What a wild ride this year has been. Yet, we’re still raising our glasses in appreciation for all of your support.
Here at Solution Agency we wanted to express our deepest gratitude for your continued partnership and contribution in our successes this year. We sincerely wish you and your family a safe holiday season and happy New Year.
As we look forward to 2021 here are few trends we are excited about.
“I am excited that consumption of digital media will only continue to grow. That means more targeted and elevated content. Copy and creative will be more lush, higher quality & really gather and speak to the audience’s attention.” – Jim Farinacci
“Loving the update for After Effects 2021, they have added an effect called Roto Brush 2. This allows me to quickly mask out a person or an object in a scene so that we can stick text or any animations behind them and it creates sort of a 3D effect in a 2D space. This means saving on tons of time and money.” – Lauren Goodwin
“With new technologies on the horizon and existing peripheral devices becoming more widespread, I’m excited to adapt our craft to tap into the imperceptible potential of voice search, on devices and much more. The websites and applications we develop are our clients’ 24/7 sales tools, and I cannot wait to expand these platforms across the internet of things as it becomes a more integral part of our daily lives. The future is now!” -Aaron Sonder
The Adobe Max Conference is a creativity conference that occurs every year featuring inspiring speakers and Creative Cloud announcements. Hours of live content include: keynote presentations, musical performances, sneak peaks of upcoming Adobe content, and a multitude of creatives from all over the world.
This year’s event, hosted in Los Angeles, was completely free for anyone to attend (stream) for the first time ever. There was something for everyone. Adobe offered over 350 sessions to watch on demand that covered topics such as:
- 3D and AR
- Business Productivity
- Creative and Design in Business
- Graphic Design
- Illustration and Digital Painting
- Social Media
- UI and UX Design
Some of the best highlights from the conference were sneak peaks of the new Adobe Lab work that has been labored over in the previous 12 months. One of the most shocking upgrades was Adobe’s Photoshop software. A featured new tool, named Neural Filters, allows for extremely realistic and easy altering of people’s appearances. Upload any portrait and instantly change their age, facial expression, and even alter the direction the subject’s head is facing. The results of these new filters are fast and of decent quality. Likely, many professionals will still step in to get the flawless finishing touches they are used to, but this new update is saving creatives many hours of adjustment work in Photoshop with a simple swipe.
Along with Neural Filters, Adobe has implemented a built-in Photoshop library full of reference images. Designers can use these reference images to replace entire backgrounds in their photos, change materials on objects, and even reference a subject’s face make-up to transfer onto their own photo. Keynote speaker, Conan O’Brien, is used as a test subject to showcase the crazy Photoshop updates here:
However, along with every Adobe update comes some frustrated users who are bound to disagree with something. As Photoshop becomes more easily accessible, with one-click manipulations, it can become irritating to see it develop into a tool for anyone who could use it for the wrong reasons.
Many people are worried about the potential for abuse with these new updates, creating false images that may present someone in a negative light. But this sort of image manipulation has already been possible for years, even though it required a little more patience. In these ever-evolving times of technology and messaging, audiences should know that they cannot believe the multitude of images they come across daily. At the end of the day we get to utilize these updates to enhance our skills, improve our careers, and make the creative process a little bit easier.
If you, like many of us, have been overwhelmed with a cacophony of news you may have missed a little announcement from the Google Team this month. On October 14th, Google rolled out its shiny new analytics platform christened Analytics 4. Or GA4 as you will soon be viewing it in your properties. This latest iteration of their product is merging websites and applications together. Thus allowing for greater tracking across all devices and browsers.
“We think we’ve built the best version of Analytics yet. And, it represents the future of our platform.”Sara Radin | Global Head of Analytics & Measurement Platforms
As a Google Partner, we were able to take a deep dive into their fancy new setup and have gathered up all the big takeaways just for you.
It comes as no surprise that the new platform has been based around machine learning. If you’ve renewed your certifications recently you may have noticed they are pushing for responsive ads and their performance planner (both AI based). This time around, Google is promising better and faster insights. What this means is a fancy new dashboard with lots of recommendations or Automated Insights. It alerts you when significant changes impact your metrics and then populates them right onto your home screen. Now you won’t have to go digging for any massive swings or alarming changes. Seems pretty useful, right?
