Interview: Jeremy Abelson on His New Project for Digital, Social Media Marketing

How does a creative production company, which deals with marketers and advertising agencies, delve into social media marketing? A partnership with a company launched by the well-known Jeremy Abelson is one way to get the ball rolling. As the creator of UrbanHostess and PocketChangeNYC, Abelson became well-versed on social media marketing implementation early on, and has since launched a new production shop called Samson’s Barber.

This new production shop was chosen by creative production company thelab as its exclusive digital arm, introducing a wealth of experience in online and social media optimization for advertising purposes. Below is an interview with Abelson, who talks about Samson’s Barber, its relationship with thelab, and the future of online marketing within social media.

Kristen Nicole: Could you tell me a little bit of background behind Samson’s Barber, and thelab?

Jeremy Abelson: thelab is a creative production company, and Samson’s Barber is an innovative production shop that serves as thelab’s standalone digital arm.

thelab was built to seamlessly integrate with marketers and advertising agencies to help create, develop, manage and deliver any kind of content. Through experience gained from working intimately with clients, we have come to understand the need for true integration between creative and production, which was how the partnership with Samson’s Barber was born.

Together, we represent three independent creative agencies produce all studio, retouching, pre-press and distribution services on-site and have best in class programmers (.net primarily), art directors, flash developers, search engine optimizers and strategists. We also handle web development, application/widget development, social media marketing, search engine optimization and digital strategy.

Kristen Nicole: How does the partnership between Samson’s Barber and theLab work out?

Jeremy Abelson: Samson’s Barber is the digital arm of thelab. There are companies that preach integrated production, but we actually execute it. In many cases, multi-media production happens in a sequential order to ensure consistency. We are able to drastically cut time, costs and asset management issues through integrated and simultaneous production across media, under one roof.

We manage the production from the original creation of approved assets until final delivery of executions. Photo assets are retouched and design assets are created in house. Those assets are utilized within digital executions (flash, etc), in print executions, as the foundation of 3D elements, within animations, etc.

Kristen Nicole: What’s the most impactful aspect of your partnership?

Jeremy Abelson: In conjunction with enabling our agency partners to integrate their production by using one production partner for all creative executions, we have seen the greatest value/impact through our onsite relationships. We take a very unique approach to in-sourcing our creative/production resources that are entirely focused on client needs.

Kristen Nicole: What is the partnership doing to redefine digital media production?

Not only is everyone claiming integration or attempting to integrate, but people are also looking to define what integration truly is. Can a creative ad agency be responsible for “integrating production?” They might have integrated producers and digitally minded creatives, but they aren’t handling production and in most cases are outsourcing production to a number of specialty production shops.

In addition to integrated production, we also integrate within digital. As digital expands, so does the facets of each digital execution and it is crucial that they all work together. More importantly, brands can and should take advantage of and exploit all effective digital promotion options.

Basically, if you take a promotional website or microsite, it is very valuable to spend the marginal extra dollars to distribute that site messaging and interactivity through mobile, social networking sites, social media sites, social book marking sites, not to mention a media campaign. All of these efforts need to work with and for one another. And, for this to happen effectively there needs to be an integration of effort between true specialists in web development, search engine optimization, social media marketing, digital strategy and media along with an amazing production manager. Without it, you leave so much value on the table.

Kristen Nicole: As a young but experienced entrepreneur, how do you feel about the changing wave of digital media and its impact on the entertainment and marketing industries?

Jeremy Abelson: This is a big question.

Personally, I feel very fortunate to be my age at this time of such rapid shifting in the media landscape. I can understand it and naturally keep up with it. What was current 12 months ago is now archaic from a marketing standpoint. If someone plans a year-long strategy, by the end of the year the strategy is passé.

From a tech standpoint, years ago people switched from traditional media to digital media because of the timeliness, immediacy and on-demand nature of information access online. Today digital media platforms need to offer more than the transmission of information, people now expect true engagement. Not just the ability or option to comment on a post, but the ability to converse with the information provider, subject and fellow readers.

I love how shareable media has become. I recently heard someone say that if something is newsworthy it will find them. Not only are people actively sharing media between their community, but recently, people have become reliant on their community for the transmission of information. The impact potential is naturally increasing and reaching people is becoming more challenging and exciting to keep up with.

Kristen Nicole: Where do you see yourself and your companies being the most innovative?

Jeremy Abelson: First and foremost, our ability to work with agencies and the way we work with them. We want to break the mold of the vendor and look to create long term mutually beneficial partnerships beneficial to production managers, top creatives and heads of agencies managing P&L’s.

Also, we’ve been successful and innovative with our presence in the calculated viral/content distribution space. Viral needs to be a combination of intelligent and poignant viral content/strategy creation, technical optimization of that content, effective research about opportunities and controlled response within target populations, technical distribution and syndication of content and top-of-the-line online PR.

Kristen Nicole: What are your ultimate goals for yourself personally and Samson’s Barber?

Jeremy Abelson: The ultimate goal is to reach a critical mass of 60-100 people effectively doing a very steady amount of production, and then take a percentage of company resources to start incubating new businesses. We have seen great value in practicing what we preach. Putting our practices, tests, experimentations and creativity into something tangible shows clients that we have a unique understanding of business in general, as well as their business and core objectives specifically.