The Times They Are a-Changin’

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The New York Times Magazine, one of the most read print magazines with over 1.5 million copies sold per week, is getting a makeover. The reason? To introduce both the physical publication and digital magazine to the new era of web design.

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Screen shot from www.nytimes.com/pages/magazine/

 

 

That’s right, the 118 year old publication is re-writing the rules of print design for the better. Remember that just a mere 20 years ago, print used to influence the way we designed for the internet. Today, The New York Times Magazine readership lives both on and offline, and editor-in-chief Jake Silverstein and design director Gail Bichler are very aware.

The re-design hopes to bring online and print editions (and readers) closer together, with a classier and more modern look. To begin, the Sunday supplement is getting a heavier paper stock to give it a more literary, book-like, feel. Old typefaces have been replaced with custom design: slab-serifs for blocks, call-outs and headlines, and elegant sans-serif fonts for body copy.

The page spreads now look cleaner, as the magazine went from a 12 to a 7-column layout. Former GQ art director Anton Ioukhnevets stripped down the layout to make it feel more web-like, adding emphasis on fluidity and visuals. Both the print and online editions use full-bleed images and the same approach to typography, which distinguish it from the more traditional and conservative look of The New York Times.

Changes to the online version bring in a responsive layout along with a strong sense of organization, thanks to the airy negative space.

Check out the online version here and get the Times this Sunday for the print edition.

Velocity Agency is a digital marketing and advertising firm specializing in digital and internet marketing & advertising, print, web design, graphic design, film, and HD video promotion and post-production. Velocity serves clients all over the United States from our Metairie, LA office just outside of New Orleans by strategically implementing proprietary tools and techniques to get you the most conversions for your business through lead generation, cost-per-acquisition, and top line revenue.

The Current State of the Music Industry

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The most sought after recognition in the commercial realm of music is to receive a GRAMMY Award. The GRAMMY’s are both hosted and decided by The Recording Academy, also known as The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (“NARAS”). NARAS is an organization of musicians, producers, recording engineers, and other recording professionals.  Other than the notion of popularity as it pertains to commercialism, they are meant and assumed to be an agnostic establishment that chooses nominations based on industry and artistic merit.  This club of so-called industry elites decide the “only peer-presented award to honor artistic achievement, technical proficiency, and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales or chart position.” This mission is a platform outlined by The Recording Academy (see www.grammy.org/recording-academy) to command credibility.

Why do I italicize “without regard to album sales or chart position”? It may seem obvious to some, but clearly not to the masses. If that were truly the case, why are the GRAMMY Awards a mere showcase of the new pop elite? Why is the night dominated by a mix of pop performers that are fixtures and one-hit-wonders?

To a certain degree, it is necessary to rely on tastemakers, industry professionals, and critics to illuminate quality within the creative industries, as music is a subjective medium.  This makes it far more difficult to measure both success and quality.  Although chart position and sales are a measure of monetary success, they are far from a measure of “overall excellence.” However, money and commercialism can often corrupt otherwise honest efforts.

“Why don’t the Grammy’s matter? Because it feels rigged and cheap – like a popularity contest that the insiders’ club has decided,” said Grammy-winning rocker, Trent Reznor. Controversy surrounding Grammy credibility is nothing new, but it continues to trend in the wrong direction. Whereas artistic integrity and innovation make less and less of an appearance in each of the last several years.

Mainstream media and majority opinion should not be relied upon to define art and quality. However, it does say something about culture as a whole, and it’s speaking volumes at the moment. Something was lost in the over commercialization of music/art emerging over the past two decades. Gone are the days of dissent and rebellion, and here is an age of homogenized popular music.

How does The Recording Academy sweep this under the rug? The general public is typically unaware of the awards given outside of the highly televised broadcast. Most notably, The Producer of the Year award didn’t get any air time during the Grammy’s, but it was arguably the most important of the night. “On Sunday, it was the award that said the most about the state of pop. It revealed that one man is behind our music’s dominant sound: Swedish pop savant Max Martin,” as reported by Music.Mic.

