Women in Media

Marketing is a fast-paced world where things are constantly growing and evolving, including gender diversity in the field itself. Organizations like The Alliance for Women in Media (AWM) have helped support this advancement by connecting, recognizing and inspiring women across the media industry. The Dallas/Ft. Worth branch of AWM has been providing educational, networking and professional development support and growth opportunities for over three decades. Each year the group holds an Awards of Excellence Gala to recognize outstanding individuals in the field.

Award-Winning Talent at Mindstream Media Group

We’re proud to have several of this year’s nominees on our team.

  • Agency Digital Account Manager – Bradi Slovak
  • Traffic Management – Briana Whitten, Kelly Duncan, Melissa Wolf, Katey Smart, Kimberly Shafer, Bradi Slovak and Elizabeth Flower
  • Regional or National Spot Broadcast Planner – Kimberly Lockett
  • Regional or National Spot Broadcast Buyer – Briana Whitten
  • Media Director or Media Supervisor – Melissa Wolf
  • Local Agency Rising Star – Elizabeth Flower

Congratulations to all the nominees as well as the winner of the Regional or National Spot Broadcast Buyer award, Briana Whitten. Briana is responsible for supervising and managing all client buys for around 15 clients across the search, social, programmatic and broadcast buying teams. She is also a broadcast buyer for 10-15 markets across the U.S. and Canada and has been part of the Mindstream family for nearly 11 years. While she has had the pleasure of working for many amazing women throughout her career, Briana credits Melissa Wolf, Mindstream’s VP of Buying Operations as a strong role model that has helped hone her skills.

In the last year, Briana has been busy creating internal processes and training team members to use the project management software that keeps everything running smoothly at Mindstream Media Group. In her spare time, Briana enjoys planning, executing and participating in industry and community events. She’s also involved in several charities including Operation Kindness, The National MS Society and The American Heart Association as well as her church. In addition, she also participates in multiple agency-sponsored charity events including Impact Week, drives to collect necessities for local homeless shelters, the holiday Angel Tree program and initiatives to support local schools and underprivileged elementary students.

Briana finds the continuous evolution of the industry exciting, noting that when she first started back in 2007, the agency wasn’t involved in social media, digital audio, CTV or programmatic buying. Through the years, Mindstream has grown to adapt to the changes in the way people consume media to remain a leader in the industry. One piece of advice she offers someone wanting to pursue a career in media is, “If you can’t roll with the punches and aren’t willing to continually learn, this isn’t the career path for you. However, if you like change, you will thrive in our industry!”

More About Our Mindstreamer

Briana was born in Dallas and lived there for the first 12 years of her life. Then her family moved to a small town north of Pittsburgh, PA, where she lived until graduating from Penn State in 2007. When she couldn’t find work in Pittsburgh due to the recession, she packed up her car and headed back down to Dallas. She found a job as a Media Buying Assistant almost immediately and the rest is history!

When she’s not helping fast-forward business for Mindstream clients, Briana enjoys spending time with family, decorating the home they built this year, football (college and NFL), traveling and any Jeep-related activities. In 2018 she gained a stepdaughter, Addison (13) when she and her husband (Michael) were married. She’s also mom to two spoiled rotten rescue dogs, Brady (Shih Tzu mix) and Toula (American/English bulldog mix). Fun fact: Briana was a Jr. Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader when she was younger and performed at two Dallas Cowboys half time shows.


Keep an eye out for future employee spotlights featuring the vast array of talent that makes Mindstream Media Group a media center of excellence.


‘Tis the Season – 3 Holiday Shopping Trends for 2020

At this point it is cliché, however true, holiday shopping this year will look a little different. While Black Friday has traditionally marked the official kickoff to the holiday shopping season, even that has been upended. When Amazon bumped their infamous Prime Day sales event to October, other major retailers responded with their own deals, creating an extended holiday shopping season. In fact, research shows 49 percent of consumers plan to start their holiday shopping by Halloween or even earlier. As a result, October is now being included in holiday forecasting for the first time ever. The ongoing pandemic, upcoming presidential election and uncertain economic conditions makes projecting sales difficult. However, survey after survey says that most consumers are looking to spend the same as they have in years past even in the current climate.

Safety will continue to be top of mind prompting retailers to remain focused on safe shopping options like online ordering, curbside pickup and contactless payment in addition to implementing in-store safety precautions. These considerations will play a big role in holiday marketing strategy. Those plans will look different by region based on variations in behavior due to the pandemic, making it more important than ever to leverage research and real-time data to influence the consumer journey. As retailers strive to deliver convenient solutions that meet consumers’ needs anytime, anyplace, anyway and anywhere, we anticipate three shopping trends to emerge this holiday season.

