GDPR Compliance and Regulations

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is expected to set a new standard for consumer rights regarding their data, but companies will be challenged as they put systems and processes in place to comply.GDPR

The European Parliament adopted the GDPR in 2016, replacing an outdated protection directive from 1995. It carries provisions that require businesses to protect the personal data and privacy of EU citizens for transactions that occur within EU member states. The GDPR also regulates the exportation of personal data outside the EU. The provisions are consistent across all 28 EU member states, which means that companies have just one standard to meet within the EU. However, that standard is quite high and will require most companies to make a large investment to meet and to administer.

But can they enforce the GDPR in the United States? The answer is yes, as proven by Privacy Shield that passed in 2016, the United States government is fully prepared to cooperate in the enforcement of privacy laws enacted by the EU.

“Any business that collects even anonymous information from EU residents will be subject to GDPR compliance and, in the event of noncompliance, hefty fines”

Compliance will cause some concerns and new expectations of security teams. For example, the GDPR takes a wide view of what constitutes personal identification information. Companies will need the same level of protection for things like an individual’s IP address or cookie data as they do for a name, address and Social Security number.

The two primary GDPR concerns for US companies include:

Cookie Law (consent) – Majority of websites use cookies which are extremely small files, downloaded to your device when you visit a website. Many commercial sites use them including banks, online publishers, blogs or e-commerce serving the purpose of counting the number of visitors and their behavior. We’ve all seen the phrase “by using this website, you accept cookies” or a variation of the statement. It informs the user, but does it give them an alternative? The GDPR looks to change this in the future giving users an informed choice.

Data Permission (protection) – This includes how you manage email opt-ins or people who request to receive promotional material from you. People need to express consent in a ‘freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous’ way, which is reinforced by a ‘clear affirmative action’.

For EU based companies, you have even more concerns:

  • Timely Breach Notification – If a security breach occurs, you have 72 hours to report the data breach.
  • Right to Data Access – If users request existing data profile, you must be able to provide them with a fully detailed and free electronic copy of the data you collected.
  • Right to Be Forgotten – Your customers have the right to request that you totally erase their personal data.
  • Data Portability – This gives users rights to their data. They must be able to obtain their data from you and reuse that same data in different environments outside of your company.
  • Privacy by Design – This section of GDPR requires companies to design their systems with the proper security protocols in place from the start.
  • Potential Data Protection Officers – In some cases, your company may need to appoint a data protection officer (DPO).

The GDPR defines several roles that are responsible for ensuring compliance: data controller, data processor and the data protection officer (DPO). The data controller defines how personal data is processed and the purposes for which it is processed. The controller is also responsible for making sure that outside contractors comply.Though the task seems daunting, compliance is extremely important and necessary when moving your company forward.

For more information on how TAG can help your company become compliant, or to request a compliance please visit our website for more information.

The Evolution of Paid Search & What it Means for Your Strategy

The Evolution of Paid Search & What it Means for Your Strategy

“Where can I find jackfruit?”

“Pool floats that look like donuts”

“Do I need special glasses to watch the solar eclipse?”

Those are just a few of our team’s latest Google Searches. Did you know that there are over 3.5 billion searches per day on Google alone?

The Evolution

Over the course of the last decade, technology has evolved and so have our search patterns. Google has introduced numerous algorithms, and continues to refine them in order to better assist you in your queries.

Take a moment to think of your own behavior and how, it too, has evolved over the last 10 years. The first iPhone wasn’t introduced until June 29, 2007, so until then, Google search was limited to desktop users. In 2011, Apple introduced Siri – it’s voice-activated search tool for Apple product-users. 2012 marked Google’s release of their search app for iOS that featured its voice search function, rivaling Siri.

Paralleling these technological advances were also societal changes in the way we interact with our phones. 2007 was also the year when the state of Washington became the first state to ban texting and driving. Since then, many other states have followed suit and some have even banned calls from a hand-held cell phone device which, in turn, pushed for more voice activation options.

Earlier this year, The Webmaster released an article citing Hitwise’s study that found nearly 60% of all online searches are now happening from a mobile device, with the food and beverage industry reaching 72%.

What it means for Search

According to a recent HubSpot blog, 20% of queries in 2016 were mobile and android voice searches and a study by Ahrefs found that 64% of searches are at least four words or more.

This tells us that we’ve become much more conversational in the way we use search. So, instead of typing “Restaurants Quad Cities” like we did in 2007, we’re typing (or, dictating) “Where’s the best place to find tacos near me?”

