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5 Steps to Creating a Winning Digital Media Plan for Local Businesses

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Apr 14, 2015 @ 09:47 AM

Many local business owners still feel overwhelmed, and even a bit fearful, when they decide to take their marketing online. That’s understandable because the Internet is a dizzying landscape that is constantly shifting and evolving. It’s hard for professional digital media buyers to always feel like they have a firm grasp on the latest tools and tactics, so we get why local brick and mortar establishments would just as soon ignore digital campaigns altogether.

But that is simply no longer an option. Even if most of your clientele is local, you need an online presence using specific digital channels in order to be found by prospects and be taken seriously as a local merchant. The good, ne – GREAT news is, once you get past your initial apprehension, you’ll soon see that digital advertising offers an unparalleled precision, efficiency, targeting capabilities and real-time metrics that can help you take your business to the next level.

Even if you’ve never created a digital media plan before, these five steps will ensure you develop one that will reach your target market and give you the best ROI.

STEP 1 - Plan Your Digital Plan5 Steps to Creating a Winning Digital Media Plan for Local Businesses

It’s a little bit like working out before you go to the gym, but a good digital media plan requires sufficient planning, especially if you are new to online ad campaigns. Before you even begin developing your creatives, you’ll want to first ask yourself some important questions:

  1. What are your campaign objectives?
  2. What message are you trying to send and how does it align with your brand?
  3. What is your call to action? (What do you want your audience to do when they see your ads?)
  4. What digital channels are you most interested in trying?
  5. Who is responsible for implementing and monitoring the campaign?

Only when you have answered these initial questions should you move on to the next step.

STEP 2 - Identify Your Target Audience

One of the greatest benefits of digital media is it allows you to hyper-target your campaigns. In order to take full advantage of this you’ve got to really drill down and identify who your target audience is, and be as specific as possible. This will help you start to focus your campaign. But beyond geography, you must understand who your demographic is.

Are you targeting single parents? College kids? Empty nesters? Other small business owners? What are their biggest pain points? What do they need? What keeps them up at night? What are their spending habits? How do they shop? The more you know about your audience, the simpler it will be to create highly-relevant ads that will instantly make an impact with them.

Understand that targeting prospects is a process and one that you will get better at with time. For now, do your best to create a buyer persona and then move on to Step 3.

5 Steps to Creating a Winning Digital Media Plan for Local BusinessesSTEP 3 – Mine That Data

Here’s one thing you most likely don’t know about digital advertising: you can never do too much research – truly. During this step you may feel like you are back in college studying for exams (though let’s try and skip the freshman 15 this time around). Okay, you’re running a small business and living your life so you only have so much time in the day to research the different channels and tactics you will employ for your first campaign. All we can say is, use as much time as you can on this step because the more research you do now and the more data you mine, the better able you’ll be to launch a campaign that is watertight.

A great bit of research you can do is to check out the online campaigns your local competitors are running. What channels are they using? Check out what other business owners might be talking about on LinkedIn. Does anyone make a recommendation for a particular planning tool or ad network? If so, research some more and see if these might add value to your campaign.

Now that you know who your target audience is you want to research and find out where they hang out online. If you’re targeting empty nesters, you may do better placing banner ads on the websites of local newspapers. Then again, if your target audience is college kids, you may do better using social media channels like Instagram.

STEP 4 – Track Your Campaign

If you haven’t already fallen in love with digital media here’s where you will. Digital offers a unique ability to track and monitor campaigns in real-time which is something traditional media cannot do. You’ll be able to get your hands on the kinds of insights that will help you determine if your campaign is a success or not, and if not, where it may have gotten off track.

Some of the metrics you’ll want to look at are:

CPA – The Cost per Acquisition tells you how much each lead or sale cost you.

CPC – Cost per Click is a metric that measures what you pay for each click from a banner ad. Many advertisers like CPC campaigns because they only pay for performance.

Total Visits – You most likely will send all your traffic to your main website, so you’ll want to be able to track how many total visits you get each month and monitor where that traffic is coming from. If you see that you are getting far more traffic from your organic search content than your banner ads, it would make sense to focus your time and budget on generating even more content that will show up in search returns.

Conversions – If your audience converts it means they did something you wanted them to do. Maybe they signed up for your newsletter, purchased something from your website, or downloaded a coupon to bring into your store. Google Analytics will allow you to track just about everything your website visitors do. Make sure to sign up for an account if you haven’t already.

STEP 5 - Adjust and Test5 Steps to Creating a Winning Digital Media Plan for Local Businesses

Now that you have data from the metrics you’re using to track your campaign’s success, use it to make the necessary adjustments. You’ll want to optimize your ad copy and landing pages, which ad networks and channels you use, and, in the case of email marketing, which days and time of day you’re sending your message.

You should always be testing to see if these adjustments create an increase in conversions or not. Yes, this process takes an investment of your time, but it can significantly boost your ROI by focusing your budget on what’s actually working for you.

