Personalized Social Media Targeting

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Reaching an audience on social media is only the first step.

Living in the digital age has major positives compared to the previous decades of the 80s and 90s. Though this style of marketing has been around for quite sometime, the past 15 years has experienced an explosion as most companies tend to do much of their business online. Marketing with the use of digital technology such as display advertising, computers, cell phones, and other forms of digital media has made it possible to reach the most amount of consumers in half the time. This is a great way to get your name out to the public, but in marketing you most know who your target audience is. Understanding what’s new, what’s next, and what’s hot gives companies a better understanding of the market and what trends are popular. Here are some of the hottest trends currently in 2016 which can help your business stay out of “the red.”

Affordable Social Media Marketing

For any company or business, selling your products and services is the end goal. Whether you know who specific target audience or not, reaching the masses gives you a huge advantage over the field and social media works perfectly for achieving this. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Snap Chat, YouTube, or any other media site can give your brand total exposure. Just think, your company has it’s own social media account with it’s own customer base. You can now directly reach all of your customers/clients by just posting updates, deals, specials, and important information. The benefit of this action is that it saves time and money since most media sites are free of charge for use. Not only do you reach your target audience directly, any of your customers friends or followers are being exposed to your products/services. Everything is connected on social media. With this new exposure, your brand can and will pick up new subscribers without you ever having to spend a dollar on extra advertising. It’s genius! Social Media has changed the game drastically from an advertising stand point and growth will continue well into the future.

Personalization

So if the above seems like a no-brainer, that’s because it is!  The key to effective social media marketing in 2016 is personalization.  This aspect of SMM is what any marketer worth her salt should master to stay out in front of the industry.

So where to start?  Now that you have your customer base set up, you can begin to market specifically to those individuals. This is called personalization as you now know exactly what products to sell each person. Personalization is a tailored style of marketing. Most forms of advertisements can oversaturate a customer, especially if the products/services aren’t what the customer wants. Personalization offers the customer what he/she wants from the past experiences of what the customer has already purchased. Your business can automatically send personal emails to each customer based on their previous interactions with the business. This action builds a strong relationship as well and makes the customer appreciate your brand even more.

While this is a strong SMM outreach approach, you’ll want to make sure you’re balancing your aggressive strategy with organic social content that your brand’s followers find useful.  Overdoing it is a great way to alienate your loyal customers which could land your business in a worse place than where it started.  Research things like the types of social content that your target customers consume, which social network they interact with the most, and marketing email open rates in your sector.  This will help you create a tailored strategy that doesn’t bombard your organic followers with content that could be perceived as constant advertising.

LinkedIn to Launch Programmatic Advertising

LinkedIn to Launch Programmatic Advertising

Just recently, the professional network LinkedIn has started to enter the programmatic advertising realm with the platform’s new deal with advertisers. In other words, LinkedIn has become a publisher similar to Facebook or Mashable in the digital sphere by allowing advertisers to bid for ads on the professional network’s site.

In addition to LinkedIn allowing advertisers and other online marketers to bid on ad space in private auctions, the publisher will also use third party data for targeting purposes. This data will also these marketers to more effectively pitch their ads to visitors on the LinkedIn homepage. Prices in the private auction may be considerably more expensive for display ads, as LinkedIn is a widely used publisher for professionals of all different fields across the country.

LinkedIn’s head of products, Russell Glass, has expressed that allowing increased programmatic advertising to marketers and advertisers expands the market for this platform.

“We don’t want to reinvent the wheel,” he said in an interview. “We want to build table stakes capabilities into our platform in a way that highlights our differences, but is kind of what marketers have come to expect.”

Although advertising growth on LinkedIn has been increasing, this revenue has slowed down in growth with other social media profiles such as Twitter and Facebook. Earlier this year, eMarketer conducted a report that stated ad revenue was expected to drop 17.8% instead of 20.5% this year. While growth is slow across the board, Twitter (45%) and Facebook (31.5%) are said to have increased ad revenue in the next year or so.

On the other hand, LinkedIn had a lucrative year in terms of mobile growth rates in 2015, with revenue on mobile devices well surpassing 170%. However, this year revenue projections will be closer to a more steady, national average instead of the exponential growth the platform experienced this year.

