Digital Super Bowl Strategies, Wearables, & Futurecasting Google’s Ad Platforms

Fine Point Grey

Digital Super Bowl Strategies, Wearables, & Futurecasting Google’s Ad Platforms

(25-minute podcast)

This week we start out looking at brands’ changing digital Super Bowl strategies, a wearable from MIT & Samsung for those who have trouble picking up social cues, & Facebook opening up their Audience Network. Our host, Maureen Jann is joined by Google’s Nick Danford and talks about the future of Google’s advertising platforms and a test of new profit-driven automated bidding models that Point It is taking part in. In case none of that sounds entertaining enough, stay tuned for a highly entertaining discussion of such crucial topics as haiku versus emoji love letters, cootie catchers, and ballet. How about that for fake news.

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Featured Experts:

Nick Danford, Agency Development Manager

Guests and Experts


Nick Danford, Agency Development Manager

Bio: Nick Danford has worked in sales and marketing in Google’s Global Business Organization since 2011. Specializing in agency support and Small & Medium-size Business (SMB), Nick has driven campaign success and crafted AdWords solutions with some of his department’s most strategic, digital agencies. Other highlights include executing an advertiser’s online marketing launch that produced a top-five Most Watched Ad on YouTube in 2013, onboarding French-speaking new business in Canada, and structuring a global customer marketing incentive strategy for Google Partners at Google’s EMEA headquarters in Dublin, Ireland.

Nick holds a B.A. from Brown University in Political Economy and Development and has studied at the Université de Paris. He is also passionate about contemporary and classical dance, Californian food & wine, and all things San Francisco, the city he’s called home since 2006.


Maureen Jann, Director of Marketing, Point It Digital Marketing

Bio: Maureen Jann is a veteran B2B marketer whose career in Digital Media has grown up with the Internet. A self-described jill-of-all-trades, Maureen has elevated creative problem solving to an art form and enjoys the daily challenges of driving business results in unexpected ways. Her skills as an entrepreneur, content marketer, creative director and passionate people manager set her apart from the pack. Maureen has worked in every corner of marketing making her a skilled tactical resource as well as a strategic partner.  Recently, she was the captain of the marketing ship for an award-winning professional services firm and is currently creating a content marketing strategy for Point It, a digital marketing agency.


Maureen Jann: Welcome to Fine Point, a weekly digest of digital marketing updates. Each week we’ll feature industry experts and some interesting guests to talk through what’s happening in digital marketing.


I’m Maureen Jann, the director of marketing at Point It, a digital marketing agency here in Seattle, Washington and I’ll be your hostess today. It’s a sunny day in Seattle and by “sunny,” I mean there was sun at one point today. That’s always good news for us here in the great northwest. But it’s extra sunny today in our office because of our guest. Today we have Nick Danford, agency development manager at Google and one of my favorite search engine reps. I’m making hearts with my fingers. I’m getting there actually.


Welcome to Fine Point, Nick. It’s delightful to have you.


Nick Danford: Beautiful. Thanks so much, Maureen. I’ve heard I’ve got a great face for radio so I’m really excited to be here.


Maureen Jann: Don’t believe them. That’s not true at all.


All right, well let’s dig into the headlines so we can get to the questions for Nick. My network this week is talking about Super Bowl ads, of course they are; Facebook changes, which is interesting; and more wearables, which are always creepy.


The first one is why the Super Bowl’s digital … Okay, so this is an article from Ad Age and it’s entitled “Why the Super Bowl’s Digital Ad Strategy is Back on Track and What Marketers Should do About It.”


What’s interesting about this is as I was reading through this article the big headlines for me were … In prior years broadcasters were separating broadcast inventory from digital so the actual commercial stuff was different than their digital stuff, which for us as marketers is like you just want to shake them because you’re like “Don’t you know the impact’s in the one-two punch?” Right?


Then on top of it they get the extra benefit of having more flexible pricing for the online inventory. Smaller advertisers are able to get onboard, and then larger advertisers as they’re able to get more creative with the way that they actually do their ads …


Nick Danford: Super Bowl ads are fun.


Maureen Jann: They are, right? I don’t like football but I do like Super Bowl ads.


