasciano, Associate Director at DigitasLBi

Yesterday, as part of Social Media Week New York, DigitasLBi hosted a live-streamed panel about YouTube rising stars and the technology we use to find the best emerging talent. At NewFront 2013, DigitasLBi announced an exclusive partnership with Outrigger Media to develop an industry-first measurement product, the Emerging Talent Tracker (ETT), which identifies up-and-coming creative talent on YouTube. The ETT tracks YouTube data across engagement, reach, and influence for the top 100k YouTube channels  - helping our clients find undervalued YouTube talent for partnerships.

Yesterday’s event featured YouTube hair and makeup stars ItsMyRayeRaye, HeyFranHey, and Taren Guy. These YouTube power-users are experts on creating engaging content, building a dedicated audience, and what appeals to viewers.  Alongside these talented stars, moderator Sahil Patel, editor of VideoInk, and Michael Fasciano, Associate Director of Social.Content at DigitasLBi, helped contribute an industry point of view to the thought-provoking discussion. 

With over 14.8B YouTube views in the beauty category to date (700M+ monthly), YouTube has provided endless possibilities for influencers to connect with fans, show off new techniques, and work with brands to promote products in an authentic way. “With YouTube, it’s about connecting with your followers. It almost feels like a family,” said Taren Guy. “It’s where the conversation starts. It might continue elsewhere, on Twitter, Instagram, Vine – but this is where the first connection happens.”  

After hearing from Raye, Taren, and Fran,  Sahil and Michael invited Pauline Malcolm from Maker Studios and Mike Henry from Outrigger Media onto the panel to give insight into the business of YouTube influencers. They discussed the inherent perks of the platform, as well as how brands can best use YouTube influencers for their programs and initiatives. “How can you not do something on YouTube? That’s where your audience is,” said Mike Henry, CEO of Outrigger Media.

After the panel wrapped, DigitasLBi’s very own YouTube star Benjamin White closed the event with a live hip-hop performance of one of his original tracks.

See video from the event here:

Written by Jeff Borsuk, Senior Account Executive, Social.Content, DigitasLBi

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