Inspiring phenomenal women

In 1987 the month of March was officially designated as Women’s History Month. This year, the month – and International Women’s Day – was thrust into the spotlight when organizers from the Women’s March on Washington announced A Day Without a Woman.

This new strike was created to show the value females bring to our socio-economic system and promote the “equity, justice, and the human rights of women and all gender-oppressed people.”

As a woman, it is important for me to celebrate women’s achievements and societal advancements. Females and their leadership have been a part of my own growth and success. In fact, without the females that have mentored and taught me throughout my youth, schooling, and career, I would not have become the young professional, and person, I am today. To honor those women, I decided to reach out to a few and ask them to share their own journeys and the women who inspired them along the way.

It is my hope this post helps show the powerful impact women have on one another, as well as inspires some of you to continue this cycle of female empowerment by acting as leaders and mentors in the communities you live.

Dr. Jeanne Persuit

Dr. Persuit is an associate professor at my alma mater UNCW. She was the first person to introduce me, along with hundreds of other students, to the study and practice of integrated marketing communication. I pretty much took every, and any, class I could with her. She pushes the IMC program by bringing in real client projects, staring new ventures like student-run IMC firms, and continuing the conversation about IMC practices with the IMC Hawks blog her classes run. It was the experience of writing for that blog that prompted Savannah and I to start our own.


I wholeheartedly believe my college experience would not have been as rewarding if I had not had her as a teacher and professional example – not to mention her sense of humor cracks me up. Which is why I had to find out what women had inspired her to teach young adults in such a lively and impassioned way.

Dr. Persuit listed both of her great-grandmothers as her inspiration. One of her great-grandmothers, Irma D’Ascenzo, was the first woman on Pittsburgh’s City Council, serving from 1956-1970.

“Irma didn’t go to college, but she was appointed to fill a seat after serving on committees in the city. She was also an alternate delegate for the 1960 and 1968 Democratic National Convention. She’d speak in Italian and in English at speeches in the city and in the neighborhoods with lots of Italian immigrants. Her area of concern and expertise were parks, recreation, and children’s issues.”


Irma holding a “Pennsylvania for Kennedy” sign.

“My other maternal great-grandmother, Ermalinda Marino, immigrated when she was 16 from Italy to the U.S. with her new husband. I just can’t imagine being 16-years-old and leaving your home and everything you know for a new life. She went on to raise three daughters, and one of them had three daughters, and one of those daughters is my mom. She knew everyone on her street and she was an integral part of the community.”

Dr. Persuit sent me a photo of Ermalinda coming over with her great grandfather. (It is below.) Ermalinda passed away when Dr. Persuit was 18, but Dr. Persuit remembers her as “one of the kindest, most generous people, with a beautiful garden, and who could cook like no other.”


“The influence of both of these women – strong in different ways – has made me, my siblings, and my cousins really turn toward public service and education in our jobs and in our volunteer roles. We are all civically active, we vote, we believe in democracy, and we think that immigration can lead to a better life because we’re products of people who were brave enough to do that. I think when you have really strong examples in your life like this, it makes you understand how important it is to be active in your community.”

Carrie King

Carrie King is the executive director of the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival. I met Carrie when she accepted me as her summer college intern. At the time I didn’t realize I would meet someone who was not only one of the most influential people in my community, but also someone with one of the biggest hearts. She is a passionate leader who cares a lot about her city and giving everyone in it some free fun. As a boss she led fearlessly, teaching me to embrace new things and to never be scared of shaking things up.


When responding to my question of what women have personally inspired her, she said the earliest influence was her older sister Kim.

“After becoming a mom at the age of 17, she never let her situation define her outcome. She struggled through her challenges and pushed on as a single mother, business owner, and student. At the age of 32 she decided to go back to school and become a nurse – something we all knew she was destined to be. My sister has inspired me to never quit, to not care what others think, and to always be absolutely confident and FEARLESS!”

Before Carrie became the Dogwood Festival’s executive director she worked at the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce. It was during her time there that she learned some of the most valuable life lessons and was inspired to become an event planner for the community.

“Pat Ann Matthews was a very demanding and stubborn boss that would leave me notes written on a yellow legal pad in red ink, almost daily, of the things I did wrong the day before. Pat Ann certainly taught me to be a perfectionist with an eye for every detail. Her management style taught me to always think ahead of the situation and be prepared for various outcomes. The most important thing she passed on was how I should NOT treat someone that works with me or for me, and to always defer the success and accolades to the volunteers or higher management. Her behavior and managerial style certainly taught me to be action aggressive and not passive aggressive. “

Carrie’s last response reminds us that strong female influences also come from the people who you choose to be around.