Martin, as well as many other songwriting teams, has been one of the most secretive but influential contributors to pop music in the past two decades. Hell, most people still think “artists” actually write most of their own songs. If The Recording Academy is going to gain any credibility back, it might as well just admit that commercialization and monetary success determine Grammy awarding. Moreover, they should pull back the curtain and celebrate the talented songwriters behind all of this success.

Let me truly enlighten you on the state of the industry by highlighting just one songwriter, Max Martin, and his writing credits in 2014:

  • “Bang Bang” by Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj
  • “Break Free” by Ariana Grande featuring Zedd
  • “Dark Horse” by Katy Perry featuring Juicy J
  • “Problem” by Ariana Grande featuring Iggy Azalea
  • “Shake It Off ” by Taylor Swift
  • “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift

And these were just the ones that made the top 10. Martin produced and co-wrote seven of the 13 tracks on Taylor Swift’s 1989, 10 of the 13 tracks on Katy Perry’s Prism and all of the biggest hits off Ariana Grande’s My Everything (including “Problem” and “Love Me Harder”). He co-wrote Jennifer Lopez’s comeback “First Love,” Shakira’s World Cup anthem “Dare (La La La)” and Pitbull’s “Wild Wild Love,” the lead single off his Globalization album (as referenced in Music.Mic).

Martin is responsible for more No. 1 singles than Michael Jackson: Google it!

Where do we go from here? Do we, as a society, just accept and embrace this formulaic sound? Do we give the “OK” to The Recording Academy? If that’s the case, then the true artists should be showcased: the songwriters.

Velocity Agency is a digital marketing and advertising firm specializing in digital and internet marketing & advertising, print, web design, graphic design, film, and HD video promotion and post-production. Velocity serves clients all over the United States from our Metairie, LA office just outside of New Orleans by strategically implementing proprietary tools and techniques to get you the most conversions for your business through lead generation, cost-per-acquisition, and top line revenue.

Retargeting Digital Strategy | Velocity Agency | New Orleans

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How do you only display digital ads to users interested in your brand? The current solution is retargeting. Over the past decade, new online technologies have made it possible for websites to interact with your browser and privately track your navigation.

Retargeting or re-marketing aims to fix a problem most marketers face online: users abandoning or “bouncing” from their client’s site before completing an action (“converting”). Whether you want a user to buy a product, submit a form, and/or sign up for a newsletter, retargeting will follow your website visitors throughout their online sessions. Regardless of their navigation after visiting your site, tracking pixels allow your digital display ads to appear. Thus, increasing brand awareness to an interested user.

Because retargeting allows you to communicate with users that already visited your website, your creative should be dynamic and act as a reminder to come back. The creative should also reflect consistency with the specific pages visited. However, you need to be careful not to appear intrusive or you will lose the prospective customer/client.

As with everything online, some privacy concerns arise over retargeting practices. The technology basically adds a cookie to a user’s browser, which then follows the user around the Internet. This process is maintains personal anonymity, as no identifiable personal information is ever transferred or documented.

Like traditional digital display ads, retargeting allows you to track conversions and determine which creative is most effective. Also, reports show a dramatic drop in cost-per-click for retargeted content, as users that have visited your website are more likely to click your ads.

This technology can be used in various ways. An eCommerce site will benefit from targeting users that visit specific product pages and tackle shopping cart abandonment. In this case, ads can focus on further educating users about specific products, increasing probability of conversion.

Also, retargeting is widely utilized in email marketing campaigns. Once a user opens your eBlast, the process of tracking hyper-targeted display begins. As a byproduct, this increases user retention and attraction.

Remarketing is now a benchmark in effective and efficient digital marketing strategies. The immediate result of targeting interested users is an increase in conversion rates. Brand awareness is merely a starting point. Honing in on interested users narrows the conversion pathway and dramatically increases the possibility of increasing top-line revenues.

Velocity Agency is a digital marketing and advertising firm specializing in digital and internet marketing & advertising, print, web design, graphic design, film, and HD video promotion and post-production. Velocity serves clients all over the United States from our Metairie, LA office just outside of New Orleans by strategically implementing proprietary tools and techniques to get you the most conversions for your business through lead generation, cost-per-acquisition, and top line revenue.

