Finding Love in an Ad-Free Place: Ad-Blockers & Your Brand

By | Blogging, culture, Marketing, News, SEO, Social Media, Web Development

Ever since the internet was young and innocent, advertisements have cropped up as a way for brands and marketers to get access to the huge amount of people logging on every day. The pop-up has served as the bane of many an internet user’s existence, popping up in more and more frustrating situations and in greater quantities. Nonetheless, users have revolted and used ad-blocking softwares to dispel the efficacy of “traditional” internet marketing — namely, the pop-up window.

The era of the pop-up advertisement is all but dead,

and it has everything to do with ad-blockers.

What is ad-blocking?



Simply put, ad-blocking is the process of eliminating any and all advertisements on a webpage — especially those that show up as third-party plug-ins (think “pop ups” or banner ads). This results in pages loading faster, because ad-blockers essentially refuse to load advertisements on a given webpage.

Why are people attracted to it?

It appeals to common sense that users would want the fastest, most distraction-free browsing experience. Using ad-blockers reduces the “white noise” of traditional advertisements encroaching upon the content users want to access. If users are this adamant about not wanting to see advertisements, it speaks to a collective lag on the part of brands to provide compelling and engaging content to get people to listen and engage with their online ads.

When done well, advertisements don’t have to be “white noise.”

What can brands do to counteract the rise of ad-blockers?

The rise of ad-blockers for traditional users, with Apple recently releasing ad-blocking as part of their overall software package, has petitioned companies to market in more profound ways; Companies are now tasked with creating compelling, engaging, and user-centric content. Users are playing a greater role in advertising, rejecting ads that don’t reach them in a way that asks them to participate and be involved in a brand’s “process.” Therefore, companies need to re-focus their marketing strategies on co-creation, user involvement, and overall engagement.

Besides creating more compelling content, what else can be done?

Creating great content is one thing, but there also needs to be a well thought out and executed distribution

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strategy for your brand’s content. If you simply create it, it is not a guarantee that consumers will flock to your brand. Developing a robust digital strategy is imperative for any company’s success in an ad-blocking online culture. This means utilizing mediums, strategies (SEO), and resources to reach people where they reside online.

Ad-blockers are making traditional forms of advertisement more difficult, but it hasn’t rendered the entire practice of advertising online as dead. Companies are now being asked to be more creative, to create content which exceeds expectations, and taking residence in places that users wouldn’t normally find them — but are using anyways. There are places to advertise, if your company is doing the right job in seeking them out.

Writing, Uninterrupted: the Rise of Distraction-Free Writing

By | Blogging, culture, Job Advice, Learning, Organization, Resources, Time Management

Here’s an idea; hop onto your preferred search engine right now, and run a search for “distraction free writing applications.” Almost immediately, you will be greeted by a vast selection of applications which can help “mute” your desktop. The idea of cancelling out all of the potential distractions on your screen is a growing trend in the world of online writing — based on the idea that writing in its purest form is based on a complete lack of distractions.

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What has taken so long for these applications to really take hold, though? The answer could be that distraction-free writing tools give you the opportunity to cancel out the influx of other applications available on your computer. It’s not just writing applications available to the average internet user, but countless other apps to help your organize your life, schedule your time, and do anything and everything in between. Given the sheer number of options, applications that “tune out” these potential distractions are in-demand — instead of adding to the mess of business, distraction-free writing tools are replacing the variety of options with only one option: to write, and then to write some more.

While there is no lack of options to do some distraction-free writing, there are certainly some that stand out from the crowd. Consider some of these apps before you undertake your next manuscript, screenplay, or blog:


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Draft offers an aesthetically pleasing interface where you can cut out distractions. The added twist is the Hemingway mode, which doesn’t allow for editing on the fly. It forces you to type without using the backspace button, only allowing for editing after the mode has been disabled. Hemingway mode is meant to facilitate the flow of writing, without the at-times debilitating process of going back and tweaking everything you’ve already said.

