DIVE Networks Launches Data-Driven Media Network Featuring Think With Google Content and Insights

Originally published on Yahoo Finance on January 8, 2015

TORONTO, ON and CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwired - January 08, 2015) - DIVE Networks™ announces an industry-first digital media eco-system that takes a 'top of waves' view of the world's data sources to bring real-time marketing intelligence to agencies and brands worldwide.

DIVE makes real-time marketing intelligence accessible and entertaining for all marketers. DIVE re-invents how marketers consume relevant and engaging trends and insights about audiences, brands and their competitors. While brands continue to step up their data approach and transition to Always On campaigns and insights, DIVE provides a curated view to understand what is being said, searched and consumed around their brands.

Google's award-winning online platform for marketers, Think with Google, became DIVE's first international content and insights partner with the first installations in agency and brand locations. DIVE is collaborating with the Think with Google team to curate engaging content and trends from thinkwithgoogle.comdirectly to brand teams via DIVE Networks.

"Our collaboration with Think with Google creates a combined vision for providing real-time data and insights to all marketers -- across industries, platforms, and audiences. Think with Google is already driving brand marketing strategies and campaigns, and we are excited to distribute this content." President DIVE Networks, Michael Girgis.

DIVE officially launched at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas leading into a North American wide rollout into agency and brand environments throughout 2015.

About DIVE Networks™

Formerly known as the Performance Content Group™, DIVE Networks™ (DIVE) has 40+ years of shared advertising technology leadership, founded by internationally acclaimed digital and mobile media pioneers. DIVE works with brands and agencies to uncover and leverage audience insights from numerous data sources. DIVE is the world's first data-driven Media Ecosystem providing industry, audience & brand specific content that is always contextual and engaging to all marketers.

Performance Content Group Rebrands as Dive Networks


Originally published by Marketing Mag on January 6, 2015 by Jeff Fraser

Toronto startup moves away from analytics "dashboard" with indoor signage network.

Toronto startup Dive Networks, until yesterday known as Performance Content Group, has launched a data analytics-slash-indoor signage network that agencies and marketers can use to keep tabs on a brand’s online and social performance.

Dive co-founders Mike Girgis and Jake Neiman drew on their previous experience creating OOH networks with Onestop Media to create a digital signage network that broadcasts real-time data visualizations focused on brands and audiences. Each broadcast “channel” curates a variety of relevant data on key brands or audiences, and presents it on flatscreen TVs installed around the office for account executives, creatives and marketers to follow along.

“The two data analysts in the backroom, they only generate these reports when brands need them for new pitches or campaigns. We’re saying, here’s a data and content channel for everybody,” Girgis said. “Everybody needs to understand data, action on it, be inspired by it every day.”

He said Dive wants to move away from the idea of an analytics “dashboard,” and instead work on the model of a broadcast network with channels and shows focused on different aspects of a brand, audience or vertical. The channels are each designed to tell a story based on real-time first-party data, and data from partners like Google and LinkedIn.

“It’s not about just social data, or just about campaign data,” he said. “What we’re saying is, if we can provide an output that puts a different picture in front of brands, that shows the data adjacent to each other in different ways, then that gives a clearer story around what’s happening with a brand.”

The team is in Las Vegas this week to showcase Dive at CES, which has become a big destination for global marketers. Inside the OMD Oasis Lounge, Dive screens will be broadcasting real-time info on the agency’s brand clients.

Girgis said Dive has been testing the system with several media agencies in Canada over the last four months. These charter partners will be announced over the next two weeks.

Canadian marketers will be familiar with Girgis and Neiman from Onestop Media Group, a Canadian OOH network serving malls, sports retail and hospitality industries that the pair founded in 2005 and sold to Pattison Outdoor. Girgis said he and much of the Dive team have a lot of experience working with digital signage from those days that contributed to the development of the Dive networks.

PCG, founded in 2013 by Girgis, Neiman and Deborah Hall, focused largely on building a proprietary data analysis engine that predicts what content specific audiences will engage with. Last August, the startup received an unspecified grant from the National Research Council to continue its work on the project. The algorithms PCG designed now power Dive Networks, Girgis said.

He said Dive expands the work of PCG to a much broader vision that processes a lot more sources of data and presents a more holistic brand narrative.

