Thought Leadership
Brand Authenticity & Emergent Platforms with KDGA Founder Justin Jones

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Justin Jones
Founder & Creative Director
KDG Advertising

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As CEO and Chief Creative Officer of KDGA, Mr. Jones has a never ending interest in design and advertising. Specializing in communication, brand management and strategy, Mr. Jones lives by the quote “Practice Safe Design, Use a Concept”. He has worked and consulted on brands personally for organizations such as, Coca Cola, D.C. Government, Wesley College, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.
 
Mr. Jones has spoken at numerous institutions and events such as Baltimore Innovation Week, Advertising Week DC, John Hopkins University, Stevenson University & Howard County Annual Student Learning Conference ranging on topics from brand management to advertising in the modern age.

 


 

For those of us not familiar with KDG Advertising, please tell us a little more about your agency and some of the clients you represent. 

KDGA is a marketing and communication agency that focuses on brand strategy and management located between Maryland and Washington D.C. Since 2006, KDGA’s mission has been to provide its clientele with creative strategies, solutions and advertising services that are unique to each company’s brand and mission.

We don’t sell advertising; we sell lifestyle experiences…brand loyalty. An intimate knowledge of your respectable market, painstakingly researching the industry trends and assessments, not just designing for design sake, but creating responsible advertising based off of the needs of your clients. Thus, giving you the ability to grow and sustain in an environment that is financially conservative yet, creatively liberal.

KDGA offers a wide range of capabilities in Communication Strategy, Adver­tising, Market Planning and Development, Brand Management, Website, Social Media, Interactive Media Design, Augmented Reality, Development and Implementation.

In our 10 years of business, KDGA has been many things to many people. But, the one commonality with all of our clients is our attention to detail. Some of our well-noted clients include Coca Cola, Alzheimer’s Disease International, Wesley College, Printing and Graphics Mid Atlantic Association, The Office of Personnel Management and Department of Labor – Federal and Local DC Government.

 

What would you say is the most important thing when it comes to branding – for both large and small companies?

The most important thing about branding for both large and small companies is the ability to practice and stay “brand authentic”.

Brand Authenticity is the ability to bring the consumer back to the importance of the story – how the brands voice resonates with “authenticity”.

As it stands today, consumers want to trust the brands in which they shop. Brands must be able to connect and resonate with its consumers. The modern consumer will tend to perceive the lasting power of a product or service based off the vision and mission of the company they wish to do business with.

At the end of the day, people aren’t going to choose your brand because you can effectively show facts and trends based on the reports of your industry. They will choose your company because of the story you tell and how you tell it.

 

Programmatic advertising has been much hyped over the last few years, with many industry trade publications stating that it would be the main mode of buying in the near future. How do you think this will affect brands, or premium publishers that sell custom-tailored ad solutions?

Programmatic Advertising affects the efficiency between brands and digital ad publishing. Before programmatic ad buying, digital ads were bought and sold by ad buyers and salespeople. While this was the norm, it can be expensive and at times, unreliable. Today, programmatic buying is on track to make upwards of $15 billion of the approximately $59 billion digital advertising pie.

With programmatic advertising, ad technology promises to make the buying process less expensive and more efficient by removing the human component, whenever possible. Digital firms have made programmatic a major cause. Now, you can use an automated system to make media buying decisions, instead of doing it manually. A brand essentially can take all of its goals, inventory data and potential media buys and with programmatic, take multiple data points and make decisions about what screen an advert should be on. It can learn and then suggest what the most effective strategy at any given moment is and then lets you do all the non-manual decisions.

 

Many web publishers have made the shift towards native advertising, branded content, and sponsored posts due to the much higher CPMs they yield. What are your thoughts on native ad units?

Just like many web publishers, I believe that native advertising isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. Digital is the new frontier (which now isn’t really that new anymore) in advertising. We already see and understand the impacts that social media and social sites have played in the society today. Branded content now can directly connect with its demographic and push notifications and advertisements specifically through to their social platforms based off of their public user data. I personally believe that as long as the brands stay authentic with their message and transparent with their materials, native advertising will be making a higher impact on advertising in the next 3 – 5 years.

 

How do you think this whole ad blocking issue will play out over the next few years?

The ad blocking issue, I believe is going to become more of a “thing” over the next couple of years. Publishers will begin to lose more revenue due to it with Juniper Research estimating a loss of $27 billion by 2020.

