KC is excited to announce the addition of Natalie Maiser to our passionate crew of creative and strategic problem solvers. Natalie joins KC as a Group Account Director to help lead and support all account teams. 

Most recently, Natalie was a Senior Account Director at Periscope where in addition to leading teams across all facets of strategy, creative, media and analytics, she also led the creation of agency talent retention tools aimed at individual professional growth and strengthening agency culture. Some of her clients included Cox Communications, Walgreens, Great Clips, General Mills and Kemps. In addition, she was a pivotal member of the Periscope new business team, as well as the agency advisory board.

Her prior roles include the Minneapolis office of Mirum (previously Digiteria) a global digital agency as well as KNOCK where she worked her way up from a producer to account service on the Target business.

People that know Natalie say she dives in headfirst, is a quick study and a strong strategic thinker. She’s known for her ability to build strong relationships with clients and team members alike, bringing out the best in all those around her. She’s admired for her ability to remain a force of positivity in a multitude of situations — nothing seems to get her down.

We’re looking forward to introducing Natalie to all our clients in the coming weeks.

Morgan Masiak joins KC as a digital media strategist. She spent some time as an analyst for Kohl’s before moving to the Star Tribune, where she brought her analytical skills to the world of programmatic media. From small companies to large corporations to organizations like the Minnesota Timberwolves, she’s helped them all. 

To the ever-changing landscape of digital media, Morgan brings a keen sense of how to get simple, straightforward conclusions from massive amounts of data. She even likes her candy bars simple: dark chocolate with nothing else, please. Morgan is also a dog person. 

We’ve all heard that fermented foods like kombucha and kimchi are good for you—even trendy—but how does a dietary supplement ingredient that is clinically proven to help strengthen the immune system, in the same way, take advantage of this consumer trend? This is the challenge KC has been tackling for EpiCor.

What is EpiCor?

EpiCor is a first-of-its-kind fermentate ingredient that taps the natural power of fermentation to deliver immune and gut health benefits to vitamin and supplement products. Although fermentation is an ancient process that dates back to 6000 BC, science is still learning about the positive effects fermented foods have on gut health and the immune system. EpiCor functions like a “postbiotic” by providing the nutrients resulting from pre and probiotics without the digestive process.

In plain English, it delivers the benefits of fermented foods like kombucha and yogurt without having to eat or drink it.

A first-of-its-kind ingredient with a one-of-a-kind origin story.

While EpiCor started as an additive for animal supplements, the insurance company for the Diamond V plant in Iowa noticed that plant workers weren’t calling in ill as much as their spouses and the office workers. An independent study confirmed that plant workers exposed to EpiCor did indeed have healthier immune systems.

Attention is bubbling up.

With a unique backstory, EpiCor (and its parent companies, Diamond V and Cargill) has caught the eye of supplement producers and lifestyle brands looking for alternative immune-boosting ingredients. For example, Gwenyth Paltrow’s Goop offers an immune-boosting chew called “Perfect Attendance.” One of the main ingredients? EpiCor.

How KC is feeding the trend.

KC has helped EpiCor roll out a robust B2B campaign, getting the word out about this unique, trend-forward ingredient so supplement companies can get ahead of the fermentation game. Beyond the programmatic media campaign and bold creative, KC has developed a consumer campaign to help with consumer pull-through by tapping into the fermented food and micro ingredient trends. The consumer campaign is designed to not only build awareness, interest, and demand, but to prove consumer demand for fermentate exists in the marketplace.

While results are still TBD, the early results are in: the world is ready for EpiCor.

The problem with working on-the-go: You can’t take the cubicle with you.

3M, the experts in screen privacy, wanted to raise awareness among business travelers that visual hacking can happen anywhere (especially while traveling for work), but that it’s easy to protect the sensitive information displayed on their screens with the help of a 3M Privacy Filter.

What better place to show someone how they can get some privacy in a public place than at the airport? 3M wanted to reach these business travelers to get the message purchase a privacy filter on the spot or request privacy filters from their organizations’ IT manager. To sweeten the deal, 3M partnered with CDW to provide a 20% discount on laptop privacy filters.

Photo of a 3M Privacy Airport Banner with the headline "Leave visual hackers at the Gate"

The airport takeover approach.

To get the word out, and make it stand out in a busy airport terminal, KC created an airport takeover campaign that splashed the campaign messaging all over, including multiple window clings, backlit signage, CNN tv spots, video ads, IP targeted programmatic ads, and even an installation in one concourse manned by a street team.

