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Posts from the ‘business’ Category

A Layperson’s Guide to GDPR

June 13, 2018




If you are a marketer, publisher or digital business, GDPR probably makes you shutter. For the rest of you, it probably makes you shrug. Let’s quickly break it down, in plain English.

What is GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new regulation governing data protection and privacy in the European Union (EU). It went into effect Friday, May 25, 2018. Its goal is to give citizens more control over how their data is used. In the wake of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica debacle, that’s a mission most people can get behind. But for marketers, publishers and vendors, it entails radical and expensive changes.

Even companies that are based outside of the EU have to abide by the new laws if they are offering good or services to EU citizens. That basically means every business in the world scrambled to become GDPR compliant.

What did GDPR change?

GDPR mandates that businesses be upfront about how they are using consumer data. If they are selling it to third-parties or using it for digital ad targeting, they need to tell you. Then, they have to obtain your consent. If a consumer doesn’t want their personal data used in a certain way, they can opt-out. GDPR also requires organizations that handle sensitive data on a large scale to appoint a data protection officer. Failure to comply results in massive fines, possibly as much as four percent of a company’s annual revenue.

There is a lot more to it then that. I have ghostwritten at least five articles about GDPR, but I still can’t pretend to know all the details. If you are really interested (or a masochist), read all about GDPR here.

To prepare for GDPR, companies leaned on their in-house legal counsel or hired outside experts. They often had to make massive changes to their privacy policies, compliance processes and in some cases, overhaul the way they use and store data, which can have massive implications for a business.

As a consumer, you probably noticed you received a lot of emails about updated privacy policies on or around 5/25, and that a lot of websites are serving popups with messages about how they use data.

What happens post-GDPR?

Execs around the world did a happy dance post 5/25. I don’t blame them, but at the risk of being a buzzkill, experts predict GDPR-related fallout as the industry adjusts to the legislation. Complaints have already been filed, and the finger-pointing has already begun. Some fear that GDPR will only strengthen the digital advertising duopoly, Google and Facebook, since smaller companies may not be able to afford the necessary changes, or to weather hefty fines.

Oh, and more changes are imminent. The ePrivacy regulation is in the works in Europe and US legislators are discussing the merits of the CONSENT Act, short for the Customer Online Notification for Stopping Edge-provider Network Transgressions act  (Now doesn’t that roll off the tongue?)

So, there you have it–an abbreviated overview of every marketer’s least favorite four-letter word, GDPR.

By Jacqueline Lisk

Photo cred:


The Surprisingly Tricky Task Of Writing Company Summaries

August 18, 2017


What Do We Do_

Helping a new company boil down what it does into a few sentences is a surprisingly challenging task. The last four years, I have been helping businesses, big and small, do just that.

Writing a company description is especially hard for a nascent organization that is still working out exactly how its products or services will be used, let alone described. But doing so is critical. This description serves as the backbone of external and internal communication.

Let’s take a closer look at why every business needs a documented company summary.

Laying the groundwork for consistent marketing communication

A company summary is a brief description of your business that can be used for your website, social media profiles, marketing material, investor decks, press releases, and in conversations with well-meaning family members who are trying to understand what it is you do, exactly.

Many businesses have a short, one to three sentence version, and a more in-depth iteration. The summary should make sense to your target customers, partners, investors  and ideally, the aforementioned well-meaning family members.

Some company summaries are easier to write than others. Do you run a women’s boutique? That’s easier to describe than an emerging advertising technology solution. Regardless of your vertical, try to keep it simple and use recognizable terms and phrases rather than coining new descriptors.

One of the most overlooked use cases of a summary like this is internal communication. You want to make sure every member of your team is describing your business in the same way.  I often work with business owners on company summaries as part of a larger company narrative project, in which we define their target audience, brand voice, mission statement and unique value proposition. The process can be quite enlightening for the entrepreneur. Often we involve their whole teams in a workshop. I love running these things. It is interesting to hear each person’s elevator pitch, and it almost always sparks some well-meaning debate about the company’s purpose. It is challenging to synthesize that input into verbiage that is both meaningful and persuasive, but it is also deeply satisfying to land on a new turn of phrase that excites the whole team.

