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January 2015

Viewing posts from January , 2015

Super Bowl XLIX: NBC vs. YouTube?

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It seems like an unlikely competition for sure. Who would have the audacity to battle the NFL for the halftime show audience, one that topped 115 million people last year? A halftime that features Lenny Kravitz, Katy Perry, and the commercials that will be analyzed and discussed for weeks after the big game...

 

Duh, YouTube.

 

The choice to target the younger demographic with Katy Perry is most likely NBC's play to reach the millennial audience, but YouTube might just intercept the pass.  According to YouTube's Blog,

 

For the first time, YouTube will host a Halftime Show produced in collaboration with Collective Digital Studio that will be live streamed on the AdBlitz Channel. Filmed at the YouTube Space in L.A., the show will feature more than 20 YouTube creators and musicians with over 60M combined subscribers including Harley Morenstein from EpicMealTime, Freddie Wong, Rhett and Link, Toby Turner and more.

 

But is it a competition at all, or just another way to immerse us in advertising-as-entertainment?

 

Even if YouTube does pull significant numbers of viewers away from the NBC broadcast, it's unlikely YouTube will derail the expectations of brands banking on their approximately $4.5 million per 30 seconds of Super Bowl advertising. Why? Because YouTube is a key medium for spending more time with Super Bowl ads, including voting and further engagement. YouTube's AdBlitz channel, where the festivities are happening, is unabashedly about advertising.

 

 

eMarketer told Market Place Morning Report, YouTube ad revenues are positioned to top $2 billion in 2015. If advertisers learn how to leverage their YouTube presence effectively, they are likely to receive much more value than the $2 billion they put in. The Super Bowl collaboration seems like a great way to get advertisers thinking about how to do that, and plow more TV spend directly into YouTube.

 

Let's be honest-- everyone knows TV's dominance is waning. Why else would Pepsi's hype machine insist we all need to get hyped for something that, in days of yore, came with hype baked in? We're all immersed in as much media as we can handle, and specifically that which we choose to watch and when, not, by and large, what's merely broadcast at us.

 

Perhaps one of the greatest features of the live Super Bowl is as a pop culture experience, shared by millions at the same moment. Now, with their live broadcast, YouTube can offer that very same thing, while continuing to offer the self-guided media consumption that makes it so powerful.

 

Will the battle of the halftimes be the grandest marketing experiment of year? Are we witnessing the transformation of mass media? What do you think?

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People, Planet, Profit: Mindful Marketing with the Triple Bottom Line

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How do you determine if your marketing is working? I mean really working? New leads are one measure of a healthy marketing effort, just like profits are one measure of a healthy business. What about the other impacts of your business? Being mindful of your business's place in the world is about much more than creating cash, and consumers are taking note.

 

Boardrooms around the world have been discussing the “triple bottom line” (TBL) since John Elkington coined the phrase in 1994. In Elkington’s 1997 book "Cannibals With Forks: The Triple Bottom Line Of 21st Century Business," he explained at length the other "bottom lines" of companies and how they should all be accounted for equally when valuing the business.

 

Generally speaking, the triple bottom line measurement accounts for the economic value, the social responsibility of the company and how the company is accountable for the environmental impact of its existence. Elkington argues that by quantifying these three bottom lines, a company has the ability to consider the value of their social and environmental outcomes as well as profitability on equal levels.

 

Triple bottom line isn't just about whether the company "does good" in some charitable sense; it's about whether the company's existence is good for people and the planet. Do your target consumers think your business is a good thing, or just another profit center? How do you convey it through your marketing?

 

The Collaborative Company Town

Positioning business rules with the people, planet, and profit in mind has lead to some exciting (and unusual) partnerships, creating innovation that would have been unheard of fifty years ago. NPR’s City Project recently explored the Downtown Project in the economically depressed area of downtown Las Vegas. Tech billionaire Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos.com, and the City of Las Vegas, spearheaded this robust redevelopment collaboration.

 

Three years ago, Hsieh’s company was searching for a new headquarters to house their 1,600 employees. At that same time, The City of Las Vegas decided to leave their too-small complex, so Hsieh moved his operations to downtown Las Vegas.

 

Hsieh believed that his young, tech savvy employee base needed elements close to the office to live out Zappos’ company commitment to its people and planet. "Vegas traditionally isn't known as a walking town or city. It's a very car-based culture, and we wanted to help create a place where you had everything you need to live, work, play within walking distance," Hsieh told NPR. The Downtown Project boasts small businesses, start-ups, trendy restaurants, and even a dog park all in a sustainably developed environmentally friendly fashion.

