The value of interning at a digital marketing agency: my Web Profits experience


There are many negative connotations attached to interning. The clichéd internship involves mostly coffee runs and shredding or photocopying copious amounts of paper. Thankfully, I was not subjected to any of this during my internship at digital marketing agency Web Profits. I guess I lucked out.

As a Masters student in PR and Advertising, I was looking for some work experience to build my resume, experience agency life, and importantly learn about what isn’t taught in my course. This internship ticked all of the boxes.

I interned in the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) department, Web Profits’ largest. In the first two weeks I was provided with intimate training sessions, where I learnt about all the different methods used to help clients rank as high as possible on Google searches.

From there I was given hands-on experience, putting into practice the different techniques of an SEO, from keyword research to link building, on real clients. Whenever I encountered any problems, or felt uncertain about anything, I was able to ask any of the SEO Producers. Every time they would stop what they were doing and help me out.

Along with a kitchen full of food, Web Profits provided a computer, a desk, as well as SEO textbooks and guides. Not to mention a spot right next to the TV during the World Cup!

Aside from learning the ins and outs of SEO, the internship provided me with a valuable glimpse into life at a digital agency, where constant training and relearning is essential to keep up with the evolution and changes in the digital world and consumer behaviour. In this industry, best practices are rewritten with the regularity of Google and Facebook algorithm updates. Agencies like Web Profits that have kept pace have grown with alarming speed.

For marketing and PR students, there is enormous value from an employment perspective in seeking out an internship at a digital agency. The exponential rise of digital advertising in the last few years has made computer literacy an essential tool in any marketing graduate’s arsenal. Even traditional advertising and PR agencies expect new graduates to be ‘digital natives’, who understand this brave new world of marketing and PR, even if they struggle to.

Almost all industries are dedicating more and more of their marketing budgets to digital channels each year. It’s an inevitability that it will soon overtake spend on traditional channels. An internship at Web Profits offers an insight into the skills, methods and business model needed to thrive in the digital future of marketing.

This post originally appeared on the Web Profits blog.


Memes, Marketing and Methods of Communication

Memes have become an important feature of communication over the Internet. For public relations and advertising professionals they subsequently represent another opportunity. To succeed in memetic marketing/memevertising requires originality and mass appeal, however, making the practice exceptionally difficult.

The concept of a “meme” was coined by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, to explain the ways cultural information spreads. Internet memes are derived from this concept to describe catchphrases, media, images or activities that become popularised on the Internet. Memes typically spread from person to person via social networks, blogs, forums and e-mail. To create a clear picture of the different types of Internet memes and to highlight their common characteristics I have listed a few examples below.

  • Activity memes: one of the best examples of this type of meme is planking, which became very popular between 2008 and 2011. As the image depicts, its an activity that involves lying face down in an incongruous setting. Over time the places in which people were planking became increasingly ridiculous, as it became a contest of one-upmanship, as the image below demontrates. Other ‘activity’ memes include the “Harlem Shake” meme, “Neknominate” and flash mobbing.


  • Image macros: a lot of people misconceive this as the only type of meme, reflected by the top Google searches. Featuring the image of a person/celebrity/fictional character with a particular expression that reflects a certain mood/attitude, it is supplemented with text that begins with the character’s catchphrase. For memes featuring a celebrity or well-known fictional character, an aspect of their perceived personality is exaggerated, which in some instances has had the effect of redefining their image and even role in pop culture. A prime example of this is Xzibit, whose rap career has waned since The Chronic 2001 and whose celebrity status was only maintained by re-runs of Pimp My RideThe meme below features an image of him with his meme catchphrase “yo dawg”. The meme has re-established Xzibit as an Internet character, which he has no active role in maintaining or controlling. Other popular meme characters include Bad Luck Brian, Futurama Fry and First World Problems.


  • Phrase or saying memes: a certain phrase or saying that has become popularised and frequently used on the Internet, usually as a result of a viral video. An example is the video of the Charlie Sheen interview below, which popularised “Winning”, “Tiger’s Blood” and “Andonis DNA”. Another prominent phrase meme is the “Chuck Norris Facts” meme.


