How Ayzenberg Is Adapting To Full-Time Teleworking

(Editor’s note: AList is published by

For the most part, organizations can’t control the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. They can, however, control the way their teams respond to it. It’s now critical for companies to tighten operations and develop work-from-home protocols that meet their businesses’ and workers’ needs with the nuances of virtual communication in mind. To understand how brands are adapting to this new normal, vice president of operations at Ayzenberg Jon Simon shares insight into how the is staying organized, maintaining communication and re-creating office culture while teleworking.

What are some of the challenges that Ayzenberg is facing right now as a result of working from home?

For our business, our needs are exactly as we started: the core of communication and collaboration for the purpose of creation. Because this process optimizes the ability to make a connection and build something really beautiful, effective and impactful, the biggest challenge as a result of teleworking has been to shift our mindset and our practices of how we collaborate and how we communicate with each other. You can’t put a price on human to human connection and so right now we’re figuring out how to leverage technology to maintain the same integrity of communication.

What are some tools the teams at Ayzenberg are using while working from home?

The core of our operation is built on Microsoft products, specifically Outlook for email and calendar management, Microsoft Office for productivity and documentation, Excel for everything from budget management to accounting and operation and PowerPoint for presentation of the content. So even before the coronavirus pandemic, the core was already there for us to accomplish a lot of our goals.

We actually had started using Slack during its early days of launch as an additional communications platform and soon realized that we already had integrated Teams into our ecosystem. We were able to make a very easy transition because we found that Teams was able to carry the majority, if not all, of the functionality that Slack had and integrate into the system. So integration is a key aspect here.

Asana and Trello specifically as it relates to project management allow us to lay out actual project and creative briefs so that everyone is working towards the same goals and against the same requirements.

Additionally, Workamajig, which ties together our project management, resource management and accounting needs for the business, is another key platform that represents a majority of what every employee is having touch points with multiple times a day. 

Workamajig and Paycom also work very much in concert, bringing together human resources, payroll and agency operations. Time entry helps inform the business to the performance of the teams, which helps us look for opportunities where added support is needed or adjustments to the best business is necessary to accommodate the work that we have in front of us now as well as projected opportunities.

Our teams are using a number of other platforms which fill specialty needs, such as Wiredrive for large file transfers; for creativity, the Adobe Creative Cloud and the virtual Whiteboard built into Teams; Autodesk or C4D, which are very specific to the computer graphics and animation work that goes into a lot of the content through which brands tell their stories.

How can teams ensure they’re making the most out of these tools while teleworking?

Most people are probably only using 10 or 20 percent of what these tools have to offer. I encourage a lot of curiosity to experiment with the tools, which could result in new ways to use features that perhaps even the developers didn’t imagine people would use.

While Teams was already at the core of what we were using for both short form communication like video conferencing and screen sharing, we definitely have encouraged deeper learning and have shared information and guides.

Are there any tools Ayzenberg has adopted only recently as a result of the pandemic?

While we were prepared for COVID-19 and the impact it would have on our business as well as the entire world, no one can truly prepare for that massive of a shift in the way everybody’s working.

Before coronavirus a good number of our staff was actively working off site and remotely due to the amount of live activations we work on. We’re also moving into a culture where new generations are challenging the status quo of the way we’ve always thought of work. A lot of the traditions and the norms are being broken down and looked at in new ways.

The area we saw change and impact directly as a result of coronavirus is the depth of which we use these tools. As a result we’ve dug deeper into the full functionality of what these tools have to offer, which strengthens our use and ability to be productive.

Overcommunication in the time of coronavirus is critical not just on the brand to consumer side but also within an organization. Other than overcommunication, is there anything teams should be doing to make the most out of their teleworking situations?

What some don’t realize is the serendipity that happens within a physical work setting—the random interactions that you may have with other employees while away from your desk. Those random interactions can have a butterfly effect to an idea that might end up becoming a tentpole for the business for the next six months.

Working from home has made it a lot more difficult to have those in-person interactions so what you need to encourage is more of that group interaction in a digital space, even if it’s not for the purpose of a meeting.

We have teams that are creating virtual common spaces where they go to while taking a break or as they’re working through some of their either administrative tasks. This way they can keep a live open dialogue in the same way that they would if they were sitting in the same area of the office together. This open sharing mentality is a new habit to develop. Human interaction is so integral that you need to shift your mindset and be intentional about creating those types of environments. 