Carrie & Friends copy

Carrie, Mary Beth, Catina

“Now in my forty’s, I have a different perspective on life and the friends I choose to have in it. I’m so lucky to have 2 best friends, Mary Beth and Catina. Mary Beth taught me tolerance and to think before I speak. By example she has shown me how to be a listener and not a responder. Catina has shown me how to be a strong leader and to think through issues. She has taught me to have more compassion for people and animals. The two of them absolutely make me a better person, friend, wife and mother.”

Brittany Nash

I met Brittany when I was assigned to her as a sales agent. To be fully candid that move benefited me way more than it benefited her, as I always happened to be the last one off the phones making her stay an extra hour past close.

Brittany is a natural born leader and her energetic and quick-witted personality inspires everyone around her. As a manager she helped instill confidence in her agents, pushing them to meet their goals and reach further. She is an exemplary coach always making sure to listen, discuss, and inspire instead of tell. She was the reason I improved as an agent and eventually received a promotion.

No longer in sales, Brittany has become an entrepreneur and activist cofounding the Facebook page “Resist The Donald”, a page that works to foster political activism against Trump and his policies. As the youngest contributor to this post, and a fellow member of the millennial generation, I’m stoked to share her list of inspiring women.

Brittany Nash

“The first woman to inspire me was the first woman I ever saw – my mother. I realize that can be a clichéd answer, but I mean it. I don’t respect my mother as my mother; I respect her as a woman. She has always been an example of tenacity, integrity and strength. She lost her eyesight a few years ago due to a brain tumor and instead of letting her condition break her she turned it into a new career. She now writes books with the help of speech-text technology. My mother has never let an obstacle get in the way of her goals. She’s been a great role model to follow.”

It’s important to remember that you don’t have to know someone personally to be inspired by his or her work and achievements. That’s the great thing about inspiration. It can come from anywhere and from anybody, which is why I loved reading through Brittany’s next two picks.

“The second woman who inspires me is Shonda Rhimes. It has been my lifelong dream to be a screenwriter. She broke the mold when it comes to that profession. After being turned away from a studio for her first four scripts, she went back to the drawing board and created Grey’s Anatomy, launching a media empire. She once said, “Those who dream, dream. Those who do, achieve.” They have been words I’ve lived since I heard them over a decade ago.”

“Those who dream, dream. Those who do, achieve.”
-Shonda Rhimes

“The last woman who inspires me is Wilma Rudolph. She was the first black woman to win 3 gold medals in a single Olympics. When she was born she had polio. She spent the first 8 years of her life unable to WALK properly, let alone run at an Olympic level. But she kept at the procedures needed to fix her legs, and once she could run she never stopped. I ran track competitively from the time I was 8 until I was in high school. I was once the 13th fastest 16-year-old in the entire nation. I got that fast by training. Every time I got tired or was in pain, I reminded myself that Wilma Rudolph did what I’m doing on polio-affected legs, and I kept going. She has been my inspiration since I was a child, reminding us all to keep pushing to the finish line.”

I wanted to conclude this post with Brittany’s summary of her inspirational choices because I feel it is applicable to all the women mentioned in this post, and is a takeaway for every woman reading this now.

“What all of these women have in common is their refusal to accept the word “no.” Far too often, especially in business, women do not go after promotions, suggest ideas for improvement, or speak out against failed ideas because they fear the word no. These women empowered me to not be afraid of obstacles that stand in my way. Their fearless examples have inspired me to always go after what I want, no matter what. If I encounter a hurdle, I find a way around it and I keep moving. This philosophy has allowed me to push harder and go farther than I could have ever dreamed because I’m no longer dreaming. I’m doing.”

What women inspire you? Did you celebrate Women’s History Month? If so, let us know how in a comment below.

-Caroline Robinson

*Some responses in this post have been edited for clarity.

Exploring Pinterest’s promoted pins with Campbell’s

By 2021 digital marketing spend will near $120 billion and make up 46% of all advertising. This new, digital form of marketing was made possible by social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. These companies helped turn the internet into a sharing hub and marketplace by monetizing and perfecting the digital advert.

