What We’re Reading–Week Of May 11th

We’re searching for the most pressing marketing insights this week. Updated daily.

Purpose At Work: Ocean Spray’s Key To Leadership During Challenging Times


Ocean Spray senior vice president and chief operating officer Brian Schiegg says that in response to COVID, the company added $1.50 an hour for frontline food manufacturing associates, as well as donated over 100,000 meals and hundreds of thousands of its juices and snacks to people in need.

Why it matters: When asked where he thinks the company’s instinctive reaction comes from, Schiegg says: “People aren’t looking for a picture or a press release. They’re just trying to do the right thing and let that stand on its own.” Schiegg emphasizes the importance of leading with empathy and communicating with internal members as much as possible.

Examining A ‘Safe And Just Return To Work’


The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) released a report titled “A Safe and Just Return to Work” highlighting the need for caution around reopening businesses. The report offers safety guidelines and highlights the need for workers’ input and fair compensation for sick, injured and at-risk workers.

Why it matters: With some businesses poised for reopening, national COSH’s co-executive director Jessica Martinez urges companies to involve their workers in decisions about workplace safety.

Is Your Marketing Strategy Based On The Right Data?

Harvard Business Review

To ensure their data works for them, marketers must start with the simplest dataset required to inform a business decision then build a virtuous feedback loop between data, insight and action. Marketers must also analyze digital data to understand if customers are using the services for which they’re paying and getting the appropriate value, the moments in the customer’s buying process that influence their decision and the conversations that are converting to sales.

Why it matters: As a result of the pandemic, marketers can no longer rely on previous assumptions about their customers. Instead they must evaluate the right data, the right way.

Why We Need To Rethink The Purpose Of AI: A Conversation With Stuart Russell

McKinsey & Company

In this episode of the McKinsey on AI podcast mini-series, University of California, Berkeley, professor Stuart Russell says to ensure artificial intelligence benefits humanity rather than cause us harm, we must abandon the idea of creating “intelligent” machines altogether.

Why it matters: As per Russell: “The key characteristics . . . are first, being of benefit to the humans is the only objective for machines. But the second principle is that the machine does not know what that means. It does not know our preferences for how the future should unfold, and that turns out to be crucial. It knows that it doesn’t know the objective. The third principle is essentially what enables it to learn more about the objective, that our choices, our behavior reveals information about our underlying preferences.”

Constraint Fuels Creativity, Says Cannes Lion Chairman


Cannes Lions chairman Philip Thomas believes that going digital with events isn’t good enough to replace the real thing and that constraint fuels creativity, citing the correlation between low budgets and award-worthy work.

Why it matters: With Cannes Lion and other major events completely canceled this year, brands and agencies alike are trying their best to understand what the future holds.

Goop’s Chief Content Officer On Balancing Self-Care At Work

Harvard Business Review

In HBR’s “The Anxious Achiever” podcast, Goop chief content officer Elise Loehnen tells host Morra Aarons Mele employees should be privy to each other’s mental health conditions and maintain open dialogue about their feelings at work. Loehnen says an easy way leaders can hold space for vulnerability is to sit in a circle and have each person describe their vulnerability as either red, yellow, or green.

Why it matters: Keeping open lines of communication in the workplace helps employers and employees understand each other’s behavior. 

US Fashion And Beauty Retailers Begin To Reopen


After weeks of lockdown, several retail chains like American Eagle, Gap and Macy’s are preparing to reopen portions of their store fleets in states like Texas and Georgia. Gap is reopening 800 of its stores before the end of May, Macy’s has opened 118 stores and American Eagle has opened 43 of its 1,000+ American Eagle and Aerie stores, with plans to open 600 by the end of May.

Why it matters: Precautions like limiting occupancy, hand sanitizer stations, face coverings and new fitting room procedures will make for a very different shopping experience. 

What Industry Leaders Won’t Miss About TV Upfront Presentations

Ad Age

Things annual attendees of the upfronts won’t miss about the event include: fighting for seats, having to travel on Mother’s Day, waiting out in the rain and all the conflicting reviews of each presentation.