I have a firm belief that this shift in the way we work is going to result in a beautiful increase in the way that a company like ours will tell stories or a company like retail business will deliver end products to their customers.

Has Ayzenberg implemented any other new protocols since the onset of the pandemic?

The first would have to do with security. We have a responsibility to protect our clients’ IP, which is so valuable to what they offer to the marketplace. That’s very easy to control in a closed environment where you can mitigate all risk on any outside access to those servers. That no longer becomes an option once your employees work remotely.

So thinking about the products you use and making sure that they meet the security requirements for the needs of your business is paramount. While that’s always been a practice we’ve done pre-COVID-19, we are making an extra effort to remain a secure and effective partner.

The other aspect is encouraging communication and check-ins. We actually have our teams maintaining the same pace of check-ins because I think it’s part of what makes an environment that’s as agile and as collaborative as ours succeed. A constant flow of communication and visibility helps us maintain pace, effective management and support for everything that our workforce is attempting to do.

Do you think when the pandemic is over organizations could continue working from home full-time and still maintain efficiency?

Without question. If you ask anyone who works from home before all this, they’ll tell you they were able to be equally, if not more, productive. Now 100 percent of our workforce has experienced that for themselves. Exposure to this experience together opens our eyes to a brave new world, which is one where the physical and the virtual can coexist.
In addition to our North American offices, we’re operating with several global offices in Europe and Asia that help to service our clients and our partners. We now have this mindset that we’re operating with multiple local offices. Creating all these local offices increases the productivity and creativity and comfort of our staff. Beyond the business aspects, that equates to health and wellness benefits. The pandemic has made it so people can personalize the way they work in the same way one would personalize their social media page.

Why TikTok Will Dominate COVID-19 And Beyond

Originally published at AW360 by Jonathan Skogmo.

With young millennials and Gen Zers looking for a distraction from the ongoing COVID-19 situation, TikTok provides the perfect diversion with lip syncs, creative dance moves and hilarious clips. It’s no wonder many flock to the ByteDance-owned social media platform for endless, feel-good entertainment.

We’ve seen TikTok’s viral appeal gain global notoriety throughout 2019. Through short-content, easy-to-use editing tools, and even easier potential to go viral, TikTok attracts a young, active user base with 41 percent of users between the ages of 16 to 24 and 66 percent under the age of 30. While the majority of the initial user base is in China, TikTok is still growing throughout the United States and the rest of North America, as well as other parts of the world–and becoming a social distancing past time as many cope with staying indoors.

With over 1.7 billion all-time downloads, 145 million in the U.S., I believe this will be the year where TikTok will dominate and surpass other social media platforms.

The Current Landscape

I largely attribute TikTok’s success to two themes: its effortless user experience and individualistic atmosphere. Just about anyone can use TikTok–you can download the app and create your first post with two taps. Similar to Snapchat and Instagram Stories, TikTok’s short-form, vertical content is easier to produce than the longer-form content more common on other networks. It’s also easier to build a following since users can follow other accounts, publishers, hashtags and discover new creators intuitively.

Though hashtags aren’t a new trend in social media, TikTok is using them to create a highly engaging experience for users. With “Hashtag Challenges,” like the #FlipTheSwitch craze that has even JLo and Alex Rodriguez joining in, the platform has leveraged the hashtag to effectively create a shared viral experience that can’t be found elsewhere in social media. Further capitalizing on the discoverability of the platform to increase reach, TikTok even added the e-com feature, “Hashtag Challenge Plus,” which enables users to easily interact within the app and allows brands to even sponsor a specific hashtag.

The other key theme with the platform is that TikTok has created an atmosphere where its users feel comfortable being themselves. It’s not about the perfect appearance we’re accustomed to curating on other platforms. Rather, TikTok celebrates being your weird self, which is appealing to a generation where authenticity reigns as the gold standard.

The Opportunity

Just as college students are obsessed with TikTok, so are brands. When I was at CES, I couldn’t help but notice CMOs drooling over the opportunity to advertise on the platform. With a young, tech-savvy audience, TikTok is an attractive place where brands want to be. While the initial wave of early adopters is already on the platform, more brands will continue to jump on the bandwagon, which will drive more audiences and communities to migrate to TikTok, as well.
Just as every social media platform needs its own strategy, TikTok content needs to be differentiated from other platforms.

