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Content & Advertising in the Image Economy

Today we live in an Image Economy.  Content and Advertising are consumed within this context. Bygone days of how to create content and campaigns has changed to the degree of being unrecognizable to a publishing house or advertising agency.

In an Image Economy specialists write to deliver client or customer solutions, for advertisers or reader/online audiences. Not such a bad thing, given everyone appears to be in a rush to ask, find, absorb and act upon a solution to their question rather than an intellectual pursuit. The name of the game is engagement, not clever insights, not even number of page views consumed, unless its simply for brand exposure. LinkedIn gets that. As of May 15th they will sever its polling to be replaced by user questions only. A far greater level of measured engagement takes centre stage in such an approach.

Listing the types of writing on any commercial site can take your breath away with five major buckets, or ways to go to market today.  We can begin with Brand Impact Advertising. What does this cover? Billboard,Welcome Ad, Homepage Takeover. This sounds like a spy ring or at its most innocent indoctrination, scope creep, for above the fold space on one’s site. In today’s world, we call it “Share of Voice” or “Share of Wallet.” In the case of a homepage takeover, you literally knock out all your competitors from placing ads for however long you are allowed to hijack the page. Does this annoy your audience? Yes, but if its free content its the price for admission.

What is considered sexy ads, or should I say advertorial content disguised as non-advertising pieces of information, has been given the name of Native Advertising described as:

 an online advertising method in which the advertiser attempts to gain attention by providing content in the context of the user’s experience.

A lot of Native Advertising is delivered through blogs and social programs such as Twitter Chats. An interesting chat, but purely editorial, meaning no sponsorship dollars attached, was the recent BitCoin chat by Candice So from  This is considered the new content, which engages, grows community and positions the moderator as an important moderator with influence on the subject-matter. Most importantly, you can instantly measure the level of engagement to understand how your content is being accepted and acted upon. Then there is Custom Content. It can be delivered in many different forms. Videos, Articles, Research, Briefings, Tutorials, Infographics, Microsite Builds and Apps for your smart phone. The content must now be presented in a sophisticated package for accepted visual consumption. To produce the content it now takes on the need for design and technologists besides content specialists. It usually requires a project manager and a developer matched with a strong HTML designer. The end product is as credible as a syndicated study from the most credible research house or Institute of Higher Learning with a slicker more engaging presentation. And then one sees its not just the content influenced by the advertising, it is the design holding the information which must meet our visual acceptance in an Image Economy.

According to Jonathon E. Schroeder, in his paper called Visual Consumption in the Image Economy, he refers to a scholarly artist, Arnheim, who wrote  

one must establish what people are looking at before one can hope to understand why, under the conditions peculiar to them, they see what they see.

In other words, you must examine what engages your audience first, to be able to influence with content. And so the game of advertising and content now must also be scientific and methodical in its approach to be truly memorable, providing the influence we all crave to create.









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Legal and the Blog

With the free flowing information available to all of us on the WWW, we forget that reading is different than cutting and pasting to make up a fabulous post on your blog, your social tweet or an impressive Google+ page that bestows why you are so fabulous. As a Publisher and virtual author this is a concern to me,  as it is to any publishing/marketing organization. It should be a concern to you. We are taught not to plagiarize in essays during the years we believe expulsion can be the ultimate consequence. We are taught in our novice years at work not to covet others’ ideas, as it would certainly come back to haunt you. Why  are we not teaching the legal rights of copyright infringements for digital posts? Is it because cutting and pasting is such a basic task, one we all learned in kindergarten and is forever now part of our DNA?  Cutting and Pasting will always be popular because it is an exercise in instant gratification to which marketers and authors now consider as part of their own storytelling. The cut is the new ink and the paste is where legal can decide to step in.

