What does “social-first” content really mean?

downloadContent distribution across platforms like Facebook and Twitter has become an absolute necessity for publishers. Instead of focusing on driving clicks to their own websites, publishers are now vying for their audience’s attention on native platforms where the competition is stiff.

Jason Abbruzzese, Business & Media Reporter at Mashable, says it best: “Social is now flooded with content, and the platforms are no longer content to just be traffic hoses. Social will still be a huge part of distribution, but it’s far more competitive and cut-throat than it has been.” (Pulled from this great selection of social wisdom from NewsWhip)

There are hundreds of articles and blog posts published each week about how to create social content that engages and stands out from the crowd. But what are the key factors that make content truly “social-first?”

Here’s a list of what you should keep in mind when creating content for social platforms:

  • Video, video, and more video:
    Audiences are hungry for video and becoming accustomed to seeing it in their feeds, particularly with the introduction of auto-play. Video posts average 62% more engagement than photos (source). 75% of Facebook video views occur on mobile devices (source), so video content needs to work on small screens. Test length, subject matter, captions, branding and other variables to find the sweet spot for your audience.
  • Leverage Facebook Instant Articles:
    While Facebook made a big to-do about Instant Articles being about a better experience for users, and not about taking power from publishers, the fact is it does indeed provide a better experience. No one likes scrolling down his or her feed, clicking on a post only to wait while it loads—if at all. Publishers say it’s getting easier to make money from Instant Articles, so why not give it a try? It’s now open to all publishers.
  • Social-first is mobile-first:
    Chances are your Facebook and Twitter audience is viewing your content on mobile, so focus on content that can be digested easily and on-the-go. Incorporate snack-able, eye-catching content such as video clips, GIFs, and infographics. Naturally, users will gravitate towards native content published in their feeds, so ask yourself which is more important–clicks or eyeballs? The right balance might be a combination of both.
  • Keep experimenting:
    It’s a phrase said and heard too frequently, but the only way to know what will work for you is to give it a try, while remaining true to your brand. There’s simply no one-sized-fits-all guidebook to producing engaging content. Some brands have shared their best practices, so articles like this one from Buffer Social are a good place to start.
  • Capitalize on trending topics:
    Explore social listening tools to learn what people are talking about and when relevant topics, or your brand, are mentioned. Publishing platforms like Social Flow will even optimize your posts and Tweets to ensure they go out at the best time for your audience: when they are active and when the topic is trending.

Further reading:

-Posted by Elizabeth Pace

Ad Blocking and the Way Forward for Publishers

adsThere’s been a lot of chatter recently in the media world about ad blocking. While consumers may be rejoicing over the increasing opportunity to ad block, publishers are panicking about the imminent devastation to traditional online ad revenue models. In many cases, both sides agree that a solution is needed to eliminate obnoxious banner ads. But the question remains how publishers will make up for lost revenue in the face of an already-declining banner ad business.

Ad blocking has been alive and well on desktop for some time. However, the introduction of Apple’s iOS 9 reignited the debate, as one of the new features will allow users to block ads on Safari. Besides offering a better user experience on the mobile web, the feature will also allow users save on data costs since it will block things like auto-play video.

The least effective solutions, in my opinion, would be if publishers either A) ignore the obvious consequences of ad blocking or B) try to fight it. Especially on mobile, traditional display banner ads are not effective. Muriel McDonald said it best in her TINT article: “Humans – internet users – your customers – are smart. They learn quickly what is an ad and what isn’t, and they don’t want to click on your banner ad. The market is unbelievably saturated – the average person is served over 1,700 banner ads per month… Do you remember any of the 1,700 banners you’ve seen in the past four weeks? Neither do we.”

Promoted and sponsored posts across social networks provide a much better alternative to banner ads for both marketers and consumers. The skyrocket of Facebook’s mobile ad revenue demonstrates that its ad units simply provide better ROI. People are more likely to click on content that’s integrated into their News Feed and seamlessly part of their experience.

Publishers may be able to get a piece of the social ad revenue pie through Facebook’s Instant Articles. Snapchat, Twitter, Google and Apple are all jumping onboard the train with a model that shares—or hands over, completely—revenue with publishers in exchange for content. This model is not without its negatives and concerns, as it gives more power to the giant tech companies and is considered by some to be “selling out.” And yet, I would argue this type of “selling out” is better than “going out”– of business, that is.

Ultimately good content will drive revenue for publishers, whether through syndication, partnerships, subscriptions, or entirely custom experiences. Ad blocking will force content creators to be more thoughtful and more creative. There’s no doubt it’s a challenging and disrupted space, but publishers need to adjust to how the Internet is changing. Banner ads haven’t worked for a longtime, and the latest in ad blocking is confirmation that it’s time to move on.

