Browsing articles from "March, 2013"

Why good news is shared more than bad news

Mar 27, 2013   //   by admin   //   Media blog  //  7 Comments

by David Silverberg

Which will go viral – a news article on an intriguing Mars discovery or one on a divorce between two actors? Some might think celebrity news will be shared by readers more often than the space report, but it’s the opposite, says author Jonah Berger.

When we care, we share. That’s how Berger summarizes his analysis of news articles and their shareabability in his new book Contagious: Why Thinks Catch On. The social psychologist from the University of Pennsylvania provides conclusive evidence that positive awe-inspiring news is more likely to be shared than negative news, no matter the category.

A story with emotion will compel a reader to share it with friends, Berger says in an interview. “And my research found the main driver to emotional sharing is arousal. It gets our heart beating quicker. It makes us excited…and want to tell our friends about how we’re feeling.”

For example, emotional stories can be about newcomers falling in love in NYC, Berger says, or they can focus on a new discovery in the Milky Way. How are they linked? Arousal. Awe. Both make us stroke our chin and think “Oh, never thought of that before.”

On the other hand, a story about a celebrity doing something outrageous or an obit of a popular writer might not evoke that same emotion. Sure, we might feel some sadness reading that obit, but it won’t be a strong emotion if we don’t feel close to that individual.

To come to this conclusion, Berger and his colleague Katherine Milkman analyzed the “most e-mailed” list on the New York Times website for six months, controlling for factors like how much display an article received in different parts of the homepage.

One of their first ah-ha moments came when they noticed articles and columns in the Science section were much more likely to make the list than non-science articles. Science reports made readers wonder about the mysterious…and mystery gets us talking and sharing.

“The sequester news might be important but it doesn’t arouse us,” Berger explains. “But UFO news isn’t affecting our lives but it can be quite remarkable and get people sharing it.”

In his book, Berger cites the Susan Boyle example. When the Britain’s Got Talent underdog took the stage and began singing her breath-taking song, “it was not only moving, it’s awe-inspiring. And that emotion drove people to pass it on.” We love the unexpected, and we think others should be in the same state of awe as we are.

But not just any strong emotion boosts sharing. Happiness or contentment didn’t encourage others to share articles, Berger found. A positive review of a Broadway play may evoke happiness in the reader, but it wasn’t interesting enough to be shared. Feeling relaxed or content may make us smile, but it doesn’t speed up our heart rate. It doesn’t evoke strong emotions.

Anger, though, can be a strong motivation to share a news article. Anger is high-arousal and gets us sharing our feelings with friends and family. Ever had a terrible experience with your cellphone provider? Didn’t you want to share your experience with others? When we get angry, we are aroused; when we’re aroused, we want the world to hear us through our online megaphone.

Berger found adding more arousal to a story can have a major impact on people’s willingness to share it. When his team changed details of a story to evoke more anger, that fury lead to more sharing. “Adding these emotions boosted transmission by boosting the amount of arousal the story…evoked,” he writes in Contagious.

Predicting buzz has scientific roots. This New York Times article looked at a particular brain region associated with social cognition — thoughts about other people.

“If those regions lighted up when something was heard, people were more likely to talk about the idea enthusiastically, and the idea would keep spreading,” the article found.

“You’d expect people to be most enthusiastic and opinionated and successful in spreading ideas that they themselves are excited about,” says Dr. Emily Falk, who led research on this topic. “But our research suggests that’s not the whole story. Thinking about what appeals to others may be even more important.”

This article was originally published in Digital Journal [Link]

Future of Media 2013 recap: Branded content wooing brands, media

Mar 15, 2013   //   by admin   //   Blog, Media blog  //  5 Comments

Branded content, or content marketing, could save journalism from its financial precipice while also giving brands a 24/7 strategy to entice new fans, the audience heard at the recent Future of Media event in Toronto’s Drake Hotel.

