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JULY 13, 2017

Strategic Client Services: What Do We Do?

By: ymarketing

What does Strategic Client Services (SCS) do at ymarketing?

Perhaps it will be easier to start with what we do not do. We do not sell. We are not salesmen. Some agencies see SCS as “yes men” or “project managers.” Some agencies don’t even have a comparable department. At ymarketing, SCS are partners exploring, defining, guiding, enhancing, and implementing new and existing marketing strategies to achieve a joint goal.

Simply, “we clarify the why,” which is the key to helping clients arrive at the best “how.” Engaging and leading the broader team to craft the “how” is what we do best.

When people ask my daughter what I do, she says, “Daddy helps people.” She’s right. That’s what I love to do: help people achieve their goals, help them complete that project, develop that strategy, connect the right people, and solve a problem.

I have always believed that people who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I enjoy learning about the history of things, in particular: Vikings, though I admit that there are a few aspects of the Viking culture that give them a bad rap. I have always admired how they sailed to distant lands to explore, how they challenged the status quo; how they not only learned from the people they met but taught them as well. Though they eventually met their doom, they made a major impact on our history.

SCS at ymarketing helps people, not only clients but our internal teams as well. We get the pleasure of working with media teams, development teams, creative teams, analytics and insights teams, social teams, SEO teams, and our client partners. Like the Vikings, the SCS team strives to explore every new opportunity, don’t settle for the “same” and help everyone win/grow in the process.

We just might be the most dangerous people in the agency (in a good way).


Click to view the large image.

Did you enjoy meeting Farzin? Want to learn more about Strategic Client Services or many of the other, equally integral parts of a digital agency? Learn more at ymarketing.com, or reach out to us directly at either info@ymarketing.com or (714) 545-2550.


MAY 18, 2017

Interview: Brian Yun

By: ymarketing

Hey there! A while back our Sr. Copywriter sat down with our COO for a chat. The two of them spoke about ymarketing’s past, dog versus cats, and some relaxation techniques. Enjoy this as text, or listen to it in the embedded video below.

Hey, everybody. This is James Ninness, the Senior Copywriter at ymarketing, and we’re gonna do another interview. Today I’m sitting down with Brian Yun. Say hi, Brian.

Hey, how’s it going?

So, first question, who are you? Why am I talking to you?

I’m the Chief Operating Officer at ymarketing. I’ve been doing this for a little over twelve years now, and yeah, I guess that’s it.

What does that mean? You come into work, what does that day look like?

Well, it’s changed and evolved over the last twelve years.


When we first started my focus was a lot on finances, also doing a lot of the campaign work, client work, client interfacing, stuff like that. As we’ve evolved and we’ve grown and hired people I’ve tried to focus more working on the business as opposed to in the business. So during that time the evolution has been focused—still on the financial end—but also on operations, facilities, HR, pretty much anything that has to do with how we function as a company and trying to improve that each and every day.

When you tell people what ymarketing is— I mean, we have the “digital agency,” but really, what are we? What is this company to you, specifically?

Well, you know I probably have a different view than most people in my position. Actually, I look at ymarketing as simply just a family. I mean, to me work has always been work. I’m passionate about whatever I’m doing. I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t. I’m passionate about the people that believe in us, that have invested in us over the years. To me, it’s really all about just being a family, working together, and that’s kind of how I approach every single day.

Nice. All right, so settle this once and for all: dogs or cats? Which is the superior pet?

By far and away for me it’s dogs.

Yes! That’s the correct answer. Please continue.

I have a Silky Terrier. He is, actually his birthday was seven days ago. He just turned eleven.

Oh, wow. Nice.

Yeah, I think in dog years that’s probably, like, 72 or so. But he is— People still think he is a puppy because he has so much energy. Cats, you know, they’re just not the same.



You’ve been here for twelve years—twelve plus years–


How has ymarketing changed from the day you came onboard, and your understanding of what we were doing then, versus now. How have we evolved?

When I started it was three of us, you know, like I said, literally doing everything from campaign managing to client services to figuring out finances… You know, it evolves into hiring a couple people, opening an office, creating a payroll system, which at the that time, you know, at the beginning, was nonexistent.