Ecommerce Will Remain on Top

Over the last few holiday seasons, ecommerce has continued to see large increases. The ease of shopping on your couch, getting the gift quickly and not having to deal with crowds are only some of the reasons why ecomm over the past few years has seen a 10 percent increase year-over-year.  In Q4 2020, ecommerce will be king with over 60 percent of consumers saying they will spend more online this year than they have in the past.

When polling our own staff, many discussed that although they may not be shopping for any particular items, they do plan to make many of their purchases online.

Shopping Trips Will Be Limited

Due to the pandemic, many consumers have limited their in-store trips since March. Previously, many consumers would go to multiple stores for their every day and large purchases alike in order to make sure they got the best deal. Shoppers are now less likely to browse, making store visits much more intentional. A survey by Ubimo found that when consumers venture from the safety of their homes, 93 percent now have a specific plan in mind of what stores they will visit and what they need to buy, as opposed to only about 63 percent who did so pre-pandemic. All this planning means fewer in-store visits. As a result, Retail Dive anticipates a 25 percent drop in in-store holiday traffic this year as shoppers plan ahead and consolidate trips in an effort to limit potential exposure to the coronavirus.

Consumers Will Shop Local

The one silver lining (if we can find one) of the current environment is that “shopping local” has new life. Many consumers are looking to support local businesses this holiday season, more than ever before. We have all had a hard year, and many shoppers are rallying around their favorite local businesses that have been hit hard in 2020 due to stay-at-home orders and decreased traffic. The National Retail Federation reports that 49 percent of consumers have made a purchase specifically in order to support their local businesses. That support is expected to become a long-term behavior. A poll conducted by Nextdoor found that 72 percent of members plan to continue frequenting local businesses more often even after the crisis ends.

This sentiment is echoed by Mindstreamers as well, many of whom note an intention to be more mindful of purchases this year and plan to shop locally or via small online shops to support small business in their communities.

Like they say, the only constant in life is change. This year has definitely had more than its fair share of uncertainties that have turned marketing calendars and media plans upside down. Brands have faced brutal marketing challenges forcing them to break out of the mold and adapt strategies on the fly, making speed and agility paramount. Radical changes in media consumption and new pressures impacting consumer behavior have necessitated marketing mix shifts and made (multiple) contingency plans status quo. But one thing remains the same, we’re here to Fast-Forward Business for our clients and agency partners. If you’re looking for a bold strategic advisor fueled by data and driven by insight to advance your brand, let’s connect to discuss the possibilities.

2020 Local Ranking Factors Survey

Originally developed by David Mihm 12 years ago, the annual Local Search Ranking Factors survey has been used by brands as a guide to understand the most important factors influencing local search results in order to prioritize marketing efforts. This year’s survey, conducted by Whitespark’s Darren Shaw, polled about 50 local SEO experts to collect their opinions on which activities and factors impact local business rankings. The study hopes to help marketers understand what could be changed on their current listing and gives insight into what has helped others increase page rank and conversions. This year, the survey explored seven themes:

  • Google My Business
  • Citations/Listings
  • On-page Factors
  • Links
  • Reviews
  • Behavioral Signals
  • Personalization

Changes in Local Ranking Variables

Source:  Whitespark, 2020 Local Search Ranking Factor Survey

According to the study, there has been a noticeable shift in influences on the Local Pack and Local Finder variables.

Local Pack Results

Source: Whitespark

Local Finder Results

Source:  Whitespark

Google My Business and reviews are local ranking variables that have increased the most in recent years, while local links, citations and on-page signals are on the decline.

Source:  Whitespark, 2020 Local Search Ranking Factor Survey

When comparing the local organic results found lower on the search results page to the Local Map Pack and Local Finder, reviews and GMB seem to have less impact on local organic rankings. The top factors in local organic ranking are links and on-page factors.

Local Organic Results

Source:  Whitespark

Top Local Organic Factors

The impact of local SEO variables was also considered in the study. At the top of the local organic SEO ranking factors, was authority of inbound links. The top five local organic factors were:

  • Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Domain
  • Volume of Quality Content on Entire Website
  • Keywords in Anchor Text of Inbound Links to Domain
  • Topical (Product/Service) Keyword Relevance Across Entire Website
  • Geographic (City/Neighborhood) Keyword Relevance of Domain Content

Source:  Whitespark, 2020 Local Search Ranking Factor Survey

Top Map Pack and Local Finder Ranking Factors

While the primary GMB business category was the top factor, close behind was adding keywords into the GMB business title, even though Google has stated placing keywords in the business title is prohibited. Additionally, keywords in native Google reviews appear to be a greater ranking factor than review scores, quantity of reviews and completeness of GMB listings.

