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As a graphic designer if you don’t keep up with the latest trends your designs might fall by the wayside like Microsoft Paint. New trends come out every year. The goal is to find new ways to grab and hold people’s attention. For 2022, there are plenty of new ideas out there to improve and expand upon current techniques. Here are just a few of those ideas to consider.          

Fonts with a Twist

Typography can be used in many ways to make interesting designs. Twisting letters has proven to be the most popular of 2022. Graphic Designers like it because it conveys an interesting sense of style and message because of its imperfectness. The twisted letters can be anything upside down, big, or small. It can help bring any attention to any sort of design or reveal a certain message.

Candy Colors

As we enter this digital age with various kinds of content across all platforms, it is harder for designers to stand out from the rest of the crowd. Colors are important to help us stand out on the page and get more attention to our work and be seen. The best way for your design to stand out is to use candy-colored themes. Think of the colors of your favorite sweet treats. Graphic Designers who know color theory can apply this to their designs.

3D Characters

3D characters have risen to popularity with Graphic Designers. Graphic Design apps have been updated to include 3D features (other than text) allowing designers to raise their designs to the next level. 3D characters are fun and memorable helping build brand recognition. They also help convey emotions, thoughts, and ideas to the consumers.

90’s Nostalgia

For those who remember the 90’s, nostalgia is a popular trend with designers. Utilizing these designs techniques will bring back childhood memories of the good times. Think of shows like The Prince of Bel-Air, Seinfeld, and Friends. To incorporate this trend, designers will look at games and ads from this period also. The internet was new and exciting. Using this trend will bring fun to the design.

Anti-Design

Another way to make a design stand out is to not follow typical rules of Graphic Design. Most Graphic Designers follow certain rules to create flowing, memorable, easy to read designs. If you want to break the rules to make something stand out, you can go against the grain. Use bold Typography, clashing colors, asymmetry, and cluttered compositions. Even if it’s against the rules sometimes it could just work out and catch the viewers’ attention.

As a Graphic Designer there are a lot of exciting and intriguing ways to incorporate ideas into designs. It’s important to keep up with design trends and influences. You can break the rules and create new concepts that do not follow the norm. You can bring back a classic era into the world. You can twist your fonts to create playful and exotic messages, or you can bring designs to life in 3D to help express emotions and bring a brand identity. All these ideas are popular for 2022 and will help your designs be a success.

Written by:
Shavonne Stellato
Development & Graphics Team Member

Reading Time: 2 minutes

When you think of awards, the Oscars, Emmys, and Golden Globes probably come to mind, but you probably might not think about advertising agency awards. But for a business like ours, we have been asked to submit and participate, to be in the running for these industry awards, time and time again. Let’s examine what these awards are and if they really mean anything to clients.

We’ll start off with the fact that “awards” in our industry, as with most, are big business. Awards are given out by media marketing platforms like The Drum and Digiday, as well as through industry associations like, The Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals with their ‘MarComm Awards’ and the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences with their ‘Webby Awards’ just to name a few.

There are awards for:

  • Digital Media
  • Print Media
  • Creative Design
  • Strategic Communications
  • Content Marketing
  • Audio / Video
  • Industry Leaders
  • Technology
  • Strategy
  • Distribution
  • Editorial
  • And more!

For a media planning and buying agency, like ours there are awards for:

  • Best Media Plan
  • Best Use of Emergent Media
  • Most Diverse Spending
  • Best Brand Integration into Gaming/Sports
  • Best Brand Integration into Traditional Media
  • And more!

With more than eight thousand businesses in the advertising industry (Statista 2019), it’s easy to see why this became big business and how there would be so many opportunities to “win”. But how do any of these companies get nominated. Who gets to choose where the entries come from? In many cases, it’s the businesses themselves vying for a chance to get recognized by the companies promoting the awards. And many of these opportunities come at a very high cost.