While I strive to write summaries that will stay forever relevant, nothing is etched in stone. If you are a start-up, you should revisit your company description regularly and make tweaks as needed. It is good to be fluid, just don’t sacrifice organization. Document your sanctioned company description in a central location for your team, and keep them in the loop about changes.

For those of us in more complicated industries, like ad tech, writing simple summaries is weirdly hard, but it is worth the effort. You are taking control over how your company is described, internally and externally. When done right, this brief description is both deceptively simple and highly strategic.

By Jacqueline Lisk

Naming a Tech Business? Read This First.

February 8, 2017


The ad tech space is notoriously crowded, which makes finding a good name particularly challenging, as well as important. JR Lisk, Inc. partnered with the naming experts at River + Wolf, a NY-based brand naming and writing agency, to write this piece for Medium on ad tech naming trends and tips. The article discusses three of the biggest trends in start-up naming and provides tips for entrepreneurs looking to snag a name that “satisfies board members, entices investors, attracts customers and maybe, just maybe, sounds like something destined for an IPO.”

We are also pleased to announce we’ve partnered with River + Wolf on a series of naming projects, including a high-profile assignment for a massive retailer.

Photo cred: HBO


What you don’t know about ad blocking

March 24, 2016



I can see all sides of the ad blocking conundrum. On one hand, we are fed up with obtrusive, irrelevant ads that interrupt our online experience. But then again, advertising subsidizes publishing. We need ads to monetize digital journalism. Plus, when used correctly, ads are a powerful marketing tool for raising brand awareness and driving conversions. But what I hadn’t thought about are the people and businesses behind the ad blocking solutions. Turns out, their mission isn’t always noble. It’s not just about protecting the user—it’s about profiting.

An increasing number of users are downloading tools that allow them to filter out ads. There are now more than 198 million people using ad blockers worldwide, and it cost the publishing industry nearly $22 billion in 2015, according to PageFair’s recent research. They are using this software because they’re concerned about privacy or security, or frankly, because ads can be annoying (enough with the pop-ups and auto-plays, people). I assumed the creators of ad blocking tools were akin to the protagonists in Mr. Robot—brilliant antiheroes brave enough to challenge the establishment. But at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) annual leadership meeting earlier this year, IAB President Randall Rothenberg explained that many of these ad blocking creators are for-profit companies that are using nefarious tactics to make a buck. They’ll actually allow publishers to pay a fee to circumvent ad blocking software, but if a digital site doesn’t have the means to “pay the toll,” they are out of luck! Rothenberg claims that this is actually a threat to freedom of speech and diversity. Slowly but surely, smaller, independent publications will be forced to close their doors (or laptops, if you will), and the only news sources remaining will be those with deep pockets. (Click here to read more about his speech.)

That there is a market for ad blockers speaks volumes about our industry, regardless of the intent of the software’s creators. (And hey, maybe there are some guys who are in this to improve and preserve the user experience. I can’t pretend to know everybody’s motives, but Rothenberg’s words resonated with me.) Marketers and publishers should see this as a wake-up call. We have to respect the user. We have to use the tools available to us (and believe me, there are plenty) to create relevant creative and to effectively target audiences so the right messages are reaching the right people at the right time.

By Jacqueline Lisk


Content roundup: Mobile ad spending on the rise

August 31, 2015


An increasing number of advertisers are spending more of their ad budgets on mobile marketing tactics. This trend is a logical result of changing user behaviors. As marketers, it’s our job to be where the people are, and more people are spending more time on their mobile devices. In January 2014, for the first time, Americans used smartphones and tablets more often than desktops to connect to the Internet, according to comScore. Here are some useful articles to help you understand the future of mobile advertising.

