December 2014

Viewing posts from December , 2014

Quick Tip: Great Content is About Your Target Audience, Not Your Product


When General Mills unleashed their #HowToDad campaign, they started with one brilliant insight: Dads can use some credit. Often, Dads are portrayed by advertisers as bumbling and ineffectual sidekicks. But to really connect with millions of men who decide what's for breakfast, a little ego stroke goes a long way.


I saw a shortened version of this commercial just recently, though General Mills first published it to YouTube in July. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. A survey of both the YouTube comments and the use of the #HowToDad hashtag on Twitter shows that consumers are enjoying it-- not a small feat for a big name brand.



While this campaign revolves around a traditional ad, it's reliance on the #HowToDad hashtag shows that it's not about cereal. It's about being a dad, and being awesome at it. The brand creates a strong personal connection to the target audience through the on-screen dad's spoken manifesto. He's talking straight to dads about how "kids think we're awesome; we get our hands messy; we tell hilarious jokes."


The especially fun acknowledgement to the nutritional judgment of dads everywhere: "Breakfast is for breakfast... but it's also for lunch, dinner, and midnight snacks."


Go for it you awesome dad who makes the rules: you just got the go- ahead to feed your kids cereal whenever you want to, because it's what you do. (Nevermind whether Peanut Butter Cheerios is a smart choice.) 1.6 million views and near-universal thumbs up approval on YouTube say this is an embedded brand message that struck all the right chords.



Binge Watching Will Change Advertising Forever


As we wrap up the holidays, many Americans have some extra time on their hands. Time enough to clean out the closet, catch up with old friends, or indulge in some of the guilty pleasures of the season. Perhaps too much indulgence.


We do have a tendency toward excess. In a report by ABC News, Cedric Bryant, Chief Science Officer of the nonprofit American Council on Exercise estimated during a Thanksgiving meal the average American consumed about 3,000 calories. To burn those calories that same individual would need to take a leisurely 30-mile walk to maintain their weight.


It is unlikely that many people follow their holiday calorie binge with excessive exercise, but how about a little House of Cards marathon for dessert?


Excess Anyone?

The rise of streaming multiple hours of a single show in one sitting via Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime has lead to a different type of excessive consumption. As Kevin Spacy explained in his address at the James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture at the Edinburgh Television Festival:


And the audience has spoken, they want stories. They are dying for them. They are rooting for us to give them the right thing. And they will talk about it, binge on it, carry it with them on the bus and to the hairdresser. Force it on their friends, tweet, blog, Facebook, make fan pages silly gifs and God knows what else about it. Engage with it with a passion and intimacy that a blockbuster movie can only dream of and all we have to do it give it to them.


Todd Yellin of Netflix certainly doesn’t mind the bingeing viewers, but did tell the Wall Street Journal, "I don't like the term 'binge,' because it sounds almost pathological. Marathon' sounds more celebratory." According to the Harris Interactive poll of more than 3,000 adult Netflix users, nearly three-quarters of them feel good about binge watching. Twenty-eight percent of binge watchers indicate they are participating in more binge viewing now than one year ago.


The Science of Binging

Recent findings also show there is a tendency toward binging that is supported by the chemistry of the human brain itself. While researching neuroplasticity for his book, The Brain that Changes Itself, Dr. Norman Doidge found that thoughts could actually alter the anatomy of the brain.


Doidge referenced his findings in neuroplasticity to explain the neurological changes within a brain when great story telling is then introduced. "We get into something akin to a trance," he explained. Viewers identify with characters on screen and subconsciously begin to mimic their emotions—be it sadness or triumph or anxiety—and each emotional state triggers different brain chemicals, which linger.


“These tend to be protracted states," he said. Those lingering chemicals create a desire to continue triggering that feeling. As extended interaction with a story, video game, or thrilling piece of content becomes more available with endless access, a sort of virtual-reality experience is created.


In the report Tune- In: The Impact of Binge Viewing, Annalect (a subsidiary of Omnicom Media) claims binge viewers are twice as likely to remember seeing and share an ad on social media verses a non-binge viewer. They even go so far as to advise marketers to leverage binge engagement with ads and look for cross marketing and branded integrations with the more popular shows.


As the evidence grows around binge behaviors so does the effort to better understand its impact on business. Dr. Eric Bradlow Vice Dean and Director of The Wharton School, at the University of Pennsylvania recently discussed his new findings on binge activities in “Are Your Customers ‘Clumpy’? What Binge-Buying Means for Marketing”. Bradlow is challenging the business world by proposing the traditional RFM segmentation (recency, frequency, monetary value) that is used to determine customer value is incomplete.


With the rise of  digital and online consumption of goods, consumers are breaking the historical patterns of consistent, regular consumption with buying activities that he refers to as “clumpy."


With historical models I can see why they (RFM segmentation) fit fine, because you buy toilet paper in a regular pattern; you buy orange juice in a regular pattern. But you don’t consume Hulu in a regular pattern. You don’t bid on auctions at eBay in a regular pattern. You don’t buy books at Amazon on a regular pattern.