Why it matters: The upfront presentations aren’t all glitz and glamour.

Savage x Fenty Creates Community From Self-Isolation In New Campaign 


Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty recruited its brand ambassadors, friends and customers to create its summer campaign via self-photographed images of them wearing the brand’s latest pieces, reimagined by mixed-media artist Rafatoon.

Why it matters: Many brands have started outsourcing creative content at a time when in-person shoots aren’t a viable option.

White Castle To Host Virtual Dance Party To Raise Money For Restaurant Workers

White Castle is sponsoring a live dance party called “Slider Jam,” hosted by Dude Skywalker and streamed on the DJ duo’s Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitch. In celebration of White Castle’s National Slider Day, on May 15, the virtual event will help raise money for the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund, which provides grants to restaurant workers affected by the pandemic. Viewers can make donations through donation links on the platforms where the dance party will take place, on May 15 at 8 p.m. EST. White Castle’s goal is to raise $10,000 from the party.

In addition to the virtual event, White Castle is giving out free sliders at all participating White Castles, no purchase necessary. Fans can redeem the drive-thru offer via a digital coupon posted to the company’s site.

Between May 15 through June 15, White Castle is also giving EMTs, healthcare workers and grocery store and food retail employees 20 percent off all orders placed in its restaurants.

White Castle’s National Slider Day campaign has two social media components. On Friday, it will release video meeting backgrounds “featuring the creative scenes you’ve had a hankering for” on its social media channels with a link to download them.

In an attempt to spread uplifting news, White Castle is encouraging users to post about acts of altruism running as part of a social campaign with the hashtag #CraveTheGood.

The virtual dance party builds upon White Castle’s recent COVID efforts. In early April, it announced that it would give out free meals to healthcare workers and EMTs, from April 7 to April 30 via drive-thru; all they had to do was show their work ID. White Castle also delivered free sliders to hospitals and other healthcare facilities in regions where there are White Castle restaurants.

“Just a week ago, we were seeing little effect (on business from the coronavirus), but then toward the end of last week, as more guidance came out, we did see some declines in restaurant business. But our brand is unique in that we offer consumer packaged goods too … and that business has been really, really strong … though the rest of business … was down significantly as more people weren’t going out,” White Castle vice president Jamie Richardson said in an interview with QSRWeb in mid-March.

Hendrick’s Gin’s “Pour it Forward” Campaign Provides Financial Support To Bartenders

Hendrick’s Gin is asking bartenders to record themselves making a cocktail using Hendrick’s while telling a story about a bartender friend, as part of a new initiative called “Pour it Forward” meant to support the bartending community amid COVID-19. Hendrick’s Gin parent company, William Grant & Sons, will give each bartender who makes a video, including friends that the videos are dedicated to, $200 from its Fast Fund.

Three national Hendrick’s Gin brand ambassadors kicked off the cause-related campaign with videos featuring mixology demonstrations and a toast to a bartender friend. The goal is for bartenders to nominate friends to “pour it forward” and create their own video.

To fund the campaign, Hendrick’s Gin launched an ecommerce gift shop selling branded novelty items including teacups, glass sets, a penguin pourer and a punch bowl. All proceeds from the sales will support “Pour it Forward.”

Hendrick’s will pay up to 150 bartenders to participate in the campaign, with hopes that sales from the “tiny shop” will enable it to support additional bartenders. As of now, 12 bartenders have agreed to participate.

In early April, Hendrick’s Gin announced that, with the help of distilleries in Scotland, Ireland and New York, its parent company would supply 5 million liters of ethanol for the production of hand sanitizer to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. Hendrick’s said the profits from the sale of the ethanol will be reinvested into future coronavirus relief efforts.

As a result of extended stay-at-home orders in some states, restaurants and bars remain closed, leaving members of the hospitality industry out of work. Many spirit brands have stepped in to provide financial relief. Grey Goose recently announced it was hiring bartenders for a new social media video series called “House Pour.” Each video will show a bartender from around the world demonstrating how to mix up their favorite cocktail. Through a swipe-up link on the videos, viewers can donate to the US Bartender Guild, Tales of the Cocktail Foundation or Another Round Another Rally.