Like anything you do for the first time, digital media planning can seem like a daunting endeavor, but really, it’s simply a process. And like any process, there are certain fundamental steps you must take to get that process to work for you. Digital media can work for you and give your local business a huge edge over your competition, especially if they haven’t figured out the whole online marketing thing. If you simply follow these five steps, are patient, and understand that you’ll naturally experience setbacks at first, you’ll eventually have a powerful tool at your disposal that can help you reach your overall business objectives.

Download the CMO's Guide to Media Buying


Image credit: Pixabay

Topics: digital media planning

7 Golden Rules of Multimedia Marketing

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Apr 07, 2015 @ 08:02 AM

Multimedia marketing can build awareness for your brand in a powerful and unique way. Since different segments of your target market may require different marketing approaches and tactics, you may find you have to mix social media with television and print in order to reach as many prospects and customers as possible.

What is Multimedia Marketing?7 Golden Rules of Multimedia Marketing

Multimedia marketing is exactly what the name implies – it is a method of combining different forms of media to reach your audience and build brand recognition. The approach uses traditional media such as radio, newspaper ads, and direct mail, as well as digital channels such as email, mobile, and social media.

Many businesses that have done well using only traditional media are reticent to adopt a multimedia marketing approach that incorporates digital channels, but this is asking for trouble. According to a 2012 Survey by Pew Research Center, 62% of U.S. adults used their smartphone to get information or help them make a purchasing decision in the last month. Specifically, 30% used their smartphone to decide whether to visit a business.

This tells us single channel marketing is a thing of the past. Those businesses that want to stay ahead of the competition and thrive in all market conditions will adopt a multimedia marketing approach. With that in mind, here are seven golden rules to multimedia marketing:

1. Know Your Customers and Prospects

In order to determine which types of media will be needed to reach your entire audience, you’ll first have to take a little time to understand who your target market really is and break your entire audience down into segments. You may find your audience is mostly made up of women, but ¼ are single, ¼ are married with no kids, ¼ are married with kids and ¼ are retired empty nesters. Now, that is nice and neat math but hopefully you understand you’ve got to dig a little and come up with the personalities that make up your audience. Once you know your market segments you can uncover their characteristics to find out how they spend their money and what their preferences are for engaging with media. This will give insight into the best channels to use to connect with them.

2. Know the Right Way to Use Your Media Choices

Now that you have a firm grasp on your market segments and their media preferences, you can start to creatively develop your campaign. It’s not enough to know your audience’s preference; you’ve also got to know each media you’ll be working with. In this way, the various media are like ingredients to a dinner 7 Golden Rules of Multimedia Marketingyou’re preparing for guests. You may know all your guests love pasta, but if you don’t know garlic can be delicate, you may sauté it for too long and burn it, giving your dish a bitter flavor.

If you’ll be using direct mail marketing, you’ll have room for longer headlines and chunkier paragraphs. If you’ll also be using email marketing to reach a segment of your audience, you’ll want to keep the subject lines and message body brief and succinct. And, while a hard sell may be a good fit with this medium and crowd, it’s not a good fit with video and Millennials. Know your ingredients and how best to prepare them.

A final thought: Even if your aim is to market to only one segment, you most likely would benefit from a multimedia approach. Let’s say you’re targeting Baby Boomers and want to advertise in newspapers (a good choice if you want to reach this affluent bunch). You could utilize print ads mixed with digital options also offered by that newspaper publisher like placing a banner ad on their website or via their mobile app.

3. Get the Support of Senior Management

In order for any new business endeavor to succeed it must have the support of upper management; multimedia marketing is no different. Make sure management clearly understands the benefits of this advertising approach.

4. Use a Brand Book

The trick with implementing various media in your campaigns is to ensure your brand stays consistent across all channels and messages. This is why it’s a great idea to employ a brand handbook so everyone can maintain common visual standards for the use of logos, typefaces, colors, etc.

5. Have Clear Communications Objectives

You know your audience and what media they prefer, you know exactly the right way to use that media, you’ve got management on board and you have a brand book so your look stays consistent – great. Now what the heck are you going to say to customers and prospects?

With any marketing campaign, whether you’re using one medium or many, it is imperative your communication objectives are crystal clear in your mind. Make sure all of your messaging adds value to your brand’s image instead of diluting it. Most importantly, what action do you want your audience to take when they see your ads? Do you want them to visit your website for more information? Print a coupon and bring it in to your store? Sign up for a webinar? Once you know what you want your content to do for you, you can actually begin crafting it.

6. Be Customer-Centric7 Golden Rules of Multimedia Marketing

Take a look at your audience segmentation again to identify their needs, emotions, interests, and activities, so you can make sure your content is relevant. Your campaigns will see much more success when you wrap your communications around your customers’ and prospects’ buying process, and create a sequence of messages that move prospects through each stage.

7. Test Test Test Test and Test Again

The biggest most golden rule of multimedia marketing is you have to be committed to constantly testing your campaigns to discover an optimum communications mix. Learn from past campaigns and integrate new tools and channels to see if you can improve your ROI. Multimedia marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.

