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Ad blocking is cementing brands’ content roadmap

by Stephen Gill

Last week, Randall Rothenberg created tidal waves across the industry in his evangelical scorn of ad blockers, decadently indulging his peers in a diatribe about ad blockers’ profiteering and subversion of freedom of the press. Though the significant rise in ad blocking has caused painful billion-dollar revenue losses for publishers and extreme divisiveness over potential solutions, the fresh introspection into our industry is more than welcome and long overdue.

Brands, too, are re-thinking their content strategies as a result of ad blocking. While consumers choose to subscribe to ad blocking for numerous varied reasons, three explanations we all can sympathize with include: ads no longer provide value to the consumer, ads have become disruptive to consumers’ online experience, and finally, ads no longer resonate with consumers at an emotional level.

Fortunately, over the past year brands have taken this time as an opportunity to reverse the tide and explore innovative content ideas. Here are some emerging trends that marketers can apply to stem ad blocking inertia.

Long-form storytelling is making a comeback

Women InmatesThe Ascent, and Cocainenomics: What do they have in common?

These are all ground-breaking branded content campaigns that Netflix sponsored in partnership with The New York Times, The Atlantic, and most recently The Wall Street Journal to promote their hit shows Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, and Narcos. Each of these long feature articles demonstrates outstanding and delicate journalism on thought provoking subjects with beautiful graphics and deeply engaging videos.

Netflix’s Orange is the New Black native 1,500-word ad included short-form videos that gave rare insight into individual profiles of women who, for example, transitioned from “a Hermes scarf, a Tahari coat dress, a pair of high heels” to shackles on the first day. Rather than cornering this ad to a 300×250 ad slot, the paid post appeared on the Times’ homepage, “among editorial links to an article about a town’s fight against pollution, an op-ed about the Frick Collection, and a travel story about Bolinas, Calif.”

For advertisers, custom native ads like these are paving a new model for branded content. By delving deeper into interesting subjects and delivering value that readers expect alongside editorial content, brands will ensure consumers come back thirsting for more.

Deliver the right experience, not just the right message

Over the years, intrusive, repetitive, and data-intensive (rich media) display ads have led consumers to associate online advertising with annoying experiences and slow load times. Therefore, it has become incumbent upon brands more than ever to reset this perception by creating contextual, non-interruptive experiences.

This imperative couldn’t be more relevant than in the context of mobile. When the Times reviewed how much of consumers’ mobile data came from advertising in “The Cost of Mobile Ads on 50 News Websites,” the study astoundingly found that “more than half of all data came from ads and other content filtered by ad blockers.” No wonder why consumers glommed onto ad blocking when Apple made it easier on iOS.

For “mobile-first” brands, crafting a light, yet engaging content experience will be vital. Additionally, Mobile Marketing Association found that marketers who ran mobile native campaigns at lower frequency (fewer placements and exposures) contributed to better overall ROI. Therefore, as advertisers plan branded content campaigns across both desktop and mobile channels, prioritizing non-interruptive, relevant experiences at less frequent times will remain key to keeping consumers engaged.

Along these lines, publishers should also think about how they can serve advertisers as a better conduit for good user experiences. Publishers such as Forbes are already experimenting with offering “ad-light” experiences that will likely prove to become sustainable, revenue generating models.

From pushing marketing messages to pulling on consumers’ heartstrings

Jeff Bander, president at Sticky, perceptively pointed out that marketing is entering an era focused on emotion, so it behooves brands to adjust their measurement to align with this new reality.

There are many examples of digital campaigns that are following this trend. In a brilliant social example geared towards environmentally conscious millennials, the nonprofit World Wildlife Fund launched a Webby Award-winning #LastSelfie campaign that featured nine-second Snapchat pics of endangered animals. The pics included captions such as, “better take a screenshot / this could be my #lastselfie” and “Don’t let this be my #LastSelfie.” As a result of this campaign, the WWF achieved its monthly donation target within three days and animal adoptions through its site.