Similar to Twitter and Facebook, LinkedIn is experiencing slower growth as it becomes a larger entity as a publisher in the digital space.

With Microsoft’s recent interest to acquire the professional network for 26.2 million, this potential business deal could be one of the largest tech mergers in the industry’s history.

 

 

Instagram Stories and Digital Advertising

Instagram LogoAt the beginning of August, the popular video-sharing platform Instagram rolled out a new feature that is almost identical to an app that already exists. Instagram Stories closely mimics Snapchat’s product model, although Instagram’s videos disappear after 24 hours instead of Snapchat’s customary set number of seconds. In its blog release, Instagram stated that the purpose of Stories was to let people create a montage of every part of their day, complete with stickers and ways to draw on pictures. That is, in a nutshell, Snapchat.

This release has come at a time in which Snapchat has been a growing force in the world of digital advertising. Brands have taken to Snapchat to give their customers an inside look at their company, and to get videos out to over 100 million users. Snapchat users have been able to connect with their favorite brands, who update them on company information, show them fun goings on within the business, and even utilize the platform to raise money. Perhaps Instagram felt Snapchat was becoming a threat, as there have been reports of the recent decline in Instagram usage, and decided to see how temporary videos would affect their platform of over 300 million users.

Instagram has stated that it implemented this new feature to make it possible for brands to be more accessible. Currently, businesses and other Instagram users can spend hours retouching photographs to get them just right for posting. Instagram stories gives them the opportunity to put up in-the-moment videos, meaning more content goes out regularly. Brands have already started utilizing Instagram Stories to spread word of new releases and events, and experts say the usage of Stories will only grow.  

Of course, whether or not Instagram Stories will succeed over Snapchat has yet to be seen. Stories does not have as many features as Snapchat, which is not surprising considering the amount of time Snapchat has been around. Additionally, there is an entire generation that has grown up using Snapchat and may not be willing to switch to a completely different platform. This, according to Instagram, is their biggest barrier to success.

Instagram does have digital advertising feature that Snapchat lacks, however, and this may be how they win out in the digital advertising realm. The fact that Snapchat does not have analytics alone is enough to drive companies to use Instagram Stories. All in all, it will take time to determine which platform becomes preferred. I am interested to see where this story will lead.

Google Plans To Give Users More Control Over Personalized Ads

GoogleWe’re all familiar with the concept of personalized ads on the internet. It is not uncommon to see an ad on the sidebar for a product you were just talking about or a site you recently visited. But Google is changing the way this works and giving its users more freedom to decide how it works for them. This will involve letting viewers update their privacy settings.

Google will be introducing a feature that allows users to choose a new way of storing information. Over time, this information could leads to ads that are more personalized for individuals. Google is already collecting lot of information through the user’s search activity, YouTube views, and Gmail messages. The change involves a switch from a system in which data for each Google product is stored separately to a system in which information is associated with a user’s account.

The feature should be coming out in the next few weeks. It will ask users if they want to opt in, and if they don’t, their privacy settings will stay the same. There are no immediate new advertising products to go along with the switch. However, the update may lead to more effective personalized ads because it will connect data across products and services in order to better anticipate what a user might want to buy.

Users can also expect a new section in their settings called My Activity. This section will allow users to keep better track of what they watched, read, and searched. It will do this by showing users their internet history across Google properties. In the past, the company kept data collected about each product separately. These products include YouTube, search, Gmail and other services. The update will also give users the opportunity to strengthen the association between their activity across devices and a certain username. In the past, the user’s mobile activity has affected the mobile ads the user receives, but this idea has not been applied to desktop activity.

Google’s update is a little different from the way other tech companies have operated in the past. Other companies have relied on their users to turn off features themselves. For example, Facebook added features similar to Google’s new features last month. These features allowed users to limit the information about themselves that advertisers can see. However, Facebook required users to go into their settings to make the change instead of having it done for them automatically.

We’ll have to see the impact this feature has on digital advertising. Will people be more likely to click on, or pay attention to, ads? How many people will use this new Google feature? Only time will tell, but it seems that this feature is revolutionary in the freedom it gives its users to choose whether or not they want to take it on board.

