Liz serious twoAs co-owner of Gamma BlastLiz Denning is producing consumer-centric videos that live in a place between advertising and programming. It allows her firm to produce web series like the Nashville Predators “Beneath the Ice” that brings 50,000-75,000 people to the Predator’s website to get to know their players better.  She is helping brands like HGTV and the Food Network understand how to appeal to consumers passions in a totally authentic and engaging way.  We asked Liz to tell us a little about her views on video.

1.  How are advertisers using video content to enhance their brand and  what results they are seeing?

Smart brands have pivoted to understand that the customer is now in the driver’s seat when it comes to whether to consume media. These companies are creating media that starts with the interests and passions of the consumer and then figures out how the company’s message can fit into the consumer’s world in an authentic way. Red Bull, GE and, of course, Lego are masters of authentic, branded content.

We produce regular content for HGTV and Food Network, who are keeping viewers interested when programming ends because it focuses on people’s interests, not a sales message. Another example is our web series with the Nashville Predators, “Beneath the Ice”. It includes sponsor integration and is bringing 50,000-75,000 people to the Preds’ site for every episode.

 2.  You often say that you are in the storytelling business.  How do you help brands find their story?

We use time-tested storytelling techniques to keep people interested because people are more distracted than ever. To help companies find their story, we ask them a lot of questions about their brand and their audience in our creative briefing process and, if needed, conduct informal focus groups. For brands who need a lot of help and additional research, we partner with smart folks like you, Jamie!

3.  Give us an idea of how video content is growing online and why it should be part of a brand’s marketing.

With YouTube ranking as the second largest search engine and video viewership making up one-third of online activity (according to Digital Sherpa), these are just two of the many indicators to show online video has exploded. Brands can’t ignore people’s interest in video when it comes to marketing.

4.  How does video impact social media today?

Every brand wants to be shared. The social media content that is most often shared makes people laugh, smile, feel joy or gives a sense of awe (according to Buzzsumo). Video’s combination of sight and sound taps into these emotions like nothing else.

5.  What are some of the important things brands need to keep in mind about video production?

  • It’s about the viewer.
  • Only the new and different ideas break through.
  • There are ways to create consistent video content for your brand that is high quality and reasonably priced.

6.  Where do you go for new ideas and learning?


NAMA (Nashville American Marketing Association)

Content Marketing Institute

Smart folks in and out of town

8.  What are your passions outside of work?

Besides my husband and two boys, one of my big causes is arts education for kids. Being a Board Member of the Nashville Children’s Theatre, I’m continually amazed at the production quality and education they’re able to provide, on a shoestring budget, for children at all socio-economic levels.

Liz Denning is Co-Owner and Marketing Director for Gamma Blast, a firm that specializes in creating entertaining and compelling branded entertainment, programming, commercials and web and social content. Located in Nashville, Tennessee, Gamma Blast serves national clients from mid-size to Fortune 100 companies such as Nissan, The Grand Ole Opry, the Nashville Predators NHL hockey team and HGTV.  

The past week we have been completing online video campaigns for clients and somewhere along the week, we hit pause to better understand how video is changing marketing.  YouTube reports that the number of hours that people are watching on YouTube is up 50% year over year.

In 2013 video consumed 66% of internet traffic and by 2017, video is estimated by Cisco to account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic.   Looking at the marketing side of the equation, 64% of marketers told Nielsen they expected video to dominate their strategies in the near future.

The real strength of video is the ability to capture the emotional resonance of a brand.  Axonn Research found seven in 10 people view brands in a more positive light after watching interesting video content from them.  Examples like Chipotle’s Farm Campaign, Kmart “Ship My Pants” and Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches all appeal to our emotional side, whether it is our social consciousness, our funny bone or our self-esteem.

Probably the most interesting example of the power of emotion is the most viewed video advertising campaign from 2014 that racked up 156 million views.  The black and white First Kiss video by LA fashion house Wren showed twenty complete strangers kissing.  The fact that it was wasn’t obviously a video advertising campaign may have contributed to its 77.8 million views, 1,392,296 Facebook shares, and 68,740 Twitter shares in just 31 days.   The brand reports the video amassed 14,000% more web traffic for the brand and increased sales 13,000%.    Of course, it didn’t hurt that the people were pretty cool and attractive.

Another type of brand video from Johnnie Walker video clearly sets the tone for the brand relevance of enjoying the finer things in life.

We all love video.  We remember it because of those emotional triggers and because we choose to click to play for subjects that have meaning for us.  In a sea of advertising, we still get some control.  In an Online Publishers Association report, 80% of Internet users remember watching a video ad in the past 30 days, with 46% of viewers taking some action after viewing the ad.