According to an interview with an ‘agency CEO’ done by Forbes, the CEO had to “defend his decision to spend $250,000 on entry fees”, because “winning awards is how he benchmarks his agency.” That doesn’t seem right. In that same article, the writer noted that the actual “usefulness as any type of industry benchmarking regarding who is doing outstanding work is predicated on the quality and robustness of the judging process.” So, the question is, who are they to judge? Could the winners based on the amount of investment spent to win awards and agencies willing to spend it? That may be why the larger, popular, and wealthier agencies are the ones “highlighting” all their winning awards.

It isn’t that winning an award for something should be overlooked. Our agency won an award for our Out of Home Strategy for “Best Alcohol Advertising and Promotions”. Yes, believe it or not, there are awards that get that specific.

And of course, as a media agency, we were very proud to win, but we didn’t nominate ourselves and we don’t hang our hat on those kinds of things. It means more to us when our own clients tell us they appreciate what we do for them. Getting them the best media placements and unique opportunities, while saving them money. No award necessary.

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Regional Buying on a Budget

Your agency better be prepared to keep a watchful eye! It’s easier to blanket areas than it is to break them apart. There are many ways to carve out and divvy up your media spend. Maybe you want to focus your spend on your top performing markets? Maybe you want to focus your spend on the least performing markets? Maybe you are opening new location(s) and you want to spend a portion of your dollars in those areas? Is your agency prepared to execute this type of buying? Is your agency prepared to watch over that campaign and treat your money like it’s their own? Will your agency watch over the buy to make sure that those portions stay in those areas? This takes an enormous amount of planning, reporting and time. If left unattended, your money could end up in areas you did not want to focus on and possibly in another time zone. And yes, that happens more often than you may think.  

Here are a few items to task your agency to get the biggest bang for your buck.

Negotiate with your Vendor

Your company’s media budget seems to be cut from last year, and of course everyone wants more of everything than the last campaign. How are you going to get that done with less money? Does your agency negotiate with their vendors? Or do they just buy close to rate card and commit? This should be your first question to your agency. Let’s be honest, the easiest thing for the agency would be not to negotiate on rate. They bill off your total spend!

Check Impression Delivery and Pacing for your Digital Campaigns

Is your agency checking that the impressions placed are delivered in the scheduled territories? Or are they just checking to see if the number of impressions were delivered so they can bill you for them. This is the top area where you can get some added value for sure.

On a recent campaign we requested delivery by zip code and found that roughly 20% of their spend delivered into unapproved zip codes. That is not good news for anyone, but it periodically happens.  Those of us in the reconciliation department know this means “Free Ads”. That incorrectly placed 20% will be coming back to the client and back into the approved areas. That 20% is voided from the invoice becomes added value impression.

We require weekly reports that shows us delivery by the hour. Pacing is extremely important for all our campaigns. Are your impressions being delivered while people are awake? Are the relevant times to sales cycles or just wasteful placements?

Out of Home Billboards

You might think, what is there to watch? The billboard goes up, then it comes down. That would be terribly naive. There are many things that you should be watching for. Typically, there is an acceptable window “posting period” that as the agency along with the vendor agree upon. Meaning, they typically have a few days from the proposed start date to post the board. Expecting them to post possibly hundreds of boards on a Monday because that is when it supposed to start is not possible. Over a few days, yes. If we come across, that every board posted 5 days late and you have 50 boards, that is 250 days of lost advertising time. Which equates to nearly 9 months of lost exposure! This is unacceptable and we either get that lost time reinserted on the back end or take credits.

Multiple Creatives Pieces

Frequently in out of home and digital there could be multiple creative pieces that are running at the same time, and you scheduled equal rotation for each. When the digital play report comes in you find that one of the creatives ran 80% and the other 2 ran at an equal 10%. Again, not something the client or us want to hear. On the other hand, for those of us in the accounting department, we know this means “Free Ads” or “Added Value” to our client. That mistake is removed from the invoice, and you get those additional ads for no cost and the contract is reloaded until fulfilled.

At A3 Media, we do everything possible to always ensure that there are no mistakes made on all our campaigns. It’s this detail that you want to make sure you’re getting from your agency. Are they watching these things? Honestly, it would be easier and less time for the agency not to get so granular, but then the client is really the only one who loses!

