Managing a growing blog: content planning

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As your blog gets bigger and attracts a larger audience, content writing becomes content planning and content managing. On larger blogs, a team of authors usually works together. Blogs are written by individual authors, but these authors still have to work together. Otherwise, a blog with the exact same topic could appear twice. Or, authors could use a totally different style and tone of voice. In this post, we will give some tips on how to manage the content of a growing blog.

Managing a growing blog: content planning

Read more: ‘How to manage the structure of a growing blog’ »

Content planning

If your blog and your audience are growing and you’re getting more serious about blogging, you should make a plan for your content. If you have a personal blog, planning your content will be fairly easy.

Frequency

You should blog regularly. It’s hard to give exact numbers. For a company blog, a daily post will be totally acceptable. For a personal blog this probably won’t be doable at all. Try to establish some kind of frequency and stick to it. Your readers will appreciate a reliable schedule. Once you know you can commit to your chosen schedule, make sure to communicate it to your audience somehow, so they know what they can expect.

Variation

If you often write about similar topics, make sure to mix things up a little. Don’t write articles about nearly identical topics one after the other. Of course you can still write blog series, but try to vary between topics as much as possible. You could also make variations in the form of your content. A video post for example really spices things up!

News & current events

When planning content, you should take a look at your own calendar as well! Are there any major events coming up which are worth mentioning in your blog post? Make sure to mix these ‘current-events posts’ with the other posts you have lined up.

Style guide

If your blog is growing and you are working with multiple authors, composing a style guide for your blog is a great way to make sure everyone writes and spells in the same way. In a style guide you can agree to write words in a certain way. Of course, we all should write proper English, but use of capitals and brand names could differ. As all authors write for the same blog, it will create more unity if everyone spells the important words in the same way.

In the style guide you could also agree on the length of posts, the use of paragraphs and headings, and the use of images. It should be a document in which you write down all the things you want the blogs to be similar in. If you work with an occasional guest blogger, a style guide could be a great document to help them write a post that fits the style of your blog as well.

Editorial calendar

An editorial calendar is really necessary if you’re working with multiple authors on a blog with frequent posts. You could make an excel sheet, or write down the posts in your own calendar, but you definitely should make some sort of planning. Decide amongst each other who writes which posts. These decisions are most easily made in some kind of meeting in which all authors will sit down together. Decide what topics you want to address and who will write about them.

Conclusion

A growing blog will ask for more content planning, especially when blogging with multiple authors. It’s important to come to an agreement about style, the topics to write about, and the number of blog posts to write. As long as authors keep on working and talking together, a blog with multiple authors can be a great success and make your blog even grow further!

Keep reading: ‘Managing a growing blog: technical SEO’ »

February 12th 2016 blogging, Marketing

Hacky Sacker’s Publicity Rights Claim Against Energy Drink Tossed–Martin v. 5-Hour Energy Drink

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Johannes (Ted) Martin was (and is currently) the world record holder for “most consecutive kicks (no knees)” of a hackysack. A five hour energy drink made an advertisement depicting an unknown actor claiming he performed several superhuman tasks, including breaking “the record for Hacky Sack”….while mastering origami.

The actor attributes his accomplishments to the energy drink. Watch the ad:

Martin sued, asserting claims under the Lanham Act and Illinois’ publicity rights statute.

Publicity Rights Claim: The court says this claim is barred by the statute of limitations (one year). Even if not, the commercial does not use Martin’s identity. It does not reference Martin in any way, and the phrase “the record for Hacky Sack” is ambiguous. The drink company highlighted the existence of numerous hacky sack records, and Martin basically admitted that the reference to “record for Hacky Sack” didn’t necessarily refer only to him. Even assuming a reference to his accomplishment is a reference to him, the court says the ad does not reference a particular record. Furthermore, the court says that the commercial is a joke. It contains a disclaimer, but even if it did not, the claims are so fantastical that even the most unsophisticated consumer would not take them as true.

Lanham Act Claim: The Lanham Act claim suffers from numerous deficiencies, but even to the extent Martin has the necessary standing and is among the class who can sue under the Lanham Act, he can’t sue because there is no risk of confusion to consumers:

[t]he Commercial plainly falls into the category of farcical exaggerations that carry no risk of deceiving consumers.