Three of us working remotely. So it was all internet, telephone, and, yeah… And we did that actually from 2004 til 2007. And then we opened an office out in Costa Mesa. We had an office we subleased from a friend of ours at the time. We hired a couple people and that turned into another couple people… I got a phone call one day from someone saying that people were literally sitting on top of each other. And I was like, “That’s— No.” And so I—I was coming out here once every four or five months just to—

Where were you at that time?

I was in Chicago.

Got it.

So, working in Chicago. I came out here and I literally saw people almost sitting on top of each other, sharing like a table for a desk. So it was exciting and kind of scary at the same time. So we immediately started looking for new office space and found a really cool space that we took over just down the street in Costa Mesa. At that time it was, you know, everyone had their own office and we had more than enough room. And then over the course of the next year, two years, we started, you know, growing and people were sharing offices, more desks were getting put in, buying furniture left and right, and then we ended up—instead of moving—we built out a storage unit that was upstairs, built a stairwell, created a second-floor loft. That was, again, super spacious. Turned into—that— We exploded out of there. And then we came to our current space, which, again… This is about 8,500 square feet. We moved here and lots of—probably like 15-20 open desks and we’re, you know, kind of running into the same problem here. This has always been a great problem and I actually welcome the challenge—I love the challenge. I love just seeing the family grow and grow, and the personalities here and the evolution, the people and the culture—It’s pretty great and uh— Yeah, so it’s been— We’ve been here for, I think, maybe three years or so?


It’s been— You know— We’re trying to manage space again, which is always a good thing, so…

What does ymarketing look for in the different types of clients that we are pursuing, that we want to work with? Maybe not who we have now, but moving forward what are we looking for new business?

Well, I think that there’s a couple ways that I look at it.

One is the vertical. There’s a lot of people here that have a lot of experience across certain verticals, like automotive for example, that are things that I’m also interested in personally. So it’s one of those things where, when we see a potential client that has a business that we are excited about, we have experience with, we know we can make a huge difference— They’re also passionate about their growth and the evolution of their company, that adds even more excitement and intrigue to that potential relationship.

I think the other thing that I look for in the back of my mind is… A lot of our clients over the years—we’ve had a lot of our clients for a long time and I think the biggest thing about those clients is, uh, they’re great people. They’re people that I want to spend time with outside of work. If they’re not local they’re people that, when they do come by, or I travel to see them, it’s like I look forward to catching up with them about what’s been going on with their life and things like that—all the things outside of work.

Those are things that, again, it just kind of like, a client’s an extension of our family. It’s nice for them to be really like-minded, not just in terms of wanting our campaigns and our analytics and all that stuff to really shine, but it’s also about our relationship with them shining and we have just a great team of people across every department that has those connections with our clients today and hopefully with all the future clients that we have.

When you come into work every day, what do you look forward to the most?

Today that answer is just seeing people. I love when we come up with new ideas and new things that can help us work better together. Again, this could be related to a client’s work, or it could be just related to our team building and our culture here. I just enjoy being around people and getting stuff done and doing it in a way that’s positive and just helping each other out. Just being good people to each other. I think that’s what I, and I know it sounds a little cheesy, but that’s what I enjoy.

Ten years ago it would have been Ryan and I focused on growth, you know? How do we get to that next stage? And we get to that next stage and you high-five and you look for that next one and next… Obviously, that stuff still excites me, but there’s people here today that focus on that’s their goals. My goals are to make sure as we grow we maintain our identity and who we’ve always been and don’t lose sight of that.

All right, so this is a nice, little follow-up. Personal question for Brian: You’ve had a long day at work, you go home, how do you unwind? Is it wine? Is it bath salts? Is it— What does Brian do to relax at home?

For me, I have a great community of friends in Orange County today. I didn’t have that two years ago. I just started establishing myself here a couple years ago. My son started school, so that was a big thing for me. It was—Him being in school and starting sports started to force me to be, I guess, rubbing elbows with other people.

And how old is he?

He is, just turned seven a couple weeks ago.

So, two years (ago?) my unwinding is probably a glass of wine. And today it’s a glass of wine plus spending time with my son. He is the brightest, greatest thing in my life. I think everything in my life revolves around him. Wanting to give him a better life than I gave (had?) and actually, just, something that I remind myself every day. I feel like that relieves me of my stress or why I’m doing all this.

