IQ Spotlight: Carol Montoto, Associate Creative Director

Carol Montoto, ACD

Carol in her Ugly Christmas Sweater for the contest at the IQ Holiday Party.

IQ is made up of a bunch of rockstars that make incredible work for our clients everyday. We want to give you a glimpse of what it’s like to work in IQ, so every other Friday we’re going to interview an IQ-er and let you get to know them better.

For the official record, what is your name and your title at IQ?

My name is Carol Montoto and I’m an Associate Creative Director at IQ.

Tell me about your favorite project you’ve ever worked on?

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame microsite I worked on when I was at Sapient-Nitro. It was a massive project that we had to get finished in a month. We were working nights and weekends and it wasn’t just the creative team, we worked closely with our developers, our motion graphic guys, everyone was just so passionate about the project and the end result was amazing and totally reflected that passion.

What’s your superpower?

I would say my energy. I’m sure you’ve seen me running around the office like a crazy person getting all the things done. Maybe the coffee helps.

Outside of IQ’s clients, what brand is doing really well in advertising lately?

For me, they have to suck me in and make me think it’s not an ad until they show the brand and I’m like “oh, they got me!” I really liked when Skeletor took over Honda’s twitter a couple weeks ago.

What is “Creative Intelligence” mean to you?

I think it’s more the collective of brains in a room coming together. Not just people in any one department, but the cohesive vision of the agency?

What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Anything snow related, even if it’s fake snow. I try to go skiing and snowboarding at least once during this time of year. I love snow?


Hat or scarf?


Sun or moon?


Strawberry of blueberry?


West coast or East coast?

West coast.

Handwritten or typed?


Now you know a little more about Carol Montoto!

Want to know more about IQ? Contact Us

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Russ Sauvé, Social Media Community Manager

Head to Head: IQ Designers Duke it Out over Style Guides

Why Designers Love Whitespace

  • 12.17.14

Head to Head:

IQ designers duke it out over “how to” or “how to not” follow a brand’s style guide.

Head to Head Style Guide Design

Point: The Type-A Guide to Following Design Rules

By: Lauren Weir, Sr. Designer

Our creative team nominated me to write the point of the article — establishing why you should stick to brand guidelines and how to work creatively within them. And while I’ll give you that I’m the type of person who neatly orders my pens, keeps a daily game plan on my signature yellow notepads and may or may not be easily compared with Monica from FRIENDS, I still have fun and sometimes I show up to work in a banana suit. I just think of brand guidelines like a pair of moon shoes — sometimes kind of clunky, but they help you jump to new heights. They’re also infinitely cool.

Brand guidelines are so important to designing for a brand because they explain and uphold the values and importance of the brand for which you are designing. A strong brand will help increase recognition and brand loyalty, which is directly related to a company’s success and profitability. As Smashing Magazine points out, brands have to reach people through so many different platforms that recognition is critical. As designers, if we do not help a company clearly communicate their messages and uphold the definition of their brand then the brand will start to develop on its own through customer opinions in spaces like social — and we all know how that can go south pretty quickly.

How to stick it to the Book:

  1. Make sure you and your client have a complete understanding of the brand guidelines. Take time to go through the guidelines with your client and ask questions. By sitting down for a conversation first, you’re avoiding the future problems that could arise if the brand guide has any holes. Figure out how strict the guidelines are and what will still be considered within the guidelines if it is not explicitly stated. This will give you a clear understanding where the designs can start to move forward. You can also for a clear idea of what to measure your design successes on and give you, as a designer ground to justify the designs you have produced. You can become a design partner for your client, making recommendations for their design in the future, rather than just a production artist for what they envision for their brand.
  2. Experiment within your limits. Think mixing different martinis, rather than making a mix drink with gin, Bailey’s and Chardonnay. Creating and following parameters set by guidelines can give you the chance to try a ton of experiments on different pieces to create interesting designs that relate back to the brand. For example, within a color scheme, try combining the colors in a different way or in different proportions to create something that is different than what is expected. Sometimes the most successful designs come from a new or updated perspective on already existing guidelines.  Guidelines can help you narrow down what areas to experiment in, rather than spending all of your time looking at the endless design options. Put your design energy in the right places, rather than the places that are already defined.
  3. Measure back to the guidelines. Keep brand goals, audience needs, key messages, and brand personality central to each and every decision made in designing for the brand. It is easier to justify your design decisions because the client has already approved their guidelines. Once you can design really well and with new ideas within the limitations given by the client, you can clearly understand the best way to adapt the brand to new platforms (social, mail, web, etc). The most successful and gratifying design systems work show a strong brand voice and visual style across multiple mediums without becoming too repetitive.