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The country is reconsidering the value and potential benefits of different forms of products derived from Marijuana or Cannabis. Since this is a state issue and not necessarily a federal issue, lets focus on the states, and which states have laws in favor or against the differing degrees of legality for cannabis. To be clear we are not taking any sides in this debate, but simply highlighting the potential for growth of the industry and how the different states will need to determine how cannabis companies will be allowed to promote and advertise their products and services.  

They breakdown to the following categories this way. Legalized, Medical & Decriminalized, Medical, Decriminalized, CBD only, and Fully Legal.

The industry seems to be taking several cues from the Beer/Liquor & Wine industry and how it has negotiated and determined what rules and restrictions each media channel will follow. The long standing “Alcohol Industry” standard for advertising was that 70% or more of an ad medium’s viewership had to be 21 or older. That was recently revised to the new standard that 71.6% of the audience must be 21 or older. Additionally, alcohol advertising’s creative messages should not be designed to target or appeal to people under the age of 21. Using cartoon characters etc. is discouraged. The advertising cannot promote brands based on alcohol content or its effects. Lastly, the ads must not encourage irresponsible drinking.

As an example of how states are applying a similar line of thinking with regards to its regulation of cannabis advertising, Colorado law states that cannabis companies cannot advertise on television or radio without “reliable evidence that no more than 28.4% of the publication’s viewership is reasonably expected to be under the age of 21.” This rule is also applied to print and digital media. Of course, some digital properties can add “age gating” to help enforce this.

Cannabis advertising has various levels of censoring by social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok.

One example to consider is the city of Denver. The city at first, was not allowing billboards, except for company store signs. Any advertising visible from the streets, sidewalks, parks, or other public places within the city limits was prohibited. Thanks to changes to a 2019 bill overhauling the marijuana industry regulations, restrictions were eased. Those same businesses may now utilize outdoor advertising if it is placed at least 500 feet away from schools, playgrounds and churches. This is similar to the restrictions billboards must comply with regarding Alcohol.

In the lead up to these easing of restriction, several dispensaries skirted the laws by sponsoring sections of the “Adopt-a-highway-Program.” This secured the companies name on signs along highways as partners with the state DOT, which maintained regular clean ups of 2 mile stretches of the highway in CO. More than 48% of the programs 248 miles of highways in 2018 were sponsored by marijuana companies.

One of the key concerns, most often cited as reasons for restricting advertising methods, are based upon a myriad of studies about how cannabis products can alter the developing mind of younger people, who have not reached adulthood yet. Despite society’s declining concern over the risks associated with cannabis use, neuropsychiatric conditions, automobile crashes and substance use disorders are often sited in studies as negative outcomes more associated with teens than with adults.  In 2019, the Surgeon General’s report warned, “Cannabinoid receptors are crucial for brain development, which is why cannabis use during adolescence carries special risks.”.

A recent study was published in the “Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs” led by Dr. Pamela J. Trangenstein, Associate Professor of Health Behavior at the UNC-Chapel Hill Gilling’s School of Global Public Health. The research of 172 teens, ages 15 to 19, who lived in states with legal recreational marijuana and who used the drug at least once, reported that compared with those that never saw a billboard or storefront ad, those that said they saw them “Most of the time” or “Always” had seven times the odds of frequent cannabis use and nearly six times the odds of having Cannabis use disorder. Ironically, Teens who occasionally saw some form of cannabis ad on Instagram were 85% less likely to use marijuana frequently compared to those that never saw such promotions.

So is a takeaway from an advertising perspective, that outdoor advertising is more effective at promotion of certain products, than other forms of advertising like social media? Or is it that that some limited and defined parameters modeled after the Alcohol industry, like the distance from schools, playgrounds and churches should be strictly adhered too?

Who is ultimately responsible for cannabis advertising? The “Advertiser” or the “Vendor” that owns the platform. It seems to be a mix of responsibilities based upon the type of media. With OOH, the largest player Lamar, has published a slightly more restrictive policy directive than the state, at least in Colorado. Lamar’s rules for Cannabis ads include the Minimum of 85% of the targeted audience must be 21 or older, vs the state rule of 71.6%.