 

Tony Hsieh in Las Vegas

Tony Hsieh in Las Vegas Image by Entrepreneur.com

 

It is important to note, Hsieh has taken some heat for mismanaging the project, but is resolute that he is not an expert in urban development and is learning as he goes. All that aside, this unusual partnership between a city known for over-indulgence and a tech giant is changing the culture of Las Vegas. Mayor Oscar B. Goodman said to the New York Times, “Zappos moving here is giant for us, just a total change in history. It legitimates us. Maybe legitimates is not the right word, but it validates what this community could provide.”

 

Buying a pair of shoes from Zappos isn't just about the shoes. It's about sustainable urban living, too. Who knew?

 

Start Ups Extending Their Culture

The incorporation of TBL principles can have a tremendous impact on the physical landscape and employees of a company, but when it fully integrates into the company ethos, the possibility for mindful marketing explodes. By integrating mindfulness into a company’s marketing tactics, they begin to think about how not only their product impacts the triple bottom line, but also how the presentation of that product does as well.

 

As reported by Fast Company, successful start-up, Warby Parker, hits home run after home run when integrating TBL to market their buy one/give one eyeglasses. Warby Parker's simple and stylish, $95 prescription eye ware instantly made hipsters swoon, and led GQ to proclaim them"The Netflix of eye ware." Their commitment to simplicity and product experience stays true from the shipping box to the solutions-focused customer experience team.

 

In their annual report, better know as the Warby Parker Year in Review, they graphically represented their 2014 outcomes in a less-than-appropriate-for-the-SEC sort of way. In addition to reporting new brick and mortar store openings, they quantified the $200,000,000 impact of distributing over 1,000,000 million pairs of glasses to people in need, and they touted “Bucket. List. Checked.” when Oprah Instagrammed her purchase of 26 pairs of their glasses from the NYC store.

 

All packaged in a cheeky and dynamic format (with the option for readers to create their own year in review), their report integrated people, product, and planet seamlessly in a social media friendly, sharable format. According to Co-Founder Dave Gilboa, the Year in Review drives record breaking numbers of people to their website.

 

Instagram by @Oprah (and receives 46.6K likes)
“Just bought a bushel of Cool prescription glasses @warbyparker”

 

Setting the Standard

Even the NFL took a more mindful approach when attempting to address the troubling domestic violence issues that The Associated Press named the Top Sports Story of 2014. In September, TMZ broke video of Ray Rice, running back for the Baltimore Ravens, punching his now wife in an elevator. Then, just a few days later, Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings was charged with child abuse for striking his four year old son with a tree branch. The NFL's image, players, and staff were left reeling and in need of help.

 

At the helm of the NFL’s effort to clean up the people element of their TBL is Anna Isaacson, Vice President of Social Responsibility. Isaacson guided the NFL as they initiated mandatory trainings on preventing abuse for all players and staff as a first step. As reported by ESPN, this was a collaborative effort with former NFL players Keith Elias and Dwight Hollier to create trainings that were dubbed "Setting the Standard." Elias explained the program to ESPN by stating "For a player coming in, it won't look like something he has to learn but rather something empowering he can participate in... It's a way to open their hearts and minds to this education. To pique their interest."

 

Internal programs are important, but there is also the issue of the people touched by the NFL: the audience. Isaacson took a mindful marketing approach to clean up the public persona issues faced by the league. Although it was officially labeled as a public service announcement, heavy hitters Young & Rubicam were called on to create a campaign in collaboration with a coalition group that combats domestic violence and sexual assault called No More. “Speechless” videos from NFL heroes like Eli Manning, Chris Carter, and Curtis Martin ran during regular games last October through the Divisional Playoffs. The campaign is costing the NFL an estimated $10 million dollars in missing ad revenue.

 

According The New York Times, it is not clear if the videos will run during the Super Bowl, but they are making a big impact. According to No More, their website traffic has increased more than 300 percent since the first PSA aired and the public sentiment toward the NFL seems to have relaxed somewhat.

 

Sometimes, self-interest in improving public sentiment fits perfectly with what's actually the right thing to do.

 

 

Companies, individuals, and even cities are creating exciting and memorable ways to live up to their corporate commitments, engage their customer base, and even clean up their images through a mindful approach to marketing that considers their Triple Bottom Line. Evidence of this can be seen from the start up world to the most popular sports league in the United States.

