Hailo Toronto to Shut Down

RIP

It’s heartbreak hotel over here in Emma-land. Earlier today, Hailo announced that they would be shutting down North American operations. At the time, Toronto office lead Justin Raymond said he would be asking for a licensing deal with the parent company.

Well, Hailo just announced they would not be giving Hailo Toronto a license to continue operations in Toronto.

A representative for Hailo says the company is shutting down all markets completely, and won’t be striking a licensing deal in Toronto.

This is a tragedy. I’ve been a vocal fan of the Hailo app since it arrived on the scene in Toronto in 2012. I remember writing a blog post announcing their launch and how excited I was to try it out.

It’s been one of my go-to apps over the years, and I’ve been so proud to support a company I’ve believed in. In comparison, I’ve been a big critic of Uber, primarily for what I believe to be their shady business practices and I will refuse to support them here in Toronto, even though they are the only viable option left.

To me, this opens up a huge whitespace in the market that a new app could easily fill. I hope they come soon, because “winter is coming” and I get cold walking home. To Hailo Toronto employees: I’m so sorry. You’ve always been nothing short of awesome. I hope you can find solace in the fact that you had many, many fans.

Imgur Introduces GIFV

I’ve written before about how much I love Imgur. To me, Imgur is a company to watch; not only are they at the forefront of the internet, as they own a ton of internet traffic (seriously, 5 billion monthly pageviews!), but I can tell they take this responsibility seriously and are actively looking for ways to improve internet culture.

Today, Imgur announced a new innovation that they’ve been working on called GIFV. From their blog post:

GIFs are no longer about .GIFs–the culture of the GIF now trumps the file format. With Project GIFV, Imgur is reimagining the looping GIF video with all the richness it deserves as a key piece of Internet culture.

With GIFV, essentially, Imgur has been working on a way to maintain the richness and quality of a GIF yet keep the file size small (read: quick loading and less use of bandwidth – not only important to any internet user but key to a satisfactory mobile experience).

Here’s an example they provided:

The good news is, as Imgur writes, “Project GIFV implements MP4 video in a way that looks and behaves exactly like a GIF.” Hoorah! However, beyond that, they state that “will now fully animate on channels like Twitter and Facebook”. As we know, many Facebook users have moaned about this lack of feature on the platform before (and there have been many false starts in solving this), so I am curious to see how this plays out. Will it still work like Giphy in which it looks/acts like a video? Would love to know.

Finally, Imgur states that they’ll be introducing a new file format extension: the .gifv extension. As they write,

The intention is to signal to users throughout the Internet that these links will feature a GIF experience that incorporates all the current and future enhancements made through Project GIFV.

Overall, I’m very excited to see if this takes off. This could change – for the better – the GIF culture that exists, and what better platform to bring this forward than one of the biggest internet websites around.

New Ad for Pan Am Games is Definitely ‘Epic’

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 11.34.56 AMThe Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation (OTMPC) recently launched their first spot for the Pan Am Games, happening in Toronto, summer 2015. To say it’s ‘epic’ is a bit of an understatement. Watch to see what I mean…

This ad comes at the perfect time to help bolster Toronto’s flailing image, amid the hysteric circus that is city hall and the less-than-positive mayoral race happening in advance of voting this coming October. While the ad is meant to “[communicate] the scale, intensity and drama of the games [and] ultimately, to build tourism awareness and drive attendance,” per FCB’s website, the agency responsible for this spot, FCB would be smart to note that while this ad works well for potential visitors, it can also help become a beacon of pride for us civilians who are a little less than proud of our city as of late. (I’m sure they’re quite aware of this fact. ;) )

I’d love to see more work in this vein that shows off Toronto, perhaps less on a dreary day? Of course, for this spot, the mood works really well to make it a dramatic piece, but it doesn’t exactly show off our stunning cityscape or beautiful buildings.

Regardless, a powerful spot and very well done. I noticed a few familiar names on the list of agency folks (hi Mona and Rob!) and I’m looking forward to what will hopefully be more content from this campaign.

Imgur Adds Country-Specific Sponsored Images

If you know anything about me, you know I am a HUGE imgur fan. It’s my go-to website at the end of a long day; I also find that as a Digital Strategist, it helps keep me on the pulse of upcoming trends happening on the internet.

In 2012, imgur added Sponsored Images to their gallery pages. They committed to adding only one image per gallery page and in the 2 years since adding Sponsored Images, they’ve remained true to that promise.

