Maria Dontas

Business owners are increasingly looking to the Internet for spreading brand awareness, boosting sales and optimizing performance. As a business owner, you’ve likely explored many different digital marketing approaches including social media, online advertising and email newsletters.

But what about SEO?

For many businesses, and especially small businesses with limited resources, the idea of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is often a completely foreign one, one requiring time that doesn’t exist. Ignoring this key component, however, could cost you a large percentage of web traffic and a lacking digital presence against competitors.

Traffic drives a website.

So, how do searches work?

Considering all the options available to us via the Internet, it’s no wonder most turn to a search engine to help find reliable information most applicable to the question at hand. And while it might seem like those instantaneous search engine results appear through some magical process, it’s really algorithms, or long mathematical formulas, that dictate what information displays. So when you press the “search” button in your search engine of choice, that engine then filters a mammoth amount of material and presents it to you based on quality and popularity of content.

SEO_BLOG_Graphic

So, how do you make your website relevant in filtered search results?

Basically – you have to make the search engines see your value and specifically what value you give to viewers. This relevancy and value depends largely on your website’s content and the effective use of keyword phrases. That means make sure your website’s functionality runs smoothly, using compelling content, and a backend with descriptive meta-tags, or content descriptors that accurately portray your products or services. And don’t forget to make sure your site considers “mobile first” – meaning, the design responds and adapts to the size of the viewers screen. Believe it or not, search engines give higher relevance to sites that integrate these elements into their site. See, it pays off!

Another tip – shared links will boost your popularity, and popularity is a key factor considered by search engines. Make sure your website has a clear message and that it’s geared towards helping visitors answer their questions. In turn, consumers will start sharing your website’s content. Establishing trust and consistency in your online business practices will lead to more shares and more website traction. As the site gains traction, it’ll begin to rank higher in a list of search results. Think of it as the digital equivalent of word-of-mouth advertising.

Put website visitors first.

A well polished website cognizant of its purpose is sure to get on a search engine’s radar. Why? Because, when you put website visitors first, you’re proving your value and to search engines that’s bound to naturally increase your SEO. If you think about it, SEO isn’t much different from any other effort to improve user/audience experience. Keep your website up-to-date, consistent with branding, and teeming with well-written linkable material, and SEO will become an organic digital way to enhance your business.

With a continual focus of adding top talent to our award-winning team, A. Bright Idea is excited to announce the addition and promotion of our new team members to support the creative communication needs of our clients.

 

NewHire
Top from left: Kevin Hess, Crystal Maynard, Robyn Hicks; Center from left: Brian Lobsinger, Luz Esmeralda Mahecha Martínez; Bottom from left: Bridget Goldsmith, Mina Ta

 

Mina Ta

A. Bright Idea Advertising & PR is pleased to announce the promotion of Mina Ta to a senior creative position. Mina, who joined A. Bright Idea in November 2013, demonstrated strength and leadership in providing on-site creative support for an Arlington, Virginia-based government client.

 

Bridget Goldsmith

Bridget joins A. Bright Idea Advertising & PR as part of a team of graphic designers supporting a government client in Arlington, Virginia. Bridget held previous positions as a contractor for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the NAVSEA Ship Building Program at the U.S. Navy Yard. Prior to joining A. Bright Idea, Bridget worked as a graphic designer for the U.S. Army Office of the Chief of Public Affairs at the U.S. Pentagon where she developed the overall branding for the nation’s highest medal for valor, the United States Army Medal of Honor.

 

Brian Lobsinger, Senior Designer/Multimedia Specialist

A. Bright Idea Advertising & PR welcomed Brian Lobsinger to the Graphic Design team, as senior designer and multimedia manager. Brian is charged with managing design and web projects in both the Sonoma, California and Bel Air, Maryland offices. Prior to A. Bright Idea, Brian ran his own design firm, and most recently was the senior web developer at Flannel, Inc.

  

Crystal Maynard, Communications Specialist

Crystal Maynard joins A. Bright Idea’s Government Services Division, offering on-site support for a government client in managing a variety of communication and public affairs projects. Crystal offers extensive communications experience, previously serving as a public affairs specialist to U.S. Army clients, providing strategic planning, media relations, event planning and public relations support.

