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Brand marketing comes in every flavor. Brands like Spacely Sprockets sell physical products, while other brands like life coaches or fitness experts sell information and expertise. Many brands, like PewDiePie or Jamie Oliver, are personality-based. So not all of the following examples will apply to every brand. However, being aware of what your fellow Instagrammers may find irritating will help your brand -- whatever it is -- grow and develop a more loyal audience.

9 cliché Instagram posts to avoid

Furthermore, as a career brand marketer, you might feel a responsibility to build a quality personal brand. After all, your own channels on social media are a reflection of your ability to market yourself. Even if self-promotion is not your goal, it's probably how you will be viewed by some of your professional peers. Especially the ones who are thinking about hiring you.

As home to many of the worst photos on the internet, Instagram is an easy target. After all, it was born out of the desire to make crappy cell phone pictures look less crappy. Garbage photo? No problem, put three filters on it and post it. Over the years, phone cameras have gotten remarkably better, so Instagram has gotten better too. But where there's a will, there's a way...to post horrible images. These are some of the worst types.

(Full disclosure: I've built an entire brand on one of the most annoying Instagram clichés of all, #foodporn. Which might or might not be why that particular cliché is absent from the list that follows.)

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When was the last time one of your ad campaigns sold your entire inventory in seven minutes and sparked a $2,000 aftermarket on eBay?

Unless you work for General Electric or a digital men's lifestyle company called Thrillist, this has probably never happened to you.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the moon landing, GE and Thrillist collaborated on a native campaign for nearly $200 "moon sneakers" that commemorated GE's participation in the historic event.

Their strategy was simple enough: The companies worked together to produce articles with fun headlines like "10 Reasons Why the Apollo Astronauts Were Certified Badasses" and distributed them on multiple websites.

This campaign owes its success to how perfectly these companies hit their target markets. They told interesting stories in a fashion that spoke directly to hip audiences on various websites.

In a word, this campaign was "authentic."

The rising importance of authenticity

As consumers become more digitally savvy, it's increasingly important that advertisements become more authentic. Television watchers can now fast-forward through commercials, and web surfers can easily block and ignore irrelevant ads.

But advertising is a massive source of income for companies, and high-quality ads that are placed well can still be of service to consumers.

So how do we replace consumer apathy with a desire for ads? The solution, of course, is through authenticity.

Advertising no longer needs to convince people to spend money. Consumers are ready to buy products; they just want to find the best and most trustworthy way to do so. At the end of the day, trust means everything, and properly delivered advertisements can help brands earn it.

Here are three techniques that will make your brand more trustworthy:

Transparency
A study conducted at the University of Connecticut revealed that college students are more likely to trust a credit card company that clearly displays its disclosure than one that hides it in a dusty corner of its website. While most students probably won't read the disclosure, being upfront with it underscores a transparency that consumers are more willing to trust.

Relevant content
Internet surfers go online to be entertained, informed, and connected. Successful marketers deliver content that aligns with these objectives. Bombarding users with a "Sign up for Netflix" banner ad when they're trying to read an article about finance is an inauthentic tactic that will yield poor results. Ads that cater to client interests boast much higher engagement levels by building trust.

Seamless integration
Authentic ads are smoothly integrated into the sites they appear on. Surfers typically ignore anything that feels like an interruption. However, seamless ads that invite user interaction are much more appealing. Elective interaction has proven to be far more valuable than autoplay videos and unwanted pop-ups.

So how you can add authenticity to your ad equation?
 

Making authentic advertising work for you

Because you're still reading this article, it's safe to assume you don't work for GE or Thrillist, and would like some tips on being more authentic in your advertising efforts.

These three steps should send you on your way:

Track quantitative and qualitative data
The marketing industry is currently flooded with products that measure all kinds of quantitative data. Money spent, impressions, clicks, views, and actions -- all of this important data is pretty easy to track.

But don't forget to also track qualitative data. You need to understand how your channel partners are driving those quantitative numbers. For example, if a video is autoplaying in the upper right corner of a page, it might receive a lot of impressions -- but it might not deliver much value to you or your potential customers.