 

The impact of taking a holistic approach that TBL requires can be wildly successful, as long as the message remains truly mindful, genuine, and believable by the audience. When a company can strike that balance, they have the chance to become much more than an item on the shelf. They become a thoughtful and important part of our lives. Great brands can be influencers, too.

 

How is your marketing mindful of people and planet, in addition to profits? Have you seen great examples of the Triple Bottom Line at work in companies you love? Please share in the comments, we'd love to hear more!

 

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Quick Tip: Let the Great Marketing Ideas Come to You

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How many brands can you name that rank among the most popular YouTube channels, podcasts or blogs? Oh, you can't? That's because there are none. Brands aren't in the business of entertaining and informing an audience; they make stuff. Let the content creators create the content.

 

As a marketer, you're likely to have a hard time getting into the mind of your target audience, unlike their favorite YouTubers, bloggers and podcasters who've already cracked that code, and manage to do it again and again, day in and day out.

 

It doesn't matter how you judge their content, whether it makes sense to you, or if you think you could come up with something "better." The fact is, their audience and engagement numbers prove they have the secret sauce.

 

Hiring more social media interns or a hip creative team might help... a little. But consider this from Paul Brown in Forbes, quoting Don Kingsborough:

 

You cannot hire enough people so that you have all the good ideas. That is a bad concept. I think the right concept is to figure out who has the best ideas and figure out what you do best. You concentrate on that, and if someone else has a good idea, buy it and make it successful.

 

The good news is,

 They're happy to do it! They are much more inclined to help hone a message their audience will enjoy than to insert an ill-fitting marketing message into their audience's experience.

 

 In the world of start ups, we know that doesn't work. We know that to find the best ideas, you've got to get out of the building and speak with people who are not on your team.

 

Internal teams are subject to creating and fostering illusions. I would even argue that, sometimes, individuals and teams become so invested in their illusions (aka: bad ideas), that they work to justify and protect them, rather than find new ones. According to Michael Siepmann, PhD., in his article on Entrepreneurial UX State of Mind,

 

Groups as well as individuals are subject to this illusion. Teams and organizations naturally develop commonalities in how members experience aspects of the world relevant to their work. We've both observed countless meetings in which teams discuss how users will interact with products – with an unspoken assumption that the only source of uncertainty is differences of opinion within the team. By ironing out differences of opinion without seeking information from outsiders, these discussions merely merge individual illusions into a collective, typically even stronger, illusion.

 

Don't allow your marketing messages to fall victim to your own invisible illusions. Bring in the creators who already know and understand your target audience to create messages that really resonate.

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5 Reasons Brand Integrations Don’t Scale (Yet)

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No one wants to stake their advertising hopes solely on traditional ad buys anymore. But to shift real spending to brand integrations like product placements, sponsored YouTube videos or sponsored events, advertisers need standardizations and efficiencies that just don't exist yet.

 

Sitting down with in-house brand marketers, PR agencies, creative agencies and media buyers, we hear two consistent statements, again and again:

 

Yes, we want to get more new and interesting brand placements.

 

No, we can't scale them yet, and that is what's holding us back.

Interestingly, we've found that the issue is not whether brand integration is the right choice-- different media and placement types afford a huge range of options advertisers are curious to explore. So, even though the specific objectives of in-house marketers and their bevy of agencies can vary significantly, there's usually a brand integration option that fits the bill as part of their marketing mix.

 

For example, while a PR agency may focus only on earned media placements like unpaid product reviews on blogs, a media buying agency might look to secure paid sponsored posts on blogs. In both cases, a similar intent is there, but the questions remain: Which blogs are right for their audience? What kind of deals do those blogs want to do? How much should those placements cost? Will I get the exposure I paid for?

 

Answering these questions takes a lot of work. And the challenges multiply when you consider more media channels.

 

"We want more of that."

When the folks at Lyft, the car-sharing service, scored a huge brand integration with Conan O'Brien on TBS, the segment earned more exposure for their brand than anything they had done before. The YouTube video is currently at 14.6 million views and counting, on a show that nets about 862,000 viewers per episode. They knew they wanted to do more of those kinds of integrations, but they had no idea how. In fact, Conan's team had contacted Lyft in the first place, so the placement wasn't strategic at all-- it was luck.

 No one wants to pin their marketing success on luck, but when you want your brand to become a pop cultural touchstone, how else do you get in front of the right audience, in the right place, at the right time?