TikTok encompasses everything brands strive to be–relatable, raw and authentic. Posting a promotional video with a distinct call to action isn’t going to move the needle. Your content needs to be reflective of the audience. We’ve seen success on Jukin’s channels, People Are Awesome, FailArmy and The Pet Collective, by showing real authentic moments from people all over the world. I recommend showing the people behind your brand, rather than keeping your products center stage.

The #Challenge

No social media platform is without its challenges. Due to the young nature of the audience, there are huge concerns about privacy and exploitation. Not to mention, there have been rumblings about interest by the U.S. government since the app is owned by a Chinese-based parent company.

I expect we’ll see increased scrutiny around brand safety and community guidelines throughout 2020. Content strategy aside, I do believe this will be a concern for brands jumping into the platform. One such cause for concern is some dangerous Hashtag Challenges that have gained traction on the platform. Harmful viral stunts, such as the #SkullBreakChallenge, #OutletChallenge and one influencer trying to start a #CoronaChallenge, showcase the potential TikTok has to spread misinformation. There could also be concerns about targeting a younger crowd from an alcohol brand or even using music within the platform since the company still has a complicated legacy with music publishers and artists. Brand safety is of the utmost importance for marketers, and social media platforms haven’t always presented the most brand-safe options.

If brands can overcome the brand safety issues associated with TikTok, there still exists rudimentary advertising guidelines and a lack of ad targeting that will pose a threat. With more resources allocated to the platform’s ad offering, the hope is that this can be iterated on.

Regardless, 2020 will be the year brands embrace TikTok, whether in need of a social distraction or not. It’ll also be the year the platform opens up additional ways to monetize its audience. While TikTok has a number of ad products like launch page take-overs and sponsored hashtags, the company is working with brands and publishers around formats, campaigns and other initiatives to figure out paths towards better monetization. Who knows, maybe your brand could be the next viral star.

What We’re Reading–Week Of March 30th

We’ve searched for the most pressing marketing news so you don’t have to. Here’s what’s happening so far the week of March 30.

Wellness Brands Grapple With Advertising During Coronavirus

Wellness brands are navigating a delicate scenario of advertising the benefits of supplements during the current health crisis.

Why it matters: Claims made by wellness brands touting immunity-boosting supplements could toe the line, as the current crisis looms heavily on consumers, between reaching a growing contingent of potential consumers while avoiding deceptive marketing claims.

Influencers Have A Captive Audience During The Pandemic. But Can They Capitalise On It?
Business Of Fashion

“Influencers are discovering their party dresses and hair care don’t qualify as essential.”

Why it matters: Influencers may have the rapt attention of those on lockdown, but canceled partnerships, shuttered retailers and slumping sales are minimizing their impact.

‘Companies Are In Freeze Mode’: Coronavirus Crisis Strains Ad Tech Licensing Model

“A whole host of companies in the SaaS space are now seeing their new business pipelines evaporate, experts told Digiday.”

Why it matters: As CFOs scrutinize discretionary spending to brace for an economic downturn and events that could turn on new leads disappear from the landscape, the ad tech licensing model deserves a hard look.

Cannes Lions 2020 Cancelled As Organisers Hold Back Festival And Awards Until 2021
The Drum

While slated for an October postponement originally, the ad industry’s largest annual gathering, Cannes Lions 2020, has now been officially canceled.

Why it matters: Cannes Lions chairperson Philip Thomas remarked that the creative industry “simply isn’t in a position to put forward the work that will set the benchmark.”

Netflix’s ‘Tiger King’ Claws Its Way Into Brands’ Tweets

Ad Age

The cultural gravitational pull of Tiger King is proving inescapable on Twitter, even for brands.

Why it matters: Escapism is fully acceptable in times of crisis, and for coronavirus it would seem Tiger King is distraction number one. Here’s a roundup of brands commenting on the longstanding feud between Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin brought to life by the new Netflix series.

The Rise Of The Strategic CMO

Ad Age

The role of chief marketing officer has come to embody that of a strategic storyteller who spots trends and identifies narrative, a leader of collaborative efforts that ensures honest flow of communication and a revenue leader that effectively expresses insights internally and externally.

Why it matters: Chief marketing officers who use tools and opportunities brought on by technologies will be well placed to succeed.

What The Coronavirus Means For DTC Brands

Marketing Dive

According to Edison Trends, direct-to-consumer brand week-over-week spending dropped seven percent on average from March 2-22.

