Yes We Spam—From Meat to Mail

Spam, Email, Heather Cisz

As it turns out, British comedy group Monty Python is responsible for more than just numerous laughs and several memorable films. Considered a cultural icon, the group has inspired a genre of absurdist comedy, been the namesake for asteroids, a programming language, and, appropriately enough, an actual species of python.

But, as it turns out, we also have Monty Python to thank for “spam,” the colloquial term for junk email. Though many have drawn parallels to SPAM, the preservative-rich canned meat product of memetically questionable origin, it turns out that a certain group of British comedians accidentally coined the term.

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The acronym, but sadly not the taste, has been lost to history.

You may know the sketch. In it, a couple inquires about a restaurant menu that gradually devolves into SPAM, with a group of rowdy Vikings singing of their love for the product, ad nauseum, until they drown out the rest of the conversation.

Now, with Monty Python reaching the height of its popularity shortly before the debut of the Internet, it’s not hard to imagine that early adopters would, as we all know, be more than willing to quote pop culture online.

A few incidents of chat room harassment later (some even typing out the entire SPAM song), and spam had received a new, arguably worse meaning. Junk mail, inevitably prolific and suppressing any valuable messages, is hardly a new concept, after all.

Really, there could not be any better parallel to draw. Regardless of the content of the Monty Python sketch, the utter revulsion that individuals display to both spam and SPAM is perhaps as good of a reason as any.

It’s hardly exclusive to the Internet, either. Telephone spam and letter spam prove that, no matter what the medium, people will go out of their way to shove an unappetizing, unsolicited message in your face.

Mobile Advertising Strategies to Transform Your Business

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If you’re not focused on mobile marketing your business could be missing out.

Digital marketing has seen major transformation over the recent years. Marketing and advertising tactics such as pay-per-click are today vastly different from what they were at inception. Tactics that appeared to have the magic touch only several years ago might easily fall flat today.

Currently, everything is heading the mobile route, ranging from watching videos to consuming content and opening emails. Everything that your business does today should be done with the ever growing mobile audience in mind.

Create Great Content

The average viewer of today has been swamped with so many ads on their devices to the point where many simply scroll past the ads without even noticing what they contain. This means that as an entrepreneur, you need to become more creative in the kind of content you create. Become innovative so that your viewers can watch an ad without them caring it’s actually an ad or even realizing it.

Display Advertising

Target your potentials contextually utilizing third party data providers. You can even do the targeting based on specific and unique demographics to generate service or product awareness. You can, for example, use Google Display Network’s topic targeting for identifying users that browse sites dealing with mobile devices.

Target through Social Networks

Catch your social networks online audience in a way that is much more targeted — these days, they are using these social apps heavily and all day long. Run well-designed ad campaigns on widely used networks like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Use each of the network based on its unique strengths. For instance, Twitter can be used to keep you in the news feed of a trending topic or active in a particular conversation.

Maximize On Video Streaming

YouTube is currently the second largest search engine. This can be credited to the growing video content consumption for everything ranging from pre-purchase research, entertainment to tutorials, and more.

With the growing popularity of Instagram and Snapchat video, you can develop powerful advertising 15-second clips that can be regularly manipulated, edited and re-produced in lots of creative ways to boost brand authority and awareness.

Utilize Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing, a huge multi-billion industry often gets overlooked by businesses in terms of monetizing mobile. However, the truth is, huge affiliate networks such as Commission Junction and eBay Enterprises are offering access to advertisers in their thousands that pay based on your performance to send orders and leads to them. The best part regarding affiliate marketing is that you are paid for actual performance.

Conclusion

Of course, there are lots of mobile digital marketing strategies that can be employed with great success. You shouldn’t limit your overall strategy to only the above strategies. Organic social media, email marketing, blogging, and SEO are strategies that must continue being part of your larger mobile marketing pie. But incorporating the above critical strategies will help in engaging and reaching a larger audience.

A Simple Breakdown of Spotify Ad Targeting

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Spotify is taking ad targeting to the next level.

The most dominant streaming music service Spotify is adapting the way they think about digital advertising and media with the programmed ads that they play for their free members. They are putting out hyper-targeted ads now because they’re looking to add a new layer to the way they do business.

Obviously, Spotify isn’t just dishing out the the same ads to large swaths of their listener base like a traditional radio station or even network might. The idea here being that you can limit the amount of ads that fall on deaf ears. This is much more of a targeted approach than a wide net approach and may be setting advertisers on a path to resolving an age old issue once summed up by department store magnate John Wanamaker: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

Here’s a simple breakdown of how the targeting works. The user who signs in to Spotify starts listening to music, creating playlists, and engaging in other activities that begin to form a digital identify that Spotify can use to target them. The music they listen to and playlists they create are all used to create an ad profile for the person who is listening, and then they get the ads that would be most helpful for them. People don’t generally like their music to be interrupted by advertising but Spotify has been able to cultivate a large and loyal free user base. Perhaps this is a result of the fact that they don’t barrage people with ads that are totally irrelevant or even irksome to certain individuals.

In short, people don’t mind ads that make sense for them quite as much. Who knew?

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.