Other brands have donated directly to bartender organizations. Parent company of Jonnie Walker, Diageo donated $100,000 to the US Bartender Guild, Molson Coors donated $1 million to the same group and Guinness donated $500,000 to the Guinness Gives Back fund.

Bed Bath & Beyond Hires Cindy Davis As Chief Brand Officer

This week in leadership updates, Bed Bath & Beyond hires Cindy Davis as chief brand officer, Coca-Cola’s senior VP of strategic marketing steps down, TikTok names Ashok Cherian as marketing head for India, The Fresh Market hires Kevin Miller as CMO, Walgreens searches for a new global agency and the Cleveland Browns names Dino Bernacchi as senior VP of marketing and media.

Bed Bath & Beyond Appoints Cindy Davis As Chief Brand Officer

Bed Bath & Beyond has hired Cindy Davis as chief brand officer to help deepen the brand’s connection with consumers following its move to cut 500 jobs in February. She will report to Mark Tritton, Bed Bath & Beyond’s president and CEO.

Davis was recently chief digital marketing officer at Victoria’s Secret parent company, L Brands Inc. Prior to joining L Brands in 2018, Davis held executive roles at Walt Disney Co. and Walmart.

Geoff Cottrill, Coca-Cola Senior Vice President Of Strategic Marketing, Steps Down

Geoff Cottrill, Coca-Cola’s senior VP of strategic marketing, is leaving the company after two years, effective June 1, Ad Age reports. The company’s US VP of strategy and planning for bottler delivered brands Alpa Sutaria will oversee marketing until Coca-Cola finds a replacement.

Cottrill also worked at Coca-Cola from 1996-2005 during which time he oversaw the brand’s Nascar sponsorship. He then joined Converse as CMO, followed by a position at MullenLowe Boston as president in 2016.

TikTok India Names Ashok Cherian As Marketing Head

TikTok has appointed Ashok Cherian as the marketing head for India to oversee the platform’s overall brand strategy and marketing efforts, according to Financial Express.

Previously, Cherian led marketing and revenue initiatives at Applause Entertainment and served as CMO at SMAASH Entertainment.

The Fresh Market Hires Kevin Miller As Chief Marketing Officer

The Fresh Market has brought on Kevin Miller as CMO, replacing interim CMO Dan Portnoy, who took over when CMO Mary Kellmanson left the company in February. Most recently, Miller served as CMO at Natural Grocers. Prior to that, Miller was president of KMMP Media Group.

Walgreens Looks For New Global Agency

Walgreens is searching for a new agency to “accelerate its digital transformation,” marking the first big pitch amid the pandemic. Since 2017, WPP has handled Walgreens’ global advertising account. Walgreens Boots Alliance spends $182 million on Walgreen alone on measured media in the US, according to Convergence.

The Cleveland Browns Hire Dino Bernacchi As Marketing Leader

The Cleveland Browns have named former CMO of Mazda North American Operations, Dino Bernacchi, as the organization’s senior vice president of marketing and media. Bernacchi served three years at Mazda. Prior to that, he spent almost eight years at Harley-Davidson and General Motors, respectively.  

Funko Brings On Ginny McCormick As Chief Marketing Officer

Funko has officially announced the appointment of Ginny McCormick as the company’s new CMO. The appointment has been effective since March. McCormick worked for over a decade in various positions at Hasbro, most recently leading its global integrated media organization, leading strategy, investment and measurement for over 20 brands across 34 markets. Prior to Hasbro, she worked at Mattel and Reebok, respectively.

LinkedIn Adds New Tools To Its Sales Navigator Platform

This week in social media news, LinkedIn launches new Sales Navigator features and says it will factor in dwell time in its content distribution algorithm, Houseparty announces a three-day, celebrity-studded virtual event, YouTube expands its new audience insights to all users, Snapchat updates its analytics layout for creators and Google rolls out tools to let consumers make donations and send gift cards to businesses.