So is video just for consumer brands like fashion, entertainment, beauty products and restaurants?  No, in the B2B world,  Forbes says 75% of executives will watch work-related videos at least once a week.   And, 65% visit the marketer’s website after viewing the video. Additionally, the 2014 B2B Demand Generation Benchmark Survey by Software Advice (a company that gives free advice on marketing software), revealed that not only are videos the most-used type of content, they also produce the highest volume of leads.

All videos should employ the best in storytelling.  Research has shown that your audience is 69% more likely to remember a story over anything else you communicate because stories put their brain to work and connect on an emotional level. Beyond brand videos like Johnnie Walker, marketers need to look into the following types of videos:

About Videos.  Short 60-90 second videos that explain who, what and how.  These may tell what your company does or explain how to use your product.

Case Studies.  Short introductions to your real-life customers telling their impression of your company or product are genuine and relate to your target audience.

Demonstrations.  These little videos are life-savers.  They can show you how to do something quicker than you can read the instructions.

Slice of Life.  These videos help impart something of your culture, your customers, your management.  These slice of life at your company help viewers relate to your company and give a preview of it.

Video doesn’t have to be expensive or involve complex production.  We all walk around with video recorders in our pockets today.

While we weren’t watching, radio has come out of the box – the Pandora box.  Pandora has become the world’s most popular radio station, and the most popular local station competing with powerhouse local stations.   With its 82 million listeners, traditional terrestrial radio isn’t even close.  According to Pandora Chief Financial Officer Mike Herring, the Pandora online brand is now #1 in 14 of the top 15 radio markets.

In the Top Most Downloaded Apps

#2 total time spent on mobileFurther proof of Pandora’s popularity is its place as the 2nd most downloaded iPhone app.  And that’s what has changed the landscape – iPhones first and then smartphones in general.  In the U.S., 73% of smartphone users listen to online radio on their smartphone.  Pandora is also #2 in total time spent on mobile devices, behind Facebook.

Persons listening to online radio has soared from 5% in 2000 to 53% in 2015.  We are all listening on mobile, web, tablet, in-car and consumer electronics.

The Connected Audience We All Want

That type of connected audience is a dream for marketers.  Pandora provides an uncluttered environment where advertisers can actually stand out.  There are less than four commercial messages in the typical hour.  And the ability to not only fit into their lifestyle but their music preferences is a boon for advertisers.

The targeting capability for Pandora is limitless – by age, by gender, by market, by zip code, by music, by station, by platform.  Location targeted campaigns are on the rise because of the ability to target more efficiently.  The ability to cross analyze data can provide information as granular as what stations Republicans and Democrats listen to.  And as Eric Bieschke, Pandora’s Chief Scientist, told the New York Times, “It’s becoming quite apparent to us that the world of playing the perfect music to people and the world of playing perfect advertising to them are strikingly similar.”

A recent national study from Edison Research and Triton Digital called “The Infinite Dial 2015” says that 119 million people listen to online radio weekly for an average of 12 hours and 53 minutes, primarily using Pandora (45 percent of users).  When asked what medium was the most important to them, 54% of respondents rated the internet versus 9% for terrestrial radio.   Pandora is the most recognizable brand in music online with 75% awareness and ranking as the most used.

AM/FM radio still dominates in-car usage but online radio in-car usage has more than doubled in the past two years.   That’s because sites like Pandora are becoming embedded in our vehicles.  Pandora is now in ten of the top ten cars introduced this year.

The new frontier that will push online radio to even great usage is the ability to easily access online music from your car audio system.   While 73 percent of users listen to online radio on their smartphone, only 35 percent of users listen to online radio in their car.  But the shift has begun.

Radio has been such an essential part of music discovery.  And it still will fill that role, just online.

Pandora is expanding their local rep market to better serve local and national advertisers.  Our new rep in Nashville is Cathy Sewell (  Her favorite Pandora stations are FooFighters, Bruno Mars and Maroon 5.  What are yours?

58900855-20150225_nmWOI_0167We got all dressed up on February 25 to attend the Nashville Business Journal 2015 Women of Influence awards at the Omni Nashville Hotel.  What an amazing event with amazing women from a cross-section of the greater Nashville community.

Each woman had been videotaped talking about strength.  The videos were powerful.  And the three words that represented their source of strength were little glimpses into their nature.  Some brought a smile like Christie Wilson who included a great hairstylist in her three!
dunhamjamie*304xx6016-4011-0-3According to the Nashville Business Journal, the Women of Influence Awards honor women who are making a positive impact in Middle Tennessee. Nominations are received from the public and an independent panel of judges consisting of previous Women of Influence award winners select the finalists in 10 categories.

Thanks to the Nashville Business Journal for honoring strong women!