Instagram Will Add New Tools For Businesses, Including Analytics

InstagramDigital advertising has found a home on a number of platforms, and it looks like the next platform on this list will be Instagram. Many of us think of Instagram as a merely social platform, but this is about to change. Instagram will now add an option for business profiles, which will include some of the key analytics that help businesses know the reach of their social media posts.

Instagram has never before given users the opportunity to find out exactly how many people have seen their posts. Up until now, users know how many people follow their Instagram account, but they don’t know who is checking their feeds after the photo or video is posted. They also don’t know how many other people come across it through a profile page or the Explore tab. However, brands will soon have a lot more information at their fingertips.

Instagram’s new tools for businesses will include business-specific profiles. Brands that use these profiles will be able to track how many times their posts have appeared on people’s screens. Instagram will be reporting impressions rather than views. Brands will be able to view how many times their organic photos and videos appeared on someone’s screen. They will not know, however, whether users actually paid attention to the post or just scrolled past it.

Brands will have the opportunity to see the total number of impressions of their cumulative posts, as well as breakdown for the photos and videos with the most impressions. The breakdowns include the number of impressions and engagements a single post has received.

Instagram’s changes will not only benefit businesses by way of impressions. Businesses will also be able to get a better look at their audience. The insights tool will break down the follower base of a brand according to age, gender, and location. The insights will also provide hourly and daily looks at how many new followers a brand has gained.

In order to get these data analytics on your Instagram account you will need to convert your Instagram account to the service’s business-specific profile. These business profiles have been talked about since March, and a number of businesses are excited to see this plan come to fruition. In the next few months, Instagram will be rolling out business profiles as a free option for businesses in the US, Australia, and New Zealand. But the end of the year, this phenomenon will expand globally.

These business profiles are essentially Instagram’s version of Facebook’s Pages. This is not surprising since Facebook is Instagram’s parent company.  The conversion to business profiles will be free, and it will add a contact button to the account’s profile page. This contact button can be used to call, text, or email a business or get directions to its location.

Beyond the insights tool and the contact button, business profiles have an additional perk: advertising opportunities. Once a brand converts to the business profile, the brand will be able to turn an organic post into an ad without leaving Instagram’s app. All a business will need to do is choose a post and add some sort of call-to-action button. Then, they’ll need to specify the target audience, or let Instragram do the work of choosing a target audience. According to Instagram, businesses will be able to promote a post as an ad for however long they want.

Instagram is no longer just a platform for individuals who want to take fun photographs. Businesses are now using Instagram, and Instagram is catching on. The new business profile feature will drastically change the way that businesses utilize Instagram.

Digital Advertising Evolution

PhoneNot too long ago, it was common for digital advertising to be presented to audiences in the form of short television commercials or online video advertisements. Obviously, this has not changed, but the general public opinion of blatant advertising has. Such traditional campaigns quickly became outdated with the onset of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Therefore, digital advertisements spread to include social media. Users of social platforms quickly became annoyed by the constant advertisements, and have since been taking measures to block these disruptions. Therefore, advertising was forced to evolve yet again, into a mere shadow of what it used to be.

This newest form of digital advertising truly calls to mind the question ‘what is an advertisement?’ The taboo that now surrounds even the word ‘advertisement’ has forced digital advertising specialists to find ways to market products without blatantly advertising them. The popular website Hulu is a prime example of more subliminal advertising methods. Instead of simply throwing advertisements at their viewers, they partner with companies whose products are inserted into Hulu’s original series. Characters in their shows may be smitten with a new piece of upcoming Microsoft technology, for example, and their enthusiasm for the product is an advertisement in itself.

Hulu is not the only platform putting products into videos, however. The popular media platform Buzzfeed created a ‘Tasty’ channel, one that shows time lapses of appetizing food being made, which has partnered with appliance brands and promotes different cookware in videos. Additionally, different Buzzfeed pages are sponsored by different organizations. For example, Buzzfeed’s food page is, as it says on the top, ‘presented by Sabra.’

The use of branded content has also become widely popular in digital promotions. Instead of placing themselves into an advertisement, a company will generate original content that people will actually want to read in order to draw attention to their brand. For example, Dove began a ‘Real Beauty’ campaign with the mission of revolutionizing the modern definition of beauty. This campaign is beloved by consumers because it promotes self acceptance and self love, however it also draws attention to the products that Dove sells.