Digital Journal hosted an insightful panel discussion on the role of branded content both in journalism and the brand communities. Taking place March 14 at Toronto’s Drake Hotel, the Future of Media talk invited respected speakers to offer their perspective on a topic on the tips of many tongues.Speakers included: Josh Sternberg, reporter at digital media news outlet Digiday; Steve Ladurantaye, media reporter at the Globe & Mail; Joseph Barbieri, former VP Content Solutions at TC Transcontinental and on the board of directors for the Custom Content Council in New York City; and Sabaa Quao, Chief Marketing Officer of Digital Journal Inc. and co-founder of /newsrooms.

The theme of the night looked at branded content’s increased visibility while also touching on the challenges news outlets and brands face when adopting a content marketing strategy.Hosted by Digital Journal editor-in-chief David Silverberg, the event began with a broad question on how branded content should be positioned in today’s branded marketplace. Ladurantaye quickly said it’s not a matter of if brands and media should adopt branded content but to what extent. “Brands are producing content at the speed of digital,” Sternberg also noted.

The conversation quickly turned to the controversy over The Atlantic giving the Church of Scientology a branded piece of content. Sternberg said the client’s polarizing nature may have raised the ire of readers, but he stressed the content was clearly marked as sponsored, so why the big deal?

Branded content is an essential revenue stream to fund the rest of journalism,” Ladurantaye added.

So who’s doing it right, the panel was asked? Quao said, “Brands and ad agencies aren’t built to create custom content efficiently or effectively,” but pointed out how Red Bull is winning acclaim for their content marketing work. He liked the Red Bull Stratos project, a space diving event involving Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner. “At this point Red Bull is a media company, they produce so much content,” Quao added.

“It’s not exactly media, but Rogers has a relationship with L’Oreal. Very seamless and profitable,” Ladurantaye said.

A veteran in the content marketing space, Barbieri said brands don’t need to try to be media. “They just need to borrow the talents and skill sets journalists have,” he added.Next the panel discussed the positioning of user-generated content in branded stories, and Quao said, “It’s free and random, but it’s mostly bad.”

Sternberg agreed, saying the cream will always rise to the top, and curation by skilled editors is still needed to find the right content from ambassadors and users.

Quality work comes from professionals, the panelists stressed.

Next the issue of journalists finding work in branded content businesses became a hot topic, with Ladurantaye saying if he were out of a job tomorrow, he would write for a company in a second. He got laughs but was he joking?

Ladurantaye then added, “Working for a brand isn’t being a journalist: it’s just using journalistic skills. It’s PR.”

Quao countered by saying what Ford creates on its site could be considered journalism since it’s offering value to readers. Sternberg expressed some disbelief, saying, “Would you really go to that source when all they write about is Ford cars?”

“Producing branded content isn’t out of the question for journalists. But don’t call it journalism,” Ladurantaye argued. “Brands respect the audience as human beings, said Barbieri. “They see opportunity to use the skills journalists have.”

Quao agreed by saying the flexibility and nimble nature of newsrooms gives brands some inspiration to emulate. Sternberg wasn’t agreeing, saying brands and news outlet are two distinct entities who shouldn’t learn from each other.

Ladurantaye voiced concern that brands would be confusing the issue by giving journalism free reign in their content marketing spaces, instead of calling it like it is: PR with a fancy name. “Journalism is about balance, getting two sides of a story and this branded content stuff is nothing like that.”

Follow the money, Sternberg added to this point. Who is paying for what? Who has control over a writer’s stories?

So what can brands learn from news media? Quao said, “Look at how news breaks, how stories form…things can often be messy but that’s OK.”

But real-time coverage exposes serious risks, Ladurantaye said. In the Red Bull space-diving example, what if Felix’s face had melted during that jump?

Brands are not held to the same standard as correcting mistakes as media outlets have been, Sternberg said. Discussing how businesses can stand out in a busy content marketplace, Barbieri said, “It’s not just about selling something. It’s about engagement, discussion, brand reputation.”