Personal Branding | Velocity Agency | New Orleans

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The Importance of Personal Branding

The necessity of personal branding is growing, daily, at a rapid pace.  It is imperative for professionals and business owners to strengthen their brand and prevent their business from getting swallowed up by the competition.  One way to combat this is by staying ahead of the game and sticking out like a sore thumb.  What can you offer your audience that your competition can’t and what sets you apart from the rest?

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Who Are You?

Personal branding involves taking the initiative in deciding which direction your life/business will go.  It is imperative for successful career planning and development.  More so, it enables you to make the most of what you have to offer. Within the process of personal branding, you are allowed to be yourself. Moreover, you can leverage who you are as a person by playing an active role in designing a brand with integrity: a brand your audience can trust.

Can I Trust You?

Unfortunately, there are numerous brands that lose credibility and value due to their disingenuous perception.  When you do great work, your audience will consider you trustworthy and dependable.  Once that trust is earned, you’ve gained a brand ambassador and loyal customer for life.  They will support you until the end.

Who wants to work with you?

Once your brand begins to establish a presence, consumers will not only want to assist you, but provide you with valuable and relevant opportunities.  Sponsorship, joint ventures, customer referrals, and more could all be beneficial to your brand.  A successful track record attracts the attention of other businesses and consumers, leading you to greater accomplishments.

What’s Your Point?

Your name is your most important asset.  Evolving it into a brand makes it a reflection of you and what you represent.  It can be beneficial in a successful future or tarnishing if not perceived as trustworthy and useful.  By uniquely and genuinely portraying to the world who you are, you will be equipped to show your audience why they should choose you instead of the competition.  The stronger personal brand you possess, the greater the demand will be for your services.

Responsive Web Design Benefits | Velocity Agency | New Orleans

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Mobile traffic has been a concern ever since the first mobile browsers came out, which could display links and small images on mobile phones. Today, Responsive Design has taken over and a new wave of improvements to mobile websites is underway. Modern websites can automatically fit any size of display and arrange content accordingly. Responsive design enhances the user experience and creates a perception that they are custom-designed for any device: tablet, smartphone, laptop, or desktop computer.

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Some companies/brands, however, don’t fully understand the benefits of responsive design. Generally, this is due to a decision maker’s lack of understanding the importance of user experience.  As responsive design has become baseline, these facts and statistics should do away with any doubt. ComScore reports that smartphones and tablets currently account for 60 percent of online traffic, which means your users will potentially access your website using one of these devices. Social media has grown exponentially on mobile devices, which is a great way for customers to find you online.

What Are The Benefits Of Responsive Design?

First, your customers will find it easier to navigate a website that has been optimized for mobile and tablet. There’s nothing worse than using a full desktop website on a smartphone; it is frustrating and leads to a high bounce rate. By taking the time to address different screen sizes, your customers will be happy to have easy access to menus and contact information, which directly translates to increased leads and conversions.

From an SEO standpoint, having a responsive website is a must. Last month Google started rolling out “mobile friendly” tags for websites optimized for mobile, which means customers will more likely click on search results with responsive design. The search giant is also giving higher rankings to mobile sites, which should be motivation enough for companies to go mobile. Therefore, the lack of responsive design on your website will negatively affect your click-through rate.

How Can You Find Out If Your Site Is Mobile Friendly?

There are several ways to test this. First, to see if Google recognizes your website as mobile, try out this tool. Simply drop in your link and after a few seconds you’ll get the results. Second, from your desktop computer, manually resize your browser’s window. If the website reacts to the change in size and the images and text resize accordingly, then the site has been optimized. Finally, experiment with accessing your website from different mobile devices; this is the ultimate test.

How to Fix It?

This is where Velocity Agency can take your web presence to the next level. With expert web designers and back-end developers in-house, we work effectively and efficiently for our clients. The proof is in the pudding; our product and track record speaks for itself. Whether you need your first website, a website re-design or a complete overhaul, we will immediately improve the user experience.  As a byproduct, we will maximize your search ranking, click-through rate, leads, and conversions (increased top-line revenues). Take a look at our work and contact us to see what our team can do for you.

Velocity Agency is a digital marketing and advertising firm specializing in digital and internet marketing & advertising, print, web design, graphic design, film, and HD video promotion and post-production. Velocity serves clients all over the United States from our Metairie, LA office just outside of New Orleans by strategically implementing proprietary tools and techniques to get you the most conversions for your business through lead generation, cost-per-acquisition, and top line revenue.