What it means for Google AdWords

With many of our current clients reaping the benefits of Paid Search, the TAG team of Google certified experts decided that with this information, it was time to restructure our strategy.

Instead of the previously advised 10-20 keywords per topic in AdWords, because of the way consumers are searching we need to start thinking of them as “topics.”

The first step in this process is looking at your content from a low level. Segment the content you want your consumers to find into “topics.” For example, at TAG, one of our “topics” would be Social Media. We realize a strong social presence could be a potential client’s pain point and we’re here to help them succeed.

From there, we take our “topics” and segment them even further into “subtopics.” We think, ‘What are our potential clients searching for when they’re looking for help with their social strategy?” Then, “subtopics” for social media could be:

Social Media (topic)

  • Facebook marketing quad cities (subtopic)
  • More followers for my business Instagram (subtopic)
  • Is snapchat right for my business? (subtopic)
  • Email marketing tools (subtopic)

The subtopics help our team get into the mind of our clients and we’re able to then reformat our Google AdWords campaigns in order to deliver them the information they’re seeking and, ultimately, help their business succeed.

At TAG, it’s important to understand our clients, and their clients, so that we can create a comprehensive approach that fits everyone’s needs. Our TAG team of Google certified experts is excited to help your business grow, so let’s get started.



Humanizing your Digital Strategy

Screen-Shot-2013-07-24-at-3.25.44-PMWe tend to trust our friends more than a business or a brand. So when your friend tells you something about a brand, you’re more likely to believe what they’re telling you rather than when a brand makes a claim. So how do you make your brand more trustworthy? How do we humanize our digital strategies?

Talk like a Person!
Shift your thinking and adjust your messaging to be more relationship focused rather than “salesy”.  Talking to your followers in a way that is not a sales pitch or corporate jargon is much more interesting to them, and they’re more likely to engage with you.

Usabilla reports that 79 percent of digital marketers will increase their content marketing budget in 2016, and 60 percent of marketers see the biggest challenge as producing engaging content. If you’re simply a mobile sales pitch, you’re going to annoy your followers and end up losing customers in the long run. Advertising a sale or a special offer gets some engagement at first, but too much sales talk will annoy your audience.

Interact with People
Respond to questions and comments from your followers. Better yet, ask them to engage with you by posing a question or asking for their input! According to Usabilla, 56 percent of customers are more likely to buy when given a personalized experience. And when someone responds to you, be sure you let them know that you’re reading their input by commenting on it, liking it or favoriting their response. This is a great way to start a real conversation that feels human-to-human rather than human-to-brand.

Show off your Team and Workspace
Your audience wants to be able to put a face to the words they read on your social platforms or your website. Take pictures or produce videos and webinars where your employees can show off their personalities. Visual content is 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content according to Kissmetrics. Give your followers a glimpse into your working world and let them feel like they’re getting a behind-the-scenes tour. Doing this makes your followers feel closer to you, and will make them want to get to know your brand more.

Be Authentic and Transparent
Be mindful that all of your messaging should reflect your brand values to create authenticity. And if you make a mistake, whether it’s something little or something big, just come clean about it. We’re all human and we all make mistakes. Humanize your brand by not covering these things up, but by owning your mistakes.

Your followers want to have a conversation with a person, not necessarily a business or a brand.  You can improve your digital strategy by making engagement with your followers feel like they’re talking with a friend, rather than a business. For more information on how to humanize your digital strategy, give the experts at TAG a call or visit us online!

Reasons Your Website Needs to be Responsive

Reasons Your Website Needs to be Responsive

With the majority of people using mobile devices to access the Internet, websites that work across numerous platforms have become increasingly more important.

Mobile websites can be designed in two different ways; developing a responsive design, or using a mobile template.  If you have a significant amount of web traffic from mobile devices, the difference between the two options is definitely something you should consider. A mobile template requires a mobile-only website or subdomain built specifically for your site, meaning that the website will not adjust based on the size of the screen it is being viewed on. On the other hand, a responsive design means the web pages being viewed will reformat on their own to adjust to the size of the screen the website is being viewed on.

GoogleNo End to Mobile Usage in Sight
Did you know that 58 percent of people search for local businesses on their smartphone or mobile device at least once a day? And 89 percent of people search once or more a week? That’s huge! In 2015, more searches were done on a mobile device than on a desktop. So what does this mean for you? It means that now is the time to update your website using a responsive design. 