“While we’ve seen brands and marketers intrigued about the generation of topics and content that audiences are consuming, that’s just one element,” he said. “Dive was created to meet the demand of what marketers and brands are looking for, beyond the topic and content space.”

Former Onestop Media Execs Relaunch Data Company at CES

Originally published by Media in Canada on January 6, 2015

by Matthew Chung

Thirteen months after launching audience intelligence and content analytics firm Performance Content Group (PGC), Deborah Hall, Michael Girgis and Jake Neiman are rebranding the company and rolling out a new product to help marketers digest big data.

The company, now known as Dive Networks, introduced its new data “ecosystem, which it describes as “Bloomberg for Brands” at CES on Tuesday. The platform curates real-time data relevant to a brand and presents it as content on multiple digital displays so that an entire office, not just analysts, can follow along.

Girgis, president of Dive Networks and fellow PCG co-founder and CFO Jake Neiman used their past experience launching Toronto-based OOH company Onestop Media (now owned by Pattison Outdoor) to create the platform for Dive.

To demonstrate how it works, the team partnered with LinkedIn to broadcast “trending topics and articles” on a large display screen network inside the OMD Oasis Lounge at CES.

Co-founder and CEO Hall says the platform helps de-clutter a marketer’s job by removing the need to check multiple dashboards to track how their brand is performing online and on social sites. It provides an easier, even entertaining way, for marketers to digest data, Hall adds, and presents data analysis in a way that everyone in a company can understand, with channels focused on various aspects of a brand, such as key words that drove to a brand site, or most-engaging articles by audiences, curated from first-party data and data from partners like Instagram, YouTube, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

“What we are doing is getting rid of that layer for marketers and seeing there is a new way of looking at this and it can be available to you all the time,” she says. “Instead of making marketers understand the data landscape, we are making the data landscape suit marketers.”

DIVE Networks Launches Data-Driven Media Network with trending content from LinkedIn at CES 2015

Originally published by Yahoo Finance on January 7, 2015

TORONTO, ON and CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwired - January 07, 2015) - DIVE Networks ™ (DIVE) announces a unique data visualization network that curates Brand-intelligence in an engaging way, fueling marketers as they continue to step up their data approach and transition to 'always on' campaigns and insights.

DIVE makes real-time marketing intelligence accessible, fun and entertaining for all marketers. DIVE re-invents how marketers consume relevant and engaging trends and insights about audiences, brands and their competitors.

"Our partnership with data and content providers enable us to surface brand, industry and audience intelligence. Our goal is to help brands surface real-time data and insights in new ways that revolutionize marketing workflow." says Deborah Hall, co-Founder and CEO of DIVE Networks™.

DIVE has secured key data partnerships to deliver relevant and contextual content via its geo-located Digital Signage Networks. As a demonstration of its innovation, DIVE collaborated with LinkedIn to feature "A Year in Review -- 2014 Trending Topics and Articles" alongside some of the world's top brands; and hosted by leading global media agency OMD Worldwide at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, NV. This in turn acts as an entertaining and insightful reflection of the kind of media intelligence Brands need to keep tabs on to know what matters most to key audiences.

About DIVE Networks™

Formerly known as the Performance Content Group™, DIVE Networks™ (DIVE) has 40+ years of shared advertising technology leadership, founded by internationally acclaimed digital and mobile media trendsetters. DIVE works with brands and agencies to uncover and leverage audience insights from numerous data sources. DIVE is the world's first data-driven Media Ecosystem providing real-time industry, audience & brand specific content that is uniquely contextual, engaging and entertaining to all marketers.


Press Janey Lee | janey@dive-networks.com | 416-888-2588

3 Reasons Why Marketers Need to Kill Monthly Reports

Reporting has been a staple with marketers for some time, and with good reason. However, the challenge with reporting is that it is often geared at the replication and distribution of numbers and is not focused on the real challenge of answering ‘why’ things are happening.

So, if you are in reporting hell and getting ready to issue your reports for the 15th of the month, here are some reasons why you should just stop.