One social platform that has been slow to catch on to the paid format is Pinterest. They recently released new search ads that allow marketers to run promoted pins based on keywords. The new search ad is a great advancement for the platform, allowing better ad targeting to match its users’ search habits. Pinterest has great potential from a targeting and creative standpoint, and to show you this I thought I would explore a promoted pin I was served.

It is fair to say most of the pins we see are visually attractive – light on text and heavy on photo. This is why the pin below caught my eye. It wasn’t food. It wasn’t a quote in script font accompanied by a beautifully illustrated background. It was an overbearing pool of red with blocky font, and it was by Campbell’s.



I am a sucker for Campbell’s Tomato Soup. I will dip a grilled cheese into that tangy, savory redness even if it is 100 degrees outside. So naturally I was inclined to stop scrolling and read the text heavy graphic.

“A pin isn’t a meal until it’s made. Make your Pinterest recipes into recipes for real, real life.”

The copy in this is ad speaks to most Pinterest users who more heavily use Pinterest as an inspiration board filled with dream weddings and never get to home projects. As an avid recipe pinner myself, I have learned to stop pinning dinners that require hours of labor and 50 ingredients because in reality who has time to make something that takes more than 30 minutes of prep?

Moving forward, I found the pin linked me to a recipe simplifier. After a few moments the website generated timesaving recipes similar to what I had already pinned on my account.


Of course their recipes included Campbell’s Condensed soup and other brands the company owns like Pace salsa and Pepperidge Farm cookies, but I was more than happy to buy their products because what they gave me fit my interests and needs. It solved a problem I had, wanting to make food that is delightful to my taste buds and easy on time. All in all, I think this is a great campaign for a couple of reasons:

It solves a problem.

The average Pinterest user’s dilemma is pinning millions of things and never making or doing them because of a busy lifestyle. Campbell’s makes it effortless for users to find time-friendly and simple recipes that fit their appetites.

 The ad aligns with Pinterest’s core user group.

The majority of Pinterest users are women Millennials (36%) and Gen Xers (34%). Many in these two age groups are starting or growing their career, and many of them are starting or already raising a family. They are made up of young professionals and working soccer moms, two groups always on the go. The copy of this ad is what speaks to this group. It understands their fast-paced world and makes them say “Ha. Yeah, that’s true. I need that.”

 It pushes sales without being too salesy.

At the end of the day it is all about conversion and sales. If your marketing isn’t doing that then it isn’t working. However, what you are doing also has to be in the interest of your consumer. Campbell’s draws its target audience in with copy and then makes that knockout out pitch once the user’s mouth is watering and they are grabbing a pen to add the ingredients to their shopping list.

This ad has many good qualities, but it isn’t perfect. The pin doesn’t explain exactly what is behind the link. It leaves users wondering what they get by clicking on the pin. Is this just a quote? Is this going to lead me to a collection of newly released Campbell’s soup flavors?

It is beneficial to set expectations for your audience. Let them know what they will get or see if they decide to check out what you are offering. Remember, these users are scrolling quickly through tons of content, if they can’t understand your pin in a couple of seconds they won’t click.

What other promoted pins have caught your eye? Share below and don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest for more related marketing, advertising, design, and young professional content.

-Caroline Robinson

Mountain Dew’s new mobile-first campaign is only effective if it can facilitate offline conversation.

Ah, the smell of a fresh and clean new year. There is nothing more inspiring than shaking off last year’s blues and scribbling down some new resolutions. While most of us only think of New Year’s resolutions on January 1st, marketing departments and agencies have been thinking about them since the previous third quarter. The discussion of what works, what will be new, and the planning around it is extensive — and there is no better example of this than Mountain Dew’s new mobile-first global campaign.

The fizzing citrus drink announced their global ad initiative earlier this month, and it will bring significant changes to the brand including a revised slogan, a refreshed visual identity, and most importantly a strategy shift. The millennial generation is at the heart of the update. Like many other brands targeting current 20 – 36 year olds, Mountain Dew is shifting its strategy to meet the younger generations at the cool hangout spot, their mobile phone.

Greg Lyons, senior vice president of marketing at Mountain Dew, North America stated, “Knowing that millennial consumers see messages first in the palm of their hands, it’s no longer about figuring out how creative can be optimized for mobile at the end of production, but now how it can be designed to thrive in mobile from the outset.”

