By Katie Boland

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2019: Tasking YouTubers with an Interac $100 Challenge


Interac is a world-class debit payment system and one of Canada’s leading brands. On average, it is used 16 million times daily and is a market leader in payment technologies. With a concern that new technology platforms and often-enticing credit card reward-programs could encroach as the preferred method of payment for Millennials, the brand wanted to remind their key targets why Interac Flash is the safe, secure and convenient way to pay. 

Roughly 60 per cent of consumers were being influenced by social media, according to Collective Bias, the brand saw this as an opportunity to speak to their targets outside of traditional media. Based on eMarketer research, YouTube was the most used platform, with Canadian Millennials spending 8 hours a week on the platform, above watching live TV (4.1 hours), scrolling Facebook (7.3 hours) or binging Netflix (7.4). Millennials grew up with technology and were very aware of advertisements. They wanted control over their ads, with 69 per preferring “skippable” functions. To reach this audience and show savvy young shoppers that using Interac Debit is the best way to own their financial future, we knew we had to do it on the platforms they loved with the people they watched and trusted.


Developed in collaboration with KIN Community and APEX PR, we created a six-month content strategy, leveraging YouTube creators to increase consideration for Interac Flash as THE choice payment method among Millennials. We knew that Canadian Millennials were highly engaged with “challenge” content in the lifestyle space, so we created a challenge that would link all YouTuber content so viewers could continue engaging with the brand through multiple videos. To do this, each creator was challenged to complete a task with a $100 budget. Why $100 dollars? Because it aligns perfectly with Interac Flash, reminding people that for under $100 you can touch and go. Every week, this “travelling concept” leveraged the audiences of established creators across their different YouTube channels, and across their social. The creators rose to the challenge!  And they inspired their audiences to #owntheirworld…

Trends were studied each month and we worked with each creator to tailor their content to these trends to remain top of mind and relevant with our target audience. For example, November and December’s research showed that gift guides were in high demand. This was capitalized on and amplified a core value for Interac in the process, supporting local businesses. In a unique twist, the YouTubers and local media experts created local, curated gift guides across the country that showed their viewers their favourite stores and gift ideas. Fans loved it and begged for more local guides! Proving that the Interac content was providing real value and solving a consumer need. 

In addition to organic distribution, we implemented a paid media strategy to target Canadian Millennials with Interac messaging. We ran full-length videos, up to 18 minutes in length, as TrueView to ensure our audience was being exposed to the messaging in a format native to the audience. Knowing that Millennials often choose to skip ads served to them on YouTube, we optimized videos to reduce the odds that viewers would choose to skip through introductions and editing styles that we knew would catch the attention of Canadian Millennials.


To drive video views and audience retention, this campaign leveraged YouTube and their TrueView In Stream Ads to highly target the home buying audience and ensure the right audience was receiving the right message affordably and quickly. in the past, media channels like TV made it a challenge to reach a specific demographic quickly and cost-effectively. Overall, the Interac $100 Challenge delivered 20 million impressions, 7.3 million video views and 124K engagements across YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Our colleagues at APEX PR delivered 11.3 million traditional media impressions across 46 stories from highly trusted outlets such as Breakfast Television Montreal, The Global Morning Show and CTV Morning Live Ottawa.

Katie Boland is an Account Director at ruckus digital.

Read more of our favorite work from 2019. Need help with your social media approach? Drop us a line.

Three ad copywriting tips

We’re supporters of Miami Ad School Toronto training. In fact, our integrated designer, Vanessa Cuartas, is even profiled as a testimonial for their UX program!

Recently, we attended their copywriting session, “Write Better, Asshole.” with advice from Angus Tucker chief creative officer  from John St.

Here are our top three copywriting tips from that session:

  1. Advertising comes with great responsibility: As a very public medium seen by millions of people there is an inherent obligation from society to represent the average – so avoid the following unrealistic clichés:
    • Supermoms
    • Dopey dads
    • Kids smarter than their parents
    • Models
  2. Rebel against the category standards: Before starting to write, do your research on the competitors and market industry to uncover some of the clichés around the category.
    • Like in dishwasher ads, they’re typically arguing whether a dish needs to be washed before adding it to the dishwasher (like who does that?). Therefore, look to avoid anything in your advertising that is expected of the category to stand out stronger.
  3. Tell a truthful story: Don’t try to write an ad, but tell a truthful story your audience can relate to, so avoid the following clichés:
    • Neat, tidy endings
    • Overselling a product
    • Fake, unrealistic conversations

Overall, his key takeaway was to be truthful in your advertising and avoid the stereotypical. Want to check it out for yourself? Click here for a video from the event.