Hemingway Editor 

hemingway editor

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Hemingway Editor began as an easy way to evaluate whether or not your writing was “plain language” enough — allowing for an instantaneous knowledge translation exercise. The application itself also offers a useful interface for writing, which combined with the evaluative aspect of seeing how relatable your writing is, provides for a unique and productive experience for writers of all kinds. We all want to be understood, after all.

Calmly Writer 

Calmly Writer is another attractive application that allows for distraction-free writing. The twist for this app is the fact that it provides a laser-focused approach to the writing process, highlighting the specific paragraph you are currently writing. It focuses on exactly what you are writing in that moment, and allows for better concentration.

This is just a taste of what’s going on in the world of distraction-free writing, so don’t be afraid of experimenting and trying out new applications as they are released. Every writer’s process is different, so it is important to use exactly the right medium to express yourself.

New Year, New You: 6 New Year Applications For 2016

By | culture, Learning, Life, Organization, Time Management

The beginning of the year is often a mixed bag of emotions: first there is the inevitable holiday comedown, followed by the injection of promise and hope that comes from sketching out resolutions for the New Year. Often people lay out their goals with an eye towards remaining organized, bettering themselves, or maintaining that aliphone holdingl-important balance between work, family, and self-improvement.

What typically gets in the way? Our ability to follow through!

Thankfully, we have the technology to organize and maintain our goals! The following is a list of six new year applications which can help you maintain these goals, whether they are saving up for a trip to a faraway land, or simply remembering the day of the week:

Mint (

Many resolutions revolve around money;  There are many apps out there to help you keep in control of your finances, whether it is saving, budgeting, or simply tracking how much you’re spending. Mint provides the opportunity to intuitively keep track of your finances, coupled with tips and tricks about keeping your finances in order.

wunderlistWunderlist (

The New Year application for to-do list for pros, Wunderlist offers the opportunity to sketch out all of your to-do’s in an intuitive and attractive space. Whether they are putting together a grocery list, compiling a list of action items for work, or simply remembering to walk the dog, it is easier to regiment and maintain everything you have to do for the day/week/month.

Wonderful Day (

If repetition is the key to success, the app Wonderful Day will help make sure that you are tracking your consistency no matter how small the task. Wonderful Day is based simply on the idea of practice, where you make a list of activities and mark its accomplishment (ideally) every day. The streak alone will keep you motivated!

Headspace (

Maybe you’re looking to jump into 2016 with a more holistic approach to your health. Headspace is a meditation app designed to help make meditation simple. In only ten minutes a day, your “gym membership for the mind” can start off strong.

Sunrise (

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In keeping with the theme of organization, Sunrise is a calendar app designed to streamline your day-to-day actives in a way that is effective and aesthetically pleasing. It can be combined with your other calendars, via Facebook or Google, to keep all of your appointments in one handy location. It’s a new years application made to keep you as organized as possible! 

Pillow (

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Trying to get better sleep, or to track your sleep patterns? Pillow is an effective app to keep track of your sleep, with detailed reports and an alarm component built to wake you up at the exact right time for your body.

With the help of these productive apps, your 2016 resolutions might become more than ideas floating around if your brain. These apps will help keep your organized, motivated, and hungry for more this year.

How to Foster a Good Company Culture

By | culture, Job Advice

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Cultural Fits > Experience

Someone once told me that a smart person can learn anything, so don’t focus too heavily on experience as the sole motivation for hiring a new employee. Hiring someone who corresponds with the culture of your company and would mesh well with the already present employees is (arguably) more important than hiring someone with a stacked resume. Why? One bad hire can disturb the flow and function of an entire department, or even worse, the entire company, whereas a good hire can add something positive and valuable to the company that may have been previously lacking.

Assign a ‘Director Of Culture’

Assigning the responsibility of Director of Culture to an employee may seem obvious, but ensuring that someone is directly responsible for organizing all company events and cultural happenings is key for boosting employee morale. Knowing that there is someone who is putting the employees first and organizing events for their enjoyment is a crucial factor for nurturing a positive company culture and happy workplace. It also works to show that the company is putting its employees first by showing that they care about employee satisfaction and team building.