Google also took a sledge hammer to the left navigation. It is now much more simplified and focuses heavily on the customer life cycle. Their goal is to get you to your reports more quickly and efficiently.
One stand out in the new nav is the ‘Analysis’ segment. In here you can really drill down into certain metrics. It seems with this feature Google has basically integrated a version of Data Studio.
Another Google goal is to boost e-commerce reporting while simultaneously making it “more approachable.” This is quite timely as many businesses have had to turn to the internet during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Keep in mind, their original Analytics was built in the age of desktops. Now consumers are shopping through all sorts of devices and applications. By focusing on the customer journey GA4 can give businesses a real granular view of their client’s shopping process.
One of the largest things to note is their addition of codeless event tracking. No longer do you have to toil away adding tags and triggers in Google Tag Manager. Instead, they integrated 5 built-in events that can be marked as conversions with a simple toggle. This allows you to focus on actual events instead of just trying to make sense of page views and sessions. The events are also more descriptive. (Hallelujah!)
“[We are] committed to making sure our customers have the controls that they need to take user privacy seriously and we’re making those controls easy to use.”Russel Ketchum| Group Product Manager, Google Analytics
Now keep in mind, most of the privacy features are still in Beta. But according to Google they want to step up your access to privacy tools within their platform. How very generous. A couple of the features mentioned are:
Consent APIs: these will help with navigating cookie consent and make them easier to target by region with “next generation ads personalization.”
Data deletion controls: again, Google promises users will have more control and can be more “surgical” in their ability to delete specific data. And since they do acknowledge deleting data can be scary, you will actually get to preview what will be cut before it gets fully erased.
Google’s main goal for the future of GA4 platform is to dial in on the lifecycle reporting through extensive customization. They are promising a big upgrade for this (severely lacking) feature.
“Customization will be pervasive across the experience, it will allow our customers to actually curate all of their reporting to meet the specific needs of their businesses.”Russel Ketchum
Google Analytics 4 is looking to better hone in on cross platform reporting with just some of these features:
Youtube: deeper integration and tracking engaged-view conversions. EVC is when a user watches at least 10 seconds of your TrueView skippable ad and then comes back and converts in a set amount of days.
Google Marketing: they are now making their 360 enterprise versions available for all.
How to update:
So, after all of this you may be wondering how to actually go about launching Google Analytics 4. It’s as simple as heading to Admin and clicking on the “Upgrade To GA4” button at the top of the properties column.
The next step is to integrate the data stream onto your website. This can be done through 2 ways. You can integrate the Global Site Tag into your header. Or add the Measurement ID through Google Tag Manager.
If you choose to use Google Tag Manager route (recommended) there is now a Google Analytics: GA4 Configuration tag type. All you have to do is drop in the measurement ID and trigger it to fire on all pages.
If you are looking to start a completely new analytics account it will automatically be GA4.
Thoughts: We are already in love with the pared down dashboard. It is incredibly easy to navigate and much more user friendly. We are looking forward to the insights and seeing what kind of tid bits their machine learning can pull. Unfortunately, a lot of it is still in beta. So, we recommend turning it on now (it becomes its own property) and allowing it to collect data. Then you can still defer to the old platform, at least for the foreseeable future while they continue to roll out features.
As always, we are here to assist you with any tracking, reporting or digital marketing efforts. Just contact us here or drop us a line at 513.443.2797.
What is cloud storage?
Cloud storage allows you to store your files online, easily access them remotely, and share and edit with others. Transferring big files efficiently and securely is critical for design and media agencies, so it is important to find the best storage option for your business and its goals. This can be challenging since there are so many different platforms with unique advantages. Here we will dive into a few of the top cloud storage choices.
Dropbox has reigned as one of the most popular file storage services since their inception in 2008. An MIT student kept forgetting his USB flash drive and ultimately came up with this idea. Founder Drew Houston wrote that existing services at the time “suffered problems with internet latency, large files, bugs, or just made me think too much.”