Source:  Whitespark, 2020 Local Search Ranking Factor Survey

When taking a detailed look at the GMB Local Pack variables, the top five factors are:

  • Primary GMB Category
  • Keywords in GMB Business Title
  • Proximity of Address to the Point of Search
  • Physical Address in City of Search
  • Additional GMB Categories

Google My Business Conversion Factors

One of the last questions within the survey was, “Which individual factors do you think have the biggest impact on conversions from GMB?”

Based on the survey’s findings, the top five GMB conversion factors were:

  • High Numerical Google Ratings
  • Positive Sentiment in Review Text
  • Quantity of Native Google Reviews
  • Proximity of Address to the Point of Search
  • GMB Messaging Feature is Enabled

Source:  Whitespark, 2020 Local Search Ranking Factor Survey

As seen in the survey results, higher ratings, positive reviews and the quantity of reviews are all top factors in GMB conversions. These findings may add some confusion to the mindset of marketers that are attempting to understand these factors. So, does this mean that conversion factors are more important than ranking factors?

Rankings Vs. Conversions

When Darren Shaw was asked for his key takeaways from this study, he stated, “A #1 ranking isn’t going to drive any leads to your business if your profile doesn’t have any information on it. A complete GMB listing ranking in the #5 spot with products, photos, descriptions, special offers and tons of positive reviews will always beat an empty GMB listing ranking first.”

The findings within this survey suggest that while rankings are important to visibility, Google My Business conversions are more important to potential sales conversions. Higher conversion rates can equate to generating sales and that is not necessarily true of ranking higher on search result pages. Therefore, marketers should continue to fill their GMB profiles with consistent and accurate information to increase customer engagement on search result pages.

There are so many factors influencing how well a business ranks in local search results, it can be difficult for brands to manage their local listings efficiently, especially for hundreds or thousands of locations. Mindstream Media Group offers a full suite of location services solutions including listings management, store locators, data management and location pages. Contact us to learn more about how we can help your brand connect with local consumers searching for the information they need to make buying decisions.

Amazon Prime Day 2020

In a year of unprecedented circumstances and amid a backdrop of a global pandemic, Amazon Prime Day (October 13-14) is gearing up to be the biggest shopping event of the year. With COVID-19 impacting how shoppers purchase in store it’s not surprising to see forecasts showing the e-commerce giant flourishing from its Prime Day event yet again. Sales in the U.S. are predicted to reach upwards of $6 billion with worldwide sales hitting $9 billion. While Prime Day has historically kicked off mid-summer and back to school shopping, this year will be focused on holiday deals.

Prime Day Planning

With the pandemic throwing our lives for a loop, online retailers are finding planning Prime Day to be more challenging in the face of fluctuating consumer demand. However, according to a survey conducted by Profitero in late March, 56 percent were optimistic that Prime Day would be successful given that consumers were already shopping online due to coronavirus concerns. COVID-19 is still very much a part of our lives, making Prime Day lightning deals and heavily discounted products especially attractive for deal-seeking shoppers. As of August, a poll by Piplsay found about 48 percent of U.S. consumers were budgeting to spend the same or more than last year on Prime Day and 31 percent were planning to spend less.

While consumers are adapting to a new way of shopping, Amazon is adjusting to the new needs created by the pandemic. Once mundane online purchases like household goods, cooking and office equipment have become some of the top demanded products. “Similar to the early days of the COVID-19 crisis, we expect the top performers on Prime Day to be electronics, toys and games, beauty, health and personal care, home, appliances, and other pre-winter categories, as consumers continue to shelter at home during the winter months,” said Dani Nadel, President and COO of marketplace pricing analytics firm Feedvisor.

Amazon Advertising

Although dwarfed by giants like Google and Facebook, Amazon’s newish venture in advertising is a fast-growing pillar of the company. While Prime Day focuses on Amazon’s suite of products, other top name brands are tapping into Sponsored Product Ads. These keyword search-driven product ads are used by millions of sellers leveraging the third-party marketplace to drive sales at a favorable return on ad spend (ROAS).

