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I've always resented the "dumb man" cliché so often portrayed in advertising. I get it -- they're not for me. Those ads are meant to appeal to women, not those of us with a "Y" chromosome. But the bumbling idiot male stereotype has always seemed to me such an easy, uncreative, and unfunny joke. I don't know if the trend of portraying men as helpless and simple is getting worse or if I'm becoming more critical of it now that I'm a stay-at-home dad. Either way, it bugs me more than ever. Here's a particularly infuriating recent example of the "stupid man" cliché in a Discover Card TV spot:

Thankfully, there are some brands that are daring to portray men as having emotions, being good fathers, and acting as supportive husbands who love their wives. After all, there are happy couples out there, right? Successful marriages with partners who love one another? I really, really hope so. And if my optimistic outlook is anywhere near valid then there is a group of people, both men and women, who will be responsive to marketing that depicts men as responsible, useful people.

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News hit last week that publishers like the New York Times and Buzzfeed were looking to publish articles directly on Facebook. While reaction to this news has been a bit mixed, in my opinion it's not only a bad idea, but will likely do more harm than good.

In my experience, the quality of the audience that I've seen publishers acquire from Facebook has been significantly lower than from other sources such as search, third party sites, and Twitter. Facebook-referred visitors tend to be "one and done" when it comes to page views and video views. They do not go deep into sites. In addition to low engagement in their initial visit, their return rates to a publisher's sites are usually much lower than that for visitors acquired from other sources.

In addition to low quality, I have yet to see a publisher where Facebook has represented more than single digit percentages of the publisher's overall traffic. Despite the massive scale of Facebook, this does not translate directly to traffic for publishers trying to tap into that scale. Additionally, Facebook's growth is slowing down. While it's still massive, new users to their platform are true laggards and coming mainly from older age ranges of the population. The ability to expose and reach new members of Facebook is limited.

Facebook is becoming more and more of a mobile platform. According to a recent eMarketer report, 82 percent of Facebook's U.S. audience and nearly half of all mobile phone users will regularly visit Facebook on a mobile phone. Users are looking for "snack-able" content on their smartphones and generally shy away from longer content. All publishers need to do is look at their own web analytics data and compare time spent between mobile visits vs. desktop or tablet. While in traditional measures such as visits or page views, publishers may see mobile represent a majority of their traffic. A closer look will tell a different story. Based on my experience, they will likely see that average visits to their site via desktop last four times or longer than mobile visits.

Eliciting a click-through on Facebook is hard enough, so how is giving them the full article on Facebook going to solve that problem? Part of the challenge with driving scale in traffic from Facebook is that the platform itself is engaging. Users are more interested in catching up on the latest from friends and celebrities they follow, and anything else seems to be an intrusion or a disruption. I can see that perhaps publishing the article directly on Facebook rather than relying on click-throughs might get publishers more reach -- however, if there is no monetization opportunity on Facebook for the publisher, they are relying on click-through or some indirect attribution of traffic at a later time to Facebook. This is quite a bit of a leap of faith given my previous points regarding the quality and scale of traffic acquired from Facebook.

Finally, publishers are running the real risk of cannibalizing what little traffic they do get from Facebook today and perhaps even some of the direct and other referral traffic. As the saying goes, if you are getting the milk for free, why buy the cow? If users can get the information they are interested on Facebook itself, why seek it elsewhere? In addition to potentially losing revenue due to cannibalizing, there is an opportunity cost here for publishers who are utilizing increasingly scarce resources against Facebook instead of focusing elsewhere that has more promising returns.

To any publishers sitting on the fence about publishing directly to Facebook, I strongly advise that you let the "first movers" have their day and focus your efforts elsewhere. There is just too much risk involved here with no direct line of sight to revenue. The only guaranteed winner here is Facebook, and haven't we all done enough content creation on their behalf already?

John Strabley is the director of strategy at Quaero.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia at @iMediaTweet.

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As we approach summer travel season, approximately 37.2 million Americans will kick off their plans for summer travel this Memorial Day weekend. This presents a huge opportunity for ecommerce, travel, and hospitality companies to take advantage of dynamic messaging and retargeting capabilities offered by dynamic creative vendors to offer their audiences targeted messages and offers based on demographic, behavioral, contextual, and geographic needs.