This hosting service puts an emphasis on compatibility and coordination with your team. Store, sync, and share files with the second largest storage provider in the world. There is a reason more than 450,000 teams use Dropbox Business. They provide teams with tools for workflow organization, project management, access management, and various other functions. It also appears that they have some of the fastest syncing abilities which is a giant plus.
One of their main features is Smart Sync. Smart Sync saves space on your hard drive by allowing you to make files and folders “online-only”. Stored securely in the Dropbox cloud, you don’t have to worry about using up extra storage space on your computer but can still access all of your files right from your desktop.
With a Dropbox Business plan you have a “Space” that organizes your files and cloud content together: Google Docs, PowerPoints, and any tools that your teams use can live next to one another. Connect Slack and keep files alongside conversations to easily collaborate.
However, if you want to securely share files larger than 2GB, you’ll need to upgrade to Business Advanced at $20/user/month. And, in terms of previewing files, you may have to download videos or larger files because the quality or color can appear low res. While Dropbox seems to outperform other cloud storage providers, it comes with a steeper price tag compared to other storage options with similar functionality. Check out their plans here to compare and contrast to other storage providers.
“Dropbox is one of the best cloud storage companies. It’s easy to use and has one of the best sync features in the game. That said, the way it handles data and the relatively high costs make its offer a bit less competitive.”Hosting Tribunal
First-Hand Experience with Dropbox Support
- Easy to contact and are very friendly
- Quick response time
- Answered all of my questions
- Recommendations and advice provided
- Overall, a great conversation
Google Drive is great for teams who spend a lot of time working in Microsoft Office and the suite software provided within Google (Docs, Spread, etc). They support over 100+ file formats and there is no need to convert any Office file formats, which saves a lot of time. Google Drive allows you to collaborate in real time with your team. You can add comments and tag team members on any file type. Drive then sends an email notification to that member and they can respond directly through Gmail without having to switch between apps. Their version history tool makes sure that every change is recorded and color-coded by person. See minute-to-minute updates and even restore files completely to their older versions.
My Drive is a free offering with default 15GB storage limits. While My Drive is more of a personal storage space for individual users, Shared Drive allows for the options of “Full Access” and “Edit Access”. This can be critical when working on specific files with others. Full access refers to the folder admin while the edit access only allows collaborators to work on specific files without the option to delete files. Shared Drives is only available with paid G Suite Business, Enterprise, or Education editions of G Suite.
To learn more about their specific plans and pricing visit their website.
Google Drive Cons
- Cannot simply delete files that exist in multiple folders
- Tedious to keep track of files that are kept in different locations
- Higher security concerns with higher likelihood of Gmail account hacking
- Need an internet connection before you can begin using offline access
- Wifi/connectivity issues – need a strong signal most of the time
- Those without a Gmail account only have viewing access to files
- No first-hand experience with Google Drive support
- They encourage you to ask your questions via online forum. No options to chat online or by phone
Cloud storage syncs your files, folders, Creative Cloud libraries, and assets across connected devices through your Creative Cloud account. Files available within your Creative Cloud Files folder are automatically synced to the Creative Cloud website.
Synced files can be viewed directly in native Adobe file formats without having to be downloaded or viewed in the Creative Cloud apps themselves. This is very convenient for those using online storage to hold a lot of their work created within these apps. Designers will be able to do many things like: view thumbnails and larger previews, change layer states of PSD files, step through Illustrator artboards, InDesign, PDF pages, and see file metadata all from within their web browsers. To learn more about the features of Creative Cloud storage visit this Adobe webpage.