Amazon ranked the highest (36 percent) among respondents to a December 2019 Feedvisor survey that asked brands which platform drove the highest ROAS. Paid social and Google came in second and third with 29 percent and 27 percent of responses respectively. Among brands selling on Amazon, the disparity was more pronounced, with Amazon commanding a whopping 59 percent of responses. Amazon’s reputation for effectiveness and demonstrable ROAS has lead an increasing number of brands to advertise on the platform. In fact, the percentage of U.S. brands advertising on Amazon jumped from 57 percent in 2018 to 73 percent in 2019. It is no surprise that Amazon’s ads platform has weathered the COVID-19 storm well with an expected 41 percent growth in digital ad revenue YoY.

Prime Day and the Holidays

Prime Day has long been known as “Black Friday in July” but with COVID-19 pushing the event to October, it’s now every brand’s risk and reward to lay a foundation for a successful holiday season. Due to supply chain issues, brands run the risk of depleting inventory with little hope of building it back up before the Cyber 5 (Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Saturday, Cyber Sunday and Cyber Monday).

Brands are leveraging Prime Day to read the room for consumer habits in both online and in-store trends in an effort to forecast the latter half of Q4. It’s more important than ever to stay flexible and quickly adapt media strategy based on real-time data from consumer trends. If your brand needs help keeping pace with the ever-changing media landscape, connect with us to learn how Mindstream Media Group can Fast-Forward Your Business through perspective, capabilities, a CRUSH IT culture and the pricing insight $500 million in scale brings.

[Video]: Influencing the Customer Journey

In this episode of Fast-Forward the Conversation, Director of Digital Investment Chris Hunt explores how we move from theory to application in leveraging paid media to influence the customer journey for our clients.

Fast-Forward the Conversation

We believe the daily pressure on CMOs to move their business forward is real, intense and not going away. Join our media practitioners, as we discuss the HOW behind making meaningful progress, on well-defined targets.


Catch the Highlights

  • The customer journey is at the forefront of conversations with every single client we work with, especially given the unique time we’re in. In theory, the journey is laid out in a clear linear fashion, but in reality, it’s much more complicated.
  • Times have changed. Just a few short years ago we used data like Experian Mosaic® segments to help bucket audience attributes and transported them to various digital platforms and identified traditional parallels as well.
  • We now know the journey is more like a zig-zagging path of multiple touchpoints, moving through all sorts of media depending on where consumers are, what they’re doing and what device(s) they have in front of them.
  • The consumer journey is dynamic. It’s constantly changing. People change. Brands must dynamically be part of that journey. As players in the media game, we’re finding ways to intercept shoppers in the middle of their journey to influence their purchasing decisions.

 The Customer Journey for a Non-Profit Client

  • We partnered with a global non-profit operating in parts of the world struggling with poverty and injustice. They were striving to have a positive impact on children’s lives and in doing so were also influencing the entire community.
  • Non-profits pose a special challenge given that marketing budgets come almost exclusively from donations made by the very people they’re marketing to. This creates a chicken and egg scenario. We need to show the target audience the difference the organization is making in the world, but a budget is required to do so.
  • Creative assets play a significant role in influencing decisions, but the trick is reaching potential donors in the “moment to buy.” In donating, that cycle is much more involved.
  • Real-time data captured by Facebook and Google as consumers moved through the buying journey was used to identify parallels between the current marketing segment of Christian mothers and others. These inputs helped us expand the target audience and shape the points of the customer journey.
  • Insight from the client is invaluable. Through the course of conversation, the client mentioned a desire to target high-wealth individuals at the end of the year, as a tax break incentive. We created a path and inserted the creative at the proper point in the journey to encourage donations from this audience segment.

The Customer Journey for a Mortgage Lender Client

  • The mortgage business is one of the most competitive industries in the country and quite expensive in terms of the competition for lead volume. Our client was successfully reaching their audience through TV and radio, but they were capping out and looking for a way to scale further.
  • We crafted a digital strategy to reach a younger demographic, primarily online to drive incremental lift.
  • The effort paid off. Results coming from that audience were approximately 25 percent greater in terms of house-closing value. Credit scores of borrowers showed that qualitatively, it was a more profitable audience, albeit smaller scale, but incremental to leads delivered via their other tactics.

The Impact of COVID on the Customer Journey

  • Although unfortunate because of the huge, tragic ramifications of the pandemic, it has created an incredible opportunity to analyze data and act on it dynamically and in real-time.
  • The landscape has changed drastically. Consumer behavior is now more addressable than it has ever been. Brands can now engage with consumers that may not have even considered them before.

See the next episode, QSR in a Dynamic Marketplace.