Nick Danford: I mean, they’re almost as fun as the halftime show for me.


Maureen Jann: Also more important than the actual football game.


Nick Danford: Just kidding.


Maureen Jann: No, I’m not. Nope, still good.


Nick Danford: No twelfth man in here?


Maureen Jann: No, I don’t think so.


What I thought was also interesting was they gave an example about that being more creative with the ads, and it’s all about targeting. Which obviously we like that, to wave that little flag about targeting. Or that big flag, really, let’s be honest. If, say, a certain model of car sells better in California than it does in Colorado they can serve the best selling car as that ad, or that video ad, to the demographic, which I thought was pretty fascinating. You don’t associate that kind of intelligence with the Super Bowl but they’re getting really smart about it, and I think that’s pretty exciting.


Nick Danford: Yeah. I mean with TV it’s … The buying is different. Just speaking from a Google perspective, with YouTube advertising, there’s all kinds of targeting that’s available for what you sell. I don’t have to go into that too much but there’s location targeting, you can pivot on ad creative if because you can see what quartile users are kind of falling off. So is there a creative change that you want to make? Is there a distribution change that you want to make? Is there a channel change that you want to make? There’s lots of different things that you can do more nimbly online, in my opinion, than you can with something like the Super Bowl where you just ping-a-ling something dull. I think it’s $5 million for 30 seconds these days. I think that’s what I read.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, something like that.


Are you pitching Google a comparison to the Go Super Bowl ads right now?


Nick Danford: Oh my. I’m working with a lot of performance-based advertisers so we do have a brand pod on my team, meaning several pods that deal with brand advertisers. Mostly what we’re seeing … There is a big spike in advertising spin during Super Bowl. We’re seeing people advertise using display advertising on YouTube. Maybe they don’t have the $5 million, like I said, to buy the Super Bowl ad.


Maureen Jann: Who doesn’t, really? [crosstalk 00:04:19]


Nick Danford: I mean, it’s pocket change to me but they’re riding the coattails. There may be snack sellers and they’re trying to advertise on the Super Bowl ads that were pre uploaded to YouTube so that big brand advertisers could get a sense of which commercial they want to run, or which version they want to run.


Maureen Jann: I like snacks.


Nick Danford: That may also be just as popular as the halftime show, or as popular as the commercials themselves. I’m not sure.


Maureen Jann: Totally agree with you.


Nick Danford: Never drink, really, Budweiser but the commercials are pretty cool. We’re also seeing big growth in users outside of the US watching advertisers [inaudible 00:05:01] advertisements, yeah.


Maureen Jann: Interesting.


Nick Danford: So that’s really cool. I think there’s a big reach that YouTube has and we’re seeing that, especially with such a big advertising event as the Super Bowl.


Maureen Jann: Sure. That make sense. I mean, it’s an opportunity for everybody. Even if you’re not directly advertising with the core NFL broadcast versus digital organization there, then … I mean, you’re online. You’re watching TV. You’re dual screening it anyway. I’m always on my phone when the TV’s on. It just … It’s the way it is.


Nick Danford: Well except when Lady Gaga’s on.


Maureen Jann: I like where your priorities are at. You and I could clearly not watch the Super Bowl together.


Nick Danford: That’s right, Joanne.


Maureen Jann: Oh my gosh, that’s hilarious.


The next article that I thought was pretty interesting this week was “Facebook Starts Opening its Black Box to Keep Advertisers From Avoiding Audience Network.” I was thinking to myself “Oh that’s sad.” They must have been getting a really serious backlash from the Audience Network administrator [inaudible 00:06:01] the article and now I understand why.


So Marketing Land reported that Facebook is often criticized for having their data behind a walled garden. We see that a lot. That’s a conversation a lot that happens when we talk about data for Programmatic and that kind of thing. Facebook struggles with lack of transparency and how they run their Audience Network, and that’s really the impetus behind this whole conversation because of the transparency issue. Which we know is a huge issue right now in digital marketing and making sure that advertisers are really sharing the source of … Not only “source” of where their ads are going, and then also how is that money being spent and parsed out.