LinkedIn Launches New Tools To Help Brands With Virtual Selling

As part of its regular quarterly tools roll-out, LinkedIn has launched new features on its Sales Navigator platform to help companies with their virtual selling strategies.

Why it matters: The updates will help add extra context to potential leads and clients, allowing marketers to better navigate on-platform efforts and maintain connections with interested users.

The details: LinkedIn’s new Smart Links enhancements lets brands stay connected with buyers by showing them insights on what content they engaged with. The feature also lets Sales Navigator admins see how often reps are sending content and which reps are getting the most views.

To support collaboration across sales teams, LinkedIn is also rolling out an integration with Microsoft Dynamics 365 that enables businesses to create contacts in their CRM directly from a Sales Navigator Lead Page or Lead List. 

The second update includes the consolidation of Notes and Comments into Notes shared in Sales Navigator Lists, Lead Pages and Account Pages, with the option of making notes on relevant Account and Leads either public or private.

Lastly, LinkedIn’s new Alerts panel allows brands to like, comment and share anytime a saved lead posts or shares on LinkedIn without leaving the Sales Navigator.

Houseparty Introduces New Co-Watching Feature Via Three-Day Virtual Festival

Houseparty is hosting an in-app, three-day virtual festival called In the House from May 15 to May 17, featuring celebrity-led jam sessions, workouts and cooking tutorials.

Why it matters: Houseparty is the latest app to introduce co-watching, a sign that there could be new opportunities within the app. Houseparty was downloaded 2 million times in the last week of March and has earned a top-ten spot in app stores of 17 different countries over the last two months.

The details: Viewers can tune in to see popular actors, restaurateurs, social media influencers and musicians perform and share tips via Houseparty on mobile or desktop.

YouTube Expands New Audience Activity Insights To All Users

Now all users can access YouTube’s new listing of when their YouTube audience is online and they can also opt-in to its new video chapters feature, according to YouTube Creator Insider Tom Leung.

Why it matters: The new updates will help users publish content accordingly and allow viewers to find the content they care most about within videos.

The details: The new audience insights chart is available in YouTube Studio analytics and shows when your audience is most active on the platform.

Users can opt-in to YouTube’s new video chapter feature by making sure the first timestamp listed in their video description starts at 0:00 and that their video has at least three timestamps or chapters, with each chapter being 10 seconds or longer.

Snapchat Updates In-App Analytics Layout For Creator Accounts

As spotted by Conviva’s Mike Metzler, Snapchat has rolled out two new updates for creator accounts—an updated in-app analytics layout and a new “Quoting” option that lets creators respond to replies in their public stories.

Why it matters: Available only to select users for now, the advanced analytics will help creators understand what content their viewers are engaging most with.

The details: The new analytics layout shows creators detailed insights on each frame, showing details like views, screenshots, swipe-ups and interactions (tap forwards, tap backwards and swipe-aways).

Regarding its new “Quoting” feature, Snapchat says:

“Quoting is a fan engagement tool that makes it easier to share a subscribers’ reply to your public story. Ask subscribers to send you questions and answer away. You can even mix things up and ask them questions. Fans will be notified when you quote them which can really make their day.”

Facebook’s New Safety Controls Gives Brands More Control Over Ad Placements

Facebook has launched a new set of brand safety controls to enable advertisers more control over where their ads appear across Facebook.

Why it matters: In 2017, the issue of brand placement arose when major brands pulled their YouTube spend over concerns that their ads were appearing next to hate speech and extremist content, causing the platform to lose millions in revenue.

The details: After being in testing with selected partners over the last few months, the new controls include the expansion of whitelists for both Audience Network and in-stream ads. Now, Facebook advertisers can designate which third-party publisher apps to run ads on, allow third-party providers to review and customize suitable videos for in-stream campaigns and opt-out of the test of in-stream ads in live streams from vetted partners.

LinkedIn To Incorporate Dwell Time Into Content Distribution Algorithm

To improve feed ranking, LinkedIn tested dwell time, a metric that measures the time spent on content after clicking on an update in the feed.