The middle seat will never be the same again.

Photo of a 3M Privacy Airport Display with the headline "Going to LGA? Make sure your private information doesn't go to SFO."

The program was such a success, that not only did 3M see a massive sales lift, but they have extended and expanded the campaign to other airports across the country.

Animated GIF of a 3M Privacy geofenced digital banner advertisement

Geofenced digital display ads appeared when business travelers entered targeted airports.

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What are digital media giants like Google, Facebook and Twitter doing to combat the rise of fake news? And what steps can your agency take now to protect your brand and your media investment?

Portrait of Rowdie Erwin, Digital Media Strategist at KC

Rowdie Erwin, Digital Media Strategist

With the explosive growth of the internet over the last 20 years, the availability and breadth of available information and shared knowledge has never been greater. Like any repository of information, this information is represented by all manners of subject matter and an endless number of use cases.

That said, for each website that is fact checked, credible and trustworthy—there are ten (and likely orders of magnitude more) that are the opposite. User Generated Content (UGC) has become king in the last ten years; Millennials say that information received through UGC is trusted 50% more than information from other media sources, including TV, newspapers and magazines (Ipsos Millenial Social Influence Study, 2014)

Unfortunately, included in UGC are mountains of misleading, incredulous, and often damaging content that goes unchecked and into the free ether of the web, available for anyone to interpret and spread as fact. The issue has been increasingly recognized since the 2016 election cycle, most popularly under the “Fake News” moniker.

Though “Fake News” (potentially damaging and verifiably false stories or articles written to discredit an opposing viewpoint’s credibility) was birthed as a political issue, UGC has developed and contorted its self into a whole new slew of health risks and societal burdens for the general public, the tech companies that are responsible for hosting the content, and the political infrastructure that is responsible for these company’s governance.

The spread of existing conspiracy theories and the rise of new ones has picked up significant momentum in recent years. This has resulted in irreversible damage on the micro (Trapped in a hoax: survivors of conspiracy theories speak out, Ed Pilkington – The Guardian) and has proven deadly on the macro (Drowned out by the algorithm: Vaccination advocates struggle to be heard online.)

To aid in combatting the rise of these issues, on January 25thGoogle’s sister company YouTube announcedplans to improve their recommendation algorithm by “reducing recommendations of borderline content and content that could misinform users in harmful ways – such as videos promoting a phony miracle cure for a serious illness, claiming the earth is flat, or making blatantly false claims about historic events like 9/11.”

Facebook has also been in a very public position of damage control and increased regulatory pressure since their implication in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which raised a mountain of red flags about user privacy and security, as well as who can purchase ads on their platform (and how easily—looking at you, Russia.) They’ve also faced similar struggles to Google in the criticism they’ve received from all directions for the mismanagement or complete lack of moderation on their platform—

“…by conservatives for what they perceive is a liberal bias, by liberals for allowing white nationalism and Holocaust denial on the platform, by governments and news organizations for allowing fake news and disinformation to flourish, and by human rights organizations for its use as a platform to facilitate gender-based harassment and livestream suicide and murder. Facebook has even been blamed for contributing to genocide.” Jason Koebler & Joseph Cox

Their initial (publicized) steps taken towards a solution for these issues was to hire 7,500 moderators and increase the capabilities of the platform’s AI, but given the scale of the issue (~7 bilion posts a week) it’s proven quite difficult.

Twitter is an important part of this conversation, as well. The platform has completely reconfigured the geo-political and civic landscape the last 10 years, changing the way conversations around important issues are discussed and progress on the local, city, state, national and international stage. The hashtag began as a way for brands to engage customers but has since been used to amplify the conversation around social issues, trigger political engagement and protests, and overthrow dictatorial tyrants.

Twitter faces many of the same difficulties that Facebook does, though. There has been a massive amount of criticism over methodology used to moderate their content.  While bullying, blatantly racist or homophobic attacks and similar devices fall neatly into a violation of Twitter’s platform usage policy; the conversation becomes a grey area and increasingly difficult to police when it comes to dealing with the expression of social/political ideologies, most notably white nationalism, which Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has been slow to condemn or speak to directly.

An entire article could be written on each of the three companies and associated issues mentioned above: How do you moderate content posted by the general public in a way that doesn’t compromise the principle of free speech that our country was founded upon? Should companies with as much influence on the everyday lives of the public be responsible for making decisions on universal “truths”, especially in instances where a high percentage of the population might believe in an opposing viewpoint? If a government can indirectly exert this much control over the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of its constituents, where is the line drawn?

