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Defining the Words That Define Us

  |  May 13, 2013   |  Comments

We may get seduced by 30-second commercials, display ads, and native advertising, but let's not forget that our ability to select the right words at the right time also has a great impact.

I've had the good fortune to write thousands and thousands of words for ClickZ and other publications about digital advertising. I've been doing it so long that I've seen the entire space move from media fad to force. Now I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to write a monthly strategy column for ClickZ. In agreeing to do this I had a very specific objective in mind. My goal for this column is to discuss and debate the meanings behind some of the words used to define the space we inhabit in advertising.

So, here's how this will work. Every month I'll give you my take on defining a single word that has significant impact. If you have read some of my previous work, you already know I rely heavily on pop culture and sports references to make my point and this will be no different.

We occupy a fascinating space where "pictures are worth a thousand words" (or a billion dollars if you are Instagram) and "actions speak louder than words," yet words are our tool of the trade more often than not. Words inspire and motivate, they can harm and hurt, and they can take on different meanings depending on context. Take the word, "word," for example.

Merriam-Webster lists no less than eight different uses where the application in sequence changes the meaning of "word" from its root meaning to information or confrontational and other things in between. Brands have built iconic status on words. In some cases taking ordinary words and transforming them into something extraordinary.

"Just Do It."

"Breakfast of Champions."

"M'm! M'm! Good!"

I'd guess almost everyone recognizes those slogans from Nike, Wheaties, and Campbell's. Consider for a second the power of words. Campbell's defined its brand by building an association off an emotional and positive visceral reaction to interaction with its brand. In fact, the company uses sounds married to a single word, "good," to define itself.

So, while we all get seduced by 30-second commercials, rely heavily on display ads, and now embrace native advertising as well as social, let us not forget that our ability to select the right words at the right time will have as much impact as anything else we do. This is true not only in the work put into market but the interactions with employees and everyone else. In an increasingly limited bandwidth world where social media and mobile communication encourages fewer and fewer characters, our judicious use of words becomes all the more critical.

As Socrates once said, "The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms."

Or put into the modern day poet Christopher Wallace's words, "Biggie, Biggie, Biggie, can't you see. Sometimes your words just hypnotize me."

My hope is this becomes interactive. What words do you think we should discuss and define? Post your comments on the ClickZ site or send a tweet to @C2Next.

Image on home page via Shutterstock.

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Chris Copeland

Chris Copeland is chief executive officer of GroupM Next, the forward-looking, media innovation unit of GroupM. Chris is responsible for curating and communicating insight-focused media solutions across established and emerging platforms. Leveraging his multi-year experience with emerging media companies, Chris is tasked with stewarding GroupM Next in partnership with agency leadership from GroupM's four media marketing and marketing service agencies (Maxus, MEC, MediaCom, and Mindshare).

Guiding the Predictive Insights, Technology, Education, Research, and Communications teams at GroupM Next, Chris is responsible for overseeing the amplification of insights into opportunities that directly benefit the business of GroupM agencies and their clients. GroupM is the world's largest media investment management group and the media holding arm of WPP.

Chris was selected to lead GroupM Next after nine years of leading the search marketing practice within GroupM. Among his accomplishments include the development and integration of the global search marketing offering for GroupM agencies, GroupM Search, which manages $1.3 billion in search billings globally and has grown to more than 1,000 search marketing strategists serving 40 countries.

Chris is an active member on advisory boards at the 4A's, Google, Yahoo, MSN, and I-COM. He is a frequent speaker in global forums discussing the digital marketplace, and contributes editorial commentary regularly to Advertising Age, ClickZ, MediaPost, and MediaBizBloggers.com.

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