Mid-sized travel, hospitality, and ecommerce businesses often think they won't be able to compete with the industry giants when it comes to digital advertising, but with some smart choices, even conservative budgets can make the most of the summer travel season to drive real ROI. Here are some ways to maximize your campaign reach this summer:

Take a creative approach to programmatic

Programmatic and creativity are not mutually exclusive. With a focus on dynamic creative optimization (DCO), advertisers can serve up ads that are dynamic and tailored to the modern travel customer. Programmatic media buying allows signals such as audience to be used to produce relevant creative. Use this data to ensure that the message resonates with your users. Doing so can double yield on interaction rates and increase engagement by 50 percent, according to the IAB.

Build creative sizes

Having multiple ad sizes and placements available will ensure your ad is served to your target at the precise moment the opportunity arises. Whether your target is on mobile or desktop, the right sized creative will be able to be optimally viewed depending on the device.

Don't underestimate simplicity

A simple message with a strong call to action can go a long way. Complicated, overly detailed offerings could be overwhelming and lose the prospect's attention. State your point succinctly and grab them with an intriguing call to action that's tailored to the season.

Avoid ad fatigue and overexposure

The use of the same standard creative can result in ad fatigue, drops in CTRs, and eventually drops in CPAs. Summer travel season presents the perfect opportunity to offer fresh, new creative that grabs attention. At the same time, be careful not to serve ads to already-converted customers. Instead, upsell them, cross-sell them, and offer relevant referral discounts.

Be timely with targeting

Use the travel season to offer timely ads. Even attention to such things as weather or traffic patterns will provide insight into which ads to serve, and when. Also, be mindful that visitors to your website have a limited attention span in terms of interest in a specific product. Visitors who have visited your site during the last 48 hours are more likely to convert due to high interest. Use this to bid higher and retarget audiences based on how recent their visit was.

Use geolocation rules

In addition to tactics like "last viewed products," where products are shown to users based on prior browsing history, rules can be set up to show advertisers' hot deal or local promotions based on geolocation. This is especially useful with consumers who are travelling and looking for deals on local products or services. Geolocation is powerful because when ads are targeted to demographic, geographi,c and contextual variables, valuable impressions are not wasted on those who are not relevant to or interested in your product. Specifics like this will improve the relevancy of retargeting campaigns by placing the right ads in front of the right people, and will also lower costs by showing ads only to the most relevant audience. Especially with smaller budgets, targeting and retargeting can become effective performance optimization tools.

By taking a few best practices into consideration this summer, and investing in the right digital marketing solutions, mid-market advertisers in the travel, hospitality, and ecommerce sectors can make budgets matter and see real ROI from the year's busiest travel season.

Kiran Gopinath is the founder and CEO at Adadyn

On Twitter? Follow iMedia at @iMediaTweet.

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2015 has been a good year for adidas so far. Racking up 56.9 million views in April, it made it onto the iMedia Brands in Video chart for the third consecutive month and took the No. 1 spot on the chart for the second time this year. Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer HTC and the deodorant brand Secret were two newcomers to the chart in April, while longtime chart regulars Google, Nike, and Samsung rounded out the list.

Adidas seems to have found its sweet spot this year. Following up on the success of "Take It" in February, it released a sequel -- "Here's to the Takers" -- in April. The one-minute anthem feels very similar to "Take It," featuring quick cuts of hard-playing athletes across countless types of sports and at all levels. Replacing the motivational voiceover of "Take It" is a pump-you-up soundtrack, and the video ends with a shot of Derrick Rose, who is currently in the NBA playoffs with the Chicago Bulls.

The adrenaline-filled approach to creative seems to be working for adidas, and the quick glimpses of celebrity athletes encourage multiple viewings to see who you might have missed.

While adidas has latched onto a winning formula and continues to execute to great success, the No. 2 spot on the chart was taken by a brand that has experimented with different approaches in the past -- and this time really knocked it out of this world.

Hyundai had only been on the chart once before for its 2013 Super Bowl campaign, which was typical Super Bowl fare: cute kids, a CGI bear, and a classic rock soundtrack. Last month, Hyundai found success with something completely different. Emotionally moving videos involving doing something nice for a real family who faces some kind of struggle is a staple in the brand viral video playbook these days, but Hyundai added in a dash of Red Bull's world record-breaking approach (see "Stratos") while managing to include astronauts and stunt driving at the same time.

Thirteen-year-old Stephanie's dad works on the International Space Station. He is away from home for long periods of time, and she misses him. Hyundai had 11 Genesis sedans drive around a dry lakebed in Nevada to write a message with the tire tracks (recreating her handwriting!) that her dad could see from space.