Martin alleges that the commercial caused him “considerable angst” (and this entitles him to treble damages), but he also did not allege any lost endorsements or commercial harm due to such confusion. The court is skeptical that Martin’s record has any commercial value, except among the “Hacky Sack cognoscenti,” but these individuals would not be misled since they are in the know. Martin alleged that it’s possible a young Hacky Sack player may be misled by the commercial and be induced to consume the energy drink (and ultimately be disappointed), but Martin does not have standing to allege claims on behalf of these hapless consumers.

__

This is a great judicial opinion for a variety of reasons. It’s short and worth reading. Holy benchslap alert!

First, it introduces the phrase “defectum humoris non curat lex” (“the law does not reward humorlessness”) into the legal lexicon. According to a quick Lexis search, this is the first time it has been used in a judicial opinion. Something tells me it will be in wide circulation in short order. I would relish the opportunity to work it into a legal filing.

Second, it uses the phrase “Hacky Sack cognoscenti”.

More seriously, the ruling is worth noting, among other reasons, because it resolves claims on a motion to dismiss, which seems to happen with increasing frequency.

Eric’s Comments

This is a fun publicity rights case, and I expect to incorporate the ruling somehow into the next edition of our Advertising Law casebook. It has several noteworthy aspects:

* does the ad reference Ted Martin? The ad doesn’t use his name, voice, likeness, signature or photograph. For those reasons, you’d think this publicity rights claim should be an obbvious loser. Yet, we have seen plenty of other publicity rights cases where the court stretches to find the plaintiff identifiable without the use of any of those attributes, such as the Vanna White v. Samsung case (robot wearing a blond wig next to the Wheel of Fortune board) and the Motschenbacher case (distinctive racecar even though it had a different racecar number). So this case isn’t easily dismissed on the most obvious ground, which is that it never used any aspect of Ted Martin’s personality. Instead, the court takes a lesser-trodden path, implicitly accepted that the ad could evoke Martin’s identity as the recordholder but concluding the evocation wasn’t specific enough because there are multiple hacky sack recordholders and the ad could have meant any of them. While this result makes sense, the circuitous legal logic to reach this conclusion is another indicator of the sad state of publicity rights jurisprudence.

* a “joke” exception to a publicity rights claim. In general, there’s no “humor” or “parody” defense to a publicity rights claim. Depict a person in a funny ad and chances are you’ll lose in court. In contrast, this court explains:

The Commercial is a joke, a comedic farce. The claims it makes are not intended to be taken as true—and to the extent that there could be any doubt on that score, the commercial includes a clear disclaimer advising the most gullible among us that these are “not actual results.”

But unlike false advertising, publicity rights don’t depend on how consumers interpret “claims.” So the fact that no one would believe the ad’s assertions shouldn’t trump any impermissible evocation. This result only makes sense if we remember that publicity rights are an equity-driven doctrine; and because this is a silly lawsuit over a mildly funny joke, Martin gets no credit in the equities analysis. Thus, court says:

Martin’s premise that the Commercial exploits his identity because someone might believe that the actor (or whoever he portrays) actually broke Martin’s record depends on an interpretation so blind to its comedic nature that it is unreasonable and therefore beyond the law’s protection.

This is about as close to a court telling a plaintiff to “lighten up, braugh, and F-U to your legal arguments” as you’ll see in a judicial opinion.

Also, it looks like Illinois’ publicity rights statute has a discretionary fee-shifting provision (765 ILCS 1075/55), so I expect the plaintiff will be “laughing” all the way to the bank…to pick up a cashier’s check for the defendant.

* Lanham Act standing. The Lanham Act false advertising claim should be an easy dismissal for lack of standing pre-Lexmark. In a footnote, the court indicates it’s still an easy dismissal for lack of standing but the defendant didn’t argue it.

* Puffery. Once we get past the publicity rights claim and the Lanham Act standing issue, it’s easy to call the ad’s statements puffery. The court says:

The Commercial is an obvious farce that would not lead anyone to believe that Martin, or anyone else, had actually accomplished all of the remarkable feats described. Even unsophisticated consumers would get the joke.