There are many brands out there whose designers rely heavily on the visual guidelines and still create some badass designs. Like these:

Counterpoint: How to Design Outside the Style Guide (and not get caught)

By: Carol Montoto, Associate Creative Director

So I was nominated to write this counterpoint by my team. I guess they see me as that annoying creative who just won’t stick to a style guide. Maybe that’s slightly true, but I see a style guide as just a guide and not an end-all-be-all. It’s tough exploring creative directions to take a brand without wandering outside the style guide a bit. Rebellious design superhero, Paula Scher, talked about guidelines at the Adobe Max Conference (13:00).“Guidelines are difficult things because they’re rules that prevent bad things from happening, but they don’t really promote good things TO happen.”

It’s not that I think designers should irresponsibly blow off style guides and have a creative free-for-all. But as creative experts, it’s our job to ask questions, challenge the rules when necessary, and push our creativity beyond its limits. Personally, it’s my favorite part of the job. The key is to use brand guidelines to maintain the spirit of a brand. As long as your brand remains consistent, recognizable and the design doesn’t suffer, the guide has accomplished its goal. As John Moore from Idea Sandbox put it, “A Brand Style Guide is essentially an internal communication compass. It provides guidance on how a business should communicate the Identity, Personality, and Authenticity of a brand.”

Common Style Guide Challenges

There are some style guide challenges every designer is familiar with. An incomplete style guide is the most common. Its creator can’t predict what all the uses for it might be in the future. For example, often it is created for print, not for digital. This leaves important brand details such as color (CMYK versus RGB), and fonts (web-friendly) up for debate. The ridiculously strict, 598-page style guide is just as tough to work with. As blogger Geri Coady explains, “Guides can be so strict that it can be virtually impossible to introduce a little creativity.” If you are spending more time measuring pixels than exploring creative directions, just take a step back. The last thing you want to do is kill any amazing ideas you have because they might not exactly fit the style guide. Sometimes, the style guide looks like the ugliest pair of moon shoes you’ve ever seen. If following the style guide is forcing you to make bad design decisions, you’ll need to bend the rules a bit, for everyone’s sake. Chances are that making some small tweaks will vastly improve the design without looking off-brand. If you can pull this off while keeping the brand police happy, nice job.

How to Design Outside the Style Guide:

  1. Know the rules before you break them. Read the style guide. Thoroughly. Really get to know it. THEN you’re ready to challenge the rules. You’ll need to have a good reason for doing so, not just because you think it’s fun to break rules. (Sorry.)
  2. When in doubt, share your thoughts with your client. Even something as small as an inverted white logo on a dark background may just have never come up for a brand. Crazy, I know. If you want to challenge the style guide, why not just talk with your client? Paula Scher suggests making your client a co-conspirator with you (16:52). Be up front and explain to them why you need to deviate from the brand guidelines. You’d be surprised how effective this can be.
  3. Don’t let the style guide become a design crutch. At the end of the day, people will see the final product and NOT the style guide you are following, no matter how beautiful that guide may be. Don’t be afraid to push the creative. The brand police will rein you in if necessary.

Above all else, just remember, “I was just following the style guide” is not an excuse for bad or boring design. Have fun and rebel — responsibly.

Want to know more about IQ? Contact Us

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Russ Sauvé, Social Media Community Manager

Snapchat is the New Facebook

Why Designers Love Whitespace



Snapchat is the New Facebook.

A quick explanation of why brands should love Snaps.

Snapchat article by Eric

As our social media channels become overrun with stagnant ads, eager parents (and grandparents), over filtered photos of food, and articles that begin with “Top ten things,” the next generation of users have found a new way of sharing their lives: Snapchat. Brands are looking, too. Snapchat is a mobile only platform that allows real time sharing of someone’s life. No filters, no editing, no “10 reasons why_____.” Just you telling a story with your phone. Casey Neistat does an amazing job explaining the rise of Snapchat in his recent video with Jerome Jarre:

Yet as this new space is emerging, few brands are taking advantage of the 30 million monthly active users, mainly because no one has really figured out the best way how.