Why it matters: The coronavirus has disrupted operations for digitally native brands too, not just brick-and-mortars. How much cash these brands have available will better position some against the impacts of COVID-19.

What Happens To Sports Marketing Budgets Without Sports? 


Brands are pausing sponsorships for postponed events such as the Olympics, NFL and MLB but fear fans will be reluctant to visit crowded stadiums once the pandemic is over.

Why it matters: Sports marketers are repurposing their budgets to sponsorships to virtual sports and esports, allowing brands to reach a younger male demographic.

Why Marketers Should Focus On Audience To Navigate The New Normal


The coronavirus necessitates brands understand the fragmentation in customers’ attention and leverage addressable technology to continue creating personalized audience experiences.

Why it matters: Adopting an audience-first mentality will be key to connecting with today’s coronavirus-concerned consumers.

Americans Want Brands To Do Their Part Against Coronavirus, Then Advertise


The Harris Poll is surveying public sentiment about the coronavirus; the fifth wave of responses, polled Mach 28-30, show consumers want brands to stay relevant amid the pandemic and only advertise if they’ve directly addressed the situation. 

After things die down, 63 percent of respondents marked a willingness to go about their normal routines and 43 percent said they would visit restaurants by the first month post-pandemic.

Why it matters: Brands that acknowledge the crisis now will have a better chance of boosting brand perception in the long run

Council Post: Why Cause Marketing Matters More Now Than Ever Before


Brands that help consumers adapt and redesign their lives will establish themselves as the cornerstones of society’s “new normal.”

Why it matters: In light of the coronavirus pandemic, marketing with a cause is more important than ever because consumers don’t want to hear anything about a business unless it serves them.

Ensure That Your Customer Relationships Outlast Coronavirus

Harvard Business Review

To preserve customer relationships, small and large businesses alike can adopt the HEART framework to humanize their company, educate about change, assure stability, revolutionize offerings and tackle the future.

Why it matters: Leveraging a framework like HEART helps display to customers a company’s plan for supporting them–a critical aspect that should be overcommunicated during the coronavirus crisis.

Mitigating The Damage Of Mega-Event Cancellations Due To Coronavirus

Marketing Dive

Big industry events have been canceled for fear of coronavirus spreading and the trend is not slowing down, however, brands can create a disaster fallback plan.

Why it matters: Last-minute cancelations are causing major disruptions for new product launches including lost exposure and lost investments. 

NPD Shares How COVID-19 Is impacting Weekly Consumption Trends


Consumer behavior has changed from discretionary to necessity as a result of fear over the coronavirus pandemic, causing dollar growth to be flat in the week ending on March 14, according to NPD.

Why it matters: Companies that provide useful products or services as people work from home such as the consumer tech space, small appliances and products that help people pass the time will see growth.

‘Be Helpful’: How Marketers Are Adapting Their Messaging To A Fraught Environment


Marketers are shifting away from promotions or sales-driven messaging to cause-related and purpose-driven messaging.

Why it matters: Revising campaign messaging to reflect sensitivity and avoid promotional language requires a delicate balance that brands are still trying to figure out.

Consumers Are Putting Brands On Notice Over Coronavirus Behaviour, Study Finds

A special edition of the Edelman Trust Barometer suggests that how brands respond to the coronavirus pandemic will have a “huge impact” on consumers’ likelihood to buy their products.

Why it matters: “One in three respondents said they had already stopped using a brand that was not acting appropriately in response to the public-health crisis – a figure that rose to 76% of consumers in Brazil and 60% in India.”

What actions is your brand taking right now to gain consumer trust during the coronavirus crisis?

Reinventing The Direct-To-Consumer Business Model
Harvard Business Review

At its core, the DTC business model needs some TLC.

Why it matters: For DTC brands, “it is far harder to become a standout success in 2020 than it was in 2010,” mainly due to a crowded yet changed landscape, the limits of scaling using Instagram ads and influencers as well as the changing attitudes of investors.

Hasbro Supports Families Staying Indoors With New Online Resources
Marketing Dive

Hasbro launched a new content marketing program called Bring Home The Fun, which includes a social media campaign and charitable donations, aimed at parents looking for ways to keep their homebound children entertained during the nationwide lockdown.

Why it matters: As recent reports indicate, consumers expect brands to address the current crisis. Hasbro’s messaging speaks directly to parents coping with the impact of coronavirus in an authentic way: via their own employees who are also parents.