Why it matters: Up until now, “viral actions” such as clicking on, liking and commenting on feed updates informed LinkedIn’s content distribution algorithm. Unlike viral actions, LinkedIn says, dwell time is always measurable and can be a more reliable indicator of engagement. The result is higher quality content shown in the feed and a better feed experience for members.

The details: LinkedIn found that there’s a natural threshold at which dwell time would reveal that the user will never click on or engage with certain feed updates. The finding was nearly universal across all forms of LinkedIn updates, leading LinkedIn to add this new machine learning model to improve feed ranking.

Google Lets Businesses Add Donation And Gift Card Links To Their Profiles

Google is rolling out a new tool that would allow businesses to add a donation link, gift card link or both to their profiles.

Why it matters: Google joins the likes of Facebook and Instagram who also recently added gift card and donation tools that enable people to support their businesses as the pandemic keeps their doors closed.

The details: In addition to being able to add a donation link or gift card link to their business profile, owners can share a personal message in their post to let customers know how they’ll use the funds. Google has partnered with PayPal and GoFundMe for donations, and Square, Toast, Clover and Vagaro for the gift cards. Though Google isn’t charging businesses or consumers fees for using the tool, there may be partnering processing fees. Support links will be available in the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. The links will be visible to consumers later this month.

LinkedIn Adds New Virtual Events Tools And Custom Announcement Banner

LinkedIn has launched several new products to help organizations engage their community during the crisis including an updated live events tool, a video publishing and archiving tool and temporary features like call-to-action buttons to volunteers and customer announcement banners.

Why it matters: LinkedIn says its Live platform is seeing 23X more comments per post and 6X reactions per post than native video.

The details: LinkedIn has strengthened integration between its two existing features, LinkedIn Events and LinkedIn Live, to enable members to share events via their page, allowing brands to target specific audiences and design a more personalized experience. Using LinkedIn’s new video tab, brands can then archive the live event, which all members of the brand’s community can access. In addition, a new custom announcement banner allows brands to post timely updates to the top of their page while the new volunteer CTA button allows non-profits and school pages to ask members to volunteer.

Instagram and Facebook Announce New Features To Help Support Small Businesses

Facebook has launched a new section called Businesses Nearby, which will show users the latest posts from businesses within a certain radius, their delivery options and current hours, with the ability to book or send the business a message. Additionally, it’s rolling out a #SupportSmallBusiness sticker on Facebook and Instagram.

Why it matters: New features to help increase virtual foot traffic amid the pandemic come after Facebook announced a $100 million grant program for small businesses in March.  

The details: Instagram will feature posts using the #SupportSmallBusiness sticker in a shared Instagram story highlighting similar posts from all accounts people follow. On Facebook, users will be able to tag a post as being “in support of” a certain small business. Facebook has also added a dedicated Business Inbox in the Messenger app, allowing brands to answer questions sent to their Facebook page.

Instagram Tests New Ways To Navigate Through Stories

Instagram is testing an option that would let users toggle through other users’ Stories, according to reverse engineering expert Jane Manchun Wong.

Why it matters: Facebook has repeatedly said that Stories are on track to surpass the news feed as the primary surface for engaging on social media. Giving users more ways to find the content they like on Instagram Stories could lead to a spike in usage, especially during COVID.

The details: Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri confirmed that Instagram is “looking into ways to making it easier to find the Stories you care about most” via a poll on his Twitter asking followers to choose from the following options: “Keep tapping through,” “Hunt and peck” and “Not into Stories.”

YouTube Launches Tools To Help Advertisers Reach Users Watching On Home TV Screens

YouTube is accelerating the launch of its Brand Lift measurement tool for television as YouTube watch time on television grows during COVID, vice president, global video and YouTube solutions Debbie Weinstein says in a Google Blog. Additionally, YouTube is introducing skippable ads for content that’s cast onto the television screen.

Why it matters: Increases in watch time and an influx of daily visitors on YouTube allows brands that can continue advertising in coronavirus to reach more viewers and more easily measure results across YouTube streaming platforms. 

The details: On the brand lift measurement tool, YouTube says: “For viewers, this means surveys are now optimized for the big screen and interactivity with a TV remote, so people can easily respond or skip the survey.”