Note to students writing one of my exams: yes, this indeed is a nice example of puffery, but you still need to go through the publicity rights analysis and Lanham Act standing claim before reaching that conclusion! In other words, just because we have an obvious puffery doesn’t mean we get to skip the analysis of the other potentially applicable legal doctrines.

* Damages. If your central damages claim is that an ad attempting to be funny caused you “considerable angst,” imagine the angst you’ll feel when you get your lawyer’s bill for the unsuccessful lawsuit.

* More on nomenclature. This case also the term “footbag” as the generic descriptor for “hacky sacks.” Surprisingly, I found 6 other cases in Westlaw using the term “footbag,” plus a “PROPOSED REVOCATION OF RULING LETTER RELATING TO TARIFF CLASSIFICATION OF “KICK SAC” FOOTBAGS” (1997 WL 747606 (Customs)). Given the low prevalence of footbags and the ubiquitous references to “hacky sack,” I’m curious where the term “hacky sack” fits on the genericness spectrum.

Also, the court’s opinion starts with this line from Oscar Wilde: “It is a curious fact that people are never so trivial as when they take themselves seriously.” I didn’t find any other instances of the quote in other Westlaw cases, but it’s a great one!

Case citation: Martin v. Living Essentials, LLC, 2016 WL 374142 (N.D. Ill. Feb 1, 2016)

Related posts:

Siblings Use Publicity Rights To Try To Block Sister From Blogging About Mom–In re Reynolds

Gossip Site That Uses Misidentified Photo May Be Liable for Publicity Rights Violation — Edme v. Internet Brands

Rationalizing (?) the Hart and Keller v. EA Sports Publicity Rights Rulings (Guest Blog Post)

Ex-Employer’s Hijacking of a LinkedIn Account Is a Publicity Rights Violation–Eagle v. Morgan

Buying Keyword Ads on People’s Names Doesn’t Violate Their Publicity Rights–Habush v. Cannon (Forbes Cross-Post)

Lindsay Lohan Loses Publicity Rights Claim Against Pitbull Over Song Lyrics–Lohan v. Perez

Facebook “Sponsored Stories” Publicity Rights Lawsuit Survives Motion to Dismiss–Fraley v. Facebook

February 10th 2016 Marketing

Some Twitter Users Don’t See Ads

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Some Twitter users see fewer ads than most of us. Some don’t even see any at all. This has been going on for months.

That is according to Peter Kafka at Re/code, who spoke with sources at Twitter. He writes that the company has been showing no ads or less ads to some of its most valuable users, which are those with significant volume and reach.

“I have about 70,000 followers, and I appear to be in the no-ad group,” Kafka says. “So does my boss, Kara Swisher, who has more than a million followers.”

This could be a turn off for some advertisers, especially considering that Twitter has a new ad format that specifically looks to get the audience engaged and tweet out brand messages. One would think that such ads would be all the more powerful when a participating audience member had their own significant following.

Kafka says Twitter wouldn’t entertain the discussion of a potential subscription-based, ad-free version of Twitter, with the company simply saying that it is “constantly looking at constraints and adjustments” when it comes to how it shows ads.

The report doesn’t say whether Twitter has been showing more ads to non-VIP users. Glancing at my timeline, I do feel like there are more there than I used to see, but I can’t say anything definitely about any volume increase.

Images via Twitter

January 27th 2016 Marketing, Twitter

2H 2015 Quick Links, Part 7 (Marketing, Advertising, E-Commerce)

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Photo credit: 3D Quick Link Crossword // ShutterStock

Photo credit: 3D Quick Link Crossword // ShutterStock

Marketing/Advertising

* Jezebel: The Big Bad World of Products Celebrities Promote on Instagram. Related blog post.

* NY Times: Cool Influencers With Big Followings Get Picky About Their Endorsements

* NY Times:

Since signing with Brooks on Jan. 1, 2014, Symmonds has been asked by American officials to remove Brooks gear, even while having morning coffee at the United States team hotel at the 2014 world indoor championships in Poland, he said. Surely, coffee is not an official team function, said Symmonds, who was formerly sponsored by Nike.

