Optimal’s Brandon, Erik and Casey attended the Digital Advertising Insight Summit at Marquette University on Wednesday, and they left with some great takeaways. Check them out! (And make sure to read all the way down…a surprise is waiting at the end.)

Erik’s Takeaways:

Since I do a lot of writing and wireframes, I really enjoyed Brady Pierzchalski’s talk on User Experience (UX). He’s done UX for Kohl’s and Best Buy and helped us easily grasp the basics of UX and how to do it ourselves.

Put yourselves in your user’s place. Make it easy for people to find things.      

All of us deal with UX. Even web designers and developers encounter UX when they walk into a store, use a kiosk, flip through an app, and more.      

To make a good user experience, you have to understand who you’re talking to, their needs, and their goals. That’s context.


If your goal is to sell more shoes, you need to reframe the goal to what your customers want to accomplish. Their goal might be to find the best walking shoes. And they want that because they want to lose weight, get in shape and be comfortable doing it.


This was great news because it means a small agency like Optimal can afford to do usability testing. Just set up a computer with the website, turn on a camera, and ask 5-6 people to find or do certain things on a site. Doing so will expose most problems with a site design before releasing it to the public. Whew!      

What a great idea! Add detail to a wireframe, print it out, and share it with 5-6 people and follow the same process outlined above. We will be implementing this soon.  
Other breakouts had good points like Tom Cattapan’s session on separating fact from fiction in today’s media landscape. Though we don’t do TV advertising, his investigations made it clear that marketers have to dig into assumptions to know how people really use media.      
Brandon’s Takeaways:
One thing that was kind of fun (and not intentional) is that all 3 of us took notes via Twitter. The golden takeaway nuggets we wanted to share are there. Instead of re-entering notes, we just have them there as a record. It’s pretty neat!

I loved this video. It really shows the golden area of Sony. Sony had a tough time competing because the left hand does not talk to the right. Each division is siloed. That does not work anymore. We work hard (it is harder than it sounds) to integrate creative, design, and development whenever possible. It creates better products.

Context is everything…solving problems about empathy and understanding where someone is THEN offering a solution.

This one blew me away. I always thought you needed hundreds of people. This lowers the bar so much; we should all be doing this on the important things.

The tequila removes that filter in your brain, and she just tells you what she really thinks. This will make you laugh at Microsoft’s expense.
The other thing that stuck out to me was what Matt Koppleman said about customizing the UX by past preferences. Sites like Amazon do this on a big scale with suggested products you would like. But we can do this on a micro level too.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any great platforms that already do it with content. We are going to spend some time figuring out how we can do this. To give you an example of what we’re imagining, let’s say a user goes to your site and then clicks to the service X page. The next time they come back, we could swap out that big general image on your homepage with something relevant to them based on that data.
Casey’s Takeaways:  
Two sessions that stood-out to me were Julie Van Ullen’s “Simplifying Trends in Today’s Digital Advertising Marketplace” and Jen Keller’s “10 Tactics for Surviving and Thriving in Google.”  
Although both of these sessions were on very different topics, they both sought to help web marketers understand the underlying meaning and impact of strategies to build up websites and brands.  
In Julie Van Ullen’s session, she broke down two commonly misunderstood trends in digital advertising: programmatic buying & selling and native advertising.  
Advertisements for businesses and websites are used so frequently online that it’s easy to move past the core fundamentals that make these a good or bad strategy.

Van Ullen also talked about what is ethical in terms of advertisements. Whether you’re the publisher or advertiser, being straightforward with your users is 100% necessary. Native ads are becoming common, especially in social media.    

However, users don’t want to be deceived – they want to know if the text or image they’re looking at is a genuine part of the website they’re on or is an advertisement.


Jen Keller’s session brought basic, effective Google SEO strategies to a level everyone could understand. My personal takeaway from her session was to ensure that I am really making the most out of every SEO strategy and using it to its full potential to help clients continue to be successful.


To all you Easter Egg hunters: