Yearly Archives: 2015

Next to Now: Big City, Open Sky Edition


In terms of potential for book marketers, VR is not “next to now” so much as it is next to next to now. But it’s coming:

“So, what’s the SEO and general marketing upheaval linked to augmented and virtual reality? David Amerland, author of Google Semantic Search, states that ‘augmented reality uses semantic technologies to introduce a structured, information-rich layer into the real world environment.’ It must all be keyword-researched, and discoverable by search engines and the searcher. We also must give the user the ability to leave their own mark in the augmented world via content insertion.”



To be clear: The NYT has let us target readers by time of day for years now (something this article misses) but what’s new is updated and improved targeting information coming in via Mobile and new Times products such as “Morning Briefing.” This is a smart move by the NYT, and a great way to reach out to potential readers when they’re most open to new ideas.



CMO Council members argue for the importance of new marketing through visual means — .gifs, videos, photos — but find most businesses ill-prepared for this shift in approach.



Messaging service Kik innovates in the advertising space, using .gifs on sponsored messaging for the movie “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials”:

“Like the movie’s story, the app’s messaging can go several ways. ‘It kind of feels like one of those choose-your-own-adventure books that you may have played as a kid but played out in a much more modern way,’ said Paul Gray, Kik’s director of platform services.”



When it comes to ad recall, full-screen interactive ads beat both standard display and rising star units by 20%. (Of course, they’re also a lot more expensive to produce and serve.)



IMGUR is about to take promoted posts out of beta. With engagement rates of the beta ads at 1-4%, this is definitely a good source for an engaged readership for this demo. Imgur has more than 150 million monthly active users—a mostly young, largely male audience with a reputation for being commercially skeptical. Seventy-five percent of Imgur’s audience is under 35, and 60 percent is between the ages of 18 and 24. Whether they’re book buyers or not is a different question.

#mobile #visual


Fashion brands increase Instagram interactions by 77%. While fashion brands have obvious advantages in an image-centric environment, there are lessons here for all marketers.

Via Dark Matter 050

#mobile #social #visual


Stats include: Data on Facebook fatigue real, one measure by which Google+ is out doing Facebook, and the top five activities on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook (which shows one reason why Twitter might be a better promotional vehicle for your message than Facebook).

via Only Dead Fish



Here’s a thoughtful piece on the coming ad blocking revolution and what it means for advertisers, publishers, and journalists, and here’s another one, this from QZ.



“Genesis Media, which surveyed more than 11,500 U.S. adults in late May and early June, found that while 24 percent of respondents installed ad blockers on either their home or work computers, just 3 percent did so on their smartphones or tablets.”



It still comes down to click-through rate and that’s not good enough.

“Marketers are saying, ‘I can’t drop a cookie, therefore I can’t measure.’ The reality is it’s just as easy, if not easier, to measure in mobile apps, because Apple and Google have given us advertising identifiers.”



A little click-baity for a headline, but it’s a decent list. Having just been to a demo for VR technology at an NYU lab, we can confirm that the future is bright and nearly here for VR technology through such devices as Oculus Rift. And we do think it will change what we mean about “live events” — and, by extension, what we mean by “live marketing.”

#trends #VR


. . . and that means minimum spends will start dropping as it becomes easier to advertise through marketing partners like Hootsuite, instead of going through Instagram sales reps for colossal budgets.

#social #visual

Next to Now: Good News / Bad News Edition


Pandora’s sponsored listening program leads to higher ad engagement by *decreasing* the frequency of the ads. We think that advertising which helps users get what they want works much better than advertising that interrupts what they want.




The opening of its ad platform could well mean that Instagram will make more from mobile in 2017 than Google or Twitter.




With all the big streaming news coming from Netflix (on which we can’t yet advertise), you might wonder if Hulu (on which we have run many successful ad campaigns) can keep up. Turns out they’re doing very well, thank you: With brand-new content deals for Showtime (including Homeland, The Affair and Masters of Sex) and getting the Hulu remote app up and running on Apple Watch, they’re continuing to stay ahead of a fast-swimming pack.

#video #streaming




Younger demographics are abandoning traditional TV in droves. (via @BenedictEvans)

Also a BI article about the same study. 