  1. Insights Aren’t Produced Monthly It has been said that data is everywhere but there is not an insight to be found. The goal of reports is to help provide insights to guide decisions, but often the analysis is not done to dive into why activities are changing. The consumer of these reports is often looking for the ‘why’ activities are happening. This requires time to develop hypothesis and interrogate the data, and surprise, surprise, they are not often revealed on a monthly basis.

  2. Automation is Available Reporting is often done through a series of outputs from dashboards and tools to create a presentation. The time, effort and resources required to do this are substantial. Delivering data in automated feeds to computers, in-office displays and mobile devices should replace the requirement to reproduce numbers and static documents. These resources can shift to the higher value functions of developing hypothesis and answering challenging questions.

  3. People Lie Okay, so not all people, but this happens. Humans happen to have an incredible knack for telling stories that fit the narrative they want to hear. This bleeds into how reports are built – reality is distorted from the analysts to the business owner to the shareholder, all giving their version of the truth, and often omitting key elements.

So, let’s figure out some ways we can stop relying on the monthly regurgitation of facts and focus on the questions that help drive business results.

The Big Movement for 2015: Data Literacy

A new gap has emerged in the marketing community; the gap between the data scientist and the marketer. This gap has become more evident in the past few years with the emerging Big Data industry and the associated data it has brought to bear, resulting in a data literacy issue amongst today’s marketer.

The challenge with data literacy is that it is very difficult to diagnose and even more challenging to solve. There is tremendous growth in the data science community and many organizations are staffing more analysts, but the business side of the equation is not keeping pace.

Still, filling this gap won’t be as challenging as one may think. Social Media tools have helped democratize data, giving people access to their own performance – how many Facebook likes their recent posts achieved, how many people have recently viewed their LinkedIn profile, and what is their Klout score, to name a few. This democratization has created a new class of data consumer. Those armed with enough passive experience with data, but very little knowledge of what is required to actually analyze it. This is often referred to as someone who is “too dangerous for their own good”; someone who has a little bit of knowledge and a good amount of power (or budget).

Getting the business side of the data equation trained will be a business critical activity to help companies, as data is a requirement in all job functions. This challenge won’t be solved in 2015, but we can start.

Data literacy starts with data consumption.

Getting the non-data community familiar and using data is the first step. Data and analysis are often trapped – trapped in presentations, spreadsheets and dashboards. The method on how various analysis were conducted are even more remote, often in the brain of the analyst or documented somewhere deep in the folders of a shared directory.

Surfacing data in ways that people can see and explore are incredibly helpful. Not in quarterly reports or press releases, but in the open, in workspaces, in meeting rooms where people can discuss and hypothesize what is happening.

There are some great examples of organizations helping to increase data literacy and consumption through installations and visualizations.

The Yale School of Management developed a three-story display installation to deliver insightful information and photography from students, staff and guest speakers.

Yale School of Management - Digital Signage and Data Visualization from Unified Field on Vimeo.

If there is one needle to move, it is to start solving the data literacy challenge. Organizations who do so will benefit. At the very least, it will start new conversations around data. And hopefully it will drive more fact-based decision-making, which can‘t be all that bad.

Mobile Before Desktop for Brands in 2015: Hall

This article was originally published by Media in Canada on December 22, 2014

As one year closes and another one begins to rev up, MiC is asking industry leaders to look back on the events that changed their business in 2014, and predict the trends that will shape it in 2015. Next up is Deborah Hall, CEO at Performance Content Group.

What 2014 event or trend had the biggest impact on your business?

Festival of Media in Rome was a big turning point for us. The biggest trend there was programmatic buying. Programmatic buying shifted our focus as marketers continue to look for insights and audience intelligence in data collection and aggregation. We see a big opportunity now that all is organized to take data insights, visualization and data literacy to the next level.

What buzzword should stay in 2015?

“Always On” is a buzzword that will stay in 2015 and beyond. As consumers continue to be more and more connected through a variety of devices, marketers need to continue to intercept them at the key inflection points where they have brand opportunities. “Always-On” is a key strategy in making this happen, but it is doing it in a scalable way that is the challenge.

How has your team changed the most in the past year?

We see an opportunity for marketers to interact with data in new and inventive ways that don’t have to be complicated or time-intensive. The biggest transition for our company this year was going from being a start-up to building a global company with its headquarters in Toronto. Canadians should be proud of all the resources and talent we have to start great global IP and technology companies.