This campaign illustrates how anchoring content in consumers’ passions and interests can be extremely effective in mobilizing consumers to take action, rather than block ads.

The ad-blocking phenomenon rang alarm bells against a slowly degrading user experience, and sparked new, vital conversations in our industry. As a result, brands have begun laying the groundwork for new models of consumer engagement. The key will be to partner with publishers that are also evolving their monetization strategies to offer lightweight and impactful user experiences. In this new “ad-light” world, publishers will no longer rely on volume and instead realign their product strategies to the shifting landscape. I look forward to seeing how brands, publishers and the tech ecosystem will band together to innovate a brand new content roadmap.

Stephen Gill, CEO, Tiller

Stephen Gill is a visionary technology entrepreneur and leader, whose passion for the digital marketing space inspired him to found Tiller in 2015. His passion? To make advertising better.

Read more at http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/39823.asp?imcid=nl#qEgvF8lj43QeU6Yy.99

Source: Ad blocking is cementing brands’ content roadmap – iMediaConnection.com

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Fullscreen is definitely on a roll.  A glimpse into a piece of the future of advertising talent acquisition and TV production.

Fullscreen, GroupM Ink Deal to Form Influencer Marketing ProgramAgency’s Clients Get Access to Fullscreen’s Technology, Dedicated TeamBy Tim Peterson. Published on January 05, 2016.

Source: Fullscreen, GroupM Form Influencer Marketing Program, Playa | Digital – Advertising Age

For more brands to put money toward video deals with digital celebrities, or influencers, it needs to become easier for the brands to pick out which influencers to work with. “It’s much harder for brand owners to keep up with the velocity of celebrity and influence than it was before,” said Rob Norman, global chief digital officer at WPP’s media-buying arm GroupM. That’s a problem for companies that operate networks of influencers, but it can also be a selling point, one that digital video network Fullscreen has parlayed into a multiyear deal with GroupM.

Fullscreen and GroupM have created an influencer marketing program called Playa that will coordinate exclusive deals between the agency’s clients and Fullscreen’s global roster of more than 75,000 digital celebrities.

An agency signing a deal with a company that operates a network of digital celebrities, or influencers, isn’t necessarily newsworthy. GroupM already works with Twitter’s influencer marketing firm Niche, andOmnicom signed an eight-figure deal with Disney’s Maker Studios in 2014. And the fact that GroupM’s parent company WPP is an investor in Fullscreen makes the deal less of a surprise. But what really helped the deal come together, according to Mr. Norman, is that GroupM gains access to Fullscreen’s tool that helps brands identify and assess the company’s influencers and their audiences as well as Fullscreen employees that have experience in mediating deals between brands and influencers.

For advertisers, dealing with digital celebrities isn’t the same as traditional stars. For starters, digital celebrities have a higher bar for which brands they’re willing to promote, recognizing that their own reputations are at stake when they back a brand. And large as digital celebrities’ fan bases can be, they can also be pretty niche. A digital star may have millions of subscribers on YouTube and thousands of fans mobbing her at an event like VidCon, the annual Comic-Con-like confab of digital video stars and their fans, then walk into a Starbucks a few blocks away and go unnoticed.

“This really started at VidCon for me,” Mr. Norman said. “Obviously I knew what the scale of the YouTube ecosystem was. But what I didn’t really know was how mandolin-sliced that celebrity has become.”

That niche-at-scale dynamic can make it hard for brands to pick out which digital celebrities they want to work with, especially as more of these so-called influencers crop up across YouTube, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat and elsewhere. But Fullscreen has built tools that catalog these creators and measure the paid and organic reach of the creators’ own videos and the ones they made for brands, with WPP’s Millward Brown and Tubular Labs on board for third-party measurement verification. Now it is opening up those tools to GroupM “so that they on their buying desks can actually look at people and creators in the same way they would look at other media channels,” said Fullscreen CEO George Strompolos.