The change in TV consumption is in its infancy, but it’s far enough along that we can start to see trends in how it’s developing. Here are some of the ways.

More signs of the switch in TV consumption: For the first time, more people are using Comcast for internet than for TV . . .

Or you could pay up to $200k for a thirty second spot on Caitlyn Jenner’s new show.

#video #probablytechnicallygoodnews




It hasn’t been a great time to lead, read, or work at Gawker recently. We trust they’ll turn it around.




Bad news for Twitter and its advertisers: A June 2015 study suggests only 3% of Twitter users find ads on Twitter relevant. This is fixable, but will take better work on both the creative and targeting sides.

There was some good news in Twitter’s earning’s call on Tuesday, where it announced higher than expecting revenues, but investors were unimpressed with user growth. 





“If a thing is designed to kill you, it is, by definition, bad design”: Mike Monteiro in Dear Design Student.

(via @NextDraft )





“Parents are blowing-off back-to-school shopping.” The article blames this on poor mobile advertising, but we think it is simply more a reflection of larger trends: toward flexibility and buying what you need when you need it, and away from the long-term planning style of household management.

#backtoschool #mobile



Google uncovers trends and shares advice about reaching back-to-school shoppers based on search trends. Since search interest for “back to school” rose 48% last year, it’s worth giving them a listen.





ClickZ published a useful thought piece about targeting: The more smartphones know about us, the better advertisers (like us) can target ads. Generally, we think this is a positive thing when it’s applied with care and respect for people. But do we want a world where the health tracker on your phone suggests you have indicators of heart disease . . . so you get served an ad for a book on heart disease? Yes and no.

#mobile #targeting




Next to Now: Heart of the Summer Edition


It’s alive!

Twitter makes it easier to link your advertising campaign to live events.

#social #live


Are interstitials worth it?

Google says they deliver great click-through numbers but also high levels of bad feeling.



Peep shows, drones, and caffeine-ready concerts.

Check out some early marketing experiments with Perisocope.

#streaming #social


YouTube getting VR-ready.

“YouTube launched its first 360-degree video ad yesterday.”



Apple gets into the streaming radio business.

“Earlier this year, Apple extended its mobile advertising network to iTunes Radio, its web streaming service that competes with Pandora, through programmatic ad buying.”

#programmatic #audio



For your next ad, might we humbly suggest an artisanal font made expressly for Kanye? Inspired by Kanye’s tweet, “Sometimes I get emotional over fonts,” Yeezy Display will add a mere $50,000 to your production cost.

(Via Dark Matter Issue 049)

#design #yeezy


The return to the couch.

OTT Devices (“Over the Top” boxes such as Apple TV or Roku) are bringing Hulu viewers, and presumably other streamers, back to the living couch—which means TV is regaining its “real-life” social component (because the couch is where we can watch with other people), without necessarily losing its digitally social component.

#video #streaming


Email on the fly.

There’s no more question about it, email is majority mobile-first.

#email #mobile #samething


The end of Inbox Zero?

It’s probably not a coincidence that the move to mobile with email is happening at the same time as we are rethinking workflow:

“Inbox Zero, while a great concept within the limits of email and paper (“Clean Desk policy”), is a fundamentally authoritarian high-modernist concept. It creates a strong, bright line between profane and sacred regimes of information, and encourages you to get to illusory control (a clean inbox) by hiding precisely the illegible chaos that’s tempting and dangerous to ignore (if you use folders, you likely have one or more misc folders even if you don’t call them that). This is dangerous because you’re just moving unprocessed chaos from a procrastination zone with strong temporal cues (the Inbox) to a denial zone with broken temporal cues (the set of de facto misc folders).”


(Via Dark Matter Issue 049)


Next to Now: The End of Big Tent Marketing?

This week, new data from Instagram, YouTube, NPR and more suggests that the shift away from big tent marketing—where all your customers will hear your message at one, pre-determined moment—is well underway. Time to set up lots and lots of individual tents.


Instagram builds on its lead as the most important social network among U.S. teens.

Teen Social Net Prefs




Instagram announces that it will open its network to everyone this fall. Rates, minimum spend, and other requirements have not yet been released to us at Verso, but as soon as we learn more we’ll let you know.


