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Had you asked me that a few weeks ago I would have answered “virtually nothing,” but since then I had the pleasure of meeting Ray Di Carlo (Owner) of Bent Image Lab at MRA’s offices in Cincinnati, followed by a chance to ask Ray and Carlo Calica (Technical Director, Bent Image Labs) about Augmented Reality.  Reading their responses below, you may agree Augmented Reality has opened up an entirely new world.

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Did you have to forego attending the ANA conference in Naples, Florida this year?  We know budgets are tight and it takes time out of already busy schedules, so tough choices have to be made.  We were there and wanted to share some thoughts.  Overall, this year’s ANA Financial Management conference met and exceeded the bar and the buzz from the record 630+ attendees.

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The development of global creative campaigns is by no means a new concept.  Yet recently we have encountered several "global" campaign presentations without clear requirements for local market implementation.  Three topics should be clearly detailed by the agency team: key regional differences, usage rights to negotiate, and the overall timetable for roll-out. 

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Six Reasons Your Annual Agency Compensation Agreements Aren’t Agreed Yet

It’s February 2014 and not surprisingly, many of our clients are still working on their annual agreements with their digital agency partners. Understandably, this is a work-in-progress that can start at various times during the prior year and continue on well into 1st Quarter of the billing year.

Here are the top 6 reasons we see for the long time frame required to finalize annual SOWs: 

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In February 2013, we all watched the superb real time response by Oreo during the Super Bowl power outage.  Not surprisingly Mondelēz isn’t alone in their efforts to engage consumers in the burgeoning real time marketing space.  On December 3rd/4th, hundreds of marketers came together to learn from a fantastic array of marketers about their real time marketing efforts.  The case studies were rich in learning and the presenters candid as they shared insights about their methods, metrics, and also about the things that didn’t succeed.  

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How often do you spend restless nights thinking about an expensive overseas production shoot?  What assurance do you have that your agency will bill final costs within the approved budget?    

Tickets to Stonehenge…2 Cases of Australian Yalumba Chardonnay wine… North Face winter ski apparel… fine Cuban Cohiba cigars…an IBM laptop…weekend stopover in Bangkok for a “tourist visit”…what do all of these items have in common?   Answer – these are just a few of the many unusual out-of-pocket items erroneously billed by creative advertising agencies to client production projects and discovered by MRA’s LineWatch invoice review service.

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Recently, MRA was mentioned as a shining example of a diverse strategic supplier for our part among a team of suppliers who helped launch NECTRESSE™, a new natural no-calorie sweetener from McNeil Nutritionals, a Johnson & Johnson company.  MRA served as a first tier supplier for Johnson & Johnson.

Tagged in: diversity diversity
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On April 21, the National SAG/AFTRA Board unanimously accepted a new TV and Radio Contract.  In addition to the anticipated talent rate increases, there are some interesting changes in allowed edits and clarifications on the role of the Contract on Crowd-Sourced commercial contests and Made For Internet/New Media commercials.  Voting by the rank and file will complete on May 31 and the ratification date is pending.  Check back; we will continue to post updates.

Here are some highlighted changes or provisions of note for the 2013 Contract.  These changes apply to commercials produced on or after April 1, 2013.

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Despite the arrival of spring and with it the requisite gardening and weekend kids’ sports practices, I find myself on a Sunday afternoon testing out a new app called 'Plain Text' for blogging with ‘Facebook Pages Manager’ and ‘Simply Measured’ running in the background.  Feels like on any given day there are at least a half dozen new social media resources, white papers, and/or apps to try.

I take my hat off to full-time social media managers who keep pace with the daily tool introductions while managing the content needed to keep communication with their audience relevant and engaging.

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North American and European marketers have long looked to Latin America for advertising production for a number of reasons, among them warmer climates during northern winters, neighborhoods that can stand in for European or North American counterparts, experienced crews, the potential to negotiate talent buyouts, and the ability to deliver quality work at very competitive prices.