Brand that invest in people, process and quality will succeed. That was the overarching message from this topic, the audience heard.

he panel then agreed brands and publishers were slow to shift resources and effective branded content to mobile, despite social media giants recognizing the value of that space. Sternberg said Facebook makes $4 million a day off mobile advertising.

Quao and Sternberg agreed design isn’t getting enough attention by companies engaged in this field. Sternberg predicted design upgrades will be a key priority for forward-thinking businesses.

The Future of Media event ended with resounding applause, but don’t take our word for it. Check out the tweets below to see what attendees were saying about the discussion:

Future of Media 2013 Speaker Bio: Joseph Barbieri

Mar 14, 2013   //   by admin   //   Blog, Future of Media 2013  //  No Comments

Joseph Barbieri is Founder & President, BESPOKE Group Inc. and he sits on the Board of Directors of the Custom Content Council.

A marketing industry leader and expert in content marketing, Joseph brings more than 20 years of business development, marketing, media, advertising, publishing and executive leadership experience. His talent for growing relationships across multiple business categories has resulted in successful working relationships with global and North American blue-chip clients like P&G, GIECO, Bank of America, Aeroplan (AIMIA), Century21, Scotiabank, Mazda International, Sobeys, Canadian Tourism Commission, GM, Sotheby’s, L’Oreal, Kroger, Kraft Foods, Coca-Cola, Sears and more.

Joseph was responsible for securing one of North America’s largest branded media programs for P&G Beauty reaching 11 million consumers in Canada and the United States. Joseph’s accomplishments also include the launch of the GEICO NOW custom media program to 11 million customers across the U.S., and he took a lead role in the development and launch of the Mazda Zoom Zoom Global CRM program that reached nine countries in five languages, including the UK, U.S., Canada, Germany, Spain, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and in South America.

Joseph Barbieri is the former Senior Vice President Marketing & Business Development at Totem Brand Stories and Javelin Custom Publishing, and VP Content Solutions at TC Transcontinental. Under Joseph’s leadership Totem Brand Stories (formerly RedwoodCC) grew from a team of 12 to over 170 with over $60 million in revenues, making it a North American category leader. Joseph is an Ominicom alumnus, managing North American and global collaboration with executive leaders within the agency network, including; BBDO, Proximity, Integer, Fleishman Hilliard, Targetbase, Interbrand and more. He was responsible for RedwoodCC’s rebranding effort and the launch of the Totem brand, and played a key M&A role to support the acquisition of Totem by TC. Transcontinental Inc., a leading North American marketing communications company with more than $2.2 billion in annual revenues.

Follow him on Twitter at @JosephBarbieri

Future of Media Preview: Q&A with /newsroom’s Sabaa Quao

Mar 7, 2013   //   by admin   //   Media blog  //  1 Comment

by David Silverberg

In our final Future of Media preview Q&A, we spoke to Sabaa Quao, Chief Marketing Officer of Digital Journal Inc. and co-founder of /newsrooms. Quao has managed teams dedicated to the future of marketing and advertising, and he’ll join the decorated panel at the upcoming Future of Media discussion on March 14 in Toronto.

Quao boasts extensive marketing experiences, having helped launch of the Toronto Raptors and Playdium Entertainment, rebranded the CN Tower and the Directors Guild of Canada, and led special projects for Toronto International Film Festival Group, Nortel Networks, Roots, RBC Royal Bank, Levi’s, Bell Mobility, Rogers Communications, The Beer Store, GlaxoSmithKline, McCain Foods, Corona, Coca-Cola, and Jack Daniel’s.

In this interview, he discussed why brands should embrace “continuous marketing,” why analyzing marketing performance is now more important than ever and the major mistakes companies make in their content marketing initiatives:

You’ve worked in marketing and advertising for years, so explain how that world has changed over the past several years and what trends are emerging in this space, specifically in digital.

Quao: Marketing and advertising has always managed to keep at pace with or slightly ahead of “culture”. That was until the pace of technology outpaced the capacity for people and agencies to keep up. So the agencies, I think, have to pick their battles and stop claiming to be able to do it all. Not only does the claim ring hollow, some won’t recover from the failure when they try. Rather than go it alone, I think the best creative and marketing teams will learn to collaborate like mad. From those collaborations, the unique combinations that arise will pleasantly surprise the clients, their audiences, and event the agencies themselves.

