Instagram’s Success & Why Marketers Love It

unnamedSince Instagram rolled out self-serve ads last year, marketers have been flocking to engage potential customers on the photo-sharing app. It’s no surprise, given the success of its parent company, Facebook.

Instagram ads became successful so quickly because it’s easy for advertisers to get up and running. Advertisers can set up Instagram campaigns from Facebook’s ad interface, and the same targeting options and ad formats are available. Most advertisers are already familiar with and comfortable with Facebook Ads, and since Instagram is an extension rather than an entirely new ad product, advertisers are more eager to give it a try.

Another important success factor is the ad format. Instagram is a full-screen mobile experience, and the ads follow suit. Rather than getting stuck in a sidebar or in a tiny mobile banner, brands get enough real estate to capture attention and tell a story. Instagram is a mobile product, and its ad experience lends itself well to mobile devices, unlike some other sites and apps that try to squeeze entire desktop web experiences (and ads) into a tiny screen.

Instagram has been quick to give advertisers what they want, particularly with mobile video ad opportunities. Most recently, Instagram rolled out 60-second video ads. The previous max was 15 seconds, which is pretty limiting, and advertisers were keen for more time in front of viewers.

However, there are still some issues preventing Instagram from becoming pure gold for advertisers. Because Instagram is traditionally a non-click environment, the platform has been cautious about rolling out links beyond the call-to-action buttons in its ads. That’s why you see so many brands and promoters referring to the links in their profile – users still can’t post clickable links along with their images. The only way to drive Instagram users to a website is through click-to-web ads, which are far more expensive than Facebook or Twitter. But even though Instagram is only pay-to-play, advertisers seem to be willing to pay up.

Instagram is in growth mode and has captured advertisers’ attention. It will be interesting to see what they roll out to keep advertisers happy in 2016.

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

How Ads Can Be Targeted on Facebook

The following post was written by guest blogger David Neuman. Please read his bio after the post.

bullseye2Why You’re Being Targeted on Facebook

Regardless of how often you log into Facebook, chances are you’ve been “creeped out” by at least one post or advertisement that has been shown on your news feed. How did Travelocity know I was looking up hotels in San Francisco this morning? Why does Amazon.com keep showing me sales for products I regularly purchase? Many Facebook advertisers can answer these questions easily, but the majority of users are likely unaware about why they are being served a particular advertisement. To answer the question of “why am I seeing this ad”, it is important to understand the following: there are thousands of different ways a user can be targeted on Facebook and not all of them are based on your profile information. I bring up the fact that targeting isn’t just inclusive of your Facebook profile because this used to be the only way you could be targeted. However, over the past couple of years, Facebook has significantly revamped their advertising offerings by partnering with a bunch of different 3rd parties and expanding their own functionality. The next time you see a Facebook advertisement and aren’t sure why, it could be due to one of the below ad options.

Facebook Retargeting

Retargeting isn’t unique to Facebook. It exists practically everywhere on the web due to Google and other display companies offering it as an advertising option. Specific to Facebook, it’s based on your browsing behavior on an advertiser’s website. If you take the “desired action” on the company’s website, you might see a retargeting advertisement the next time you log into Facebook. A lot of e-commerce businesses will use this as an opportunity to try and get you to you purchase product. Say, for example, you add a product to Amazon.com’s shopping cart, but do not end up completing the transaction. Amazon.com might serve you an advertisement for an additional 10% off of that product the next time you log into Facebook to try and get you to complete your purchase. These ad units are not actually run on Facebook’s ad platform, but through 3rd party platforms that have a partnership with Facebook’s Exchange product.

Partner Categories

Facebook has partnered with Axiom, Datalogix, and Epsilon to allow advertisers to reach users through behavioral targeting methods. This is based on various data points including loyalty card data, transactional data, the U.S. Census, the DMV, and more. With Facebook’s behavioral targeting, you’re not reaching people based on what pages they “like”, but based on their actual purchasing / offline behavior. If you own a store in NYC selling vitamins and other health products, for example, originally you might promote to new customers on Facebook by targeting users who are in NYC who “like” pages related to health and wellness. With behavioral targeting, you can now target users who are in NYC that actually buy health and wellness products above the national average.

Custom Audiences

Custom audiences allow advertisers to upload a list of emails, phone numbers, or Facebook user IDs to Facebook. Facebook will then match up that data to people on Facebook to create a custom audience. If you have a list of 400,000 e-mails, for example, and upload it to the network; Facebook will create a custom audience list for you to target as long as those individuals are using the same e-mail address to access Facebook. If you are a frequent customer of a brand, you might see an advertisement for a new product on Facebook because that brand created a custom audience list of their most loyal customers. Custom audiences can also be created based on website traffic and Facebook app activity.