The skippable ad format is also a significant addition given casting watch time grew by over 75 percent year over year.

Google Launches Rising Retail Trends Tool

To help businesses understand changing consumer interests during the pandemic, Google has launched a rising retail categories list on Think with Google, a tool that shows popular product-related categories in Google Search with data updated daily.

Why it matters: This marks the first time Google has provided this type of insight on product categories people are searching for. It will allow brands to tailor content creation, promotional efforts and new products and services based on consumers’ changing behaviors during COVID. 

The details: The rising retail categories tool will show fast-growing categories of products, the locations where they’re growing and the queries associated with them.

TikTok Brings On New Digital Marketing Partner Bidalgo

TikTok has added Bidalgo to its roster of digital marketing partners for ads via direct API integration, according to a Bidalgo blog post.

Why it matters: Bidalgo’s multi-channel user acquisition platform will make TikTok ads more dynamic, scalable and effective for media buyers.

The details: Bidalgo’s data-driven approach helps advertisers measure the performance of creative assets with advanced insights, take bulk actions on bids, budgets and status based on actionable insights and scale across channels with artificial intelligence-driven recommendations.

Report: Marketers Optimistic That Privacy Regulations Will Positively Impact Personalization

Most marketers (85 percent) plan to increase the adoption of agile marketing in the next two years, according to Merkle’s Q2 2020 Customer Engagement Report, which explores how brands are pivoting operations during COVID-19, as well as how recent privacy regulations are positively impacting customer engagement.

In analyzing marketers’ organizational practices across agile adoption, Merkle found that 89 percent of marketers use agile methodology in some function or team, and nearly the same percentage (88 percent) use agile in their marketing practices in one way or another.

Larger companies have been practicing agile marketing the longest; of the group with annual revenue of more than $1 billion, 25 percent indicate agile usage for over 10 years. For lower revenue groups, agile usage was just seven percent.

The retail, financial, health and high-tech segments have shown the highest levels of agile planning, whereas travel, media and entertainment segments show a less mature adoption of agile.

When asked about the barriers to the adoption of agile marketing, 39 percent of respondents cited a lack of expertise, followed by 33 percent who expressed concerns about it disrupting their business.

While the recent passing of consumer data privacy regulations, marketers have been forced to rethink the way they leverage first-party data and build new processes to address compliance. Still, marketers say they’re confident that they can adhere to them.

In May 2018, the UK established the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), restricting how companies collect and manage consumer data. California followed suit when it affected the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) on January 1, 2020. Under the CCPA, brands must disclose data collection and sharing practices to customers, prohibiting them from selling personal data of consumers under the age of 16 without explicit consent. The CCPA also gives consumers the right to request to opt-out of the sale or sharing of their personal information and the right to request that their data be deleted.

Despite these limitations, 92 percent of respondents are confident in their ability to comply with privacy regulations. What’s more, 67 percent see recent privacy regulations as positively impacting marketing. Over half (54 percent) say privacy regulations have made them more aggressive in their efforts to acquire first-party data. As regulations give brands a better understanding of where their customer data comes from, they’re able to deliver more enhanced personalization.

First-party data remains a significant driver of personalization, but some use a combination: 41 percent of respondents say they use first- and third-party data for personalization. Thirty-seven percent say they only use first-party data, while 21 percent say they only use third-party data.

Merkle found that UK marketers choose first-party data most often, while US marketers use first- and third-party data together 11 percent more often than their UK counterparts.  The discrepancy could be due to long-established privacy regulations in the UK or indicate that US marketers are more mature in leveraging both types of data.

When asked which data policy components are most cornering to them, 40 percent chose keeping accurate inventory of customer data, and 27 percent chose notifying customers of how they’re using their data.

To help develop new capabilities to meet data regulations, 70 percent of respondents brought in marketing service providers, 53 percent hired legal support and 46 percent tapped a consultancy.

Through a channel lens, email (19 percent) and digital media (18 percent) are the most affected by privacy regulations. Respondents ranked point of sale (POS) the least affected.

In February, Merkle surveyed 400 marketers at major US and UK brands spanning various industries.