What are the top three things those in the Canadian media business need to be paying attention to as we head into 2015?

  1. 2015 is the year that the mobile tipping point will happen for many brands (where the number of mobile searches eclipse the number of desktop searches). Many marketers are in touch with this reality for their brand, but mobile still has room to grow with these consumer usage patterns.

  2. Data and programmatic opportunities: Many media companies and marketers have spent time and money investing in the realm of programmatic, whether it is testing various platforms or investing in data management. 2015 will see those that have invested continue to test, learn and shift strategies to get the most performance out of their data-driven marketing strategies. This will also be a year of transparency and education in the programmatic space, where the market is going to catch up and educate itself on the more finite details of programmatic, hopefully taking away some of the confusion the space currently experiences.

  3. Connected devices and consumers: As more devices and people become connected through the internet of things, mobile and wearable technologies, there are tremendous content and messaging opportunities. Marketers need to start to think about how almost anything can be “smart” and poses an opportunity to message consumers. The more innovative marketers are rethinking the consumer journey process and digitizing the key trigger points to provide the rational and emotional proof points to drive brand engagement.

What is your prediction for the trend that will shape the media business in 2015?

The biggest trend that will shape the media business in 2015 is data-driven segmentation and data literacy.

Most media briefs today start with one or two demographic segments with some psychographics, often informed by some primary research or other surveys. This is changing and becoming much more efficient as media companies take a data-driven approach to their planning process and rethink how they segment consumers. This more finite focus will transform how and where brands will engage with their audiences and how marketers use and implement data in new ways. The challenge is data literacy, which is an area that media organizations have an opportunity to invest in translating data and insights into decisions for brands and marketers.

Mobile tracking and metrics are different… now what?

This article was originally published by Media in Canada on October 27, 2014

By Deborah Hall

Our industry has long been waiting for mobile metrics to catch up or fall in line with the way the more mature desktop platform has been measuring, using tools like impressions and behavioural or contextual tracking.

Mobile thought leaders have observed that we need new metrics and new ways of measuring investment and return. While we are waiting for all that to happen, we have many ways of entertaining and marketing to the mobile user today that don’t require any change in industry standards.

Here are three methods that we can begin implementing immediately:

1) Dive into the conversation: Mobile and social users are inextricably the same thing. Look around you and count the number of people on their devices telling their networks where they are, what they desire and how they are feeling. More than 85% of Twitter updates are made on mobile devices and this will inevitably extend to wearables and other devices over the next couple of years.

How do marketers get involved? By listening to the conversations and mining the data. Follow hashtags for the audiences that your products appeal to, find the related hashtags and jump in. Get product feedback and reward your product’s evangelists by re-posting their messages. Segment users and experiment with products that allow for one-to-one messaging, like Twitter Tailored Audiences or Facebook Custom Audiences. This is inherently social marketing, but it is really mobile marketing because conversations across the country and with mobile delivering users relevant local content is everything.

2) Dive into environments: Event venues, retail stores and physical locations can now be outfitted in technology that tell us what devices people are carrying, as well as the frequency and latency of visitors, and can integrate with mobile apps to make integrated messaging experiences. As marketers, we can now learn about our shoppers in real-time, gleaning insights into what we are doing right in our retail environment and what we need to change.

How do marketers get involved? By picking a location, whether it is a retail location, sponsorship activation or event. Find a partner and run a test that has minimal risk. Develop a hypothesis and analyze the data you collect to determine if you can validate it.

3) Dive into audiences: Mobile audiences have different content requirements and are fickle, attention-starved and easily distracted. This can be a marketers’ dream if content is presented at the right location and time. Imagine being in a lineup for a Fashion Week event last week in Toronto and being given a sneak peek at the collection you can browse on your device. Imagine sitting in a concert theatre after your favourite show and walking away with a song that has been pushed to your device so you can remember the experience days later.

How do marketers get involved? By developing test and learn programs. Pick some key segments that are priorities to your business and run experiments to see what types of messaging threads work best with them. Hopefully you’ll have some data to inform these messages, but with the tests in place you can learn, optimize and improve.

Now more than ever consumers are telling us what they are interested in and what delights them, all from the device they love the best.