The other emerging reality of agencyland and marketing outputs is the hell that arises from everything digital being measurable. There’s no escaping it. The verification of marketing performance is never, ever, ever going away. Deal with it. By no means am I implying that one should give in to everything being measured — the best creative directors and marketers are going to know when to ignore the numbers at the front end and still deliver the right results at the back end.

What brands are at the forefront of branded content or content marketing? What lessons can they teach other companies?

Quao: Coke and Red Bull are the two brands that come to mind. At the Coke end, their extremely well-articulated vision of content marketing is the most coherent I’ve seen and heard. Everyone can learn from that.

At the Red Bull end, the consistency of their adrenaline content is remarkable and the word that comes to mind is actually “patience.” There’s no trendy fast decision to “Hey, let’s have a guy jump from space”. There’s patience in nurturing relationships to eventually end up dominating the Dakar rally. This all points to the long view Red Bull has around their chosen content.

When it comes to analytics and ROI, how can brands best take advantage of branded content and social media campaigns and get the best bang for their buck? What should they be looking for after specific campaigns?

Quao: Every campaign offers the opportunity to learn something new. It’s always worth diving into the quirks and patterns that emerge from a completed campaign. The best bang for the buck then comes from doubling down on new directions. This is a remarkably consistent way for our /newsrooms team to find new audiences. The next campaign invariably adds communities and audiences to the mix whom we’d never known were relevant before until we looked at the sparks that emerged from a prior campaign.

Should brands become publishers? What type of brand is best suited in becoming a CNN for their product?

Quao: No, brands should not become publishers, it’s not their core business. At the same time, brands must realize that they have no choice but to publish. A paradox.

Rather than try to become CNN or BBC World News, brand should collaborate with entities that can operationally run that race. A generation ago, did brands build their own television or film studios? No, they did not. But the collaboration with television and film producers got brands credibly into many forms of branded content.

What’s the future of content marketing? It’s a buzz word today but where do you see it five years from now, say?

Quao: Content marketing won’t go away. I don’t think it’s a buzz word. However, it’s a subset of the more important wave called “continuous marketing”. The audience is always on, the social media channels are always always open.

As a result, there needs to be considerable thought put to finding ways for the marketing machine to never turn off. Content becomes one of the steady inputs, but the data crunching and testing, the perpetual co-creation, the software-driven responses and productions, and more are all going to be around too.

Explain the most common mistake by brands diving into social media and how they can avoid making this mistake again.

Quao: The most common mistake brands can make is to fall into the same tired and meaningless social media industry clichés. If I hear another social media flak advise brands to be authentic, I’m going to gag. Instead brands should have some courage to step into the darkness. Alone. They need to feel their way around, and come out of the darkness with something new to say and do. And some of it won’t work. These aren’t “mistakes”, it’s sometimes just stuff that didn’t work. Get over it. Move on. And the brand teams don’t always need to step out with something radical that the organization can’t sustain or absorb. There’s room for gentle and reasonable innovation.

The other mistake I sometimes hear is the notion that one must hand the brand over to the consumer because that’s what the consumer wants. Really? I don’t think a brand should ever entertain that thought. Instead, think like a platform. Hand over a framework or a sandbox that the consumer can step into and collaborate with. There’s a big difference, that’s not handing over the keys to the shop.


The upcoming Future of Media event will take place Thursday, March 14, 2013 at Toronto’s Drake Hotel Underground (1150 Queen Street West) at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m. and admission is free and open to the public. Note: Seating is limited so it will be first-come, first-served. Previous events have hit capacity very quickly so early arrival is highly recommended.

For other Future of Media Q&As, go to our interviews with:
Digiday’s Josh Sternberg
Buzzfeed’s Jonathan Perelman
Globe & Mail Steve Ladurantaye