Leadership And Transformation With H&R Block’s Vinoo Vijay

During this 207th episode of “Marketing Today,” I interview Vinoo Vijay, the chief marketing officer at H&R Block.

On the show today, Vijay talks about his background growing up and tells us about his job at H&R Block. We talk about the transformation he’s driving there and the advice he has for other marketers in the same role. We also talk about COVID and the response that H&R Block has put into place.

Vijay shares that he attended boarding school at a young age. We then learn about the many achievements that led him to his role at H&R Block. We talk about how H&R Block quickly transformed its business to help clients during the COVID-19 crisis. He says, “If there was ever a moment where needed to help and inspire confidence, it was now.” Vijay shares his approach to leading transformation. He reflects, “I need to find a way to connect people to an idea that is long-term that connects the company towards a transformation.” Throughout this conversation, Vijay brings his focus to how marketing can help a company elevate the client experience and excel at the human relationship.

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”:

  • The story of how Vinoo went to school in another country, away from his parents, at a young age. 01:29
  • Vinoo’s path from boarding school to H&R Block. 03:56
  • Vinoo’s thoughts on working with Jeff Jones. 08:57
  • An overview of the financial products and solutions H&R Block offers. 12:58
  • The effect of current tax delays on H&R Block. 15:03
  • The three mandates Vinoo has focused on in his role. 17:37
  • The transformation over the past few years at H&R Block. 19:58
  • Advice to other CMOs. 22:57
  • Is there an experience in his past that defines who he is today? 25:00
  • What is the advice Vinoo would give to his younger self? 28:02
  • The most impactful purchase he has made in the last 6-12 months of $100 or less. 29:04
  • Are there any brands, companies, or causes that Vinoo follows that he thinks other people should take notice of? 30:43
  • Vinoo’s take on the top opportunities or threats facing marketers today. 34:22

Resources Mentioned:

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Connect with Marketing Today and Alan Hart:


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.

Listen In: Gary Goodman Talks COVID-19 Creative

The a.network has launched a new weekly series called Listen In, hosted by Ayzenberg principal and ECD Matt Bretz.

Each week, Bretz and a rotating cast of hosts from Ayzenberg will interview experts in the field of marketing and advertising to explore uncharted territory together. The goal is to provide the a.network audience with actionable insights, enabling them to excel in their field.

In our first episode of Listen In, Bretz and Ayzenberg chief creative officer Gary Goodman discuss how to craft resonant video content during COVID-19.

Editor’s note: AList is published by a.network.

CTV Ad Spend Expected To Increase Dramatically

Most brands and agencies (97 percent) expect to invest in connected television (CTV) in the year ahead, and more than one-third believe they are currently investing too little. That’s according to an Integral Ad Science (IAS) and Digiday report, “The State of CTV,” conducted in February and March 2020. The report explores drivers of advertisers’ CTV interests as well as the pitfalls of CTV measurement and targeting.

CTV adoption was gaining momentum before the pandemic; in 2018, eMarketer predicted that 60 percent of the population will watch CTV by 2022. As people continue self-quarantining, interest in CTV has significantly grown, as 90 percent of people say they now have access to a CTV device.

In addition to finding that CTV ad spending is expected to increase dramatically, the data reveals that 10 percent of respondents are currently spending over $1 million on CTV. Twenty-seven percent are currently spending up to $100,000 a year while 10 percent are not investing in CTV advertising at all.

Although 44 percent of respondents say CTV ad spending should be set in the $100,001-$500,000 range, only 28 percent are investing this much. Still, 47 percent say that their CTV budget will be greater than $500,000 a year from now, compared to 36 percent who are already spending that much.

While respondents’ definitions of CTV vary, a majority define CTV as “video content consumed on a TV screen, delivered via an internet connection, including smart TVs and set-top boxes.” Whereas 12 percent define CTV as, “a mixture of both standard free-to-air TV and internet-delivered TV all in one place.”

