Home ShopTalk POP is HIP (& Hopping) and Staying on Top!

POP is HIP (& Hopping) and Staying on Top!

Of the most notable, i-tuned “digital marketing performance artists” in the Pacific Northwest, the multi-talented POP band of online strategists, designers, developers and project managers have been arguably Seattle’s most consistent hit makers for the past decade.

Keeping 130 performers in rhythmic syncopation is no easy task, particularly when they are spread between the evergreens of Seattle and the groove tracks of the Big Apple, but POP has rarely missed a beat.  Their unique brand of craftsmanship has produced a wide range of user experiences for virtually all emerging digital platforms, while being especially well-versed in combining Web-based media with mobile and video gaming devices. Their Fortune 500 clients include Target, Amazon, EA, and Microsoft among other distinguished names.

Here’s the word from the top of POP Creative, in the personage of Tom Moran, Executive Creative Director, who has been with the agency for five years and Gannon Mooney, Creative Director, who signed on in July, after working at HL2 and Razorfish.

Seattle24x7: POP is an onomotopeia, a word that sounds like a sound, which is ironic a since you have a performing arts division of your agency and handle, among other things, a number of opera companies. Correct?

Tom: Yes, we work with a large collection of arts clients around the world, from local organizations in Seattle, to Australia and the UK.  We’ve developed a real kinship with arts organizations partly as a result of our 10-year relationship with the arts ticketing platform, Tessitura Network. That experience and those insights have led to innovative solutions like Select Your Own Seat, CloudTix (POP’s own mobile ticketing application), and WordFly (a digital communication platform). All of these solutions have helped arts organizations solve challenges such as increasing revenue through ticket sales and donations and deepening their relationships with new and existing audiences.

Seattle24x7: The international service relationship is remarkable given the span of time and distance between Seattle and Sydney and London respectively.

Tom: In the digital age, it is not uncommon to work with clients over large distances.  At POP, we quickly close these distances because we value building and sustaining strong relationships with our clients.

Seattle24x7: Looking at your creative process, do you do a great deal of research ahead of time or are you continually refining and reiterating along the way from feedback along the way?

Gannon:  When entering into any creative engagement, the ideal situation is to be armed with as much research as possible.  That said, there is always a great deal of conceptual and execution-related evolution that will happen when you gain full understanding of your clients’ challenges and begin to develop creative solutions that will achieve their goals.

Seattle24x7: So, campaign measurement and things like social media sentiments are things that you are monitoring internally?

Gannon:  The research going into a project conditions you to look beyond the initial idea.  Armed with this research, we go through a pretty exhaustive creative process.  You can no longer look at interactive as a build and launch.  A “fire and forget” mentality will no longer suffice.  The introduction of a new asset represents an ongoing partnership between POP and our clients.  We want to launch an experience, measure it, and adjust accordingly to ensure that our clients’ guests get the optimal experience.

Seattle24x7:The velocity of this industry is just incredible.  How much of an educational effort do you have to make with clients to bring them up to speed on what’s going on in the industry?  Or do you find that clients are coming to you already charged and ready? How do you deal with the constant innovation and newness of what you’re creating?

Tom: Well, it’s never a good idea to assume anything.  Sometimes, our clients do come to us locked and loaded and ready to go.  It is our job to have a pulse on the latest and greatest digital trends, and use this information as ammunition to help our clients come up with informed ideas that solve their business problems.

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Seattle24x7: What is your take on the theoretical discussion around Apple’s philosophy of building advertising and marketing INTO the user experience as placements within apps or within video vs. the externality of those experiences?

Tom: This model has played out with television advertising.  If you think about television, the traditional user experience included about nine minutes of show time, followed by 2.5 minutes of commercials. Advertising was effectively a roadblock. Then, along came the DVR.  Now I, as a viewer, can watch my shows whenever I want and blast through advertisements to get back to my show almost immediately. This formed a barrier that advertisers needed to work around.  In-show product placement arrived as the solution to this problem.   Two brilliant examples are Apple’s prominent product placement in Entourage and Modern Family’s episode featuring the iPad coinciding with the product launch.
We’re now seeing this concept come to fruition in our video gaming experiences.  A number of advertisements are already popping up inside of the games.

Gannon: It’s a logical evolution.  I remember back to some of the early gaming systems, and specifically playing a racing game in which you could watch billboards flying by touting other titles from the system. And this was 20 years ago.

Tom: And now, technology is enabling us to make smarter decisions. We’re now able to create experiences that are relevant to our guests at virtually any touch point, or inside any experience that they’re having in the digital space today.

Gannon: Whether you’re on a mobile device, using an app, or connecting through Facebook, I can build a campaign around a specific user’s interests or what is relevant to an individual inside of that experience.  Contrast that with a lot of generic, non-personalized advertisements that then get annoying very, very fast.

Seattle24x7: Have we reached a point where we are beginning to transcend discrete media?  Do marketers have to now become a part of their customers lives, a part of their day, on their tablet, or computer?

Tom: Definitely. Marketers should be part of our daily conversations.  They need to start living and breathing within the community and converse with their customers about how they can better meet their needs.

Seattle24x7: Is that philosophy something that you are speaking to cleints about, or are they coming to you with that kind of a mandate?

Tom: We’re seeing more and more clients recognize the importance of participating in conversations about their brand. If a client comes to us only asking for a website redesign, we will fulfill that order. At the same time, I think it’s our job to be thinking beyond the computer screen.  How can their original idea integrate with other beneficial platforms like a social campaign or a mobile application?  We look at everything holistically to determine the best strategic option for our clients and their brands.

For more information about POP, visit http://www.pop.us/