Tag Archives: Alice Travers

An American Tale

I recently landed back in the UK after my three week work exchange programme placement in Akron, Ohio. My initial reasons for picking Akron revolved around becoming familiar with the Data Management Platform (DMP) and seeing clients and useful contacts in the area. I had no thoughts or expectations on what Akron would actually be like. Some might say that this was naïve…I like to think I was just being adventurous. I did a little research after realising that I was going on the trip, Wikipedia informing me that it was the home of Goodyear, Chrissie Hynde and LeBron James but other than that I had no idea what to expect. Let the adventure begin, I thought!

I don’t know quite what I was expecting in terms of climate, but I certainly wasn’t prepared for it being so warm and sunny. My first week in the office went by in a flash of sunburn and salad. I had some great ‘Icebreaker’ sessions and learning lunches with the team, then spent my first weekend seeing the sights of Akron and going for an 11 mile run around the tow path in the valley. Not only was it hot in Akron but I also quickly came to find out how hilly it was!

During the trip I experienced many American Firsts. I tried my first s’more, drove (a golf cart) for the first time, watched my first ‘football’ game and went to a proper American ‘mall’. I also got to go and see The Black Keys in their home concert in Cleveland, which made the trip for me on its own.

In reference to the driving being a first – I’m not a driver. I’ve never even had a driving lesson, so driving a golf cart felt like a big deal. Not being a driver turned out to be quite an issue living in Akron, as the town is quite spread out and everyone drives. Within the first couple of days of me arriving, the team had organised a Taxi service to drive me to and from the office from my hotel. This worked out OK for a while, but as the week went on the driver got later and later to his allotted pick up time, he also started to get lost on the way to the office, which was confusing to me as I thought he was a local. Needless to say, the taxi man lost our business and the lovely office team took it in turns to drop me off and pick me up from then on. Note to self – if going to somewhere in the US that doesn’t have public transport – learn to drive!

One of the keys things I took away from my trip was the relationships I was able to build with the team. I could not have felt more welcome from day one in the office, everyone was so friendly and generous and that was a constant during my whole stay. I felt like Princess Kate Middleton at times, and not just because everyone kept asking me if I see much of Price William or Harry, living in London (I look nothing like her by the way).

I really enjoyed getting to know all of the teams at the office. One of the key opportunities I had to do this was at cross fit training, which happens at the office three times a week. It’s a scheme started by Brian a couple of years back and it has had a big impact of many members of the team, not just in terms of bringing the teams together socially (and getting a bit of friendly competition going on) but in changing people’s entire lifestyles. I’m actually really going to miss those cross fit sessions, as well as my daily chats to Melody about music on the journey to and from the office and my weekends with Bryce, Elizabeth (and their amazing dog Mowgley) swimming and drinking homemade margaritas.

Thank you so much to everyone that made my trip happen, you all made my experience very special and I’m eternally grateful. To anyone thinking of applying for the exchange programme – I cannot recommend it enough, and if you’re thinking of coming to the London office, I can promise you that we’ll show you all the best things that England has to offer, we might miss out on the taxis though, as they’re even worse in London!

So Many Acronyms, Such Little Time!


It doesn’t take long in any industry to pick up on the jargon and technical terms that make that particular field different. In the advertising industry, however, it seems we have more of them than every other industry put together! I have been working in digital marketing for almost a year now and my head is full of them. You have UI’s, IO’s, CTR’s, CPM’s, ROI’s, SEO and PPC…how do you even begin to understand a day-to-day conversation when everything is shortened into this new digital language!?

Now if you were expecting me to explain all of these, sorry to disappoint but that would be a very long and boring blog. What I will do is pick out some of the ones that have influenced me and have been the most fun to learn about.

RTB – (for those not in the industry) stands for real time bidding. This has undoubtedly changed the world of online advertising since its conception a few years ago. It has also opened my eyes to the idea of automated bid discrimination (FYI – paying more money for some users than others because of their browsing habits and behaviour). This really makes you wonder how valuable you are as a consumer to brands.

HTML & XML – code in short. HTML is what many web pages are written in and there’s lots of talk about coding being taught in more schools. The Observer wrote a good piece about it here and there’s also been a great promo video made by Bill Gates, Will.i.am and Mark Zuckerberg about why code is so important.

RFM – This stands for Recency, Frequency and Monetisation. This is the basis of many tools that work out online customer value. By looking at the recency of visits, regularity of these visits and how much is spent per visit we can work out how likely someone is to purchase one of your products and how important they are to engage with.

PPC & SEO – the two key things to worry about when ‘talking search’. You have Pay Per Click, which is when (as an advertiser) you pay a bid price for key words so that your website ad shows up (in yellow) to a user on a search engine results page.

Then you have Search Engine Optimisation, which is all about making your website as relevant as possible in terms of content, so that it shows up naturally (in white) to a user when they search for things. These are important because they fundamentally change how you perceive search advertising.

So, do these acronyms actually help us?