These issues are layered and multi-faceted and will likely take years to truly address in full, but brands need to advertise today. So, what can agencies do to protect their clients from the negative impact of unregulated user generated content in the meantime?

At KC, we address brand safety at every step of the media buying process:

  1. Rigorous 3P vetting process – Before adding any 3rdparty vendors to a media plan, we ensure that the partner in question is willing to provide complete transparency into where all ads will be served via “domain level reporting.” Any hesitation on the matter will be considered an immediate point of disqualification from our media plan.
  2. Partner Solutions for Increased Brand Safety – Each media plan is subject to a unique combination of IAS, DoubleVerify, Peer39, Grapeshot and MOAT brand safety parameters that ensures every impression served will be viewable (by humans) in contextually relevant, brand-safe locations.
  3. The Trade Desk and White Ops MediaGuard integration – Our media buying platform is integrated with White Ops, an industry leading invalid traffic and fraud detection platform credited for its partnership with the US Government in foiling several multi-million dollar international ad-fraud schemes, including the storied Methbotand 3eve. This integration scans impressions in real time across participating supply-side platforms, blocking fraudulent impressions before they’re purchased. KC’s media plans only serve impressions against White Ops verified SSP’s.
  4. Ongoing inventory management – Media buyers at KC are monitoring domain level reporting on a weekly basis for opportunities to blacklist sites that appear suspicious or do not meet our standard of quality.
  5. Transparent Client-Communications – KC will always make site lists available to clients for inspection—at any time. Simple as that.

It is the responsibility of agencies and their media buyers to take ownership for where their client’s ads are served using the tools that are available. At KC, we’ve placed a high level of importance around this by taking the steps detailed above. If your agency isn’t willing to talk about the steps they’re taking to address brand safety, give us a call.

We’ve been in the digital renaissance for what seems like 20 years. Why are we still handing out business cards?

Jodi Underwood, Production Manager

It’s 2019. Glaciers are melting faster than ever, polar bears are struggling to find food and China is no longer taking our recycling. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg, am I right?

Did you know that Americans use, on average, 680 lbs of paper per year? Now, I am a paper person. I love using an actual, tangible notebook to tackle my To Do list. Admittedly, I print out more things during my workday than are necessary. Sometimes I just find it easier to read a document or edit something if it is printed out right in front of me. But, as a paper junkie, even I have cut down over the years. My desk used to be full of file folders labeled neatly in black sharpie with contents to each particular project I’m working on contained inside. I still have cabinets with files that I, no doubt, will never look at again. I have made an effort to gradually decrease the amount of paper I use in the office and slowly over the years, those folders filled with paper have started to disappear.

So, why on this precious earth, are business cards still a thing? I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve handed out my business card in the past year. I have received probably 20 or so in the past year. Let it be known that I’m definitely not anywhere close to a networking machine. I’m not regularly in attendance at industry events meeting with new people so, I’m not a business card magnet. In my role, however, I do often times meet with companies that are trying to acquire business from my company. I always leave my business card behind at my desk and then when they pull out theirs and hand them out, I feel obligated to dust them off and hand one over. Now, in most of these meetings, I already have their contact information. Most of these meetings are arranged via emails that contain their signatures and therefore their contact information. If I want to follow up and get in touch with you post-meeting, I certainly know how to do so without referring back to your business card that I inadvertently already lost or put in the recycling bin.

Not only is this unnecessary piece of waste piling up, but business cards are also a costly company expense. New employees start all of the time. People get married. People get promoted. Businesses rebrand. All of these situations require additional business cards and make old, already printed cards obsolete. And obsolete equals more waste.

I think we’re all capable of thinking up a solution that works best for us given the moment you need to capture a business contact’s info. There are plenty of apps out there to replace the business card if you are into that sort of thing.

So, ditch ‘em! Just try it. I’m going to. It may be easier said than done and I may no longer win a free footlong at Subway, but to me, it’s worth it. We owe it to everyone to do our part even if it’s one small, rectangular piece of paper at a time.

 

Anne Bailey

Anne Bailey, Account Supervisor

Email marketing is an effective tactic to directly communicate and engage with existing and prospective customers. Although it is likely your email lists are highly targeted to the appropriate audience and/or contains individuals who have opted to receive information from your company or brand, it is imperative to continuously hone those lists and the content strategies that will yield the greatest results and conversions.

