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Agency - Vert | Full-Service Mobile & Social Media Marketing Agency

Agency


‘Tis the season to be jolly! It’s almost time for Santa to come clamoring down our chimney’s and we’ve got a few nifty gadgets on our wish list. Check out what each of the Vertbags are hoping for this year and let us know what’s at the top of your list!

Vert Christmas

#1. [ Michael ] The 500 GH/s Bitcoin Miner from Butterfly Labs: The Mini Rig comes ready with a touch panel (Nexus 7) control screen with built in host. With the current price of one Bitcoin over $800, this is the Christmas present that will certainly keep on giving.

#2. [ Kevin ] Samsung Galaxy Camera: Point & shoot camera that runs on Android + touchscreen on WiFi. Features auto-upload to share photos easily, and the 21X optical Zoom is amazing!

#3. [ Matt ] Emotiv Insight: A sleek, 5 channel, wireless headset that records your brainwaves and translates them into meaningful data you can understand.

#4. [ Mindy ] GoPro Hero3 Black Edition: Features video resolutions up to 4K, 12MP photos up to 30 frames per second, built-in Wi-Fi, SuperView™ and Auto Low Light modes.

#5. [ Lauren ] Everpurse: A purse with a charging dock built right into an inside pocket. The docking system guides your phone smoothly onto a dock connector at the bottom—so you don’t have to fish for a cord!

#6. [ Justin ] Tesla Model S: A car so advanced that it sets the standard for premium performance. With a rigid body structure, nearly 50/50 weight distribution and a remarkably low center of gravity, Model S offers the responsiveness and agility expected from the world’s best sports cars while providing the ride quality of a sedan.

#7. [ Kelsey ] Pear Mobile Training Intelligence System: Uses the advanced Bluetooth heart rate monitor to measure your body’s response to a workout and provides real-time audio coaching through the Pear Stride earphones to ensure that you train at the right intensity.

#8. [ Sam ] Samsung Galaxy Note 3: Featuring an enhanced 5.7-inch Full HD Super AMOLED display, smart innovations, and a thin, lightweight design, the elegant Galaxy Note 3 is capable of things you never thought possible.

#9. [ Cameron ] FitBit Force: This sleek wristband is with you all the time. Stay motivated to keep moving with real-time stats right on your wrist. Track steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, stairs climbed and active minutes throughout the day. At night, track your sleep and wake up silently with a vibrating alarm.

#10. [ Chris ] LG 84″ 4k TV: Ultra high definition 3D TV with smart TV.

#11. [ Cherry ] Sensu Solo: A new series of brushes to express your creativity digitally. Advanced hair technology and construction creates a spring and responsiveness that feels like real painting.

 



2013 has been a breakout year for the entire team and our amazing clients. We have been fortunate to work with partners who have a bigger vision for what can be done on digital channels and aren’t afraid to push the envelope. We’ve collaborated on everything from crazy 55 hour livestreams to creepy Open Graph experiences and innovative mobile media campaigns… All in all we took home 16 recognitions across 9 programs this year. Here is a breakdown of Vert’s year of awards (and it’s not over yet!):

Vert at the Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association (AiMA) Awards

UGA’s Bulldog 100

  • Named #2 fastest growing UGA-alumni owned company in the world for 2013/2014

AiMA Awards

  • WON Best Mobile Campaign for the IHG Summer Check-In Mobile Campaign

W3 Awards

  • WON Silver: Most Innovative Campaign for #TornadoWeek with The Weather Channel
  • WON Silver: Most Innovative Campaign for ProveYourSmooth.com with Philips Norelco & Bump Patrol

Mashable Mashie Awards

  • Finalist in National Rising Star Marketer

OMMA Awards

  • Finalist in Best Viral Campaign for #TornadoWeek with The Weather Channel

MarCom Awards

  • WON 3 Platinum for Best Viral Campaign for #TornadoWeek with The Weather Channel
  • WON Gold: Best Facebook Site for ProtectYourProfile.org with Assurant’s Protect Your Bubble
  • WON Gold: Best Facebook Site for ProveYourSmooth.com with Philips Norelco & Bump Patrol