And then my friends. If there’s a really bad day, there’s, you know, just other things that are really stressful, I reach out to my friends. I spend a lot of time just having dinners or, you know, going out with them, or playing sports with the kids and stuff just to unwind and be able to vent a little bit and some things. I think I’m very fortunate to have what I have here in the community. I can’t even— I wish I could explain in words how blessed I am to be surrounded with the people that I am, but they’re just people that are so genuine and so caring and it’s, uh, that’s kind of how I unwind.

So, we’ve talked a lot about the past and how we got to where we are. My last question to you is: Where is ymarketing a year from now? And then five years from now? Ten years from now? Where are we headed?

I’m not the biggest futurist. I’d call myself a five-year planner – a one to five-year planner. I don’t go the ten-year route because I take more of the steps to get there. Ryan is, you know, my business partner, he is more of that ten-year planner, or maybe even a twenty-year planner. That’s why I do operations, because I look at the steps it takes to get from today to tomorrow. And a lot of times it involves a lot of stuff.

So, if I were to look at the next one to five years, I really want to see— I feel like we’re one of the leaders of digital media in Orange County, in southern California. I think we can do a lot more with our analytics with our digital media capabilities. I mean, the world continues to evolve in the digital space and it’s non-stop, you know? For us, really staying ahead of the curve, proving, obviously to our existing clients first, and then our new clients, what digital marketing is really capable of doing. It’s such a unique thing that advertising has never seen before and I think that— Well, I know that we have the capabilities today, and I want to see that just continue to evolve and grow and help other businesses in the future

All right, that’s it. Great! Thank you very much for carving out some time. I know you’re a busy guy and I appreciate you sitting down to chat with me.

I appreciate it, thanks.


APRIL 27, 2017

Media Morphin Time: The Digital Marketing Evolution

By: ymarketing

The summer of ’93 was a big one for me. Clinton (Bill) was President of the United States. Jurassic Park just became the top-grossing movie of all time. Super Nintendo maintained its grip as the leader in the gaming space. And Fox launched a kids programming block, headlined by a “new” series called The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, which, quickly became a 1990s pop culture phenomenon.

Something else happened in 1993, something that plays a big part in my current day-to-day: Global Network Navigator sold the first online ad to a Silicon Valley law firm.

The world’s a different place nearly 25 years later. Kind of… Hillary Clinton almost became President. Jurassic World peaked as the #3 top-grossing movie of all time. Nintendo made waves in the gaming space with its new hybrid console, Switch. And Saban’s Power Rangers movie debuted last month.

Those digital ads? They’re still around as well.

A Hero’s Journey
A 25-year span across any industry will always result in drastic transformation. This is especially true in advertising, thanks to the World Wide Web.

The digital space has blown up in a huge way. Traditional media has morphed as well. But why? Is it the natural progression of technology? Was it the recession that forced all advertising to be more trackable/accountable (which will naturally skew digital)?

I’m no screenwriter but I did stay at a Holiday Inn once, and the more I think about it the more I feel advertising took the script straight out of a Power Rangers episode.

It’s Morphin Time!


As a Gen-Xer, I remember when people made sure to be home at 8pm on a Thursday night to watch Friends. Today, DVRs and chord cutting drive the TV landscape. TV remains king, but the way it’s planned and purchased from a media standpoint has drastically changed. TV has evolved into Advance TV, where non-TV planners and buyers can now purchase TV one of three ways: Connected TV (think Smart TV, Apple TV, or Amazon Fire), Programmatic TV (don’t think programmatic digital, but a more traditional way of buying TV through a web-based platform), and Addressable TV (think data segments and targeting by household and eventually by bedroom!).

It’s not a TV screen anymore – it’s a computer with a very large monitor!


Consumer magazines hit their prime in the center of the first decade of the 21st century, just prior to the recession. Time, Inc., Hearst, Conde Nast, and Meredith were the big players. When the first iPad launched we started to get pitched on “digital magazines,” but that never really took off. Then, sadly, came recessions, followed by way too many print-publishing closures. Many saw the writing on the wall (or were forced to) and have adapted well by rebranding as a digital property. Complex, Sporting News, and Newsweek are good examples. With the expansion into apps, they all have another platform with which to engage their reader base.