“It’s systematizing what was previously unsystematizable,” Mr. Norman said. He added, “What they’ve got is an influencer management system that allows you to identify who’s trending up and who’s trending down, what their interests are, what their audiences look like, what the intersection of their channel viewers are with other channel viewers and also about the kinds of work they do with brands.”

Digital video analytics companies like Outrigger Media and ZEFR offer similar tools that examine digital celebrities’ audiences for advertisers and present that information in a dashboard. But thanks to its network of influencers, Fullscreen is able to take things a step further by connecting advertisers with those celebrities and helping to put together the deals.

In the case of Fullscreen’s deal with GroupM, Fullscreen will be setting up a dedicated team of employees that specialize in influencer marketing campaigns to work exclusively with GroupM’s clients. Those employees will spend their time “managing everything from the creative ideation to the contracts to dealing with the personalities involved — whether those are agents, managers, lawyers, parents — to the nuances of maybe a certain creator recently worked with a competitive advertiser or maybe a brand has shown a tendency to reject ad integrations and also respecting and honoring the creative vision that the talent has,” Mr. Strompolos said.

Those employees will be headquartered in New York and also located in London and Los Angeles. They will work primarily out of Fullscreen’s offices but also spend time at GroupM’s digs. That shared-space strategy will be especially easy in Los Angeles where Fullscreen and GroupM have offices in the same building in Playa Vista, the emerging epicenter of the L.A. tech-and-media scene that also inspired the Playa program’s name. In addition to the team of specialists, Fullscreen will offer up its in-house production team to work with the influencers and GroupM’s clients.

The deal may sound as simple as GroupM gets to pick stars from Fullscreen’s stable to appear in one-off videos, but it can go the other way as well. Mr. Strompolos said GroupM’s clients will get first dibs on sponsorship opportunities in one-off videos and original shows that Fullscreen’s creators initially come up with that could include one or more brands.

As part of the deal, GroupM’s clients will receive some exclusive deals on campaign pricing, Mr. Strompolos said, declining to get into specifics about the deal’s financial terms. Mr. Norman said there is “no hard commitment” in how much money from GroupM’s clients that the media-buying group needs to funnel Fullscreen’s way. But if GroupM isn’t able to spark enough deals between its clients and Fullscreen, then some exclusive aspects of the deal will be made available to other agencies and advertisers.

And that’s the looming question: whether Fullscreen’s expertise and the ease of its technology will be able to entice GroupM’s clients, who may be more comfortable spending their money on traditional channels, to see Fullscreen’s creators as the next generation of those channels. Mr. Norman said clients want to do more of these influencer deals, but “if I was Walt DisneyCorporation or NBC, I wouldn’t be quaking in my boots.” At least not yet.

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This is an inevitable evolution for Facebook.

Facebook quietly tested a Yelp competitor and Yelp’s stock plunged 9%

Jillian D’Onfro Dec. 15, 2015, 5:27 PM 5,174

Facebook has quietly started testing a new recommendation service that lets users find the top-rated and reviewed local businesses in their area.

The service looks similar to Yelp, which saw its stock plunge nearly 8% this morning. It finished the day down more than 9%.

Although Facebook hasn’t made any formal announcements on the feature, the Facebook Services site is live right now, which we found thanks to Search Engine Land.

“We’re in the early stages of testing a way for people to easily find more Pages for the services they’re interested in,” a Facebook spokesperson told Business Insider via email. Earlier this year, the company completely overhauled its Pages to make them more useful for small businesses, which can list their services and hours and communicate with potential customers through them. Facebook recently announced that it’s gotten more than 50 million businesses on board. Here’s what the new site looks like:

screen shot 2015-12-15 at 10.51.20 am

 

Source: Facebook tests new way to let people find the best local businesses – Business Insider

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Mashable Shop will feature the publisher’s own merchandise, like branded sunglasses and a hacky sack. Credit: Courtesy Mashable

Publishers continue to experiment with e-Shops.  Sponsored by Visa, this one is an interesting play in a highly competitive market.

Mashable Shop Is a Native Ad That’s Also an Online Store. Visa Will Sponsor Shop to Promote Visa Checkout

By Tim Peterson. Published on November 25, 2015.