It’s a dilemma in today’s age of instant gratification wherein digital literacy has led to opening the gates of plagiarism. We all want to be considered ‘thought leaders’ but find someone else has articulated it better, or with more facts and well constructed arguments. I too find myself in such situations which is why the recent findings and recommendations released this week from the Ontario Community Newspapers Association hit a cord.  Media Lawyers Stuart Robertson and Douglas Richardson of the Toronto law firm O’Donnell, Robertson & Sanfilippo are the legal contributors to this weighty report that impacts not only the newspaper publishers but also all publishers and authors currently active in digital content.  Here are some high level findings that answer a lot of questions the OCNA has been fielding:


It is often thought that when an article appears on the Internet, it is a fair use to publish it because it is in the public domain . Not true . Somebody owns the copyright in the article and it may have been placed on the Internet for use . But something on the page should be clear that you can publish the article before you do so – i .e . a licence for you to use it . Examples of this are press releases – where it is very clear in the circumstances of the appearance of the article on the Internet that it is there specifically for your use as a publisher . But if there is no such clear indication that you can use something on the Internet, you should consider how you might go about using the article while respecting the copyright of its owner

IT World Canada has always been a media player in the Canadian arena of B to B publishing. Over 30% of our staffing costs cover journalists and authors who produce original content for the digital frontier, which can also be on request delivered in a printable output. Creating original material is costly, which is why the cut and paste endemic will not dissipate anytime soon. But remember there is a huge difference between articles written through instant gratification and the wannabe thought leaders compared with original copy which translates into Content = Consideration.  This type of post or article will always be sought after and appreciated. There is no worry about the legalities of copyright. There is only the passing and sharing of your own enlightenment.

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Brand Advocates


Most don’t think of employees as your best brand advocates. Most employers don’t think of social media for employee brand advocacy that can be tracked back to the bottom line. According to journalist Bernie Borges, EMC was able to document a “6% share of EMC voice in online conversations” from employees.  Very impressive but now what one might ask?

EMC’s full-year 2012 revenue was $21.7 billion, an increase of 9% year over year. That catches all CEOs’ attention.  Yet we too understand the marketing department’s attention was captured at the 6% of social voice.  Reactions from the top will of course be different from the marketing department glad to take some hard-earned credit for a perfect implementation, yet the CEO still sits and ponders the bottom line.

How do you take the 6% of share of voice and translate that into sales and/or reduction in expenses?  Let’s assume for sake of argument EMC’s marketing budget is 12% to achieve sales leads, brand extensions and messaging to capture a share of voice in all media channels. Now lets look at the 6% of share of social voice it has achieved by simply lighting its employees’ passions. This example speaks volumes in how to maintain a great brand and attract millennials to your stable of talented hires without a huge investment.

As the President of one of Canada’s top B-to-B media companies we continuously see a fluctuation of product spend year-over-year. One year its all about share of voice, another year its all about share of wallet and yet another year the million spent on advertising brand or message/product/service is directed solely to sales lead generation activities. It’s 101 to state we all need to plan, harvest and grow the delivery mechanisms our clients’  demand at any given time. It’s 201 to know that is hard to do.

Keeping your internal staff up-to-date is as much a challenge as constantly manipulating your work flows and design to ensure your company has optimum delivery in all areas. Providing the right communication vehicles for such internal conversations that will flow out at some point to external stakeholders is not only necessary, its also mandatory for success.

I applaud EMC for its use of a social platform that allows its employees to converse. Yes, we started with brand but we end with survival. Social is not the latest fad, though its powers have not been properly presented to the CEO class, where one sits back and states “now what?” Social is like the telephone. Imagine doing business without a landline or mobile. Really, try and imagine it. Never having a conversation. Always texting to ensure the relationship is formed, is solid and is growing.

Good luck with that! You must have enough understanding and vision to know in today’s world you can’t control the conversations of your employees or your clients. All you can do is enable the conversations.  Thank you EMC for such a great example of how its done.


Read the full article by Bernie Borges at Optimize This


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New Years Blog

And so 2013 went out with the lights, power and heat! 


What happened this year that made it different from any other year?


The big move to digital was accomplished by most. But the big move to replace print ad revenues with Run of Site (ROS) advertising in premium branded sites, were far more tepid than was hoped. With cheap impressions being delivered by many ad networks, the need to keep branded sites alive now comes down to original relevant content being ever-present. It’s really pushed the old saying, “Back to the Future.” But even quality versus quantity this day in age is only one slice of the answer in maintaining and building upon a media content business that many of us still refer to as Publishing. Most of us began understanding this reality by early 2012. By the end of 2013 there can be no doubt that the business of Publishing is into a very different survival scenario for 2014 and beyond. For those of us who really get it the future can be very bright. But for those of us that believe but did not prepare for such a day, the future will be cut short swiftly.


