Today is not only the last day of June, meaning the height of summer is getting progressively closer, but it’s also National Social Media Day.

This relatively new ‘holiday’ is now marking its 8th year since conception by Mashable in 2010. Mashable launched Social Media Day to celebrate the impact that social media has had on global communication and its ability to connect people, cultures, movements and so much more.

Here at AMPs, we work with social media on a daily basis. Posting and sharing content, generating interest, keeping up to date on current events, hashtags and trending topics.

We thought we would celebrate Social Media Day by paying homage to our generation’s use of social media for marketing campaigns and social movements alike.


Apple – #ShotOniPhone

One of Apple’s best marketing campaigns owes much of its success to social media. The Shot on iPhone campaign involved a compilation of photos and videos captured on the iPhone 6, and subsequent models, by photographers commissioned mainly through social media. These stunning images were used to highlight the product’s camera quality, using solely user-generated content (UGC).

#ShotOniPhone spread through social media channels, with average users producing free marketing for the latest iPhone while showing off their photography skills. This campaign is a great example of the participatory culture that social media marketing really embodies.


ALS Association – #IceBucketChallenge

If you were on Facebook in 2014, you undoubtedly saw celebrities, friends and strangers dumping buckets full of ice on their heads. All in the name of charity.

The ALS Association kick started this campaign to raise funds and awareness of the disease’s effects, and the campaign spread like wildfire.

Users from the entire spectrum of influence were making videos, donations or both. Over the course of the challenge, 17 million videos were made, and $115 million was raised. That means The ALS Association received $6.75 per video posted, with minimal marketing dollars invested. The simple concept of viral video, sharing, and tagging essentially resulted in a donation amount normally attributed to a much higher investment in marketing tactics or fundraisers.


These are just two examples of the weight that social media holds in our society. Social media is much more than an adolescent’s pastime. It has the ability to spread a shared idea by pulling resources from the ends of the earth.

Depending on your industry, the hotter months can cool down your business’ sales. Here are a few ways to combat the slow summer and get your name out there:


1. Higher temperatures, lower prices.

Everyone loves a summer sale. If your competitor is tossing around discounts and you aren’t, your customers will start to take notice. Start planning your summer sale now to keep your prices competitive.

Plus, marketing material is easy with all of the summer puns!

2. Hit the streets

Literally. Summer is the perfect time for inexpensive outdoor promotion tactics, such as sidewalk chalk and sandwich signs. Use these methods to advertise your enticing price drops, a new product, or just a fun note. A clever phrase written in front of your business might end up on passersby’s social media accounts. Free promotion!

3. Give some, get some

During the summer, people are going to use sunscreen, water bottles, beach towels, t-shirts… why shouldn’t they have your logo on them?

Adding a promotional product to the media mix increases the effectiveness of other media by up to 44 percent.

Include some free promotional goodies in each purchase, and your customers will be happy to use them.

4. Time for a cookout

Everybody loves a good cookout. Serve up some mouth-watering treats to get your name out there and kickstart word-of-mouth marketing. Post the event online and hang up posters to invite the public, or just cater to your current client base.

Grill some burgers, crank up the tunes and don’t forget to give out some of your free promotional swag! Encourage social media posts by setting up a photo area and suggested hashtag for the event.


Take advantage of the unique opportunities the summer presents for the promotion of your business. And as always, give AMPs a call for any of your marketing and communications needs!


Reference #1 and #2

The growth of digital advertising has skyrocketed. It’s everywhere, and it has clear benefits over traditional ad placement. Open any of your social media accounts.

You almost immediately see paid posts, ads retargeting you for that flight you’ve wanted to book, celebrity endorsements on your Instagram feed, and so much more.

We want to focus on the importance of a more specific type of digital advertising by diving into the growing market for ad-supported digital video.



In today’s advertising world, we can place a safe bet on two things: video content matters, and nothing is permanent. Video stories, featured videos, and posted videos are everywhere you turn now. Websites feature videos as soon as you land on the home page. Facebook now has video stories. YouTube has video ads that play before you can finally watch that cute dog video your friend sent you. The craziest part of all of this is how fast these features have appeared throughout our digital landscape.



There is a virtual explosion in digital video placement and viewership. The best part? It doesn’t appear to be stopping anytime soon. Evolving maybe, but not stopping.

According to a study conducted by eMarketer, digital video viewership is expected to increase over 8% this year. The rise in revenue associated with digital video advertising seems to be making waves too. According to the IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report, digital video advertising reached $9.1 billion in total revenue in 2016, a 53% increase from 2015. Specifically on mobile devices, revenue has increased 145% to $4.2 billion.