As marketing/advertising experts, we often believe we know our customers better than anyone and that the content we create is on strategy and will resonate with that audience we know so well. However, in a world of overexposed consumers and ad clutter at every intersection – especially in your inbox – it’s more important than ever to test what really works to better understand how your audience engages and behaves with the messages you are sending. This is where A/B testing comes in to play.

What is email marketing A/B split testing?

A/B testing, otherwise known as split testing, is an important step in any successful email marketing campaign. It allows you to verify or better understand which content will be most effective, ultimately generating better results.

How does A/B testing work?

Typically, your email marketing platform allows you to set up multiple campaigns over time based on optimizations you’ve made from you’re A/B test learnings.

There are several ways to approach A/B testing an email campaign.

  • Test subject lines– do subject lines with an incentive or a teaser yield the best open rate?
  • Test the “from” name– see whether email audience is more responsive to emails coming from a brand or company name
  • Test CTAs– see which CTA resulted in more clicks
  • Test imagery– depending on your audience, a lifestyle image may be more compelling than other design elements such as illustrations or GIFs
  • Test day and/or time of sending your email campaigns– there may be specific days or times of the day your email target audience is most likely to engage with your emails

How to set and measure A/B test results?

Start with defining the email campaign goal or objective and what success looks like. Pull previous results to set benchmarks that justify those success goals.

  • If your objective is to drive awareness only, a higher open rate could be an indicator of success so you may want to test what subject lines are most effective.
  • If your objective is to drive clicks or conversions, you may want to test CTAs or headlines that drive action.

Over time, you will begin to collect enough data to help guide email content decisions for future campaigns.

A/B test best practices

A/B testing isn’t black and white and there are several approaches you can take. However, there are a few best practices to keep in mind as a guide to get you closer to the results you want.

  • Test as large a sample as you can for more accurate result
  • If you’re just starting out, focus A/B test efforts on measurable elements like subject line, CTAs and imagery
  • Test various email campaigns, from general awareness emails to conversion and trigger emails
  • Let the data speak for itself even if it reveals information that negates your initial gut instinct
  • Test early and often. Consumer behaviors can change over time, your strategy should change with them.
  • Test one variable at a time for best results. If you want to test more than one, look into multivariate testing.

Here at KC we are firm believers in building strategies and recommendations around facts – follow the data, not just your gut instinct. Instead of pouring unnecessary time and resources in to a guess and check approach, we take the guess work out of it and base decisions on results.

 

Agency brings in new leader with focus on growth and innovation for clients. 

Chris Actis PresidentMinneapolis, MN – Kruskopf & Company (KC) announces the arrival of Chris Actis to the agency as President and Chief Growth Officer. Chris is a digital native in marketing communications and media and has worked in client and executive leadership roles across the US and Asia for the past 22 years. He joins KC from his role as President of the Midwest region for IPG’s Initiative in Chicago.

“Over the last 30 years, KC has navigated a complete transformation of our industry and evolved into a modern full-service strategy, creative and media agency,” said CEO and Founder Sue Kruskopf, “With Chris’s diverse background and focus on innovation, KC is setting itself up for the next 30 years of transformation.”

Starting his career with the Messner agency in NY, Chris was part of one of the first true digital departments within a 4A’s agency where he worked on MCI WorldCom and Volvo. His other roles have included heading up the Warner-Lambert/Pfizer portfolio at JWT, running Kohl’s and Wendy’s at MRM/McCann, time spent as brand strategist at Scient and an ad tech startup called United Virtualities, and media agency leadership at Mediavest where he ran the Walmart and Walmart.com digital investment. Prior to his most recent stint at Initiative, he spent five years in Asia handling the digital media investment for P&G China in Guangzhou and in Hong Kong as APAC Managing Director at Ogilvy’s performance marketing agency Neo.

“Our clients will immediately benefit from Chris’s focus on innovative media and marketing strategies and his deep experience in account service, strategy, planning, analytics, and technology implementation,” said Kruskopf, “He’s done everything from helping to develop digital products that employ search and social data to helping implement content and UX roadmaps for clients across multiple categories including travel, CPG, B2B, and tech.”

Chris will be an executive leader across all client accounts, overseeing strategy, thought leadership, and investment guardianship while ensuring the agency continues to deliver smart strategies, bold creative and modern media solutions that deliver against client objectives.

“Businesses and brands live in an ever more complex environment. Now more than ever, clients need an agency that is smart, agile and continually exploring fresh new ways to help them connect with their customers,” said Kruskopf, “KC is answering the call by adding a leader willing to push boundaries, evolve and innovate for both our client’s and our agency’s success.”