Take the path of fewest intermediaries
In the world of digital advertising, there are thousands of different ways for marketers to buy user attention. Some of those options involve layers upon layers of intermediaries who also profit from your marketing budget.

Ultimately, the more intermediaries there are between you and your marketing channel, the more ambiguity there is around the ad experience. Too many cooks in the kitchen can lead to fraud, bot clicks, and bloated pricing -- none of which will help you in the long run. Lean toward only doing business with channel partners with small numbers of intermediaries.

Remember that content is king
Always keep in mind that people turn to the Internet for entertainment and information. Your most important marketing task is providing content that helps consumers achieve their goals. Once you've identified your product-market fit, explore content marketing options that will effectively spread your message to the proper channels.

The most effective content will blend your consumers' needs with your company's main objectives. Content distributing, sequencing, and retargeting technologies are all available to marketers. But the first step is finding your story -- after that, everything else will fall into place.

Thrillist CEO Ben Lerer admits that even he was surprised by just how effective his campaign with GE was. But it stands as proof that authentic advertising drives engagement and trust, leading to the best results.

Imagine a world with only authentic advertising. It would be a huge step up from frustrating banners and pop-ups. Similar to Neil Armstrong's famous moonwalk words: It's one small step for man, but one giant leap for digital marketing.

Satish Polisetti is co-founder at AdsNative

On Twitter? Follow iMedia at @iMediaTweet. 

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Always is back among the top brands in online video after releasing a follow-up to its "#LikeAGirl" campaign. Last year's campaign aimed to break down the idea that doing something "like a girl" is an insult meaning to do a task poorly. The uplifting campaign was a huge hit and has been viewed more than 66 million times to date. This July, Always released a follow-up called "Unstoppable," which was responsible for 97 percent of Always' views for the month of July.

In "Unstoppable," Always explores how girls feel limited in what they can do because of society's expectations for their gender. In the ad, girls are asked if they have been told they should not do something because they are girls. They discuss how they are expected to act because of their gender and how these expectations have limited them and affected their lives. The girls write these limitations on a large box, and we see them kick, knock over, and destroy the boxes, symbolically destroying the limitations society has put on them. Always was able to build off the success of "#LikeAGirl" and create another eye-opening campaign that viewers connected to.

Back on the chart for the first time since March 2015, Facebook grabbed the top spot in July. Its "What's On Your Mind?" campaign is responsible for the ranking. The campaign consists of slow-motion videos of Facebook posts that are set to music. Each ends with the question, "What's on your mind?" The videos have tied into holidays such as Father's Day and the Fourth of July. While some are heartwarming, most take on a humorous tone.

Samsung made the chart yet again, dropping to second place this month after two months at No. 1. A variety of campaigns contributed to Samsung's success. About 13.8 million of the brand's 66 million views for the month came from "#GotTheShot." The campaign shows how easily and quickly someone can snap a picture and capture a moment with the Galaxy S6 smartphone's quick launch camera. "Wash Happy," a colorful, happy, and high-energy music video promoting Samsung's washing machine with active dual wash, was viewed 12.5 million times in the month of July.

McDonald's is back on the chart in fifth place with more than 38.2 million views in July. This summer has seen a slew of campaigns that tie in to big summer movies, including "Jurassic World," "Inside Out," and most recently "Minions." McDonald's has jumped on this trend with its "Minion Mania" campaign. McDonald's put together a surprise for customers who visited the drive-thru at its restaurants. Customers were surprised (and somewhat confused) when they went to order at the drive-thru and, instead of regular McDonald's employees, Minions were taking their orders and giving them their food at the pick-up window. The McDonald's video campaign ties into the brand's "Minion Mania" sweepstakes, which offers the chance to win $250,000 and other prizes. Viewers love the Minion cartoon characters, and the campaign was a success for McDonald's, contributing 73 percent of the brand's total views for the month of July.