With this growth of digital video viewership, more affordable data plans, easier WiFi access, and faster download speeds, what does this mean for the near future of the world of advertising?

eMarketer’s study also found that spending on digital video advertising is expected to grow by 28.5%. We’d say this allocation of ad dollars is a logical decision, even based solely off of social media trends.

Since Facebook launched support for in-feed video in 2014, it has grown to serve more than 8 billion video views per day, as of 2016. Snapchat was serving up 7 billion video views per day at the same time, with under a tenth of the audience size of Facebook.

Even for those internet users who prefer to stay off of social media, video viewer traffic made up 64% of total Internet traffic in 2014 and is expected to rise to 79% by 2018.

Video content matters. And as we can see, nothing is permanent, but rather constantly progressing. When the market was trending towards an increase in cinematic scale advertising, it unexpectedly turned towards a small screen consumption experience. Influencer videos, pre-roll advertisements, interactive video ads- these are all now capturing target markets at a faster speed and making targeting easier and more specific. We could continue to list the benefits but we know you don’t have all day, so you’ll have to see for yourself.

Digital advertising, whether it be video or display, is the new place to be. Create a cool, dynamic, graphic ad, use a great photo with unique typography, or create a short video; the possibilities are endless. Digital advertising lets you take your creative skills to a whole new dimension. Embrace it and jump right in. And if you need help with this, AMPs is here to do just that. You can read more about our advertising services here. Learn More>>




13 Apr 2017

AMPs at SynergyFX

As a business in Columbia and a member of the Howard County Chamber of Commerce, AMPs takes every opportunity to get to know other local businesses. When our project manager Ariana won a two-week free trial at SynergyFX in a raffle, she brought Caitlin and Stephanie along to try out what the woman-focused gym had to offer.

What makes SynergyFX stand out in the crowd is one word: Sproing.

Sproing is a high intensity group workout with low impact. You are harnessed to the back of the machine, then instructed to do a series of intervals on the soft surface.


When we say high intensity, we mean HIGH intensity. After checking in with the staff (who was super helpful) and putting on our heart monitors (these track your progress during the workout), we were pumped up and ready to go. About ten minutes in we were all starting to feel the workout really working. One AMPs employee after another had to sit out due to exhaustion. (Pro tip: eat complex carbs 20 minutes before Sproing to keep up your blood sugar and avoid feeling lightheaded).

In the end, only one AMPs employee completed the workout. Can you guess who?

From left to right: Stephanie, Ariana and Caitlin post-Sproing


Santa Claus isn’t quite on his way to town, but it’s never too early to start planning for the end of the year.

End-of-year giving campaigns are notoriously fruitful for nonprofits. In fact, nonprofits will raise 25-30% or more of their total annual campaign goal from mid-November through December 31.



But you won’t get year-end donations if you don’t ask. Here are some tips for your giving campaign to help you grow your donations during the most generous time of the year:

Choose your platforms

To ensure that your campaign reaches your target audience, start planning early for depth and width.

Planning ahead broadens your communications options greatly. You will have time to assess the best route for your audience and integrate your ask across platforms.

Whether you make your major appeal on paper or online depends on your audience. Where have you had success before? Do some research on your target audience and which media platforms work for them. Then supplement that primary platform with others, such as social media, digital marketing and media relations.

If your campaign is solely on one platform, such as social media, your ask will only be distributed to social media users. You will have missed out on an entire segment that prefers to give by mail, or doesn’t have social media at all.

If you can, segment your audience based on their involvement with you. When addressing a very valuable donor, your email/letter should be geared toward the tremendous impact that person could have on your cause. But when trying to engage someone who, say, just signed up for an online newsletter but hasn’t given anything yet, your text may focus more on the importance of making a contribution, no matter how small. Switch these messages and you’ll end up with big donors giving small and small donors giving nothing.

Write to a friend

Your end-of-year appeal should be viewed as a letter to a friend, not an impersonal sales pitch.

Start by writing for their benefit, not yours. Engage your audience by knowing what may interest them, how they best feel involved, instead of just telling them what you need.

It is said that a person’s favorite sound is the sound of his own name. While you may not be able to address each potential donor by name, you can make your appeal more personal by using “you” and “your” more often than “we” “us” and “our.”

Beware also of sounding too formal. Because you’re at risk of being read like an impersonal organization, use contractions and informal language to create an emotional bond with your donors.

Make an offer

Because you want the relationship between you and your donor to be two-sided, you can’t expect to get without giving. (It is the holidays, mind you).

This gift could be as simple as photos and stories. If your organization provides clean water to villages in Cambodia, tell the story of a mother who is able to care for her family because of generous contributions. If you fund dental care for children in need, include a picture of a child wearing the braces his family couldn’t afford without your organization’s help. Those stories are a gift for anyone who has donated in the past and will inspire them to continue to give.