 

Luz Esmeralda Mahecha Martínez, Bilingual Communications Specialist

Luz joins A. Bright Idea Advertising & PR in the Government Services Division, providing on-site communications and translation support for the Public Information office of an existing government client. Prior to joining A. Bright Idea, Luz worked with the University of Maryland School of Public Health and Miami Dade College School of Continuing Education and Professional Development.

 

Kevin Hess, Communications Event Specialist

Kevin Hess joined A. Bright Idea Advertising & PR to support marketing and event coordination efforts for the firm’s government and commercial clients. Kevin joins this award-winning team offering event planning and management experience from the Sports Information Office at Towson University.

 

Robyn Hicks, Junior Graphic Design Specialist

Robyn Hicks recently joined award-winning Graphic Design team at A. Bright Idea Advertising & PR. Robyn, a Towson University graduate with a degree in digital fine arts and design, previously worked with the Harford County Boys and Girls Club as a graphic designer.

 

SomethingAboutSonoma.com Turns 2!

abimaster | February 20, 2013

In this edition we’re wishing our very own SomethingAboutSonoma.com a happy and prosperous birthday. For toddlers this would be considered the year of the “terrible twos” but we have a much more positive outlook on 2013 for our destination website, so we’re dubbing this the “thriving twos.”

From its inception in 2010 and launch in 2011, our goal for SomethingAboutSonoma.com was to provide tourists and wine lovers the opportunity to explore Wine Country and get a taste of everything Sonoma County has to offer. And boy have we succeeded! We created the site from scratch, starting with just an idea and growing the site into a fully interactive, multimedia platform for local businesses to advertise and tourists from around the country to explore and plan their next day trip, weekend or family vacation.

Since its inception, we’ve seen tremendous growth and activity with the site – from participating businesses, as well as site visitors and a network of followers. For the past two years, we’ve been nurturing SomethingAboutSonoma.com, growing it to be better, more interactive and user friendly. We’ve developed 360-degree panoramas, About Us videos, engaged in social media, interactive chats, added a wedding page, participated in local and regional events and developed an email newsletter.

So now you may be wondering – what more could come in the “thriving twos” for SomethingAboutSonoma.com? Well a lot actually! This year we’re looking to expand with a mobile website, provide more special offers from local business to site visitors, create a special Sonoma Plaza page highlighting the amazing features the historic shopping plaza has to offer, as well as expand our trip itineraries and much more.

In order to support this growth we not only have our Interactive and Multimedia department incorporating the latest and greatest technology and trends, but we’ve also relocated an A. Bright Idea team member to the area. David Wells, Multimedia Manager and Marketing Specialist, will now be living and breathing the glorious Sonoma County air every day, connecting with local businesses and providing additional insight into the area’s flavor, latest hot spots and great deals. Now a Sonoma, Cali. full time resident, David’s vantage point supports SomethingAboutSonoma.com’s position as the destination resource for Sonoma County and Wine Country.

With so many options for marketing and advertising your business, your brand, your strategy should never be 100% focused on one medium. In fact, an integrated communication plan, combining marketing initiatives, public relations support and advertising continues to help businesses reach their key stakeholders more effectively.

As part of this integrated strategy, let’s focus on a rapidly growing form of advertising that is proving to have positive effects on businesses and their target audiences – digital advertising.

There are various forms of digital advertising – banner ads, video pre-roll, and of course mobile! If digital advertising is something completely new to you, take a moment to review our tips for a Quick Fix in building your digital strategy, defining the various opportunities with digital advertising as well as ways to help you determine if digital advertising is something A. Bright Idea can help you plan as part of your advertising strategy.

 

First, ask yourself a few questions:

  • What are your goals?
  • Does your present advertising approach directly support those goals?
  • Are you tracking/will you be able to track the results towards your goals?
  • What is your profitable conversion rate? (What will make the campaign financially successful?)

Once you’ve evaluated these questions and have determined that digital advertising should be part of your advertising mix, the next step is to determine the best digital platform to use. There are a variety of options available, with more presented almost daily! Based on an integrated approach, below are a few examples based on online advertising tied to a print publication. There are a number of radio and television networks offering online advertising opportunities, which also offers another medium to promote the online property, and as a result, your advertising with that site.