 

Every day, we hear from agencies whose clients want them to come up with something new and different. Few advertisers are content with the status quo, but knowing what to do about it is another story. For many, brand integration is the place to go for that "feather in the cap" as an agency their clients can't live without.

 

Because the options vary so widely, however, developing an idea, then finding the right fit ends up presenting too much of an open-ended question. With lots of spend to cover and little time to do it, small custom deals are difficult to justify compared to much bigger, more clearly-defined ad buys, with measurable outcomes.

 

Native Ads to the Rescue?

For one media buying agency we talk to, syndicated sponsored content is a solution they use, albeit less than ideal. By pushing client-approved content through a platform like Nativo, they are able to secure placement on many sites at once, with great tracking to boot.

 

The problem, of course, is that they look at those placements as "advertorial" content, and not authentic integrations. The tactic fits their need to fulfill larger media buys and measure the outcome, but it falls short in their branding objectives, because most native ads often end up feeling just like that: an ad. Many blog publishers we work with feel the same way, and would rather not syndicate anything to their own publishing real estate.

 

As one agency rep put it,

 We agree.

 

Don't Product Placement Agencies Have This Covered?

Product placement agencies, and other kinds of brokers who help advertisers find the right placements for their brands have been at it for a generation. Like real estate agents, travel agents and stock brokers, however, they tend to focus on one medium, and keep the process closed and cumbersome.

 

We talked about this problem in depth when we explained why we're building a marketplace, not an agency, network or ad platform. Agents and brokers do have an important job to do when information and expertise is hard to find, but in many cases, that's not true anymore. 

 

That said, efficiencies in the brand integration market just aren't there yet, which is why we do what we do. Here are five of the top solutions we think an effective marketplace should offer to help brand integration take off.

 

1. A Place to Find All the Right Opportunities

When buying traditional advertising, you know where to look and who to call-- the infrastructure is there. Not so with brand integrations. Media is so highly fragmented both across channels and with countless more properties to choose from, where to find the right opportunities is the first challenge.

 

A marketplace allows content creators of all types to list the placement opportunities they want to make available directly to advertisers. So if a podcaster wants to let advertisers know about her publishing schedule and the kinds of sponsorships she has available, she can do that and set her terms. At the same time, a blogger or YouTuber is listed in the very same place, making it much easier for buyers to find the inventory that's actually for sale, rather than hunting down potential partners one at a time and asking the same question, over and over again.

 

2. A Place to Share RFPs with the Right Partners

We know that when agencies want to get placements done, they can't just sit back and hope good opportunities present themselves. They embark on a heavy outreach effort to put their RFPs (requests for proposals) in the hands of any potential content partner. Often they rely on specialized agents like the ones we mentioned above, to delve into their own contact lists to get it done.

 

Once the RFPs are distributed, advertisers need to wade through the proposals and negotiate the final terms with each chosen partner. In the same way that a marketplace puts available inventory in one place, it would also facilitate buyers broadcasting their needs, to quickly and efficiently build a list of appropriate partners, reducing the need for creators to go out on the hunt for advertisers.

 

3. Standard Ad Units

Before the Interactive Advertising Bureau helped to establish standard digital display ad units, buying and selling online display ads was hard to do. No one knew what they were getting, without a great deal of back-and-forth. Brand integration is undergoing a similar phase in which content creators are starting to deliver brand integrations that fit an expected format. For example, YouTubers are beginning to use sponsored videos, branded videos, paid reviews and product hauls as discrete brand integration types with specific meanings.

 

When evaluating different opportunities, or sharing the kinds of deals they want, advertisers and content creators need a commonly accepted vocabulary to make buying and selling simple. When every deal first requires an in-depth discussion, fewer deals happen.

 

4. Standard Pricing

Over a year ago, we began surveying advertisers and content creators to find out how sponsored content should be priced. What we discovered is that no one really knows. Because custom placements take work on the part of the creator, they tend to set prices based on time, effort, and how much they like the brand. Advertisers, naturally, don't care what a creator thinks his or her time is worth-- they prefer a cost-per-thousand views (CPM) model, like they're used to from display ads.

 

Because placement types are so variable across media channels and even within a single media channel (see the ad unit discussion above), and also because they live inside the content, not next to it, how and when an audience is exposed to the brand makes pricing tricky. There are solutions developing, but until buying and selling happens in one place and deal terms are captured, there's no way to efficiently price anything. As of now, pricing follows a largely ad hoc process.

