Advergaming: A Powerful Digital Advertising Strategy

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Have you made Advergaming part of your digital strategy?

Among the various strategies currently in use by major brands to promote their goods and services through digital marketing, advergaming is undergoing a slight renaissance.

Advergames date back to the days when video games were still produced on floppy disks and cartridges. Some of the earliest examples include the ill-fated Atari game to promote the blockbuster family film ET in the 1980s; another example was “Avoid the Noid” for Microsoft DOS and Commodore 64 desktop, this was part of a campaign by Domino’s Pizza to develop a brand mascot.

Later techniques in advergaming included product placement, endorsements and the current trend of in-game advertising along with gamification.

Branded mini-games are being used to great effect by European and Asian wireless service providers to instill customer loyalty. These games can be mobiles apps or HTML5 browser-based titles that offer rewards and social media features to make them more attractive. Achievements in these games can be exchanged for rewards such as extra SMS credit, wireless data and additional minutes for voice calling.

Business owners and brand managers do not have to commission original titles to reap the benefits of advergaming. Some game development studios offer white label programs for companies to incorporate brands into ready-made titles, which range from Tetris clones to puzzles and from racing games to classic arcade shooters.

An even easier entry into the world of advergaming is by in-game advertising, which consists of displaying banners or short video commercials inserted into mobile apps. Some players believe that this method is a bit heavy handed, but some brands have found sufficient success to continue this practice.

A study by Loyalty 360, a market research firm in Asia, indicates that advergames are better for customer engagement, retention and loyalty. When it comes to implementing an advergaming strategy, brand managers should think about the immense value of lifetime customers instead of trying to attract new ones. The idea is to tap into the human affinity for being challenged and competitive in a playful way.

Marketing analysts believe that advergaming may go through a branding reversal phase in the next few years. An example of this is already being tested in South Korea, where an entrepreneur is thinking about opening a retail chain of fast-food restaurants to accommodate Pokemon Go players. In this instance, an established video game brand is being used to create a new revenue stream by welcoming fans of Pokemon Go into a place where they can enjoy the game as well as social interaction and snacks.

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.

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.

 

Start Up Launches First Digital Advertising Authentication Platform

ipad-820272_1280Authenticated Digital is only a year old, but this new company just launched an authentication platform for digital advertising. Based in New York City, Authenticated Digital was formed in 2014 by entrepreneur Damon Reeve and venture capitalist Scott Switzer, co-founders of OpenX. The new software focuses on transparency and claims that it will be able to authenticate 90% of digital ad impressions.

Damon Reeve, who serves at Authenticated Digital’s CEO explained to Adweek that  brands often purchase ads for a specific site, but ultimately end up paying for an appearance on another site, due to misrepresentations of available inventory. The new software, which is already being used by companies like CafeMedia and Axonix, will determine if an ad appeared on the correct Web page. It was alsoidentify ad impressions generated by bots. Authenticated Digital has already started pitching the new platform to publishers, and has focused on data for leverage. The company is telling publishers that with data, they can affirm buyers that their ads are placed properly, and therefore charge a higher cost-per-thousand (CPM) rate.

The system works by having marketers include a JavaScript tracker to the content on either the demand-side platform of the ad server. Once a Web page requests an ad, the JavaScript tracker will travel with the ad. The ad will load and then the tracker will gather information about the ad, the page or app it is on and then process the information within Authenticated Digital’s servers. The system will then create audit including information about the suppliers and data providers associated with the transaction. This data will be generated into reports that users can view via a dashboard provided by Authenticated Digital.

This new groundbreaking software will bring transparency to online video ads, as well as display and mobile ads. Last week, the Interactive Advertising Bureau announced that the digital advertising industry has lost a total of $8.2 billion because of ad fraud, bots and ad blockers. When CafeMedia tested Authenticated Digital’s new platform, they found that a quarter of their inventory was displayed on the wrong sites. Their VP of data science, Patrick McCann said that using Authenticated Digital helped clarify 80% of misrepresented data. He told AdWeek, “Authenticating ads allows us to offer a better quality product, both in what we offer on the open market and in any audience extension efforts we engage in there.” CafeMedia is joined by 18 other companies currently using program, and Authenticated Digital will announce more in the coming weeks. To lean more about Authenticated Digital’s new platform, check out AdWeek’s piece here.