Digital Advertising Terms

If you’re considering incorporating a digital strategy into your integrated communication plan, be sure to consider your options wisely. Because of the format, sometimes purchasing by impressions, there is a number of other considerations that must be reviewed in order to ensure a smart and effective advertising buy. For more information on this advertising medium or to develop your own digital advertising strategy contact A. Bright Idea’s advertising and interactive specialists.

Super Bowl Commercials

This year’s Super Bowl commercials may have covered a variety of themes from sexy models to cute kids, wacky animals to celebrity cameos, but there’s one thing they all had in common – user generated content and a call-to-action for the audience via social media.

Even before the big game, advertisers were using social media to reveal sneak peeks of their upcoming ads to capitalize on the excitement and build brand buzz through custom hashtags, Facebook pages and websites. Some hashtags trending prior to and during Sunday’s game included:

Audi: #BraveryWins

VW: #GetHappy

Pepsi: #PepsiHalftime

Toyota: #WishGranted

Coke: #CokeShowgirls #CokeBadlanders #CokeCowboys #CokeChase

Doriots: #CrashTheSuperBowl

Samsung: #TheNextBigThing

Mio: #ChangeStuff

Axe: #InSpace

Budweiser: #Clydesdales

Budlight: #HereWeGo

GoDaddy: #YourBigIdea

Pistachios: #CrackinStyle

Speed Stick: #HandleIt

Tide: #MiracleStain

 

When it came time for the big reveal there were a few commercials that really stole the show by utilizing social and interactive media well, generating a greater connection among the audience and brand.

Oreo
Which is the best part – the cream or the cookie? Oreo’s hilarious whisper commercial called on viewers to ‘choose your side’ through Instagram. The Oreo Instagram account shows images of just about anything made out of either the cream filling or the cookie, inviting viewers to add their own image with the tag #cookiethis or #creamethis. Oreo may recreate the item using your favorite part of the Oreo.

Oreo

Taco Bell
What do retirement age seniors like to do after a night of partying? Go to Taco Bell of course! The surprise storyline in this commercial, all set to the Spanish version of Fun’s, ‘We Are Young,’ works well with Taco Bell’s current “Live Más” campaign. The fast food restaurant invites the audience to go to their Facebook page for coupons, photos and more.

 

Coca-Cola
Coke had previewed their commercial featuring the showgirls, badlanders and cowboys racing to the coveted beverage well before the big game. The beverage company encouraged viewers to go online to vote for the ending of the commercial to air during the Super Bowl. At their custom website, viewers voted for their favorite group, while at the same time sabotaging the other two groups by sharing their selection on Facebook or Twitter. In the end the #CokeShowgirls came out on top and had the privilege to ‘open happiness.’

 

Pepsi
As sponsor of the halftime show, Pepsi called on viewers to submit photos for a chance to be a part of the performance intro. The user-generated content introduced Beyonce while associating the brand with a direct connection to their audience.

 

Axe Apollo Space Academy
The lifeguard may have saved the distressed woman from a shark attack, but nothing beats an astronaut. The Axe Apollo commercial included the element of surprise, while also announcing a special contest where viewers can actually win a trip to space. The new Axe Apollo has teamed with SpaceExc to send a few select winners to fly into orbit. With a custom website and hashtag #InSpace, Axe Apollo certainly caught the audience’s attention with a creative commercial and turned it into social media engagement.

 

Budweiser
The Budweiser Clydesdale commercials are classic, and this year the beverage allowed you to tweet @Budweiser with the hashtag #Clydesdales to help name the baby Clydesdale seen in the commercial. The commercial certainly tugs at the heartstrings, showing the man’s horse running to see him at the very end – what love! Who wouldn’t want to jump on Twitter to name that beautiful horse?

Budweiser

Doritos
Doritos, which has claimed a #1 spot in recent online commercial rankings, deployed its “Crash the Super Bowl” campaign again, gathering user-generated commercials and inviting the audience to vote on their favorite commercials to air during the big game. The “Goat for Sale” was our favorite!

 

Lincoln
The Lincoln “Road Trip” commercial encouraged viewers to ‘steer the script’ and see what the ending brings. They also asked viewers to tweet about their most memorable road trips – although big miss for Lincoln – no Twitter handle or hashtag was included in the commercial. How do we know how to categorize our tweet?