Digital publishers are looking for all kinds of alternatives to the traditional banner ad. They’ve typically looked at new ways of fusing editorial and advertising — sponsored articles, branded videos, etc. — but Mashable has come up with a way to add e-commerce to the mix.

On Cyber Monday Mashable will open Mashable Shop on its site. And in a native advertising spin on e-commerce, the new e-commerce section of Mashable.com will be sponsored by Visa and incorporate the company’s Visa Checkout payment service.

Mashable Shop will be in business through 2016 and feature products from some brands that Visa considers partners as well as a few tech products from crowdfunding site Kickstarter. It will also feature Mashable-branded clothes and accessories created by Mashable’s creative arm, Collective, which also runs its Snapchat Discover channel, in an effort to promote Mashable’s own brand. In addition to the revenue from Visa’s sponsorship, Mashable will only be making money from sales of its own goods, which will include Mashable-branded hoodies, sunglasses and a hacky sack. Revenue from Visa partners’ products and the Kickstarter products will go entirely to their respective creators, according to Mashable CMO Stacy Martinet.

“For us this is more of a brand play than a revenue play,” Ms. Martinet said. She added, “We are not looking at this as an e-commerce play.”

However, it is an advertising play. Visa already runs ads on Mashable, including a sponsored content series to promote its PayPal-like digital payment service Visa Checkout. But interspersing interviews with NFL stars with clips of Visa Checkout isn’t the same as actually getting people to use the service that lets people buy products online without having to fill out a bunch of forms each time they do. That’s where Mashable Shop comes in.

As part of the sponsorship deal, people buying products through Mashable Shop will only be able to make the purchases using Visa Checkout, which can connect to a person’s MasterCard, American Express or Discover credit or debit card. That way Visa can offer something new to the 8.5 million people who already use Visa Checkout as well as attract more of those people, whose characteristics — tech-savvy, millennial early adopters — overlap with Mashable’s audience, according to Sam Shrauger, Visa senior VP-digital solutions.

“It’s an evolution of the marketing, advertising and commerce capabilities coming together. That’s exciting because I think it’s a good leading indicator of what you’ll see a lot of folks in the space do,” said Mr. Shrauger, who wasn’t sure how much Visa is spending on the campaign. A Mashable spokesman declined to comment on the amount of money changing hands.

Source: Mashable Shop Is a Native Ad That’s Also an Online Store | Digital – Advertising Age

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What’s actually working in digital advertising? 8 publishers on how they’re bringing in money Executives from The New York Times, Slate, The Atlantic, Wired, Mashable, The Seattle Times, Vox Media, and Newsweek say native advertising continues to be a success. But many are still trying to find the right approach to mobile ads.

By JUSTIN ELLIS @JustinNXT Oct. 19, 2015, 11:48 a.m. 231 105

Many publishers’ digital revenues have been on an upward swing in recent years — but it’s not enough to fill the gaps left by print. According to eMarketer, global digital ad spending in 2015 is expected to reach $170.17 billion. Global mobile ad spending globally should hit $69 billion this year. That sounds like good news. But there are plenty of caveats for publishers: In 2014, Google, Facebook, AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo accounted for 61 percent of total digital ad revenue in the U.S., according to Pew’s annual State of the Media report. R

The next version of Safari will let users block ads on iPhones and iPads June 10, 2015 And this year, publishers are confronted by new obstacles: The rise of ad blocking on mobile and the specter of fraud brought on by bot traffic. With the rise of automated ad sales, some media companies are trying to build their own custom ad tech. Factor in platforms like Apple, Facebook, and Snapchat hosting news — and offering to sell ads, minus their own cut — and it can feel as if publishers are trying to thread an increasingly smaller needle. I asked several publishers what’s working for them in digital advertising in this uncertain environment. What types of formats are performing well? How is that a change from recent history? Do they have any plans to counteract ad blockers? Now that many companies are creating branded/sponsored/native offerings, the hunt for America’s Next Top Advertising Model has moved to formats like video, podcasts, and newsletters. For many, mobile remains an elusive goal — and, as Mary Meeker’s annual slide deck shows, a tantalizing opportunity. I spoke with executives from Slate, The New York Times, Vox Media, The Atlantic, Mashable, The Seattle Times, Newsweek, and Wired. Their thoughts on digital advertising are below, slightly edited for length and clarity.