Canada the Petri dish: blog

This article was originally published by Media in Canada on September 2, 2014

by David Jowett

A few years ago, Tony Chapman, formerly of Capital C, asked of Canada, “Why can’t we be a petri dish to the world? Leverage our multicultural society, our access to most of the head offices in the world, our shared border with the US, and be a test market for new management models, new product innovations, perfecting them so that these multinationals can then fast-track them around the world?”

He recently re-raised the same sentiment, adding, “The market is as complex and competitive as any, yet the cost and risks to experiment are arguably less. All that is holding us back are our legacy beliefs.”

It is 18 months since I got here from the UK, and I have to say I agree with him, especially when I look through my media and advertising lens. Not only does Canada have the incredible conditions outlined above, but beyond that, it feels like Canada is the “right” size, and in advertising and media terms it has the ability to test and control across regions. A truly multi-media test in Ontario can be run with virtually no overspill into other provinces, allowing us to read results more cleanly than in many markets around the world. Lastly, I think Canada sits at a cultural and economic inflection point somewhere between Europe and the US. What better place to test product of any kind for expansion into either geography?

So if the conditions are so great, why does deep and breakthrough innovation not happen more systematically? Why do we not have a long history of Ford, Apple, Twitter, Google, Amazon and Netflix. Why does so little content that originates in Canada spread beyond our border? Why do we not lead the world in media innovation?

Is it legacy beliefs as Chapman suggest? Is it the sheer scale of the country? You are all better placed than a recently embedded Brit to take an insightful view on that.

Having said that, what I do passionately believe is that structural innovation is starting to happen in the Canadian media and technology scene.

There is a vibrant tech scene in Montreal, with such players as AdGear, Mirego, Nexalogy and Seevibes, all of which are supercharged by McGill. Meanwhile Ontario has the MaRS Innovation unit and the Communitech Hub in Kitchener which fuels tech startups like Performance Content Group and Brainsights.

At Cossette we introduced our Lab that is designed to help incubate the growth of tech-related startups. Culturally we also encourage risk taking, we embrace the “fail fast and reapply” philosophy that many organizations cannot.

Why do we do it? To be the best partners for our clients in navigating this extraordinary landscape. Because one thing is certain, whatever steps we take, the consumer is embracing the technology revolution the fastest.

So let’s go on a ride, not a reckless one, just a speedy one, to become the number one exporters of media technology solutions in the world.

David Jowett is president of Vision7 Media

PCG Building Content Marketing Engine with Government Grant

This article was originally published by Marketing on August 26, 2014

New platform to help marketers improve their social and content marketing campaigns as they go

by Jeff Fraser

Performance Content Group has received a grant from the National Research Council to develop a self-service platform that anaylzes consumer data and provides real-time recommendations for content and social marketing.

The Toronto-based analytics startup, founded last year by serial entrepreneurs Mike Girgis and Deborah Hall, consults with brands and agencies on custom content for earned and owned media channels. By analyzing first party and social data, PCG is able to identify brands’ target audiences, and figure out what they’re showing interest in at any given moment. Based on those interests, it recommends topics for marketers to build content around.

“One of the struggles that media agencies and brands are having is, what content should they provide? What’s their audience interested in, and what’s relevant and engaging for all their different audiences and brands?” said Jake Neiman, CFO, COO and co-founder of PCG. “Our algorithm crunches a whole bunch of different factors and variables to determine what content and information best engages with that audience. We take a scientific approach to content production.”

Earlier this summer, the company landed Vision7 as a client and, last winter, worked with Starcom Mediavest and AOL to develop a content platform for Mondelez brands on Toronto’s subway communications network.

Now, the company plans to use its technology to build a standardized, self-serve content recommendation engine that anyone can license. Marketers will be able to choose an audience and channel, and it will identify people, places, activities and events that those audiences are interested in, based on real-time data it collects.

Once a campaign is underway, the platform will evaluate the performance of the brand’s content based on consumer interactions like social shares and conversions. Neiman said the combined recommendations and analytics will create a “feedback loop” to help marketers improve their campaigns as they go.

To build the platform, PCG realized it would need to invest heavily in talent — but rather than seeking venture capital, Neiman took the unusual approach of applying for government funding. Last week the company was approved for a grant from the NRC’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP), which supports small-business innovation.