It’s other guidelines mirror much of the Alcohol and Cannabis laws currently in place.

  • Copy must not appeal to minors
  • Slag words like “Weed” or “Pot” cannot be used
  • No images of the plant or leaf
  • No mention or image of ingestible products or paraphernalia
  • No false Health Claims
  • No images of any product that is ingestible or edible
  • All copy must first be approved by Lamar and is subject to state and local authorities.
  • Disclaimers may be required in select markets

It should be recommended that the Cannabis industry continue to take their lead from the alcohol beverage industry. They should pool their resources of the different advocacy groups, to focus efforts now to study, establish, and publish guidelines of “best practices” for the nation, as it relates to advertising of Cannabis products. Codify the restrictions intended to keep the products out of the purview of children. Distinctions should be drawn that better define the right-minded promotion of legal Cannabis products. Early adoption and codification of the standards pre-emptively should head off government intervention and potential heavy handed crushing regulations that can often follow.

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PR ANNOUNCEMENT
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 30, 2022

TROOPER, PA: A3 Media announces Social Shelf® trial in New Jersey’s, Bourbon Street Wine & Spirits.

On March 15, 2022, A3 Media began their second Social Shelf® trial in New Jersey’s Bourbon Street Wine & Spirits chain, with nearly 400 products.

The new advertising solution, Social Shelf®, is specifically built to help educate consumers about small and mid-size brands, enabling them to make smarter buying decisions while shopping in the aisles.

Bourbon Street Wine & Spirits has nine locations and is the first alcohol superstore to use Social Shelf. “Bourbon Street Wine and Spirits is excited to partner with Social Shelf in all nine locations to provide our customers with product information that can help them to make an informed purchasing decision.” said Chris Beardsley, General Manager “It’s a great tool for customers to get information, recipes and even food suggestions about the many wines, beer, and spirits that we stock on our store shelves.”

In addition to Bourbon Street, A3 Media has been successfully testing the Social Shelf service in grocery retailer Giant Food Stores. “We are pleased to see this newest trial period with Bourbon Street off to a fantastic start with more than 4,000 scans in less than two weeks and excited that Giant Food Stores has extended their original 90-day trial period with Social Shelf ®.” said Frank Gussoni, President and CEO of A3 Media. “Our goal is to monitor both trials to compare consumer usage and how it varies between grocery and liquor specific retailers.”

Philadelphia based A3 Media, is known for their strategic media planning, negotiating, and buying services for mid-market and regional businesses. They provide multi-market companies the strength of national media buys with the control of local market pricing through their use of the registered trademarked Micro Market Media® methodologies. A3 Media developed, Social Shelf® to allow smaller and mid-size brands the opportunity to market to consumers at point of purchase.

For additional brand or retailer information, please contact A3 Media, at sales@socialshelf.net or 855-466-8584. Learn more at www.socialshelf.net.

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U.S. Ad Spending: According to Magna Global, the U.S. ad market will rebound in 2021 with ad dollars growing year-over-year by an estimated 25%, totaling $284.3 billion.

What is Data-Driven Advertising?

Data-driven advertising helps brands understand the customer journey and provides insights that allow for a “personalized” experience. It helps brands reach the right audience on the channels they use.

Data-driven advertising isn’t new, but it is increasingly the deciding factor in advertising planning as well as the measurement of a successful campaign.

Does data provide valuable insight into a potential consumer? Sure.

Does data allow an advertiser to follow the consumer across multiple touchpoints, across multiple devices, bordering on creepy? It does.

Does data driven advertising have a place in the strategy of your media campaign? It absolutely does. Should it be the only factor in your media strategy and determining a campaigns success? Not a chance.

One facet of the work we do at A3 Media is constantly vetting new companies. Is every company we vet a perfect fit for our client’s needs? No! However, we have found and established invaluable relationships and implemented many new and unique tools through the process. This process helps enable us to be more versatile and better informed, which, in turn, allows us to provide better service to clients.

Enter Converged TV – the blending of linear, connected and addressable TV.