Duracell has seen success recently with campaigns that focus on storytelling. In July, Duracell made it back on the chart at No. 7 with this strategy. Inspired by a true story, Duracell's "The Teddy Bear" tells the story of a father who is in the military and is separated from his family. He sends his daughter a teddy bear with a recording of his voice that says, "I love you, baby girl." At first the daughter is excited about the present, and she takes the bear everywhere. But as the days pass and her dad is still away, she becomes sad and upset that he isn't there. One day, as she sits across a table with her bear playing a game of checkers, she hears the familiar voice of her dad saying, "I love you, baby girl." This time, the phrase isn't a recording from her teddy bear; her dad is finally home, and we see the happy moment they are reunited. This touching story connected with viewers, and the campaign accounted for more than 31.8 million of Duracell's 32 million views for the month of July.

The brands that made the chart this month were from many industries and used a variety of strategies with their video campaigns. What ties these brands together is that they were all successful in capturing viewer attention. Many of these brands were able to do this by using tried-and-true strategies with their campaigns. Always was able to build off of an existing successful campaign using the theme of female empowerment, which many brands have been leveraging recently. McDonald's used the attention surrounding a major summer film release, popular film characters, and a contest to draw in viewers. Finally, Duracell captured attention with great storytelling, showing the power that a heartwarming story can have.

Brian Shin is CEO and founder at Visible Measures.

iMedia's 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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A reasoned argument can change minds. But emotion is what drives action.

Yet we are often unaware of the emotional forces that motivate us. We believe we make our decisions rationally, particularly big decisions. We say we'll list the pros and cons and evaluate them. But do we really? The decision to purchase a home can be affected by color -- or realtors wouldn't repaint their listed homes in neutrals. Hiring decisions are made based on an emotional connection with a job candidate -- and not tangible job performance -- far more often than managers realize.

Because we don't recognize our own emotional motivations, we marketers too often downplay the role of emotion when we ask for action from our customers.

Marketers can sometimes feel they are selling a commodity product and there's not much more to do besides provide the lowest price possible. But there are still many, many emotions at play in making a purchase decision -- even with commodities. The wise marketer will be aware and take advantage of all of them.

Research has established several principles of persuasion, and marketers have seen them play out in reality. Robert Cialdini's 1984 book, "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion," listed six principles. We'll outline them here, along with the implications we see for marketers.

Liking

This principle says that we will do something because we like the person (brand) making the request. This principle is what brand building is all about. Advertisers even measure "brand liking" under the assumption that this is foundational to eventual sales.

How many sales does Apple make on the basis of brand liking? It gets the benefit of the doubt when launching new products because previous experience has been so positive. Most marketers have a long way to go on this dimension. We need to earn the trust of our customers. We have the tools to develop a human connection. We just need to use them.

Scarcity

We assign a higher value to things we perceive as scarce. That's why we have things like deadlines on sales, limited quantities available, only the first 50 responders may attend, and many more urgency drivers like them. This is also part of the appeal of many luxury items.

Artificial scarcity is what has made the diamond industry -- particularly the De Beers monopoly -- so successful for more than a century. While other commodities have seen price fluctuations over the years, diamond prices have climbed since the Great Depression, even though diamonds themselves are not truly rare.

Is there something you can offer that will make your brand look more valuable than competitors?

Herding

Also known as "social proof," this principle says that people tend to follow the crowd. This is why it works to see products listed by popularity on a website, for example. It's also why Kickstarter campaigns seem to either snowball or die. And why every business seems to claim to be "the market leader" in anything.

Authority

"I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV." People generally follow the advice of experts. This is the reasoning behind content marketing in B2B organizations.

It may be a little meta, but HubSpot does a brilliant job of this. They are inbound marketers to inbound marketers. Their stuff is irresistible and proves they know what they're talking about. And it goes to show that -- at least in the B2B world -- blogs are not dead. They're a way to establish authority.

Reciprocity

If you want someone to do something, you need to do something for them. In marketing, we can call this an incentive or an offer. Incentives can be positive or negative, tangible, or emotional. They can be contained within a product or we can attach them to it. This is a rich area to explore, if you're interested in having an impact on consumer behavior.

In research we've done for health insurance marketers, we've found that 69 percent of consumers welcome proactive outreach from their health plan on ways to help them stay healthy. This type of outreach has great power when it comes time to ask members to renew.