To promote their creative theme, “the feeling of doing”, they teamed up with pro skateboarder Sean Malto. The video spot showed the skateboarder jumping over the hood of a car and then afterwards taking gulps of Mountain Dew. While the creative concept isn’t a standout one (from my POV), what is outstanding is how they distributed it to their target consumers. The ad initially appeared on the pro skateboarder’s Facebook Page in vertical format.

Sean Malto Facebook Page Video Screenshot

If you look closely, you can see that the video views count is at 3 million! (As of January 24, 2017.) The video also received 926 comments. In addition to this post, Mountain Dew plans to utilize Snapchat, Facebook Live, Facebook Video, Instagram Stories and Twitter to encourage further engagement with the brand.

Right now you might be thinking, “These tactics aren’t outside the norm of a standard marketing plan. What makes this so different?” The difference, and maybe why the post received so much engagement, is because mobile phone usage is at the center of the strategy. Think of it like a solar system, the mobile phone is the sun and the tactics and creative revolve around that. To give you a more definitive understanding, here is a definition:

According to Aaron Strout, the term mobile first “is intended to mean that as a company thinks about its website or its other digital means of communications, it should be thinking critically about the mobile experience and how customers and employees will interact with it from their many devices.”

So, creating a mobile-first strategy is about considering in every aspect of planning and execution how your target consumer will interact with your content via a mobile phone. Understanding millennials’ phone usage and adapting to it is vital in getting your message in front of their eyes; however, does this approach affect sales and purchase intent?

I recently read The Face-to-Face Book: Why Real Relationships Rule in a Digital Marketplace by Ed Keller and Brad Fay. (A recommended read for anyone in the marketing field.) The book explores the new realm of social media marketing concluding that although this new digital world plays a part in our lives, focusing solely on this medium to drive conversation and sales – like PepsiCo did in 2010 – is not a smart marketing move.

What the authors do conclude is that online and offline conversation are vastly different, and word of mouth or face-to-face conversation is much more potent than online social media interaction. To quote from the book, “brands shouldn’t begin with social media engagement as their primary goal, but with an idea that, as Singh wrote, can live in a number of different channels. The strategy should be about engaging people with ideas they will want to share with others, and using all appropriate vehicles that will encourage them to do so.”

And I repeat, “… strategy should be about engaging people with ideas they will want to share with others, and using all appropriate vehicles that will encourage them to do so.”

Now this doesn’t mean to discard engagement goals if you are using social media as a vehicle to promote your brand and message, but what it does mean is that you need to make sure the content you are distributing via those channels is disrupting your consumers ordinary expectations, or “schema”. Disrupting someone’s schema makes a person stop and think, and if you have disrupted their schema the person tends to want to talk about what happened with others to rationalize the situation. In marketing terms it means your ad message must work to disrupt a target consumer’s world so they will then feel compelled to talk about the brand message.

In respect to Mountain Dew’s campaign strategy, they believe a mobile-first campaign is the best way to engage millennials with the idea of “There’s no feeling like doing.” If that idea breaks through millennials’ schemas, causing them to stop and talk about the “feeling” they have when skateboarding or drinking a Mountain Dew, then the campaign will prove to be successful.

What do you think about mobile-first campaigns? Will it prove to be a successful strategy for the millennial audience? Place your thoughts below.

-Caroline Robinson

Learning with Lynda: An affordable resource for young professionals

The year twenty-sixteen started out a little hazy. I had a full-time job; however, I didn’t want to make a career out of it. After soul searching, I decided on digital marketing. So, with my metaphorical compass in hand, I started my journey. It wasn’t long before I stumbled and realized that although I had some great skills in my back pocket, I had way more to learn.

When getting started in any career you have to have a foundation. While my background in communication studies and sales helped, I was still missing vital knowledge of digital concepts. Skills that topped the list were SEO, content marketing, web analytics, such as Google Analytics, and digital paid ads. (I was able to identify these highly sought after skills by looking at job postings.) This is when the million-dollar question was posed; how could I learn these skills from an authoritative source at an affordable price?

I proceeded to find the answer by searching for classes or certificates I could earn. I even enquired with a local community college about the courses they offered, but no one from the department returned my call. That is when a good friend of mine recommended, or Lynda for short, is an online learning platform featuring video courses taught by industry leaders. You can take the classes at your own pace – watching on a laptop or through their mobile app – and the best part is the most expensive plan is only $34.99 a month. specifically specializes in teaching business, software, technology, and creative, all relevant skills to the marketing communication discipline. You can watch as little or as much ask you like and there are no test or deadlines. Some courses even have short quizzes after every chapter.