HSMAI Adrian Awards

  • WON Platinum  for the IHG Summer Check-In Mobile Campaign

Digiday Video Awards

  • Finalist in Best Social Video Advertising for #TornadoWeek with The Weather Channel

iMedia Agency Awards

  • Finalist for Campaign of the Year for #TornadoWeek with The Weather Channel

MARK Awards

  • WON Silver in Multimedia Campaign for “Social Surveillance with Hothouse & Showtime

It goes without saying but LITERALLY every single person at the agency has contributed to this list and should be very proud. Shoutout to Kelsey, Mindy, Justin, Sam, Cameron, Lauren, Matt, Chris, and Michael – bravo #vertbags… #Bravo.

- Kevin Planovsky
@kplanovsky



There has been a lot of bad-mouthing of Advertising Week across the industry blogs and dailies. Perhaps I am a naive first-timer, but I think Jon Bond said it best when he blogged that after 10 years “Advertising Week is a breath of fresh air for our industry”!

As I fly back to Atlanta from ye olde large apple, I decided to jot down all of the crazy, fun, some disappointing, and exciting things I accomplished in only 48 short hours in Manhattan. The below list is the 40 things from my short period of time at Advertising Week 2013:

  1. Met Wayne Gattinella from DoubleVerify (and formerly WebMD)
  2. Asked 5 unabashed (and yet poignant) questions at over 10 different sessions
  3. Saw Microsoft, dotJWT, Placewise & DoubleVerify talk about “Waste Free Advertising”
  4. Listened to an insightful chat by Facebook on Mobile: The New First Screen
  5. Chatted about agency consolidation & #TornadoWeek with Joel Lunenfeld of Twitter
  6. Met Valerie Buckingham from NokiaJim Joseph from Cohn + Wolfe and chatted Windows8
  7. Talked to our pals Carin & Dave at ThinkNear about our mobile campaigns with IHG
  8. Wished Marcus Startzel (CRO of Millenial Media) luck before his panel session
  9. Met Jim Squires Product Marketing Manager @ Facebook and talked location-based ads
  10. Met Eric Hadley from The Weather Company and talked #tornadoweek
  11. Talked Google+ Local & Ads with Tim Reis who leads Mobile + Social for Google
  12. Saw Acxiom, Google, Weather Company, InMobi and AT&T talk #mobile
  13. Enjoyed the authentic content case study from Fast Company and Target
  14. Caught up with David Smith from MediaSmith and showed him our SxSWi 2014 infographic
  15. Saw Facebook, Deep Focus, Shift, and GroupM talk about mobile tactics & technologies
  16. Met Ian Schaffer, founder of Deep Focus, and talked agency politics + awards
  17. Hung out with BliNQ Media at The Daily in SoHo thanks to my buddy Sarah DeVries
  18. Scored a fancy red notebook from the NYC TapJoy team (thanks guys!)
  19. Got photogenic on the #IABMIXX red carpet with Lisa West (see epic photo below)
  20. Met Anoop, Dinesh & “Rock” from Cars.com and geeked out on tech + cars for a bit
  21. Talked OMMA Awards smack to Chad who runs media for PepsiCo
  22. Ran into old Atlanta friend Michael Saterman from Primacy and talked shop…
  23. Saw PeTA Speak on Extreme Marketing tactics & setup a meeting with SVP Dan Mathews
  24. Serendipitously met up with Rosie & Faris in between their adventures for drinks (you guys rock!)
  25. Stayed in Bed-Stuy, you know, the swanky part of Brooklyn that Biggie and Jay-Z are from…
  26. Met the founder of HitBliss and talked advertising opportunities on their platform
  27. Was beat by 360i AGAIN for the Best Viral Campaign OMMA Award (no hard feelings)
  28. Talked shop with Jason Keath of Social Fresh at a little dive bar in SoH
  29. Hailed an UBER to LGA and am still deeply in love with that company
  30. Tried Pinkberry for the first time (albeit an airport one…) and am hooked.
  31. Re-Connected with my HS pal Liz who was kind enough to let me crash at her place
  32. Had an amazing Cobb Salad (no bacon) from Schnipper’s in the NY Times building
  33. Ran into fellow ATLien Kara Kaminsky from Delta Sky Media
  34. Enoyed the authentic content case study from Fast Company and Target
  35. Recognized Mack McKelvey (formerly of Millenial Media) and talked shop
  36. Chatted the Costa Rica Investment group about setting up a Vert office there
  37. Ate a most delicious veg lunch at Maoz (and now want to franchise it in ATL)
  38. Re-Connected with UGA pal Thom Pulliam of Co: Collective
  39. Determined that Advertising Week 2013′s buzzwords were Mobile, Data, & Collaboration
  40. Devoured a most delicious NYC pizza slice around 1am and didn’t get lost on the subway
Kevin & Lisa at IAB MIXX