So between the transparency challenges and the advertising on fake news, advertisers are more wary with their cash than ever. That’s why when Facebook started to release partial site lists in their Audience Network … It’s bound to make an impact on advertisers who were actually … Have those relationships with Facebook.


Are you seeing a lot of conversations around transparency popping up around Google?


Nick Danford: That’s a really interesting question, Maureen. Can’t really speak to Facebook or the interface there. What I can speak to is inside the AdWords interface you’re able to, obviously advertise on on search, but also something called the “Google Display Network,” which something I hope our listeners are familiar with. It’s one of the largest display networks in the world, and there you’ve always had transparency. You can see in the placements report which sites you’re serving ads. You can exclude them. You can bid up on them, bid down on them. This has always been a part of the AdWords interface that I’ve known of since I’ve been at Google and that was … I started six years ago.


Maureen Jann: Sure. Is transparency one of those, the core drivers for how you guys build your platform?


Nick Danford: Yeah, I mean, you know? We try not to be evil so we try to-


Maureen Jann: “Try not to be evil.”


Nick Danford: Yeah, that’s …


Maureen Jann: Quotable quotes.


Nick Danford: Quotable quote. I think the quote is “Don’t be evil,” but, yes. Obviously digital advertising has existed longer than six years, so it’s been a core value at Google. It’s one of the reasons why I work there, and I imagine has been a part of the AdWords interface since we bought Double Click.


Maureen Jann: Oh that’s right. It’s been a while. I forgot about that.


Well fantastic. We’re seeing transparency. I think it was Media Post or the ANA said that “transparency” is the word of the year, so it’s nice to know that one of our biggest ad networks takes that seriously.


Nick Danford: How transparent of them.


Maureen Jann: Right? Awesome.


The third article that we’re covering today is “MIT Made a Wearable That Knows How a Conversation is Going.” There are so many questions in here.


Nick Danford: Oh my. Where do you wear it?


Maureen Jann: Yeah. Wow. And “Where are you going” has a lot of interpretation, but let’s talk about that.


This is a Wired article and, essentially, Samsung made this wearable called “Simband.” It’s aimed at helping those who are challenged with picking up social queues; useful to those who have anxiety, or are on the autism spectrum, to help them mitigate social challenges, which I thought was fascinating. Of course, as I read through this I’m having a hard time picking out the points that I thought were the most interesting about this article because I think that we need help like this. I think I need help like this sometimes.


Nick Danford: My Simband bracelet is going off right now. I’m getting nervous about where this might be going, so … The anxiety, Maureen.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, I’m a little socially awkward that’s just like a baseline so maybe I also need this. This one measures movement, heart rate, blood pressure, blood flow, skin temperature; pairs with the audio signals like tone, pitch, energy, and word choice. Then the algorithms in this wearable actually classify five-second installments of these conversations as positive and negative.


Nick Danford: Oh, wow!


Maureen Jann: I know. Just like, there’s so many options. I’m kind of speechless about this subject. It’s fascinating.


Nick Danford: Is this the end of mixed signals?


Maureen Jann: Right. You’re like “Are you or aren’t you?” You know? “Nope. Watch told me you were.”


Nick Danford: Check “yes” or “no.” Let’s go back to fourth grade.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, right. Wait! Yes, we can have cootie catchers. This is the new replacement for the cootie catcher. Right? Yeah.


Nick Danford: Stop touching me.


Maureen Jann: I’m not touching, just for the record. Let’s not get awkward.


So there’s a lot of room for improvement still in this. There’s 83% accuracy so there’s some room to squish. Apparently what’s happening is that you can actually fine tune it to be either more positive or more negative, depending on how you as a person tend to interpret things.


Nick Danford: Okay okay.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, so there’s some slack, as it were.


Nick Danford: Sure.


Maureen Jann: Yeah. I don’t know. That’s really interesting. They’re looking to add nuance, like indications of boredom, tension, excitement and all of the other textures of the human experience. So you can say not only this is negative or positive, you could say that person is bored or not bored. Which, I can see the tool. I can see why this is useful but it is humorous as an everyday … Like, talking to somebody.


Nick Danford: Non machine.


Maureen Jann: Or non … Person who deals with these particular types of challenges. Right?


