AOR: Agency of Return

When agencies see or hear the term ‘AOR’, they typically drop everything and start to think about how they can position themselves to win. And when marketers are looking for an ‘AOR’, they’ve thought long and hard about the list of KPIs they’re looking to achieve, right?

But these days, it’s not so much about becoming the Agency of Record, but more the Agency of Return. Both marketers and agencies must start looking at how they either choose their agency, or position themselves to win the business, differently. Rediscover what value means to you.

boomerang (1)Think of it like a classic IRA, where it can issue 8% returns annually on your investment. Before you choose that IRA, you study its record of performance year-over-year, and ultimately make a decision on the one that you feel will bring the most value. And in our world, the term value can mean many things. It can be the actual sales increase you see as a result of your marketing efforts, the awareness and buzz created from a new campaign or package redesign, or even just delivering on a scope of work. It really all depends how you want to view it, and what’s most important to you.

From a marketers perspective, it’s more than likely going to be tied to sales. You want to show that the agency investment literally paid off. And from the agency side, the value comes from a satisfied client, and the positive reflection you hope they shine upon you in the trade. Thus, generating new opportunities from like-minded clients.

In the grand scheme of it all, we’re in it to find some sort of return or value. And while that is measured in outcomes, it all is tightly tied to the idea of a much grander hope. The hope of a reciprocating partnership that delivers positive results on both sides, and in return, is quite rewarding for everyone.

So think about how you choose your next agency, long and hard. And ask yourself, do they want to be my “Agency of Record” or my “Agency of Return”, and what type of return is of real value to you. That goes the same for us agencies.

Make Love Not Scars

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Since its founding in 2005, YouTube has been home to a myriad of beauty bloggers who post tutorials and other how-to makeup videos. But in a powerful new campaign for Make Love Not Scars by Ogilvy & Mather, the woman giving the red lip tutorial looks a little different than the typical 20-something beauty blogger.

Reshma, whose face has been scarred and disfigured, is a spokesperson for the #EndAcidSale campaign, whose goal is to curb the number of acid attack victims in India by limiting the accessibility to acid (you can buy a liter of it in any drugstore in India for about $1.50).

According to a petition that Reshma asks viewers to sign (which has over 65,000 signatures), India has over 1,000 reported acid attack cases per year, of which 90% of the victims are female.

What Sparks Our Fire: Creative and powerful campaigns that capture attention and call for change.

Google+ is Going Through a Breakup

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Google+ has been suffering from what many tech blogs and business publications are calling a “slow death”—its initial launch established the site as an attempt to be a fully-integrated social platform, with its multifaceted approach rivaling companies like Facebook, Dropbox, WordPress, and Skype.

However, after failing to gain both traction and users in the social media community, it recently announced that it will be splitting the platform into three different components: Hangouts, Photos, and Streams. Hangouts is a video chatting service that will remain independent of Google+, photos is a storage space for images that will be added to Google Drive, and streams covers the rest of the Google+ experience along with News and Blogger.

While the idea of a streamlined, all-in-one social media platform sounded like a good idea, perhaps it was the ambition of the venture that led to its demise; users considered the Google+ login to YouTube a nuisance, found the interface unaesthetic, and the whole system a cheap Facebook facsimile.

Google has finally compromised, maintaining the best aspects of Google+ like Hangouts and Photos, and has removed the Google+ sign-in on YouTube, much to users’ delight.

The moral of the story: Don’t put all of your digital marketing eggs in one basket, especially if your product is at risk of being disruptive—and not in the good way.

What Sparks Our Fire: Google+ taking the next step forward and making smart decisions in the face of a highly-publicized technological failure.

Changing The Podcast Model

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If 2014 marked a peak for Podcast listenership (thanks in large part to the popularity of Serial), than 2015 is shaping up to be the year of redefining the podcast’s power. Midroll Media, the parent company behind the popular Earwolf podcasting network that hosts Scott Aukerman’s Comedy Bang Bang, is looking to lead the charge with the release of HOWL.

HOWL is a new audio service and application that is aiming to be the “Netflix of podcasting.” And part of that means helping shift the monetization model for the industry as a whole. The service will house podcasts with huge popularity and extensive backlogs, and will put their old episodes behind a $4.99 per month paywall. Podcasts like Comedy Bang Bang (with over 370 episodes) and WTF with Marc Maron (which counts President Obama as a recent guest) will join HOWL and hopefully bring in listeners who can help fund new podcasts, podcasts with lesser known talent, or even special edition podcasts that might not be financially feasible otherwise.

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Traditionally, content creators have been able to monetize their podcasts through advertising before and during their programs. Podcasts have been attracting a small but fiercely loyal audience since their inception in 2004. Midroll learned through an anonymous survey of advertisers that 91.5% believe advertising has offered them a good value on their money spent. Companies like Squarespace and Bonobos have become known for their long-term dedication to advertising on podcasts, and this only makes sense if it offers them a high enough ROI. HOWL will continue to air the commercials embedded in new podcasts, but will ideally help monetize podcasts that wouldn’t normally be able to attract advertising dollars.

What Sparks Our Fire: Reimagining the model for monetizing podcasts