 

Mercedes-Benz
In the Mercedes Benz spot, Kate Upton invites you to go to MercedesBenzUSA on Facebook to see the all-new seductive CLA Benz coming in September. The commercial is a pure glitz and glam display with celebrities like Kate Upton and Usher, but captures the audience with an affordable price point.

 

Samsung
The comical interaction between Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen was entertaining, as was the direct approach to call out other advertisers gimmicks. The commercial showcased smartphone and tablet devices, while utilizing #TheNextBigThing and social tools through the devices.

 

It couldn’t be expected, but advertisers also took advantage of the unique opportunity the game’s third-quarter blackout provided, jumping quickly on social media with real-time Twitter campaigns. Oreo, Tide, Bud Light, Audi, VW and Speed Stick—were some of our favorites.

  • Oreo – “You can still dunk in the dark”
  • Tide – “We can’t get your blackout. But we can get your stains out”
  • Audi – Told its followers they were sending some of their LED headlights to the Superdome (which is sponsored by competitor Mercedes-Benz)

 

Notable Mentions
While the below commercials didn’t necessarily include social media, they were still some of the most talked about in social media.

  • Jeep: A tug at the heartstrings, welcoming home troops – “Whole Again”
  • Ram: Guts. Glory. Ram. – “God made a farmer”
  • E*TRADE: Smart talking baby tells you to – “Save It”
  • Tide: A 49ers fans glory squashed at the hands of a Ravens fan (much like the big game!) “Miracle Stain”

Client News – Fall 2012

abimaster | November 7, 2012
  • The experts at Courtland Hearth and Hardware warm homes in the Baltimore Metro with an advertising campaign, complete with a custom illustrated campaign mark and in-house production. Look for Courtland’s Fireside Chats on TV and on the radio this fall and winter.
  • Smith & Co Dental showcases its modern approach to dentistry with a sleek and state-of-the-art website design, also featuring an “About us” video produced and edited by the in-house talent of A. Bright Idea.
  • A. Bright Idea embraces Patriot Pride for The John Carroll School with marketing, design and interactive support for the2012 Viewbook, 2nd Annual Alumni Weekend, 25th Annual Ullmann Golf Tournament, special edition Connections Magazine and Annual Report, and the Capital Campaign container piece and collateral materials.
  • Madison Bank launched another great mortgage loan promotion, offering customers a competitive rate and a different take on the terms for new mortgage loans, promoted through a regional advertising campaign and microsite, changing the lives of banking customers with three little numbers – 10, 12 and 15!
  • A. Bright Idea was thrilled to work on the website redesign project for the Public Relations Society of America, Maryland Chapter (an organization near and dear to our hearts!) The new website includes interactive features and custom content management capabilities to keep the organization on the cutting edge and the go-to resource for PR pros like us. Access the website on your mobile device to see a responsive design layout as the site detects the size of your screen and formats the hierarchy of information accordingly (yes, that is cool!).
  • The Red Grape entices your taste buds virtually with a newly redesigned website with custom design, photography and interactive features. Warning – Viewers of this website are prone experience a serious case of hunger.
  • A. Bright Idea recently provided advertising and on-site support of Sonoma Wine Country Weekend. Experience the cork flying frenzy for yourself with our recap video!
  • Pairings Bistro connects with customers virtually through a strategic social media plan developed and set up by A. Bright Idea, including a presence on social media’s most popular platforms, Facebook and Twitter.

 

Courtland Hearth and Hardware Fireside Chat

Courtland Hearth and Hardware Fireside Chat Mark

Get inspired with a new way to view our creative

As a creative shop, staying cutting edge when it comes to technology gives us just another excuse to retreat to our “creative playground.” Our newest creation? A dynamic website user experience built on with the latest web technologies, HTML 5 and CSS 3. The new website showcases our extensive portfolio while also sharing helpful resources through our blog and detailed information about our staff and full service capabilities.

For those who don’t speak code, HTML is a language used for structuring and programming websites behind the scenes so they can be easily read and used by viewers on the World Wide Web. CSS is the code that controls the graphics and colors displayed to website visitors. Since these languages are so widely used around the Internet, updating them with new features is a long and slow process.  Fortunately many of these new features are available now on modern web browsers.