Neiman said the application process is complex and requires some finesse that can only be gained through experience, which may be why more marketing tech startups haven’t taken that route. He and co-founder Girgis gained familiarity with the process at their former startup, Onestop Media, where they applied for and received similar research grants.

“We had to prove to them that the technology we’re building is proprietary, patentable, and commercially viable,” he said. “It’s an extremely sophisticated process,” similar to being evaluated for VC funding, he added.

The company must meet strict ongoing requirements, including regular financial disclosures, and can only use the funding for staffing costs, rather than capital expenses.

PCG can’t discuss the exact amount, but Neiman said the money was “invaluable” for bringing in the computer engineers to build the platform. So far PCG has used the funds to bring on two full-time engineers and a project manager, and Neiman said more hires are in the works. The platform is expected to launch later this year.

Performance Content Group Wins Federal Funding

This article was originally published by Media in Canada on August 25th

by Val Maloney

Performance Content Group (PCG) has been awarded funding from the National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP).

Jake Neiman, CFO and COO at PCG, tells MiC he can’t disclose the amount of funding the brand has received, but says it was awarded to the company so it could create new advertising innovations to simplify the way marketers use real-time data in their content marketing strategies.

The money is being used to ramp up staffing at the company, including the addition of Michael Campagnaro as senior systems developer, Kyu Lee as software architect of data science and Janey Lee as project manager.

PCG recently signed a deal with Vision7 to provide the network’s clients with real-time digital insights into consumer behaviour.

My Banana Had a QR Code. And You Won’t Believe What it Told Me.

by Paul Cowan

I was going to enjoy my daily potassium and vitamin B intake the other day and I couldn’t help but notice that my banana has a QR code on it. Normally, I would ignore the sticker on the banana and proceed with peeling it, but that day I felt entirely inquisitive.

Now I have to credit Dole for taking advantage of this unique packaging opportunity to deliver marketing messages. I can’t say that I have seen much on fruit advertising lately, but this is right up there with ‘back-of-parking-receipt’ ads and ‘dry-cleaner hanger’ ads in terms of media innovation.

After being told by Dole that this banana is great on the grill and that I should “Peel the love”, I was wondering what lay behind that QR code? Grilling recipes? Some sort of NSFW banana stripping game? My mind was racing…

So I snapped a shot of the QR code and was whisked away to here: www.dolefoodservice.com/bananas. And this is where I question what marketers are thinking when they launch a bunch of tactics like this.

I hit the Dole website and was greeting by their Labor Day promotion. They get points for integration, as they clearly were able to integrate the “Peel the love” program, in both on-banana advertising as well as online.

Intrigued, I continued to scroll and found out more about the promotion, albeit the tour dates had long passed and were not locally relevant given my location being in Toronto, Canada. I’ll give the marketing team the benefit of the doubt and blame the distribution centre for shipping the wrong crate of bananas. Still, there was nothing for me to action.

I continued scrolling and came across some recipes, which I was kind of expecting, but to my surprise, there weren’t any grilling recipes featured! Kind of a let down I actually was wondering how to grill bananas. Their sticker had me intrigued, but didn’t close the deal.

There is clearly a lot of effort here and Dole is doing a lot right. Mobile. Check! QR Code. Check! Content Marketing. Check! Integration. Check! But I wondered what the objectives of this program were? Continue my banana loyalty? Get me deeper engaged in Dole as my beloved banana provider?

The challenge is the continuity with the overall experience. I took the time and made the effort and it delivered me info that wasn’t relevant to me and didn’t give me any additional value.

In today’s day and age of attention deficient consumers, providing the tightest experience possible is paramount. Guide me, step-by-step and give me more value along the way. I need rewards, not hurdles.

The banana was eaten. Straight up.

What Content Marketers Can Learn from Mom Publishers

This article was originally published by Strategy Online on July 18th

By Paul Cowan

If you are in the content marketing game, you know that the constant quest to link your products to a relevant story du jour is a challenging feat.

So who can we learn from? Media companies targeting moms.

The mom blog phenomenon from a few years back revealed how individuals can build scale through publishing relevant content to their networks. They were scrappy, working on small (or no) budgets, distributing through multiple channels and super-focused on building from the grassroots up.