Super Bowl 2015: The Best and Worst Ads | Velocity Agency | New Orleans, LA

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This year’s game stunned us, and it wasn’t just the final score or what some are calling the worst play call in Super Bowl history. It was the brands. While some of last night’s commercials were inspiring, some should serve as a cautionary tale for years to come.

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Specifically, Anheuser-Busch aired a sarcastic attack ad against the ever-growing craft beer industry. At first glance, one might understand their stance, as their dominant market share has slowly started to erode due to the growth of the craft beer industry. The moment that gave many viewers pause was the us-versus-them declaration of, “Let them sip their pumpkin peach ale. We’ll be brewing us some golden suds.” What most consumers don’t know is that Anheuser-Busch has been on aggressive campaign of acquiring regional craft breweries. Most notably, they recently acquired Elysian Brewing, which currently offers a pumpkin peach ale. It makes you scratch your head at how a company could call out and attack some of their own brands. This strategy had an immediate backlash, spurring a Twitter uprising and the trending hashtag, #BETTERBEER.

Also, Nationwide Insurance’s commercial generated immediate backlash because of its dark nature. You know you’re in trouble when you have to issue a late-night statement regarding your TV ad, and Nationwide did just that. In an ad that was meant to “start a conversation” on preventable child deaths in America, Nationwide was actually testing their latest strategy for selling insurance.

Among the most memorable commercials was the Chevy Colorado ad. The car manufacturer conveyed a simple message in a very creative way: the new Colorado is equipped with 4G LTE Wi-Fi. Seconds before kick-off, TV signals across the nation seemed to go out, only to be greeted by Chevy’s line “What would you do if your TV went out?” See it for yourself.

Several brands tried to convey a more social message, but only Always succeeded. Their #LikeAGirl ad was a great TV success, and it went beyond traditional media. The campaign translated flawlessly to Twitter and Facebook, generating thousands of user interactions.

The biggest story in advertising, however, was not on the TV screen. This year, brands took on to Twitter in an unprecedented level, generating more than 1.5 million Super Bowl ad mentions in one day. Beyond that, advertisers focused on an ever-increasing form of engagement: brand-on-brand tweeting. This year’s Super Bowl generated more brands tweeting one another than any other game.

 

 

Overall, brands are finding new ways to interact with consumers across different mediums. The proliferation of smart phones and tablets has allowed for us to connect and communicate instantly –whether in front of a TV or at the actual game.

Check out other commercials that made it to the top of our list.

Velocity Agency is a digital marketing and advertising firm specializing in digital and internet marketing & advertising, print, web design, graphic design, film, and HD video promotion and post-production. Velocity serves clients all over the United States from our Metairie, LA office just outside of New Orleans by strategically implementing proprietary tools and techniques to get you the most conversions for your business through lead generation, cost-per-acquisition, and top line revenue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Developing your own Brand as a Marketing Agency | Velocity Agency | New Orleans

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“If winning isn’t everything, why do they keep score?” – Vince Lombardi

Pro Tools, Adobe InDesign, and YouTube tutorials have made everyone a competitor in an already flooded industry. One of the most overlooked and underrated keys to success in this industry is to develop and maintain a strong personal brand. We so often focus on branding and marketing our clients and forget to market and brand ourselves.

What sets us apart? What differentiates our services? What makes us a better solution for current and potential clients than a kid in his underwear, sitting in his or her parents’ basement?

Branding is a way of defining your business to yourself, your team, and your external audiences; it embodies the core of what the business is and its values, not just what it looks and sounds like. Consumers and users of most businesses are so savvy today that they can see through most attempts by companies to gloss, spin or charm their way to sales. Moreover, the internet provides a level of transparency in the ever-increasing importance of online referrals and reviews. Consumers and users will perform their due diligence in researching service providers prior to committing to an Agency of Record contract.

In an industry built on trust and relationships, it is important to follow through with something when you say you are going to do it. You want people to see you as someone who is committed to their business. Being branded as a reliable partner is crucial. Review the services your business offers, pinpoint the space in the market it occupies, and research the emotive and rational needs of your consumers. Your brand character should promote your business, connect with your customer base, and differentiate you in the market.

