YouTube rolls out ad pods

The company got a warm reception from some advertisers for its new double-stacked 'ad pods' format.

YouTube has switched up its skippable ad format, launching doubled up ‘ad pods’ globally – and it’s piqued the interest of some industry experts.

It’s a format some industry experts see as a positive move forward for both advertisers and content consumers.

The video-sharing company announced testing of its new ‘ad pod’ format in a Nov. 23 blog post, describing ad pods as two 15-second ads stacked back-to-back.

The format has already rolled out on desktop and is set to hit mobile and connected TV screens next year.

Nicole Bell, head of communications and public affairs at Google, says ad pods are a response to changing viewer trends on YouTube.

“We’ve seen an increase in the duration of time that people are watching content on YouTube,” she tells MiC. “We’ve seen that grow over the years from being really short-form video to people consuming a lot of longer-form content… but we also know that there’s less of a desire to have frequent interruptions.”

Bell notes that users can watch two ads back-to-back or opt to skip the first pre-roll ad and watch it mid-roll, adding that it’s an “experiment to see whether or not this type of an approach… will be a better experience for our users while still providing the benefit to our advertisers.”

A blog post by Google states that early results show an 8% to 11% increase in unique reach and a 5% to 10% increase in frequency for advertisers.

While the format has rolled out globally, Bell says not all users will see them every time they watch content on YouTube.

It’s an exciting development, according to V.P. of Digital at Brandfire Marketing Group, Ira Kates.

Kates says it could be a win-win for both advertisers and YouTube consumers.

“It’s taking into account not only the advertiser – giving us something interesting to work with to bring to our clients and create some interesting creative executions – it’s also taking into account the [content] consumer,” he says, adding that ad pods could potentially help advertisers create sequenced messages on the platform.

“In an ad pod, maybe there’s an option or an ability for nimble advertisers to adapt to it and actually put it on both of those blocks [to] tell a story within those two 15 second pre-rolls.”

For Kates, the alignment of creative, biddable media and adaptive media could give advertisers the ability to both make campaigns work better and expand reach, offering the ability to reach new audiences and “tell a bit more of a story” with ads that align what both creative partners and clients want.

Brandfire campaign for Hill Street Challenge featured in Strategy & Agency Spy.


Nice to get some recognition from both sides of the border! Check out some of the coverage for our latest campaign for Hill Street Beverages:

Agency Spy article

Strategy article

For those who enjoyed a little too much of the sauce over the holidays and need a little more motivation to stick to their New Year’s resolution of being healthier, here comes the Hill Street Challenge! Where Canadians pledge to go alcohol free for 30 days this January.

Going alcohol-free is great for your body and now it’s also great for charity. When you post your intention to do the challenge on social media you can pledge your support for one of Hill Street’s charity partners, and the winning charity will receive a $10,000 donation.

Brandfire led the development of the campaign strategy and creative, where we humorously portray the benefits of going alcohol free. The campaign included online videos, social creative, and website development. Brandfire also managed the media buying and ongoing optimization within Youtube, Facebook and Instagram.



Brandfire turns 10!

What a wild ride!

I actually really think this is just the beginning!

Ten years ago seems like just yesterday and yet it seems like forever ago. I can remember dreaming of being a mid-sized agency -- full of fun people who love spending time together and working with clients who collaborate with us and love what we create and accomplish together. It was a dream to be the right size.  Not too big.  Not too little.  Just right.  Ten years later here we are: more than 35 people, more bench-strength than I ever imagined, a wider range of services than I ever thought possible, bigger and better clients and the best client relationships I could ever want.  And the work...blows me away every day. But it's the team, the people, their energy and their passion that fuels everything. After all, an agency is just a collection of people. People that impress me every day. People that I am incredibly proud of. People that make coming to work simply fun!

I couldn't be prouder.

There's no text book on how to do this. There's no course called “Grow your business every year for 10 years”. Just hold on, dream, steer, and believe. Believe in people.  Believe in the energy and the spark that comes when like-minded passionate and dedicated people come together. Believe in their friendship, and believe in what they can contribute and what you can learn from them.