As a user, I never really minded the small but usually funny native advertising. imgur clearly works closely with those who decide to purchase Sponsored images to ensure the placement is as relevant and authentic to the site as possible. However, I had noticed how US-centric all native advertisements are and wondered if that would ever change. Surely, a site with over 5 billion monthly pageviews as of May 2014 (actually) should be providing targeted advertising, no?

Until recently. Just last week, I saw what appeared to be my very first targeted advertisement with Neutrogena’s new marketing campaign, “Stop Junkface.”

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Launched in late June by DDB Canada, Stop Junkface was a warning to Millennial men that washing their private bits with the same soap they use on their face means they may have ‘junkface.’

A quick tweet to someone at DDB Canada confirmed that this was indeed a Canadian-specific ad buy, the first of its kind. It’s a smart buy: If you’re going to target Millennial males, where else would you go but to Reddit or Imgur?

As a Digital Strategist, I’m so happy to hear that targeted Sponsored Images are now available! And as a consumer, I’m excited to see more targeted and relevant advertising on the site.

Kringl Has Been Shortlisted for Best AR App at the Webbys!

kringlebanner_900

I am very excited and proud to share that Kringl – The Proof of Santa app created by my agency Zulu Alpha Kilo has been shortlisted for Best AR App in the Interactive Advertising and Media category at the Webbys. As I mentioned back in December, Kringl is an iOS and Android video application that helps you prove to your kids that Santa Claus is real. It’s a great little app and I’m proud to have had a small part in helping bring it to life.

While the Webby Academy selects its Webby Winner in each category, every nominee is also up a Webby People’s Voice Award as selected by the voting public. I’d be honoured if you’d be willing to vote for Kringl, which you can do so here.

Voting is open from April 8th to April 24th. Thanks in advance for your support!

Dulux UK Understands the Importance of Storytelling

This is a wonderful example of a brand that understands how transformative storytelling can be as a tool. Dulux UK recently released this 80-second commercial that provides consumers with a view into a different world. Pretty impressive for an otherwise quite boring category. Well done.

UPDATED: In response to my blog post, Dulux UK has provided me with my own colourized Twitter avatar:

Dulux Twitter Avatar

Great example of continuing the conversation in social and providing those who promote their campaign with a tangible ‘thank you’. Awesome all around!

See You at Dx3?

 

ambassadorprogram

I’m proud to announce that I’ve been asked to participate in Dx3 Conference‘s very first Ambassador Program (in partnership with Boost Agents). As part of “Canada’s top 100 marketers who are on the cusp of leadership positions within their field” I’ll not only get access to some of the industry’s seasoned experts but I will get to help shape the future of Dx3! (Pst, you can find my profile here, if at all curious.)

What is Dx3, you may be asking? Well, Dx3 is Canada’s largest conference and tradeshow dedicated to digital. It brings agencies, brands, publishers and retailers together for two days of networking and education.

Happening March 5-6 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Dx3 will feature speakers that include Eric Harris (EVP, Business Operations at BuzzFeed), Duncan Fulton (SVP Communications & Corporate Affairs, Canadian Tire Corporation CMO, FGL Sports and Mark’s), David Jones (VP, Social Media, Critical Mass) as well as speakers from Microsoft, Google, Twitter, Yahoo, AOL, Walmart, Visa, and many others.

I haven’t yet had the chance to attend Dx3, so I’m looking forward to attending with fresh eyes and a keen interest to learn as much as I can! But the best part of this opportunity, in my opinion, is that I get to offer my friends and readers a $75 discount on the All Access Pass to Dx3. Simply use the code “DX3AMB” when purchasing to redeem. You can register here.

Hope to see you there!

PSA: Media Buyers… Don’t Do This

 

So I was looking at a funny video my friend told me to watch today, and noticed this with the pre-roll:

Screen Shot 2013-12-28 at 4.21.20 PM

See anything funny? How about that lovely YouTube pre-roll title? Or perhaps the name, “Larry Testburger”? Uhhh, really? You think Special K will want their brand associated with this username? Unlikely.

Say I was interested in Special K’s ad and product. So I click through… to this:

Screen Shot 2013-12-28 at 4.21.39 PM

Great consumer experience there, eh? No branding, fake name, no where to go. Media planning fail.

Digital agencies or media planners: Please make sure you upload your client’s video up to their actual YouTube account. Otherwise, you’re gonna have a bad time.
(Yeah, I totally ended this on a meme.)