Nick Danford: Yeah. All with a B-minus accuracy. Okay!


Maureen Jann: All with B-minus accuracy.


Nick Danford: That’s great. It passes.


Maureen Jann: Well yeah, you know?


Nick Danford: Could be better than some real people.


Maureen Jann: A hundred percent.


Nick Danford: Okay.


Maureen Jann: It just begs the question … We talk a lot on this podcast about the wearables, the IoT, and then the home assistance. Home assistance has been a big theme for us this year, and I know that Google Home is part of that landscape. Any rumblings about this kind of human texture interpretation?


Nick Danford: Yeah. I mean, AI’s a big focus at Google now, machine learning. I think that’s no secret. As for Google Home, that’s a bit outside of my expertise. I don’t even have one yet. I really want one.


Maureen Jann: What?


Nick Danford: I know, I know. My best friend does. He got it for Christmas. He actually has an Alexa as well.


Maureen Jann: Did you do the experiment?


Nick Danford: Yeah, you know? I’m not going to talk about it.


Maureen Jann: Got it.


Nick Danford: You know? Who worked better, who didn’t.


Maureen Jann: Sure, of course.


Nick Danford: But Google Home … I mean, I’m just thinking about that article that I’m sure everybody read about how Google was uploading all those trashy romance novels to understand-


Maureen Jann: No. I did not read that.


Nick Danford: Yeah, check it out. Or read the books. You know? Book’s always better.


Maureen Jann: Well it is.


Nick Danford: Basically, I think they wanted to do it for translation purposes, but it all kind of feeds into the … A lot of things are related at Google. I think trying to understand how people are talking to each other in a natural way, and what emotions are being expressed is definitely a … You know?


Maureen Jann: Somebody’s toying with that at Google.


Nick Danford: Yeah, for sure. What was this movie? The lost robot?


Maureen Jann: I don’t … Oh, yes.


Nick Danford: I don’t have my phone out so I can’t think of it. I’m have a … I can’t-


Maureen Jann: It’s a Pixar movie, right?


Nick Danford: Yeah.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, yeah.


Nick Danford: So this one.


Maureen Jann: That one.


Nick Danford: Let’s get there. Or not.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, I’ve got nothing. [crosstalk 00:13:48]


Nick Danford: I think I’d rather speak face to face.


Maureen Jann: Oh, it’s WALL-E.


Nick Danford: WALL-E, there we go.


Maureen Jann: There we go.


Nick Danford: Thank you, intern.


Maureen Jann: Yes, high five. Yes, WALL-E is a perfect example. Yeah. Humans. Machines taking over the world. So tragic. I mean, that was a love story so it was cool. Right? It’s all right.


Nick Danford: All in the name of love.


Maureen Jann: All in the name of love, exactly.


Well now that we’ve learned a little bit about Google Home and a variety of other things, let’s talk about Nick. Let’s get to know Nick better.


So Nick, you’re here from San Francisco.


Nick Danford: I sure am.


Maureen Jann: Yep, and that’s where we met.


Nick Danford: Yes. I believe it was in an alleyway.


Maureen Jann: Yes, in a restaurant.


Nick Danford: At a restaurant, yes. At a café in an alleyway.


Maureen Jann: With Lisa Sanner, our VP of paid search. That was a lot of fun. You were a pleasant surprise and I got to learn a lot about you that day.


Nick Danford: Oh, pleasure. You were as well, weren’t you?


Maureen Jann: So I’ve learned that you have a great sense of humor. That is one of the things that we connect very easily on.


Nick Danford: That’s why we’re here.


Maureen Jann: Yep, and then you used to also be a professional ballet dancer.


Nick Danford: Okay, yes. Yeah, classical ballet. That was a moment in my life. I was a professional for five years and now I sell AdWords for a living. It’s great. Natural transition, Maureen.


Maureen Jann: Clearly, clearly. Just bleeds all into each other.


Nick Danford: Sure. It bleeds, yeah.


Maureen Jann: You know what? I’m just going to believe you on that one.


Nick Danford: There we go.


Maureen Jann: So I’m delighted about your career change because that means you can be here with us today.