Meme series have become an important part of the way we communicate on the Internet, as they facilitate an uncomplicated form of language that allows us to share our humour, entertaining acts and opinions with large online communities. For example, instead of sharing a joke through regular written sentences, you can appropriate the joke into an already popular meme through a meme generator. By doing so, you can make the joke more accessible and relatable.

By their very nature memes reach a large number of people. The potential to do this has not been lost on marketers, as they have embraced memes as a form of guerrilla and viral marketing to generate buzz for their products or services.

Ideally, marketers would like to begin their own meme series, giving continuous exposure to their product or service as more people participate in and contribute to the meme. As you can imagine, making this happen is incredibly difficult. Thus most marketers settle for hijacking pre-existing meme series.

I’ve listed some examples of successful memetic marketing, which demonstrate how to do it right:

  •  Dreamworks: To promote their 2011 film Puss in Boots Dreamworks used the Old Spice Man meme (which spawned from the famous commercial) to generate publicity. The use of the meme was both timely and humorous.


  • Virgin Media: in 2011 the British media company launch a billboard campaign featuring the popular “Success Kid” meme to promote their Pay TV service.


  • World of Warcraft: In 2011, the popular computer game capitalised on the ‘Chuck Norris Facts’ meme to create a humorous commercial which imagines Chuck Norris as a character in the game.



The rise of memetic marketing demonstrates yet another way in which public relations and advertising have adapted to modes of communication on the Internet. The relatively low cost of memetic marketing makes it an attractive form of promotion, but as with all viral marketing, the execution is exceptionally difficult. The marketers who succeed use meme series that are peaking in popularity and contribute something worthwhile – not just advertise their product or service.


Using #HASHTAGS For Social Media Campaigns

The Internet has birthed a number of new modes and means of communication. On social media, one of the most important means is hashtagging. Such is its prominence in the vocabulary of social media, it has now also become an important part of how public relations and advertising professionals connect with consumers. If used correctly, hashtags can capture a large audience, giving companies a significant platform to communicate their key messages. Used poorly, and a hashtag can lead to negative publicity and sentiment. I will attempt to uncover how PR and advertising professionals can leverage hashtags effectively.

Surprisingly, it was not until 2009 that Twitter introduced hyperlinked hashtags, allowing users to search for topics or issues that are being tweeted about. Soon after other major social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram also began to introduce hashtags. They have since become a powerful vehicle for mobilising support for causes and movements, as they allow users to connect with other users beyond their own ‘friends’ or ‘followers’. By simply adding a hashtag to a word or phrase, you can start a new topic/movement which anyone can contribute to. The potential to reach a large group of people interested in the same issue/topic/hobby was not lost on the corporate world, as hashtags have become an important part of their marketing communications strategies.


Indeed, many companies active on social media have attempted to capitalise on potential of hashtags. According to an analysis conducted by Simply Measured, 97% of the world’s top 100 brands posted at least one tweet that included a hashtag. They use them to promote products, generate brand awareness or weigh in on an issue. To illustrate how influential hashtagging has become to companies and an idea of how to successfully use hashtags, I will outline 3 hashtag fails and successes from the last few years.


  • McDonalds: in January 2014 the company’s social media team started the hashtag #McDStories on Twitter, intended to give fans a platform to share their good experiences with the fast food chain. Instead, the hashtag was overwhelmingly used to share bad experiences such as these below.


  • Qantas: in 2011 the airline started the hashtag #QantasLuxury, whereby travellers could win a free pair of first class pyjamas if they wrote a tweet about what Qantas luxury meant to them. This attempt to generate goodwill for Qantas backfired horribly. The airline had just left over 60,000 people stranded at various airports across the world, leading people to use Twitter and the hashtag to voice their disappointment. This hashtag exacerbated the negative sentiment towards Qantas, and was awarded PR disaster of the year.


  • Blackberry: the company used to be operated by parent company ‘Research in Motion’. To promote jobs within the organisation on Twitter the hashtag #RIMJobs was conceived. Needless to say, it was a PR disaster.


  • Charmin: In 2013 the U.S. toilet paper company launched the Twitter hashtag #tweetfromtheseat. The humorous hashtag tapped into research conducted by Time magazine that 40% of young people tweet from the toilet. The company also offered six Super Bowl tickets for the best stories. The hashtag proved to be a success, gaining many contributors with funny stories. It served to display Charmin’s sense of humour and personality.