“One of the main benefits of Creative Cloud is that it works very smoothly across Apple devices. Once you log into your account, all the application backups practically handle themselves.Hosting Tribunal
First-Hand Experience with Adobe Support
- Connected to a few different employees until someone could answer my question about storage
- Not willing or excited to give me information about their plans/options
- Had to reword my questions a few times to get a legitimate answer
- Was given a phone number to call for details about CC for Teams
- Delayed replies on chat feature
These are just a few of many online storage options to choose from. A lot of this decision comes down to the user interface experience, what you are comfortable with using, and how much money you are willing to spend. For a lot of the business plans options you will need to contact the providers to get exact pricing. If you are having a hard time deciding, it is very common for providers to give a free trial period. Make sure your files are safe and you are comfortable with your choices by utilizing customer support and getting all of your important questions answered.
Which one should you use to make the most of your presentation?
Exciting presentations can be hard to put together. There are always new and creative ways to engage your audience. Two of the most widely used presentation tools are Microsoft PowerPoint and the newer, non-linear presentation tool, Prezi. So, which software should you use to organize your content and impress your peers? To make this decision you’ll need to have a basic understanding of each program. PowerPoint and Prezi are similar in a lot of ways but both have unique abilities that can be used to your advantage.
Pros and Cons of Microsoft PowerPoint:
Released in 1987, PowerPoint was initially meant for Macintosh computers only. However, Microsoft bought PowerPoint only three months later for $14 million. Since its first launch, Microsoft PowerPoint has come a long way. Approximately 35 million PowerPoint presentations are given each day by an estimated 500 million users worldwide. You can collaborate on shared projects, use pre-designed templates to save time, and get presentation tips with Presenter Coach (provided with your Office plan). PowerPoint’s graphic tools allow you to use your own art medium, just like former Talking Heads band member, David Byrne. Check out some of his PowerPoint artwork here.
- it’s the most popular, “go to” solution for presentations everywhere
- it’s popularity and familiarity enables better collaboration
- great for telling a linear story
- vast amount of content for learning and support
- easy create charts and graphs to visualize data
- the slides are print-friendly
- must follow linear format
- it’s linear format makes audience interaction and Q&A difficult
- clip art and graphic content is outdated
- the file size can become very large
- you have to buy a Microsoft software license
Cost: Office 365 Business costs $8.25 per user/per month with an annual commitment and includes Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, and Access; it also provides 1TB of cloud storage via OneDrive.
This information is always changing. Visit the Microsoft 365 website to learn more about the different plans and features available.
Pros and Cons of Prezi:
“a visual storytelling software alternative to traditional slide-based presentation formats […] featuring a map-like overview that lets users pan between topics, zoom in on details, and pull back to reveal context,”Wikipedia
Prezi supports over 100 million users worldwide. It is a great story-telling tool that supports mind-mapping and has the ability to show the bigger picture along with the finer details. If you are unfamiliar with Prezi, the best way to understand how it works is to watch a few in action. Check out the 2019 Prezi Awards for a look into this flexible presentation software.
- the Prezi zoom function allows the presentation to act as a limitless zoomable canvas which changes the way people share information
- enables nonlinear storytelling
- allows for “conversational presenting” often used for informal presentations
- provides their users with pre-designed templates, icons and graphics to choose from
- allows collaboration for up to 10 people
To learn about all of Prezi’s unique functions check out this webpage “What Makes Prezi so Unique?”.
- limited font options
- unique interface that can be time consuming to learn
- limited tools for font resizing and image adjustments
- background images have reduced quality
- difficult to print
- the presentation format can be distracting to the audience
Cost: Prezi Plus starts at $19/month while Prezi Premium (for business professionals) starts at $59/month
Visit the Prezi website to learn more about their different plans and features available.
If you are tighter on time it might be smarter to use Powerpoint. If you are presenting data, facts, and figures it will probably be easier conveying that information through Powerpoint.
Also, PowerPoint will most likely be a client’s preferred method of delivery if they need to make any minor or last-minute changes or need to pass it along with their company.
At the end of the day, the simple and reliable design is most often found in the familiar design tool of Microsoft Powerpoint. From what we have gathered, we think it is tailored closer to business presentations and for those who are more concerned with content/taking notes. That being said, Prezi can be more useful for a fun, conversational presentation. You might very well benefit from Prezi if you want to put in the work and make your presentation stand out. It could be very useful for educational purposes or for story-like topics with many details and a more organic flow of information.