With the onslaught of companies fighting to be noticed in the digital world, advertising has drifted farther and farther away from what it used to be. It will be interesting to follow the digital advertising world into the future, as the habits of online consumers continue to evolve.

Twitter Grows Advertising Opportunities

Many brands were quick to embrace social media; they understand the value of connecting directly with their customers. Twitter has adapted accordingly to the needs of advertisers, and now, its making improvements to the ad campaign feature.

twitter-1183719_1280The social media platform has updated the ad editor to make it easier for brands to effectively target, and monitor their advertising efforts. This new update includes an Ad Groups function, which will allow marketers to reach smaller sections within a larger group, by using detailed and targeted criteria, along with target-specific creative. The product was only available through Twitter’s API, but it was fully launched earlier this week. The company’s product marketing manager, Andrea Hoffman wrote a blog post to announce the new features. She explained that Twitter will provide more control for campaigns while gathering metrics based on audience and schedule.

With Ad Groups, Twitter created new opportunities for marketers within the Twitter community. Advertisers can now create subcampaigns within larger campaigns; these subcampaigns can be used to distribute targeted creative to the appropriate audience. As Hoffman explains in her blog post, “Similar to how other ad platforms are structured, Ad Groups introduce a new level in our campaign hierarchy. One campaign can have many ad groups, and an ad group can have many targeting criteria and creatives. This level of granular control helps advertisers improve how they measure results, set promotion schedules, test different audiences, and identify which Tweets work best.” In addition to these new features, the new campaigns can include set campaign objectives like engagements, video views, and followers. Your key performance metrics will be available directly through Twitter’s user interface.

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Twitter isn’t the only platform looking to grow advertising functions. Facebook has recently launched Delivery Insights, a new platform for advertisers to gather information about campaign performance. Let’s see how other social media platforms adapt their products, especially as they compete with one another for advertising revenue.

 

Step Aside Banner Ads, There’s a New Kid on the Block (Sort Of)

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Photo courtesy of Yahoo Pressebilder, from Flickr

There is a new type of advertising that is taking digital media by storm and producing consistent and effective results for advertisers. You most likely already know what native advertising is even if you do not know what it is called. Native ads are simply display ads that live nestled in the text of articles and within our news feeds on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Not only are these ads relatively fresh to the eyes of a prospective audience/demographic, but the also perform better.

Overall Performance

According to statistics from Sharethrough, native advertising is a powerhouse performer compared to older, outdated models of digital advertising. This is huge in the world of advertising when most consumers are becoming numb to the tired worn out display and banner ads they are used to seeing. Native advertising has produced some staggering results that can’t be ignored.

  • 25% more consumers looked at native ads within feeds opposed to banner ads.
  • 32% of consumers reported that they would share a native ad with family or friends compared to 19% for display ads
  • Native ads present an 18% brand lift with intent to purchase

Resistant to Ad Blockers

Native advertising also offers a way around ad blockers. Most ad blockers at this point only target display ads simply because the only thing that differentiates native ads from editorial or social media posts are design elements. Ad blockers cannot detect native ads and therefore are unable to block them. This is great news for advertisers because now they can rest assured knowing that their marketing dollars are actually at work!

Unique to Platform

Many people within the marketing industry prefer native advertising not just because it is more effective, but also because it is unique to the platform it is on. Often times it is exclusive to that platform as well, so advertisers can hone in on specific demographics. If you want to sponsor a tweet, twitter is the only place you can do that. This is an unique advantage is designed to make the advertising not seem so forced and out of place. Consumers also appreciate this more because they have the option to look at it and then continue on if they decide to.

You CAN Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

Although native advertising may sound like a hot, new type of advertising, it most certainly is not. “Native advertising” at its core, has been around for a long time. It has not been around for long in a digital sense, but it IS essentially advertorial. Companies have been paying for sponsored content and advertorial for years now, but it has been given a sleek new name for its digital implication.

With advertising becoming more and more aggressive as time goes by, marketing experts need to come up with more potent types of advertising, even if that means teaching an old dog new tricks.