1. Mobile to account for more than half of digital ad spending in 2015, eMarketer

This year, mobile spending will surpass desktop spending for the first time. eMarketer shares its recent research on the shift. Read it here.

2. Programmatic and RTB

Programmatic ad buying affords its adopters a host of benefits, including increased efficiency, cost savings, transparency and targeting abilities. It has implications beyond mobile, but it’s particularly interesting to watch these trends converge.

  • Digiday explains programmatic in layman’s terms. Read it here.
  • Acquity’s blog post breaks down RTB in a way that’s easy to understand. Read it here.
  • Business Insider summarizes its comprehensive report on programmatic buying. Read it here.

3. The future of digital advertising: Mobile, programmatic and native

MoPub’s guest blog for Audience Science explains how these tactics come together to offer superior results for advertisers. (In full disclosure, JR Lisk helped MoPub with this piece!) Read it here.

Have an article recommendation? Let us know on Twitter @jlisk1

Photo Source: Union Square Media

Why being a mom makes me a better  businesswoman

July 31, 2015



Like many new mothers, I was nervous about reconciling my career aspirations with my determination to be a hands-on “supermom.” But it was actually my daughter who gave me the courage to launch my own business; and in many ways, I feel more capable, confident and creative than ever before. Here are five reasons why being a mom makes me a better businesswoman.


That we have the power to bring life into this world still boggles my mind. My daughter was born in August, 2013. Afterwards, I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment transcending anything I had ever felt in the past. I know this is in no way a novel achievement. People give birth every single day. Nonetheless, I often find myself rationalizing: “If I can handle motherhood, I can handle this.”


As parents, we navigate countless challenges, both big and small, every single day. We are forced to make decisions with consequences—say, about the health or education of our children—as well as countless small choices, like what brand of diapers to buy or whether or not sunscreen needs to be organic. Even when you’re contemplating something trivial, the stakes seem high. I’m not utterly confident in every choice I make, but I am confident in my ability to make a decision. I’ve found this has had pleasant ramifications for my professional life. I make decisions. I make them all the time. Some are right, some are wrong, but gosh dang it, you can count on me to make a choice!


When Juliette was born, I held a senior management position at a global content marketing company. I loved my work and my colleagues. My job allowed me to travel the world, to see places I’d probably never have seen otherwise, and to face, and collaboratively solve, complex, global business challenges. I always knew I wanted to launch my own business, but it was hard to justify leaving a financially-secure role that I truly enjoyed. After Jules was born, I felt more motivated (which is saying something—I was already pretty driven). I wanted to do something that would make her proud. I felt like if I worked for myself, I’d also be working for her.

Admittedly, I was also attracted to the idea of setting my own hours and working from home so I could have more time with her. After she was born, traveling and commuting became tougher. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how motivated I’ve been. I felt, and still feel, a sense of purpose every morning as I switch on my laptop. I know why I’m working. I know what I’m working towards.


I’ve observed that the most effective employees tend to be those who have well-rounded, happy lives. It’s important to have something, or someone, to go home to after a long, stressful day. It’s paramount that you turn off, unplug, sleep, have fun—whatever. The challenges will be waiting for you tomorrow, and you’ll be better equipped to solve them with a clear mind. Even before motherhood, I was blessed with a happy, busy life—a wonderful husband, a large, loving family and a robust social network. I always took pains to balance my professional obligations and aspirations with my personal relationships and hobbies. But since Jules’s arrival, I’ve become even better at prioritizing and keeping things in perspective. Time has become, unequivocally, my most valuable resource. I’ve learned to quickly identify what’s worth expending emotional energy on. I find I can shrug off small business hiccups that, pre-motherhood, would have derailed my mood and affected my psyche. I no longer have time to “sweat the small stuff.” The upshot: I’m more productive, effective and calm in a crisis.