Many business owners are overwhelmed by the amount of media and channels available to them. But we say, there’s never been a more exciting time to market yourself because this diversity of solutions means you can create campaigns that fit your budget, your audience, and your business objectives.

Download the CMO's Guide to Integrating Print and Digital Media


Image credit: Alan Cleaver

Topics: multi-channel marketing

7 Benefits of Local Magazine Advertising

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Mar 31, 2015 @ 11:46 AM

About the only other topic that gets discussed as much as whether or not print is dead is whether or not Elvis is dead. We cannot vouch for the King’s status (although we once swear we saw him at a Chuck E.Cheese in Dayton, Ohio back in ‘89), but we can vouch for the fact that print is very much alive and thriving.

In some ways, print advertising is like a cockroach, only not as filthy or gross-looking. But, you know, when television came onto the scene, everyone cried aloud it would be the death of print. But it wasn’t. And then the Internet arrived and the children and grandchildren of Henny-Penny also said the sky was 7 Benefits of Local Magazine Advertisingfalling and print would be crushed and killed under its weight. But it wasn’t. And it doesn’t look like anything will ever really kill print (hence our disgusting comparison to the indestructible cockroach).

Here’s a perfect example of print’s ability to always bounce back: Back in 2012, Newsweek pulled its print version, which certainly didn’t help stop the rumors that print was dead. But, lo and behold, Newsweek’s new owners brought the print version of the iconic magazine back from the dead. The “catch,” if there was one, was that Newsweek would only be available to subscribers. Which is genius, really. In essence, Newsweek is now a niche magazine, targeted to a very specific market segment.

In the same way, local magazines, which can be found in every state across the country, are also niche magazines, targeting a very specific population, namely, locals. Magazines like Minnesota Monthly, Vermont Living, Bay Living, Colorado Homes & Lifestyles, Louisiana Life, and Carolina Gardener all offer numerous benefits to local advertisers.

1. Target a Dedicated Market

Enthusiasts are always the most dedicated consumers and the best to market to. Besides people who are passionate about certain hobbies, most people are incredibly proud and passionate about where they live. Since most humans have an incredible need to be part of a community, local magazines serve as an important hub where locals learn about their surroundings and events they might like to get involved in. In other words, as a local business, you will get your ad in front of a passionate crowd that is already interested in who you are and what you have to offer.

2. Nothing Beats that Tactile Experience

Sure, many consumers spend a ton of time online chronicling the latest minutiae of their daily lives on their Twitter accounts or uploading their newest selfie onto their Instagram accounts, but when it comes to engaging with websites, most readers only scan a website for 15 seconds before moving on.

People interact much differently with printed magazines. There’s just something about that tactile experience. Magazine readers really take their time and linger when reading print. They also tend to fully interact with the content, including the ads inside.

7 Benefits of Local Magazine Advertising3. Your Ad Will Stand Out

Who stands to sell more tacos and make more money: the taco truck parked downtown amidst a sea of food trucks, or the taco truck that is parked five miles outside of town on the side of the highway surrounded by nothing but hungry travelers? So many advertisers have fallen for the myth that print is dead. Many have migrated their marketing budgets online where they vie for consumer attention is a sea of other digital ads. This is great news because it means your local magazine ad has far less competition and will stand out from the crowd.

4. People Don’t Fear Print Ads

The Internet is full of cybercriminals who use viruses as an attempt to gain access to consumer’s private information. Because of the proliferation of these malware viruses, web surfers have become very wary of clicking on banner ads, even if those ads are enticing. But consumers have nothing to fear by reading your print ad, and this makes them more open to receiving your message.

5. A Longer Shelf Life7 Benefits of Local Magazine Advertising

While digital ads come and go, print ads have staying power. A magazine left in a doctor’s office will be read by countless patients for many months, and your ad can be seen by a majority of them.

6. Brand Recognition

When you advertise in a reputable local magazine, people instantly become familiar with your company. This recognition is then reinforced when they meet you in person, either at your place of business or at a local trade show or charity event. This not only builds brand recognition but, in time, brand loyalty.

7. Credibility

Local magazines are highly valued and respected publications that build a sense of community among local consumers. In fact, many people turn to local publications as a source of advice. Advertisers can greatly benefit from this credibility when their ads are viewed not as ads but as recommendations from a trusted source.

We recommend you take a cue from the new owners of Newsweek who realized print is not dead, but rather a channel that offers true engagement with a targeted audience, and invest some of your marketing dollars into local magazine advertising.

Free eBook: The Benefits of Print Advertising


Image credit: Nick Smith

Topics: local advertising, magazine advertising

The Digital Media Buyer’s Report Card – Does Yours Make the Grade?

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Mar 24, 2015 @ 08:58 AM

Gartner recently surveyed 315 CMOs about their digital marketing budgets and learned budgets are expected to increase by 8% in 2015. In its worldwide survey of CMOs, IBM found CEOs are increasingly calling upon their CMOs to offer strategic input. The survey further illustrated that the role of CMO comes second only to the CFO in terms of influence they have on the CEO.