Nick Danford: Very happy about my transition as well. Thank you, Maureen.


Maureen Jann: So aside from those fun facts, tell me a little more about what you do at Google.


Nick Danford: Okay yeah, absolutely. I am an agency development manager. I’ve been at Google for five and a half years. Basically what I do, I’m working with small/medium-size businesses and the ad agencies that support them, working with the c-levels at ad agencies on strategy to drive as many results as we can at the lowest possible price. Sometimes that means we have three-way meetings with clients and agencies. Sometimes that means we do events at Google, at our Partner Plex. I do trainings for agency teams, make sure that they’re up to date on all the latest knowledge on the different products that Google is offering in terms of advertising.


Maureen Jann: That’s why you’re here today.


Nick Danford: Yeah, it absolutely is why I’m here today. It also means that I get to do … You know? Be on a podcast sometimes.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, fantastic.


Being that you provide all of this information, Google supports agencies in this way, what are some of the benefits that clients can see with this kind of relationship with Google?


Nick Danford: Yeah, well listen, girl. I’m high value so I only work with the best agencies.


Maureen Jann: Ooh, high value!


Nick Danford: Yes. That’s why we met at that restaurant.


Maureen Jann: I kind of want a crown right now, because that sounds like it’s about right. [crosstalk 00:16:51]


Nick Danford: I have a tiara in my back pocket just for you.


So basically if you are a client and you are working with an agency that has Google support, it’s more than likely because they are a premier partner with-


Maureen Jann: Whoop, whoop! Go on.


Nick Danford: It’s called the Google Partners Program. If an agency has a premium partner badge on their site it means that they are one of the top three percent of all agencies in the entire world that Google is supporting, and we love them and we want to make sure that they’re as successful as possible.


Maureen Jann: We love you too.


Nick Danford: Oh, that feels so good.


Maureen Jann: We’ll start writing you love letters, sending them. Sometimes I like to do it in a haiku.


Nick Danford: Mine are already in the mail. I do my own emoji.


Maureen Jann: See, this is … Emoji, the new haiku. It’s a real thing.


Nick Danford: It’s a wearable.


Maureen Jann: Mm-hmm (affirmative), it should be. Maybe it should translate my emotions. Or it does.


Well we love being part of Google too. We love having you guys as a resource. I know that people reach out to you guys all the time to help solve client challenges, and that’s a pretty serious part of our relationship. Right?


Nick Danford: We’re going steady.


Maureen Jann: We are so going steady. Can I wear your pin?


Nick Danford: Yeah. I have a Letterman’s jacket.


Maureen Jann: Sweet!


Nick Danford: It’s got a big “G” on it.


Maureen Jann: My gosh. You should have that. That should totally be a things. How is that not a thing?


Nick Danford: I mean, Google’s a full contact sport sometimes, Maureen, so-


Maureen Jann: This metaphor can just go on for days!


Nick Danford: Feel free to quarterback at anytime you want. We could circle back to the Super Bowl any time.


Maureen Jann: I’m the kicker. I go, I kick it off, and then I leave. That’s what I do. Wow! This really … That football theme really infused this whole conversation. It’s very exciting.


So let’s talk about what’s new with Google AdWords.


Nick Danford: Everything is new. My goodness.


Maureen Jann: The whole thing?


Nick Danford: Yeah, it’s always changing. You know? It keeps us on our toes and keeps us on our knees crying. Sometimes that’s just how it goes.


My favorite new thing?


Maureen Jann: Yeah.


Nick Danford: Perhaps we can talk about that.


Maureen Jann: Let’s talk about that.


Nick Danford: Because you could talk about new things all the time. The new attribution models that are inside of the bidding platform, I think it’s really cool. Actually we just presented on it just now so it’s fresh in my brain.


Maureen Jann: Perfect.


Nick Danford: Basically you can look inside of the tools menu now, and you can look for attribution models to apply to your campaigns to distribute conversion value in different ways across the keywords in the campaign. I think it’s really cool. It used to be really hard to do that.


Maureen Jann: Attribution is hard.


Nick Danford: Attribution is hard. Let’s go shopping instead.


Maureen Jann: Yay!


