5 Digital Marketing Faces and Spaces to Watch

Sujan PatelWhat if your life depended on which marketing or ad agency you hired? Oh, your business life does depend on making the right choices, yes it does. Choosing the right faces and spaces to help promote your business successes begins and ends with knowing the right choice.

Digital marketing is a term that had absolutely no meaning a decade ago. Well, except for the fact traditional marketers were actually scurrying about figuring out how to sell via the web. Then, the stampede began. Social networks, blogs, YouTube, a marketing revolution started. Today, there’s a digital marker around every corner of the Internet. The point is, if your business is to succeed you’d better darn well understand the real differences between agents. Just because a guy wears shorts and flip-flops with his coat and tie, has little to do with skill and ultimate success. In fact, flip flops may be an early positive indicator.

For every positive, there seems to be a negative. And nowhere is this more vividly true than online PR, marketing, and even advertising. In fact, every professional field fueled by technology and the free web, benefits and suffers from the same disease. Separating the wheat from the chaff of professional marketers is a daunting task. To this end, start compiling a list of firms (there are many more) that rock their respective fields – even though sometimes their path to success is a rocky one.

Here’s the good, bad, and ugly of some of the web’s most influential marketing gurus.

Single Grain – SME Visibility

Sujan PatelYou’ve heard the symbolic turn of phrase “a grain of truth” many times, I know. Sujan Patel (at left and below) and AJ Kumar have been at the business of traffic and visibility for clients these same ten years. But then, so have about half a billion other marketing teams. And in that statement resides the quintessential question “How so I choose the best professional for the job?” Yes, I am going to show you.

Choosing any consultant, future employee, even any agency starts with word of mouth and ends with close scrutiny. Let’s say for instance your search for a marketing guru begins with this post. You are a reader, you figured out somehow we are not here to lie to you, Sujan Patel’s or Single Grain’s name turns up, you look. But you should never take any single person or resource’s word before hiring. Here’s the next steps everybody HAS to use.

  1. Look at the person or company’s website, in particular the landing page. Several elements can be crucial clues to showing professionalism and trustworthiness. In the case of Single Grain, these guys are marketing and traffic people, so you’d naturally expect Sujan’s page to look and rank high. As it happens, Single Grain is a PR4 with an Alexa of 51721 – right off, you know one thing, the pros here know how to drive traffic. If a company can do “it” for themselves, they can “do it” for you. 6 of 10
  2. Testimonials or client listings can show past trustworthiness, and skill level. Using Single Grain as an example, the site visitor can readily see Yahoo! Games, intuit, Random House, Salesforce, Sony Pictures, and other trusted brands having used Single Grain. If you look deeper still, you can find the campaigns via searches of the web. 6 of 10
  3. About us. There’s no more positive bit of digital marketing than showing the smiling faces behind a business. Patel and Kumar, their team, knows this too. As a person or company searching for professional help, you’ll have to admit the face of a consulting company is simply something you are looking for. 7 of 10
  4. Web footprints are the traces of where and what anyone on the web has been up to (Branding). Bottom line, if you can search a brand or name on the web, and find any complaint about said entity, don’t hire them. Sounds stern, doesn’t it? Well consider any viable marketing firm out there. What if they cannot even do damage control on negative links to their services? Providing good news about your company is the reverse, you know? In the case of Single Grain, three pages of SERPs produces nothing but speaking engagements, how to’s, and very positive things about Sujan Patel’s company. 9 of 10
  5. Demonstrated value is not has hard to determine as you might think. Looking at what values a company professes, their blogs, contributions to other sites, interviews, and what’s been distributed by any company, says one heck of a lot about them. From Single Grain’s blog to talks at key conferences, and on the social profiles Patel and Kumar have, there’s simply a lot of good info about marketing by them. 6 of 10
  6. Voice and face recognition. Finally, there’s no doubt the best possible way to ensure credibility is face to face meeting. Second to this, at a bare minimum a call or two can verify all the other elements we’ve mentioned. No decision to employ a digital marketing or other professional should be made without “one-on-one” scrutiny between the principals. 8 of 10

I’ve know Sujan Patel for many years, though we’ve not had occasion to do business with Single Grain (after all we are competitors really). Do your own checking and you’ll find what I have shown. Now that we have shamelessly plugged Patel, let’s use the template to show 4 more trusted marketing types.