IBM’s survey also uncovered some surprising (and not so great) news, which is very few CMOs have made any headway in building a robust digital marketing strategy. For example, according to the survey, only 20% of participants had even set up social media accounts, and an even smaller percentage had implemented methods to integrate company interactions with clients across different channels or installed analytical tools to mine customer data. An overwhelming 82% of CMOs said they felt completely underprepared to deal with the ongoing explosion of data.

All of this is to say in today’s increasingly complex digital marketing landscape, a digital media buyer can be a CMO’s greatest ally. But not all digital media buyers are created equal. Use the following three considerations to determine whether or not your digital media buyer is making the grade.

Are They Asking the Right Questions?The Digital Media Buyer’s Report Card – Does Yours Make the Grade?

By the time you begin working with a media buyer you’ve already had countless discussions with numerous internal team members about everything from strategy to creative to legal issues; however, your media buyer has not been a part of these communications. But, in order for them to get your campaigns up and running, they need to get up to speed and understand the big picture.

In order to do this they should be asking some basic questions such as what is your biggest concern and what technologies are you particularly interested in trying? What methods or channels have you tried in the past that worked and what methods or channels didn’t work?

In other words, your media buyer shouldn’t just write down your ideas and concerns, they should ask what led you to those ideas and concerns. Only by asking rigorous questions and getting the big picture can your media buyer know your true business objectives and help you reach them.

Are They Consistently Testing Across Multiple Marketing Channels?

The digital media landscape is becoming increasingly diverse and consumers have a choice between various communication channels, devices and touchpoints. Because of this fracturing, your digital media buyer should focus on two important things:

1. Continuously testing new opportunities and channels while…

2. Developing multi-channel marketing strategies that create an ever-present brand experience.

Before beginning any project, your media buyer should sit down with you and discuss the importance of having a flexible testing budget in addition to the budget that will fuel the channels and strategies that are already working. If your media buyer isn’t bringing you new ideas and opportunities to explore, they may not be in tune with the complex digital advertising landscape. You may think you’re happy staying put with what has been working for you, but casting a wide net and creating a testing budget are incredibly important to your ROI.

The Digital Media Buyer’s Report Card – Does Yours Make the Grade?Are They Doing Their Homework?

The digital advertising landscape is flooded with the aggressive sales pitches of ad networks that all promise unique targeting capabilities and proprietary data at a minimal cost. Good media buyers see through these potentially-empty promises and do their homework before spending $1 of your advertising budget with any potential partner.

Your media buyer should ask prospective advertising partners what types of businesses they generally work with and what goals they’ve been able to help these companies achieve. They should inquire as to the metrics the partner uses to gauge success, who are their biggest repeat clients, and do they have any sources of historical data available. Your media buyer should do their due diligence to make sure any advertising partner is transparent and equally passionate about helping their clients reach their goals.

Many in the industry predict that CMOs will begin to wear even more hats in 2015 and oversee the entire landscape of brand engagement, increase the quality of creative output, and improve the perceived value of digital interactions with clients and prospects. If you are a CMO and feel you could use the guidance and experience of a digital media buyer, contact us today.

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Image credit: Sebastiaan ter Burg from Utrecht

Topics: digital advertising, media buying

4 Things Every Advertiser Should Know about Programmatic Buying

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Mar 17, 2015 @ 09:10 AM

If you’re reading this blog post it’s most likely because you’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about programmatic buying, but you don’t have a clue what it actually is. Don’t worry – you’re not alone. In fact, many of the people in your office who are throwing the term around most likely don’t have a firm grasp on the practice or technology involved. Late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, who attended ABC's upfront presentation last year, joked that “programmatic buying” is the “gluten-free” of advertising because everyone is talking about it but not many people really understand it.4 Things Every Advertiser Should Know about Programmatic Buying

What Is It Exactly?

Programmatic buying refers to a wide range of technologies that have begun to automate the entire process of buying, placing, and optimizing advertising, eliminating the need for a human component. Essentially, through programmatic technologies, advertisers can shop for ads much like they shop for shoes or washcloths on Amazon.

If you would like us to get technical, which you probably don’t but we’re going to anyway, programmatic buying can be described as a method of placing media buys automatically through digital platforms such as trading desks, exchanges, and demand-side platforms (DSPs), thereby eliminating the need for the traditional use of manual RFPs, negotiations, and insertion orders to purchase ads.

Now that you know what it is, here are four specifics of programmatic buying every advertiser should know:

1. It’s Not the Same as Real-Time Bidding (RTB)

Once people get a basic handle on programmatic they assume it’s the same as RTB, but it’s not. Although real-time bidding is a form of programmatic ad buying, it isn’t the only one. RTB also specifically refers to the practice of buying ads through real-time auctions whereas programmatic offers advertisers many more options for purchasing ads.

