Blog : digital advertising

What is Influencer Marketing?

What is Influencer Marketing?

The emphasis of digital marketing has continually shifted over the past three decades. For the last few years, our industry has been consumed by content marketing. Now, a marketing shift toward influencer marketing has grasped our collective attention. The product or service is falling subordinate to the salesman’s sales-pitch.

Influencer marketing relies on the individual’s popularity or reputation to draw market share to a company’s bottom line. A person’s online persona can sway the choice of thousands of followers in an instant. Their popularity enforces the value of the product, encouraging followers and fans to buy the product. If a consumer finds the influencer enticing, often all that is needed is a simple Tweet to bend a market.

The rise in social media has created a far stronger illusion of intimacy between big names and average people. Instead of relying on traditional media, consumers can go directly to a politician’s Facebook page, or see pictures of a celebrity’s child on Instagram. This direct connection between influencer and follower deceives the follower to trust an influencer in the same way that they might trust a friend or family member. Influencer marketing offers a new type of digital and mobile advertisement that appears far more organic and natural.

Goals when engaging influence marketers:

  • Plan in advance. The use of influencers requires research and focus. A scattered, shotgun approach to marketing runs contrary to the use of influencers.
  • Be strategic in your selection of individuals. Each influencer has a specific audience that follows specific individuals. Each audience has its own habits and tastes. Select a palette of influencers to facilitate your goals.
  • Allow the influencer to use his or her own voice. Influencers have a following because of their brand; they speak with their own voice. This is why you hire them. Let them do their job.

Influencer marketing allows the company to step deeply into the consumer’s circle of trust. In the same way that we are more likely to listen to a good friend, consumers rely on social media to construct their reality. As marketers take hold of this opportunity, consumers become less hostile and more accepting of endorsement by influences.

If you want guidance selecting the elements of you next marketing campaign, contact Colure’s advisory team.

Vital customer engagement (or how not to leave your customers at the door)

Vital customer engagement (or how not to leave your customers at the door)

Customer engagement (CE) is the living and breathing relationship that exists between a customer and a company. This critical relationship is a critical factor that helps to determine the success or failure of a company. The challenge to every business is that almost all buyers have different needs and wants. Consumers aren’t unanimous, even within similar demographics. There are different ages, lifestyles, ethnic backgrounds, etc. There’s an excellent chance that the motivating factors for one middle-aged customer may differ significantly from another. It’s incredibly important for a business to operate with their customer base as individuals.

So how do we go about the act of engaging a client? Here’s a few starting points to orient your mobile app marketing and digital advertising efforts:

  • An engagement marketing strategy is crucial. How will your company reach out to potential customers? How will you respond to their inquiries? Detailed analytics are necessary to help answer these questions. Actively learning about a customer’s lifestyles, rather than lumping people together based on a singular demographic. Remember, numbers are cold, your customers are real people. Think of them in that fashion. The more accurate and detailed your customer database is, the stronger foundation you will have for engagement.
  • Learn to predict consumer behavior. When looking at the unique lifestyle of your consumers, where can you see areas where they can benefit from your service or product? Big-box retailers like Walmart and Target do so by using data mining to notice trends in purchases. Walmart used data mining and discovered that Strawberry Pop-tart sales increased sevenfold before a hurricane in southern states. The reaction? Place Strawberry Pop-tarts at the cashier area of a store. More exposure to the pop-tarts increases sales even more. In the end, all parties benefit. Walmart and Kellogg’s experience increased sales, while customers have an emergency food source in case of natural disasters.
  • The benefits of customer engagement are limitless. Customer retention is critical. Customers can see the value in a company that puts the effort into satisfying their customer base. Satisfied clients can be the most powerful form of marketing. The family and friends of current customers are potential future customers. Nothing is more valuable than a recommendation from peer-to-peer. One survey even concluded that 92% of customers trust peer recommendations, compared to 47% trusting TV or magazine ads.

Customer engagement is beneficial, if not necessary, to a company’s success. Perhaps one of the most satisfying aspects of customer engagement is the company-client relationships built upon it. Increasing interaction cultivates and grows these relationships. Knowing that your company makes a positive difference in the life of your customers is a huge reward.