Nick Danford: The attribution models were in Google Analytics, GA, and it was pretty difficult to somehow connect that logic with the data in AdWords. Now it takes, like … I don’t know. It can take like five clicks.


Maureen Jann: Fantastic!


Nick Danford: Yeah, it’s my favorite thing.


Maureen Jann: Yeah. We talk a lot about attribution here at Point It. It became a platform for me when I first got here because I started to see what a big challenge that was for advertisers and companies that we worked with. It’s really tricky and especially across all of the channels, I imagine that having an AdWords …


We actually looked at some of these reports at our webinar this week. Was it this week or last week? I think it was last week. We had a webinar about holiday data and post-holiday paid search data. Natalie [Brada 00:20:39] took us through some of the attribution reports and showed some screen chats about how you can see multi-device and all that good stuff. It was a pretty interesting conversation and I was impressed at how far the attribution reports had come. That was a big deal.


Nick Danford: Yeah, it’s a huge deal and it’s a really big investment for the team for sure.


Maureen Jann: Yeah. Well I’m sure that everyone is delighted that attribution just got a little easier.


Nick Danford: A little bit better. It’s not completely solved but we’re chipping away.


Maureen Jann: No. All those multiple channels make that a little more complex.


So you talked about attribution. Is there anything else you guys are working on that you’re really excited about? Company-wide, it doesn’t even have to be AdWords only.


Nick Danford: Let’s see. We’re talking a lot about … Beyond return on ads bent, this RO-ads model …


Maureen Jann: Well who doesn’t like that?


Nick Danford: Yeah, I love revenue but I think companies love profits more. So we’re talking a lot about profit-driven models as opposed to just revenue-driven models, and trying to figure out a way to connect profits with automated bidding and conversions to be used in AdWords. That’s a really big challenge. It’s something that we don’t have a full one-hundred percent grasp on, but it’s something that we’re chipping away at and we’re working on with select partners, one of whom will be Point It


Maureen Jann: Woo-hoo!


Nick Danford: Which is really exciting too. I’m glad you guys agreed.


Maureen Jann: This is news to me, so that’s exciting.


Nick Danford: It just happened this morning to be honest.


Maureen Jann: Oh super!


Nick Danford: Yeah, with Lisa and Mattie. It’s something that I think I’m really passionate about because that’s where change can happen, I think, in terms of driving business goals.


Maureen Jann: Excellent. Is there a particular type of company that you guys aim for when you look at perfect examples or perfect opportunities to implement that kind of model?


Nick Danford: I mean, it’s not going to be inside of a vertical or a specific industry. It’s going to be a company with whom you have a very strong relationship. You’ve defined the relationship. They are very willing to work with Point It as an agency, and then also Google as the agency support. They’re willing to share margins. They’re willing to share profitability data that we can then use to hopefully make them even more profitable and help them to grow.


Maureen Jann: Yeah. That’s an exciting perspective. I don’t think a lot of advertising platforms come at it from that high-level business challenge.


Nick Danford: Oh, that’s flattering. You have to have a growth mindset but, yes. Yeah, I think it … It’s fun, and … Who knows? We’re hoping for really good things.


Maureen Jann: Yeah. I’m excited to hear the results. I’m sure that we’ll talk about it because we like to talk about results here at Point It. Woop!


Nick Danford: Boom!


Maureen Jann: Fantastic! Well thank you so much for coming and sharing your perspective. We hope you will come back and visit us on our podcast again soon.


Nick Danford: Anytime you invite me, Maureen. For you I’ll do anything.


Maureen Jann: “Oh, stop” she simpers.


And thank you guys all out in podcast land. We really appreciate that you’re joining us. It’s a pleasure to have so many new listeners. If you guys have any suggestions on guests or topics you’d like to see us cover, let us know by emailing us at


Sadly it’s time to say goodbye. I’m Maureen Jann signing off from Fine Point Digital Marketing Updates. Find us on Twitter for our latest content podcasts and more. Subscribe to our podcast via your favorite podcast distribution source including the iTunes Store. It makes us feel fancy.


Looking forward to seeing you all next week. For now, stay on point.


Nick Danford: Stay on point.




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