You can also offer your donors special content to engage them. This could be something you physically print and send them, like a booklet or calendar. There are also digital options for offering content, such as online quizzes and infographics.

If you’re a Catholic organization, school or parish, keep reading for a customizable digital gift you could give your donors and raise funds at the same time.

Digital Advent calendars

A digital Advent calendar is a great way to tie in your mission, the Advent season and end-of-year donations.

This calendar will be placed on your website, so it can be shared and enjoyed by current supporters and donors, as well as the general public. Just like a traditional Advent calendar, each day visitors “unlock” a new box containing customized content.

advent-calendars-01This tool supports your year-end donation ask because a website visitor who comes to view each day’s new content is presented with a donation button. You can even acquire a sponsor to pay for advertising space on the page, covering the cost of the calendar and making it a free communications tool.

The calendar is fun for your friends and fruitful for you. No technical know-how is required; the digital side is done for you.

If you are interested in learning more about ordering a Digital Advent calendar for your website, call us at 410-740-5009 or fill out this form.



01 Jul 2016


Every year Discovery Channel delivers arguably the most highly anticipated week of the year: Shark Week. People gather in front of their TVs to watch the year’s new footage and findings about the creatures that span oceans and rivers. Not many television events draw this much attention without the promise of some sort of competition, like the SuperBowl or the Miss America pageant. On top of that, Shark Week produces not just one night of programming, but a whole week’s worth. The success of this huge TV event leaves us asking the question: how do they keep audiences interested year after year?

As a marketer, I’ve got my eye on the marketing strategies that help keep Shark Week afloat in 2016.

It’s all about the digital

I wasn’t around for the inaugural Shark Week, but I can assume Discovery’s marketing strategy looked much different than it does today. The key to continued success is adapting promotions to the latest available digital features. Discovery has a website specially designed for Shark Week, and let me tell you it is packed with content. Let’s look at the most innovative and effective.

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 3.22.51 PM


  1. Media Player – The first feature I noticed was the media player smack in the middle of the screen. I assumed they’d have short teaser clips playing to encourage you to watch the live show, but instead each clip is a full episode that aired earlier in the week. Imagine that! Shark Week has such a following that they are secure in posting full-length content for free online without the fear of losing live viewers. They even were able to make money from selling advertising within the online videos. I think this is such a key to filling this event up with content: it’s re-purposing the TV programming and packaging it as web content.
  2. Sidebar feeds – The sidebar of the home page is not wasted space, it features three feeds; Shark Week fin-atics, featuring photos from fans; Fins-tagram, which scrolls through Shark Week’s Instagram posts; and Share Your Shark Puppy, which is just pictures of puppies dressed like sharks with the hashtag #SharkNAww. These feeds get the public involved across platforms.
  3. Virtual RealityHere is where the 2016 strategy kicks it up a notch. Through their website you can get 360 degree views of Shark Week footage, including a boat ride with the scientists, a cage dive into the deep and, yes, even a room full of Shark Puppies. This new feature through Discovery’s website is another way to engage viewers in different ways using the same material.
  4. Sharkopedia – I think this final key piece of the website is a PR stunt in disguise. Despite the huge popularity of Shark Week, there has been some criticism about the sensationalism of the shows. Sharkopedia presents some of this information from a more scientific point of view, which could increase the credibility of Shark Week’s findings. It’s also a great resource for those who want to learn more.

Social Media Frenzy

These days, where there is a website, social media is not far behind. Shark Week is using a cross-platform strategy that allows viewers to further interact with the content.

  1. Facebook – As with Virtual Reality, Shark Week is taking advantage of some of 2016’s newest technologies on Facebook. Most notably, they’re using the Facebook Live feature, where shark specialists are streamed live on Facebook to answer questions viewers ask. They’re also using Facebook Live to stream shark-related activities at the National Aquarium here in Baltimore. Think about it: Shark Week fans can be watching the programming while they are also watching live content on Facebook. That’s what I call engagement.
  2. Twitter – Shark Week uses Twitter similarly to any other brand. Most tweets are images or GIFs pulled from recent episodes. They also tweet short facts to accompany episodes airing at the time. But what sets their Twitter content apart from other media platforms is the amount of branded content from their sponsors. Many of the messages tweeted during the down time (when new episodes aren’t airing) are actually promotions for the same brands you see in the commercials on Discovery this week.
  3. Instagram – This year, Instagram became a social media monster. So it only makes sense that Shark Week would capitalize on its popularity. Their Instagram feed features posts from the marine scientists you can see on the show, as well as video clips from episodes.
  4. What’s missing: Snapchat – With all of the features on Snapchat, like filters and stories, Shark Week was mysteriously missing. During the evening episodes, a bubble would come up in the corner of your TV screen telling you to follow Shark Week’s Snapchat account for more information, but that is trusting the user to take the action. If they had created shark-related filters or posted articles, users could have stumbled upon these promotions and accessed them with little effort. Which, let’s face it, is the goal social media is striving for these days.