Projected advertising revenue trends for 2016 – TV vs. Digital

Projected advertising revenue trends for 2016 – TV vs. Digital

As new types of mobile devices are introduced, digital advertising and mobile app marketing are projected top television advertising trends and revenue in 2016. Previous advertising trends are becoming mundane as new kinds of technology are introduced to the public. Smart watches and virtual reality goggles have made their way into the mainstream. Users of all demographics are excited about them. Shifting mediums equate to shifting advertising markets.

The way in which information is delivered will be a driving force for the future of digital advertising. Device users are devouring both the flexibility and the speed at which information is provided. The choice of format and flexibility is driving users to change their buying habits.

Millennials

Millennials, also know as Gen Y’s, will shift advertising trends more towards digital than television. Prior generations had to park themselves in front of the tube to get their fair share of publicity. Millennials are taking those mobile ads everywhere, in every format. Marketers need to move their ads to where their audiences are going. Millennials like to be involved in a brand and a product. Advertising agencies can use this type of behavior to their advantage. “Millennials want their agencies to stand for something more than pushing products on consumers.”

Predictions

Forecasting trends and predictions are showing digital advertising surpassing television advertising. “Digital media will continue its meteoric rise. Digital ad spending will grow 17.2 percent this year, to nearly $160 billion, and 13.5 percent in 2016, and is expected to overtake TV as the biggest advertising category by the end of 2017,” according to Sydney Ember of the New York Times. One reason for this is how often an individual uses their mobile device. Advertising companies have taken full advantage of habits of consumers by engaging them where they spend most of their attention.

New Mobile Devices

Smart watches and virtual reality goggles are two of the new mobile devices to make their debut in the market recently. For something as small as a smart watch, advertising companies have taken advantage of it. “Smart watches advertisers grab consumers’ attention immediately, no matter what they are doing.” Even though it is a small space, advertising companies have utilized the space to their benefit. They have the ability to keep their brand/image fresh in the consumers’ mind by being able to consistently display ads on the smart watch. Companies will have to discover the users’ boundaries, learning to not overly advertise and annoy a consumer. Even though the medium is ready and available, doesn’t mean it should be overused. Be engaging, but not bothersome.

A new mobile “toy” debuting this year is the “virtual reality goggles.” These goggles attach to most smartphones and allow for a virtual world to be seen through the goggles. What is expected to rise out of the virtual reality world is a new evolution of video ads. Even though video ads are not new, many still think of them as time-consuming and irrelevant. However, Google is incorporating video-based advertisements in their SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), rather than just pictures and text. By doing this, consumers are more susceptible to accepting video ads. Eventually, those ads will be second nature to users, not perceived as the annoyance they may be viewed as today.

2016 is proving to be a very exciting year for digital advertising. Millennials have set the stage for mobile advertising and will continue to do so for years to come. They want to be involved in the ‘life-cycle’ of a brand. Millennials want to be engaging with companies. This generation will lead the direction of new trends in digital advertising. As new mobile devices introduced, they will become a gateway to how mobile advertising will surpass television advertising. We will just have to wait and see how virtual reality and smart watch advertising will affect the future.

Advertising Budgets 2016: 4 Trends You Need To Know [Infographic]
Infographic
by MDG Advertising

Programmatic media buying

Programmatic media buying

The ability to present the right advertisement, to the right person, at the right moment is priceless. Computers have forever changed the advertising landscape. They have brought together all of the key stakeholders in a place of efficiency and finesse. This is called programmatic media buying (sometimes simply referred to as ‘programmatic’). Its simple beauty is founded in highly complex math. This is the algorithmic purchase and sale of advertising space in real time (1). Fluid and seamless; it presents seemingly effortless connections between the consumer, publisher, and advertiser.

It is more than just the computerized buying and selling of ad space. It’s an interactive relationship between all of the players of the online advertising world. One definition is “the automated method of buying digital advertising in which supply and demand partners make decisions on a per-impression basis and adhere to business rules as provided by the operators of each platform”. Defining the inter-relationships between the stakeholders can be difficult. A group of industry experts offered their insights to help define the process for the layperson.