In my opinion, once you have a grasp of what they all mean, yes it makes things quicker when talking and writing emails. However, I think the main thing to take away from this is that all these acronyms are moving technology forward. It’s a task to constantly play catch up, but we need that challenge, it keeps us on our toes. As technology evolves, so does our language and I’m sure Darwin wouldn’t mind a few acronyms for the sake of evolution.

If there are any terms I missed that you think should have been on my list, please feel free to comment below. Tnx.

Image from: http://teesinapod.blogspot.com/

Predicting the Future… It’s Personal

I was watching Minority Report, (the one where Tom Cruise is escaping from the government and has his eyeballs replaced because everyone is identified by iris recognition) and it made me think, as a recent digital convert, how close we are to sophisticated technology like this actually existing.

There’s actually a prototype of this personalised billboard technology being developed in Japan as we speak, though luckily not with Iris recognition.

Companies are able to recognise valuable customers online too, by observing browsing behaviour (mouse movement and clicks, geo-location, product interests, recency and frequency of visits) and there are many ways in which this information can then be used to drive conversions.

According to Forrester, personalisation is the top priority for 55% of retailers in 2013 as new technologies allow for greater understanding over multiple touch points. I can also predict that this is going to be more tablet and mobile focused in the future, as spend on these devices continues to rise exponentially, according to our Q1 2013 Digital Marketing Report

The most obvious and possibly simplest way of personalising a user’s experience is by offering product recommendations based on recent browsed pages (good for cross and up-selling). Another popular method is by using the information gathered to change the content of the website (homepage banner for example). This has been proven to increase click through rates and user experience figures. We all know that e-CRM is incredibly valuable too, by examining the behaviour of registered users you can send bespoke email content encouraging them to return to the site and convert.

There are other increasingly imaginative ways to approach personalisation too, such as offering a video text chat option on a marketer’s website, so that users can interact with operators and get a more personal feel as their queries are being answered. Gaming sites frequently use this option, but it is also making its way into the high street retail area.

Sephora is working with Pantone to enable customers to scan their faces onto their iPad and find their perfect shade of foundation. This is a prime example of using technological insight and innovation to deliver a unique and individualistic experience to the consumer.

I love the prospect of going on to my favourite retail website to be given a wholly personalised experience based on my past behaviour. My size, favourite styles, colours and price limit are taken in to account, making my experience more enjoyable and helps to build my brand loyalty.

As more and more advertisers realise the importance of personalisation, there will be many more innovative and clever ways of engaging with users on a one-to-one level in the coming months.  I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes out for brands that go above and beyond to make me feel more ‘unique’ and less like a ‘user’. Hopefully my irises are safe for a little while longer.

Musings of a Digital Newbie

5 Things I have learned in my first month working for a digital

marketing solutions company

  1. Don’t turn up to work in tight trousers on the first day because they will split and you will have to go and buy new ones during your lunch break so that you don’t show all your new team your underwear.
  2. I now see cookies in a whole new light. I thought that a cookie was simply a tasty and highly calorific snack, oh how wrong I was. Cookies make the interactions between the user and the website faster, having the ability to remember preferences, text and shopping basket information. I think cookies currently have a bad rep, but if websites didn’t use cookies the Internet would be a much more frustrating place. It turns out cookies can actually be an incredibly insightful tool for businesses to learn a user’s real interests and act upon this information. In terms of how this can benefit the consumer in the long term, by using cookies, users will be able to see advertising specifically chosen for them, and congruent to their interests – so no more irrelevant annoying pop-ups.
  3. There are so many digital companies out there, all with point solutions and unique angles. I found it tricky at first trying to figure out what each one does by sifting through all the technical jargon and TLA’s (Three Letter Abbreviations). It’s refreshing to be working for a company that does everything under one platform: consolidating online data, conversion optimisation, analytics, managing SEO, PPC and facebook, as well as behavioural attribution.
  4. You can never be too thorough. Mistakes like spelling ‘Stephen’ as ’Steven’ can be the difference between someone replying to your email and not (and thinking you are a mindless idiot) so don’t get the simple things wrong. This is so important in the digital industry which is growing and changing so fast. Doing the right research is also important, making sure you are contacting the right person. I’m finding that job titles can be as puzzling as trying to predict what Lady GaGa is going to wear tomorrow.
  5. This links nicely to the joys of LinkedIn. I have gradually learned how to use it and enjoy finding out lots of information about who’s who in the industry. You can easily spend two hours researching every page on a company’s website, getting the prices for every product, but finding out that the E-Commerce manager used to go to the same university as you and that they have 20 years SEO experience could be even more useful and proves that you’re contacting that person for a reason. It’s also really addictive to check who’s viewed your profile: lesson learned after becoming a little obsessed!

In just one month, my whole perspective of the online industry has been changed. From day one my brain has been inundated with information far more interesting and useful than anything I remember learning in school IT classes. I know I’m touching the tip of the iceberg with regards to the possibilities digital marketing has for the future of advertising. I’ve started my journey in this fast paced industry and having a slightly embarrassing rip in my trousers is definitely not enough to stop me.