While affordability and convenience made me try the platform. It was the platforms functionality that made me fall in love. One of my favorite components is the way Lynda groups and divides their courses. For example, they have a section called Learning Paths that is great for recent graduates. This feature works like a custom playlist, bringing together courses around one job position. Completion of each path gives you substantial background knowledge of the field and tips, tricks, and strategies to help you do that specific job.

They also divide their individual courses into a section and chapter format. This makes it easy to identify areas of interest without having to watch the whole course. To give an example, I watched a refresher course on WordPress. One section was focused on “Extending WordPress with Plugins” and one of the chapters inside was called “Finding, vetting, and selecting plugins.”

Everyone’s time is valuable, so to help with the continued learning search, I identified three cohorts that I believe would benefit the most from this learning tool.

  1. Recent graduates looking to gain specific skills they did not acquire in college.
  2. Professionals looking to brush up on or widen their skillset.
  3. Business owners who aren’t specialized in the area they need help in. For example, a mechanic looking to market his business.

Starting a career or being excellent in your field requires continuous learning. To do that successfully you have to find a channel that works for you. Finding the right quality and flexible learning opportunities at an affordable price isn’t easy and Lynda is a great digital tool to help marketing communication professionals continue that education.

-Caroline Robinson

Marketing winners of the 2016 presidential election

Congrats Donald, you beat the odds and proved your own party wrong. The road to the White House for the two presidential candidate nominees was close and fierce. Attack ads and finger pointing took center stage. Thank goodness it is over.

This year the candidates spent millions purchasing ad space to feed their message to the people. Their campaigns offer opportunities for marketing communication professionals such as designers, media buyers, strategists, copywriters, videographers, animators, etc., to create new and innovative content. While we could go without some of the negative ads, there were many creative pieces that should be recognized. Here are my picks for the outstanding election marketing pieces from brands, advocacy groups, and even one of the candidates.


The Pedigree Experiment

Pet food company Pedigree created a heartwarming segment showing that love for dogs can cross political divides. The video’s premise is a woman trying to help find the lost owner of a golden retriever during the candidates’ rallies. The twist is that she shows up to each rally wearing the opponents t-shirt. While causing some confusion amongst the supporters, the helpless dog is enough distraction for them to agree on one thing, “We have our differences, but everyone loves dogs.”

Props to Pedigree for connecting dog food with the most important decision of our country. The ad was a great at showing what the Pedigree brand stands for, the love and respect of animals. Something we all can stand behind together.

Weather Channel’s 9-hour ‘Escape the Election’

 I know this year’s presidential race caused a lot of anxiety and stress, so I hope everyone took advantage of the Weather Channel’s election escape programming. They hosted a 9-hour marathon of “the most beautiful, awe-inspiring, and calming weather video and scenery ever caught on tape” to help calm election nerves.


The Weather Channel’s move to offer a place of tranquility was genius, as most people wanted to run from this election before the party nominees were even announced. The best part of this marathon was the Weather Channel’s press release for it. Check out the press release here.

Hefty trashes political ads

This campaign was perhaps the cleverest out of all election ads. The Hefty trash bag brand spoke for most U.S. citizens by trashing the detested political ads. The brand purchased pre-roll ad space on YouTube and ad placement on media websites like CNN, Fox News, AOL and The Huffington Post. They were simple and stated, “This political ad has been trashed thanks to Hefty.” Bravo, Hefty. Bravo. I only wonder how much they paid for these primetime spots.

Hefty 2016 election ad from Ad Age Communication Minded


 NextGen Climate with celeb endorser Aziz Ansari

This year NextGen Climate took a page from Rock the Vote’s book and hired celebrities to help endorse their cause. NextGen Climate is a group that targets millennials and “acts politically to prevent climate disaster and promote prosperity.” One of their ads featured comedian Aziz Ansari. In the video Ansari is comically outraged at the fact young people need him, of all celebrities, to tell them to vote. He ends his rant with a “go vote” plea before stomping off camera.

This ad is a fun spin on celeb endorsement, as his complaining – or disbelief – about having to spend his lunch break encouraging those undecided youngsters to vote is quite different from any other celeb endorsement.