As for those publishers who still print a magazine, it feels like there’s a resurgence geared towards categories for all thingsniche, with an emphasis on quality and imagery. Remember: you can’t always replace something tangible for something digital.

AM/FM or Satellite? For the latter, it used to be Sirius vs. XM. With streaming, it’s Pandora vs. Spotify vs. iHeartRadio. In the past we would discuss the differences between radio and TV, i.e., MSAs vs. DMAs, formats vs. genres, :60 spots vs. :30s. Now the conversation is how we can onboard 1st or 3rd party data to run display/audio campaigns programmatically.

Throughout my career, I’ve planned and purchased all flavors of out-of-home advertising: billboards, bus wraps, gas station tops, coffee sleeves… even sky writing! Despite the many options available to advertisers, the mainstay of outdoor media is the static billboard you see on the freeway. Have you noticed that many are more like a TV screen in that they alternate creative every few seconds? This isn’t limited to billboards. One can argue that the “digital” in digital billboards is not the same “digital” as online display, but it’s headed in that direction. Think of every movie you’ve seen that takes place in the future (Star Wars, Minority Report, Total Recall). Remember those interactive ads that seemed to reach out and move about the physical space? We’re not that far off…

With tracking technology, you can see how many people are viewing your advertisement at any given time. Thanks to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and beacons, these outdoor units can now interact with consumers, setting a new level of engagement.


As mainly a digital shop, ymarketing works with all forms of digital: video (pre-roll, skippable, out-stream, verticals), banner (standard IAB, rich, HTML5, sequential, dynamic), native/sponsored content (in-feed, widgets), programmatic, mobile/apps, as well as all-things paid search that come with our preferred partnerships with Google, Bing, and Yahoo. That’s all great, but it’s the data behind those campaigns (the how/who/when we target) that elevates digital as the future king of media.


Social. No explanation needed. We know how valuable this newest Ranger is to advertising.

All media channels have morphed: television, print, radio, and outdoor going more digital, with digital itself pushing the boundaries of possibility. Each has become more powerful in how they’re planned, purchased, tracked, and optimized. They’re a byproduct of both the recession (Rita) and advancement of technology (Zordon). With the help of data-driven technology (Alpha 5), they fight the traditionalist world (evil space aliens) in order to introduce the new age of planning & buying: Tradigital.

Signing Off,

The Forgotten Brown Ranger

If you want an agency of tradigitally-adept rangers who can do it all, from display to paid search to advance TV, get in touch with us here.


APRIL 6, 2017

Acquiring PPC Ad Grants for Nonprofits

By: ymarketing

Search engine marketing (SEM) is not usually what comes to mind when marketing non-profits organizations (NPOs). However, with the little known Google and Bing charitable programs, marketers can really make an impact for these organizations.

Both Google and Bing offer programs that allow nonprofit organizations to run paid search advertising with significant in-kind media budgets. If the qualifications (outlined below) are met, NPOs can advertise on the top tier search engines to drive quality traffic to their website, recruit volunteers, and/or collect donations. With grants up to $10,000 in paid media per search engine, there is a real opportunity to make an impact for a good cause.

ymarketing has taken advantage of this opportunity for the NPO, University of the People. This online university provides affordable, accredited higher education to people all over the world. After acquiring grant money from both Bing and Google, ymarketing helped to deliver thousands of quality applicants to the University of the People website.

Here’s how to see if your organization (or client) qualifies for in-kind money from Google and/or Bing:

  1. Ensure that you (or your client) holds valid charity status. Please see the Google for Nonprofits site for definitions of charity status in your country as well as Microsoft’s terms of eligibility.
  2. Apply to Google for Nonprofits. And apply to Bing’s philanthropy partner Techsoup.
  3. Acknowledge and agree to both engines required certifications regarding nondiscrimination and donation receipt and use.
  4. Have a live website with substantial content.