 

5. Buyer/Seller Protections

Following from the concern about ad units and price is the worry that whatever it is, it ends up being a bad deal. And since many brand integrations are developed in concert with creators who write and produce the content themselves, this is no small issue.

 

A display ad looks just like the advertiser expects it to. But what about a branded video? Is the brand presented in an appropriate light? Is the production quality as expected? Was the brand exposed to as many viewers as expected?

 

Conversely, content creators express concern that if they put in the work, they may not be paid in full and in a timely manner. When a simple creative difference can derail an otherwise promising collaboration, for some, the risk can be too burdensome.

 

By processing transactions through the marketplace in which clearly detailed expectations are standardized, and the disbursement of funds is controlled, buyers and sellers can more confidently pursue deals with parties they don't know. Mature industries have robust regulations that help ensure smooth transactions and perhaps that will develop in time. For now, however, the brand integration industry just needs a few simple controls, not unlike those that users already enjoy through markets like eBay

 

Brand integration strategies are growing up, and as traditional advertising yields more share to strategies that enhance the consumer experience, rather than interrupt it, the infrastructure that supports it has to grow up, too.

 

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How to Kill Mobile Display Ads

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Mobile advertising is a pain. Perhaps because it happens in the palm of my hand, it feels more off-putting than an ad in a desktop browser. Or perhaps because we tend to consume mobile media in smaller chunks, every interruption is an amplified inconvenience. Can we kill off mobile ads already?

 

Advertisers Pay for Our Media Addictions

According to eMarketer, total media ad spending in the US will have reached $180.2 billion by the end of 2014, showing it's strongest growth in a decade. Advertising on tablets and smart phones is driving that growth with a whopping 83% rise over the prior year. That puts mobile ad spend in third place, behind only TV and desktop/laptop advertising, and ahead of newspapers, magazines and radio.

 

But we're just getting started. Digital ad spend could balloon to $26 billion in 2015. Wow.

 

With consumption of mobile media growing along with user base, it's only natural that ad dollars would follow. And despite the control that digital and mobile options provide consumers, as we've seen from generations of TV commercials interrupting our favorite shows, we'd much rather put up with the ads than pay for the content.

 

Just this fall, the NFL reaffirmed it's stance on broadcasting the vast majority of it's games on the big free networks, to maximize viewing audience (and therefore profits). Paid subscriptions to services like NFL Sunday Ticket, the NFL Network and the NFL's mobile app represent just a tiny portion of football consumption.

 

Adults in the US still watch over four and a half hours of old fashioned TV a day (a drop of just a few minutes over the prior year), and overall consumption of TV is up when we count time-shifted viewing and streaming. Even though Millennials are watching less live TV, it doesn't mean they are abandoning it.

 

Here's the point: We could live in an ad-free world; we choose not to. We could buy Hulu Plus and Netflix, and DVR live TV, and pay for premium apps. We could install ad blockers on our desktops. Mostly, we don't bother.

 

For all the hoopla about how advertising can trash the user experience, we seem content to let it be, and let it pay for the stuff we want to see. That's as true on mobile devices as it is on the other screens (and pages) we like to look at every day.

 

Do Mobile Ads Even Work?

The short answer: Often, they don't work at all.

 

A great deal of research has shown that many CMOs are dissatisfied with their mobile ad performance. And they should be. According to a recent study published by the American Marketing Association, most mobile display ad campaigns "have no significant effect on consumers' product-related attitudes and intentions."

 

For some reason, that doesn't seem to affect spending growth at all. Mobile is such a juggernaut that advertisers are more willing to waste money on it than sit on the sidelines and risk missing out.

 

At the same time, cool new start ups that purport to revolutionize the mobile display ad experience are getting a lot of attention. This week, MediaPost reported on Ad Hunter, a new app that makes a game out of finding and killing mobile display ads. Can it work, despite it's need to control other apps without permission? Will their innovative subscription model work? Will consumers even care? I doubt it.

 

If many mobile display ads don't even affect consumers in a way that bolsters the brand, what is the incremental performance improvement advertisers will see from a minuscule subset of users showing them what ads they manage to definitively "dislike?"

 

How long can the mobile ad industry grow if display ads remain the persona non grata in most consumers' mobile experience, as well as in many marketers' budgets?

 

Brand Integration to the Rescue

It surprised me to learn that the majority of time users spend on mobile devices is dedicated to apps, not browsers: 85% vs 15%. Of course, that makes sense; screen size doesn't afford an ideal browsing experience. Mobile users are more likely to be after information or an interaction that a mobile-optimized app is uniquely suited to provide. Does that mean mobile is an ideal medium for brand integration, instead or in addition to display ads? I think so.