Millennial Media – Mobile Ad Innovation

Millennialmedia

Millennialmedia landing page, striking, what can I say?

Wow. Every once in a while, as an analyst, one heads onto the web to find out about something, in this case a marketing company, and there it is! Let’s call instant discovery what it is, love at first sight. And nowhere is such love more crucial than in advertising, especially mobile advertising. Millennial Media could have Rasputin for a CEO and still win over clients just from their landing page. But let me just get to rating the company growing at a 1,551% clip, according to Inc.

  1. Landing – See for yourself – 9 of 10 (there may be no such thing as a 1o)
  2. Testimonials – scrolled across the front page as you can see above P & G, McDonald’s, Coca Cola, come on. 8 of 10
  3. About Us – From the boss, Paul Palmieri, to Robert Woolfrey, Managing Director Southeast Asia, Mellennial is proud of their executive team. If they lose points it is totally due to the absence of the foot soldiers of the company. 5 of 10
  4. Web Footprints – Beside a couple of IPO related, and one criticism complaint about Mellennial, their online brand is about as strong as any. Share price, as anyone knows, can show up at the darnedest times. Still, cause for a 4 of 10!
  5. Demonstrated Value  More Wow! Download the Mobile Mix™ Reports – value equals 9 of 10, the company profiles contain volumes of graphics and reporting.
  6. Face Recognition – While timing did not permit us speaking with Palmieri, the video below reveals a man apparently on the razor edge of what’s going on in the mobile ad space. And, an intelligent executive happy about his company’s place in said market. No rating possible

e-rewards inc. – Marketing Data

Kurt KnaptonI bet you never heard of eri. e-Rewards®, Inc. does the job underneath all the fluff you hear about marketing online. The leader in permission-based digital data collection and reporting, the 1200 plus person Texas firm works it’s way out onto the web via Research Now, e-Miles, Peanut Labs, Conversition Strategies, and iPinion, LLC. Kurt Knapton’s (CEO) company has an “about us” as well, one filled with the names and faces of some of the world’s most renown business experts. The board brims with Harvard Business School professors, PricewaterhouseCoopers execs, venture people, and so on. Using our 6 points up there, let’s break down this company’s suggested trust rank.

  1. Landing – PR3 not visited much. This company is not advertising traffic, so uncluttered and straightforward design and informative index are the keys here. I would score the landing 4 of 10 when compared to some others. 
  • Testimonials – Research firms are often behind the scenes, in the case of e-rewards one has to look a bit deeper for credibility factors. One clear indicator though, is the fact this company is one of Inc.’s most profitable and fastest growing companies. Still, not knowing who trusts whom, brings this score down.
  • About Us – e-rewards has no difficulty be proud of who is on their team, as I suggested, the management and board are stellar. Given CEO Kurt Knapton’s contacts etc via this company profile (PDF), accessibility is not an issue for these guys. This aspect is a 9 of 10 in my book, when considering the highly refined nature of what the company does.
  • Web Footprints – Uh oh. We started with e-rewards placed just beneath Single Grain in the hierarchy of listed marketing pros here. Then a simple web search turned up not one, but five negative mentions in the first three pages of SERPs. While this can happen when competitors try and sabotage you, or even when a company’s vast reach inevitably rubs people the wrong way, for a company that made $276 million bucks in 2011? Any negatives should have been gone in days. Given their financial and technical prowess, this sets e-Rewards’ footprint value at 0 of 10.
  • Demonstrated Value – e-Rewards’s value proposition is “implied” by the 3,000 clients the firm has globally. 7 of 10
  • Face Recognition – About the only way we could evaluate this aspect of e-Rewards in a timely manner, was to have our body language expert (my partner) go over some video of CEO Kurt Knapton. Below you see YouTube video of Knapton just after his return to the company in 2011. Knapton exhibits zero enthusiasm, is reading a prepared script, and comes off as a bit scared according to cues. We cannot rate this company on person to person contact, we will try and reach Knapton for a later report.

It’s a bit unfair to be overly critical of Knapton and/or e-Rewards here. For Knapton, his philanthropic efforts, especially during his hiatus from his company, are indicative of every fine human being. Maybe coming back to forge e-rewards forward is a chore compared with helping kids in Sierra Leone? The best that can be said on the company’s part is, someone fell down on the job where brand damage control is concerned. Still, they are the “go to” operators in this space.