If you look at historically purchased goods, clumpiness really isn’t there. But if you look in the new wave, the new economy, clumpiness is pervasive in every data set I’ve analyzed.


In other words, we aren't as consistent as we used to be, both in our media consumption patterns, as well as in our buying patterns. We tend to binge.


The Business of Binge

Call it binging, being clumpy, or marathoning, as content consumption preferences move toward lengthy, uninterrupted opportunities, the style of storytelling, the way it is made available, and how advertisers respond to it are all quickly evolving.


As marketers grapple with how to capture the binge audiences, they are considering how to pivot away from traditional commercials and interruptive advertising. Product placement, brand integration and other embedded brand messaging seem like a natural fit.


Companies like Netflix have the ability to analyze and predict who, what, when, where, and how a consumer engages with their content. To get even more granular, Netflix Senior Data Scientist Mohammad Sabah revealed at the Hadoop Summit that every day about 30 million plays are analyzed and tracked for every time a show is paused, fast forwarded, or rewound.


All this information is a marketer’s dream, but according to Netflix they do not do paid product placements. Even though a show like House of Cards is ripe with Apple products, Apple claimed in the Washington Post they do not pay for any product placement. Their products are simply given in exchange for free marketing, which has created a sort of barter economy within these productions.


House of Cards

Apple in House of Cards Season 2


Natasha Lomas of TechCrunch explains that although it is unclear if Netflix is booking actual revenue from product placement currently, brands smaller than Apple, with less to offer are probably paying for their placements.


An early innovator of the digital serial drama, HBO committed to this barter approach in their award-winning series The Sopranos, Sex and the Cityand Curb Your Enthusiasm. To get an idea of what the actual cost in 2002 for a placement in The Sopranos was, DiMassimo Brand Advertising estimated a 30-second spot would equal $287,325. The 28-million-subscriber channel also does not allow paid placements in its original movies but there is no shortage of Manolo Blahniks, Range Rovers, or Coke products in any of those either.


On the other side of the argument, publications like the LA Times blast shows like House of Cards for being a “house of product placement.” The folks at Engadget were so enraged at a scene where nine Apple products were shown in one scene to call it “excessive, story-destroying product placement.” Without a deft touch, any form of advertising can go wrong.


Of course, scripted TV isn't the only medium subject to extended consumption. American adults still watch over 4 hours of old-fashioned TV every day. Fans of the long-running reality show Survivor are known to binge watch full seasons. Some 34 million gamers in the US spend 22 hours plugged into their consoles every week. YouTube viewers routinely find themselves watching more videos after clicking on one recommendation after the next. And where traditional radio once reigned through the commute and work day, consumers are streaming hours of Pandora, Spotify and satellite radio.


This “new economy” is an exceptional opportunity for smart content creators and advertisers to find a comfortable mix where people are entertained and engaged while exposed to products in an intelligent fashion. How it will shake out, no one knows. There is one sure bet, however. As binge consumption and streaming content continue to increase in popularity, advertisers and entertainment channels will work even harder to keep consumers glued to their devices, Apple or otherwise.


What do you think? How important will binge behavior be to the evolution of advertising?


Image Credit: Business Insider


7 Ways Smart Brands Are Killing It On YouTube


In 2005, when YouTube launched its fledgling video channel, few knew that it would change the world in such a profound way. But change the world it has. Earlier this year at Vidcon, Jeffrey Katzenberg predicted that within five years, YouTube would become the largest media channel in the world, bar none.


On the surface, that sounds like a bold prediction. Consider, however, that viewers spend 6 billion hours on YouTube each month, and that 300 hours of new video are being uploaded every minute to the behemoth. Suddenly Katzenberg’s prediction of YouTube’s dominance looks not only possible, but likely.


If you’re over 30, you’ve most likely spent time on YouTube. But few of us non-millennials really know what’s going on. The platform is literally changing the way that today’s younger generation of millennials are consuming content. Ask anyone with children old enough to get online and they’ll confirm that they have to pull their kids away from it. YouTube is to them what TV was to generations X and Y. But with a twist.


Unlike TV and film stars, whose popularity is derived from their mystique and scarcity, YouTube stars share a genuine connection with their audiences. As Tad Friend wrote recently in the New Yorker,


The viewing relationship is bilateral—digital stars take fans’ programming ideas and regularly answer their questions—and its promise is “I’m just like you.” Stardom used to be predicated on a mystique derived from scarcity; you don’t really know much about George Clooney. Now it’s predicated on a familiarity derived from ubiquity. As the teen-age beauty vlogger Bethany Mota exclaimed at VidCon, referring to her legion of subscribers, “I never thought I would have over six million best friends that are all around the world!


YouTube stars’ authentic connection with their audience gives them tremendous power, making them among the most powerful influencers on the planet. And brand integration is one of the best ways to leverage that influence.


For those unfamiliar with the term, brand integration refers to a kind of advertising in which advertisers pay to have their brands become a part of someone else’s content. In this case, advertisers pay YouTube stars to include their brand, product or service into their videos.