To add to these tips our Katie Boland hates the saying “Need XX? Don’t worry, we have you covered!”

What are your copy pet peeves?

Contributors to this piece include Katie Boland and Vy Do. Need help with your social strategy? Drop us a line. 

What podcasts are we listening to?

When I first listened to a podcast I loved how personal it felt. The experience was like listening to a private conversation with people I admired. As a PR student, I attended a live taping of Inside PR at PodCamp Toronto and it made me feel excited about this industry and that I could listen to leading professionals and their recommendations for students like me. However, that was almost ten years ago!

Since then, the industry has been maturing with 76 per cent of Canadians familiar with podcasts and 18 per cent of Canadians listening weekly, a growth of 20 per cent over 2017. This growth has shown great value for brands to have personal relationships with their customers or niche audiences. This content can be focused on specific conversations in a longer form than traditional channels like radio or television ads that can be limited to 15 seconds.

Looking for a new podcast for your way to work? Check out the APEX PR and ruckus Digital teams favourite podcasts:














To be even more meta, check out our latest ruckus makers podcast about podcasting with podcast panelists Amanda Muse, Hannah Sung and Jessica Moorhouse.


Katie Boland is an account manager at ruckus Digital. Need help with your social media approach? Drop us a line.

As communicators we need to embrace social advertising

Not very long ago, our chief recourse as communicators who needed to tell brand stories was to work with publications and submit articles – or pitch thought leadership pieces.

Today, thanks to social and digital advertising capabilities, the game has changed. We now have several tools at our disposal that can help us reach the right audiences and build brands or organizations as credible sources of information.

Of course, the core principles of content creation – whether it is for traditional or social media – remain the same. When creating content, we still need to be informative, credible, thought-provoking and entertaining.

Creating great content is just the critical first step. Making it visible to the right audiences is the next. Social media advertising is a great avenue that can help us do just that.

Basically, social media advertising involves driving any kind of paid content on a social media platform.  For any communicator who is considering social advertising, a good place to begin is by identifying your objectives, target audiences and social platforms.

Ask yourself the following questions when planning social advertising:

  • What are the business objectives?
  • What are the key demographics or behaviours of the target audience?
  • What resources for content are available to tap into?
  • What topics or content is most important to this audience?
  • What is the best platform to reach this audience?
  • How do I mark success?
  • What is my budget?

Let us zoom in on the first three.

Identifying a strategy focused on your business objectives from the start can help maximize your efforts and help you test and experiment. Objectives for your branded content might be reaching the right target audience, engaging with them, driving them to a website or asking them to sign up for an event or newsletter.

When identifying your audience, social advertising lets you go beyond basic target demographics (age, sex, etc.) and allows you to identify your audience based on their behaviours or interests. This unique advantage leverages big data that social media platforms constantly collect from users – which communicators should use to reach their relevant audiences. For example, a company selling organic food may be able to fine tune its Facebook campaign by targeting interest-based groups that are interested in healthy cooking.

Lastly, it is critical to identify the best social media platforms to reach your audiences. Keep in mind that each platform serves varied audiences and their diverse needs. Consider other factors like the daily user base – is it mainly professionals or millennials? Is the platform used for news or sharing photos with friends? Will your content fit within this platform?

Once you have identified your objectives, audiences and platforms, you are ready to create content and start to test the results and the impact on your business.

Katie Boland is a digital strategy account manager at ruckus Digital. This article was originally published in IABC’s November 2017 newsletter. Need help with your social advertising strategy? Drop us a line.  

Walmart Canada: One-stop shop for groceries, general merchandise and now beer and wine

Canadians are consuming hundreds of pieces of content daily, faster than ever before, which makes it important for brands to capture the attention of users quickly to impact and secure brand recall.

According to Fors-Marsh group tests, it takes only 0.25 of a second of exposure for people to recall mobile feed content at a statistically significant rate. In Facebook’s News Feed people spend, on average, 1.7 seconds with a piece of content. That’s a very short amount of time to capture audience attention.

Taking into account the current social media landscape and how important it is to communicate fast and effectively on social, ruckus digital helped Walmart Canada develop Facebook video carousels to drive awareness of Walmart locations now selling beer and wine.