Clocking in at four minutes, the creative runs longer than most successful branded videos, making it all the more impressive that it was viewed more than 54 million times in April.

Another creative that was nearly four minutes long helped Dove take the No. 3 spot for April. While Hyundai might still be finding its groove, Dove has definitely alit upon a creative strategy that repeatedly racks up views. The basic premise is that women do not consider themselves as beautiful as they truly are, and Dove has continued to iterate on that theme. "Real Beauty Sketches" from 2013 has been the most viewed execution to date, and Dove saw success again last year with "Patches," in which women were given placebo beauty patches that made them feel better about themselves.

This April, Dove returned with "#ChooseBeautiful," a campaign that presented women with two doors to walk through, one labeled "beautiful" and the other "average." After walking through, women reflected on the decision they made. A mom pulled her daughter through the beautiful door, and friends insisted each other go through too. The video ends with those who chose the average door saying they would choose the beautiful door if given a second chance.

Each of these campaigns positions the brand globally. Adidas's creative certainly has U.S. sports teams well represented, but World Cup athletes and European soccer teams are featured too. With no dialogue, the campaign is powerful across borders. Similarly, Hyundai's campaign may tell the story of an American family, but captions are provided in 14 languages, and a message written so large as to be visible from space is an impressive accomplishment worldwide. Dove shot its campaign in five cities on four different continents, with the door labels "beautiful" and "average" translated into Chinese and Portuguese. Across the boards, brands are finding that they can get the most bang for the buck by creating content that resonates around the world.

Brian Shin is CEO and founder and Visible Measures.

iMedia's Top 10 Brands in Video chart, powered by Visible Measures, focuses on aggregated brand view counts across related social video ad campaigns. Each brand and campaign is measured on a True Reach basis, which includes viewership of both brand-syndicated and audience-driven video clips. The data are compiled using the patented Visible Measures platform, a constantly growing repository of analytic data on close to 400 million videos tracked across more than 300 online video destinations.

Note: This analysis does not include Visible Measures' paid-placement (e.g., overlays; pre-, mid-, and post-roll) performance data or video views on private sites. This chart does not include movie trailers, video game campaigns, TV show, or media network promotions. View counts are incremental by month.

Learn more here.

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Jason Burnham, partner and social engineer at Burnham Marketing, is a key voice for deciphering the evolution of the modern marketing agency.

Agencies are in a wild period of flux and adaptation. With publishers and brands becoming their own agents, it's not only recommended, but vital for this industry to dramatically shift the way it has traditionally defined roles. With this shift comes a new list of requirements for new agency hires.

Burnham speaks with iMedia about the state of this landscape and offers insightful perspectives on how marketers should look at new talent, the overall state of the agency world, and ways to smartly adapt to dramatic change.

Click here to subscribe to the iMedia YouTube channel.

Article written by media production manager David Zaleski and video edited by associate media producer Brian Waters.

"Growing Older" image via Shutterstock.

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LinkedIn remains the ultimate tool in business. It serves a diverse audience of people with varying motivations to help recruit, develop business, expand your network, educate, and connect with others. Some people do a great job using the tool, while others simply have the tool and leave it in the toolbox. One way to reap at least some of the benefits of LinkedIn is to get your profile right; at the very least, it can be a passive line in the water for others who want to connect with you for the many opportunities that may be out there if you're open to them.

Here are a few things you can do to beef up your profile and let it do some of the work for you.

Take a photo that represents you

This one is more important than it probably should be. However, your profile image will be your first impression, as any eye-tracking study will show you. Take a good photo and consider the context of the picture.

What does your LinkedIn photo say about you?

  • No photo: I may be wanted in one or more states.
  • No photo and you are a high-level CEO with less than 4 connections: I don't really need this, but I thought I might at some point, but still don't and don't have the time to deal with it...and my kid set it up for me.
  • A selfie: I have no friends. Or, I am a control freak and other people just cannot be trusted to take my LinkedIn photo.
  • An awkward selfie taken from a webcam where you're actually looking at the screen and not the camera: I just can't help myself. Hello, handsome...
  • Behind the wheel of a car: I own a car.
  • A mysterious cut-off arm in the picture: This is literally the best photo I have of myself, and unfortunately, there were other people with me at the time.
  • Clearly at a party: I party.
  • Any style of picture that one might also use for a dating site: I look for dates on LinkedIn.
  • In front of a plane, car, or other expensive thing: [Caveat: Unless you are a race car driver, work for a car-oriented company, are a dedicated pilot, or are a realtor] This isn't my car...and I haven't had a date in a while. (Sidenote: Don't use that picture for a dating site, either.)
  • Sexy pose: Please don't read my experience.
  • A picture of something other than you: A real picture of myself may scare you.
  • In costume: I walk a fine line between weird and cool.