Making The Most Of Your Marketing Team During COVID-19

Forbes CMO Network contributor Christine Moorman shares a few tips to make the most of marketing teams during these uncertain times.

Why it matters: Disruptions like we’re experiencing should give team leaders pause. How are you changing your management style to adapt to this new reality?

Opinion: How Brands Treat Their Partners Now Will Have Consequences For Their Post-Pandemic Potential

Your decision-making process during this unprecedented period of upheaval should look to the future relationship you’ll have with your partners.

Why it matters: What used to be important is now essential. “Decisions driven by short-term expediency to unfairly off-load the costs of this disaster onto vendors and partners may seem easy now, but they will surely have consequences later.”

‘We’re All In This Together’? Why Brands Have So Little To Say In The Pandemic

Fast Company

Coronavirus induced changes in advertising tactics embody an overall message of, “We’re all in this together,” that also covers a combination of categories including action, information and support.

Why it matters: Brands struggling to respond to coronavirus should look to the latest social media posts and television ads of Hanes, Ford, Hyundai, Budweiser, Lexus, Nike and Guinness for guidance.

How Employers Are Taking Care Of Their Workers During COVID-19


Companies are helping create virtual office cultures, hosting virtual workout classes for employees and covering food delivery for some. 

Why it matters: Overcommunication in the age of the coronavirus is one of the most critical ways employers can gain the support and trust of their team.

How To Create A Successful Marketing Strategy Using A Single Decision Framework


Successful marketing relies on running multiple experiments on different channels to determine the best performing channel for a business. 

Why it matters: When deciding which marketing channel is best, founder of Robbie Abed suggests picking three marketing channels that could meet your company’s core metrics then gives it three months to run a campaign for each channel.

Council Post: Four Ways To Use AI For Marketing


Four ways to start using artificial intelligence-based marketing software include customer targeting and developing buyer personas, campaign monitoring, sales forecasting and chatbots.

Why it matters: Forty percent of marketing and sales teams say data science encompassing AI and machine learning is critical to their success as a department.

40% Of Marketers And Retailers Expect Layoffs Due To The Coronavirus


Digiday’s survey found that 40 percent of top execs expect to have layoffs due to the coronavirus pandemic and for 83 percent of respondents, the virus will also cause them to miss their forecasts for 2020.

Why it matters: Marketers and retailers are struggling to keep up with the economic impact of the virus, with situations worsening.

How Popeyes’ New Global CMO Plans To Make The Niche Brand Into A Mass Brand


In January, Popeyes named Paloma Azulay the brand’s global chief marketing officer, the same role she held previously at Tim Hortons.

Why it matters: Per Azulay: “We had this amazing hype for the sandwich last year, but when you look at the brand in the long term there is not a lot of association and loyalty in terms of having a large base of people that come to us frequently.” Azulay says the brand has its eye on China and will open there very soon.

3 Ways Marketing Strategies Will Need To Shift To Deal With Coronavirus Complications


Three ways marketing strategies will need to change include replacing handshakes with virtual interactions, shifting dollars to digital and remaining agile and keeping a firm pulse on audience engagement.
Why it matters:
The coronavirus pandemic has a chokehold on business operations and brands must respond with focus, not fear.

Editor’s Note: Our weekly reading list is updated daily. This installment is updated until Friday, April 3. Have a tip? We’re looking for must-read articles related to trends and insights in marketing and media. Let us know at

YouTube Currently Planning ‘Shorts’ As Answer To TikTok

This week in social media news, YouTube plans to release “Shorts” by the end of the year, Facebook Business announces a number of updates to support small businesses and released a desktop version of its Messenger app to simplify video chat.

YouTube Plans “Shorts” To Combat Rise Of TikTok

Google-owned YouTube is planning to release an in-app feature that will position the company to use their library of licensed music to rival TikTok.

Why it matters: “Shorts” is the first real attempt by YouTube to confront the rising usage of China-based app TikTok.

The details: Sources close to the matter have indicated that ‘Feeds’ will be released within the year and will allow users to create and add short-form videos to an in-app feed.

Facebook Business Announces Additional Business Support

In a press release published today, Facebook announced a number of new platform features to provide support for businesses reckoning with COVID-19.

