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Ask a Journalist: Lori Luechtefeld, iMedia Connection


Ask a Journalist’ is a weekly column where we turn the tables on journalists, asking them their opinions on cross-channel marketing based on their unique vantage points covering the online marketing ecosystem.

Today we’re reaching out to Lori Luechtefeld, Executive Editor, iMedia Connection, the leading event and media company for senior digital marketing, media, and advertising leaders. Before joining iMedia Connection, Lori held a variety of news writing and editing positions.


Cross-Channel Marketing Matters: At iMedia Connection, you’re exposed to many marketing products/platforms/technologies through your editing and conferences. What new technology/product/platform has impressed you the most in terms of its ability to help marketers market?

Instagram isn’t new, but its capabilities for advertising are.

Frankly, I think the Instagram ad model is going to prove to be pretty successful for brands. And Instagram overall just offers a lot of benefits beyond other platforms like Facebook or Twitter. It provides a very seamless experience, including how they have been incorporating ads.

Instagram is a good way for brands to connect visually with people without really interrupting their experience on the platform.

They are moving really slowly with their ad model, but I think they’re being smart in the way that they’re keeping the user in mind.

Cross-Channel Marketing Matters: What’s your favorite device, platform or vehicle for entertainment? For getting news?

I have actually been free of cable and regular TV for quite a few years. I’ve tried about every set-top box out there for entertainment – Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast. I still have them all, but my favorite right now is the Boxee Box because it lets us store and browse our own movies and TV shows the way that we like to do. With a two-year-old who wants to watch the same movies all the time, it’s nice not to have bother with the DVDs. That said, I watch a lot of Netflix too, and I prefer the Apple TV Netflix app.

In terms of news, I probably see a lot of my news these days via Facebook, but I also pop by general news sites a few times a day. I know there are fresher outlets out there for news like Reddit, but I have trouble filtering out the noise and the obnoxious people there.

Cross-Channel Marketing Matters: Nearly a year ago, you wrote a piece critical of native advertising. The trend of ‘marketers as publishers’ isn’t going away so in your opinion, how best can marketers publish while still maintaining credibility to their users/prospects. Can you provide an example of a marketer who is doing a good job with content marketing/sponsored marketing/advertorials?

The trend of ‘Marketers as publishers’ is definitely not going away.

My critique of native advertising had a lot more to do with the term and how it was initially being applied when it emerged. It’s definitely not going away. While I still kind of object to everyone pretending that it’s something new and feeling the need to slap a cute name on it, I do recognize that it’s getting renewed interest for many reasons, and that includes iMedia Connection. We’ve rolled out a native article placement as well.

I think the two keys to success are to ensure that the brand is actually delivering value through the content, and making sure that all disclosures are very clear. People react very strongly these days when they feel a brand message got masked.

In terms of companies doing it well, iMedia Connection published ‘Brands Redefining Content Marketing’ last year, and one of my favorites from that piece was General Mills. The company realized that it was much better and successful for it to wrap its brand around valuable Huffington Post content rather than to re-invent the wheel with its own branded content hub. Its Live Better America site was created in partnership with The Huffington Post, and it proved to be a lot more authentic and credible than its own branded site.

Cross-Channel Marketing Matters: Can you give me an example of a cross-channel marketing campaign that you’ve seen which was successful? And one which you think didn’t work or fell flat?

Drawing on my own personal experience, I think Target does a really good job of creating a seamless feel and experience. All of the emails, direct mail pieces, store interactions and social interactions I have had with Target seem to have the same feel, and the left hand seems to know what the right hand is doing.

Personally, one of the more challenging cross-channel experiences I have had is with Time Warner Cable. I’m still a customer. I’ve actually tried to upgrade my service several times and have run into situations where the deals that I see online are not what I received in the mail and it’s not what I’m told when I try to call the company. Their communications are inconsistent across the channels. I’ve called to upgrade and been told that I’m all set, and then I receive an email saying that further action is needed. When I go online to take that action, the site can’t even find my reference number.

Cross-Channel Marketing Matters: 2014 will be the year of ______ (fill in the blank).

It’s probably the year of Native Advertising.

I still don’t like the term, but that’s the deal. Publishers are scurrying to make native ad plays, and marketers are really throwing their budget there now. It’s a model that has been in place in the print industry forever, but most people are just now figuring it out online. Certain publications have been doing it online for a while, but with cookies being on their deathbed, people are putting some renewed focus into sponsored content plays that will connect with people.

Native advertising has been around for a while, but 2014 is going to be the year it’s discussed and acted on.

Cross-Channel Marketing Matters: Thanks for your time and effort, Lori.

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