 

There are two definitions of 'brand integration' that pertain to this discussion. Let's call them 'big B' and 'small b,' to borrow a political convention. Big B Brand Integration refers to the work most often overseen by creative agencies to integrate a consistent brand message across media channels, and usually to do so around interesting/entertaining/informative content.

 

You may also hear it referred to as integrated marketing communications or, as Saatchi & Saatchi calls it, integrated advertising. Even though marketers are conflicted about what words to use when, this explainer video wins the definition, so here it is:

 

 

Small b brand integration, on the other hand, includes all the specific ways that brands can be integrated into the consumer experience. For the sake of mobile examples consider:

 

• product placement in a YouTube video
• a podcast sponsorship
• a paid product review
• product integration in a video game
• a sponsored blog post
• a sponsored recipe
• event sponsorship with an attendee app
• product placement in songs and music videos
• entertaining branded videos
• sponsored webinars and ebooks
• sponsored contests and giveaways via social

 

The objective, whether thinking about brand integration at a high strategic level, or through any number of tactical options is, as Saatchi & Saatchi put it, "to create more memorable and emotional advertising for the consumer, not only because of it's marketing message, but because of the experience that comes with it."

 

wrote about a brand integration I personally appreciated, when Magellan sponsored a challenge inside my RunKeeper app. They achieved what we like to call an embedded brand message-- the brand's message was embedded in my experience as a runner.

 

Mobile display ads are no more embedded in the consumer experience than are banner ads in a desktop browser. We've come to see them as background noise. However, they may play a role improving brand recognition when coupled with product placements, as some research has shown that product placements can actually improve the effectiveness of interruptive ads.

 

More importantly, perhaps, is research showing that product placements can change our implicit feelings about a brand or product. From Ian Zimmerman, PhD., in Psychology Today:

 

Product placement can directly influence our implicit attitudes, such that our attitude toward a TV program or film becomes unknowingly associated with products placed in that TV program or film.  Specifically, the emotions we experience while watching the program are transferred to products placed in that program, though we’d be unaware of the transfer.

 

Do these feelings also transfer from apps, digital media properties, events, games or songs we enjoy? It's certainly possible and worth exploring.

 

If the rapid shift from monolithic broadcast media to highly fragmented and highly personalized on-demand media is to continue (and it will), advertisers are going to have to get more personal with their target users and provide them value through advertising, not just another interruption.

 

What do you think? Will ad serving technology ever improve the mobile display ad experience for users, or is that a lost cause? What else can advertisers do to provide value to their mobile audience?

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Quick Tip: Market Your Influencers and They Will Market You

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Working with influencers can help your brand gain reach and credibility quickly. Influencer marketing is highly leveraged effort. According to Traackr, a mere 3% of users generate 90% of the impact. But these folks aren't just waiting around to wave their magic influencer wands. They need to feel the love from you, first.

 

Every online community has its select few individuals who put in the most effort and pull in the most attention. Some of those folks are going to promote your brand because it's their job to do so as mavens in the space. If your product or service is an interesting new addition to the world of coffee, for example, coffee bloggers would be remiss to ignore it. All they need is to know about it and you likely earn some valuable mentions.

 

Many other influencers aren't mavens, specifically, but they do enjoy a certain popularity far beyond the average audience member. They may not have a blog at all, but a loyal social following on one or more networks, or command high status as a commenter or forum contributor. For many influencers, their power derives from offline popularity, and their online presence is just a reflection of that.

 

 

By sharing their stuff with your audience, you're increasing their influencer value and expanding their reach-- exactly the result you're hoping to achieve for your own brand. You may start with some Twitter mentions and retweets, Facebook likes, Google +1's, reblogs or pins. Those kinds of activities earn followers and mentions in return. To develop the relationship further, you could quote and link to them from your blog, or actually interview them for a piece.

 

Think about profiling your most active community members, or offering your platform to them as guests and contributors. Give them a great reason to share your content, not because it's about you, but because it's about them.

 

There is nothing so flattering as simply to ask, "What are you working on? How can I help?"

 

Whatever their chosen medium, help promote the influencers whose audience you want to share. The old adage applies: Don't think about what you can get. Think about what you can give. They will return the favor with the kind of genuine engagement you just can't buy.

 

Do you have any specific influencer marketing hacks you've put to work? Please let us know in the comments.

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