U.S.A. Track & Field “has confiscated advertising space that I own,” Symmonds, 31, said. He said the federation “frequently uses bullying tactics to force athletes to do what they want, even when they have no legal right to do that.”

* Underwhelming settlement in Subway “footlong” case: $525k to lawyers, $1K incentives, new quality control steps

* Wendy Davis: Euro-Pro Should Stop Bragging About 5-Star Ratings, BBB Says

* NY Times: With Technology, Avoiding Both Ads and the Blockers

* Wikipedia blocks hundreds more accounts for undisclosed paid advocacy. Related article.

* Pulaski & Middleman, LLC v. Google, Inc., 2015 WL 5515617 (9th Cir. Sept. 21, 2015). Under CA’s false advertising statutes, restitution can be pursued on a class basis even if the restitution awards will require individualized determinations.

* Slate: The FDA Will Not Tolerate Eggless Sandwich Spreads That Purport to Be “Just Mayo”

Quartz: There is literally a US government conspiracy against vegan mayo

Just Mayo Wins Big Against US Government

* WSJ: Marketers May Be Falling Out of Love With Product Placement

* Search Engine Land: After FTC Guidelines, Ad Demarcations In Search Engine Results Have Become More Muted

* Cracked: 7 Ways Restaurants Screw You Over (With Science)

* AdWeek: Hotels.com Buried a Giveaway in the Fine Print of a TV Ad to Reward People Who Paused It

* Cracked: 5 Huge Marketing Campaigns That Were Complete Catastrophes

E-Commerce and Clickthroughs

* NY Times: Hotels Fight Back Against Sites Like Expedia and Priceline

* I.B. v. Facebook, 2015 WL 1056178 (N.D. Cal. March 10, 2015). Regarding minors’ purchases using Facebook credits beyond what their parents authorized, the court certified a class, for declaratory and injunctive relief only, consisting of:

All Facebook users who are or were minor children according to Facebook’s own records for the four years preceding the date on which the original complaint was filed through the date on which a class is certified (“the Minor Class”). Within the Minor Class is a subclass of Minors from whose Facebook accounts Facebook Credits were purchased. (“the Minor Purchasing Subclass”).

* The Recorder: Auto-Renewal Suits Rain Down on Consumer Tech Companies. “Since late 2013, two Southern California plaintiffs lawyers have systematically targeted Google, Apple, Spotify, Lifelock, Blue Apron and other companies with subscription-based services under a 2010 California statute that prohibits automatic renewal charges without affirmative consent.”

* Law.com: Share Economy On Edge Over Worker Status

* Reuters: “State legislators in Ohio and Florida are moving ahead with regulations governing Uber and other ride services that would designate all drivers as independent contractors, bolstering a critical but much-disputed aspect of Uber’s business model.

The states would join North Carolina, Arkansas, and Indiana in requiring the contractor designation as part of new laws governing so-called transportation network companies, a Reuters review of state legislation showed.”

* Tagupa v. VIPdesk, Inc., 2015 WL 5116943 (D. Hawaii Aug. 28, 2015) and 2015 WL 5472898 (D. Hawaii Sept. 17, 2015). It’s not a good idea to ask hourly employees to “volunteer” to write additional blog posts “in your own free time.”

* Kash Hill: I created a fake business and bought it an amazing online reputation

* Loewen v. Lyft (N.D. Cal. Sept. 15, 2015):

Plaintiffs also argue that Defendants should have required users to click “I agree” to the arbitration provision specifically, in addition to the TOS as a whole, to eliminate any surprise. However, Plaintiffs do not cite any case requiring a separate assent to an arbitration provision in a click-through agreement, and the Court declines to create such a requirement here….unilateral modification provisions “are not substantively unconscionable because they are always subject to the limits ‘imposed by the covenant of good faith and fair dealing implied in every contract.’”

* Ranazzi v. Amazon.com, Inc., 2015-Ohio-4411 (Ohio Ct. App. Oct. 23, 2015).