Adapt.tv – Video Ad Persons

Simply put, the ways in which we all consume video is perhaps the most rapidly changing medium outside mobile search and consumption. In fact, mobile is one of the components of the video ad space. Adapt.tv is growing at rate that roughly corresponds to their market – about 5,000 times more profitable than it was 2 years ago. That said, let me run down CEO and Founder Amir Ashkenazi’s company.

Adapt.tv graphic

Adapt.tv graphic – the election

  1. Landing – With a PR6 and an Alexa rank of 20,000, for an ad company? This is outrageous. 8 of 10 they lose a point for “less than Hollywood” appearance. 
  • Testimonials – To be blunt, Adapt TV is not so proud of their client list. 2 of 10
  • About Us – Amir’s and his executive team’s smiling faces and short bios are there, but this is about it. 3 of 10
  • Web Footprints – Three pages into the SERPs and not a hint of anything but highly posiive things about Adapt.tv. Despite the fact their landing has no sign of a Facebook or Twitter presence (?), they maintain a strong online branding presence. 5 of 10.
  • Demonstrated Value 7 of 10 on the sole strength of the company blog. While more points could be gleaned showing the videos they engage with via a channel, the blog reveals the reason this company is raking in profits.
  • Face Recognition – Again, we have not had the opportunity to interview or speak with Adapt.tv’s top execs, but the video below from Fox reveals a highly enthusiastic and in person responsive Amir Ashkenazi

AdRoll – The Bleeding Edge of Ads

The number one advertising company in the world is AdRoll. Okay, getting tagged with that distinction pretty much supersedes all our other criteria, but wait! How did Aaron Bell’s company get there? Ahh, if I take credit for having listed the ways, does that make me a guru too? Not. The expert team at SAAS’s poster company are building a new age software empire dedicated to solving your digital marketing problems. Let me run them down for you.
The AdRoll team

  1. Landing – Well, even empires are sometimes built from understated graphical wonder, aethetics cannot be everything, look at Napoleon. AdRoll’s landing page looks like Google without the correct color combinations. They get a 2 of 10 here in my book.
  2. Testimonials – Scrolling down to the “our partners” link in the footer (lost two points here boys) any reader or prospective client can find money makers in the client and partner list of AdRoll. And money makers make the ad world go round. 6 of 10
  3. About Us – The smiling faces AND connect points for AdRoll’s team prove out what I have suggested. What I mean by this is, two weeks ago I did not even know Aaron Bell or Adam Berke (President) a LinkedIn holler, a tweet here, and an email there and AdRoll’s connectedness was readily apparent. 8 of 10
  4. Web Footprints – AdRoll is literally, on a roll. Searching the web past three pages of SERPs, Facebook, Twitter, even LinkedIn updates, brand wise these guys rock. And, the aforementioned “wiredness” does not hurt neither. 8 of 10
  5. Demonstrated Value – Again, AdRoll did not get to the top of the heap with shortcuts. Any potential customer can click around on their website, or the web period, and find AdRoll data and case studies of incredible insight. Check out the Hipmunk example here. 7 of 10
  6. Face Recognition – AdRoll just happens to be one of the companies I have had personal contact with. On occasion of discussing some AdRoll contributory content, I spoke via Skype with Founding team member and President Adam Berke. While Skype cannot be equated to “handshake” proximety, let me just say Berke is ultra professional, sharp, and somebody I would hire. If the conversation we had is characteristic, about the only negative thing I can say is he was super busy. Aaron Bell, via mail and SM, was as friendly and professional, as was everyone I communicated with at their company. 7 of 10 (in the interim of these listings/company spotlights we will only go above 7 with an actual handhake.

While not wholly scientific or conclusive, this preview of marketing and ad excellence does begin to isolate several like qualities that make for highly successful companies and executives. This is part of our endeavor here at Everything PR News, to help people make determinations about the things that really impact and matter to them. For finding the right marketing company, even the right marketing or ad strategy, it is critical that we take a look at small and large operations, mechanics, genres even, in order to make better decisions to help our interests. Single Grain to AdRoll, and within a lot of companies we have yet to cover, success is really out there to be grabbed.

Study the people we have suggested above, for it is your determination and learning that will power your own business forward. I will be spotlighting more companies and practitioners next week after the holidays. In the mean time, I hope this article will help you.

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