Be remarkable!

According to renowned marketer and author, Seth Godin, “Today, the one sure way to fail is to be boring. Your one chance for success is to be remarkable.”

Seth’s “Purple Cow Theory:”

The essence of the Purple Cow – the reason it would shine among a crowd of perfectly competent, even undeniably excellent cows – is that it would be remarkable. Something remarkable is worth talking about, worth paying attention to. Boring stuff quickly becomes invisible.

Market where other’s aren’t. Set yourself apart.

There is exponential growth and profits in creating new demand in an uncontested market space. Find your niche. Rather than competing head to head with other providers in an existing industry, set yourself apart as an industry leader in a specific channel.

Most importantly, always consider your branding when communicating and providing a finished product.

Don’t lose your pride or dilute your brand with indiscriminate discounting. Try offering more and set yourself apart, rather than slashing prices. If you don’t value your brand, neither will your consumers or competitors. Stand for something you believe in and deliver when you are provided with the opportunity.

Your final product should stand for itself; your consumer’s results need to reinforce your brand positioning. Securing a new partner/client is only the tip of the spear. Retaining clients and creating long-term relationships is a byproduct of remarkable work, meeting and exceeding expectations.

Velocity Agency is a digital marketing and advertising firm specializing in digital and internet marketing & advertising, print, web design, graphic design, film, and HD video promotion and post-production. Velocity serves clients all over the United States from our Metairie, LA office just outside of New Orleans by strategically implementing proprietary tools and techniques to get you the most conversions for your business through lead generation, cost-per-acquisition, and top line revenue.

Baggett McCall New Video Production | Velocity Agency | New Orleans

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Baggett McCall Injury Attorneys have been a long time client, and we’ve helped shape their brand in the Lake Charles community. Through well-crafted testimonials, we increased the firm’s brand awareness and reputation. By introducing each lawyer’s story to the local community, we were able to get in touch with their prospective customers at a more personal level.

After a year of the original campaign, Baggett McCall now enjoys better brand visibility and great reputation at the national level along with measured results and an increase in overall business. So what was our next step? Show their customers what they do best.

Our client has a long history of successful personal injury cases, so we decided to show just that. Velocity Agency wrote, produced and edited new commercial spots that reflected our client’s integrity and success in the courtroom. As a full-service agency, we were able to quickly plan and execute our strategy; from writing scripts to trafficking out the commercials, all within a few weeks.

Velocity Agency is a digital marketing and advertising firm specializing in digital and internet marketing & advertising, print, web design, graphic design, film, and HD video promotion and post-production. Velocity serves clients all over the United States from our Metairie, LA office just outside of New Orleans by strategically implementing proprietary tools and techniques to get you the most conversions for your business through lead generation, cost-per-acquisition, and top line revenue.

SEO & Google’s Algorithm: How It Works | Velocity Agency | New Orleans

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Google is making the search engine leg race to the number one spot more exhausting than ever and with the company’s estimated 600 changes to its algorithms made annually, the finish line may never be in sight. Search engine optimization (SEO), however, remains such a crucial ingredient to ensure organizational success.

In layman’s terms, an algorithm is a recipe that instructs a computer on how to complete a given task. Google’s algorithms pertain to yielding search engine results that are relevant to the users search queries. Today, Google’s algorithms take into account around 200 factors when determining website relevancy, a pool that is consistently growing and changing.

In it’s toddler years, Google search engine visibility was somewhat easy to obtain by stuffing a website with relevant or irrelevant keywords. As the search engine evolves, it is becoming more targeted at finding these non white-hat SEO techniques and penalizing websites for these practices. Today, Google continues to release major updates to the algorithm like Panda, Penguin, and the new Pigeon that can change a website’s traffic overnight.

Now more than ever, website relevance has to be about brand building through relevant, useful content related to what users are searching for. Keyword stuffing and paid links are now replaced by content strategy and development, a task that takes time. Strong content formation includes a hefty chunk of information that is both up to date and relevant to the users search and has not been respun, republished, duplicated or crowded by keywords.