Multiple courts have held that clicking is an acceptable method to manifest assent to the terms of an agreement….Further, courts have upheld such agreements where the disputed terms were contained in a hyperlink….This is so even where the user has failed to actually review the terms of use prior to manifesting assent…Upon review of the facts of this case and the relevant case law, we find that appellant, by clicking “I agree” on Intuit’s license agreement or by registering for an Amazon account and placing orders, accepted the terms of appellees’ agreements, including the arbitration provisions.

* Pearls Before Swine on EULAs.

January 18th 2016 Marketing

What is the mission of your website?

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Before you start making any improvements on your website (SEO, UX or otherwise), you should ask yourself: what’s the mission of my website? Why should people visit my website, read my posts or buy my stuff? What’s the purpose of my website? You should be able to answer these questions in a heartbeat. In this post I’ll explain the importance of having a clear mission. Also, I’ll stress the importance of communicating your mission to your audience.

think about the mission of your website

What is a mission?

The mission of your website consists of the ideas you have about your website and your company. Every website owner has certain expectations of his visitors. You want them to read your posts, or to buy your products. Perhaps you want to inform or entertain your readers or to improve their lives with your awesome products.

So, before you start making any improvements to your website you’ll have to think about your mission. Do not think too lightly of this. It’s really hard to have (and keep) clearly in mind what it is you want to do. In our site reviews, this actually is one of the main problems websites seem to have. Lots of websites just do not make clear what it is they offer and what makes their offer so special.

Read more: ‘Focus on clarity first’ »

How to formulate the mission of your website

Take the time and literally write down your mission of your website on a piece of paper. A computer or an iPad will do as well of course. You have to come up with one mission, one message to send to your audience. Once that message is clear to you, you’ll be able to communicate it much better to your audience!

To help you formulate the mission of your website, we’ve made a list of questions you should be able to answer:

  • What can people do with the products or information you’re offering on your website?
  • What makes your products or ideas unique?
  • How will your products/services enhance your clients’ lives?
  • Why should people buy the products/services on your website and not on another (e.g. cheaper or better known) website? Or why should people read your information and take your advice instead of information on another website?
  • What’s the reason you’re offering these products/services or information, besides making money?

Ways to make your mission clear to your audience

Once your mission is clear, you can check whether or not your mission is reflected on your website. Focus on your homepage and landing pages first, as these are the pages where your visitors enter your website. Be aware you literally just have seconds to get your most important point across. People’s attention span is really short, particularly online. So you have to make sure you tell all the important stuff first, and tell it quickly.

There are a few ways to make sure your mission and purpose are instantly clear to your audience. You should 1. write decent introductory content, 2. make sure your headlines and taglines are clear and 3. insert nice, suitable pictures.

1 Introductory content

Your homepage and your landing pages should include a clear introduction. In this introduction you explain the mission of your website. What is your website about? What do you ‘sell’? Make sure this text is really clear and adapt the wording to the language use of your audience. This text should not be too long (one or two paragraphs at the most)!

2 Headline and taglines

Another way to communicate your mission to your audience is to make good use of your headline and tagline. The headline is the title of a page or post. A tagline is a small amount of text which serves to clarify a thought. It could be the explanation of the headline, or a description of your brand or company.

Make sure that headlines and taglines clearly communicate the core goal of your product. This is most easily done by creating a headline for your landing page that attracts your visitors’ attention. Below that could be a tagline that really brings home the message of your headline.

If possible, try to write your headlines in an action-oriented way. You can do this by using verbs and sentences that imply an action for the visitor. For instance, we could have a headline saying: ‘Keep your site optimized with the Yoast SEO Premium plugin!’. This shows people one of the core values of the plugin, and making it active will motivate a lot more people to actually try it.

Read more: ‘About headlines and taglines’ »

3 A picture is worth a thousand words

A third way to make sure your mission is clear to your audience is to make good use of pictures. For most products, it is easy to find pictures that reflect the purpose of your website. Think about what you want to tell your audience, keep your mission in mind, while choosing pictures.
If you are selling candy, make sure to put pictures of tasty candy on your homepage. If you are selling cruises to Hawaii, you could definitely take some great shots of a tropical island and a nice cruise ship. For those of you that sell things like consultancy or plugins for that matter, it is more difficult to find suitable pictures. If you offer information on your website, search for a picture that reflects the information you are offering.