With marketers needing to be ever-more vigilant with their production budgets, Latin America represents an increasingly attractive option to maximize every dollar – not just for advertising but for the creation of lower-cost online videos.  The question is, where to go for production?  MRA has decades of experience with production in Latin America and offers insights about the more  well-established countries for commercial ad and video production, as well as several up-and-coming ones.

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Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath raised many weather insurance questions not only for businesses located in the affected areas of New York and New Jersey, but also those who have business partners in these areas, e.g., agencies and production resources.  While insurance losses are fact specific and weather is unpredictable, Larry Haggart EVP at MRA shared a couple of thoughts about what advertisers can keep in mind for the future:

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Structuring an annual compensation agreement with an agency might not top a marketers’ list of favorite things to do.  It’s challenging, time consuming, and often leads to both parties feeling like they’ve left something on the table.

As a pioneer in cost management services, MRA works with leading brands to facilitate informed, effective annual agency agreements.  Here are a few insights we’ve picked up along the way.

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Alistair Green, ECD from Team One, and Jonathan Green, Managing Director Mobile & Social at R/GA, spoke about responsive web design at a recent Digiday Mobile conference.  An interesting question was posed, one we hear often, “should we expect responsive design sites to be more expensive and take longer to build?” and the answer was “maybe.”  One of the reasons it wasn’t a definitive ‘yes’ or ‘no’ relates to whether or not the agency structure enables it, building from the ground up may not be significantly more (time and therefore money).

The discussion came around to agency structure and how teams work together.  Agile and waterfall project methods were brought up as well as how the agencies staff up and how they share with clients.

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This is a guest post by Mike Zitt – Owner of Cincinnati-based creative agency Mike Zitt, Inc.

If you’re like most companies, you have a website and, by now, you know you need a mobile site. Great, but there are different ways to create a mobile website and one isn’t necessarily better than another — they just serve different needs. As an agency or as brand manager there are several considerations before you fire up the developers.

Tagged in: mobile
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Miner's party

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Despite Super storm Sandy causing widespread damage across the NY/NJ metropolitan region a little over a week before, Ad:TechNY 2012 still went on.  Instead of a booth, many exhibitors had signs which read ‘Sandy Swept Our Booth Away.’  To their credit, exhibitors were in good spirits and focused on alerting attendees of #sandyrelief efforts they could participate in.

As if a massive hurricane wasn’t bad enough, on the first day of the show a Nor’easter hit New York City with five inches of snow.  Subsequently, we had to settle for following the speakers via posts by @adtech on Twitter (#adtechny).

Ad:TechNY 2012The show organizers and attendees made it a worthwhile trip; here are a couple of highlights:

Tagged in: adtechny digital
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Often, we see clients working feverishly to find a unique benefit or selling proposition to differentiate their brands or the one-of-a-kind reason-to-believe the brand delivers the benefit.  Yet the brand character, for some brands, the only thing that allows it to stand apart is the most neglected part of a brand communication strategy.

At MRA we work with a range of brands across an array of industries.  Here are a few valuable insights we have found in our travels that help teams as they are evolving and developing their brand’s character.

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Advertising Week IX just wrapped up in NYC and once again it was time well spent.  Like so many people, I find it hard to break away to attend conferences but this one is in my back yard and is always energizing and informative.

For anyone who didn’t attend this year, pencil it in for 2013 and try to squeeze it into your schedule.  In the interim, you can stay connected to the event and the commentary around it via the Advertising Week Social Club

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MRA is pleased to announce the promotion of Sharon Blake to the position of LineWatch Operations Manager in our Cincinnati headquarters.  LineWatch® is MRA’s agency and vendor bill-monitoring system that controls costs beyond the approved estimate stage, closing the loop on production cost control and ensuring that actual charges are accurate, compliant, and completely substantiated.

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Online advertising can be a significant part of a brand team’s marketing activity and despite the maturity of the medium, we often find marketers experience costly banner rework that can be a major cost driver and result in missed deadlines.

To support our clients, MRA developed online ad production guidelines and we’ve shared a few best practice highlights below.  Our guidelines and training can be particularly helpful to marketing directors and managers assuming online responsibilities.

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