Simply stated, this process levels the playing field for companies of all sizes. If two companies have the same amount of funds for advertisements, ‘Bob’s Key Shop’ can have the same market reach as a ‘Target’.

This process provides an established pathway allowing all parties to reach highly focused goals. Companies can focus their advertising budgets toward an exact audience. If they need assistance in defining their target audience, they system provides the support and data to bring the parties together. Long gone are the guesses of “how do I get my audience to notice my business?” A focused approach delivers data based results.

Programmatics have dramatically changed the marketplace for everyone. For clients entering the marketplace for the first time, the system is tremendously beneficial. “Programmatic buys are a good thing for our clients when it comes to paid media campaigns, (meaning SEM, display banners, desktop and mobile marketing) along with traditional tv campaigns. It allows us to get inventory which normally wouldn’t be available to the client, at an affordable rate. It’s definitely a good thing for paid media campaigns.” – William Belle, Chief Colure Advisor.

The system hasn’t always been embraced by everyone in the marketplace. This response is from a blog posting from just two years ago:

“Sounds like another thing for large companies to spend more on staff figuring it out than they’ll ever make/save on ROI, and another thing for scammy marketing companies to sell contract services to small businesses. In 3 to 5 years, the fad will have passed, some lessons will have been learned and the smart businesses will come and implement changes and software then. My ROI is not a beta test.”

Some of the concern is based on who the end consumer may actually be. “There is some skepticism of Programmatics because we don’t truly know if a real human is absorbing the content,” says William Belle, Chief Colure Advisor. The focus and delivery are there, but it’s impossible to gain a definitive assessment of the message consumption. The fact that a human is still the ultimate consumer leaves a variable in the equation. The true level of message absorption can never be accurately measured. Like they say, ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make ’em drink’.

Despite voices of concern, the marketplace performance of programmatic purchasing has been well established. The significant growth in market share has provided the viability that few question.

If you want to discuss entering the marketplace with your business, contact Colure’s project managers to see how programmatic media buying can assist your company.

Ad blocking: Who will pay for the Web?

Ad blocking: Who will pay for the Web?

Display advertising has long been the driving financial force behind the Internet. Ads pay for the consumer’s seemingly endless appetite for the content they consume each day. The market forces created by profit margins and the ever increasing power of market leverage are staggering. Together, they have driven advertisers to peruse an ever-evolving set of techniques and technologies to grasp either the user’s attention or information.

A growing opinion amongst users is that internet advertising is out of control. It occupies too much space, data, time, and invades too far into our privacy. Users have now been given the opportunity to block most of the advertisements that fill their screens. A critical problem created by blocking all of those advertisements is that ‘no ads equal no cash flow.’ With this new shift in power, who will pay for the web? How will the current economic model of the internet survive?

At the heart of the issue lies the following dichotomy: while practically everyone wants free access to almost all internet content, they want to yield profits from their own internet endeavors. They don’t want to have to pay, however, they do want a pay-day. No matter how you cut it – there is no free lunch. If you are on the internet, you are paying a price to someone.

With this cost in mind, several questions come to mind. What is a just and equitable compensation for ‘free access’ to content?  At that point of full and just compensation, do the data harvesting and advertising behaviors of the advertisers change accordingly?

There is no question the internet is a capitalistic environment. Publishers should be compensated for their efforts and content. The question then becomes ‘what is a reasonable price for their product?’ Should users be given a price or simply subjected to endless mining of their resources and data simply in exchange for access to content? These questions have established a blurry synergy established between the users and providers. How many advertisements are enough? At which point has the consumer fairly compensated the publisher for the content they have consumed? When has enough data been mined?

In the past few years, a growing debate has given rise to the concerns of excess. It is virtually impossible to access any online platform without being, for the lack of a better description, attacked by advertising or silently data-mined. The scary part of the equation is that while consumers are aware of the advertisements that are flashed endlessly in front of their face, they have no clue as to the nature, amount, or depth of the data about that is silently harvested behind the screen.

Bluntly, this is the price of doing business. If you access the internet, you will pay the piper.