We had way too much fun making this photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In short – it was a blast, I highly recommend it, and hope to see you all at Advertising Week 2014!

-Kevin Planovsky
@kplanovsky



So I am up here in NYC for Advertising Week – which I am fully convinced is 10X more amazing for us “agency-types” than the annual mecca to Austin in March. But just as I speak too soon – our buddies over at The Visualab sent me the final version of an infographic we just collaborated on… Whether Vert will be at SxSW Interactive 2014 or not – here are our top predictions based on the number of times the below keywords showed up in this year’s panel picker submissions:

BIG Thanks to Andy & Liz at the Visualab for the sexy graphics...

BIG Thanks to Andy & Liz at the Visualab for the sexy graphics…

Fingers crossed our #TornadoWeek Panel with Mashable, Twitter, and The Weather Company gets picked – otherwise we might be going badge-less this year! What are your big predictions for tech’s week-long ego-fest? Hopefully it will be 1/2 as successful as my first SxSW back in 2011

-Kevin
@kplanovsky



Last year we took home an AiMA Award and a couple Adrian Awards for our work with Taco Mac and InterContinental Hotels Group – now 2013′s awards season is heating up and the Vert team is kicking it off with a bang! I just got a call this week notifying us that we are finalists in this year’s OMMA Awards for best viral campaign going head to head against 360i for their Oreo work and the crazy Jeff Gordon Pepsi Max video that OMD created. This is amazing and disheartening news at the same time…

MediaPost OMMA Awards Best Viral Campaign

Click on the image to vote for us as Member’s Choice favorite!

This is phenomenal validation for the Vert team and for our amazing client counterparts at the Weather Channel…. (shoutout to Brandon & Vicky!) OMMA is one of the most respected organizations in the digital marketing industry and to be alongside such heavy hitting brands and agencies speaks volumes about Vert’s expertise, strategy, and results on the #TornadoWeek campaign. However, it is also frustrating to see who we share the “viral campaign” category with… Partly because it is going to be hard to win, but mostly because the other two entries (while both amazing feats of digital marketing) are not campaigns.

The OREO Blackout Tweet is lauded by our industry, but with much awkward chagrin… the teamwork and quick thinking needed to pull off what became the most successful tweet of this year’s Super Bowl is award worthy. But it wasn’t a campaign… get out of my category! Moreover, the level of comedy and share-ability in the hilarious Pepsi Max video is one for the books. But at the same time – can we really label something as “viral” that also had a multi-million dollar TV ad budget?

We are all ridiculously excited and will be sending some folks up to NYC for the awards reception – just in case the esteemed panel of judges happens to share in our strategic vision about these entries! No matter what the outcome, it is an honor and a priveledge to be recognized in this capacity and we wish all of the nominees good luck (especially our fellow ATLiens BlacQube!). Fingers crossed! Tweet me in 2 weeks and I’ll fill you in… ;)

-Kevin Planovsky
@kplanovsky



brands_draft_two

In Vert’s short 4 years of existence, we have been blessed to work on some sizeable brands with big global footprints, fancy offices, and hefty budgets. While we certainly haven’t been awarded the lion’s share of those budgets, we have gotten some fun, unique, and niche pieces of business from the big Fortune 500s. This wasn’t because of anything special or slick business development tactics – it’s simply because big brands NEED small agencies. Here’s the top 5 reasons why:

  1. Resources: Corporations needs to keep it lean and mean these days, especially in departments that are constantly under scrutiny like the internal Marketing team. Working with a small agency lets CMOs and Marketing Directors add resources (read: warm bodies & brains) to their team without needing hiring approvals, added overhead, etc. This level of partnership between big brands and small agencies can be very effective but can sometimes be more like outsourcing – which might get hairy.
  2. Perspective: Brand marketing teams can get tunnel vision from time-to-time… Investors, Board Members, and Management are always focused on revenue, sales, and operations figures and that pressure translates down the chain. Bringing in a small agency brings in a fresh mind, a fun culture, and brains that can bring a new vantage point to your marketing and business goals. The larger the agency, the more stringent the policies and procedures and the more limited view you can get from your agency/client partnership
  3. Innovation: Innovative people with specialized (AKA: bad ass) skills can be expensive. Brand corporations can rarely get the full value out of niche developers, thinkers, strategists or creatives. Conversely, smaller agencies are typically focused on a very specific type of solution or service that they scale across multiple clients. Hiring these teams allows big brands to tap into this expertise and past learnings in these specialized areas that they don’t have in-house.
  4. Deadlines: Big corporations move slow. They are clunky and strapped down by budgets and procedures. Guess what – SO ARE BIG AGENCIES! It’s no surprise – when a deadline is tight, the best place to go for support is a small agency. A prime example would be our recent work on #TornadoWeek with the Weather Channel. A world-class execution in under 2 weeks. Enough Said.
  5. Small Projects: Big brands use big agencies for a large portion of their work – we get it. But sometimes projects come along that just aren’t worth that expensive big agency hourly rate. In cases like this, smaller agencies are not only able – but usually more than willing to pickup the slack.

When we started this company back in 2009, we knew the big contracts wouldn’t come out the gate – instead it was our plan to “get our foot in the door” with bleeding-edge solutions and to nurture and cultivate these opportunities with our clients. Over time, as these formerly “new” emerging media channels mature – so does our role, our contracts, our clients, and our budgets. This has been the case along the social and mobile spectrum and we look forward to many more years of growth and success with our clients!

I would love to hear your own perspective and stories on smaller agencies working with bigger brands. Please tweet me up at @kplanovsky with #BigBrandSmallAgency!

Cheers!
-Kevin
kevin@vertmob.com



Tornado-Week-Interns These last couple weeks have been some of the most amazing (and crazy busy) since we started the agency over 4 years ago. On Monday, we launched the #TornadoWeek campaign with The Weather Channel and it has been a whirlwind every second since (pun intended). With mentions from Mashable, The Huffington Post and appearances on the TODAY Show – this really is a dream come true for the entire team (and our amazing counterparts over at TWC!)

You’ve heard the buzz around #TornadoWeek… Every tweet of the #TornadoWeek hashtag raises the scale – once it hits certain milestones, another fan goes on. Weather Channel interns* are staffing the office all week, with special guests including The Weather Channel’s favorite on-camera personalities and hosts! Once the chart hits 1,000,000 tweets, we’ve got an EF-5 tornado on our hands! Not to mention users can also chat live with the interns using the @TornadoWeek handle! See one of the recap videos below:

The Weather Channel approached Vert looking for an idea to generate excitement and tune-in for their original programming during Tornado Week. Why not harness the power of Twitter, we thought, to recreate the power of a tornado? But the fields of Kansas wouldn’t do for a setting – so we brought in some interns and setup shop in their studio for the week.

The Vert team built the entire Twitter hashtag tracker and corresponding Enhanced Fujita scale in a matter of days. We are pinging the Twitter API every few seconds and archiving the tweets on our local server so that everytime a user joins – they get the most recent figure. Our social messaging team lead the overall strategy and has collaborated with what seems like the entire TWC staff to make @TornadoWeek come to life. Thanks to everyone at The Weather Channel for letting us run with such an awesomely fun idea, and for providing some very high quality indoor-storm-chasing cameras and ridiculously entertaining on-air meteorologists (we’re looking at you @malkoff)

*no interns were harmed in the making of this video. Protective eyewear and kites available as needed.