Links are still valuable however, but their value is changing. Link building, much like keyword stuffing, became one of the easier SEO techniques to achieve higher rank results. Because of this, webmasters began building links independently via paid links or article farms. In order to fight these practices, Google introduced the algorithm update Penguin to seek out websites purchasing links or utilizing other spammy link building techniques and dropping their ranking position on search engine results. In the age of Penguin, it’s important to recognize that black-hat practices of buying links are no longer going to help your website by increasing search engine ranking position; it’s now about building relevant, qualified links by influencers in your network and submitting your content to social news sites like Reddit, Digg, or Google+ rather than submitting to article farms where your content will be republished on other sites.

Outside relevant content writing and qualified link building, another of Google’s algorithms focuses on website design optimization in regards to user experience. Google introduced the Panda algorithm update to seek out websites with low quality content and poor user experience. Websites that introduced high-quality content and constantly introduced new, fresh content into the mix were rewarded with increases in organic traffic. Sites with low quality content, broken links, and poor functionality lost out with Panda and organic traffic dropped exponentially – sometimes overnight.

It becomes more important than ever to have a team of people who understand how to utilize classic search engine tools and combine that with superior content formation in a timely and consistent basis. Paid links and keyword stuffing are no longer king , solid brand building with relevant, unique content on a sturdy foundation is.

Velocity Agency is a digital marketing and advertising firm specializing in digital and internet marketing & advertising, print, web design, graphic design, film, and HD video promotion and post-production. Velocity serves clients all over the United States from our Metairie, LA office just outside of New Orleans by strategically implementing proprietary tools and techniques to get you the most conversions for your business through lead generation, cost-per-acquisition, and top line revenue.

WINDOWS 9 LEAK: WHAT WE KNOW | VELOCITY AGENCY | NEW ORLEANS

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Last week, a supposed leak from Microsoft revealed the unreleased Windows 9.  Here’s what we know. Leaked sources revealed the company’s September 30th invitation, which stated: Join us to hear about what is next for Windows and its enterprise. And now we are all sitting on the edge of our seats waiting for more information.

We don’t even really know if Windows 9 is the correct name for the operating system, however Microsoft’s Chinese division briefly posted, “Microsoft’s latest OS Windows 9 is coming soon, do you think the start menu at the left bottom will make a comeback?” on Weibo, but then promptly deleted it.  Affiliates at local website cnBta, however, were able to snag the information to carrot and stick eager PC users with.

It is unknown if PC users will be able to upgrade directly from their well worn Windows 7 straight into Windows 9, or if they have to venture into the alien territory of Windows 8.  For anyone who has had experience with the Windows 8 interface, or who knows someone who knows someone who has, gets that it is a difficult system to navigate.  It is Windows’ first attempt to conform to touch screen technology and it offers little user instruction.  And because it’s custom designed tablet was almost double the price of existing tablets, a lot of PC users just stuck with what they already had.

Perhaps the most exciting component of all this suspense is the grapevine whispers claiming that this new version of Windows is rumored to be free.  Microsoft sales actually plunged 13% just after it launched Windows 8, a statistic noted by consumer market research conducted at NPD.  Maybe by making it free the public will be less versed in the business’ financial blunders.  Though the information cannot yet be confirmed, leaker group WZOR and other leaker collectives agree that the price of the new operating system will nominal, if even a matter at all.

Of the very little information that we do have about Windows 9, most of the hype surrounds around the new, but old, Start Menu that is rumored to be making a comeback.  The Start Menu’s All Apps combines your usual desktop apps with the Windows 8 Metro Apps, giving you the best of both worlds.  All jokes aside, Microsoft is trying.  With the speed-bumps the company hit after launching Windows 8 and the exhausting leg race the company faces every day against Apple’s chart-topping products, we are excited to see what else the persevering company has in store with it’s latest revision.  Rumored to be available as early as April 2015, this may be an exciting year for Microsoft.

Velocity Agency is a digital marketing and advertising firm specializing in digital and internet marketing & advertising, print, web design, graphic design, film, and HD video promotion and post-production. Velocity serves clients all over the United States from our Metairie, LA office just outside of New Orleans by strategically implementing proprietary tools and techniques to get you the most conversions for your business through lead generation, cost-per-acquisition, and top line revenue.