Once the grant money has been accepted, your NPO will be able to manage the campaigns the same as any other SEM campaign with a few exceptions. Below are some of the restrictions that Google enforces for its nonprofit partners:

  • Ads will be entirely text-based (no videos or images).
  • Ads will appear only on Google search results pages in positions below the ads of paying advertisers.
  • All campaigns must be keyword-targeted.
  • The maximum cost-per-click (CPC) is $2.00 USD.
  • Nonprofit partners receive $10,000 USD (up to $40,000 USD for Grantspro participants) of in-kind AdWords advertising each month.

Some of these constraints can make it tough to spend the full allotment of grant money. Partnering with University of the People, ymarketing expanded their digital footprint by targeting additional countries around the world. Not only does this help drive new applicants, but also increases global brand recognition and awareness.

For more information on search engine marketing, or to see how ymarketing can help your business, get in touch with us.


MARCH 9, 2017

yValues: Caring

By: ymarketing


  1. To feel concern about
  2. To wish; desire; like

Hey there. I’m James Ninness, the Senior Copywriter at ymarketing. To now I’ve been writing the yValues series as ymarketing but this blog on our final value, caring, calls for a different approach. I’m going to write it as me, James. I’m a husband, father of three kids and two dogs, and an employee of ymarketing for about two years now.

I promise to be honest. You can trust me, I’m in advertising.

ymarketing cares about their employees.
Let’s chat benefits. They and pay are what keep we employees from constantly updating our LinkedIn profile as we look for hope elsewhere. There’s a certain bundle that most companies offer: paid time off, life insurance, health, vision, and dental insurance, 401k, etc. Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but that’s a pretty basic offering. Companies that care do more.

There are a good many above-and-beyond perks offered here I could mention, but two are of particular note to me. The first is an enormous subsidy with a gym across the street that most of us could never afford: Equinox. Signing up for just the Newport Beach location runs the average dad-who-has-neglected-his-body at least the monthly due of $159 plus the $300 initiation fee. Thanks to ymarketing we pay a lot less (under $50, total).

“I care about many things in life. I care about my family, ymarketing, and the planet… I also care about the work that I do with this company. It’s important that I do my best so our customers get the best results. Caring motivates me. “ —Jose Quezada, Web Developer

My favorite benefit is Summer Fridays. After spring and before autumn the ymarketing team gets to leave work on Fridays after four hours of work, but we still get paid for the entire day. With a staff our size, that adds up quickly…

Culture is the second piece of the happy-employee puzzle. ymarketing is teeming with a diverse group of talented folks. It should be a challenge to keep all of those people from different backgrounds with varying worldviews happy, but it certainly looks easy here. The ymarketing employees are inundated with mini-celebrations for holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries, each with an abundance of food, drink, and games. We just celebrated Hot Sauce Day. It was delicious. Even when it’s not a “special day” the mood around the office is generally jovial. Memes are traded, laughter is heard, and teams mingle with one another in the break room, around the lunch tables, or in clusters at any given desk.

ymarketing cares about their home.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a lifestyle at ymarketing. Every single decision is dependent on its impact upon the environment. We recently won the Green Office Award from Hines, our building management company. This is not an easy thing to do, as there are a ton of requirements. I won’t list them all but to give you an idea, here are a few:
• “Replace end-of-life computer monitors with ENERGY STAR qualified liquid crystal display flat screen monitors.”
• “Angle all mini-blinds “up” at a 45-degree angle to prevent the sun’s radiant heat load from being transferred into the tenant space.”
• “Transition from paper products to compostable products such as corn-based or potato-based products if disposable plates, cups or bowls are necessary.”

CSR is about more than our environmental footprint. Most of the ymarketing leadership says they want to make a direct impact in our community. They mean it. In my time here I’ve seen two particular programs bloom despite the daily chaos of agency work.

“There’s no such thing as a great employee who doesn’t care about their work. There’s a sense of responsibility and ownership within every project: Make something you’re proud of!” —Rachel Krumwiede, Community Manager

FOCUS is the first program. I’ve already written about what FOCUS is and why we do it, but let me tell you what I’ve seen. When the sessions begin the kids young adults future billionaires show up a bit unsure… They’re excited to be here, but it’s a tad intimidating. By the end of their time with us, they’ve forged fast friendships with the volunteers who take the time to lead classes, answer questions, and challenge the students’ understanding of what it is a digital agency does.