Further reading:

-Posted by Elizabeth Pace

Big Changes Coming with iOS 9, and What it Means for Marketers

apple_wwdc_news_thumbnailEarlier this month at its annual developer conference, Apple announced some big changes coming with the next operating system. Now that we’ve had some time to digest, here are the some of the new features that will impact marketers:

  1. Apple’s “News” app
    Apple introduced a new magazine-like news experience with its news app, simply called “News.” News content from third party publishes will be curated based on a user’s preferences, allowing readers to choose topics, similarly to the popular news curation app, Flipboard. This is a big opportunity for publishers to get content in front of more readers and monetize via ads: publishers will get 100% of revenue from ads they sell and 70% from ads sold by Apple’s iAd. For marketers, it’s another channel to reach engaged audience on their iOS devices.
  2. New & improved search features
    Apple announced a number of updates related to search, including upgrades to Siri and in-app deep-linking. Siri will be enhanced with better voice-recognition technology, which Apple claims will improve by 40%. Users will swipe right to access to new Search tool offering personalized suggestions from Siri, who will learn a user’s preferences over time. Suggestions will be based on the time, location and user’s previous behavior. With deep-linking to third party apps, users will be able to search for content inside their apps – which is a great feature for app publishers and marketers looking to improve discoverability and engagement for their in-app content.
  3. Ability to block adds on Safari
    iOS 9 will give developers an easy way to develop mobile ad blockers, which could spell trouble for ad networks like Google. According to 9to5mac.com, “When users download an app with an ad blocker extension, it shows up in Settings. Users can keep the app installed and disable the content blocker independently by using the toggle switches.” Only time well tell when and how developers will utilize this feature in their apps, and what impact it will have on ad networks.
  4. iOS Apps Won’t See User’s other Installed Apps
    In an effort to beef up its privacy promise, Apple will prevent apps from getting data on what other apps users have installed in iOS 9. Twitter and Facebook have typically accessed this data to help with ad targeting. We’ll be seeing more like this from Apple, who is not going to monetize its users’ personal data, per Tim Cook’s recent comments: “Some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information. They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be.”

The battle between the largest tech players, Facebook, Google and Apple, is as interesting as ever. Some of Apple’s updates and new features are obvious digs at their competitors. But ultimately, Apple’s direction simply makes sense. Consumers today expect a personalized, simple experience where their privacy is not compromised. Apple is smart to develop features and products that enhance the experience without compromising personal data. As users become more savvy, sketchy data practices will become more scrutinized and even made illegal, so business models that support customer privacy will come out on top (not that Apple isn’t on top, already!).

Further reading:

 

-Posted by Elizabeth Pace-

Spotify Set to Compete with YouTube and Facebook in Video

spotify-logo-primary-horizontal-light-background-rgbSpotify recently announced that it’s entering the video space as it launches partnerships with dozens of media companies to include video clips on the music-streaming app. Partners including ABC, BBC, Comedy Central, Condé Nast Entertainment, ESPN, Fusion, Maker Studios, NBC, TED , Vice News and others will provide video clips for Spotify users to watch on-the-go in between music listening.

What’s more, Spotify will also introduce original content including “A Full English,” a show featuring artists and other personalities who search for common ground over breakfast. Watch out, Netflix!

“When you look across media, you see new content everywhere. But our content will compliment and extend the core of our users experience.” Said Daniel EK, Spotify’s CEO. Unlike video giant YouTube which has a massive amount of content, Spotify is focused on curation and personalization. The service also just launched a recommendation interface that will play music based on a user’s mood and current activity and Spotify Running which matches music tempo to a runner’s pace.

Video ad opportunities for marketers are sure to follow the recent announcement, as the CEO hinted. “We are seeing that as a very important revenue source for us,” he said. Spotify already has a number of ad options but has yet to turn a profit, according to the WSJ.

The video content partnerships are expected to be just the first in a lineup of forthcoming deals and product enhancements. Spotify also just announced a partnership with Nike to make Spotify Running available in the very popular Nike+ running app.

Further reading:

-Posted by Elizabeth Pace

Insights from the 2015 MMA Forum New York

The following post was written by guest blogger Kathleen D. Rogers. Please read her bio after the post.

logoThe Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) held its Forum New York on March 17-18. The two-day conference brought together hundreds of marketers to discuss the latest innovations, opportunities and challenges of mobile marketing. After taking a week to review everything that was discussed at the Mobile Marketing Association’s Forum in New York, there are a couple of key takeaways, but there is also an overall message to marketers.

The message to marketers is that they should strive to understand consumer interaction with all screens holistically. This broader approach will enable marketers to encourage consumer behavior that will translate to sales and avoid micro-managing data. Marketers should be encouraged to evaluate their current mobile integration and how it can move towards a more seamless/enhanced experience for consumers.