  • Domino’s Pizza U.K.: In 2012 the pizza company started hashtag #letsdolunch on Twitter. It gave users a reason to tweet: cheaper pizza. From 9am to 11am on March 5, the price of the Pepperoni Passion Pizza was reduced by one pence every time someone used the hashtag. The hashtag received over 85,000 tweets, reducing the price of the pizza from £15.99 to £7.74 for 11am to 3pm that day.
  • Ben & Jerry’s: in 2011 the ice cream company launched the hashtag campaign #FairTweets. Coinciding with World Fair Trade Day, the company set up a microsite where users could type their tweets. Any tweets shy of the maximum 140 characters would be filled by Ben & Jerry’s with a plug for Fair Trade Day.


The Power of Hashtags

These fails and successes illustrate the power and influence of hashtags on social media. By exposing your opinions to users beyond your followers, you are also exposed to wider criticism. Thus campaigns must be carefully thought through. These are the major lessons social media PR and advertising can take from these examples:

  • Give users an incentive to use the hashtag. Whether this is by offering discounted/free goods or contributing to a good cause, users have no reason to care about your campaign otherwise.
  • Make it fun. Domino’s made it a competition and Charmin made it humorous. On the other hand, McDonalds wanted users to contribute their good experiences with the fast-food company. As the epitome of fast-food – unhealthy, cheap, poor quality – this was an awful idea and simply not interesting at all.
  • Be careful about the wording of the hashtag. A hashtag like #RimJobs is just asking for trouble.
  • The timing must be right. Like any marketing/PR campaign it makes no sense to launch a campaign in the midst of bad press, as Qantas should have known. Also, timing the campaign to coincide with a major event can be an easy way of attracting users, as Ben & Jerry’s did.

How companies have used hashtags demonstrates the power hashtags now have on social media as a means of communication. The campaigns that failed led to negative publicity, which had an effect on the perception of the brands beyond Twitter. Successful campaigns can be equally powerful, resulting in positive publicity and brand awareness.


The Future of Print Journalism Pt 2: Business Models

Online news: the way of the future

In my last post I briefly mentioned the driving force behind the decline in print journalism – declining advertising dollars. In this post I will explore the different models newspapers can adopt in order to survive in the Internet age. I will examine the merits and disadvantages of each, and determine their feasibility.

As my last post established, newspapers need to adapt and offer content online. A failure to do so will most likely lead to the inevitable: death. These are some of the options that I’ve found:

  1. Free or discounted hardware with contracts for content

Involves paying for content by signing up to a contract. You are then given a free or heavily discounted iPad or other portable tablet device, which will act as a ‘modern newspaper’.

Some consider the iPad the modern newspaper

The problem with this model is that it limits the number of potential readers. A Nielson survey conducted in 52 countries found that in 2011 80% of consumers would cease to use a website that charges. As a consequence, this model is highly unlikely to attract new readers. Further, 71% of respondents say online content must be considerably better than what is offered for free before they pay for it. Hence, there is a heavy reliance on producing high quality content, and a lack of quality from competitors or substitutes that offer free content.

  1. Micropayments

This model involves paying to read each article. Typically, there will be a number of free articles, allowing for new readers to become engaged with a newspaper’s (or, more aptly, news site’s) content. Theoretically, once a consumer becomes an engaged reader they will then be willing to pay for the “exclusive” articles. This model represents the halfway point between paying for content and a free-for-all system. The only lingering question is whether it can generate enough revenue to be sustainable.

  1. Tiered (or metered) system

The tiered model gives readers free access to a number of articles. For example, free access to the first 20 articles a month and then starts charging beyond that point. The central problem with this model is that it punishes engaged readers. Instead of rewarding good behaviour – reading a lot of articles – it charges for the privilege. On a basic psychological level this encourages engaged readers to look elsewhere for their news. The New York Times implemented this system in 2005 with ‘Time Select’, which was abandoned in 2007, due to its ineffectiveness. Fairfax newspapers The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age and others currently use this system. It remains to be seen whether it will be financially successful long-term, however. Given the number of journalists that have been recently laid off, it appears unlikely.