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Collaboration is King

Cultivating an environment that encourages teamwork and collaboration is vital for creating a positive company culture. Opening the lines of communication between departments by promoting cross-departmental coordination not only fosters a workplace that welcomes learning and employee growth, but also helps employees understand each other better through various modes of collaboration. Teamwork within an organization ensures that all parties involved understand that they are working towards a common goal, and this goal unifies employees. Collaboration between employees builds the understanding that your employees are a cohesive team, rather than a bunch of individuals who happen to be employed by the same organization.

The Rise of the Emoji

By | Blogging, culture, Marketing, Social Media

Do You Emoji?

Emojis- you either love them or you hate them. You either use the fiesta dancing girl every chance you get or you are still stuck in the early 2000’s and send  :-(. Whether you are pro evil monkey face or against it there is no denying that emojis have become an integral part of the internet culture and an important way for people and brands to express themselves.

The marketing industry is calling this “The Emojification of Brand Advertising” where pictures speak a thousand words and the best way to connect with the highly sought after millennial niche is through fun graphic emojis. Brands are using emojis to communicate with Millennials and more recently Generation Z, a market that has grown up in the social, mobile and digital world.

Brands on Emojis

I have noticed the biggest using of emojis in company e-mail marketing campaigns. With more email clients accessing their email from their phones, emojis in the subject line is an easy and smart way to attract a reader’s attention. According to data from Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud, 2% of B2C emails now contain emojis in the subject line, and email delivery vendor MailChimp says that 214,000 campaigns have been sent with emojis.

I have also noticed an increase of large emoji cut outs showing up at concerts and Halloween parties but more recently they have appeared on the side of Pepsi cans. Pepsi has now added emojis to the side of its cans in order to celebrate 40 years of the Pepsi Challenge and are hoping to sell you on a feeling, such as “grinning face with smiley eyes” emoji instead of the sugary beverage inside the can.

Emojis have become so popular with brands that a sub industry has been created that includes a plethora of platforms that create personalized branded emojis, stickers and GIFs for brands. Brands like Ikea, Coca-Cola, Burger King and even Snapchat have created their own custom emojis in order to resonate better with their audiences.

A professor at NYU’s school of journalism put the using of the emoji the best when he said, “Emojis are doing what the tone of voice did on the telephone and what gestures, tones and facial expressions did in interpersonal communication”.

Emoji Global Communication

Emojis have the potential to cross borders and break through language barriers. Thanks to smartphones, the entire keyboard of emojis have become a universal form of communication and gained acceptance worldwide. Brands now have the capability to communication with the world with a simple smiley face, and it has become crucial for marketers in the digital space to learn how to speak emoji.

Tear Down that Wall: the Open-Concept Office

By | culture, Learning

Midnight, August 13, 1961. East Berlin, Germany. Bathed in improvised floodlights, East German workers scurry to erect a shoddy barrier encircling West Berlin. As West Berliners rose on that fated Sunday morning, so stood one of history’s most infamous barricades, a marker of the iciest era in cold-war relations: The Berlin Wall.

10:24 A.M., June 9, 2015. Toronto, Canada. Bathed in flickering fluorescents, office workers languish at their cubicle-surrounded desks as their eyes glaze over. Desperate for open avenues of communication, these workers can only dream of shouting: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” They sit in a marker of the boring-est era of office organization: the cubicle.

It may be in the name of democracy, or it may be in the name of a more efficient and pleasant work environment, but here are some reasons for your office to ditch the cubicles and go for an open-concept space.

 Spy Communiqués vs. Free Communication

Businesses are collaborative. In virtually any field, at virtually any step in the work process, intra-office communication is vital. The cubicle design may not expressly forbid communication in and of itself, but there’s no doubt that, by its very physical layout, it reduces your ability to exchange ideas with your colleagues. On the other hand, the open-concept, with its shared desk space and open sightlines, encourages communication among employees.