Positive and Timely Experience for Users is Key
Sometimes, the first impression a customer has of your business is by way of your mobile website. A positive user experience is important. In fact, there is a 61 percent chance that a user will leave your site immediately and go to a competitor’s page if they can’t find what they are looking for. A positive mobile experience results in a 67 percent higher chance that the consumer will make a purchase, especially if they can easily search for and find what they are looking for on-the-go.

Websites generally take more time to load on mobile devices and are more difficult to read when designed with just a mobile template. With a responsive web design, web content is reorganized, rather than resized, and optimally loads in under two seconds. Bottom line, utilizing a responsive web design is the most effective way to make the most of mobile traffic, as well as provide the best experience to users.

Mobile Social Media
In 2015, over 73 percent of Americans were active on social media platforms, with 55 percent of time spent on social media sites being done on a mobile device. If your company is sharing content that links back to your website without a responsive website design, you’re going to experience three things; high bounce rates, low conversion rates, and frustrated followers—none of which are good for your business. Social media isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. In order to excel in the mobile world, mobile-friendly, responsive websites are a necessity— especially as we move forward into 2016.

It’s no surprise that Google prefers websites with responsive designs over mobile templates. Creating a mobile website also means creating a URL separate from the desktop version, whereas a responsive design doesn’t need a URL separate from the desktop version. One URL makes it easier for Google to crawl your website and minimize on-page errors. And while improving your SEO won’t happen overnight, creating or improving your mobile website is a step in the right direction.


Is your website mobile friendly? At TAG, we can help you with all aspects of your website, including making it mobile responsive. So what are you waiting for? Give us a call today or visit our website to get started!

New trends in digital billboards allow for greater message targeting

Digital billboards provide exciting new opportunities for businesses to fine tune marketing messages and content that is relevant in that exact moment to consumers, based on the time of day, weather and user feedback.

New digital billboards equipped with technology allow advertisers to change messaging based on certain parameters. For example, a car dealership can set its messaging to change to an ad about windshield wipers whenever it is raining.

The creative possibilities are endless for the new options in outdoor advertising that are coming into our marketplace. The new features will make outdoor advertising more effective by changing the digital billboard messaging instantaneously.

Here are some of the new digital billboard trends and options available:

Weather triggers

Weather Triggers

This option is ideal for businesses that offer weather-related services. Messaging can be changed based on the temperature, current forecast and other weather conditions, such as wind speeds.

For example, a restaurant owner that wants to sell ice cream can change its message to feature a sundae when the temperature is 85 degrees or higher.



Generate hype for a new product launch or store opening with the countdown option. There are automatic and manual countdown options that allow the advertiser to automatically count the days, hours and minutes to an event. The countdown updates automatically without the need to continually update the art.

Day Parting

Day Parting

Cater messaging based on the time with day parting. Day parting allows advertisers to change the creative based on the day of the week, time or by including a text box that can be updated at any time with relevant information.

Social media

Social Media

Create synergy between outdoor and social media marketing campaigns. Digital boards can pull real-time photos, status updates and more from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Foursquare.

User-generated content

User-Generated Content

Research shows consumers trust their peers when it comes to brands, so let customers do the talking with user-generated content in outdoor advertising. Digital boards can be programmed to pull user-generated content from a microsite created for a specific campaign or from social media channels including Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare.

Kerry Johnson


Kerry Johnson is the Vice President of Media Management at TAG Communications. She has 18 years of experience in media sales, buying, planning and research.

Salesman or Spokesman?

Social media means something to everyone, even if you aren’t an active user. For some it’s a social hangout, to others it’s a way to publicize business. For advertisers, social media is a tool that changed the industry. Honestly, it changed the world, but that’s another story.

Facebook, Twitter, Google Paid Search, Pinterest, YouTube, Vine, Snapchat, Foursquare, etc. What do they all have in common? Well, they all have the potential to generate sales. Yes, sales. The purpose behind social marketing can be seen as two fold; to build an audience while also building brand loyalty and to drive sales.

Steps for Social sales success:

  1. Strategy: As advertisers, we start with a strategy – first priority is to identify what platforms fit our clients need. Why do you want to use social media for your business? How can you use social media to sell your story?
  2. Platform: Which social media platforms are right for your business? There are multiple ways to reach your customers. Don’t limit yourself to the traditional Facebook and Twitter platforms.
  3. Delivery: How will you tell the story you want customers to hear? Connecting the dots from brick and mortar to virtual and back again. Aiding in a clients understanding of the work we do for them also helps connect the dots to the success of their business.