  1. Day pass

Users are charged only on the days when they access the content. In other words, they subscribe for 6 months, but a day is only counted if you actually access the content. This model has all the same problems as the first.

  1. Customized content

The customized content model allows each user to select the content they will subscribe to by topic. For example, they may wish to only read the sport section, so they are able to subscribe to only this content. They will be charged based on the number of sections they wish to access.

  1. Free online access for print subscribers

This model is simple: if you have a newspaper subscription, you can access the online content for free. The motive behind this model is to attempt to save print newspapers. For readers there is greater inventive to pay for a subscription than to go online for the publication. This model is at odds with the increasingly common consumer habit of going online for news.

  1. Free for all

The free-for-all model sounds nice for users. Unfortunately, the revenue generated by online advertising is not enough to make it a very attractive option. It isn’t the worst model though. Adopted by the United Kingdom’s pre-eminent intellectual newspaper, The Guardian, they posted very worrying losses last year. Nevertheless, this model has a view to long-term sustainability. While online advertising does not generate anywhere near as much as print advertising at the moment, the amount of money being spent on it has been increasing dramatically year on year over the last 5 years.

As part of The Guardian’s strategy, they also aim to expand their readership into new markets. Indeed, with a larger readership base comes greater online advertising money. Thus far they have expanded into Australia, the U.S. and are beginning their expansion into Asia. It is an ambitious and bold strategy, but with the drastic decline in print journalism dollars it may prove to be the only way to survive.

In the video below New Yorker journalist, Ken Auletta, and New York Times editor David Carr, debate the effectiveness of the subscription model and the free for all. As they point out, The Guardian aims to first build their readership, then they will probably begin charging on a subscription model. Ideally, by this stage they will have the largest readership of any newspaper in the world. They will then be able to capture more value than ever.


It is unclear which model will prove to be most sustainable. Each have significant drawbacks that threaten long-term financial sustainability. My guess: it will require a combination of a few, and constant adaptation to meet consumer needs and the competitive environment. It is likely that many newspapers will not be able to survive through these changes, as they confront the toughest period print journalism has ever faced.

Mobile Advertising

How Mobile Technology is Changing Advertising

The Internet has profoundly affected the advertising industry. Whether through social media, banner ads or search, it has presented new opportunities for marketers to reach their target audience. The widespread adoption of mobile technology has created yet another opportunity.

Mobile is the newest development in communications technology which has led to the further erosion of time and space between individuals by facilitating communication at almost any time and anywhere. Now days people have become accustomed to accessing information and communicating with others whenever they want. As Rich Ling asserts in The Mobile Connection, mobiles/tablets have already achieved the status of an essential social mediation technology, like the clock or car. Indeed, mobile technology has fundamentally changed the way in which we communicate and has altered our expectations of receiving information. We now expect information to be short, digestible and instant.


A hyper-connected world presents a new challenge for marketers, as the media landscape and consumer behaviour have changed profoundly. It also presents a number of opportunities. Before the Internet, the gap between influencing consumers to the point of purchase was far greater. With online shopping and Paypal, the time between influencing a consumer and a sale has diminished significantly. Indeed, in as little as several seconds an advertisement can potentially lead to a sale. The same effect applies to mobile advertising, only the consumer can be anywhere at any time. The use of QR codes on many billboard and poster advertisements also means consumers can view an advertisement while out and purchase instantly.

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 7.37.23 pm

Statistics from last year on mobile use and habits.

Data obtained from Google and major social media networks such as Facebook, also allow marketers to obtain details about consumers’ preferences. By advertising through these sites, marketers can accurately target their desired demographics worldwide. Hence, marketing on the Internet has allowed for more targeted advertising and on a global scale.

Mobile advertising is even more targeted. Most mobiles now-a-days have GPS capabilities, allowing businesses within close range to advertise to consumers. For example, lunch deals and coupons from restaurants can be sent that are right next to the consumer.


So what has Internet and mobile advertising meant for the industry in a broader sense? Many of the consequences for advertising stem from two main factors: consumers are now bombarded with more advertisements than ever and they can now be more easily targeted. These are my beliefs on how mobile has and will affect the way marketers advertise:

  • Tailor content to suit the audience 

Since Internet and mobile advertising can be highly targeted, consumers have come to expect advertising that speaks directly to them and their preferences. With advertising everywhere they look, they have become more desensitised than ever to marketing messages, especially if it is irrelevant. They want content that means something to them and connects with them on some level.