The projected future, strictly coming from a B-to-B Publisher’s perspective, is original content is always preferred. After all, it makes sense that Premium content will always have a place with your best readership demographic that most times translates into some loyal AAA customer advertising. However, for advertisers wishing to tap into the extended cosmos of readership impressions, Ad Networks not only take a place in advertising spend, but also will have a place far into the foreseeable future.


And so having worked through the ebbs and flows of changing times, I believe for overall health to a Publishing organization, Hybrid strategies remain the friendliest advice. If you look at your client base, I would be very surprised if your Top Ten customers have not added something new to the arsenal, allowing for revenue growth. Companies can only cut so deep, or so many times to get to the point of profitability.

It therefore begs the question that if your top clients are reinventing certain lines of business, in order for your offering to remain relevant and address solutions to such new things, a Hybrid strategy for maintaining or growing your line(s) of business remains essential.


Large statistical numbers tracked daily by e-Marketer to Nielsen ratings paint a brighter picture if you are prepared to look at your current business differently. Where once there was good old fashioned headlines and stories in newspapers that kept the Guardian or Globe and Mail a must read, there are now sites that feed whatever content you wish to snack on. But to counteract the loss of readership loyalties you can also take a great writing pool and re-contract them out to create brand journalism for such sites offering such snacks, or for different brands outside of your own.


On events, a mainstream for B-to-B publishers, perhaps such brand journalism can add much muster, as top clients continue to grow event platforms for customer retention.


And of course, there can be no single revenue stream so powerful as lead generation. When marketing is held to the fire to prove ROI, ads that lead nowhere but to millions of impressions with no attached proven action can be disastrous.  Can’t you just hear the internal conversations going on! “Yes, I spent $1,000,000 and according to accurate dashboards, it garnered 50M impressions in one month. “

And then you hear, “So what? Where are the results from sales?”

Now send your lonely sales representative in to calm the seas and bring home the contract. Think again, or think not.


To end this personal diatribe, in this year that now comes to a close with power outages and torn tree limbs across our Canadian landscape, I must say it has been a big move to HYBRID and ensuring the very best kind of delivery. As a B-to-B Publisher it is no longer good enough to be a master of your trade. We, as B-to-B Publishers, must be a Jackal of all things content, all things Internet, all things ROI, and all things relevant. That is the new mastery of publishing or media services. For without current relevancy, without the premium services that wrap all things together within your powerful media brand, we can’t help the marketing person confidently answer the question of ROI.


To all my readers, I wish you a wonderful safe and joyous Season and always, a Happy New Year.





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People Energy – Look in the Next Cubicle


Trouble brews, corporations stew, people left become few. In turbulent times what can we do? Without our great people, management is but a muse. We can’t close deals, never mind deliver it on time, or guarantee it will be fine. We can only count our lost chicks and pray for some corporate bliss.


To be frank, we are nothing without our great people. Crowdsourcing is about the wisdom of the crowd. In an environment surrounded by cement and glass the wisdom lies in the energy of the staff, and their ability to bond, to fuse and to stand up and be counted. Not because they have too, but because they want to. Are you a leader that can stand the test of time? Ask your mailroom clerk or the lovely receptionist whose name escapes you at times. Are you keeping track of new staff members? Do they know who you are as some of us refuse to vacate our ivory tower and exclusive lunch clubs. Are you a believer in Management by Walk Around or Management by Videos sent around?


Given we are all replaceable except for the fabulous line of credit that keeps most of us afloat, what did you do today to make someone that should be important in your office world, feel they want to give you their best and never show you all the rest?


Short cuts and fast profits will always catch up. There are no easy routes to great culture and great companies. You can’t be a great company without energized people who want to do what they do best.

Take a moment and walk around your current office space.  After all, most of us spend as much time at the office as we do anywhere else that is an integral part of our life. We keep reading about collaborative environments and turning strategies on its head time after time during such uncertain economic circumstances. Staff members don’t like constant change. Who does? Few are energized by uncertainties. That is why sharing information, allowing employees to be in the “Know” cancels the negativity, instills a sense of worth which creates the security of one’s environment. That is how trust is born, as well as fuelling a need to do more, to do better and to do it as a cohesive team.  Employees don’t want to pay the bills but they will always look for the opportunity to take ownership if we allow them to help us.


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Take a long walk through your cubicle labyrinth. Find the sustenance great employees look for by looking in the next and the next cubicle.






















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Women in the IT Channel

Women have always resided within sales and marketing organizations since I began my long sojourn in this industry. Those that succeed have some commonalities


  1. Brains & Focus

  2. Creativity & Stamina

  3. Professional Image

  4. Solid Relationships


The one we rarely read about are GOALS.


The Channel is a difficult place because it’s built on layers of stakeholders, with each area having specific needs, specific mandates and different goal requirements for next steps. Some of us have this down as a science, some of us simply know we should be doing this but a task list too often suffices the need to build comprehensive strategies containing set goals.

All of us need to ask “What is our overall goal? ” Are we looking to be the next CEO, (a lonely place at the top) or are such lofty ambitions set on building personal wealth from running a great sales organization? Like our opposites we have our own ways to produce great results.  Sometimes we manage to exceed or at least get to the same place as our opposites, but we must have different approaches because as women we have different obstacles. This is not to say our male counterparts are viewed as our combatants. Rather it says applying for a $10M line of credit at one of Canada’s top 6 banks is more of a challenge for a female executive, and it is different when you can’t be part of the old boys club. Demanding a high salary must be presented in a different tone and articulating your value and worth needs to be coached in softer linguistics, and subtle but persuasive articulation that never offends. And once you have obtained such stature and power, a word we don’t use enough, its important to to help others understand the rules of business, specifically for the younger  generation of females sitting behind you. 

Some of the most basic obstacles we experience are within our own heads. Yes, ladies, ourselves. We can tend to over-think situations and emotional reactions before it ever takes place; we can believe we need to work harder and be better for the same opportunities; we can also vote ourselves out of internal networked situations because we don’t play hockey or golf and sometimes we don’t wish to have libations that allow co-workers to engage in the right conversations with the office power crowd.

Certainly one way of looking at it!

Thank goodness there is also the newer views of female empowerment women are embracing . More women are volunteering in corporate non-profit organizations related to their work, and finding it does make a difference. It’s new connections, many of them powerful, which can take us to the next level of achievement, as well as enjoyment.  There are many more mentors and mentorship programs to help high potentials achieve stellar outputs faster. In the past these types of programs were tailored for men.

Importantly,  many women  have now broken the “glass ceiling”  from government, to banking, academia, media and great sales & channel organizations.

 What are their secrets? Some are learning to be more aggressive while still known for wearing pearls. Some are putting themselves out there, taking the risk to take a big office while sticking to their own value systems based on a more collaborative strategy. Not all ‘kill what you eat’ strategies are effective. Whatever the secret sauce might be, the most successful women believe networking with other women remains a high priority.

 Women need to work with other women in all professions. Each profession has its nuances, and this is why I am a fan of such activities. One is coming up in a few weeks you should know about.

Computer Dealer News with Ingram Micro will host the annual Women in IT Luncheon at the stunning and historical Graydon Hall Manor, Thursday, August 22nd.

To register go to

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Content & Advertising in the Image Economy

Today we live in an Image Economy.  Content and Advertising are consumed within this...
article post

Legal and the Blog

With the free flowing information available to all of us on the WWW, we forget that...
article post

Brand Advocates

  Most don’t think of employees as your best brand advocates. Most employers...
article post

New Years Blog

And so 2013 went out with the lights, power and heat!    What happened this year...
article post

People Energy – Look in the Next Cubicle

  Trouble brews, corporations stew, people left become few. In turbulent times what...
article post

Women in the IT Channel

Women have always resided within sales and marketing organizations since I began my long...
article post

Social Notes 2 Share via @fawnannan

Here are a few of the articles and commentaries across the social web I am making a note of, and sharing with you. Trust you will enjoy them as I do.