You can use these interchangeably because it all comes down to how you are using them. Organize your content, create a mind map, put down all of your ideas and data before making a decision for which you would like to use that makes the most sense. You can also look at potential alternatives to PowerPoint and Prezi which you might find are better suited for your work.
We will update this periodically. Let us know if there are any other presentation tools you would like us to evaluate.
Super Bowl Ads: What Can We Expect This Year?
Super Bowl LI is only a few days away, and fans have already been excited for quite some time. Whether their favorite team made it all the way or not, football fans and even those less interested will be tuning in for one of the biggest television broadcasts of the entire year. With Super Bowl 50 having been the third most watched Super Bowl in history, there is sure to be a vast audience glued to their television screens this year.
Over the years, the Super Bowl has grown into a time for other focuses as well. For many, it is getting to see the famous ads that everybody raves about on social media, sometimes weeks before they are even broadcast on television. Some viewers even watch the Super Bowl primarily for the ads. Although most people see them only as a source of entertainment, a select few do use them as a means of discovering new products. According to MarketingCharts, 78.6% of men and 80.4% of women see them as purely entertainment, this leaves a small margin of viewers who actually seek to discover new products, and yet others who see them only as an annoyance, causing the game to last too long.
Exactly how much money?
Every year, an individual brand will dish out about $5 million for a short, 30-second spot on television during the Super Bowl. This usually proves to pay for itself, as companies such as Wix.com report having increases in expected revenue as high as $4 million.
The 2016 Super Bowl proved to be a significant one, which we can use to predict how things will go for companies this year. Undoubtedly, they used the statistics to determine what kind of ad to make and how to approach it–much depending on the demographic they aim to reach. By far, the ad that came out on top last year was Doritos’ “No Dogs Allowed,” which was shared over 900,000 times on social media the day after the game. The fact that Super Bowl venues have begun including Wifi likely didn’t hurt the number of social media posts that we saw during the game last year, with over 10.15 TB of data transferred over the network. Surprisingly, this was one of the few ads that year which used the “cute animals” theme, which has proven to be popular in past Super Bowl ads, and TV ads in general.
Doritos also came out on top for the most emotionally engaging ad for “Ultrasound,” which resonated much more highly with women than with men. Avocados from Mexico ranked next, with the #Avosinspace hashtag racking up over 50,000 tweets. However, it should be kept in mind that this was also premiered before the Super Bowl even aired.
Ads in 2016 showed some pretty significant trends. Humor was less popular than previous years, but the times it was used had very different effects on audience members. Although humor seemed to work pretty well for Heinz’ “Meet the Ketchups” ad, it didn’t go over quite as well for Mountain Dew’s “Puppymonkeybaby.” Undoubtedly, “Puppymonkybaby” was talked about after it aired, but not for the same reasons as Heinz’ ad, with “Puppymonkeybaby” actually having a somewhat negative impact on those over the age of 55.
2016 saw less ads that attempted to use the “cute baby/animal” “or “sex appeal” approach to them, with emotionally-charged themes proving to be a good choice for a number of brands. Budweiser’s #GiveaDamn is a great example of this, talking about the dangers of drunk driving and combining it with humor resulted in a very positive impact in its number of shares on social media. Helen Mirren’s appearance and infamous blunt personality probably didn’t hurt anything, either, proving the effectiveness of celebrity endorsement.
Super Bowl LI
Twenty seventeen is sure to be another memorable year for Super Bowl ads, especially since the cost of one has more than doubled since 2010. Budweiser will take a daring approach that was definitely not seen in such a way last year. “Born the Hard Way” has already debuted, with a political theme on immigration, very relevant to what is going on in America at the moment, In this ad, a German immigrant to America is told that he is not wanted here. Although this does not touch on the currently-affected countries involved in the immigration ban, it is a side-eye towards America’s government and new president, which is sure to get strong reactions on both sides. We can only wait and see what this will do for Budweiser’s sales, or if it will result in a “boycott” as many other companies have been seeing in the wake of the new presidency.
