More! More! More! Creating a Performance-Driven Marketing Culture

One of my favorite shows is Showtime’s House of Lies, which, sadly, has just wrapped its final season (all five seasons are available to stream which I highly recommend!) It is a satirical look at corporate management consultants and their win-at-all-costs, hedonistic lifestyles. While it is fiction and the situations they get themselves into are amplified for entertainment purposes, the underlying motivators for these characters are very real – it is all about results. In the show’s case, it is about getting the deal, increasing valuation and lining pockets. But watching it made me think a lot about how marketing and communications teams are motivated to succeed and how the growth of big data can contribute to a culture based on performance.

Mobile applications funnel

Creating a performance-based culture using data can lead to better decision-making, provide support for ideas with measurable outcomes and help adjust and fine-tune strategies while ultimately, increasing share or revenue. According to McKinsey, data-driven organizations are 23 times more likely to win new customers and six times more likely to retain the ones they already have. Those stats alone should be pretty big motivators for driving a cultural focus or, in some cases, a cultural change.

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Social Media: Modern Day’s New Frontier for Businesses and Public Relations

“Social media is not just a spoke on the wheel of marketing. It’s becoming the way entire bicycles are built.” – Ryan Lilly, author

Social Media New Frontier

Social media, two words that were relatively non-existent 15 years ago, have now become a vital part of everyday business, so much so that entire campaigns are now focused around them. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram are some of the top social channels used by businesses today.

Before your company dives deeper into social media, it’s important to remember what your company stands for and what you want to portray across each platform. Your brand, target audience, leadership team, company policies and imagery all play key parts in how you will be received on social media.

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Why Banner Ads Still Matter

Banner ads are the oldest form of advertising on the internet, and in the age of social media and content marketing, many people claim that they are no longer effective. With all of the options for online marketing dollars such as social media, email, paid search and sponsored content, are banner ads still relevant? That answer is overwhelmingly yes! Banner advertising, if done correctly, can still be the most cost-effective and farthest reaching way to promote your brand.

Why Banner Ads Still Matter

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The Sound of Silence… on Facebook

They always say that everything old can be made new again. On Facebook, we’re jumping back to the 1920s. One of the newest developments on the social platform is the rise of silent video. Before we cue Charlie Chaplin and bring back silent films of the early 20th century, let’s dig into the trend.

Hand holding smartphone with mute sound during concert

In a recent blog post, Facebook revealed some interesting information about viewers’ video-watching habits. According to the social platform, users watched more than 100 million hours of video on Facebook every day. To add to that, Digiday reported that as many as 85 percent of Facebook video views are silent.

Within the last couple of years, Facebook made videos autoplay in a user’s newsfeed – silently.

And that’s probably because Facebook also found that “when feed-based mobile video ads play loudly when people aren’t expecting it, 80 (percent) react negatively, both toward the platform and the advertiser.”

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Advertisers, Let’s Mobilize!

I love my phone. I take it everywhere with me: meetings, the grocery store, the bathroom, everywhere! For many, our phones are part of our identities – so much so that we spend an average of 4.7 hours a day on them, according to Informate Mobile Intelligence. This might sound alarming to some (like my mother), but to marketers this should sound more like an opportunity to reach millions of people at just about any moment in their lives.

Mobile ad spends are expected to exceed $101 billion and make up half of digital ad spends in 2016, according to eMarketer. That means if you aren’t in the mobile game, your competitor probably is. And if you’re not top of mind, you’re not top of wallet. So where do you start?

Get to know the basics with a quick overview of the top mobile advertising opportunities:

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Lettuce Talk About Advertising and PR Agencies

It’s easy to accept something for what it is at face value. A tree is something to climb on. A cactus makes a great desk plant. A flower is something to pick that also happens to smell nice. And yet, there is so much more beneath the surface. A flowering plant is more than its petals; there are roots, a stem, leaves.

The same can be said for advertising and public relations agencies. At face value, they design banner ads, make TV commercials and write press releases. Like most things, however, there is much more going on behind the scenes.

As someone who works in the industry, I find it easy to focus solely on analytics. Our clients find it easy to focus on the department that they primarily interact with, most likely the account services team. But, like a flowering plant is more than its parts, an agency is more than just one department. To understand this, it’s important to comprehend the different functions performed by each department within an agency. For the sake of a metaphor, we can define departments and their functions with botany!

Green sprout growing from seed in organic soil

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Ridding the World of Ads: A Lesson from South Park

I have to come clean. I like watching South Park.

There, I said it!

Prior to this season, South Park has been purely one of my comedic reprieves for frustrations in current events, culture and politics. However, this season (Season 19) took on digital advertising and ad blocking, topics very near and dear to me.

AdBlocker - iStock_000076429955

Ultimately, the user experience is the primary reason for utilizing ad blockers to stop interruptive ads and improve site performance, according to research by Teads presented by AdWeek. Sites that have mass amounts of clutter, interstitials, click-baits, no clear distinctions between editorial and advertising, etc. ruin the experience for everyone. No longer can you peruse sites without being forced into a slideshow about the top beach resorts or the secret foods that will help you lose 10 pounds in 10 days. I get it! I totally get it! It is annoying.