Why it matters: The impact of COVID-19 on small businesses has been profound; these platform enhancements offer those businesses new ways to survive and thrive in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The details: Facebook announced updates to their Small Business Grants program, an option for businesses to release digital gift cards, fundraising capabilities as well as the option to denote temporary service changes.

Facebook Launches Messenger Desktop App To Simplify Video Chat

Per a company announcement, Facebook launched a desktop version of its Messenger app for MacOS and Windows so that users can more easily video chat.

Why it matters: With people hunkered down during coronavirus, Facebook saw more than a 100 percent increase in people using their desktop browser for video and audio calling on Messenger.

The details: Facebook Messenger for desktop includes unlimited and free group video calls, chat sync across mobile and desktop and features users are already familiar with such as dark mode and GIFs.

Facebook Prototypes Auto Status Feature For Messenger

According to TechCrunch, Facebook is prototyping an auto status feature that would use your location, battery life and accelerometer details to show a select group of friends what you’re up to.

Why it matters: An auto status feature reminiscent of AOL’s Away Message could help users coordinate online and offline meet ups easier.

The details: Instead of sharing a user’s exact coordinates, Facebook’s auto status Messenger feature would add an emoji over your profile picture to indicate your activity. In October, Facebook launched auto status to Instagram’s Threads app.

Snapchat Releases Snapchat App Stories

Snapchat App Stories launches today and allows Snappers to share their content to other apps, according to reporting from TechCrunch.

Why it matters: As TechCrunch notes, “Snapchat hopes to retain some grip on Stories and dissuade more copycats by letting developers bake the original version into their apps rather than building a bootleg attempt from scratch.”

The details: Users shooting with the Snapchat camera will receive a new option to share it to their Story within other apps integrated with Snap Kit. Developers can now sign up here to add Stories to their apps.

TikTok Launches Daily Live Programming Featuring Celebrities And Creators

Per a company announcement, TikTok launched #HappyAtHome: LIVE!, a week of nightly programming that runs each evening at 5 p.m. PDT through Friday to help entertain users during the coronavirus lockdown.

Why it matters: With social distancing in full effect, social platforms are looking for fresh ways to keep users engaged.

The details: TikTok’s live experiences include Motivation Monday where celebrities like Tyra Banks and Arnold Schwarzenegger host dance classes and cooking tips; Kick Back Tuesday features creator-hosted game nights and makeup tutorials; Show & Tell Wednesday will highlight magic tricks from Zach King; EduTok Thursday will involve conversations with the likes of Dr. Phil and Bill Nye; Sound Check Friday will include top artists performing live concerts. A #HappyAtHome LIVE! banner appears on TikTok’s Discover page or users can search it in the app.

Twitch Raises $2.7 Million For Coronavirus Relief Efforts

In a 12-hour fundraising broadcast held on Saturday, March 28, Twitch raised $2,766,857.12 for the Solidarity Response Fun for the World Health Organization.

Why it matters: Twitch joins the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in raising money or establishing financial programs for those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The details: The #TwitchStreamAid saw gaming influencers and music artists such as Dakotaz and John Legend come together to perform live sets and game tournaments. 

Our weekly social media news post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, April 3. Have a news tip? We’re looking for changes to and news surrounding social media platforms as they relate to marketing. Let us know at

EasyJet Drops CMO Role As Lis Blair Departs

This week in marketing leadership moves, EasyJet scraps the CMO role upon Lis Blair’s departure and NPR hires Michael Smith as CMO.

EasyJet Drops CMO Role As Lis Blair Departs

Per MarketingWeek, Lis Blair is leaving EasyJet after eight years, prompting the company to scrap the CMO role and not seek a replacement. 

This will allow EasyJet to restructure its board so that marketing, customer, digital and insight report into the company’s chief commercial officer, Robert Care.

This week in marketing leadership moves, NPR hires Michael Smith as CMO and Elana Gold is named Fresh Del Monte’s new VP and CMO.

NPR Hires Michael Smith As CMO

NPR president and CEO John Lansing has named Michael Smith the company’s head marketer, effective April 6.

Smith most recently served as SVP, GM digital channels for Scripps Network, where he developed strategies to reach diverse, younger audiences on new digital streaming platforms. Prior to that, Smith was SVP, GM cooking channel and food category brand extensions.

Elana Gold Named CMO and VP Of Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc.

According to a press release, Fresh Del Monte named Elana Gold the company’s new VP and CMO. In this role, Gold will lead the company’s global marketing efforts and report to the company’s president and COO Youssef Zakharia.