Identity

People will buy things because of what that choice says about them -- and about the group they want to belong to. You may buy a certain brand because it will make you feel you are a good parent (thank you, Jessica Alba). Or you may buy a particular car brand because it tells others you are successful.

One extra principle

When we have tested the most effective ways to connect with customers on an emotional level, we have discovered a seventh principle to add to Cialdini's list that we call relativity.

Comparison with available alternatives provides a shortcut for consumer decision making. The selection and presentation of these alternatives can greatly influence decisions. This technique has been particularly effective in helping our health insurance clients successfully drive sales conversions.

This is just the beginning of how we look at the emotions that drive action. Our initial goal is to connect, but ultimately it's to acquire more customers and deliver greater lifetime value. A good marketer needs to work with all of these principles -- and a great marketer will test these ideas at every opportunity.

Jay Levenger is the director of strategic planning at HackerAgency.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia at @iMediaTweet.

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Adadyn, a programmatic advertising platform for mid-size marketers, announced a partnership with OpenX, a creator of programmatic marketplaces.

AdTheorent, Inc. announced summary findings from internal travel and tourism industry mobile ad performance analyses conducted across its network during Q2 of 2015.

Bombora has partnered with HG Data to combine their data sets to enhance online account-based marketing (ABM) programs.

Carusele, an Ignite Social Media standalone company focused on social media content creation, syndication, and distribution sold as packages, announced that it has secured $500,000 in additional funding from existing and new investors to fuel growth.

Deep Focus launched DFx, , a turnkey branded content offering housed within the full-service, digitally led creative agency.

Kwittken announced the appointment of Shanee Goss as managing director of Kwittken's New York office, a new position for the firm.

LittleThings, a lifestyle destination for inspiring, uplifting, and engaging stories will be joining the Creating Traffic Revenue (CTR) Program from email marketing company PostUp.

Lotame, a data management platform (DMP), debuted a new Semantic Classification Tool built into its core DMP.

Magnetic, a digital advertising technology company, announced that Morgan Simonson has joined the company as SVP of enterprise sales.

MobileBridge has introduced new functionality into their native content creation module, which includes 360 degree imaging and offering loyalty points for and tying engagement with in-app actions.

MultiView announced the appointment of Yariv Drori as the new VP of programmatic advertising operations.

The Odyssey, a social content platform, has announced that Lisa Shalett has joined the company in the role of CMO.

OSC World announced that David Lustig has been hired as the company's new vice president, business development of market research.

Reader's Digest Association announced an agreement with the Priceline Partner Network to integrate custom online travel centers into its flagship media properties.

Vizeum announced the appointment of Patrick Affleck to the role of EVP of digital and innovation at Vizeum U.S., a newly created position.

Editor's note: This column publishes twice per month, and we are always looking for industry announcements, so please email them to agata@imediaconnection.com.

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I wouldn't blame you if, at first glance, you tilted your head and did a Scooby-Doo at this headline. Marketing surely can help generate interest and trial. But doesn't the product itself drive repeat purchases? I mean, you didn't see a lot of repeat Yugo owners. However, even great products need marketing help to achieve loyalty and drive repeat purchases.

The best products don't need (much) advertising to sell the first product, let alone create repeat customers. Look at Huy Fong's famous Sriracha hot sauce. Or Costco. Both are cult or near-cult brands that essentially do no advertising. However, that doesn't mean they aren't smart marketers. Is the product you're marketing day-in and day-out a cult brand favorite? It's more likely you're in with the other 99 percent of us, and as a result, marketing and advertising are both vital to the success of the brand(s) you work with. So how do we use marketing and advertising to drive success and loyalty?

The best ways to create repeat customers

Marketing is inextricable from product development

Before the dawn of modern medicine, elixirs could be found claiming to treat nearly any disease. Without online consumer reviews, these products could be sold, rebranded, and put on the shelves again without retribution. It's clearly very different today. Between government regulation, the internet, and social media, bad products don't last long. The first key to repeat customers is, in fact, a good product. To build this great product, though, marketing must be a part of the research, development, and concept phases. Today's most valuable marketing vendors don't just create and place ads, they respect the entire customer journey and experience. They help craft ad messages around the desired emotional connection a consumer will experience with a brand.