The Fight Over Ad Blockers

mobile-698624_1920Technology has provided the advertising industry the means for reaching a global audience. But in today’s culture of constant and disposable digital content, advertisers must fight for their clicks. The clash of advertisers, tech companies, and ad blockers created palpable tension at a panel discussion about ad-blocking at Mobile World Congress. Whether you are a consumer, or a large brand, your experience with ad blockers will inform the future of digital ads.

The panel included executives from Google, Shine, Nestlé, AOL and Yahoo who spoke to marketers about consumer behavior and their use of mobile ad blockers. The conversation lead to recommendations pertaining to the quality of online ads, but the main focus of the discussion was Shine, a mobile ad blocker. Shine is actively working with carriers like the Three Group, a European carrier, and Digicel, a Caribbean telecompany. Customers can opt to use their ad blocking technology, which does not “whitelist” a fixed roll of publishers. This means their technology can block all mobile ads.

Shine’s technology is the cause of much debate in the realm of digital marketing. Roi McCarthy, CMO of Shine, is quick to defend the products and it’s importance to the average consumer. As a member of the panel he stated, “Every individual using a mobile handset, smartphone or desktop is being abused by ad-tech—that’s not selective, that is 100 percent. We’re talking about military-grade tracking, targeting and profiling. Consumers do not have the ability to protect themselves.” While both sides of the debate are ready with a defense, there are tech giants like Google, AOL, and Yahoo caught in the middle. These web portals are the platforms for millions of digital ads, and publishers rely on them heavily for revenue. These publishers are not at liberty to provide their content for free, or without the fair trade of ads.

While the tension may feel uncomfortable, this could create a positive change in the world of digital ads. Companies will have to find solutions informed by consumer opinion and sentiment. Additionally, companies will have to establish transparency with consumers, in order avoid any feelings of encroachment. The problem may not be ad blocking software, but the way ads are placed and presented. Reframing the challenge could lead to innovative solutions that will benefit consumers, brands and publishers. For about the fight over ad blockers, continue reading at AdWeek.

Snapchat To Grow Advertising Possibilities

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In 2013, Snapchat nearly became one of Facebook’s many acquisitions, but CEO Evan Spielgel, who was just 23 at the time, turned down Facebook’s nearly $3 billion offer. Facebook saw the value in the popular messaging app, even though at the time of the aforementioned offer, Snapchat had no sales or business model. Today, Snapchat is up against Facebook in the fight for advertiser’s dollars. Snapchat is looking to create advertising success similar to Facebook’s advertising integration with social media.

The team at Snapchat has several plans to develop ad business and mirror Facebook’s success.  One of these strategies includes enhancing ad targeting based on a user’s history through Snapchat’s Discovery portal. They would also take into consideration the user’s browser and search history outside of the app. Snapchat is eager to entice advertisers, so they will provide solutions for independent verification to assure companies that they receive what they pay for. Snapchat will also have executives working with brands to reinforce the independent verification. Additionally, there will be a content section that will incorporate paid priority content. Snapchat will also allow advertisers to target ads in publishers’ channels. These ads will be relevant to the specific content users are seeking out. This will benefit advertisers and allow them to direct their ads efficiently, based on content interest rather than general channel interest.

In addition to strategy development, Snapchat is also looking for technical solutions. Snapchat is working an advertising application programming interface (API) to allow third-party advertising and marketing tech companies to create computer programs to buy Snapchat ads. This API strategy is used by other social media giants like Google, Facebook and Twitter. Ad-targeting solutions like this API can drive the prices of Snapchat ads, because advertisers are willing to pay more for effective ads. Facebook gains advertisers because of their ability to track an ad’s performance, so Snapchat will have to build improve their tracking technology if they want to take some of those advertisers.

For Snapchat to make the most of their advertising opportunities, they will need to establish a Snap-ad standard. Snapchat is collaborating with Moat, an analytics firm, to have viewership of ads independently fact-checked. Currently, Snapchat counts a view every time a user sees an ad, even if they tap to skip it in less than second. Without verifying the effectiveness of their ads, Snapchat will be unable to have advertisers confidently purchase the exposure. While things may be working on a test-and-learn basis for advertisers, Snapchat will have to standardize their ad experience if they want to gain the ad business seen on other social platforms. To read more about ads on Snapchat, click here.