Gold comes from Before Brands where she was CCO. Prior to that, she served as Abbot Nutritional International’s divisional VP of marketing.

Editor’s Note: Our weekly careers post is updated daily. This installment is updated until Friday, April 3. Have a new hire tip? We’re looking for senior executive role changes in marketing and media. Let us know at

Job Vacancies 

Chief Marketing OfficerMotorolaChicago, Illinois
VP, Marketing SoundtracksDisney Music GroupBurbank, CA
Head Of MarketingAspyr Media, Inc.  Austin, TX

Make sure to check out select job vacancies on our Careers page.

Consumers Spent Record $23.4 Billion On Mobile Apps In Q1

App Annie found that mobile app purchases reached a record $23.4 billion in Q1 2020. Q1 also saw over 31 billion new app downloads, a 15 percent increase from Q4 2019. App Annie’s Q1 Global App Market Index suggests that users are exploring new ways to use their phones while on coronavirus lockdown.

Consumers downloaded 22.5 billion new apps on Google Play, a five percent increase year-over-year, and 9 billion apps on iOS, a 15 percent growth year-over-year. Non-gaming apps accounted for 55 percent of all downloads on Google Play and 65 percent on iOS.

Worldwide, weekly time spent in apps and games on Android phones increased 20 percent year-over-year in Q1 2020.

TikTok was the most downloaded app across iOS and Android, followed by WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and Facebook Messenger. 

Facebook topped the list in terms of monthly active users (MAU), followed by WhatsApp, Facebook, WeChat, Instagram and TikTok; Tinder came in first for most consumer spend, followed by YouTube, Netflix, IQIYI and Tencent Video.

Consumer spend on iOS grew five percent year-over-year to $15 billion in Q1 and on Google Play, five percent year-over-year to over $8.3 billion. Non-gaming apps accounted for 15 percent of consumer spend on Google Play and 35 percent of consumer spend on iOS.

The US and China led consumer spend on iOS while the US, Japan and South Korea led consumer spend on Google Play.

Games, tools and entertainment comprise the categories most downloaded on Google Play although consumers behaviors are changing to reflect growth in health and fitness, education and business, which all saw strong quarter-over-quarter growth in downloads of 40 percent, 35, percent and 30 percent, respectively. 

In terms of consumer spend, social and entertainment were the largest categories on Google Play whereas games, entertainment and photo and video were the largest categories on iOS. 

Games, photo and video and entertainment remained the largest downloaded categories on iOS with education and business seeing quarter-over-quarter growth of 40 percent and 35 percent, respectively.

Coronavirus Causes Brands To Pause Affiliate Programs

Originally published on ION.

(Editor’s note: AList is published by To get up to speed on the rapid changes affecting the influencer marketing landscape, click here.)

In light of the coronavirus pandemic and slashes in costs, some major chains are pausing their affiliate link programs, leading influencers to figure out how to supplement their once-main source of income.

The Business of Fashion reports Ulta Beauty, Macy’s, Dillards and T.J. Maxx are among the brands to temporarily close their affiliate programs. This means influencers and media companies are cut off from the sales commissions they were receiving from posting links to products.  

Ulta stopped its affiliate program on March 22 and others followed suit: Macy’s Inc. informed participants it would pause its affiliate program on March 24, T.J. Maxx on March 26 and Dillard’s on March 30. In an email to its affiliate partners, Dillard’s said, “the decision was made due to the impact of COVID-19 and the realignment of marketing strategy.”

In 2017, $5.3 billion was spent on affiliate marketing. The figure is estimated to reach $6.8 billion this year. 

Affiliate marketing is critical for customer acquisition, with over half of marketers citing it as one of their top three revenue drivers, according to a study for Pepper Jam conducted by Forrester. In addition to putting marketers in control with performance and pricing model flexibility, affiliate programs are less susceptible to issues like fraud, brand safety and return on investment (ROI) visibility. 

With all non-essential businesses closed, millions of companies across all industries have been forced to cut costs and lay off workers. Some brands hope to bandage the situation through ecommerce sales, making now a seemingly opportune moment to leverage influencers. In fact, Pepper Jam reported an 43 percent increase in sales from affiliate links over the last two weeks of March, as BoF notes.