So, ironically as a marketer and designer, I can’t stand the autoplay and overused popup tactics that advertising/ers employ now. Go figure. My issue isn’t that there’s an ad on my screen, my issue is that there’s an ad on my screen and for 15 seconds, I’m forced to endure its content as if I’m being force feed like a toddler.

The best advertising, at least to me, is subliminal; subliminal in the sense that over the course of a day or week, I have been inundated with the newest ad for Pepsi without even really giving it a second thought. Is that the reason why I currently have a Pepsi on my desk? Who knows? But the fact that my subconscious mind saw 15 ads that didn’t force the topic, issue or brand might sway me more than having a popup appear every 5 seconds.

I feel like a peaceful solution to this growing problem are programs such as “AdChoices”. Yes, it gives the user the ability to opt out of some targeted ads but there is still tracking that we marketers love to see.

 

Are there any emerging platforms that you think have a shot at becoming the next ubiquitous consumer property? Why do you think this is the case? (Snapchat, Oculus, Connected Cars, etc) 

I feel that Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality are emerging platforms that have a serious shot at becoming the next ubiquitous consumer property. With companies like Oculus paving the way in Virtual Reality, the next leap in digital browsing would naturally be displaying digital technology within real time and interaction. While technology like Augmented Reality is already out and usable today, companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft have already put researchers and resources against the Mixed Reality technology.

 

It was recently announced that Viacom stock plunged over 20% after they revealed on an earnings call that subscription growth had slowed to single-digit percentages, and that advertising revenue had dropped. What are your thoughts on cord cutting and the consumer shift to digital platforms like mobile and Connected TVs? How fast do you think this shift is really happening?

The shift to smart TV and digital platforms are the next logical step in viewing entertainment. I believe that cord cutting may not be a bad thing, per say. Yes, it has the television world up in arms due to more subscription-based growth, but if we are being honest, subscription based services give you better viewing options and rates. The idea of “TV at your leisure/’TV your way’” is revolutionary and in my opinion, the next evolutional step in 3-8 years.

 

Many digital content platforms like Netflix and Spotify rely on licensing premium content (Music, TV Shows, Movies) that were previously was only available through analog channels. Many of these companies post persistent losses, much to the chagrin of investors and Wall Street analysts. Do you see any ‘out’ for these digital content licensing platforms and potential profitability for them? 

As technology develops and the need for digital premium content persists, digital content platforms will see profitability. If we break it down by case examples;

- Apple (Streaming) Music for example, since its launch has a growing sales number, estimated closely at $858M in revenue per year with close to 15M customers. Spotify, which has currently over 20M paid subscribers, took them almost four years to hit 4M paid subscribers. Apple did that within a matter of months.

- Netflix boasts a subscription base of 60M+ worldwide with a posted 24% sales gain in 2015.

- Hulu grew from 10M in 2015 to a projected 16M at the end of 2017. Hulu’s revenues will rise from $1.6B in 2015 to an estimated $2.6B in 2017.

As for potential profitability, its pretty safe to say that given these projections, they are meeting positive profit margins.

In terms of an “out” for these digital platforms, I’m not sure they would want a so-called “out”. These subscription services cater to individuals and families that want to break out of the TV routine of waiting for their favorite show, as well as waiting for a full season of any particular show.

 

Lastly, what is your take on the future of emerging platforms like AR / VR, Connected Devices, Wearable Tech, and their effect on advertising? 

Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality, Wearable Technology, etc. are all platforms that I feel strongly connected to and believe will change the scope of advertising forever. Wearable Technology all refer to items of clothing and accessories that can be comfortably worn on the body (smart watches, fitbits, Google glass, etc.) Early Adopters and millennials are primed to wear wearable’s. Marketers can look at these adopters and target ads based on geo-location and uploaded user data and transmit directly to the users device. An example of this would be pushing an advert of the newest caffeinated Starbucks drink directly to the users smart watch or Google glass when in the vicinity of its location. Science Fiction has fictionalized this technology not fully understanding the true potential. 2005’s Minority Report captured the possibility of this technology featured in the link provided.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiDMlFycNrw . A link to a panel discussion on wearable technology that I was fortunate to speak, can be seen here. https://vimeo.com/141415609

 


 

KDGA is a marketing and communication agency that focuses on brand strategy and management located between Maryland and Washington D.C. Since 2006, KDGA’s mission has been to provide its clientele with creative strategies, solutions and advertising services that are unique to each company’s brand and mission.

KDGA offers a wide range of capabilities in Communication Strategy, Advertising, Market Planning & Development, Brand Management, Website, Social Media, Interactive Media Design,  Augmented Reality and Development & Implementation.

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