As promised, Wix.com will return again, incorporating Kung-Fu Panda into their advertisement. As mentioned before, this type of “cute” theme was not utilized so much in the past year, and we will have to see if this one generates as much revenue for Wix.com as their ad last year did for them.
A surprising addition to the lineup includes Skittles, which has also been pre-released. Despite the name, it is humorous with just a touch of romance, remaining tried and true to their typical “Taste the Rainbow” television ads.
In a word, we can definitely expect with the amount of things going on in our country right now that there will be more companies than just Budweiser incorporating political ideals into their Super Bowl ads, taking the opportunity not only as a way to promote their product, but where they stand on the issues as well.
With many ads in the past taking the opportunity to create themes that touch on the hearts of their viewers, we can only expect that inclusion and coming together will be a theme as well. With the Rio ad already released, we have seen a taste of common topics, with emotional themes making another appearance. Humor has worked well in the past, and it is likely that viewers are expecting to see more of these accompanying the Super Bowl, a somewhat lighthearted event instead of the more serious tones.
Will any unaired ads surprise us with their themes this year, and will they affect product sales? Time will tell, and with Super Bowl LI quickly approaching, we won’t have to wait long to find out.
What is Pokémon GO?
If you’ve been living alone in the wilderness for the past month – Pokémon is back, and better than ever. Niantic, a software development company in the heart of Silicon Valley with investors like Google and Nintendo, has transformed the playing card game for children into a mobile gaming phenomenon. The app utilizes geolocation and augmented reality (AR) to create an immersive experience bringing fantasy into your every day life.
How Popular is Pokémon GO?
Survey Monkey claims daily active users is somewhere between 20-25 million. Additionally, Pokémon GO was the fastest to ever reach the godly 20 million download mark. What marketing professionals should find most intriguing – time spent on the app (left) and the user demographics (below). There is no other app out there that can engage such a diverse group of people for such a long period of time.
Clearly this app poses a number of opportunities for those willing to embrace the craze, employ a nimble marketing strategy, and engage on social media. But before you even consider incorporating Pokémon GO into your marketing efforts, ask yourself these 3 questions:
1. Would your business benefit from increased foot traffic?
[my creatives would kill me if all of the sudden hundreds of people were banging down the door]
2. Does your brand align with a new, trendy game?
[maybe this marketing tactic won’t apply to your doctor’s office, law firm, financial institution, etc.]
3. Do you market B2B, B2C, or both?
[utilizing Pokémon GO won’t bring executives or decision makers to your business]
For those of you with interest peaked, we’ll outline a few strategies below.
What: A lure module increases the rate of Pokémon generation near a Pokéstop for half an hour.
When: Use during lull hours to increase foot traffic.
Where: Must be near a Pokéstop.
Cost: $100 = 14,500 Pokécoins → 8 Lures = 680 Pokécoins → 14,500 / 680 = 21 eight-packs → (21*8)/2 = 84 hours → $100/84 hours = $1.19 per hour
Get involved with Pokémon Go in your store. Instagram, Tweet and Facebook your interaction with the game and watch the attention it brings. Connect with people on another level. Look how much interaction you will receive, building relationships over a common bond and ultimately gaining the trust of potential customers. Not only is this good PR but a great free way to market your company in a different light.
What: Players battle on behalf of their teams in a king-of-the-hill style gameplay trying to take control of the gym. To hold a gym teams need multiple members to to defend it, while only one member leads.
When: Use to create a little friendly competition. Incentivize players by offering percent or discount off to gym leaders (with proof of gamer ID).
Where: Must be near a Pokémon Gym.
In the future for Pokémon Go, companies will have the opportunity to create “sponsored locations.” These locations are paid opportunities to be featured prominently on the games virtual map. Advertisers will be charged on a “cost per visit” basis, similar to “cost per click” used by Google’s search advertising according to techcrunch.
City-wide events are soon to come for Pokémon Go. Although we are not quite sure, events might have timers, which will mean these events will need to be conducted within an expressed timeframe. These events will attract a wide range of Pokemon players, allowing them to meet up from time to time, further encouraging social interactions between players.