2. The Hype is Fairly Warranted

As we already discussed, the entire world is talking about programmatic buying, but is the hype warranted? We believe for the most part it is and for a couple of reasons. First, it makes buying and placing ads much quicker and more efficient, and puts the advertiser in the driver’s seat. It’s a bit like 4 Things Every Advertiser Should Know about Programmatic Buyingwhen, in the olden days, people wanted to book a plane ticket and hotel room and they had to – GASP – pick up the phone and speak with either a travel agent or reservation agent at the airlines and hotel. But now we can all just go online and name our own price and get the job done. Second, many advertisers feel this method of buying and managing ads will also help them more effectively engage with consumers, especially on mobile devices.

3. Robots Are NOT Taking Over the Advertising World

For some reason, people in the industry seem to be getting their feathers ruffled over the fact that technology will be replacing humans in many aspects. But what they should be focusing on is automated technologies will be taking over the data-heavy tasks allowing humans to focus on what they do best, which is be creative.

4. Is Programmatic Buying the Future?

In short, yes most likely. Although it’s hard to determine exactly what portion of advertising is currently traded programmatically, indicators point to the fact that the practice is on the rise. As this technology advances, an advertiser’s approach to this method of buying will become even more sophisticated and we will most likely see advanced ecosystems form and larger agencies build in-house platforms. It’s also most likely that, in time, programmatic buying will have a dominant market share of online display buying.

Right now it is primarily display ads that are being traded programmatically, but media agencies are looking at ways to buy and sell traditional media such as TV spots and out-of-home (OOH) ads in the same way.

The bottom line of this buzzworthy topic is programmatic buying offers optimal value to both buyers and sellers, and at the rate it is evolving, programmatic will no doubt become widely adopted as the growth of the digital economy quickens.

Download the CMO's Guide to Media Buying


Topics: programmatic buying

7 Ways to Measure the Success of Your Digital Ad Campaigns

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Mar 10, 2015 @ 08:57 AM

When we ask our prospects to tell us the number one thing that frustrates them about their digital ad campaigns, they usually say how unpredictable their return on investment is. They never know if their campaigns are going to be successes or duds that do little more than waste their time and money. Then we ask them which metrics they’re using to track their campaigns and they sheepishly look around the room and finally admit they’re not using metrics to track their campaigns. And then we watch as the light bulb goes off above their heads.

Online marketing doesn’t have to be a crap shoot. Here are seven metrics you can and should be using to measure the success of your digital ad campaigns.

1. Point of Origin Traffic7 Ways to Measure the Success of Your Digital Ad Campaigns - Point of Origin Traffic

Sometimes “total visits” don’t give you an indication of which channels are performing well and which aren’t. Located in the “Acquisition” section of your Google Analytics dashboard, this metric will give you an overview of the four main channels you need to pay attention to: direct traffic (direct visits to your site), referral traffic (from external links on other sites), organic traffic (traffic coming from search), and social traffic (those visitors who found your site through social media pages).

2. Cost Per Lead

This is a very specific metric because it is dependent on the strategies you use for each channel. To determine your cost per lead you’ll want to consider the average monthly cost of your campaign and compare it to the total number of leads each channel generated for you. For instance, if you spent a total of $300 on a pay-per-click campaign and it generated 10 leads for you, each lead cost you $30.

3. Overall Traffic

Your overall traffic, or “total traffic,” is a metric that will give you a broader, bird’s eye view of your campaign. The main target for your traffic should be your primary website, but you can also measure total visits to any of your digital assets such as specific landing pages. Pay attention to this number, and if you see it drop over time, you’ll want to figure out which channel is damaged and stop the bleeding. A healthy campaign should see a slow and steady increase of traffic over time.

7 Ways to Measure the Success of Your Digital Ad Campaigns - Bounce Rate4. Bounce Rate

It sounds like a fun metric, who doesn’t love bouncing? But you want your bounce rate to be low because a low rate means visitors who land on your website stick around, they don’t “bounce” on up out of there. You want visitors to spend as much time as possible on your site because the longer they stay and explore, the more likely they are to convert.

5. Total Conversions

This is perhaps the most important metric for measuring your campaign’s success because it will show you the profitability of your overall marketing efforts. There are a variety of possible conversions: you could have someone fill out a form, subscribe to your newsletter or complete a checkout. A conversion is simply any action you want your visitors to take. If your conversion rate is low, you’ll want to take a look at a variety of factors such as messaging, website design, and poor offers.

6. New Sessions

Another metric found in your Google Analytics dashboard, this measurement tells you how many site visitors are new and how many are recurring. Pay attention to this one because you want a website that is “sticky” enough to get repeat visits. This is especially significant when you see a drop in recurring visits after you change the design or copy on your website.

7. Projected ROI

Ah, the Holy Grail metric of any marketing campaign, your ROI reflects your campaign’s profitability. Go through all your digital channels and calculate your ROI for each one, then compare these numbers and make budgeting choices accordingly. The channels that aren’t performing for you don’t deserve your budget. It’s better to give that money to the channels that are boosting ROI.

If you take the time to regularly check these metrics you’ll maintain a steady sense of the health of your digital ad campaigns. This will help you to refine your strategies and tactics over time which will, in turn, help you generate more leads and revenue.

Download the CMO's Guide to Integrating Print and Digital Media


Topics: digital advertising campaign

How Do I Know My Online Ads Are Actually Being Seen?