Converged TV measurement is a blended measurement of the effectiveness of linear and digital TV.

Linear TV

Linear TV has been measured historically by rating points, the percentage of viewers of the total possible audience. More recently there has been a shift to view linear TV by impressions (putting it on a more equal scale to digital properties). Linear TV, ratings or impressions, at best represent an estimate of the audience.  If this isn’t murky enough add to the equation, the leading source of TV ratings is also establishing the statistics for TV households as well as the potential audience size.

Reviewing the intricacies of linear TV measurement could lead to an ongoing series, the topic at hand is converged TV measurement. To make a long story short, an analysis of predictive modeling based on estimated ratings, or impressions, for linear TV should be viewed as marginally accurate. If this isn’t convoluted enough, add the manual steps and time delay necessary to secure the final modeling. These additional steps can require enormous man-hours and can take anywhere from several days to several weeks to complete.

Does this “data” allow for optimization of your linear TV schedule with all these obstacles? Next, add the associated costs for this service – six figures a year.

Connected and Addressable TV

Connected and addressable delivery and engagement truly is much more measurable using household and device data, delivery and conversion measurement capabilities. This, almost, real-time analysis does lend itself to campaign optimization. The fees for this type of data are typically calculated as a percentage of the media cost.

The final blended summation is still at the heart of the issue.

  • Is it data? Yes.
  • Does it contain a substantial amount of inference? Absolutely!
  • Is this the type of data you want to hang your hat on to dictate your media plans? Uhm…..no.
  • Is this a sound foundation to determine the course and success of your media campaign? Not completely.

There may never be an end to the search for more and better data but until something better comes along, this is it. So, in the rush for data always ask for a clear explanation of the source, calculations and accuracy of the information presented – all data is not created equal!

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A3 Media’s new advertising technology, Social Shelf, is specifically built to help educate consumers about small and mid-size brands, enabling them to make smarter buying decisions while shopping in the aisles.

We are excited to announce our second trial began on March 15, 2022, in New Jersey’s Bourbon Street Wine & Spirits chain, with nearly 400 products.

Bourbon Street Wine & Spirits has nine locations and is the first alcohol superstore to use Social Shelf. Using Social Shelf will expand their consumer’s education of products, which Bourbon Street prides themselves on.

With their vast selection of beer, wine and spirits, shoppers are able to learn more with a simple scan of a QR code. A3 Media will be advertising the service and monitoring its usage at all nine locations.

In addition to Bourbon Street, A3 Media is testing the service in grocery retailer Giant Food Stores. Giant recently extended their trial.

A3 will monitor both trials to compare how consumer usage varies between grocery and liquor specific retailers.

For additional brand or retailer information, please contact A3 Media, at sales@socialshelf.net or 855-466-8584. Learn more at www.socialshelf.net.

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When something breaks in your home, typically your first thought is to see if you can fix the problem yourself instead of having to hire a professional. Sometimes, you can google the problem and if you get lucky, you are able to fix it yourself. However, often you end up making the problem worse than if you had just hired a professional in the first place. The same concept can be applied to the need for a graphic designer.

I have heard this story repeatedly from clients. All they needed was a couple advertising pieces and assumed having someone in their office do graphic design work not only was going to save them money, but it was also going to save them the time it would take to find a graphic designer, sit down with the designer, figure out what they want and get the design just right. But in the end, they realize this wasn’t the best course of action. For example, say they decide to try one of the free layout and design websites to attempt to create what they need. One of the most popular websites for creating and designing advertising pieces is Canva. Canva is a free online service that allows you to use their design templates to design all kinds of advertising pieces. However, what a lot of people don’t know is that if you choose the free version of Canva, you are limited to a small number of templates to follow. Even if you choose to pay for a subscription, you are still stuck with using the templates. Sure, it is relatively user friendly but in the end the designs look generic, unoriginal, and simply unprofessional.