The previous version of HTML, HTML 4.01, was last updated in 2000! And yes, that means website design was confined to technology over a decade old, which is nearly a lifetime in the technology world. It’s more important than ever to use an updated web browser to take full advantage of what HTML 5 can offer! By exploring the depths of HTML 5, our creative minds can truly think outside the box to create custom solutions based on the ideal user experience.

The latest version, HTML 5 includes features that will change the way we experience websites, including:

  • Reducing the need for external plugins (like Flash that doesn’t load on mobile platforms)
  • Less frustration with errors and better error handling
  • Advanced form fields that include validation without requiring extra programming
  • Ability to build charts, graphs and interactive graphics with the new Canvas element
  • Streamlined code for faster page loads and improved semantic structuring to help search engines with indexing content.
  • Standardized support for video using the <video> tag

 

CSS is also getting an update with the march toward CSS 3. The new features will be more noticeable to the visitors than the update to HTML 5. Some of the new features include:

  • Transparency
  • Animation
  • Rounded corners
  • Drop shadows
  • Media queries (used to change layouts and styles based on mobile vs. desktop platforms)

The enhanced capabilities and features of HTML 5 and CSS 3 allowed us to present our creative and unmatched capabilities in a refreshing way, the perfect combination of sharing content the way our creative minds intended and organizing it in a way that makes the most sense to our visitors.

Just a few of abrightideaonline.com’s newest features and interactive capabilities:

  • Responsive site design perfect for any screen size or tablet device
  • Live social media feeds, including Facebook and Twitter
  • Online portfolio with intricate search capabilities
  • Interactive office tours

 

A. Bright Idea Homepage

Quick Fix – Digital Marketing Manager

abimaster | March 20, 2012

Managing a website can be time consuming and overwhelming, especially when it comes to technical problems most business owners just can’t fix on their own.  For example, how many times have you visited your own website only to forget exactly what’s available or to encounter broken links? Or your list of small updates you want to make continues to grow?

 

As a small business, we recognize all of the demands that can take your focus off your website – your primary interface with customers and potential customers. We created the Digital Marketing Manager as the perfect solution for website hosting and maintenance, designed for organizations and small business owners looking for a hassle-free Internet marketing experience. This maintenance schedule, includes 1-2 hours of support per month for the client to use over the course of a year, and ensures accurate and updated content to keep your website is relevant. This includes:

  • Monthly hosting of your website
  • Monthly review of your links and images, to ensure all are working and linking properly
  • Monthly updates and posting of new content provided by client, including monitoring content and photos that can become outdated
  • Minor updates such as posting documents, updating announcements or event calendars

 

Further looking out for your best interest, as part of the Digital Marketing Manager, A. Bright Idea also compiles quarterly website analytic reports so you can analyze how your site is working, including number of visitors, page traffic, keywords, traffic sources, top content and more. With the web analytics report, clients also receive quarterly site recommendations and suggestions for updates and improvements.

The creative team at A. Bright Idea finished and launched a new website for Susquehanna OB/GYN. Susquehanna Obstetrics, Gynecology & Nurse Midwifery offers knowledgeable and personalized reproductive healthcare to the women of northeastern Maryland – and have been doing so for four generations! Susquehanna OB/GYN takes great pride in their full time local offices and exclusive use of area hospitals. Providing copywriting, graphic design, interactive services and more, A. Bright Idea has enjoyed working with this local Maryland company and looks forward to continuing working with them.

Visit the website here: http://sogmd.org/

Susquehanna OB/GYN Homepage

Internet Domain Naming System

abimaster | July 19, 2011

With the recent historic approval of the Internet’s domain naming system by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), organizations will soon possess the opportunity to use brand names in their URL’s. Branded top level domain’s (gTLD) will begin to replace the alphabet soup we’ve been used to including .com, .info, .biz, .net and others, creating unique and immediately recognizable URLs and allow for new and increased branding opportunities. This change provides companies with an unlimited number of globally recognizable URLs tied directly to their brand, product or industry. Applications for new branded URL’s begin January 12 – April 12, 2012. Check out the video of this historic approval and article at http://www.icann.org/.