The category matured and bloggers aggregated into properties, and now we are in the second wave of this category with organizations like Yummymummyclub.ca, Savvymom.ca, and Urbanmoms.ca being the dominant players. They aren’t blogs. They aren’t traditional publishers. They are digital lifestyle marketers that have purely digital blogging roots. We can learn a lot from them.

I analyzed their Facebook activity to see if I could understand how these marketers were leveraging social for engagement. Overall they average a 0.1% engagement rate on their Facebook posts. While this may not be a huge engagement rate, they all post a lot, often up to five times a day. The key here is that they post frequently, they test and they learn. They are more focused on overall engagement and the relationship with their audiences instead of getting myopically focused on metrics in our data-obsessed marketing world. They know their audience.

When you look at some of the best performing posts, they are clearly telling relevant stories that their audiences are interested in. Here is the top performing post for Yummymummyclub.ca. It is primary content from the site, with a compelling visual and topic that is directly relevant to the audience.

The top performing post for Savvymom.ca is primary content from the site with more of a niche topic.

I asked Erica Ehm, creator and publisher of Yummymummyclub.ca, for her take on how brands can improve their content:

“The ultimate goal for any piece of content, branded or otherwise, is to engage the reader and elicit some sort of reaction from them. While brands are keen on having a lot of brand placement in integrated content, we find that less brand and more story and/or useful information for the reader is more effective in engaging the readers. Nobody likes to feel like they’re being sold to. But they do like feeling valued; that their connection to your brand is meaningful.”

So here is my take on what brands can learn:

Focus on context

This is where these organizations excel. They know their audience because they are their audience and can provide the best context for the target’s life. Marketers need to contextualize their communications in more relevant ways. The increased time people are spending on digital, mobile and social channels have made attention more challenging. The competition is not companies; it’s baby videos, foodie pictures and cat memes.

Network, network, network

One of the biggest assets these organizations have is their network, as this is what these companies spawned from. They also spend a good deal of time building out their corporate network. They are actively posting multiple times a day and are re-posting others’ material, something that is often overlooked by brand marketers. Understanding and analyzing a brand’s social network is key to gaining a solid understanding of similar brands and potential partnership marketing opportunities that should exist.

Capitalize on real-time data

The constant feedback loop is critical. Mom-focused media companies are great at understanding what works and continually testing to improve performance. There are a variety of new ways that marketers can capture and collect data on a more real-time basis. From harvesting browsing patterns and collecting mobile and social data, digital footprints are offering unprecedented views into what people’s likes, interest and intents are.

How Beacons Can Beckon Buyers

This article was originally published on Media in Canada on July 29, 2014

by Josh Kolm

With HBC announcing the implementation of beacons in five of its stores, the proximity mobile technology has hit mass-market retailers in Canada.

The use of beacons is a newer phenomenon globally and, aside from a few one-off showcases, this is the first time they’ve been used in Canada on a mass-market level. That doesn’t mean the Canadian market is lagging behind other countries like the US, since getting the physical beacon technology is not where the challenge lies – it’s in how they are utilized, according to Neil Sweeney, president and CEO of Juice Mobile.

“[The US market is] not that far ahead because they’re suffering the same challenges,” he tells MiC. “The analytic platform still isn’t as tight as it should be because there is no common framework, and you need that for the technology to be successful because that’s how you work with consumers on scale.”

Deborah Hall, CEO of the Performance Content Group, says having a flagship Canadian retailer put a big push behind beacons is a step towards getting more companies involved and having those analytic issues resolved.

“For anyone that is on the fence, I certainly think this would convince them to try it out, at least on a pilot basis,” she says. “I really think this is really what we’ve been waiting for. It’s the other half of the ecosystem talking back and giving the ability to apps to be smarter than they’ve ever been.”

Hall says what is exciting to her from a media perspective about beacons is the ability to create a fully-rounded data picture of consumers by combining it with other data, which had previously been less robust in brick-and-mortar environments compared to the digital marketplace. Proximity data could be combined with data from apps or Google searches to serve specific ads to consumers, but could also be used by retailers to measure how many shoppers see which displays in which parts of a store.