Rock the Vote exclusive polling music

To avoid the lines I voted early; however, after hearing this news I wish I had waited to get these exclusive tracks. Rock the Vote partnered with musical artists Watsky and Adam Vida, Local Natives, and the Head and the Heart to release new tunes for those who waited in line on Tuesday. The catch was you could only stream the music if you were at a registered polling location.

The Candidates 

“Mirrors” from the Hillary Clinton Campaign

Ad Age created a list of the top shared presidential campaign ads and this ad was number one with 555,918 shares. The “Mirrors” ad highlights Trump’s negative comments about women’s looks while showing young girls, who presumably don’t fit that mold, looking at their reflections in mirrors. It is an ad that tugs on your heart as a woman, a parent, or anyone who has respect for females. It is easily the most memorable ad from her campaign and one that likely influenced a lot of voters to consider casting their ballot for her.

There were tons of marketing campaigns and ads produced during the 2016 election process. Did you have any favorites that didn’t make my list? Share them with me in a comment below.

-Caroline Robinson

Bonus Content: If you follow me on Snapchat, you will know I’m obsessed with their filters. Here is a collection of my favorite election filters.

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The Must Read Book for Every Twentysomething

If you are looking for a way to invest your college graduation money go to Amazon right now and order The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter–And How to Make the Most of Them Now by Meg Jay.

Why should I read this book? Reading this book will help you make sense of the universe! Well … your universe. For most of us the first twenty years of our lives follow a specific framework. Something similar to the one outlined below.

Step 1: Make good grades in school and get into college.

Step 2: Go to college and GRADUATE!

Step 3: Get a job? Start a career? Go for additional schooling? Travel?

Our existence has been so rigidly planned that once we get to step three, or hit a bump in the road, we don’t know what to do with ourselves. Not having a clear path or some sort of direction can be paralyzing and lead to stagnancy.

Photo of book The Defining Decade: Why your twenties matter - and how to make the most of them nowThe Defining Decade helps one to think about what they want in life and helps outline some of the things that one needs to consider for that life. Jay, a clinical psychologist, shares what she has learned from years of working with twentysomethings. This isn’t a book of tips and tricks but of deep reflection. Through her research she comes to the conclusion that our twenties are meaningful despite the cultural status quo that the thirties are the new twenties.

What this means it that our time is not limitless. Here is an excerpt from the 2013 paperback edition.

“Your twenties matter. Eighty percent of life’s most defining moments take place by age thirty-five. Two-thirds of lifetime wage growth happens in the first ten years of a career. More than half of us are married, or dating, or living with our future partner, by age thirty. Personality changes more during our twenties than at any time
before or after. The brain caps off its last growth spurt in the twenties. Female fertility peaks at age twenty-eight.”

These are things most of us don’t consider as we are venturing out to shape ourselves. When reading this book you will find yourself saying, “That is exactly how I feel!” The three sections are shaped around the main aspects of one’s life: work, love, and the brain and body. Therefore, if you feel you have mastered one, you can skip to the section you feel you need insight on.

Have you ordered the book yet? If not, get on it! Tell me what part you most related to or what part you found most surprising?

Still haven’t decided if this book is worth a read. Check out Meg Jay’s TED Talk below.

-Caroline Robinson

An in-depth look into the cord-cutting trend and what new live-streaming capabilities mean for advertisers

I love TV. The intricate story lines, the relevancy of episodes, and the development of characters are captivating. When you find me with the TV on I am most likely catching up on recorded shows like How To Get Away with Murder or binge watching a new series on Netflix. Seriously, if you need suggestions I have you covered.

Until about a year ago I was actually a cord cutter. For those unfamiliar with this term it is the ditching of traditional pay television. You have heard us use it in past blog posts such as “Is Rock the Vote rocking young voters?” and “In Television Ads We Trust”.

For a lot of millennials the shedding of cable or never getting pay TV comes down to one factor. Can I pay my bills? Many young professionals would rather spend their leftover income on craft beer and experiences before giving it to a company whose programming they barely watch. There were two reasons my roommate and I went with cable. The first was that she consumed programing that required a pay-TV subscription – she is a fan of football and The Real Housewives – and the second was that new customer pricing wasn’t much more than stand-alone Internet with Hulu, Sling TV, and Netflix.

Now, a year after our decision, not only are there digital platforms to show broadcast and original entertainment like Amazon Prime, Sling TV, and HBO NOW, but there are also social platforms streaming live content.