  • Produce high quality, sharable and interactive content 

Following on from the last point, the messaging and content aimed at the consumers must not only be relevant but also of a high standard. Of course this is an easy and somewhat vague statement to make, but is a very difficult to execute. Nevertheless, given the abundance of advertising on different mediums these days, content must be of high quality to cut through the clutter.

Producing high quality content will lead to a number of favourable outcomes. First, it will make the content more likely to be shared via social media, e-mail or SMS. This will give the content free exposure to relevant consumers and have a positive effect on brand awareness. Second, it will give the company positive brand association. By creating great content which people are inclined to share, consumers will naturally view the brand in a positive light. Further, if they are willing to share the content then they will be more willing to listen to what the company has to say, making the dissemination of key messages far easier.

The interactivity of the web has also forced advertising and public relations professionals to adapt. Previously, there was the one-way model of communication, where companies would trumpet their messages to the public without any reply. Now, if a company produces a TVC for example, they will receive instant feedback from consumers via Youtube or social media. This has led numerous companies to involve consumers in their campaigns. For example, last year American telecommunications company AT&T launched the #BeTheFan campaign, which involved weekly challenges where consumers were required to upload their effort to social media. By the end of the campaign they had engaged 200 million consumers worldwide across all platforms.

  • Choose the right channel/s

With limited resources, you have to be smart about choosing which channels you choose to employ. Again, this relates to targeting: how can you best reach your target demographic? Is it through banner ads? Search? Social media? These new channels have led marketers to question traditional channels such as television and radio, especially when tasked with reaching younger and tech savvy demographics.

A relatively new and popular form of advertising is native advertising. It involves placing advertising content that seems organic to the news source in which it is published. With increasingly desensitised and cynical consumers, it is unsurprising this type of advertising has become popular. Done effectively, it allows companies to advertise without appearing to blatantly promote their product or service. Done poorly, however, and it will appear as a pathetic attempt to dupe the public, which is never good for brand equity. Comedian John Oliver recently criticized this type of advertising for its duplicitous nature. It’s very funny:



Mobile advertising is now featuring in many companies’ overall integrated communication strategies. It represents the newest channel through which marketers can use, and may prove to be the most important. Nearly everyone has at least one mobile device now, whether it be a mobile or tablet, which can connect to the Internet at any time. Thus, marketers have the potential to connect to them too – a challenging but potentially very lucrative proposition.


The Future of Print Journalism

Print journalism has been profoundly affected by the Internet. Previously the ‘gatekeepers of information’, journalists were perceived as holding a position of responsibility in shaping how society receive and view issues. The free and instant access to news sources on the Internet has made news accessible through a multitude of online sources, leaving the position of print journalism in question. Now it faces a fork in the road: will it die, or adapt and change with the online environment?


Online journalism: the inevitable future?

The move from consumers to online news sources has led to a continual decrease in newspaper sales and TV viewers. Accordingly, advertisers are choosing to spend elsewhere. It is becoming increasingly clear that the current media business model will die. If this trend continues there won’t be enough to sustain the production of newspapers, or pay the costs for running TV news.


As the statistics in the infographic above illustrate, the death of print newspapers appears inevitable. What are the implications if print journalism does go the way of the dinosaur though?

The role of the journalist is an important one. They are responsible for reporting the news and issues in an objective and ethical manner, using credible sources and only dealing in facts. Of course, some media outlets have been guilty of sensationalist, unethical and biased reporting, particularly the tabloid media. By and large though, journalists have fulfilled this role.

The eroding role of journalists as the gatekeepers of news has raised one important question: how can we trust news reported by Internet sources? Most of these sources do not have the same checks in place to ensure the information is accurate. If journalists incorrectly reported a story, displayed bias or defamed someone they often faced legal consequences. The anonymous nature of online reporters makes this nearly impossible. Bias, slander and rumour can be reported with very little consequence.