-Kevin Planovsky
@kplanovsky



standalone vs integrated blog

If we had an advice column, or an “Ask Vert” button somewhere on here, one of our loyal readers might write to us something along the following lines:

Dear Vertbags,

I run a small business and was thinking I should start a blog, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it. You see, I could either add a blog to my website, or create a standalone blog with a totally separate URL. I hear there are benefits to both. What should I do?

Sincerely,

Future Blogger

In response, we might write back something like this:

Dear Future Blogger, and future bloggers of America,

Your desire to take up the noble art of blogging is an honorable one.  A blog can really help your business when done right, especially if you keep it alive with consistent, fresh content. But for starters, you need to decide where your blog will live. While some businesses keep their blog on the company website (see: http://www.vertmob.com/blog/), others opt for a standalone blog with its own URL. There are benefits to both, depending on your brand and what you want to say on your blog.

Standalone blogs:

Pros: A standalone blog is great if you want to focus on a specific topic or an area of expertise that your business specializes in. Not only will you get added SEO benefits from the use and repetition of certain relevant keywords, but your blog will gain authority in the blogosphere if it is more focused (assuming, of course, that there is interesting, well-written content). Furthermore, as blogging expert Jennifer Bourn points out, a separate blogsite allows you to optimize content for two website listings with your brand name on them, both of which can show up in search engine results and strengthen brand awareness. However, maintaining two sites is doubly time consuming and often doubly expensive; which brings me to the cons…

Cons: It’s more difficult and expensive to manage two websites. It can be confusing for people who want to interact with you, but aren’t sure which website is best to reach you at. Lastly, it can be confusing for you to have to remember to renew two domains instead of one, as well as an additional username/password combination (did that last point make me sound lazy?).

Adding a blog to your website (Integrated blog): 

Pros: It’s neat and easy for users to find and interact with you on one site. The creation of the blog is simple as the design of your website is already complete. One site keeps readers focused and allows for more direct sales action points and brand exposure. Furthermore, when you update your blog with fresh content, you are getting SEO benefits to your company’s site, which you probably don’t update on a regular basis. The more visitors you attract to your blog/company website, the higher your site will place in search rankings. Lastly, the URL of each of your blog posts will match the URL of your website and  will probably have your brand’s name somewhere in there. This helps build backlinks to your site when other people share your content, and is therefore better for search rankings.

Cons: see “Pros” of standalone blogs above.

 

So which is better?

In response to typical small business owners, like the one mentioned above, we would most likely recommend adding a blog to your website rather than creating a standalone blog. Visitors to the blog articles will boost the core website’s analytics and cause your site to move up in search results. An integrated blog matches the goal of most small businesses, which is to get more brand exposure and sell their product/service. Plus, it is simply much easier (and cheaper) to manage one site instead of two.

For a larger, more established organization that wantd to break into a niche market, we might recommend creating a standalone blog. This blog can focus on specialized keywords to reach the top of search results in a specific topic more quickly. Backlinks from this standalone blog to the main site would help move up the main site in the search results for those keywords.

While there are advantages and disadvantages to both standalone blogs and integrated blogs, ultimately you have to decide what works best for you and your company. Remember to take into consideration how much money you want to shell out, along with the amount of time and resources you can dedicate to the blog.

Good luck with your blogging, and feel free to let us know if you have any questions or blog-related tips to add in the comments section!

DISCLAIMER: For the purposes of this blog post about blogs (don’t worry, the irony was not lost on me) we have invented an imaginary person with an imaginary issue to address. This narrative style should not be taken to represent the overall mental health or stability of the Vert staff.



We’ve made our list and checked it twice – this is what the Vert team wants for Christmas!

Michael: To make sure my eyes stay “young” – I’d love to replace my current 21 inch monitor with this gift from Santa: With this 90 inch LCD screen, all my tweets, Facebook photos, emails and Podio tasks would be 4 times larger!