Take a company like Patagonia. Their Facebook page doesn’t have advertisements for products they sell; it has stories about the people that use their products. The stories they share depict a lifestyle that lives and breathes their mission. By sharing these stories Patagonia grows their own customer base. People read the stories and become inspired to live their life along the mission of Patagonia. This inspiration should be every company’s goal when it comes to implementing social media.

At TAG, we understand the value in a social presence for your business. We also understand the complications that go along with having a social presence. Lucky for you, we’re here to help! Check out our white paper on social media for your business by clicking here to get you started.

Kicking your website into mobile gear

Whip out your Smartphone or tablet for a second – we know you’ve got one – and pay a visit to your website. Is the content sized appropriately? Is it easy to navigate from page to page? Can you find the information you are looking for with ease?

If you gave up waiting for your site to load before you could even get around to answering these questions, YOUR WEBSITE IS NOT MOBILE OPTIMIZED.

If you’re wondering what the big deal is here, we’ll tell you what! Read on the TAG top five reasons for kicking your website into mobile gear:

 1.       The reality: There are nearly 130 million Smartphone users in the U.S., along with 40 percent of all Internet usage being done via mobile device. Failure to have a mobile optimized website suggests an ignorance of these changing times and laissez faire attitude about the needs of nearly half your visitors.

 2.       The customer expectation: Slow loading times and tricky navigation due to an un-optimized website means three things for Internet visitors to your page – I’m frustrated. I won’t be coming back. I’m checking out your competitors.

3.       The drive in revenue: Mobile websites lead to mobile revenue! Providing this alternative method of doing business means your customers can do business with you essentially any time or any place.

 4.       The ability to network: A mobile friendly site is an excellent way to communicate to on-the-go customers’ information such as what your business hours are, ways you can be contacted as well as directions to your location.

 5.       The way of the future: By 2014, it is projected that mobile search will be overtaking desktop Internet usage. Will your business be ready to meet this mobile demand?

If you’re ready to kick start your website into mobile gear, click here to see how TAG specialists can help!

How is a urinal like an advertising agency?

Some of the most interesting conversations I’ve had lately start with just 140 characters. The other day, my friend @YoungImpact (Stephen) had referenced in a tweet the phrase, “toilet as canvas” in relation to a venture capitalist start up event in Washington DC. Just to show you what type of rabbit warren the tangents in my head resemble, his tweet immediately reminded me of Marcel Duchamp and his pivotal work, Fountain.

Subsequently, we had a brief conversation about venture capitalists, art and Hugh Jackman …and you’re about to read the final result of that exchange.

When Fountain was submitted by Marcel Duchamp to the Salon in 1917 under the pseudonym of R. Mutt, it was not displayed.  The board members, for whatever reason, did not see fit to include the work among “real art.” Whether or not a urinal with a signature is art is academic for the purposes of this blogpost. More important is the upending and redefining of what art is/was.

Simply by elevating any “found object” or “readymade” to the status of fine art by decreeing it to be so, Duchamp had inverted the traditional patron-artist relationship. Together with Picasso, who also redefined what art could be and for whom, Duchamp had put the power in the hands of the artist. The artist’s vision was the commodity.

Applied to the construct of an advertising agency: why do individuals, organizations and businesses hire us? Is it because we’re snappy dressers? We’re fun at parties? Yes to both, but again, academic for the sake of discussion.

Advertising and marketing firms are in the business of alchemy. We take data from market research, mix it with ink and celluloid, bytes and keystrokes and transform it into a message. The people who work at firms like ours are artists. We can kern letters just so. We can take your message and marry it with technology to render it memorable.

Our vision is our value. Our audience perspective is where it all pays off.

The Client Dating Game

I recently found myself in a situation at a grocery store that reminded me how easy it is to lose a client. See… I’m the type that is too chicken to send my food back at a restaurant. Speaking of chicken… once, I took a bite out of a chicken sandwich only to find it completely raw in the center. I didn’t want to be picky or anything, but….  I had to muster up some serious courage to say something.  You will find that once a client gets angry enough to “say something,” they’ll tell LOTS of people. Your challenge (and opportunity) as a business is to do your best to make sure they don’t have cause to reach that point.

A service person has to REALLY torque me off in order to get me to write a complaint letter to Corporate. This very morning, I found myself angry-typing (you know – the kind of typing when you’re mad. The kind when you’re typing faster than the speed of light and are pounding your fingers on your keyboard) a letter to the store manager and cc’d the CEO in the corporate office.