Here is a summary of this campaign and how it helped Walmart to drive local awareness about it beer and wine offering on social media:


The government of Ontario now permits grocery stores to sell beer and wine, giving consumers more convenience and choice. Walmart was looking for a local strategy to communicate to shoppers that select stores now sell beer and wine. Adding to the challenge was that their competitors were also launching their own communications about beer and wine availability.


Ruckus digital created beer and wine animated cinemagraph carousels that were geo-targeted to local shoppers of select Walmart stores now selling beer and wine. The video cinemagraph carousels helped Walmart stop social media scroll through by creating innovative visuals to help increase local awareness of their expanded in-store offering.


The animated cinemagraph carousels resulted in an increase of 280 per cent engagement and helped Walmart reach an engaged local audience.


Ad targeting: Let’s go beyond demographics

Considerable thought goes into content creation, but often marketers forget about reaching the Social Advertisingright audience and social media advertising can help. If only we could just publish content and the perfect audience would just find it – but we don’t always get that lucky.

With social media advertising you don’t have to rely on audience assumptions. For example, not all 30-year-olds are starting a family and reading Today’s Parent. Or all not all teenagers need fashion advice and watch MTV.

Marketers can tap into the 71% of Canadians visiting Facebook weekly, and use the data they collect to deliver more relevant and interesting content to audiences.

Be smarter when targeting your audience with these options:

  • Custom audiences: Target users that have engaged with your Facebook page in the past, watched a video, used your app or visited your website. This is great for reaching loyal fans with which you want to maintain a relationship.
  • Lookalike audiences: Reach users who are similar to your audiences based on the individuals who liked your page, had some trackable actions after viewing your ad through conversion pixels [which can be added to your website to track who visits or purchases] or any other relevant Custom Audiences listed above. This is a great way to reach new consumers that have similar interests and behaviour to your current fan base.
  • Interests: Target users based on their interests, activities and the pages they engage with. This could be interest in movies, parenting, yoga, pets or biking. This helps you tap into consumer interest that aren’t easy to see based on demographics.
  • Relationship status: Looking to reach those who are planning their weddings? Serve up your ad to users in this target. Local venues, bridal fashion or DIYs for centre pieces – they’ll love to see it!
  • Network/smartphone: Have a product or app specifically compatible with iPhone or Android? Target users based on their smartphone or the network they use or don’t use.

What targeting criteria have you seen great success with for your content? Let us know on Twitter.

Katie Boland, @kathrynboland is a digital strategy account manager @ruckusdigital. Need help with your paid social media strategy and targeting? Drop us a line.

Clients are embracing more “open relationships” with their agencies

The notion might be scary, but open or shorter-term agency relationships are representing the new reality of current marketing environment. In-house marketers can really play the field until they find a partner they love, but they can also love other agencies in the meantime, said Matt Lewis, President of Momentum Canada.

So how can we cope and be prepared for this new reality?

On Tuesday, December 14th, the American Marketing Association – Toronto chapter hosted a panel on the agency landscape in 2017. The discussion was moderated by Andrew Grenville of Matchbox and the panel of industry executives included:

Each panelist presented how their agency or business is approaching these changes and the following insights stood out to us:

  • Execution is just as important as the big idea. It is exciting to present big innovative ideas to clients, but it’s important to ensure an excellent execution across the marketing funnel. Bring together your super team – even if it’s separate agency partners – to truly tackle a key problem for clients and make sure the big idea matches the execution needed to bring it to life.
  • The “bespoke” agency will win tomorrow. The borders between PR, advertising, digital marketing, media buying and shopper marketing agencies have been blurring for a while now. Recognizing that no two clients are identical, the agency (or inter-agency) team that can rise above these divisions and create unique, multi-channel solutions to market challenges are best poised to lead the race in 2017 and beyond.
  • Creative doesn’t just come from the creative department. Be open to listening to the innovative ideas from the people who work across the business. Creative and innovation needs to live across the whole customer experience. With the proliferation with social media and shifting consumer preferences, the customer experience today IS the brand.
  • Don’t be scared of data and automation. With the advancement of new technologies in media and research, agencies are being presented with opportunities to show true ROI to client and we should embrace them. Creative, technology, media and product need to work together to truly provide innovation and a solution for customers’ needs in order to win mind share.

For more insights from the night, check out the hashtag #AMAevents.