Keep reading: ‘Optimizing images for SEO’ »

Conclusion

Businesses are born of ideas, some of which are great, some are not. But they’re all born out of the idea that what you have to offer is special, and adds something to the market. That is your mission! And that mission, that advantage, that promise, should be well reflected on your website!

January 13th 2016 Marketing

The Revenant’s Immersive Site Lets You Experience the Struggle of DiCaprio’s Character

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As Hollywood continues to dip its toes into the virtual waters, one studio will put viewers in Leonardo DiCaprio's shoes.

The Revenant, DiCaprio's latest bid for that elusive Oscar, hits theaters nationwide today. The Alejandro Iñárritu film tells the story of legendary 19th-century frontiersman Hugh Glass' quest for survival after being brutally attacked by a bear and left for dead by his companions.

To help promote the release, 20th Century Fox is transporting viewers to the unforgiving terrain Glass traveled during his 200-mile trek for survival. The studio launched 200miles.com today, an immersive VR experience available on desktop and mobile, that picks up right after Glass' run-in with that grizzly. The site focuses on key markers of Glass' journey—if you're not familiar with Glass' story, prepare for possible spoilers.

The Revenant has already garnered more than $1.5 million from its Dec. 25 limited release in New York and Los Angeles, and another $2.3 million from last night's previews. Based on the novel by Michael Punke, the film also stars Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson and Will Poulter.








January 9th 2016 Marketing, Technology, video

Why MasterCard’s CMO Predicts a Merger Between VR and the Internet of Things

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Not today, but soon, MasterCard Worldwide CMO Raja Rajamannar sees the beginnings of a world in which sales and marketing could run through an virtual reality environment enhanced by the Internet of Things connectivity.

That combination could offer highly direct and personalized exchanges that would recast the retail and consumer relationship. The march to scale though could take five to seven years.

In the interim, he is looking at MasterCard's recent partnership with Samsung on an Internet-connected refrigerator for teaching lessons for the future of connected commerce. Check out the video above for details.








January 9th 2016 Marketing, Technology

Why It Should Scare Marketers That We’re Living in ‘the Stone Age of Data’

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"While we're in the golden age of innovation, we're in the stone age of data."

So says Mashable chief revenue officer Seth Rogin, concisely summing up an underlying CES 2016 theme: that while next-gen tech is here in a big way, the data and data insights that will make it smart and predictive—and really useful for marketers—won't come for at least another four years.

In the interim, Rogin points to Mashable's efforts with PubTech, part of the company's Velocity social-forecasting system, as an example of how to bring readers and marketers into more meaningful content and information-sharing environments.

"The most important thing for a marketer is to find out which tools really matter and get clarity in the system," says Rogin.

This video is brought to you by Starcom MediaVest Group.








January 9th 2016 Marketing, Technology

How Technology Is Quickly Changing the Channel on Audio Consumption and Marketing

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Adweek responsive video player used on /video.

It was barely two hours into CES 2016, and Lizzie Widhelm, svp of ad product strategy and sales at Pandora, had already seen something on the show floor she was pretty jazzed about.

The Ili necklace translator, she says, is just the latest example of wearables and audio technology colliding in interesting ways for marketers.

Looking forward to 2020 and beyond, she is also closely watching driverless car developments as an important platform for Pandora, but also for marketers looking to connect with consumers in what will become more of a highly personalized media environment than a traditional automobile. 

She also sees potential in next-gen audio marketing targeting millennials that goes "well outside the 15- and 30-second spot" by tapping shorter formats, YouTube stars and humor.

 








January 7th 2016 Marketing, Technology

How the ‘Beautiful Integration’ of Data and Content Will Be the Future of Marketing

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In the early hours of the first day of CES 2016, Harry Kargman, CEO of Kargo, offers a decidedly human perspective on the future of media and technology as the building discussion on sensors, wearbles and connected cars roars around him.

In 2015 "people forgot that human beings require storytelling to really connect with a particular product," he says, adding that data will be able to dynamically personalize that content in a "beautiful integration" for consumers.








January 7th 2016 Marketing, Mobile, Technology