Look-A-Like Audiences

Look-A-Like audiences are a list of Facebook users who are similar to a Custom Audience that you have uploaded to Facebook. If you upload a list of your most loyal customers’ e-mail addresses to Facebook, for example, Look-A-Like audiences can generate a list of the top 1% of users who are similar to these customers based on their likes and interests.  If advertisers want to expand their reach, they can generate a list of the top 10% of users who are similar to these customers.

 

-Post by guest blogger David Neuman-

david-neumanDavid Neuman, Guest Blogger
David is the Director of Social Media Services at Prime Visibility. He has been with Prime Visibility for over 7 years and has over 9 years’ experience in Digital Marketing. He manages Social Media initiatives for the company where he creates and executes Social Media strategies for the agency’s clients. David was also the recipient of two LISTNet awards for developing an algorithm to measure the virality of Social Media campaigns and has appeared on CNBC and WSJ Live.

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.

Insight into Brand Conversations on Facebook

Image source: Techcrunch.com
Image source: Techcrunch.com

Facebook’s ability to provide a mass amount of first-party data is unmatched, and therefore it’s been one of the most powerful tools for marketers in recent years.

Now, Facebook’s opening up it’s vault of data even further, granting access to “topic data” that allows marketers to see what people are saying about their brand on Facebook. This could prove to be an incredible tool for marketers to listen in and gather real-time, uninhibited feedback on their brands, services and relevant subjects without a formal survey.

“We’ve grouped data and stripped personal information from Facebook activity (not including Messenger) to offer insights on all the activity around a topic. That means marketers get a holistic and actionable view of their audience for the first time.” Facebook wrote in a blog post announcing the new feature. Facebook is partnering with data company DataSift to help turn the data into relevant insights for marketers.

Facebook provided several examples of how topic data could be used:

  • “A business selling a hair de-frizzing product can see demographics on the people talking about humidity’s effects on their hair to better understand their target audience.
  • A fashion retailer can see the clothing items its target audience is talking about to decide which products to stock.
  • A brand can see how people are talking about their brand or industry to measure brand sentiment.”

The feature is initially available to a limited number of DataSift’s partners in the US and UK. And unfortunately, the data can’t be used for ad targeting (yet). It would be incredibly powerful for marketers to be able to target their ads to individuals who are already discussing the brand or relevant subjects. However, user privacy is a key concern in when and how Facebook allows marketers to leverage topic data.

We’ll have to stay tuned to see how marketers will harness the power of topic data, and how useful the new feature proves to be.

Further reading:

-Posted by Elizabeth Pace

Are Bigger Ads More Viewable? IAB Says Yes.

new-iab-logoThe debate about the value of ad viewability—and how to measure it—is long-standing and sometimes controversial. Typically, marketers are keen to see their ads in “above the fold” positions (the part of a website that’s visible without scrolling) where it is believed ads get the most exposure. However, impressions, the most common measurement for digital advertising, do not discern between how many ads are served versus how many ads are actually viewed.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has urged a shift in measurement from impressions to viewable impressions. However, IAB admits this type of measurement cannot be 100% reliable “because, different ad units, browsers, ad placements, vendors and measurement methodologies yield wildly different viewability numbers” (IAB Press Release, December 2014).

In the most recent development on improving the viewability of web ads, IAB has released a report that its bigger “Rising Star” ad placements delivered higher interaction rates than standard units. These super-sized units come in a variety of formats, from a 970×250 pixel Billboard to a 300×1050 pixel Portrait unit.

The report called “Rising Stars Ads and Brand Equity” was released in conjunction with C3Research. Key findings include:

  • IAB Display Rising Star Ads generate 4X more AD RECALL compared to Legacy UAP Ads.
  • IAB Display Rising Star Ads generate 3X more AD INTERACTION: 34% interacted with an IAB Display Rising Star Ad as compared to only 11% who interacted with a Legacy UAP Ad.
  • IAB Display Rising Star Ads show 30% Higher Brand Lift compared to Legacy UAP Ads. Brand Lift is even stronger for those who interact with the IAB Display Rising Star Ads.
  • Eye Tracking lab data shows 62% of Ad Impressions received a Gaze for IAB Display Rising Star Ads as compared to 38% for Legacy UAP Ads.
  • The average gaze duration per respondent in a session for IAB Display Rising Star Ads was 5X longer than Legacy UAP Ads (4.5 seconds versus 0.9 seconds respectively).