Right now there are three ways brands are using it:

Sponsored Snapchat:

These are posts that go out to every user, from Snapchat. They are usually pretty short and generally video. Recently there was a trailer for the Dumb and Dumber movie that went out.

Sponsored Snapchatters:

This is where a company approaches a popular Snapchatter and then asks them to do a story sponsored by them. For instance Casey Neistat spent a day with Karlie Kloss for fashion week, sponsoring and advertising Vogue.com.

Point all other channels to Snapchat:

This allows companies to use their existing audience on their other social channels to follow their Snapchat. This requires them to constantly produce content to keep people involved and interested, which is time consuming and expensive.

Speaking of content, this is the second problem companies are having: quickly producing cheap, quality content. No company (that I know of) is doing that right now. But individuals are, which is exciting because there is a totally new space that is untouched by brand use.

The fact is Snapchat is here to stay. It has been quickly adopted by the next generation of social users, and the current generation is adopting it, too. Snapchat is the perfect space for a new brand to be born on, and an even better space for a current brand to own. The opportunity is ripe. You just have to reach out and take it.

Want to know more about IQ? Contact Us

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Russ Sauvé, Social Media Community Manager

IQ Presents #IQgifts!

Why Designers Love Whitespace


IQ Spotlight: Russ Sauve, Social Media Community Manager

Russ Sauve Social Media Comm. Mgr.

IQ is made up of a bunch of rockstars that make incredible work for our clients everyday. We want to give you a glimpse of what it’s like to work in IQ, so every other Friday we’re going to interview an IQ-er and let you get to know them better.

For the official record, what is your name and your title at IQ?

Russ Sauvé, and my title is Social Media Community Manager.

What is your favorite aspect of working at IQ?

Besides the incredibly kind people my favorite aspect is that no one has said; “don’t do it that way.” I’ve asked colleagues for input on deliverables to make sure I’m headed down the right path.  Instead of negative feedback when they see an improvable moment coworkers ask questions to nudge the ship in a more desired direction. They are helping me think in a more strategic manner. Those moments have been something remarkably fun to tap into, learn, and use in my day-to-day work.

Tell me about the moment you knew that this was the direction you wanted to pursue professionally?

I was fortunate enough to be employed at a live entertainment venue when social evolved to being a platform for brands. In launching and managing our social channels I became the biggest advocate and defender of our digital fans.  It was an amazing honor to help our fans experience and celebrate concerts, shows, events, and the historic venue in new ways.  Encouraging the fans and guests created passionate and outspoken advocates.

In your own words, what is “Creative Intelligence?”

Find data, sort data, and use data to create content that digital guests desire while delivering the message you want served. Utilizing what you know about your audience and giving them the awesome content they want that engages them and makes them not only a fan, but an outspoken positive digital force for your brand.

When do you feel like you actually became an adult?

The beginning of my career wasn’t exactly stellar; I got my butt kicked a lot (and deservedly so). But I would say I really became an adult about eight years ago when I started working at the historic live entertainment venue. Being a part of a historic organization where no one person is bigger than the whole and the venue always comes first, whether it’s restoring, maintaining, or serving the guests that keep it open.  That awakened a sense of humility and a desire to serve others.


Kindle or paperback?


Wine or whiskey?


Summer or winter?


Cake or pie?

Neither, beef jerkey.

Pirates or ninjas?

*long pause* Mutants.

So now you know a little bit more about Russ Sauvé!

Want to know more about IQ? Contact Us

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IQ Spotlight: Marica Slaughter, Program Manager

IQ Presents #IQgifts!

Why Designers Love Whitespace


3 Technology Game-Changers

Part of our job at IQ Agency is to make sure our clients don’t get blind-sided by new technologies, devices or changes in consumer behavior. So we make sure we know what’s going on and what’s coming. Being the founder and board chair of SoDA, the Society of Digital Agencies, helps because it lets us at IQ see what many of the most advanced, innovative agencies and companies in the world are working on. Here is a glimpse of some technologies that look like they might bring big change in the not too distant future.