One of the coolest things about becoming a parent is that you get to be a child again. You watch the wonder with which your toddler approaches each new experience, and it gives you pause, too. The ocean is really damn cool. That bunny in our yard is pretty special. And that airplane overhead? Wow.

This may provoke a few eye rolls, but Juliette’s marvel and boundless energy inspire me. I love her curiosity. I admire it, even! I want to see the world as she does—as a magical place chock full of new things to discover. She also forces me to continuously flex my creative muscles. I’m required to make up stories, songs and games daily—and I love it. It’s helped me become a more imaginative thinker and storyteller.

Yes, I’ve left out the hard parts. The balancing act is tough. My most common insecurity stems from the fear that I’m not giving enough to anyone, or anything—that I’m spread too thin. I also realize I’m lucky to have a skill set and work in an industry that allow me to run my business from home. But, in all sincerity, having a child has made me a more confident, effective and creative businesswoman.

By Jacqueline Lisk

B2B native advertising on the rise

May 27, 2015



I was happy to share my two cents about native advertising in a recent article for BMA Buzz, the Business Marketing Association’s newsletter. (Check it out here.) As the article reports, 54 percent of B2B marketers have tried native advertising in the last year, and 59 percent plan to increase their native ad buy this year. It’s no surprise why – when done correctly, native is a vehicle for delivering a targeted, detailed message in a way that looks and feels more like editorial than ad copy; thus, the audience is more likely to engage with the content.

But transparency is key. Native ads must be clearly labeled. We’re not trying to trick readers. They should understand the content is sponsored almost immediately. And sponsors and publishers must respect the audience and deliver high-quality, relevant content. This is not the time or place to regurgitate an infomercial, as I advised in the BMA piece.

Although adoption is increasing, there’s still work to be done. As an industry, we need to continue to develop ethical standards, as well as measurement guidelines. What makes a native ad successful? What are the benchmarks? With time and more case studies, we’ll improve the practice for marketers and audiences alike.

Read the cover story here for more on native’s strengths and shortcomings.

By Jacqueline Lisk

Photo credit: Ryan Mcguire,

Digital ad fraud: What’s the deal with bots?

February 5, 2015


This past December, the Association of National Advertisers and White Ops, Inc. released a 50-plus page report on bot fraud in digital advertising. (Bots are web robots—software programs that masquerade as people by performing automated online tasks.) Their research found that bots are everywhere, visiting real sites created by real companies. These bots “inflated the monetized audiences at those sites by 5 to 50 percent.”

Bottom line: marketers are all too often paying for ads that aren’t actually seen by human beings. In fact, global advertisers will lose $6.3 billion in 2015 to bots.

Below are a few important findings from the report to help you understand and ultimately, minimize bot-related fraud:

  • Bots are most active at night
  • Bot activity accounted for 11 percent of all display impressions observed by the study
  • Third-party trafficking accounted for 52 percent of bot fraud
  • Video inventory contained nearly twice the percentage of bot fraud
  • Older browsers are more susceptible to bots
  • Even premium ad spaces aren’t immune from bots

As an industry, the first step in combating the issue is acknowledging the problem. The report did a fantastic job of suggesting practical solutions, which included monitoring for the fraud and authorizing third-party validation technology. Encouragingly, bot traffic percentages can actually drop when the bot supplier (remember, there is a real life criminal behind those bots) becomes aware of the increased scrutiny.

There’s no silver bullet, but all parties—marketers, publishers, tech companies, etc.–must work together to raise awareness about the issue and to collaboratively fight those bots.

Download the report here:

What do you think can be done to minimize bot-related ad fraud?  Tell us what you think.


Content Roundup: 2015 marketing trends and predictions

December 16, 2014



Gosh, do I love the holidays. I love the decorations, the cheer, the excuse for client outreach (holiday cards are in the mail, I promise).

I love shopping, I love spending time with friends and family and I love the inevitable end-of-year rush that ensues as brands and agencies hustle to execute seasonal campaigns and finish year-long initiatives.