Another implication is the fact that people who use Internet for news have become blind to many important issues. The media has previously had an important role in ranking the most important stories for the day. People were able to gain a picture of world/national events, without the need to investigate for themselves. People are now more likely to find the news that they find most interesting, leaving a vast knowledge gap in their awareness of current affairs. The video below featuring New York Times editor David Carr and Bloomberg Media chairman Andrew Lack, discusses these phenomena at length.

The rise of the Internet has not been all bad for journalism though. It has given journalists a new tool for communication and resource for research. New stories can be discovered through social media or through other new sites. The contact details of sources can be discovered online. Hence they are able to produce more content at a faster rate.

As David Carr and Andrew Lack discuss in the video, it has also led to the rise of online news sites such as Buzzfeed, as well as news aggregators and blogs such as the Huffington Post. This suggests journalism will survive, but it will occupy a slightly different role. Indeed, whether people choose to read news produced by journalists will depend entirely upon their preferences and the type and quality of the work produced.

The central concern with the new age of Internet journalism is how to make money. Unless a more profitable business model is discovered, it is likely the number of journalists will continue to diminish. Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post rely on online advertising to survive, which as yet does not generate the same level of income as advertising did for the traditional media. Prominent newspapers such as The New York Times have introduced a pay wall, while others such as The Guardian offer content for free and are attempting to move into foreign markets in the western world.

Journalism will continue to exist, but not in its current form. As the world becomes more digitalised, journalists will be required to continually adapt to new trends. Their jobs will predicate on the type of content they produce and their ability to command a following of readers.

Social Media

Does social media reflect who we are?

The use of social media has become so commonplace that anyone without a Facebook profile is viewed as a rebel or maverick. In the fast-paced world of the Internet it seems a lifetime ago that opting out meant simply not creating a MySpace or Bebo page. Back then it was even considered socially acceptable.

In those days you were expected to personalise your page and post with regularity. Now you’re not even required to have a profile picture. And back then you only chose one – Myspace or Bebo – largely due to fact they were essentially the same.

Now most of us are active on several social media platforms. Each have different functions, allowing us to receive and share information in different ways – from pictures of social events to world news, as well as keeping us updated on the lives of exes and other people we barely know any more.

As social media platforms have changed and evolved, so has the way people use them. Some simply consume information and rarely contribute content, either due to laziness or to maintain privacy. For others it represents much more. It is seemingly their means of personal validation through likes and comments, followers and subscribers. It is their forum through which they can vent about small grievances or brag about recent accomplishments (travel and graduation photos, for example).

The way we use social media projects a unique persona, even if it is completely removed from our persona IRL.

In 2007, Forrester Research conducted a study into the different social media users in the U.S., and listed them into six personality types:

  1. The Creators: they spend the most amount of time on social media and fill up everyone’s newsfeed, reporting on their every thought and movement.
  2. Critics: contribute most through comments, likes and shares, but rarely creates their own content.
  3. Collectors: use social media for news and interesting facts. Typically bookmark and use RSS feeds.
  4. Joiners: sign up for every social media site under the sun.
  5. Spectators: the watchers. They may use social media as much as the others but they refrain from voicing their opinions, preferring to watch from the sidelines than get on the field.
  6. Inactive: may have a social media page/profile but never use it.

sm1Data on what ages are most likely to fit personality types


Since this study was conducted wayyyy back in 2007, things have changed. Accordingly, there is a new list of social media personalities, which reflect the ‘modern age’. U.K. company First Direct conducted the largest study into social media habits and personalities. They came up with this infographic that lists all the new variants on social media personas they discovered:




Of course, we don’t all fit perfectly into each personality. We’re usually hybrids of at least couple, and have all, at some point, been guilty of ‘Peacocking’.

What do our social media profiles say about us? In most cases not much. It is rare that our social media profiles truly reflect what we are like as a person, other than indicating whether we have a strong grasp on grammar or photography. In truth, the social media world represents a fantasyland, only giving a glimpse into the person you are and the life you lead. Even judging ‘Ultras’, who post constantly, it is nearly impossible to form an accurate opinion of their actual personality based on their social media.

It’s unlikely that you would post mundane elements of your life, even if it were predominantly boring. By the same token, if you lead a rich and interesting life, it is equally unlikely that you would feel the need to prove it to your friends through social media.

Self-expression isn’t the point of social media for many of us though. It’s just a bit of fun and a distraction from work or our next Uni assignment.