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Mar 03, 2015 @ 07:28 AM

We get this question a lot from clients and it’s a good one. If you’re spending money on certain campaigns and strategies, you need to know whether or not you’re getting a return on that investment. Sadly, many advertisers are spending and getting little in return from their digital campaigns.

According to ComScore research, between May and February of 2012, a whopping 54% of online display ads were never seen by a human being. And to be clear, “never seen” doesn’t mean they were displayed but ignored by people, never seen means actually never seen due to technical glitches, user habits or fraud.

How Do I Know My Online Ads Are Actually Being Seen?eMarketer estimates that last year alone, $14 billion was spent on online display advertising. When you combine this fact with the fact that 54% of online ads are never seen by anyone, you suddenly realize billions of advertising dollars are going down the drain every year.

Technical Snafus and Fiendish Factors

As we mentioned, sometimes ads are not seen because of technical issues, like when ads are displayed on the part of a browser that’s not open on the user’s computer screen (say for instance when the ad is displayed on the bottom of the screen but the surfer never scrolls down). Other times ads may load so slowly that the surfer clicks off of the page before the ad ever has a chance to be seen.

And then there are the nefarious factors such as outright fraud by publishers. Oftentimes advertisers pay for “impressions” that are completely based on fake traffic. This happens when malicious software gives the impression a person is actually on a page and then ads are served up to fake visitors. In other scenarios, online display ads will show on several web pages, but those pages are hidden behind a window on a particular website that is the size of a pencil point.

What Can Marketers Do?

As with any form of advertising, there are no guarantees your online campaigns will be seen or drive traffic. This is why marketers must take a proactive approach in how they buy and monitor online ad campaigns so they have the best shot at significantly improving the percentage of impressions their ads receive.

Here are some ways you can help get your online ads seen:

Consider a Different PositionHow Do I Know My Online Ads Are Actually Being Seen?

For many years, advertisers were under the impression (thank you) the best placement for their ads was the very top of the page. But, according to Google, the most viewable position for display ads is just “above the fold.” Above the fold is the part on the web page just at the break where part of the page is out of sight and requires scrolling.

This being said, be prepared to experiment with your ad placement because it is not the be-all-end-all indicator of your campaign’s success. Average viewability of above the fold ads is around 68%, whereas below the fold is 40%. Depending on your particular budget and if you are lucky enough to get a discount, you may find even below the fold your cost per exposure is good.

Choose the Right Size Ad

Google’s study also suggests vertical ads are on screen longer than horizontal ads and a 120x240 ad had the highest rate of viewability at 55.6%. So don’t put too much attention on grabbing up the most real estate. Ads that were 120x600 (bigger so you’d think better performing) had only a 52.5% viewability rate and a 468x60 had only a 48.2% rate.

How Do I Know My Online Ads Are Actually Being Seen?Create and Maintain a “Block” List

When you’re buying ads through ad exchanges, it’s really important to create and maintain a block list that includes websites with known viewability issues. The sites on this list are then excluded from all future ad buys. You may find a universal block list online that is maintained by other ad buyers to help industry peers avoid fraudulent transactions.

Employ Verification Partners

Verification partners offer “active avoidance,” meaning they monitor and help you avoid unsafe and unviewable environments. Partners report viewability metrics and brand safety metrics down to the site level, and any sites with active issues are dealt with accordingly.

Good Ol’ Human Involvement

Tying all these viewability solutions together is the human marketer with expertise who can deploy, monitor, and oversee campaign setup, block lists, and verification partners. There are many technologies that can help online campaigns traverse the shaky digital landscape, but none of these will ever outperform the individual’s ability to improve their odds of ad viewability.

As an advertiser, you should definitely want to know whether or not your online ads are being seen. The key to increasing your campaign’s viewability is to experiment with ad placement and size, maintain a block list, work with verification partners, and stay involved and on top of your own campaigns, or hire someone to do it for you.

Download the CMO's Guide to Media Buying


Image credit: Joel NilssonLoveteamin

Topics: digital advertising, online advertising

Real-Time Bidding 101: Everything You Need to Know

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Feb 24, 2015 @ 08:19 AM

If you’ve moved any of your marketing campaigns online, you’ve most likely learned display advertising has become inefficient because, up until recently, publishers have had no way of measuring the value of the website visitor to which the banner ad is displayed. This has created a situation where advertisers see little ROI on their display marketing budgets because a majority of impressions are delivered to website visitors who are not their target demographic. Enter real-time bidding (RTB), a process that finally allows advertisers to value an impression first and then bid on it in real time.

It’s Like the Stock Market for Display Ads

Through a reputable media marketplace, publishers and advertisers can make exchanges that make financial sense to both parties. Much like the stock market, where market shares become available and buyers quickly compete for them (the highest bidder winning the shares), impressions become available Real-Time Bidding 101: Everything You Need to Knowand advertisers then may bid on them, with the highest bidder winning that advertising space. Because it uses real-time user data to measure the ‘going value’ of impressions, RTB allows publishers and advertisers to make adjustments to their ‘bids and asks’ as the market fluctuates.