1. Virtual Reality is Real Now

Virtual Reality

The Oculus headset at SoDA’s “What’s Next” meeting.

The first is virtual reality from Oculus Rift. This is a company, bought by Facebook last year, which is near to perfecting a virtual reality headset. I tried it, it is not a toy, and it is already remarkable. Imagine a viewing experience with normal peripheral vision. The image you see is an environment that responds to your movements almost exactly as it would in life. One of the programs I tried had me as a judge on “The Voice”. When I looked to my left there was the real Blake Shelton, when I looked to my right I could see Gwen Stefani in the next seat over. I can easily see how disruptive immersive, VR experiences will be, first in games, then in entertainment and marketing.  It reminded me of a movie called “Strange Days” which posits a future in which virtual reality is more seductive than life itself. I think this technology, which is going to market very soon, will take a little while to filter down to marketing, but once people have the headsets, the marketing applications will be endless.

2. Augmented Reality – Not a Gimmick Anymore

Style My Floor AR app

“Style My Floor” AR app

Augmented reality is also getting ready for prime time. Right now we use it for things like the “Style My Floor” app my agency just designed for a flooring company, where you can instantly see what your floors would look like in any number of different materials. But this technology is evolving fast to enable a virtual layer on life. Imagine seeing driving directions actually on the street, like the down markers in a football game, or vacancy signs at hotels, or a big arrow in the sky pointing at the building you are going to.  The marketing applications, especially for retail business will know no bounds.

3. The Data Layer is Forming

Google Glass by Luxotica

Fashion versions of Google Glass from Luxottica

Now hold that thought about augmented reality and think about what’s happening with Google Glass. I know, it may seem like an irrelevant novelty after all the empty hype. But things are quietly a-foot. Luxottica, the biggest eyewear company in the World, has partnered with Google to produce fashion versions of Google Glass that will look just like regular glasses. This will enable all of us to walk around life informed by a layer of data. Imagine what might be useful when you can get environment specific data in your glasses. Now combine a wearable device like this with all the data that the “Internet of Things” will produce, AND the possibilities of augmented reality, and you can see the potential. Before long I think this living data layer will be as ubiquitous as the smart phone and we will all, marketers included, wonder what we did without it.

4. Getting Ready for Tomorrow

Connect Cultivate Convert

All these technologies, and others, are on their way, but brands will only be able to take advantage of them if they are ready. That means getting their marketing ecosystem, which is now predominantly digital, wired up and operating.  This is not quite as easy as it sounds, but has to be done. It starts with having a sophisticated consumer centric strategy built round the new dynamics of the digital consumer. All these fantastic new technologies are coming, but if brands haven’t done these basics, they won’t have a marketing ecosystem to connect them to.

Want to know more about IQ? Contact Us

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The SoDA Report – Volume 2, 2014

IQ Spotlight: Marica Slaughter, Program Manager

Designers Love Whitespace


IQ Presents #IQgifts!

Kicking off #IQgifts

December is here with its wintry weather and all the colors and festivities the holidays bring, and here at IQ we’re kicking off #IQgifts! We’re celebrating creative intelligence by giving back! We want to give back to you, not only in helpful ways for your day-to-day work, but also ways to give back in your local community. We will be sharing original articles here and in our other social channels (TwitterFacebookTumblr, and LinkedIn). We’ll also be sharing articles and links from other sites that were gifts to us. So keep an eye out for the #IQgifts hashtag as we share things that keep our creative intelligence under wraps.

Want to know more about IQ? Contact Us

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IQ Spotlight: Marica Slaughter, Program Manager


IQ Spotlight: Marica Slaughter, Program Manager

IQ Spotlight Marica Program Mgr

IQ is made up of a bunch of rockstars that make incredible work for our clients everyday. We want to give you a glimpse of what it’s like to work in IQ, so every other Friday we’re going to interview an IQ-er and let you get to know them better.

For the official record what is your name and what is your title here at IQ?
I’m Marica Slaughter, and I am the Program Manager at IQ.

Tell me about the moment you knew this was the direction you wanted to pursue professionally?