“The beacons tell a certain amount, but you need to tell the whole story,” she says. “We’re going to see a whole programmatic shift in terms of the messages being served, and beacons can provide a lot of extra layers in the consumer picture.”

Juice has also been working on doing more proximity marketing since its acquisition of Gauge Mobile in January. Sweeney says the interest is going to be there for any technology that can provide more accurate targeting, but companies have to do something that provides interest for the consumer as well.

“The data we’ve compiled says that two-thirds of people [in Canada] are willing to receive notifications on their phone that are location-aware and relevant,” he says. “But that’s only if there is value for individuals and if you give an offer that’s appealing.”

Hall says one of the ways to get consumers to the new tech is for companies to push for the integration of beacons into apps other than their own.

“I think you’ll see mobile apps that everyone already has being beacon-capable, and not just the store apps – social apps, utility apps or even games that are on everyone’s phone. Imagine something like Candy Crush being able to deliver things to consumers that are valuable to a brand.”

Hall says PCG has been working with clients who do not have their own apps on pilot projects that will allow them to use beacons to deliver programmatic messages and utilize the full scope of data.

With beacons, users need to have the Bluetooth receiver on their device on and opt-in to receive messages. Sweeney says the way around this is to make it known to consumers that they will be given something of value by accepting these messages, but Hall says whatever drop-off there is with the layers of access beacons need, it will still be less than those seen with coupons and loyalty card programs.

“Instead of a coupon market that’s built on consumers not taking advantage of deals, they now get to know about them and get reminded of them with beacons,” she says. “I think there’s a real value proposition in the convenience of being able to get these deals easier.”

A recent example of beacon use from the US came from Hillshire Brands partnering with American media buyer BPN and using InMarket’s Mobile to Mortar network of beacons for a campaign promoting its American Craft Link Sausages in 10 US cities from April to June. IPG Mediabrands reported that consumers exposed to the messaging through one of InMarket’s app partners were 20 times more likely to make a purchase than those who weren’t, a 500% increase compared to a typical mobile ad for a CPG brand, which usually makes consumers three to four times more likely to purchase. Hillshire received a 36% boost in awareness for the American Craft brand as a result of the three-month campaign, hitting 6,000 user engagements within the first 48 hours.

Chris Hiland, chief growth officer at BPN, says BPN will take its results to one of its Canadian affiliates for a CPG campaign to be announced in the near future.

What’s a Data-Driven Creative Director?

This article was originally published on Media in Canada on July 23rd, 2014

by Val Maloney

Audience intelligence and content analytics firm Performance Content Group (PCG) has announced the addition of Justin Sanders to the team as its creative director.

Deb Hall, CEO and co-founder of PCG, tells MiC that Sanders will be acting as a data-driven creative director, aiming to take the traditional agency role and apply it to technology. Prior to joining PCG, Sanders worked as founder and creative director at Little Room Inc.

“We want to reframe how we use data and make it useful for creative,” Hall says. “Creative professionals that invest more time with data are not only able to create more insight-driven work but can use their amazing skills of improvisation to react to the data and combine with creative. Campaigns no longer live or die based on the survey approach but are informed all day long by data.”

Part of the aim of adding Sanders to the team is to help PCG win a Lion in next year’s rumoured inaugural award in the data and creativity category.

PCG recently signed a deal with Vision7 to provide clients with real-time digital insights into consumer behaviour.

Social And Mobile Data Can Fuel Programmatic: PCG’s Hall

This interview was originally published on Beet.TV on June 25rd, 2014 by Robert Andrews and on The Huffington Post by Andy Plesser on June 26th, 2014.

CANNES, France — “We’re trying to be the data layer for the new era of creativity in tech,” according to Deborah Hall, according to Deborah Hall, who co-founded Toronto-based Performance Content Group late last year.

According to Hall, programmatically-traded online ad spots can be informed by social and mobile audience cues just as much as by conventional targeting characteristics.

“We can get so much audience data out of the social graph and use it across channels,” she says. “We can leverage what works on Twitter on programmatic platforms. We can layer beacon data with social data in new ways to prove brands an understanding.”

Performance Content Group’s technology integrates with Twitter and media agencies’ programmatic platforms.

She spoke with Beet.TV during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Please find more coverage of the festival here.