How is all this possible? Once an ad impression loads into a visitor’s Web browser, data about that particular page is forwarded to the ad exchange marketplace where the ad space is auctioned off to the highest bidder. The winning bidder’s ad is then almost instantly loaded into the webpage. It’s not called “real-time” for nothing.

The Benefits of Real-Time Bidding to Advertisers

We’ve already mentioned the fact that real-time bidding is a much more efficient process of buying display ads, but let’s take a look at a few more reasons why RTB greatly benefits today’s advertisers.

Better Testing Equals Improved Response Rates

When dealing with batch-oriented data, which can take hours or even days to access and analyze, advertisers find it next to impossible to make crucial adjustments to their tactics and campaigns. But with RTB’s real-time feedback, advertisers can quickly and easily evaluate multiple strategies, switch ads based on audience engagement, and greatly improve response rates.

Real-Time Bidding 101: Everything You Need to KnowIdentify Garbage Inventory

According to one troubling stat by ComScore, 31 percent of ad impressions cannot be viewed by users. Shady web publishers are also responsible for online ad fraud that totals about $400 million per year, according to Adweek’s Mike Shields. Basically advertisers are spending on impressions that often end up on ghost sites or buried under other pop-up ads. Then there are the really dishonest publishers who stack ads below the fold so no one ever sees them.

Another benefit of real-time bidding are the analytic tools that help spot fraudulent behavior by showing ads that have either very low click-through rates, indicating no one is seeing them, or extremely high click-through rates, which are generally a result of the publisher using bots to pad impressions.

More Transaction Transparency

Because buyers and sellers negotiate directly with one another via these media exchanges, market forces then become the only drivers of price so advertisers can’t be overcharged. Also, the fact that individual ad impressions are auctioned off leads to a fragmentation of the market, which leads to equilibrium prices. That’s a win for both advertisers and publishers.

Better Inventory

Through these media auctions, advertisers have access to better, more efficient inventory. Better inventory means a higher return on investment, and a higher ROI means a bigger bottom line.

With all these tremendous benefits it’s no surprise RTB growth is on the rise. The digital landscape has become increasingly crowded and competitive. More ads are being shown to Internet users than ever before and these users have a small attention span when it comes to being marketed to. Advertisers who leverage the real-time analytics delivered by RTB will remain ahead of the pack.

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Topics: real-time bidding

Newspaper Inserts vs. ROP Ads: Which Offer More Benefits?

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Feb 17, 2015 @ 09:17 AM

According to Nielsen’s 2013 National Cross-Media Engagement Study, newspapers took top honor when participants were asked their opinions about the most effective advertising channels, scoring higher than TV, radio, and yes, even the Internet. The study also revealed newspapers generate the most engagement with consumers compared to other media.

Digital advertising gets all the hype, yet a recent engagement survey by Harris Interactive on behalf of Goo Technologies2 revealed almost 75% of consumers totally ignore banner ads, 62% ignore social media ads, and 59% ignore search engine ads. That’s a whole lot of ignoring going on. By contrast, the study found only 35% of consumers ignore newspaper ads.

What do these figures tell us? Advertising in newspapers continues to be a highly effective way of engaging consumers, creating brand awareness and generating leads and sales, which of course is something we’ve always known. But now the question is what types of newspaper ads offer the greatest efficacy?

Newspaper Inserts vs. ROP Ads

Newspaper Inserts vs. ROP Ads: Which Offer More Benefits?First, let’s discuss exactly what Run of Press (ROP) ads and free standing inserts (FSIs) are before we delve into any advantages/disadvantages.

Run of Press ads are those placed in the actual pages of the newspaper, but the advertiser gives the publisher full choice of where they run. Basically, wherever space allows. Advertisers can request their preference of position, and many publishers will try and accommodate, but nothing is guaranteed. The main benefit of ROP ads is they can cost quite a bit less than other print ads. The disadvantage, of course, is not being in control of where your ad is placed. If you’re selling sporting equipment, getting your ad placed near wedding announcements may not give you a return on your investment, even if your investment was comparatively low.

Free standing inserts, or FSIs for short, are the bundle of colorful brochures stuck in the middle of the paper. FSIs often contain coupons, specials and information about sales for all kinds of consumer goods. Big national brands like Walmart and Target have been advertising with FSIs for many, many years because they have experienced firsthand their ability to drive budget-conscious traffic and generate sales.

Does One Channel Deliver More Benefits?

In a word, yes. While both FSIs and ROP can be an important channel in your overall campaign, in a head-to-head matchup, FSIs offer more advantages. Here are a few:

FSIs Give Consumers Exactly What They Want

At some point in your life you’ve probably sat down in front of a thick Sunday paper and immediately reached for the inserts to help you plan your weekly shopping trip. You’re not alone; many newspaper readers look forward to thumbing through the FSIs on Sundays as well as during the week because it gives them a chance to window shop and to do their weekly budgeting. In other words, advertising with FSIs means you get your offer in front of the people who are looking for it.