It’s a hard season to find a moment for reflection, but as marketers, we’re obliged to stay one step ahead of the trends.  Here are three useful articles to review, eggnog in hand, as you plan for the year ahead.

1. A Complete List of Cultural Trends to Watch in 2015, HubSpot
This article includes a fantastic Slideshare with such cutting-edge trends as esports, fog computing, single-source products and warm technology. It will definitely get you thinking.  Read it here.

2.  60 Content Marketing Predictions for 2015, Content Marketing Institute (CMI)
CMI bravely collaborates with industry experts to compile predictions about the state of content marketing in 2015.  I say “bravely” because people make bold, specific claims, i.e. Robert Rose, CMI’s chief strategy officer declaring: “Google will acquire Twitter.”  Read it here.

3.  10 Digital Marketing Predictions for 2015, ClickZ
Spoiler alert: mobile, smart data and content strategy.  Author Michael Della Penna explains it a bit more eloquently.  Read it here.

P.S.  I’m penning a piece about my own 2015 marketing predictions for iMedia Connection, set to publish early next year.  Stay tuned.

By Jacqueline Lisk

Content Roundup: What’s new in native advertising

October 28, 2014


Orange on NYT

Native advertising is the marketing technique of creating content that looks and feels like the surrounding editorial. When done correctly, the sponsoring company presents content that is both:

  1. High quality and of interest to the site’s audience
  2. Strategic and relevant to the sponsoring company

For example, Orange is the New Black, the addictive, binge-worthy Netflix series, advertised on The New York Times via an interactive piece on the state of female prisons (pictured above). This is a newsworthy topic of interest to NYT readers that ties back logically to the brand. (More on this particular example below.)

Make sense? Here’s a deeper look at what’s going on with the native advertising industry — the good stuff, the bad stuff and the controversial.

1. Native Ad Production Values Keep Growing With ‘Orange is the New Black’ Promo, AdvertisingAge

This 1500-word native ad is one of the first from The New York Times’ new custom content division, T Brand Studio.
Read more

2. British Newspapers Embrace Native Advertising, ClickZ

News UK has joined the native ad bandwagon. (Guardian and Metro UK were already onboard.) Here’s their plans for the program.
Read more

3. Native Ad Tech Study: Plenty of Vendors but Confusion in the Marketplace, AdExchanger

According to a survey by the Online Publishers Association, 94 percent of publishers claim to have a native offering, yet 47 percent of marketers said they were unsatisfied with their ability to distribute native content. Two-thirds of marketers surveyed dubbed native advertising “interesting and valuable.” The takeaway: Although there’s vast interest in native, it’s still a young field. Publishers need to better define and market their native offerings.
Read more

4. The Wall Street Journal’s Guide to Making Great Native Ads, DigiDay

WSJ launched its native advertising program at the end of 2013. From the beginning, it emphasized a dedication to transparency. While there’s been ample interest, they’ve also faced challenges, which they talk openly about here.
Read more

5. Why Google Getting into Native Ads is Great News for Content Marketers, Contently

Google is reported to be launching a native advertising solution, predicted to compete with the likes of Outbrain and Taboola. The new program could help native advertising become more scalable and introduce SMBs to the practice.
Read More

6. 5 Major Publishers React to AdDetector, the plug-in that Calls Out Sponsored Ads, Contently

AdDetector, adds a red banner on top of sponsored content articles to add an extra layer of transparency,” explains the author, Sam Petulla, who polled leading publishers to get their reaction to the concept.
Read More

7. 4 Big Threats Native Advertising Faces in 2015, VentureBeat

This thoughtful piece explores native advertising’s potential hurdles, most notably the risk of losing readers’ trust and the challenge of creating scalable native ad solutions.
Read more

Questions? Comments? Hate/love native and want to talk it out? Let me know!

By Jacqueline Lisk