Marketing productivity hacks, Amazon’s epic bet and learning from anti-models.

“It is dangerous business going out your front door” J.R.R. Tolkien

Branded is a daily curated report of industry news designed to help executives in marketing, advertising and branding create ROI producing media, stories, and campaigns that deliver long term results.

News that Matters

The History of Marketing Channels, a great deep-dive on marketing channels from 1839–2012, inspired by an infographic by Avalaunch Media.

Cheddar is launching general news offshoot, expects $11 million in revenue this year” — Digiday. Pretty cool to see Cheddar rise as a purely streaming option.

Snapchat’s programmatic ads fetch $3-$8 CPMs “- Digiday. Meanwhile podcast CPMs are $100-$250. Spam vs. trust perhaps?

“Millennials are nearly twice as likely to pay for audio content than they are to pay for news” — Digiday. Those darn millennials! But who doesn’t love some audio content…

Lessons Learned

“The place where we can create the most value is when we do a job where exploration and a new solution is what’s needed. Not rote, but exploration. Which means we’re doing something that’s not been done before, something that might not work. This isn’t something to avoid, it’s the work we need to seek out.” Seth Godin via @ThisIsSethsBlog

Original Content, Series, and Shows

“Fly, you fools!” — Gandalf the Grey

An astonishing blow in the great IP wars! Amazon is dropping ~250 MILLIONto acquire the TV rights to Lord of the Rings. An epic move by Amazon to acquire a world with millions of characters that are worth exploring. Apparently it will focus on stories from the pre-LOTR trilogy. But…

Don’t rule out Samwise Gamgee coming to the small screen! Sean Astin is in the middle of a comeback and I am always down to spend some extra time in The Shire.

This is a prime example (get it?) of the type of educated bets that Jeff Bezos and company are looking to make. As noted by Deadline, The Lord of the Ringsnovels were named Amazon customers’ favorite book of the millennium in 1999. They have the data that proves the demand. Plus a couple billion people watched the last 6 movies.

To paraphrase Gimli, “Amazon is no mindless orc… their armor thick and their shields broad”.

Ok enough LOTR quotes from me. Just don’t tell the Elf.


“360i Chairman Bryan Wiener has a pretty simple formula for success: old-fashioned hard work. Wiener, who has had a long career in the ad business and watched the digital ad industry quite literally grow up…” — The Willingness to Grind it Out

This article highlights the importance of what Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls “anti-models”. These are the type of “leaders” that can really accelerate your learning. In my time at West Point and the the Army, I can confirm that anti-models are often the best way to learn.

The media, advertising and sales world are still filled with many of them, who didn’t get the memo that Mad Men wasn’t real life… You can listen to the podcast episode here.

Marketing Q&A

Q: What are the best productivity hacks?

A: As a Chromebook toting, G-Suite using fella, I have some GREAT free productivity Chrome Extensions for you to check out from the folks at CloudHQ. Not a sponsor. Just awesome. Shouts to Naomi Assaraf!

  1. Save Emails to PDF: Save your emails and any attachments by converting them to PDF, CSV, or Microsoft Excel formats.
  2. Gmail Label and Email Sharing: Share Gmail labels, and have the ability to write private notes on top of any emails that you received, and share those notes with a co-worker before replying back to the email sender. This is a great tool for teams in: customer service, sales, or law teams.
  3. Gmail Email Templates: Find that perfect HTML email template to use before sending it out to a recipient. You can also import your Mailchimp templates.
  4. Multi-Email Forward for Gmail: This is a quick way to select all the emails you’d like forwarded, and send them off to 1 recipient with a click of a button.
  5. Send Your Email to SMS Text: Send your email to any mobile number.
  6. Free Screencast Recording for Gmail: Video screencast recording right from Gmail that captures your screen and your voice.
  7. Meeting Scheduler for Gmail: Easy, beautiful meeting calendar scheduler lets you send out a link so that other people can choose a meeting time with you based on your availability.


Read Originals by Adam Grant. Then check out “5 Life Lessons for Every ‘Entrepreneur’” by our CEO Chad Grills.


Looking for elite level talent for your company? The team at is rethinking the way veterans transition into the workforce. If you want all-star military veterans in your company, reach out to Mike Slagh or go to!

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