With all these new ways to watch, I was curious as to how much the television industry was being affected by the cord-cutting trend. Rhetoric in the media suggests cable and satellite doom. However, in reality, only one-quarter of all US TV watchers go without cable and satellite subscriptions, according to a GfK study. The households with 18-34 year olds are most likely to go for alternative TV content and in a Fortune online article, whose numbers are a tad different, the percentage of cable-free homes will rise from 20.4% to 21.9% by the end of 2016. Not a big significance.

The reasons behind the shift aren’t rocket science but here are some cited justifications.

While the cord-cutting trend is growing, as an advertiser I wouldn’t be too worried. Cable still has a large number of TV subscribers and TV network’s content is still being watched – just in a different way.

According to Adweek’s article “Live Viewership May Be Down, but TV Content Is Still the Main Thing People Are Streaming”, TV consumers are spending more time with time-shifted TV, or TV that is watched after the live broadcast. To put this into context, 67% of Hulu viewers enjoy watching network TV shows the most. In fact, a report from the Video Advertising Bureau (VAB) found that total video consumption has slightly risen over the past year.

The VAB research is particularly interesting as their conclusion was that ad-supported TV brands and video streaming have a symbiotic relationship; they increase viewership. Overall, “there’s been a healthy increase in the amount of time consumers spend with TV brands across platforms – including TV-branded websites, mobile browsers and apps.”

Isn’t that good news?

Looking at these services as complementary instead of conflicting creates a whole new juxtaposition. It brings to mind an old marketing saying – go to where your consumers are.

This is exactly what some brands are choosing to do with their video content and social platforms like Twitter are helping them to do it. Cable and satellite were once sole distributers of live content, but Twitter’s recent deal with the NFL is working to make live sports easily consumable, even for cord cutters.

In preparation for this live-stream of Thursday night football, Twitter partnered with streaming devices like Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Xbox One to integrate the online TV experience. The result? Twitter’s live-stream of the Patriots-Texans game caught the attention of 327,000 people; a relatively low number compared to the 17.5 million it captured on TV. For advertisers these games shed light on live-streaming habits. One notable difference is that consumers of live content on social platforms aren’t watching full games. Viewers tuned in for an average of 22 minutes, which is one-third the amount of time expected of someone watching a football game the traditional way.

live-streaming devices

More impressive was the live-stream of the 2016 presidential debates. Its stream on Twitter passed NFL audience numbers and overall attracted 9.5 million between all live-streaming platforms (Facebook, YouTube, news websites, etc.).

These debates offer insights into the vitality of live-streaming. Andrew Hutchinson from Social Media Today reported an interesting trend. Live-streaming audience numbers increased every debate while TV audience numbers fluctuated. The first debate attracted 84 million people on TV, the highest ever. For the second, TV viewership declined by 20% and then increased again for the third, but it never reached the 84 million the first debate attracted. (Note: overall live-stream audience numbers were drastically less than live TV viewership.)

live-streaming audience size 2016 presidential debate

“As the TV audience declined, more people tuned into the live-streams, showing an increased confidence in, and reliance upon, these platforms as a coverage source.” – Andrew Hutchinson, Social Media Today

Viewership on platforms is one thing but those who are paying to advertise have said these live-streaming platforms under delivered. Advertisers on Twitter said they saw significant underdelivery from their ads during NFL football games. Below are some of the measurements they are referring to.

  • Expectations of audience size 500,000 avg. viewers. Actual, 243,000 avg. viewers.
  • Expectation of number of times each viewer would see an ad, three. Actual, one.

While this reach might be low compared to subscription TV, as people become used to live-streaming the audience will only become larger. Something that Hutchinson’s insights might be foretelling. As audiences grow so will the adsphere, giving advertisers more ways to reach consumers. New ad options like Facebook’s mid-roll video ads are already available in live video.

Keep in mind we are in live-streaming’s heyday. Advertisers who figure it out early will only have more success in the future. As Octagon’s Chief Strategy Officer Simon Wardle stated when speaking about the Summer Olympics, “Media buying is going towards not only wanting those traditional media spots, but integrating them with digital, especially when you have live-streaming. Having a presence on those platforms for brands in my mind is essential, because it’s disproportionately likely to be watched by these 18-to-34-year-olds, the elusive teen and young adult audience.”

-Caroline Robinson