What does a customer-first approach mean for marketing? “Marketing is no longer a department,” says IBM’s Michelle Killebrew:

“Businesses of all sizes are (truly) embracing the concept of customer centricity and understanding that marketing is no longer a department, because everyone (customers and employees alike) has a voice that can be amplified through social and mobile channels. Every interaction with a customer is part of their experience with your brand. It is why companies are focusing on employee engagement now more than ever—employees are the face of the company to the customer.”

This type of insight doesn’t easily map to book publishing, since every publisher is caring for hundreds to thousands of different brands (aka authors or series), but it’s undeniable that editors, marketers and publicists for every house are gaining public voices—and this is a good thing.


On the subject of one-to-one advertising, this outdoor campaign for a Swiss vacation spot is brilliant at literally starting a conversation.


YouTube viewing habits are going mobile: 50% (and growing) of YouTube views are mobile. 


TV viewing habits are changing: 28% of all TV watching is now streaming.


In another sign that the NPR audience is beginning to shift from live listening to on-demand, NPR podcasts have nearly doubled in hours downloaded over the last year. 



Next to Now: New Habits in Bloom

This week, we peek into changing consumer habits in messaging, video viewing, marketing, and searching.


Instant messaging is on the rise and ready to overtake email as the primary communication tool by 2019. Get your marketing skills up to speed.


Who What When Where Why: The modern quest reveals itself across all our autocompletes (apparently we still really want to know “Who killed JFK?”):

via Dark Matter 


The rise and fall of persona marketing, continued: Why personas are like Marmite.

via Dark Matter


The decline of kids TV—now so much less popular than tablets it’s a punishment:

“Mobile devices are so popular with kids that nearly half of the 800 parents quizzed by Miner & Co. reported that they confiscate their kids’ tablets when they act up and make them watch TV instead”

via Dave Pell

Next to Now: July 4th Edition

Happy 4th of July everybody. We’re getting this week’s edition of Next to Now out a little early so people can get their book-related ad industry reading in before fireworks prep work tomorrow. Here’s what we’ve been reading this shortened week:


When we say video is exploding online, we really mean that *mobile* video is exploding, and when we say mobile we really mean mobile phones, which are at 34% of video viewing as of March 2015 (up from 15% in March of 2014). The really good news from our point of view is that people are more than willing to watch ads to get their content free:

“IAB found that 78% of respondents would rather watch free mobile videos with ads, vs. 15% who would rather pay for a monthly mobile video subscription with no ads and 8% who would rather pay for each mobile video with no ads.”



Virtual Reality comes to retail (at least in demo). If they can bring a SoHo shopping experience alive to festival-goers in Cannes, maybe we can also start talking about translating the real physical indie bookshop experience online in the near future?  What I wouldn’t give to be able to noodle around Chicago’s 57th Street Books basement stacks from my New York City apartment.


Benedict Evans’ newsletter is worth subscribing to if you’re interested in all things mobile (and you should be). Here he is from his most recent newsletter on search, discoverability and how to find what you’re not really looking for:

  • “Google is very good at giving you what you’re looking for, but no good at all at telling you what you want to find, let alone things you didn’t know you wanted.”
  • “Amazon, after 20 years of ruthless execution, still only has under a third of the entire print books market. Most people buy most of their books in physical retail, because book shops are not just relatively inefficient end-points to a physical logistics network, but also filters and recommendation platforms. They’re high-latency but also high-bandwidth.”
  • And the pay off:  “Though some companies can make it entirely through organic search or Facebook virality, most cannot . . . For the rest of us, that means marketing. In effect, by removing all other constraints, the internet makes advertising more important than ever.”





Next to Now: Cannes Lions Edition

The news in advertising this week is all about the Cannes Lions. 


Alas, there were no ads created for book publishers among the winners. Mostly it’s cars and sports, with a smattering of empowerment.  That said, there was a lot of love for an ad for a bookbook™, which was pretty clever even if it was for an Ikea catalog rather than, you know, a book.


In other advertising news that might mean something more to book publishers . . .


When we talk about advertising to the parenting demo, it’s getting to be time to include men in the conversation. 