A majority agree on what CTV entails, but many are confused about who sells specific inventory, slowing CTV adoption for advertisers. “Does a marketer go to a content owner, like NBC Universal or Roku, that aggregates inventory across various channels?” asks Matt Bayer, head of integrated sourcing, at CrossMedia. Bayer says a plethora of ad-network-like offerings exist, contributing to the confusion.

CTV advertising budgets also differ for different segments of the market, though most (38 percent) respondents say CTV is grouped with their digital ad budget. Whereas 29 percent consider CTV a part of their video budget, 18 percent combine CTV with TV budgets and 15 percent see CTV as a standalone budget item.

As for the quality of CTV vs. digital video content, 55 percent say the quality of CTV content is higher. If CTV content quality was to increase, 80 percent say the CTV inventory would become more valuable, 62 percent say it would be more effective and 65 percent say CTV would become a better platform to invest in.

The survey also found that 57 percent of respondents observe CTV engagement levels to be higher than those of digital video. Forty-four percent of brands say that CTV is the platform with the most potential for new video ad innovations, with 51 percent of agencies saying the same. Almost half (41 percent) of respondents say short-form studio-produced content presents the greatest opportunity to engage CTV audiences.

Despite its traction, CTV adoption will require consistent terminology, targeting and measurement. Currently, the top three factors that would increase investment in CTV for brands are improvements in brand suitability (48 percent), improvements in measurement/metrics (45 percent) and transparency in ad placements being purchased (45 percent). For agencies, it’s transparency in the ad placements being purchased (70 percent), improvements in measurement/metrics (66 percent) and the variety of ad placements available (34 percent).

When asked about the key performance indicators (KPIs) measuring successful ad performance on video content, 76 percent of advertisers named time-in-view/completed views, 74 percent named reach/delivered impressions and 57 percent named conversions. Though time-in-view ranks first, the metric for this KPI is fuzzy, as measurement is far behind actual consumer consumption. Uniform measurement across all channels is necessary for linear channel budgets to shift to CTV and advertiser spend to catch up to consumption trends.

Yet until advertisers can address CTV’s frequency-capping issue, measurement and transparency will lag. “Campaign basics, like frequency capping, are not yet the norm with CTV/OTT, and thus over-saturation can become an issue,” says Ben Allison, vice president, global media, VaynerMedia. For example, if consumers are binging a show, they’re being served the same ad repeatedly.

IAS surveyed 105 US respondents from Digiday’s audience, 58 percent of which are agencies and 42 percent of which are brands. 

Consumer Fatigue Over COVID-19 Ads Sets In

On average, 41 percent of people are ready to hear from brands about topics unrelated to the pandemic, according to a worldwide survey conducted by Mitto, from April 15-29.

Mitto’s findings suggest that consumers appreciated hearing more often from brands at the outset of the pandemic, but that COVID fatigue has set in. Seventy-seven percent said the messages brands sent during COVID have made them feel like they care about their well-being. Similarly, 30 percent said brands made them feel less anxious about the virus.

The data shows that brands have doubled down on communication, as 53 percent of respondents said they were hearing from brands more often in the last few weeks; 73 percent agreed that this increase in communication was appropriate. Most (58 percent) welcome messaging about business changes that could affect them. While just 11 percent said they were not interested in brands communicating with them about COVID.

Though consumers welcome increased communication from brands, preferences over who they hear from and the type of messaging vary. For example, most countries surveyed ranked essential services like doctors or banks higher than delivery services for the industries they’re most interested in hearing from now. Additionally, six of the seven regions surveyed said they were more tolerant of slow communication from small businesses than large ones; China said it’s equally tolerant of slow communication from small and large brands.

Despite widespread layoffs, consumers have displayed an appetite to spend. When asked what types of messages they want to hear from brands during the pandemic, all countries surveyed ranked special offers and coupons highest, over availability of services, product updates and satisfaction surveys.

Mitto’s findings echo those from a GlobalWebIndex study, fielded between March 31-April 2, which revealed that 50 percent of people are okay with brands running “normal” ad campaigns not linked to the pandemic.

In April, Mitto surveyed 7,000 respondents across the US, China, Spain, the UAE, Australia, Brazil and Nigeria.