 Closed Borders vs. Open Environment

We spend more time in our office than anywhere else. It’s only fair, then, that we should aim for a pleasing office environment—and your typical cubicle farm is anything but. Cubicles are the bane of natural light, they offer a brilliant vista of the 4 square feet immediately surrounding you, and their noise dampening walls leave acoustics akin to a solitary confinement room. Open-concept offices eliminate all these problems—leaving employees with a space they don’t dread arriving at every morning.

Comrades vs. Camaraderie

Perhaps the most overlooked benefit of open-concept offices is the camaraderie they create. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a space where people can see one another and freely talk is conducive to building strong intra-office relationships. Now, just follow the bouncing ball: employees that work with people they like are happy employees, happy employees are productive employees, and productive employees make for good business.

Open-Concept: Defeating Communism One Office at a Time

Nearly 70 percent of offices in the United States are designed with open-concept in mind. This is no accident. If you’re moving office spaces, or just thinking about a redesign, don’t be an Eastern Bloc-head: go with the open-concept office.

The Work Uniform

By | Blogging, culture, Job Advice | No Comments

Photo cred: Matilda Kahl

How the Work Uniform Can Work for You

Every company has their own dress code and some are easier to follow than others. Some offices are okay with a more casual look and others want you to dress more professionally. It really depends on the work culture and environment. Although, no matter the dress code, you can follow the rules while creating your own work ‘uniform.’

Similar to a typical high school uniform a work uniform can satisfy all of the requirements of the dress code, but is something simple that you never have to plan or search for when you wake-up in the morning.

Buy a few pairs of the same pants and a few white blouses and your work uniform is set for the week!


Matilda Kahl’s Work Uniform

Art Director, Matilda Kahl, made the news with her work uniform and genious idea. Instead of focusing on organizing her clothes for the morning, her simple outfit is ready for her everyday. Focus and energy should be spent on your work, not figuring out to wear every morning.

Kahl says:

The main motivation was that I understood how much time and energy I’d save if I could just take out the clothing aspect of my working days. We have so many great creative challenges at Saatchi that I’d rather spend my time on that, not picking out a new outfit every morning.

So taking advice from Matilda Kahl, we can all learn a thing or two about “office attire.” A work uniform is a great way to save time, money and energy before you even wake-up in the morning. You can enjoy a few more sips of your coffee and sleep in a few minutes later — instead of worrying about the little things.



How to Work in Unison with your Team

By | culture, Organization | No Comments

We all know that in order to run a smooth operating business, each member of the team needs to work with one another with open communication, towards a common goal. This is sometimes easier said than done, especially when office politics come into play and corporate hierarchy is unclear.

Working in Unison

It may be easier to look at the individuals in your work teams like gears and rods. Each gear and rod has a different role in order to make the machine work, but you need all of them working together in unison to achieve proper movement. There is one thing that a well-oiled machine and your team should have in common, every part has an important role in the overall purpose.

So how do you build and keep a team unified? Let’s take a look at just 3 of the top ways.


Teams that are in proper alignment with the company vision and values will often be more motivated and productive as a unit.

Grow Together

Teams that grow together, stay together. Growing as a team where each member is excelling can show that they have worked towards a common goal, produce more energy and enthusiasm for their work.

  1. Providing each team member feedback and opening up the conversation to them, will help you get to know your business and practices better as well as assess each individual’s skills and abilities.
  2. Invest in the learning of team members allowing them to learn in groups will increase morale and generate new ideas.

Build a Community

Create a work environment that feels more like a community or a small family rather than just a place of work. This type of environment develops highly motivated teams.

  1. Work in collective groups, break out into brainstorm sessions
  2. Take the time to have fun and enjoy team member’s milestones. Celebrate birthdays, work anniversaries, and other achievements.
  3. Create an open dialogue with everyone and encourage the same among the team. Communication at every level is key.

A team unified is a team that is set up for success. Each member will be “solopreneurs” working collectively in the community for a grand purpose. Momentum and passion will occur through growth and all will be rewarded.