Katie Boland, @kathrynboland is a Digital Strategy Account Manager at ruckus digital @ruckusdigital where we embrace the idea of a bespoke agency and working with creative partners!


Buzzfeed: Curate content audiences are looking for

Last week, we were very excited to host our second ruckus makers event with our special guest Elamin Abdelmahmoud, the Social Media Editor from Buzzfeed Canada.

As Buzzfeed secures their spot as the king of content, many brands are left wondering how they do it. The quick answer, they develop sharable content tailored for each social media platform. Roughly, 75 per cent of Buzzfeed’s content is consumed outside its own website so they understand that’s it’s important to tailor and develop content for platforms. “Don’t even bother building a website,” says Elamin. By leaning into the benefits of Facebook video, Buzzfeed’s 8-month-old Tasty channel has grown to an average of 360 million users a month.

Recently, Buzzfeed even experimented with Facebook Live, attracting more than 800,000 live viewers to watch their editorial team make a watermelon explode with rubber bands (spoiler it takes longer than you’d think!)

And get this, Buzzfeed has been able to get this giant audience reach with no paid media.

Ready for a content makeover? Take a read of our major takeaways from the event:

Curate conversations: Before creating a piece of content Elamin and team are listening to what’s most important for their audiences and develop content tailored to them. If you know there is a huge audience looking forward to Beyonce’s Lemonade soundtrack you should have content ready for this release. For brands, this could implemented by creating content around consumer seasonal behaviours, policy changes or cultural events etc.

Brand voice: Understand how you want to be perceived as a brand and speak in all of your content in that voice. For Elamin, that’s writing in the voice as a sixteen-year-old girl. Once you’ve defined that voice, make sure you’re being authentic and don’t be afraid to be a little playful. Elamin loves @DennyDiner’s content – they’re all about that breakie voice.

Metrics: For Buzzfeed, they’re data-driven company and are very focused on how shareable their content is. They have even defined their own social measurement around this called ‘”Social Lift.” For brands, you should always been reviewing what you’ve done in the past and keep learning and tweaking from successful campaigns. For agencies, it’s important for us to educate our clients on the metrics and how they differ from traditional advertising metrics.

If you weren’t able to make it out, take a look at our video recap:

Or the evening’s activity on Twitter here:

Katie Boland is a Senior Consultant at ruckus Digital.


ruckus digital welcomes a new digital media specialist

Dimitri Bariamis joins the team

Who are you and tell us about your background?

Hey there! I’m Dimitri Bariamis, a digital junkie with a passion for storytelling. I studied Development Economics and Politics at the University of Guelph before completing Centennial College’s communications and public relations program. Since then I’ve been fortunate to work with clients that ranged from local artists to some of Canada’s most-renowned brands both as a freelancer and through my previous agency experience. Before joining ruckus I worked with Canada’s leading sports broadcaster, Bell Media’s TSN, on initiatives and projects ranging from major rights acquisitions to the network’s national expansion to five feeds.

What is the biggest surprise/change that you’ve seen in the industry this past year?

The explosion of participants in the interactive/virtual reality sector. Over the past few months especially, it has been interesting to see the number of players entering the field, and it’s been one of the more dominant topics in the discourse around digital. The opportunities that the influx of open-source stitching software and accessible arrays present have definitely piqued my creative curiosity.

What app or technology do you rely on most day-to-day?

I’m active on most social platforms, and although I’m definitely not always posting personal content I am constantly checking out what different brands are doing. But the single app I rely on most is Pocket – if there’s something I want to read I just add it to the app to curate my content for later viewing, which is especially handy for flights or other scenarios where there’s no wifi.

What are you favourite blogs and podcasts?

In a stricter definition, my go-to podcast is definitely Bill Simmons’ and my favourite blog is Humans of New York. But every day I click my ‘morning links’ bookmark and scan approximately 25 sites to complement my first coffee with a little ‘mental breakfast’. It’s a combination of tech, news, and sports that includes pages like Medium, Adweek, Techcrunch, Re/code, Awful Announcing, and Digiday.

What are you most excited for this year?

I think this year has continued the trend towards a greater emphasis on digital, with brands shifting more resources towards their online presence. It’s been great to see the conversation about digital and social shift from ‘what are we doing for digital’ to ‘how are we doing’ and, more recently, to ‘where are the opportunities to invest more, engage, innovate, and forge stronger connections’. Having just joined ruckus, I’m most excited to work with the amazing team here to provide tailored solutions to these challenges.