Still, companies can’t spare the expense of affiliate programs right now, leaving influencers with an even heavier financial burden given many of their agreements outside of affiliate links have also been paused or canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. To get ahead of the problem, influencers should find ways to work with brands that sell essentials.

Nicole Ron, the vice president of marketing at CJ Affiliate, told BoF, “We are seeing a trend in consumers not shopping for luxury goods and spending more on creating a good environment to live in for the foreseeable future,” Ron said. “Influencers can shift to affiliate programs that are seeing growth, like productivity items, online education, and grocery goods. This is an opportunity to work with brands that aren’t having a knee-jerk reaction and provide consumers with what they need.”

Nearly Two-Thirds Of Marketers Anticipate Moderate To Significant Budget Cuts

Sixty-five percent of chief marketing officers (CMOs) and marketing leaders expect to make moderate to significant budget cuts due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Gartner. The researcher conducted the poll among 176 marketers during its Gartner for Marketers Research Connections webinar on “Marketing in Uncertainty,” on March 20.

When asked what impact they expect coronavirus to have on their marketing budget in 2020 relative to their original plan, 32 percent of respondents said they plan to significantly decrease their budget and 33 percent said they will moderately decrease their budget. 

In comparison, 63 percent of CMOs surveyed in Gartner’s annual CMO Spend Survey, in summer 2019, said they anticipate a budget increase.

In terms of actions marketing departments have taken in response to coronavirus, 68 percent of respondents said they’re canceling or postponing customer-facing marketing events. Followed by 63 percent who said they’re launching special coronavirus communications to customers.

The results suggest that marketers must swiftly implement cost optimization plans to alleviate near-term and future impacts of the coronavirus outbreak.

Another recent Gartner poll among 833 business leaders revealed that 34 percent of businesses expect reduced levels of operations due to the coronavirus, 10 percent expect operations to be severely restricted and two percent will halt operations altogether. 

To better prepare for the impact of the coronavirus, Gartner recommends marketers create specialized teams for the purpose of formulating and adapting cost optimization plans and building budget scenarios. Equipping these tiger teams with data and analytics that inform new costs associated with coronavirus will also prove critical.

An Ad Fraud Warning To Marketers From Reformed Provider, Jampp

During this 201st episode of “Marketing Today,” I interview Diego Meller, co-founder of Jampp.  

We follow up on a previous discussion about ad fraud and the $100 million Uber lawsuit. Meller clarifies the important difference between ad networks and programmatic. He also shares details about the pivot Jampp underwent to eliminate fraud. 

If you’re listening today, take this as a warning shot. Think about how you can improve your own efforts in your businesses.

Meller begins by setting the record straight on how ad networks and programmatic function differently. Then we learn how Jampp changed its business model because fraud instances were getting more frequent. Everytime they researched what was going on, fraud was not the exception, but the rule. Meller offers a fascinating insight into how marketers handled these revelations: “The most frequent scenario that we saw in our customers was a strategy of basically phasing out gradually the crappy traffic and blending it with good traffic.” Then Meller provides critical advice that will help marketers avoid ad fraud. He warns, “Buy media that gives you transparency.” This conversation reminds us that in the long-term, the market will reward us for doing the right thing.

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”: 

  • Diego sets the record straight on programmatic vs. display ad networks, which was the source of fraud in the Uber lawsuit. (03:35)
  • Diego describes how his experience with Jampp taught him about both of these worlds. (06:54) 
  • Diego explains why fraud prompted a pivot in the Jampp business model. (07:56)
  • Key background information listeners need to know about how this ad fraud situation unfolded. (11:19) 
  • Diego shares what other advertisers at the table were saying when they shifted to programmatic. (13:33)
  • Learn why this pivotal moment could have killed Diego’s business. (17:10)
  • Using the new system, they don’t struggle with fraud within their traffic. (18:57) 
  • The prevalence of attribution fraud. (22:22)
  • The biggest misconceptions of ad fraud today. (24:03)
  • Diego’s advice for combating ad fraud. (25:17)
  • Diego’s opinion on marketers being fired or prosecuted for spending on fraudulent ads. (29:33)
  • Is there an experience in his past that defines who he is today? (33:27)
  • What is the advice Diego would give to his younger self? (35:59)
  • What’s the most impactful purchase he has made in the last 6-12 months of $100 or less. (39:44)
  • What are the top opportunities or threats Diego sees today? (42:13)

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Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on opportunities around brand, customer experience, innovation and growth. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine startups.