So rather than simply inserting a pre-roll video ad that interrupts the viewing experience, brand integrations create what we like to call, embedded brand messages. Here are seven brand integration examples that provide a framework to work with YouTube stars for maximum impact.


Sponsored Video


Perhaps the simplest of all YouTube brand integrations is the 'Sponsored' or 'Brought to You By' format. With sponsored videos, YouTubers typically give sponsoring brands a verbal shout out to the tune of “This episode of Thug Notes was brought to you by Slugbooks.” They’ll go on to describe the way the service works and will usually include the brand’s desired url on the screen.

These are fairly easy for YouTubers to pull off because they don't require a full integration of video subject matter, making it relatively simple way for brands to scale this form of brand integration.




Unboxing videos give the viewer a chance to capture a YouTuber’s reaction as they open up the packaging of a given product, remove its contents, and comment aloud as they’re doing it. These videos give target consumers a glimpse into what its like to ‘experience’ a product at first contact.


In some respects, the unboxing is the real action that attracts viewers in the first place. Never mind that it's a vicarious experience-- people love opening new packages and playing with what's inside! Tech products like new phones are popular unboxing subjects, but just about any kind of consumer packaged product can do.


Product Haul


Not unlike an unboxing video, product hauls are all about the YouTuber's actual experience with actual products. The formula goes something like this: "Look at all this stuff I got at RiteAid and look what I did with it! And by the way, if you want to grab any of the items, there are special discount codes listed below."


We all have at least one friend who is the shopping maven, who finds the cool new stuff, gets the best deals and shares them with everyone. That's what product hauls are all about. Typically, each product gets it's own screen time with a description highlighting features, price and where to get it.


Branded Videos


Branded videos often work like extended commercials, with one key difference: the YouTube star.


While Dollar Shave Club has done a good job of creating fun advertisements that get a lot of views and work more like "branded entertainment," few brands can effectively promote themselves through their own channels. No one wants to sit and watch commercials.


However, when a YouTube star applies his style and creativity to making a video with the brand's product as a featured part of the plot, viewers are treated to the same experience they've come to expect of the channel. In addition to eyeballs, the brand captures some of the credibility and good will that viewers already assign to the YouTuber. As of this writing, the video above received over 4100 thumbs up and just 56 thumbs down from viewers-- that's amazingly positive sentiment for an ad!




Also known at "My Favorites," an Obsession video is just what the name implies: a review of stuff they love. Of course, YouTubers can include whatever they want, but because they want to get paid, it's handy to feature recent items they've received from advertisers.


As always, authenticity still matters, so if viewers spot some product plugs that really don't fit with the YouTuber's taste or usual product focus, they'll call it. Good channels will only call a product an actual favorite if that's true, so brands shouldn't expect to simply pay for the opinion they want.


Product Reviews


A product review is when a brand sends a YouTuber a product in exchange for an honest review. Typically, product reviews don’t involve payments to the YouTuber. Sometimes, YouTubers will review products just out of curiosity, whether the brand provided it or not. Because YouTubers aren’t paid for product reviews, the YouTuber is under no obligation to give unwarranted praise to the product(s). Then again, popular YouTubers are popular precisely because they’re authentic.


Many of the above examples contain elements of product reviews, but a dedicated review video usually follows a template that includes a battery of thorough tests and arrives at what feels like a sound, impartial conclusion about the product's usefulness.




Giveaways get a lot of attention because there's more in it for the viewer: actual free product. The prospect of free products or subscriptions can create a huge spike in commenting and overall engagement with the brand. In most videos, the YouTuber remains the star, and that's appropriate. In giveaway videos, however, products gain more attention and brands stand a good chance of capitalizing on the exposure with a highly engaged target audience.


YouTube is growing up, and smart brands are using it to their full advantage. Don't let the amateur nature of the content fool you. 


Have you seen other examples of brand integrations on YouTube that we missed? Any that you love or hate? (Or love to hate?) Please let us know in the comments!


Quick Tip: Own Twitter with a Social Media Editorial Calendar


Twitter is a beast.


Staying on top of what's current in this fire hose of new content can be a huge challenge when you sink hours into reacting to what's going on. It's even harder when you're trying to manage a presence on multiple social networks at once. Stop reacting, start planning and watch your impact grow.

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Is this Branded Entertainment Awesome or Just Plain Awful?


There's no point in being dull. Ads that stick are the ones that surprise us most, which is why marketers are creating ads that truly entertain. Branded entertainment that pushes the bounds of propriety is what gets shared and remembered. This one will stay with you for a long time. I do apologize.

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Celebrity Smackdown: YouTubers Beat Hollywood Stars as Influencer Marketing Grows Up


What if I told you that Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg is a more powerful influencer than Jennifer Lawrence, the biggest film star on the planet right now? Or that Jenna Marbles (who?!) wields more influence than Leonardo DiCaprio? If power is defined according to one’s ability to directly influence the behaviors and purchasing habits of others, then YouTubers are emerging as the new media powerhouses.

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