Can't wait to see where this team goes next!

Rob Levy, President & Founder

3 Ways to Connect Digital to the Instore Environment


Whether you’re looking to create an engaging brand experience, capture consumer data or create pull at shelf, a digital solution may be worth exploring.  Below are a few simple ways you can extend your retail activation through digital.  Each solution brings it’s own set of considerations and benefits and may be tailored to your brand’s objectives.  As with any approach, be sure to start with defining your objectives and understanding your audience’s behaviours before determine the best technology to leverage.


How it Works

  • Feature your call to action on in-store signage or on-pack
  • Consumers text a keyword (ie. “TacoRecipes”) to a shortcode and are taken to a mobile experience
  • Mobile experiences can be as simple as sharing information (recipes, how-tos, tips etc.) or can be more elaborate
  • Adding in a contest element can help with consumer data collection for on-going brand communications
  • Include an offer to drive immediate purchase and leverage scan-receipt technology as a seamless way to confirm purchase
  • Have consumers opt-in for future content or offers.  You can make this long term or campaign specific (just keep in mind your consumer and how often they may want to hear from you!).


  • SMS works well for a mobile-first audience, especially in-store when shoppers may be limited in time
  • Works across all mobile devices and doesn’t require complicated set-up or app development
  • Your SMS program can be promoted in-store and online (social channels, website) which ensures an extended reach

Featured Hashtag

How it Works:

  • Using a unique hashtag on your in-store signage to help inspire your shopper is a great approach, especially if your category needs a bit of “show and tell”
  • Pre-populate the social media hashtag feed by partnering with influencers or brand ambassadors to create engaging and inspiring visual content
  • Use your brand’s social media channels to feature, engage with and share with the content
  • Encourage your shoppers to share their own experience using the hashtag to close the shopper engagement loop (consider adding in a contest element to encourage sharing!)


  • Works best for brands/categories where inspiration might help convert a sale (think baking, fashion, crafts, cooking, DIY, Design)
  • This type of activation well because it has a low barrier to entry (no app required, no website to visit) but you’ll definitely need to consider if your brand/category is a fit
  • A great way to leverage and extend your influencer content

Shazam/Logo Scan Technology

How it works           

  • Shazam offers a frictionless connection between the physical environment and a digital experience
  • Using the Shazam app, shoppers can scan your in-store signage or packaging taking them directly to a mobile experience..
  • Experiences could include exclusive content, contests, games, AR experiences


  • It’s a more engaging way to enter a contest compared to ‘visit this URL’ – very mobile friendly
  • Does require a user to have Shazam app, so ensure you consider your audience first.
  • Ensure your experience is worth the extra effort to scan!

When considering in-store contests, three main things you should always consider are:

  1. Your shopper’s digital behaviours and usage
  2. How you can leverage digital channels to promote your contest to drive shoppers instore (including working with your retail partners digital channels!)
  3. How you can create a model where you are testing and learning from new technologies

OOPS…we did it again...


Looks like our hard work and our business model is paying off. We’ve just been acknowledged by PROFIT 500 as one of the fastest growing companies in Canada. That makes it 3 of the last 4 years and we couldn’t be prouder.

Growing in years 6 through 11 come from our continued investment in senior hires and our Social, Digital and Creative departments, which in turn has helped us to gain more work and come up with innovative ways to solve our clients’ business problems.  

One thing is certain, we have much more to come.



The Ontario SPCA’s Annual No Hot Pets Campaign

As part of the Ontario SPCA’s annual No Hot Pets campaign (happening now!), Brandfire is helping to remind Canadians never to leave a pet unattended in a vehicle.

The campaign focuses on dispelling common misconceptions that lead to animals suffering in hot cars. From concept through to execution, we’re extremely proud of the work we've done for such a worthy cause.

Show your support and take the pledge here:

#NoHotPets #BrandfireCA #ClientLove