Highly Targeted

When placing many other types of ads, both print and digital, the only thing generally taken into account is consumer demographics. But effective ad placement must also take into account geographical data as well. When we conduct an insert buy for a client we are able to use geospatial intelligence mapping and input a single ZIP code, entire city, market or region for the most precise targeting. This allows us reach just the right consumers for our clients.

Impressive FlexibilityNewspaper Inserts vs. ROP Ads: Which Offer More Benefits?

The more flexibility advertisers have with their ads, the more able they are to deliver a highly impactful message. FSIs let advertisers choose between single sheets, catalogs or cards and also whether ads should be distributed in large or small formats, on heavy or light stock, and on whatever day of the week will best reach their target audience.

Inserts Are an Action Medium

Meaning they get consumers to take action, and that’s the whole point of any kind of advertising, isn’t it? According to the NAA’s How America Shops and Spends Survey, 44% of respondents said they brought inserts into the stores with them, and 44% also said they used inserts to make unplanned purchases.

The Bridge between Print and Digital

Like peanut butter and chocolate, print often goes better with digital, and with the emergence of QR codes and personalized URLs, there’s never been a better time to connect your print campaigns to your digital assets. FSIs are a great way to create a bridge to your online landing pages where you can further engage your audience.

There’s no question print advertising in general offers small businesses a highly effective way to reach their local market. FSIs, in particular, have the ability to drive traffic and create brand awareness while targeting a highly-focused demographic that is ready to buy.

Free Guide: How to Target Your Audience with Free Standing Inserts


Topics: newspaper advertising, newspaper inserts

The Death of Print Has Been Greatly Exaggerated

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Feb 10, 2015 @ 07:29 AM

Say it with me: Print is dead. Now let us both go wash our mouths out with soap at uttering such vulgarity and outright untruthfulness. Will meet you back here once mouth has been thoroughly scrubbed…

The Death of Print Has Been Greatly Exaggerated Okay, now that that’s out of the way, don't ever talk about the death of print again. But it’s funny (not really) how “those in the know” are still making this bold statement when it couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, it is because of the emergence of so many digital channels that print is experiencing a rebirth. Instead of killing print, the Internet, through QR codes and promo codes, is giving print advertisers other avenues in which to engage their audience.

According to FedEx Office’s Fourth Annual Signs of the Times Small Business Survey, though many small business owners reach customers and prospects via online channels such as social media, more than half surveyed (53 percent) said they planned on using more traditional channels such as newsletters and direct mail.

Also, research conducted by RP Data revealed property professionals who used a combination of print and digital channels were able to move their inventory for a higher price and with less time on the market.

Benefits of Combining Print and Digital Channels

Connect with Consumers on Their Terms

Consumers will no longer come to you; you’ve got to go to them, wherever they may be. By using a combination of traditional and digital channels, you can be sure to reach your audience at just the right time and in just the right place.

Easier ConversionsThe Death of Print Has Been Greatly Exaggerated

In some ways consumers are like squirrels; they scare easy and need to be patiently wooed before they’ll take that nut out of your hand. Print campaigns are a great way to begin wooing your audience, especially since print is still the most trusted form of advertising. From your print ads you can then send readers to your online assets where they can truly engage and interact with you.

More Metrics at Your Disposal

When you use an integrated marketing approach, you have more metrics at your disposal that can help you determine what’s working and what isn’t.

Extend Your Reach

Some consumers, like Millennials, tend to spend more time online while others, like Baby Boomers, still prefer to get their information from printed sources like newspapers. By using a combination of channels, you have a much better chance at reaching a larger audience.

The Death of Print Has Been Greatly ExaggeratedThings to Consider When Mixing Print with Digital

A recent study by Nielsen research revealed consumers are interacting with brands through more touchpoints than ever before. Yet more proof that combining print and digital is an effective way at engaging consumers where they already are. But how do you develop the right mix of media that will reach your overall campaign objectives? Through some good ol’ fashioned research and planning that will uncover data you may use to develop your strategy. Look at things like:

Your Ideal Customer’s Online Habits

How long do visitors generally stay on your website? Where does most of your traffic come from? Which of your site’s pages get the most attention? Where else do consumers hang out online the most?

Spending Habits

Is your product or service a repeat necessity or a one-time purchase? Does your audience compare prices before buying? Are they on a budget?

What Is Their Emotional Life?

What are your customers’ needs, wants, likes, dislikes, desires, problems, worries, etc.? What makes them tick? What scares them?

What’s the Easiest Way to Reach Them?

Are your customers an older crowd that would rather have a conversation start in an ad in their favorite magazine before that conversation moves online to your Facebook page? How often do they check their email? Are they active on social media? Once you understand your audience better you’ll have a firmer grasp on what combination of channels to use and where your advertising dollars need to go.

As you can see, the death of print has been greatly exaggerated. Small businesses have a habit of looking at print advertising and digital advertising as separate entities, but the truth is they work best when combined in an integrated, holistic marketing strategy. 

Free eBook: The Benefits of Print Advertising



Topics: print advertising

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