Rocketfuel made an infographic that shows what creative elements have led to the best performance. Spoiler alert: it’s an animated red ad featuring a man;  the CTA is “Learn more,” and the logo’s positioned in the lower left.


Remember when QR codes were going to be a thing in consumer advertising? It turns out they still have a role to play in China, and for one blogger, that’s heartening:

“I have to confess: I’ve been rooting for the QR code all along. Partially, I think, because of its aesthetic inelegance, and partially because it seems fleeting. Like an AOL CD or a pianist at a silent film, the QR code is an awkward stopgap solution that can only exist at a particular moment of transition”

(via @BenedictEvans)


The Only Dead Fish email reminds us that Ben Evans updated his “Mobile Is Eating the World” podcast and deck in May. Its insights are must-reading for everybody in the tech business, and yes, that includes book publishing and advertising. As his final slide suggests, “tech is outgrowing the tech industry.”

Even though QR codes are not so popular anymore, you still might want to keep up the payments on the url though—just in case a porn site wants to grab the audience from your ketchup campaign, for example.

(via Quartz)


Facebook author tags are a thing.

(via Business Insider)


Verso Advertising is not at the beach in Cannes for the Lions. But as the photo at the head of this post will attest, we're feeling pretty good about the sprinklers a short walk west on 17th street.

Next to Now: Video Ads Take Their Place at the Front of the Stage

As video options expand far beyond YouTube, Spotify joins the fray with new video options. Where does this leave advertisers?:

“In a world where video ad inventory is at a premium, premium content to place against it is just as valuable. So if you’re the one creating the content that viewers want to see, then you’re definitely in the catbird seat, as companies like Spotify and others expand their scope into the video space. That means that Spotify will need a strong video advertising offer, particularly in the mobile space, as creators will only stay on board for as long as they’ are seeing the ROI.”

Paul Ford’s highly entertaining, informative, and looooooong piece on coding might come in handy before your next meeting with that new marketing start-up.

SnapChat takes the stage in Cannes with some advice: shoot your video vertically.

Facebook makes sure their engineers are keenly aware of user experience in different countries and communities and with different devices and connection speeds: It’s important for everyone in the advertising industry to think through the user’s experience.

Related: Last week’s link to Guardian piece calling out the Cannes advertising juries on giving awards to agencies that are more successfully marketing their wares to other people in advertising than they are to the people who might actually buy the product on offer.

Nieman Labs is one of many business news outlets to report on the ad blocking capabilities of the iOS9 release, and the dangers of ad blocking for content providers—not to mention the advertisers who love their audiences, which, obviously, includes us:

“A blow for mobile advertising: The next version of Safari will let users block ads on iPhones and iPads”

Another study about the effectiveness of TV, this one from CBS:

“In cross-platform campaigns, TV soundly trumps digital in both spending and reach.”

Photo of the stage at the 2015 Tony Awards (c) Sarah Moses
English labs Teddy, left, and Winston, right, relax with their owner, Assemblyman Steve Otis, during Animal Advocacy Day on Wednesday, June 3, 2015, at the Legislative Office Building in Albany, N.Y. (Cindy Schultz / Times Union)

Next to Now: Dog Days Edition

A conversation about native advertising with the VP for Marketing Solutions for CondeNast:

“For brands to compete in the digital space, they have to be as interesting as or more interesting than everything else out there. Brands are committing more to try and create higher-quality, interesting content. Even if it’s marked “sponsored content” so that the reader knows what it is, that doesn’t limit the level of engagement. If it’s great content, it transcends the label.”


Who are advertising agencies *really* advertising to? Great Tom Goodwin piece in the Guardian on the kinds of campaigns that win awards:

“I’ve never met anyone who has seen a vending machine reward them for laughing, I’ve never walked through a door marked ugly, got a Coke from a drone, or been offered a crisp packet with my face on. I’ve never had a friend share their personalised film, I’ve not seen outdoor ads that are also street furniture or had an ATM give me a funny receipt. I’ve not received a magazine with a near field communication thing and I’ve not had a virtual reality experience outside advertising conferences. I’ve not once seen a member of the public 3D print anything. The one thing that binds together the more than 200 Cannes winners I’ve seen, is that they are ads only advertising people have a good chance of seeing. I’m not sure that’s what the industry should be about.”