For small business owners trying to stand out from the other companies in town, it is essential their branding is consistent and distinguished. To do this, you need to hire a graphic designer. Graphic designers have the skills and knowledge to help create branding and any other advertising pieces you may need for your company. They will likely think of things you might need that you didn’t think of yourself. For example, you might think of all the signage you will need for your business, but you have no idea how to have the signage printed or installed. A graphic designer can ensure that your signage is going to turn out exactly the way you imagined it. You also want custom business cards to hand to your customers. After designing your business card, the designer might suggest designing new graphics for your social media pages to attract more customers or a letterhead to match your branding for when you are printing out professional business documents. At the end of the day, you saved yourself the headache of having to do it yourself and you have a person you can turn to the next time you need something designed. And it was worth every penny you spent.

Big corporations choosing to hire a graphic designer is always the best option. Say you have been in business a very long time but now it is time to update your branding. A graphic designer can design a new logo, business cards, letterheads, email signatures, envelops, etc. The designer can make sure the new branding is new and fresh but also still feels like your old branding. They can also ensure that from now on all advertising pieces are consistent with the new branding. Designers create what is known as a branding guideline. A branding guideline will provide instructions on how your logo is to be placed, how not to use the logo and how and when to use the different file types of the logo. This way, when the designer is done with their work, your branding will continue to stay professional and consistent.

No matter what kind of business you are in, hiring a graphic designer is always a smart option. Ask for their work examples. Make sure they understand what you are trying to portray and that you work well with each other. Because even the best artists will need to fully understand the “feel” of the project to be successful, and only you can truly convey that to them.

At A3 media, we have in-house graphic designers like me that can assist our clients with all of their advertising and design needs.

Written by:
Ali Menard
Development & Graphics Team Member

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Did you ever wonder, if Times New Roman is the standard font that everyone uses, what on earth are all these other fonts for? Imagine what a bland world it would be with just one standard font. Take the Netflix logo for example. If it was just in Times New Roman typeface in black, it wouldn’t be memorable, would it? That’s where Typography comes in! Typography is important in everyday life. Without it we wouldn’t be able to communicate messages effectively!

So, what is Typography? “Typography is the strategic arrangement of type in order to make written language readable and visually appealing.” Some may think typeface and font are the same thing but they’re not. Typeface consists of a family of fonts that express different styles for that typeface. Some styles are bold, italic, regular, etc. Using features like Contrast, Hierarchy, Color, Alignment, and Consistency, we see elements of typeface design. With Contrast, a designer will change or work with various typeface styles and color to make the design stand out.

With Hierarchy, Graphic Designers arrange typefaces and use font sizes to create dynamic designs that grab the viewer’s attention. Color helps establish the tone of the message and helps it pop. Alignment helps make sure there is the same amount of space between fonts and images to create a neat design. Consistency between your typefaces ensures a clean and messy-free design and helps create a visual pattern for viewers.

In Typography we use typefaces to convey different ideas, feelings and emotions. For example, the Serif family of typefaces conveys respectability and reliability, the Sans Serif family conveys stability and clarity, the Script family conveys elegance and creativity, the Modern family conveys strength, and the Display family conveys friendliness and expressiveness. Picking your typeface is an important part of the design in creating your message.

Typography is important for Media and Marketing whose primary function is to communicate, advertise and sell to consumers. It helps to build brand recognition, show personality, deliver an effective message, and make an impact. Helping to build brand recognition is a vital component of Typography. Using the appropriate typeface helps to convey a mood or tone for that brand that is memorable and conveys what the brand is about. As a consumer you are attracted to a brand without realizing what got your attention. Consistent use of a typeface in logo design helps to reinforce brand identity. “The Coca-Cola typeface script for example is instantly recognizable because they have been so consistent in applying it for so many years.” If you consider the Disney logo, it’s memorable because it’s playful and friendly. They want to appeal to young children and adults alike. That’s the power of Typography!  

There is more to typography than just choosing a font. Typography teaches us how to arrange type in order to make written language readable and appealing. With all the tools available to us today, we have the ability to create messages that create an emotional connection to the consumer to make the consumer interested. Typography is essential to Media and Marketing because it helps build a brand. Without Typography building brand recognition with a clear, concise message would be very challenging.

Written by:
Shavonne Stellato
Development & Graphics Team Member