Source: What’s actually working in digital advertising? 8 publishers on how they’re bringing in money » Nieman Journalism Lab

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Great advice in this.   Sales copy need to be written from the customer’s perspective. Easily said but often overlooked.

3 Simple Copywriting Techniques to Get Your Customer ‘Beyond’ the Buy Button

by  AMY HARRISON JUL 21

 

When you write sales copy, it’s easy to get consumed by one thought: make the sale.

But this focus could actually be your copywriting downfall.

While you want to make a sale, your customer wants a transformation.

If you don’t share that vision of transformation when you write, your message could fall flat right when you need it most: at the buy button.

Here’s how to guide your customer through — and beyond — the sale with confidence.

Why focusing on the sale is like hitting a brick in the road

via 3 Simple Copywriting Techniques to Get Your Customer ‘Beyond’ the Buy Button – Copyblogger.

 

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A good summary on the state of branding in a multimedia world.

How to improve your online brand across platforms.

The power of branding in the multi-channel retail world

Victor Hugo once said that “no army can withstand the strength of an idea whose time has come”. In many ways brands can be equally as powerful, inspiring loyalty, love and of course sales! However it’s easy for companies to overlook the power and value of their brands in the frantic search for smarter technology and smarter ways of doing business.

Good branding holds the key to cutting through an increasingly fragmented media landscape to ensure a product is front of mind at the moment a consumer decides it is time to buy.

Outlined below are a few tips on branding in today’s more complex and fast moving world.

Enough with the complexity already!

In Scott Brinkers Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic below we see a bewildering array of different marketing technology vendors but what’s striking here is that each of these companies represent a technology that is actually designed to simplify your marketing activity.

If this image represents an industry aimed at simplification then it neatly illustrates the point that complexity is one of the biggest challenges facing businesses. It’s also a challenge for individuals and research suggests that as consumers we see between 500 and 3000 logos per day (so this diagram has just upped your weekly average).

marketing tech landscape

In a world of so much complexity, unless your brand is at the heart of everything you do then your message will simply get drowned out by the white noise of media and competing demands for attention.

Speed Kills

One of the reasons that attention is in short supply is speed. As we know speed kills but these days its killing off those businesses that can’t keep up. Some even believe that speed is killing off the very concept of strategic planning. Proponents of the agile, lean-start up mentality argue that rapid responsiveness beats overly analytical strategy any day of the week.

While planning may be unlikely to truly die we’re certainly looking at a shorter planning horizons of 3 rather than 5 years. As a result it is more important than ever that everyone who is along for the ride has a clear understanding of what the brand stands for if they are going to have a hope of making the right decision making on the fly.

Some tips on branding

So how can companies harness the power of their brands? Outlined below are some guiding principles for brands in this new era of communication.

1. Keep it simple – focus

Nick Robertson, CEO of ASOS recently said that the pivotal moment in his business’ history was when they decided that they were going to do nothing else other than sell fashion to twenty something’s. Once he’d made the decision it became easy to align everything about the business behind this simple brand goal. This focus on twenty somethings goes right the way through the organisation with the majority of people who work at ASOS team being in their twenties and so living and breathing the lifestyle typified by the brand.

Compare that with Tesco which has struggled of late to clearly define itself on the shifting sands of changing consumer tastes and buying behaviours. As a result it’s seeing intense competition both at the top by the likes of Waitrose and at the bottom buy the likes of Aldi and Lidl, who have a clear focus and know their audience well.

fClick the link below for more insightful tips

http://www.smartinsights.com/online-brand-strategy/multichannel-strategies/connect-brand-platforms/

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