(via Dark Matter. In fact all the links in Dark Matter email #047 are so good, it’s worth checking them out )


Ads on Amazon shipping boxes. Seems like a good idea to us:

“People used to go to their mailbox and [brands] could write to them,” said Allen Adamson, North American chairman at brand consulting firm Landor. “Now you can’t reach them at the mailboxes unless they get a package of something they’ve ordered digitally. [Shipping boxes] end up in customers’ hands. It’s mail that customers look for and want and it’s unused space, so it’s a really smart move by Amazon to capitalize on a powerful media touch point.”


TV is still the most effective advertising medium, says Adweek (quoting a study paid for by people Turner Broadcasting):

“MarketShare’s analysis found that TV advertising effectiveness has remained steady during that time period and outperforms digital and offline channels at driving key performance metrics like sales and new accounts.”

Related: “Boom: Netflix is now bigger than Yahoo”:

“A torch was passed today, as Netflix’s stock market value surpassed Yahoo’s in intraday trading.”



For all you trying to make an honest living as a social media manager (which is beginning to feel like everyone, in one way or another). Here’s a little infographic on the decline in organic reach on Facebook, and what you can do about it (other than, you know, buying ads).

Speaking of Dog Days, June 3 was New York State Animal Advocacy Day. Photo above (c) Cindy Schulz/Times Union.  

Next to Now: Keep Your Eyes on Instagram and Pinterest

While last week’s BEA got everyone in publishing talking about the feast of great new books coming out—including new novels from Jonathan Franzen, Garth Risk Hallberg, and Ottessa Moshfegh—the advertising and tech worlds kept their eyes on developments with Instagram and Pinterest. Here’s a sampling of some of the press for anyone too busy recovering from BEA to keep up with it all.

Instagram opens up its ad platform:

Business Insider gets into the increased ability to target: 

“On Tuesday, the photo sharing service, which Facebook bought in 2012 for $1 billion, announced that by this winter, it will begin to use more data from your Facebook profile to target you with more relevant ads.”

The New York Times writes about the revenue generating potential of this move:

“Collectively, the expanded advertising options signal that Facebook is becoming serious about making money from Instagram, which has a younger audience than the main Facebook social network, whose core users are middle-age mothers.”

 ClickZ goes a little deeper into the targeting options this move is opening up:

“Instagram is also enhancing its targeting beyond demographics like age, location and gender. By working with Facebook to reach users based on interests, as well as consumer data that businesses already have, the photo-sharing platform plans to help advertisers tailor their messages so users see ads based on the things they care about.”

As a bonus, here’s a little infographic about optimal Instagram posting strategy.


Pinterest adds a buy button.

The New York Times reports on this:

“Pinterest does not plan to make money off e-commerce the traditional way, by taking a cut of retailers’ transactions. Instead, the company said, it would make money selling promoted-pins advertisements to retailers, who can then insert buyable pins into those ads.”

 ClickZ has a question:

“Pinterest has unveiled transactional pins. Will its ‘Buy Button’ work better than Twitter’s and Facebook’s version?”

TechCrunch quotes the Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann on the need for a better mobile transaction experience (a need Pinterest is trying to address with transactional pins):

“Right now since everyone uses their phone, but it’s still a pain to buy things. There are fiddly menus, you have to squint to see the images.”

Business Insider on the mobile first approach to this development:

“Pinterest found that 85% of people who use Pinterest were doing it from their phones. So, the team made the buying experiences as mobile-friendly as possible. Buy buttons will roll out on iPhones and iPads by the end of the month, with the desktop experience and other phone operating systems, like Android or Windows, coming soon after.”

A few interesting articles from the week that have nothing to do with Pinterest or Instagram:

“Emails are definitely the new old blogs.” A round table on the past, present and future of the email newsletter.

Several paid and free content distribution channels worth knowing about.

Local search goes mobile, desktop search drops:

“eMarketer expects mobile to overtake desktop for US search ad dollars this year . . . At the same time, there will be 156.4MM mobile phone search users in the US, representing 49% of the population.”

A great piece on art, advertising, and design intelligence in posters from Hyperallergic.