It starts by examining every possible consumer touchpoint. This includes the physical store and/or website experience, the call center, and even the product's design. Let's also not forget the advertising. It doesn't do any good for an airline to advertise its new in-seat entertainment across all its advertising if just 1 percent of its fleet is equipped with this technology. Simply put, aligning consumer expectations driven by marketing with the reality of the product is important.

While this "kumbaya" is desirable, it's not realistic in many organizations. Instead, there are practical things you can start doing today that don't require your company to change the way it operates or how it gathers input on major decisions. Sitting at the dawn of a golden age of neuro-marketing and behavioral economics, we're now putting together simple changes we can make to our marketing strategy that then create many more repeat customers.

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Research the various programmatic platforms

There are many partners out there that can educate you on the process and answer your questions. Network with vendors, conduct independent research, and crowd source feedback from those who are existing clients to learn as much as possible. Make an informed choice that could possibly lead to a long-term partnership if things go smoothly.

Test programmatic on a small scale

There's no reason to go all in with programmatic if you're not ready. Instead, launch small campaigns and test it out in a controlled environment with low risk. Find out what the process entails and how much management is needed. This is the time to make mistakes and get a feel for the process without risking too much.

Measure and move forward with data

Lastly, create a detailed and meaningful report card that scores how your test campaigns did and what went well. Be honest about the areas where it didn't measure up and don't sugarcoat your metrics. Take the facts from your test campaign and have discussions around what the ROI would be if you launched in large scale. Move forward from those conclusions.

Aimee Gerry, VP of client solutions at Nielsen speaks to iMedia at the ThinkLA programmatic summit about three ways marketers can get past programmatic fears and get started today.

Learn more about thinkLA and upcoming events.

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

"Chess game, chess player makes a move the black pawn forward" image via Shutterstock.

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Recent research shows that retailers spent 47 percent more on Google's shopping ads in 2014 than they did the previous year. It's clear that Google Shopping Ads, formerly known as Google Product Listing Ads, have been growing in importance within AdWords search. And with this number expected to rise by the end of this year -- and with market competition to increase accordingly -- so should the focus increase on managing a shopping optimization program efficiently and successfully.

It's important to remember that while shopping ads are closely related to search ads, they're not the same. Not only are the controls different, but the way you bid is different, and the product feed itself is actually its own entity entirely. Because of these differences, some businesses are turning to shopping-specific technology companies to help manage their shopping query campaigns, while managing their search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns separately.

Yet, does it make sense for your business to manage these campaigns separately? For a company with hundreds, thousands, or even millions of products, managing both of these can appear to be a daunting task. But, by running these search and shopping campaigns together, businesses can reap some serious benefits -- and take a lot of the stress out of the process.

So, here are our top four reasons why SEM and Google shopping campaigns should be run together, and some of the positive results that such an approach can provide.
 
A complete performance picture
Looking at shopping and search as two separate entities ignores a key fact -- both come into play in the same funnel. It's important for businesses to take this into account because if the search and shopping data sets are separated, the performance picture will be incomplete. There are huge opportunities available if the data is combined and analyzed under one roof. When that one party has access to both sets of data, it's easier for them to really drill down to that keyword level to get ultra-specific with how the funnel works. By viewing the full click-path to conversion under a single lens, not as independent actions in a silo, businesses can get a more robust, complete picture of their performance.

Better budget flexibility
If you have two separate groups managing search and shopping campaigns, each will certainly have its own budget. But, what if one group is outperforming the other? You can't just move funds fluidly between the two groups to accommodate the ups and downs of performance. Imagine instead that the budget is managed by one group. A business will instantly have the flexibility to move money around to the areas that need it most, or react to different trends as soon as they emerge.