SMOX – Best Practices for Mobile

The SMOX (Smart Mobile Cross Marketing) Effectiveness Research program is one of the largest studies focused on sharing data and insights on the ROI of mobile. The first five studies were held in partnership with AT&T, MasterCard, and Coca Cola. The goal was “to develop a new approach to scientifically assess the value of mobile in the mix using real in-market campaigns, an approach that did not exist prior.”

The findings show that marketers should invest in larger size ad units, audio, and mobile video. In addition, the study supports the use of customization opportunities that mobile offers like specific time and location ad serving. Testing of multiple ad units was shown to garner stronger results as well. Check out the full study here.

The Importance of apps

Several presenters at the Forum mentioned the Flurry Analytics Study from Yahoo! that tracked time spent on iOS and Android Connected Devices, 86% on Apps vs. 14% on Browsers. Ian Sefferman from TUNE in a breakout session spoke to the topic How Brands Succeed in the App Store. He gave suggestions on app development as well as how to track app performance.

Apps must give consumers an experience or serve a purpose. The best ways to gauge app performance is to look at how an app is ranking on Top Charts, access if the app is easily found in searches, and evaluate the reviews/ratings for the app.  Sefferman gave several examples of successful apps including: Starbucks, L’Oréal, Nike, and Quicken Loans.

YouTube Influencers, powerful brand advocates

Tom Beeby, Founder of Beeby, Clark+Meyler and Charlie King, Group Marketing Director, Schick Intuition shared their successful YouTube influencer campaign and how they choose their brand advocates. Beeby selected two YouTube Influencers by looking at their fan base on YouTube, as well as their personality, tone, manner and the way they connected with the brand. The two influencers, Brittani Louise Taylor and Weylie Hoang achieved meaningful sales lifts for Schick Intuition and higher levels of engagement versus banner ads.

 

-Post by guest blogger Kathleen D. Rogers-
P1040216Kathleen has ten years of marketing experience working on major brands in Tampa and New York.  She took a break to raise her kids and she’s currently looking for a marketing position in Tampa.  Check out her profile on Linkedin.

What’s next for Snapchat in 2015?

Icon_100pxSnapchat rolled out its first advertising campaign in October 2014. If $485.6 million in funds from investors is any indication, people are betting on Snapchat in 2015.

According to Bloomberg, Snapchat is now valued at $10 billion. Many scoffed at Snapchat’s decision not to sell to Facebook for $3 billion back in 2013, but now the decision seems quite wise, after all. But how does Snapchat plan to make money in 2015, and will advertisers buy it?

The first paid media campaign in October 2014 was an ad promoting the horror film “Ouijo” that appeared in the updates feed with a “Sponsored” label. I think it was a smart decision for Snapchat to start with a video ad format that’s already familiar to advertisers, so more might be willing to get their feet wet. And companies like Taco Bell, McDonald’s, GrubHub and Acura are taking the bait.

Eric Murphy of Business2Community points out that not only does Snapchat offer a highly sought-after demographic of 13-25 year olds, it also offers a fully opt-in experience whereby consumers will interact with only the brands they choose (unlike Facebook and Twitter, where we see ads we may or may not be interested in).

Today advertisers expect to be able to buy a personal, one-to-one ad opportunities, and Snapchat certainly fits the bill. Snapchat is trying to differentiate itself from other social media giants by saying no to “creepy and targeted” ads in lieu of putting the consumer in charge. “We want to see if we can deliver an experience that’s fun and informative, the way ads used to be,” Snapchat wrote on its blog on October 17th.

What’s tricky for advertisers is that many of us don’t use Snapchat, so it’s harder to fully understand how it fits into the lives of millions of teens and twenty-somethings today. But with new ad opportunities from Snapchat that are sure to roll out this year, it’s clear that Snapchat is the new kid in town—and not leaving any time soon.

Further reading:

-Posted by Elizabeth Pace

New Ad Opportunities on Facebook

Image source: Facebook

Image source: Facebook

Now that mobile advertising makes up 66% of Facebook’s total revenue, it’s no surprise that Facebook is enhancing its mobile ad program features. Facebook announced yesterday a few significant additions to its mobile app advertising program, including:

  • Ability to optimize ads for reach and frequency: This allows an advertiser to control how many times a user sees an ad.
  • Ability to target Amazon Fire users: Amazon Fire tablets join a roster of available devices which advertisers can target, including Apple, Samsung and HTC
  • Ability to use auto-play video in App install ads: Facebook reported that it delivers 1 billion video views every day.

Facebook also offered some tips for holiday mobile app advertising, including testing multiple creative, optimizing by action (install or reach/frequency) and targeting people who have recently used Facebook on a new device.

Further reading:

– Posted by Elizabeth Pace