I could go on, but the key is to use a photo that represents you. Keep it professional and in the context of your occupation. In other words, a creative probably has more leeway with the photo and its treatment than an accountant. Remember, people decide whether or not to call you back based on this profile and the picture is a major part of it.

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There's no doubt that video is now the hottest form of media for young viewers. Last December, Facebook video posts overtook YouTube video posts, with brands posting 20,000 more videos on Facebook than YouTube. And video-enabled platforms like Vine, Snapchat, and Instagram are among the fastest growing social networks for 18-to-24 year olds.

Now you toss Periscope and Meerkat into the mix. These instant video streams offer immense value for consumers. They can now access content anywhere and everywhere, making digital TV ubiquitous. But before brands jump on the live-streaming bandwagon, they need to ask themselves three important questions to avoid simple social media blunders.

Does this make for good TV?

YouTube and Facebook videos are usually segments of recorded, planned, and strategized programming. Periscope and Meerkat, however, are live broadcasts. Does your Periscope campaign make for good TV?

During live TV shows, 62 percent of viewers are using a second screen. Think about how you can evoke the same kind of interaction, but in real time. Most campaigns rely on user-generated content, where the brands toss in one question or statement to fuel a viral conversation. But with Meerkat and Periscope, the content produced is stemming only from the brand.

And these live streams happen fast. Marketers need to think about how they can keep the conversation going. Questions and comments fire quickly across screens on Periscope, so your on-camera exec needs to be someone who is quick on his or her feet, and is ready for any curve balls -- especially during an AMA (Ask Me Anything).

Who is your audience?

Before marketers have their CMO or CEO broadcast a company announcement, think about who is using the platform. As both Periscope and Meerkat are still in the early stages, user demographics have yet to be disclosed. While the platforms are still trying to find its identity in the social media space, both Periscope and Meerkat attract younger viewers -- similar to Snapchat -- and early adopters.

And let's be honest, these users might not know what to expect with Periscope. One of the earliest trends was #FridgeView, where everyone -- celebrities and every-day Joes alike --showcased the contents of their fridge. Conversely, reporters and citizen journalists have also taken to the live-streaming world, broadcasting breaking news from cell phones.

Make sure the message you want to convey in the live broadcast syncs up with your target audience.

Is this illegal?

New platforms are always enticing for marketers and brands. They provide opportunities for companies to engage with their community. However, new media come with new rules. Agencies and brands need think about the legal repercussions.

Guerilla campaigns and "man-on-the-street" style videos produce great content, but similar to the TV industry, brands need to have the live-video participants sign a release. Unlike Twitter or Facebook contests where the rules are written, Periscope and Meerkat would require releases to be signed prior to the live broadcast, much like filming video ads.

For example: if marketers want to host a campaign asking participants questions for a prize, the participants would be required to sign a release form. This protects the brand from any violations to a person's right of publicity. Last month, Kerry Gorgone, lawyer and social media law expert, detailed other legal aspects for marketers to consider. 

The ability to live broadcast anything from mobile devices is an incredible revolution in today's user-centric generation. The opportunities for brands are endless, as John Bohan mentioned in April. But it's certainly important to make sure the appropriate content is engaging, captures the right audience, and stays within legal boundaries.

Brian Selander is EVP at Whistle Sports Network.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia at @iMediaTweet.

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Deliverability can be a scary concept for marketers. So much effort goes into planning a campaign and ensuring that it's relevant to each customer, that to suggest that the message may not even make it into the inbox is not a pleasant thought. And the effects of poor deliverability go far beyond the tactical -- as email and mobile marketing increasingly drive revenue, poor deliverability has a measurable impact on a business' bottom line.

If you have dealt with deliverability issues, as many marketers do at some point, I can bet that a part of you wanted to blame the ISPs for making a mistake. But deliverability doesn't exist in a vacuum; it begins and ends with your data -- the quality of that data, how you manage it, and your ability to act on that insight. Deliverability issues are the tip of the iceberg; tackling them requires a long-term, sustainable data strategy that gets at the heart of the larger problem: irrelevance.