Throughout high school I would take advantage of every opportunity to draw, and I loved it. So I went to Georgia State and got my Bachelor’s in Fine Arts & Studio Arts with the hopes of one day being an animator. That was the dream. So I went to get my Master’s in Animation. After three straight nights of drawing characters all night I realized I really enjoyed the process of collaborating with voice over actors, after affects animator, the sound and editing guys much more than the drawing part.

What is your role in building the client/agency relationship?

As Program Manager I manage a portfolio of projects for an account including planning, organizing, financial and resource management.  My job is to be able to identify and manage cross-project dependencies on the account.  The account management team manages the relationship with the client, but collectively we work to ensure client goals are achievable and improve brand performance.

What is something you know now about your job that you wish you knew when you were starting out?

That’s a tough one. In your career path you try to make sure you are fully prepared for what’s to come, but I think lessons are learned as you’re ready to learn them, at least that’s been my experience. Though I would have liked to learn how to distance my personal investment in a project so professional critiques felt less personal earlier on.

What does “Creative Intelligence” mean to you?

For me “Creative Intelligence” is the ability of collaborative minds to leverage each others creativity to influence and create innovative ideas.

What is your social media platform of choice?

Facebook. I just got on it a year ago, so we’re still in the honeymoon phase. I try to balance out time away from it, but it just keeps sucking me right back in.

Now it’s time for the quick-fire questions. So, waffles or pancakes?


Beach or pool?


Unicorns or narwhals?


Video games or board games?

Video games.

Tea or coffee?


So now you know a little bit more about Marica Slaughter!

Want to know more about IQ? Contact Us

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IQ Spotlight: Tricia Gillentine, Art Director

Why Designers Love Whitespace

SoDA Report – Volume 2, 2014


Designers Love Whitespace

The logic behind why we heart it so.

IQ Designers Love Whitespace

We do. It’s true. Designers really do LOVE whitespace. And whitespace is one of the most useful, yet most overlooked, tools in designing for advertising. But we often receive client feedback saying, “there is just too much whitespace” or, “that’s too much room between elements.”

When we’re tasked with incorporating many messages into a single digital advertising element, it’s easy for our clients to feel pressured to fill whitespace. But the idea that whitespace is empty, unused space in the design of a web page is a misconception that needs to be remedied.

When considered correctly, whitespace is a useful design element — yes, design element. Even the parts of a web page without content help the user interpret any message on the page. Whitespace encompasses the space around content, as well as, margins, padding, line and letter spacing, and gutters.

So why do designers cling to this seemingly blank space? Because Whitespace impacts the user experience in four key ways:

Draw the eye to a specific point.

Using the simplicity of the page to emphasize a message will direct where the user should look. One of the most successful companies that uses simple, clean design to guide users through content is Google. In the article, The Beauty of Simplicity from Fast Company, author Linda Tischler explains how the complex tool is made to be simple by the use of whitespace.

Prioritize messages.

In the same way that whitespace draws a user’s eye a point on the page, it will also help prioritize messaging. When a user is forced to navigate through multiple types of content competing for their attention, the message has potential to be lost in the noise. Using whitespace as a design element will help to guide users on an intentional path of content consumption, directed subtly by a company’s website.

Increase readability.

For A List Apart, Mark Boulton wrote an informative article on the ability of whitespace to increase a user’s ability to read content on a page, based on the amount of space given to each letter and line of content. A slight reconsideration of the design, giving more space can make an entire page more legible without decreasing the amount of content.

Over the years, Google has also become a great example of whitespace being used to increase readability and scannability of heavy content. What used to be a crammed page has now given way to a more open, spacious page that allows users to scan the page quickly for the information most relevant to their search.

Position your brand.

Luxury brands utilize a lot of whitespace. Using whitespace immediately creates a new visual statement of elegance, putting the focus on product paired with a simple and direct message. Many high-end cosmetic and jewelry brands, such as Chanel or Marc Jacobs, use white space to create visual luxury.

Discover even more about whitespace with these resources that give more information on using whitespace as a design and user experience tool:

The Verge, Eluption, UX Myths, A List Apart, How Google Uses Whitespace, Smashing Magazine, Hack Design, and Fast Company.