Dear [grocery store],

We’re soooo over! 

Then, I had an epiphany:  Client relationships are a lot like dating!

Don’t take them for granted

It’s so easy to take loyal and repeat business for granted, and we often we forget how valuable it is. We’re always thinking about how hard it is to gain a customer’s business and trust in the first place, but don’t really think about how it’s even more difficult to get it back or just how EASY it is to lose it. In order to prevent a “breakup,” value each and every interaction you or your team has with your customer(s). No matter how “loyal” they may be, never assume you’ll have their business, and always remind them you want it. Sounds like a relationship, huh? When Ross cheated on Rachel on FRIENDS, it took Rachel like 5 seasons to get over it.  Her mother told her… “Once a cheater, always a cheater.”  So don’t screw up!  You might end up like Ross with way too many failed relationships and the risk of never getting your girlfriend (uh-hem…client) back.

Communication is key

A quick way to get your customer to break up with you is to not return their phone calls or emails promptly. Customers (much like your significant other) need to be made to feel important.  Put their success before yours, and remember that when they’re successful, you’re successful.

Flowers are always nice!

Be sure your customers get the recognition they deserve for their loyalty and remember important dates or events such as a grand opening, the holidays, an award, a birthday, anniversary (of loyalty), or a promotion. Tokens of your appreciation with keep themswooning over you.

Keep your promises, or you’ll never get a ‘date’ again

Yesterday (pre- debacle) I was looking for a parking spot in the very same parking lot of the infamous grocery store. Suddenly, I saw a BIG truck with a BIG sign with BIG words on it that said,“DON’T BUY FROM [COMPANY NAME], THEY DON’T KEEP THEIR PROMISES!”  I laughed out loud at this old school, albeit effective, attempt at defaming this particular company. But, wow… that company had to have really made someone mad in order for the customer to have created a hand-made sign to cart around in the bed of their pick-up truck (reminder: I live in Iowa). These days, most folks would just Facebook, Tweet, or Yelp their gripes, but hey, the truck sign works too.  Either way, these days – if you’re dropping the ball – people will know about it. Don’t let this scare you away from social media. Think of it as an opportunity to manage these situations and come out shining in the end (oh, and uh… shameless plug: I know a really great team of experts than can handle this for you).

I know this is all basic, common sense sort of stuff, but it’s so easy to forget – especially when people get busy (and we’re all busy)! In a world of technology and media overload, let’s not forget what got us here in the first place: RELATIONSHIPS.

Clients Need Love, Too…

The original topic for this effort was supposed to be “Clients we love and why.” In actuality that’s a little self-serving and bound to cause some bruised feelings. On the other hand, my experience over time dealing with customers, clients and “just folks” has made it clear many are suffering from becoming their “brothers critic” not keeper.

On the national stage political parties have increasingly become more focused on devaluing the quality of ideas or policies or even the person of the opposition. Concepts like empathy, understanding and reconciliation are dying.

In business today the very concept of relationships has been totally devalued. Why? Because those charged with making the purchase or contractual decisions tend to look at cold pricing criteria for a defined product or service. Ongoing support, valued added advice and even 24/7 back-ups are treated as secondary benefits until the product purchased doesn’t perform or the service purchased delivers less value than expected.

So what is causing some clients to become unwitting “agents of pain?” Here’s one scenario….The person in the company charged with facilitating the purchase of a given product or service is often the same person charged with implementing it. He or she often sits in a middle management position, constantly pressured to use the purchased products or services to enable higher-ups to succeed. Problem is, the implementer often doesn’t understand their role in maximizing the opportunity to get value-added counsel out of the supplier. Instead, because they don’t have skills enabling them to manage outside relationships positively they tend to become “command and control” autocrats. And to fuel the fire, because they lack understanding or skills on how to build supporters among outside suppliers or partners, they burn relationships and hinder corporate growth.

On the other hand there are clients or customers who recognize that some suppliers, vendors and partners can bring added value to the table. They reach out and even invite those “outsiders” to develop a cooperative relationship. The result is that, as the client, they gain added knowledge enabling them to successfully implement the service or the product they were involved in selecting. Those vendors or suppliers consistently bring strong business building ideas or better service to the table (love,)  That “love” over time wins the skeptic over and enables the provider of great ideas to become a “trusted advisor.”

Lesson learned: From a supplier or vendor perspective, drop the negative attitude toward difficult clients. Focus instead on helping remove their pain with what you can bring to their table…if it’s real.