To be effective in the marketplace, marketers need to ensure their communication is relevant and personalized to each customer. You not only need to have the right data, but also the ability to act on that data in a way that improves your relationships with your customers. Irrelevance means less engagement, less brand loyalty, and a resulting negative effect on deliverability.

Marketers who want to improve their deliverability score need to focus on the root of the problem -- the data. First and foremost, they need to take an audit of their current data management strategy. Data is the backbone of modern marketing, and deliverability issues are a prime indicator that your data strategy (which includes collection, quality and linkage) is not aligned to or servicing your marketing programs effectively. To fix them, you must have a plan for how to improve all aspects of your data.

While the data itself -- especially contact data -- needs to be clean, it also needs to be right. It is not the data that you collect that will make your programs better than others, it is how you think about, and use, that data across your entire organization. As you collect data, think about the insights that you hope to glean from it. How will you use this data to personalize? How will you use it to segment your customers? Each new data point you collect offers the risk of inaccuracies, so you need to be sure you have a plan for how it will be used. Not only that, but as marketing messages become even more targeted and personalized, it will be critical for brands to have confidence in the data that powers these sophisticated programs.

How you think about data and use it across your organization must be tied to a clear strategy of cleanliness and linkage to ensure that each customer record is accurate, complete, and unique. While your various marketing departments might be siloed, it is important that your data strategy is not. Without a clear record of each individual, you may be sending to inactive users, blasting out a message to those who have unsubscribed, or sending two versions of a message to the same individual -- all things that will negatively impact not only deliverability, but also your brand reputation, consumer trust, and even bottom line.

So how to begin crafting a better data strategy? Start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What are all the possible touchpoints through which a customer can provide their data, and how can you ensure it is of the highest quality possible?
  • Are there opportunities for you to collect additional data from your customers?
  • Are you asking your customers for information that you are not planning on using?
  • How can you leverage data to better understand your customers and the best channels to reach them?
  • Is the data and insight tied to every marketing campaign across all channels throughout the campaign lifecycle?
  • Are your data assets positioned to anticipate your future business needs?

A poor deliverability score can indicate more than just a problem with the ISPs -- it can diagnose the need for a stronger data management strategy across your whole organization. Marketers must realize the need for strong, clean, and actionable data if they hope to remain a relevant and invited presence in their customers' inbox.

Spencer Kollas is the VP of global deliverability services at Experian Marketing Services.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia at @iMediaTweet.

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At some point in life, whether it be via an IQ test or simply a question posed on a pop quiz from your geometry teacher, you've been asked, "Are all rectangles squares? Are all squares rectangles?" The answer, of course, is that all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares. Now, before you close out of this tab, I want to assure you that I do have a point -- and it's not that you should repeat geometry. This logic came into play during a recent discussion about management, when a good friend noted that all great leaders are managers, but not all managers can lead. After a brief ponder, I had to agree.

Warning signs that you're lacking as a manager

In previous features, I've discussed the impact that managers can have on their organizations, but now I'd like to turn the focus to the managers themselves. More specifically, as a manager, how can you be sure that you're giving your all? Are there warning signs that you've missed that indicate you aren't providing your best? Ultimately, are you managing or are you truly leading? To begin, let's first discuss what it means to be manager versus a leader.

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In a talk given at the Winter Science Week, Bruno Fernandez-Ruiz, senior fellow at Yahoo, explained that advertisement performance goals can be divided into three main categories:

  • Awareness: The typical example is traditional brand marketing, both online and offline, in which ROI is difficult to measure.
  • Engagement and consideration: A grey zone between brand advertising and direct response, which can influence offline purchases, but is still not directly linked to it. Usually this type of advertising is associated with native advertising and social media.
  • Action and retention: Conversions exist with a clear revenue attribution. Usually this type of advertising is associated with direct response campaigns and search marketing.

Since native advertising has evolved as an answer to the display advertising challenges (e.g., "banner blindness" and disruptive experiences), its main focus was to provide value to the user, in a way that becomes integral to the content consumption experience. It is therefore not surprising that native advertising is usually categorized in the middle tier -- "Engagement and consideration." Native ads, especially content recommendation ads, offer in-depth engagement with the users, they can educate them on the relevant subject matters, provide important tips, cover relevant trends, and so on.

Although this type of engagement can substantially influence a buying decision and increase brand awareness, native ads are usually not designed and measured as direct response campaigns. But with substantially higher CTR rates for native ads compared to display advertising, the possibility of leveraging this form of advertising for direct response campaigns is extremely attractive for advertisers and most other players in the ad-tech ecosystem.

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