Want to know more about IQ? Contact Us

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  • 11.14.14

7 Key Insights by Maurice Levy, Chairman & CEO of Publicis Groupe

Reposted from the Berlin School of Creative Leadership blog.

Maurice came to the Berlin School of Creative Leadership to speak about how big data, e-commerce, digital transformation and two billion new consumers will affect the creative industries. In picturing the communication landscape of tomorrow and the importance of re-thinking the intersections in a blurred world, he shared what he claims to be his personal formula.

1. The “Blurred World”
2. Speed
3. Digital Transformation
4. The Formula: IQ, EQ, TQ & BQ
5. Pioneering in Today’s World of Advertising
6. The Issue of Collaboration
7. How to Align People

1. The “Blurred World”
“We used to live in a world where we would categorize companies and industries, even people, in kind of formatted ways. This person is an engineer. That company operates in the automobile industry. These days everything is blurred: People are blurred. Companies are blurred. Even time is blurred. Think of a company like Amazon. What kind of a company is it? A bookseller? A retailer? A media outlet? The great thing about that is that we can now think about the intersections in a way that we never thought of before. Today you can be very creative and successful in redefining these blurred lines.”

2. Speed
“We are living in a time of speed. If you think about something today, and if you really believe you can do something different – you’d better do it bloody quick. You just have to move fast or somebody else will probably take your idea. Think about companies like Facebook. At the same time, existing companies are struggling to keep up. Even if you have been very successful for a very long time – if you’re not taking the right decisions today, your company can get close to death by tomorrow. This is very much true if you think about tech firms and companies, but as our world continues to digitalize, it’s not only them anymore.”

3. Digital Transformation
“Remember the Internet bubble? In 2005, we were basically in dead seats, no one was investing in digital anymore and yet – you could see the change happening. I’ve heavily invested since 2006, because I did observe the people in the streets. How they were using their mobile phones, how they were shopping online. And I knew things were about to happen that would impact our industry in a game-changer kind of way. Anyone remembers Sony’s Walkman? Why haven’t they invented the i-pod? They were on the wrong technology path, basically.”

4. The Formula: IQ, EQ, TQ & BQ
“How can you be a pioneer in today’s world of advertising? In advertising we can change the way people see the world. If we manage to engage with them emotionally, we infect their brain. But what we need today is not only smart ideas that connect brain and emotional intelligence. We need these four: IQ, EQ, TQ – which refers to technology quotient – and BQ…be bloody quick.”

5. Pioneering in Today’s World of Advertising
“In advertising, we are supposed to be at the forefront of everything that is new. We are supposed to be the Avant-garde, to take risks – but we also have a high responsibility towards the client. There is some paradox in that. We cannot predict exactly how people will react to something. We have to accept that there is no secure recipe for success or total control. People are analog, not digital. But no matter what you do, if you believe in what you’re doing, stick to it, fight skepticism, and at the same time, be cautious about what you’re doing – at least make sure that your idea would cause no harm.”

6. The Issue of Collaboration
“We don’t live in a world of manufacturers anymore, in which companies used to design, develop, produce and distribute their products under the same roof. We all have to go for collaboration. Big data is a big issue and the new markets of China, India and Africa – just imagine the scale of two billion new consumers. We’ve started early to collaborate with Google, Facebook, Twitter, with different start-ups and media outlets. I believe this trend of collaboration will increasingly play a big role in the world of tomorrow, and the way in which we will manage business effectively.”

7. How to Align People
“A pioneer is not a group of people. A group of people can be pioneering in what they do, but there is always the one who is leading the way. It’s crucial to align people. Stay curious. Observe. Accept. Be flexible and alert. Make sure you give a few directions that everyone understands. No one has a better idea than everyone together. Don’t refuse to learn from somebody else, that’s just arrogance. I hate complacency; and I always like to think that the greatest success is yet to happen. If your team has the same spirit as you, you’re heading in the right direction.”

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The SoDA Report – Volume 2, 2014

SoDA Report Volume 2 2014

As the founder and board chair of SoDA, the digital society, I’m happy to say it’s time again for the SoDA Report. It is now perhaps the most read digital trends report in the world, clocking almost 300,000 views from our last issue. You can see it here on a responsive site or as a Slideshare.

Stay Informed