Despite these findings, the trend is likely to continue with marketers starting to favor non-traditional digital advertising (e.g. native) over display. Digital is constantly changing, but the goal remains: reach consumers in the right place and at the right time.

Further reading:

-Posted by Elizabeth Pace

Twitter Launches New Video and Group Direct Message Features

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 10.17.02 AMThis week Twitter announced some much-anticipated new features that it hopes will provide a richer, more immersive experience for users.

The first feature is a mobile video camera that will allow users to capture, edit and share videos directly from the Twitter app. iPhone users can upload videos from the camera roll as well (coming soon to Android, too). The videos will not auto-play like on Facebook, but they can easily be viewed with one tap from the in-feed thumbnail image.

The video feature is a smart move for Twitter, especially with the growing popularity of Facebook on video. Facebook had one billion video views per day in September 2014, which has reportedly tripled since then.

The second feature, group direct message, will allow users to engage in private messages with a group of up to 20 people.

These features will roll out to everyone in the coming weeks, but you can already view videos on the Twitter feed and engage in group DMs if you’re invited to one.

Additional resources:

-Posted by Elizabeth Pace

What Brands Can Expect from Facebook in 2015

The following post was written by guest blogger David Neuman. Please read his bio after the post.

2014 brought a lot of significant changes to the biggest Social Network in the world ranging from auto-playing videos to completely moving their messaging feature to a separate application to continuing to decrease brands’ organic post reach. While some of these changes only impacted a small percentage of users, there will likely be some big changes in 2015 that will have a significant impact on brands. Here are five things brands can expect from Facebook in 2015.

Continuing to Pay for Post Reach: This is nothing new and something that has been effecting brands for a couple of years now. However, this will likely get even worse in 2015. Facebook is starting to crack down on posts that are overly self-promotional or are too advertorial; significantly decreasing their reach (or not showing them altogether). This change, combined with the expected increase in ad spends for news feed posts in 2015, will result in a large amount of brands having to pay for their posts to see any worthwhile reach. I expect many small businesses to increase their focus on other channels like Instagram and Twitter as a result.

Being Able to Advertise Based on Searches & Post Keywords: More of a prediction than something that’s guaranteed for 2015, but it makes sense given Facebook’s recent changes to their internal search engine and the fact that they have removed Bing listings from their search results. Facebook is now allowing users to search for a specific post by keyword and also is showing their most recent searches on their mobile application. Keyword bidding is highly successful on Twitter and would likely see similar success on Facebook. If you’re a seafood restaurant, for example, imagine being able to target users who post “I’m craving seafood”, or who are searching on Facebook for “seafood restaurants”, that are in close proximity to your restaurant.

Call to Actions on Facebook Pages: This has started to roll out for some brands and is expected to roll out to all pages in the coming weeks. Instead of having just “like” and “message” appear over a page’s cover images, brands will now be able to add call to actions such as “book now”, “contact us”, “use app”, “play game”, “shop now”, “sign up”, and “watch video”. When this is clicked on, it will redirect the user to an external URL and will alert page admins on the amount of call to action clicks that have taken place. Tip: do what the page below did and drive people to “click” through your cover image design.
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Video will be a Crucial Part of a Brand’s Content Strategy: Facebook has been heavily pushing video and it shows. According to Facebook, users are posting 75% more videos to Facebook directly than they did a year ago and that, between June 2014 and September 2014, users collectively averaged 1 billion video views on Facebook each day. Facebook also recently acquired video compression company Quickfire in January 2015 and video ad platform LiveRail in July 2014. We’ve seen for our clients video getting more organic reach on the news feed than other post types. Instead of promoting YouTube content on Facebook, brands should start to upload their video content directly onto Facebook.

Advertising and Content Strategy will Prioritize Mobile: It’s no surprise that mobile usage is rapidly growing on Facebook – both on the ad front and in overall usage. Ad campaigns and brands’ overall content strategies will need to continually think about how what they’re doing translates on mobile devices heading into 2015 or they will be missing out on lost opportunities. Besides the obvious of making sure your website is “mobile friendly”, make sure the messaging you include in your ad creative and post content resonates with a mobile audience.

 

-Post by guest blogger David Neuman-
david-neumanDavid has been with Prime Visibility for over 7 years and has over 9 years’ experience in Digital Marketing.  He manages Social Media initiatives for the company where he creates and executes Social Media strategies for the agency’s clients. David was also the recipient of two LISTNet awards for developing an algorithm to measure the virality of Social Media campaigns and has appeared on CNBC and WSJ Live.