There is a growing backlash over the increasingly invasive nature of net advertising. At the forefront of this battle are two corporate giants – Apple and Google. One corporation has built their business model upon the mining of data, the funds generated through online advertising, and content management. The other has provided the consumer with the ability to limit the access of that reach.

The recent release of Apples’ iOS 9 and OS X operating systems include “content-blocking extensions” (AKA  “ad-blocking software”). If users can now effectively remove advertisements from the ‘free web’ who will pay the bills?

This clash of titans was eloquently described in a recent posting. I’ve posted an excerpt from it here:

The central philosophical dispute over ad-blocking goes something like this: Publishers have no right to force readers to be exposed to certain kinds of ads or allow numerous third parties to collect their information without a prior agreement; readers have no right to read or view content that they don’t pay for in one form or another, be it with money or data. What is not in dispute is that if ad-blocking becomes ubiquitous (and there’s nearly every reason to think that it will be!) it will be devastating for publications who derive much or all of their revenue from advertising—which comprises most of the professional publications on the internet. When Murphy first posted about “an hour with Safari Content Blocker in iOS 9,” he asked, rhetorically, “Do I care more about my privacy, time, device battery life & data usage or do I care more about the content creators of sites I visit to be able to monetise effectively and ultimately keep creating content? Tough question. At the moment, I don’t know.” (With the impending release of Crystal, it seems he’s resolved that tension.) When I spoke with Chris Aljoudi, lead developer on uBlock, an extension that tells users how many third-party scripts are active on a webpage, and asked how sites should sustain themselves if all of their ads are blocked, he replied, “I’m not an expert on whether it’s a business model, I don’t think we need to know as developers of a tool like this.” Even if they don’t have solutions, “users need to be able to control what they are forced to come across,” Aljoudi said, using the example of nytimes.com, a website for which no known mandate of visitation exists.                                                                                                                                                                                                      – Casey Johnson writing for theawl.com

In order to provide “free access” to content, publishers rely upon heavily inserting code scripts that too often invade users space, take control of the window, or harvest an unknown amount about data about the user. Providers do this to pay the bills. A broader question for everyone is ‘how and when can equity be found for all parties at the table?’

At Colure, we are well aware of this consternation and provide a balanced approach to advertising:
The way we differ from our competitors is that we help our clients with a balanced advertising portfolio. Within this picture, display or PPC advertisements would only be a single component of the greater picture. We also recommend SEO, app store optimization, blogging, syndicated or sponsored blogging with influencers. Digital PR is critical; let us not forget our recommendations for social media with content management. At the end of the day, we move forward to find a proper, working balance between the needs of our clients and those of the public.

Communications with your client and their customer base is an ever evolving game of chess. If you would like to discuss your project needs, contact our project managers.

What is Native Advertising?

What is Native Advertising?

Consumers have become increasingly adept at either ignoring or electronically blocking advertisements from their screens. To battle this trend, “Native Advertising” was created to grasp the readers’ attention. This is the practice of crafting a SEM (search engine marketing) advertisement to look specifically like the content already on a site.

This advertisement is often added into a news feed, blending in with the endless stream of stories from that day’s events. In this way, the advertisement tries to slip past the reader’s defenses, in the area of the web page readers often see as reserved for “real news content”.

This type of advertising is dressing a paid advertisement in the “clothing of content”. Often you will see this if you read a newsfeed, such as Yahoo! News. In their newsfeed, you’ll see a long line of stories. Interspersed with the news articles, there will be great articles and content pieces, with interesting headlines and eye-catching images. All look like original content, but state that they are “promoted by” or “sponsored by” a particular company. This is the separation between sponsored advertising content and news content.

Mashable promoted an article touching on summer music playlists created by a new upcoming pop group.

For those interested in that pop group or in music, in general, this would probably look worthy of reading. Compare this article to an advertisement that interrupts your browsing experience by flashing on the side of your screen or that makes you click out into another window. The native ad experience is executed by “cloaked choice”, not by force.

While native advertising is a popular option, it does have it’s setbacks. Traditionally, news articles are not directly sponsored by an advertisement. However, the ads do often closely surround the news. There is a level of trust that goes into visiting a website and reading content that you believe has been placed there by journalists. These are reporters who value your readership.

