The Only Constant is Change

by Scott Hooten & Heather Mierzejewski, VOLTAGE


It’s a crazy, cross-screen world out there. When mobile use skyrocketed and banished banner ads to the cobweb section of the attic for many of our clients, VOLTAGE adapted by shifting our design, development, and content strategy to help our clients finds success in a cross-channel world.

We hit the scene in 2008 at the height of banner ad and retargeting popularity.  As a new agency founded in the digital age, banner advertising presented a reliable source of revenue that allowed us to use top creative talent for ad design with junior designers doing the cross-app resizing. This process was straightforward, repeatable, and profitable.  

It seemed like a simpler time than today’s digital landscape. In 2016 our clients face cross-channel advertising challenges, exploding mobile use, a social media evolution, identity-based PPC options, video streaming, and artificial intelligence. Banner ads are no longer effective on smaller screens, and the swift shift left many of our clients scrambling to catch up.  

Mobile Storms the Scene

While banner ads plummeted, mobile experienced a hockey-stick-curve increase. US online ad revenue reached nearly $60 billion in 2015 – $10 billion more than in 2014, and mobile had a 100% CAGR over the same time period.*

At VOLTAGE, we used this trend as an opportunity to adjust our in-house content offerings and capabilities. Our clients looked to us for solutions to build trust and engagement with new customers in a mobile era where traditional display no longer converted eyeballs to sales. They also relied on us to design and deliver a seamless and brand-centric mobile experience without the intrusive impact of a banner ad.

We responded by modifying our creative offerings to generate new and compelling content options.

Changing the Team

In 2015, we hired a Content Director, who works directly with our top clients to deliver a wide variety of branded content through a variety of channels. Admittedly, this is a difficult process. Major brands are often wary of promoting their products in a way that feels inauthentic to their users. Our clients typically reject the “Sponsored Content” approach offered by major news and streaming sites. Instead, we work with our clients individually to examine a range of content options that target their users while elevating their brand.

The Clients

The Ouai - A first-time site

The Ouai produces a line of celebrity-endorsed hair care products and started as an online platform for hair-related content. The founder, Jen Atkins, garnered a massive social media following first, then developed her own line of hair care products.  

The Ouai came to us for ecommerce development. Their site launched in February 2016, and we helped:

  • Capitalize on Atkin’s social media cachet to harness record-breaking sales.
  • Capture visitor information to use in future targeted ad campaigns.
  • Create seamless, cross-platform integration.

The Ouai continues to experience month-after-month growth by making sponsored content a key component of their marketing plan, while also providing a seamless mobile experience to their customers.

BlueStar - New direction for a 125-year-old company

BlueStar, founded as Prizer-Painter Stove works in 1880, designs and manufactures high-end, high performance ranges and kitchen appliances that meet the needs of professional chefs. BlueStar’s sponsored content must be in line with its clientele. Voltage helps create on-brand BlueStar content including:

  • Email design and copy that functions in a cross-screen world.
  • An easily customizable website for updated gourmet events, recipe sharing, celebrity cooking demos, etc.
  • Leveraged use of their assets in their chef’s social media link.

Reebok - Copy, design, and dev integration for the digital evolution

Reebok increasingly offers customer-specific content across multiple channels. We leveraged our lithe production time and came up with creative solutions that engage specific customers, such as:

  • Branded product copy for each business unit – Classics, CrossFit, training and Running, Combat – within their eComm division.
  • Wholesale copy that differentiates their sales offering from the competition.
  • A multi-channel experience that starts in a retail store, moves to an iPad and ends with an internal app that sends a link to a user's mobile phone for easy access.

This digital evolution demanded we adapt. While banner ads were profitable, their decline spurred us toward deeper creativity, as we increased the depth and breadth of our content offerings and cross-team collaboration. Today, our content focus is not on native programmatic advertising, but on understanding the driving motivators for our clients and their customers, which makes us a better digital partner for all the changes ahead.  

*Source: IAB 2015 Internet Advertising Revenue report conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).


Scott Hooten, VOLTAGE

Scott Hooten, VOLTAGE

Heather Mierzejewski, VOLTAGE

Heather Mierzejewski, VOLTAGE

About the Author:  Scott Hooten leads the design and user experience team as VOLTAGE's Creative Director. With over 20 years of design experience and a passion for the digital space, Scott is constantly challenging his clients and his team. Before joining VOLTAGE in 2014 Scott was Co-Founder and Creative Director of Imulus, a digital agency in Boulder where he worked with clients including SolidFire, Boba, Michael J. Fox Foundation, Rails to Trails, GE, and Stanford University.

About the Author:   Heather McWilliams Mierzejewski joined VOLTAGE in 2015 after escaping journalism’s tentacles. She crafts accurate, relevant copy and thrives in detail-oriented, deadline-driven situations. She’s passionate about innovation, creativity, and people. When Heather isn’t on a seek-and-destroy mission against bland or bloated copy, she hunts down breaks on the local cycling scene where she, admittedly, rides like a girl. Keep up if you can ;-)