PaStars is the other program. This one is the closest to my heart. Like FOCUS, I’ve already written about what PaStars is, but let me tell you what it does. I’ve volunteered for many shifts at the Boys & Girls Club and I look forward to it every week. Kids are excited, lined up down the hallway for some pasta. We feed them, talk to them, hang out with them, and sometimes help with homework. Each week a few of them help serve their peers (our sign-up sheet is loaded with names weeks in advance). They have fun. We have fun. It’s a blessing for all involved.

Remember: ymarketing pays for all of this. They pay for the tangible resources (pens, paper, aprons, etc.) and they foot the bill for their employees to serve the community. That’s rare and something to be proud of.

ymarketing cares about their clients.
ymarketing says, “Yes.” Look, stuff happens. Things rarely go to plan. Last-minute changes come, mistakes are occasionally made, and sometimes minds are changed and efforts must be redoubled to hit a deadline. I’ve worked at some places where workflows are not nimble, where course adjustments come at an incredible cost of both time and money on the parts of the client and agency. Not here. At ymarketing the entire team goes above and beyond to do what they can, when they can, for the people we’re working with. We bend (and yes, sometimes to the point of near-breaking) to get the job done right, on time, and always above expectation.

“We come to work because we care. This company is fun but more than anything we care for our clients. Everyone here is emotionally invested, which allows us to produce the highest quality work.” —Richard Varalla, Account Executive

ymarketing says, “No.” This may not seem like a sign of caring, but stay with me here… Some agencies and clients don’t work well together. The relationship just isn’t meant to be. Most times this regretful future can be avoided with an honest decline early on. Some agency actions are dictated by dollar signs and what should be an emphatic “No,” turns into a dribbled, “Sure.” Chaos ensues. Sometimes the best way for an agency to care for a company is to tell them that the pairing just isn’t a good fit.

A lot of companies claim to care. Few actually do. Even less do something about it. Whether you work with ymarketing as a part of the team, the community, or a client, you’re in luck. At least, that’s how I feel. And I’m not just saying that because they are paying me to write this blog, which they are.

Get in touch and find out for yourself.





FEBRUARY 23, 2017


By: ymarketing

Our office comes with a remote section near the windows lined with a few stand-up desks. These desks are ideal when looking for a distraction-free environment. In my effort to get to a stand-up desk to write this article, I was interrupted, disrupted, and stopped more times than I can count. I never made it.

Interruptions are commonplace in the fast-paced agency environment.

I was discussing this with a friend and she said, “Maybe you shouldn’t plan on being creative at work.” That’s crazy talk. I’m the Creative Director. The word creative is in my title. It’s why I’m here.

I spend a lot of time in meetings. Most of them are productive. Some require creative problem solving (brainstorming), some roadmapping, but many are administrative. There is little time left in the day for actual creativity. When not in meetings I am usually downloading various bits of information to the rest of my team.

The more I consider not being creative at work the more it starts to make sense.

When I need to work through something on a personal level I head to the trails on my mountain bike or go for a surf. I find nature. I leave all that is familiar and distracting behind. Being active outside clears my mind. I notice things like my breath and heartrate. I hear waves breaking, birds chirping, and the grind of tires on hard packed dirt.

I am present.

Seldom do I think about problems I should be working on (which is the intention). But afterward, when I am driving home from the beach or cleaning off my bike, solutions to those problems start to present themselves.

I find clarity. The noise is gone.

If my goal at work is to be available for meetings, to keep my team on fire, and our current project fresh, I need to be clear, empty, and focused. Planning to spend time in creative pursuits at work sets me up for frustration when the time just isn’t there. I feel unproductive. If I plan on not being creative at work, I am left disappointed, as I don’t accomplish my goals.

I, like so many creatives, believe that I work great under pressure. What that really means is that my forced, laser focus on an idea removes the unnecessary. While it is a form of being present, it can be a struggle and often results in walking away and returning to the idea. It can also mean pushing something else aside.

Clearing my headspace before and after work – and sometimes at lunch – allows me to be open for whatever the day holds. There will still be stress and demands on time and creativity, but the source of my perspective changes for the better.

Productivity requires creativity, but one must have the space for it.