Lauren: The cookbook of the FUTURE! I want this Ferran Adrià cooking app cooking app because it’s the perfect combination of technology and fine dining – two of my favorite things!

Rachel: I would like Santa to bring Vert a treadmill desk so we can get exercise while we work. I’m told it’s good for you. Besides, this guy gives it a thumbs up!

  

Justin:

  1. Nest thermostat – this intelligent thermostat saves energy AND it can be controlled by your iPhone.
  2. Jawbone Up: Tracks your daily activity (steps taken, distance, calories burned, speed) and inspires you to live healthier. It also tracks your sleep quality, and has all kinds of fun challenges and social applications to make your healthy lifestyle more fun!
  3. Lytro camera – Captures a light field rather than a photo allowing you to focus on anything in the picture after you’ve taken it.

Kelsey: I want an Apple TV so I can stop paying for cable! Also, this: Fascinations USB Desktop Aquarium

what-Kelsey-wants-from-santa

 

Kevin: I want a Simple.tv + 2 Roku Streaming Sticks so I can create a virtual wireless on-demand DVR network for all OTA (over-the-air) HD programming throughout my house! Take that COMCAST!

 

Chris:

  1. GoPro Hero3
  2. Apple Thunderbolt Display (27-inch)
  3. 2012 Apple Mac Mini:

 

Matt:

  1. Nifty Minidrive: SD card holder that fits flush with your MacBook. It micro SD cards so you can add lots of hard drive space without having anything sticking out of your computer.
  2. The Form 1 3D Printer
  3. Oculus VR Headset for gamers – super geeky! But kind of cool.
  4. Twine: It’s like IFTTT.com, but in the real world. The box detects something like a temperature change then can send out a tweet or email.

 



Yesterday I had the pleasure of presenting and leading a discussion with a room full of about 75 smart, engaged social media professionals at Digital Atlanta. What did we talk about? Professionalism… While my slides weren’t the most professional, the discussion it spurred was exactly what I had hoped to ignite. This is the continuation of that discussion…
Digital Atlanta Social Media PhD group
The Premise: Social media has grown up way to quickly and largely unchecked as an industry. Do we need an official structure to transform ourselves into a true profession? Based on wikipiedia’s definition, we collaboratively identified the parameters that would potentially achieve this:

FORMAL QUALIFICATIONS:
o At LEAST one year of experience/ 2-3 years ideal
o Notable PR/journalism & writing experience
o At least one year of hands-on brand/organization experience
o Proven ability to link the real world with digital world (i.e. event)
o Established understanding of how analytics, mobile, integrated digital

EDUCATION, APPRENTICESHIP & EXAMS
o Hands-on training/mentorship under an established digital brand expert
o College degree or 4 years of related experience
o Credential examinations (brand, analytics, SEO, writing) administered by regulatory body (below)
o Continuing education through seminars and workshops – 20 hrs/ half year
o Produced a mentor-guided white-paper/case-study/capstone project

REGULATORY BODIES
o IEEE caliber organization (global scope)
o Must oversee and regulate seminars, events, exams, etc on a regular basis
o Must have ability to penalize organizations and/or levy fines
o Should not be specifically tied to a government or corporate entity
o Made up of representatives from lawmakers, professionals, educators, social media publishers/vendors, members from related associations
o Publish quarterly social media guidelines “handbook” (equivalent of AP Styleguide)

After putting all these thoughts together – we switched the tides and attempted to discredit all of this thinking. Ultimately we came to a few main conclusions:

  1. Some sort of validation is needed for our industry
  2. “Social Media” may be too limiting of a term (perhaps “Digital Communications” instead)
  3. Systems should not be EXCLUSIONARY to other participants

Ultimately, I am thrilled with how it turned out and have each and every one of you who participated to thank. Please continue the discussion in the comments below… This is an important topic worth our time and attention and I look forward to bringing these ideas to some of the real movers and shakers of our digital industry.

Cheers!
-Kevin Planovsky
@kplanovsky