However, ad blockers can act as a wall to block all tracking links, including Google Analytics tracking, social media buttons, content marketing and ecommerce functionality that would otherwise improve my experiences on the sites I frequent. And that’s the rub.

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Banner Advertising – Is This ALL There IS?

My favorite sitcom these days is “The Goldbergs,” a 30-minute weekly view of the ‘80s based on a geeky movie-loving kid and his family. The episodes coincide with what is happening in 2016 and relate to what happened in the ‘80s. The last two episodes are an excellent example of product placements via custom programs. One focused on “Eddie the Eagle” the week after the movie of the same title was released, and the most recent covered “Dirty Dancing” days after the announcement of who would play Johnny in the remake of the movie by the same name.

Although “The Goldbergs” is a television show, the same revolution is happening in the digital space. So now imagine it’s 1994 and you open your web browser to read an interesting article. The page loads and what’s the first thing you notice on the page? Banner ads at the top of the page and down the side. You find yourself with greater interest in the products than the actual article and you click the banner to learn more.

Fast-forward 20 years, you open your browser to something of interest, only this time the banner ads fade into the background. They are a part of the page, and it’s an advertiser’s nightmare. No one is paying attention to your online ad placements that you paid to place.

Banner Ads - iStock_000023202160

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What Buzzfeed, Haven Beauty and IBM Agree On: SXSWi Discusses Tailoring Content


Summarizing South by Southwest Interactive 2016 is no easy feat. In one corner, there were hackers chatting with NASA representatives and in another corner, there was the enticement of free jewelry from the Kendra Scott house. On one sidewalk, you could find a crowd waiting for Grumpy Cat pictures, while on the other side of the street there was a line to sit on the Game of Thrones Iron Throne. In each hour, there was the challenge to choose one of the 60 sessions available. At every moment during the five-day event, there seemed to be an infinite list of things going on. As someone who works in digital campaigns and primarily attended SXSWi’s Marketing and Branding events, however, it was clear to me that there was an unofficial theme tying the conference together.

If you take a big-picture look at South by Southwest Interactive, you are likely to find a recurring lesson of the weekend: how to tailor content for unique audiences. It’s a simple idea and one that most would agree is important. The application provided by SXSWi, though, is what makes this theme of adjusting content so significant.

microphone against the background of convention center

The first example we’ll look at comes from the session “Analytics in Social Media.” Amber Armstrong, Marketing Lead of IBM, discussed the key role of data analysis in determining best practices for different social media platforms. This brought to mind the everlasting debate on cross-posting. Cross-posting, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary, is “the postinɡ of a message, link, image, etc., to more than one online location.” To do so is to assume that best practices are identical across various social media platforms. This theory is disproven by one of Armstrong’s best practices listed during the session: in one day, you should not exceed two posts on LinkedIn, two posts on Facebook and 12 posts on Twitter. With this argument, a Facebook audience would feel flooded by cross-posting 12 posts from Twitter. On the flip side, two posts cross-posted from Facebook would be underserving a Twitter audience. Add to that the different platform’s requirements (i.e. 140 character limit on Twitter), it’s imperative that each platform have unique content to fit differing audiences.

The next example comes from the “Making Metrics Sexy: Finding ROI in the (Excel) Sheets” session, during which Erin Dwyer, SVP of Global Ecommerce and Social at Haven Beauty, and Meg Owen, Senior Digital Analyst at Edelman, discussed the challenges and solutions of delivering big data analysis to those who don’t instinctively know how to read the infinite numbers listed on any given report. For example, giving the CMO a detailed analysis that delves deep into the nitty-gritty of digital campaign data is not in your best interest. The CMO, in most cases, does not have the time or the need for such detail. The copywriters, designers, strategists and media planners, however, need this level of direct knowledge of each campaign program in order to optimize their performance.

Dwyer and Owen presented the executive report concept, which narrows down analysis for a quick and to-the-point presentation of data. This brings it down to five key metrics and three takeaways, all in bullet point format. If your audience seeks something between nitty-gritty detail and to-the-point bullet points, Dwyer and Owen suggested moving forward with the report card. The report card should contain top creative and industry news, key metrics and key takeaways. To ensure their utility, reports must be put together with the specific audience in mind.

Our last example is of a featured session presented by CMO/CCO of Buzzfeed, Frank Cooper. The session, titled “the Future of Media Companies,” discussed the ways in which culture has changed to become more receptive to authentic media versus ideal media and how that will affect the future of media companies. Essentially, people today respond more to what they can relate to, rather than what they aspire to. As Cooper stated, empathy and human connection are the new superpowers for building large audiences. With younger audiences moving into the market, this culture change becomes quite substantial. As part of the session, Cooper announced that Buzzfeed has launched a beta test of Buzzfeed Swarm, to take full advantage on its unique reach in an ad format. To reach new audiences, specifically Millennials and Generation Z, it is of the utmost significance to keep this new form of media in mind.

Whether it’s media, analytics or reporting, the audience is a key factor at play. Tailoring content for unique audiences, if nothing less, helps to ensure that your message is well received and will generate the response you intend.