Why You Need an Offline Community Strategy

By | culture, Social Media | No Comments

We speak a lot about the importance of building an online community and strategies to engage with followers. But in some ways technology has made us more anti-social, at least in the offline world. We are all glued to our phones/tablets/ and computers addicted to staying up to date on everything going on online, that we often forget there is a whole physical meaningful world that surrounds us. In our personal lives this is a choice, as a brand it is important to not only show your human side online but also offline.

Online Community Manager Definition

Someone who acts as the ambassador of a company or brand on the web. They build, monitor, and grow online communities, and often becomes the authorized voice of the company.

Why You Need an Offline Strategy


This definition is great and nails the job description on the head. Now what if this same job description and duties was given to someone regarding your offline community? To ease the fear that some may have with creating these experiences and physically interacting with the outside world, here are the most important reasons why you need an offline community strategy.

1) People Become Real

It’s hard to tell someone’s true personality through an e-mail or post. An in-person meeting deepens the bond and relationship and makes them more invested in your success.

2) Deeper Connection

While you can meet people and share your interests online, an in-person meeting again, has a special magic power. When we confine our conversations to the online world, we often forget that we are interacting with a full human being, with many layers and facets.

3) More Tolerance and Respect

People can sometimes hide behind their computer when posting negative content. If you take the time to get to know the person on the other end and they see you too are just a human, it will be harder for them to be negative to someone they may have just started a relationship with.

4) Better Feedback

You’ll get feedback from your online community if you solicit it, but observing an offline community take shape is invaluable. You’ll see firsthand what makes people tick and why they find value in the community you are building.

5) Increased Engagement Online

If you give members a good experience offline, they will want to engage further with you and the other people they’ve met. They feel even more compelled to answer that question on your forum or share user-generated content, and see you are not just a computer robot.

Great tips via Julie Krafchick at CMX Hub

Brands Rocking it on Snapchat

By | culture, Social Media | No Comments

The Dawn of Snapchat

It’s still not uncommon for people to argue that marketing on Facebook and Twitter doesn’t work stating that there is no “direct ROI”. You can imagine what those same people are saying about Snapchat, a video/picture messaging app that only lasts about 20 seconds long.

Personally as a millennial living in the digital age, I think that if any brand is taking an interest into what we enjoying doing and what we are using to communicate with, is one step ahead. Snapchat is turning traditional media marketing upside down, challenging brands to find new and creative ways to interact with us. The benefit of Snapchat is that it takes little or no cost to send a snap and you are specifically targeting someone who actually wants to see your messages. Snapchatters share about 700 million photos daily on the service, a substantial amount more than the 70 million photos shared daily on the Instagram app. Snapchat, which has been valued at $10 billion, was the second most downloaded iTunes app of 2014, so who wouldn’t want to be on it?

Here’s a look at some major brands who have capitalized on using Snapchat.

American Eagle

Fashion retailer American Eagle used Snapchat to give people an exclusive look at its autumn 2014 clothing line. They used the Snapchat Story function to build a more complete picture around the new launch.

Sour Patch Kids

Sour Patch Kids, the sugary snack made by Mondelez, has incorporated a star from Vine, Logan Paul, to help spread the Sour Patch Kids brand. The product’s tagline is ‘first it’s sour, then it’s sweet’, which formed the basis of a Snapchat Story created by Paul. It’s a quirky, comedic way of promoting the brand while also taking advantage of Logan’s creativity.


McDonald’s used the app to share photos of its ads being filmed, which included shots of athletes like LeBron James, and NFL players Richard Sherman and Johnny Manziel. McDonald’s also sent images of its food as part of a campaign to promote the launch of a new sandwich.


At Coachella festival last year Heineken used Snapchat to give followers clues about surprise gigs. Users who correctly guessed the artist were given early confirmation of an act scheduled for the Heineken House stage. This strategy is also a good way to quickly attract a load of new followers who can then be contacted again in future.

It’s these small but effective interactions that are creating one-to-one conversations with your followers and in return a deeper relationship is being built, rewarding followers with exclusive content tailored just for them.