Search enriches shopping (and vice versa)
Query information from search campaigns can enrich the shopping product feeds. An example of this is if we're able to identify top search queries and adjust the feeds accordingly to reflect that in descriptions or headlines of the shopping ads. Image testing and messaging for shopping can easily piggyback off what's working for search. On the other hand, shopping campaigns can benefit from the knowledge of search campaigns that are -- and aren't -- working. It's a mutually beneficial relationship that can help search and shopping reduce spend and increase the return on investments.

Optimized SEM campaigns
Of course, moving search and shopping under the same management can also result in big benefits for search campaigns. We often see that shopping campaigns running separately actually have a ton of top-performing queries that you wouldn't necessarily see in an SEM campaign; when your SEM team has visibility into shopping results, they can add those queries and begin optimizing bids immediately.

Better together

As the ecommerce world continues to grow, so will search engine shopping results from Google Shopping. And, as such, managing such processes should be a priority for businesses. It's clear that agencies and individuals who specialize in SEM are uniquely positioned to leverage their knowledge to make the most out of any shopping campaign. By joining the management of shopping with search, together the two can help increase the value of both programs for greater success.

Jay Stampfl is senior director of client services at 3Q Digital.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia at iMediaTweet. 

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Canadian brands are making waves in the online video space, which has to date been dominated by U.S.-based players. Brands such as TD Bank and WestJet continue to find innovative ways to connect with their consumers through online branded video, contributing to the overall three-fold growth in Canadian viewership since last year. This article features the top 25 Canadian brands, based on True Reach scores, from July 2014 to July 2015.

Over the past year, emotional content has won the hearts (and views) of the Canadian audience, with three out of the four most-viewed campaigns pulling at the consumer's heartstrings. TD Bank dominated consumer attention with 42.8 million views. The brand's moving campaigns, "#TDThanksYou" (July 2014) and follow-up, "TDThanksYou Then and Now" (July 2015), contributed more than 37 million views.

"#TDThanksYou" featured loyal customers using a TD Bank ATM, which was transformed into an Automated Thanking Machine. The machine randomly gave customers a gift of their dreams -- from a die-hard Blue Jays fan throwing the first pitch at a home game to a family getting a vacation to Disneyland, bringing tears to their eyes.

"TD Thanks You Then and Now" took customers on a trip down memory lane with pictures and stories from their past. The tear-jerking campaign contributed 34 percent of the brand's views.

Similar to "#TDThanksYou," WestJet captured the No. 2 spot by taking its kindness to the Dominican Republic with its "Christmas Miracles" campaign, in which it made wishes of kids and adults alike come true. WestJet also captured its consumers' attention with the heartwarming story of Josh in its "Above and Beyond Stories" campaign. Capturing more than 7.5 million of the brand's 24 million total views, this campaign follows Josh's story from being the victim of bullying to an inspiring mentor through his various acts of kindness.

Nissan, which took the No. 3 spot, also tapped into emotional stories throughout the year. But its top campaign -- which contributed 42 percent of its total views -- took a different approach. The "Conquer All Conditions" campaign features Nissan vehicles in action-packed clips, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats and proving that emotional content isn't the only way to capture consumer attention.

It will be exciting to see what Canadian brands have in store for their consumers in the coming year.

Seraj Bharwani is the chief analytics officer of Visible Measures.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

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Website errors. They happen. As web users, we encounter and are frustrated by them. As website owners, we understand that they annoy our customers, lower conversions, and negatively impact revenues. But as marketers, we tend to see website errors as a sort of force majeure -- something to be (hopefully) discovered, and then kicked down the line to be rectified.

It's not that website errors don't sting us as marketers. All our work -- carefully segmenting audiences, choosing a strategy to drive traffic, designing ads, purchasing prime locations, and building the ultimate landing page -- can go down the drain due to one poorly-implemented form or client-side error. It hurts. And the negative impact on our KPIs, revenues, and downstream customer lifetime value hurt, too.

But here's the thing: Website errors are not beyond our reach. Today's advanced marketing toolbox enables us to discover them, evaluate their potential impact, and prioritize remediation. With the tools we have today, we can not only play a role in eliminating website errors -- we can actually gain from them.

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