With Shark Week coming to an end, this whole online marketing strategy will be put to rest until next year. Because they had saturated online content to pair with the TV programming, the viewers were able to reinforce their discoveries from this season with self-guided exploration on the Shark Week website and social media accounts. Now the real question is… What will they roll out in 2017?



Being a full-service agency, there are a lot of terms we can use to describe what we do. Marketing, advertising, communications, branding, etc. “But aren’t marketing and advertising the same thing?”

Do a quick search and you’ll find a variety of answers to this question. Some assert that they are completely separate professional fields, others say advertising is a subset of marketing.

The best way I can make the distinction is that advertising and marketing are different steps necessary to reach a larger goal.

The “marketing mix” is made up of four parts (four P’s):

  • Product
  • Price
  • Place
  • Promotion

The marketer develops the combination of those four elements to best achieve the client’s goal.

The advertiser’s job is to come up with the best way to get the client in the public eye.If advertising were to fit within the marketing mix, it would be in the promotion segment. Need some help visualizing this relationship? Check out this cartoon we whipped up:


marketing cartoon-01





What do  you think? How would you describe the relationship between advertising and marketing?



Good designers owe a lot to psychologists, and we’re going to use famous logos to prove it to you.

Gestalt is a psychological term referring to an organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts. That sounds pretty abstract, but it basically means our brains sometimes organize visual elements together to create a group. Psychologists in the 1920s created theories about what factors affect this process.

The 5 factors are similarity, continuation, closure, proximity and figure/ground. These psychological phenomena aren’t just theoretical, but they’re used by some of the biggest brands to create unforgettable branding. Here’s each of the principles demonstrated by some of today’s most famous logos:



Similarity describes how we categorize object that look similar as being part of a whole.

Famous logo: Baskin Robbins

The Baskin Robbins logo demonstrates the principle of similarity twice. It’s our lucky day. Look at the lines in the center of the circle, above the company name. They’re actually just shapes, but we can see them in two different ways because of their similarities. First, we group the two shapes on the left together because they look like two different halves of the letter B. We group the two right shapes together and assume they’re supposed to create the letter R. Why do we do that when they’re just shapes? Because we recognize them as being parts of a letter we are familiar with.

But wait, there’s more. Because of similarities in color, we can also group the middle two shapes together, creating a group that can be seen as the number 31 (for Baskin Robbins’ delicious 31 flavors). This was no accident. Baskin Robbins used the pink color to trick you into also seeing the number 31, which just adds to the brand’s genius.



The principle of continuation theorizes that careful design can move our eye from one object to another.

Logo example: the Olympics


See how your eye moves from the blue ring to the yellow, red, green and black? That’s continuation. If the elements were not organized in a way that led your eye, you would not see it as one continuous group, but scattered circles.


See? Doesn’t make you think of the world’s greatest sporting event does it.



Closure means that our brains create an enclosed shape out of one that’s not completely enclosed. If it’s enclosed enough, our imagination will fill in the rest.

Logo example: Beats by Dre


Okay okay, we see that the b in the middle of the circle also represents headphones. But wait, that’s not a circle. The large red shape is mostly round, but doesn’t completely enclose. This would be a circle:


Not as pretty, right? By leaving part of the circle open our minds are able to imagine simultaneously that the circle is complete and that the b extends beyond the circle.



Proximity describes how we group together elements that are close to each other.

Logo example: IBM


IBM uses the principle of proximity to change otherwise meaningless lines into letters. This is what it’d look like if the lines weren’t close:


See? They’re just lines. Only when they are arranged closely enough for us to recognize the shapes do we perceive them as the letters IBM.



Figure/ground describes how your eyes and mind distinguish between what elements are the figure, and what is the background. Usually, when you see the words on this webpage, they are clearly perceived as the figure, and the white of the page is the ground.

This contrast is usually made by differences in color, shape or value.

Logo example: FedEx


The purple and orange letters of the FedEx logo are first perceived as the figure of the logo, and the surrounding white space the ground. But if you look between the second E and the x, you can see an arrow in the negative space. As soon as you identify the arrow as a figure, the orange color becomes the background. Our perceptions of figure/ground can change depending on what we can identify.


So there you have it. Marketers know how to work with our brains’ functionality without us even knowing it. Keep an eye out for more uses of Gestalt in your day-to-day life!