If that relationship is tainted by paid advertising, it can taint that brand, but more importantly, it could damage the trust the consumer has for that site. The site must balance the funds raised by the advertisement against the cost of the consumer’s trust.

Protecting Your Brand Identity

Protecting Your Brand Identity

The increasing digital nature of the world has been a blessing to marketers. SEO-focused blogging and social media marketing have allowed companies to focus awareness and dramatically increase their profits for little cost. At the same time, the consumer-focused nature of this digital world has also threatened one thing, brand identity.

Establishing Your Brand Used to Be Simple

Before the internet placed so much power in the hands of consumers, your brand identity was in your hands. Businesses could control the messages about their company. They could control content, ensuring the perception of their brand remained positive and on-point.

A Plethora of Voices

Today anyone can go to social media and criticize your products and brand. They can write a blog posting that ranks higher in Google’s search results than you’d like. Control has left the hands of the marketer. The issue is multiplied in the service industry, where review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor and Angie’s List – all designed to improve customer experience – can seriously threaten your brand’s credibility and identity.

The consumer has a direct voice to connect quality to value. Now branding efforts must address both macro and micro management strategies. Companies must be responsive to individual voices of dissatisfied consumers, while focusing resources toward broader quality efforts and branding.

This is the price of doing business. Rightfully so, consumers can now put their mouth where their money is. The business community must do the same.

What Can You Do?

Successful companies leverage positive reviews into word-of-mouth advertising. This remains the single most effective type of advertising today.

If your company is being battered with negative reviews, what can you do? Here are a few ideas to start:

  • Find them. Use focused social media searches to discover what consumers are saying about your company. 
  • Respond diligently. Once you’ve found complaints, don’t just dismiss them. These reviews are actively read by consumers. Consumers are often more likely to embrace a review than an advertisement.  Respond to the feedback openly and solve the issue. Deal with it.
  • Improve. Don’t just make empty promises. Empty lip-service is the worst response you can provide to a complaint. If you have an issue, deal with it. If you get called on the carpet because of poor service – deal with it. If the customer is upset – deal with it. Don’t dismiss the complaint, resolve the issue. Even if it costs you a few dollars and a bit of time – solve the problem. At this point, damage from the mismanagement of a complaint only escalates.
  • Grow from your mistakes. Learn what the consumer wants. It’s that simple.
  • Take feedback. Make this an opportunity to improve your brand – your customers will thank you for it.

Contact Colure’s marketing team. Discover the art of crisis management. Learn from a team that can help you properly manage your corporate image.

Audience retargeting in social media

Audience retargeting in social media

Advertisers use the practice of ‘audience retargeting’ in order to market a product to the most relevant audience. Social media has become one of the most vital parts of modern society because of its focused ability to meet this need.

The practice of retargeting allows companies to specifically target consumers who have previously demonstrated an interest in their goods or services. Manipulated content allows companies to place their brand freshly into the audience’s mind.

It is significant to focus on consumers who are truly engaged with a brand. In order to grow a business, it is critical to interact, stand out and appeal to your audience.

Facebook is extremely successful in terms of rebranding. They have access to critical data covering a fifth of the entire population of the planet. Because of this powerful information, they are able to place a specific ad in front of a specific person at a specific moment.

The data entered on Facebook pages such as personal preferences, searches, interests, and likes is identified, indexed and stored. Once the information is processed, they match commercial clients to your interests. It is not coincidental that as you search the web for a new computer, ads from electronic companies begin appearing.

The concept of retargeting is essentially a cycle. It begins when a potential customer visits a website and make a request. An association is established between that person and certain markets. As that person continues to ‘surf’, greater amounts of detail about that individual is gathered by various groups. As that person spends time on the internet, much of the commercial results surrounding that person will be molded to their tastes. The cycle both begins and returns to the individual.

By placing focused advertisements in front of a specific audience, companies are able to achieve a couple of critical goals. They maximize the effectiveness of their advertising budget. They’re able to place their advertisements directly before the audience most apt to make a specific purchase decision.

In the end, retargeting is the main tool used to manipulate consumer traffic towards your website. Contact Colure’s marketing staff to discuss the most effective exposure for your company.