Tag Archives: data

Next to Now for November 23

Next to Now is thankful for . . .


Improvements in Mobile Ad Targeting

Nielsen reports that the ability to target specific demos on targeting has increased to 60% of mobile ad impressions (up from 49% a year ago). This indicates that post-Cookie targeting capabilities are improving.

#mobile #targeting


Facebook Working toward Measurement Transparency

Related: We’re also glad we never migrated to Atlas ad serving because they’re shutting it down. 



The End of Black Friday as a Stand-Alone Event

Let’s spread the wealth among a few days and stop the stampede.



Ad Agencies Waking Up to What People Are Really Aspiring To

Ad agencies rethink data and recruitment post-election. 



Snapchat Spectacles

Especially that they’ve opened a pop-up store near us in time for Christmas.




Next to Now for Nov 17

What’s the best way to use hashtags on every social network?

Facebook is not Twitter is not Instagram is not Snapchat. This Click Z post helps you craft your voice to the social network you use.



10 Creative Exercises That Are Better Than Brainstorming

Creativity is crucial to advertising (duh). But classic brainstorming methods don’t always bring out the best in your team. Especially if you have a good number of super creative introverts in the room (cf. Susan Cain’s Quiet). Hub Spot posted several good and different ways to generate new ideas.



LinkedIn Opens Up In-Mail Targeting

Combining LinkedIn’s targeted business readership with the power of email marketing makes the new in-mail targeting option a very interesting one for reaching the business audience.

#business #social


Facebook Continues to Reveal Problems with Its Reporting

Caveat emptor: campaign data is crucial if it’s accurate, but there remains a good amount of question about how accurate the numbers are. The most powerful companies in the world also have a worrying tendency to be walled gardens re: their data. “Just trust us” is not a line that should go very far with any responsible media buyer.

#facebook #data


Speaking of Facebook: Ads Are Coming to Messenger

We saw this coming. And despite our concerns about measurability (see above), we welcome ads that reach readers wherever they are—and a lot of people are using Messenger.

#facebook #messaging


Photo of this week's Union Square Subway Station post-election post-it wall (c) 2016 Martha Otis

Next to Now for October 28


YouTube is getting longer term views. The average viewing session on YouTube is now 40 minutes. That data point comes from a Google post about winning the customer over before s/he enters the store. While it’s written for larger brand advertisers—make-up, CPG, and cars—there are good takeaways for book advertising from the post.

#youtube #video #streaming



This isn’t advertising, but it’s such a rich analysis of book trends that anyone who loves books and data will find it irresistible: Acclaimed novelist Emily St. John Mandel writes a clever and nuanced post for Five Thirty Eight on publishing’s recent obsession with using the word “Girl” in titles. She looks at how many of the eponymous girls are actually girls (and how many are women), how many are written by women, how many are missing or lost or undead, and reports that we not yet reached peak “Girl”:





There has been a fair amount of press on how brands are starting to use bots to buy pizza, call an Uber, or book a flight, and a good bit more about the potential for new advertising platforms using bots on messaging apps like Kik and What’s App. Now, an article in Marketing Land points out new bots that help you measure advertising campaigns by integrating directly with such platforms as Facebook and Google or with existing third party servers such as Media Math and Sizmek.

#bots #AI #metrics



Once upon a time, the IAB tried to tame the Wild West of internet advertising by introducing three standard units that would work across most sites: 300×250, 728×90, and 160×600. For a few years, all was well in advertisingland. But the advent of tablets and the new dominance of mobile devices soon began to mean more and more sizes. Then the native ad boom kicked in and things got wilder than ever—to the point where a single campaign can require more than ten different size ads, each with its own maximum file size, preferred file type, and timing. Even the IAB can see that it’s time to revisit the standard unit. If you want a say in what ad sizes are next, the public comment period is now open. 

#iab #standard



On the other hand, an article on Digiday looks into the proliferation of custom units on such sites as the New York Times and Quartz, and wonders if the days of the standard banner are truly numbered. There’s a tension between the custom banners that perform better than the standard units, and the need for standard units to function with programmatic platforms.

#custom #iab




Fall tree photo (c) 2016 Martha Otis

Next to Now for October 7


For the past year, the New York Times digital team has been testing a “Flex frame unit” that works seamlessly across devices and integrates more smoothly with the reading experience—including several tests with Verso clients. The overwhelmingly positive results of those test has led the New York Times to begin phasing out standard display units in favor of  the Flex frame unit. This does not signal the death of the standard IAB ad unit—300×250, 728×90, 160×600—yet. But it does signal that sites and platforms need to continue to evolve the best way to show ads to readers in ways that inform and delight. Here is the WSJ on the story.   

#nyt #flexframe



A recently released study from the Advertising Research Foundation, “How Advertising Works Today,” investigates best practices for advertising across TV, print, radio and digital in 45 countries. Here are the key takeaways cited by Marketing Land: 

  • “Spending across multiple platforms delivers greater ROI than investing in single platforms.” For example, a campaign across two platforms generally delivers 19 percent more return on investment than on one platform. For three platforms, it’s 23 percent more; for five, 35 percent.

  • “There is actually a “kicker effect” when television is added back to digital spending.” Digital plus TV, the report found, can increase ROI 60 percent.

  • “This is also true for millennials who consume both traditional and new media.” Even for consumers aged 18 to 24, for instance, the optimal mix was found to be 71 percent traditional media (TV, radio, print) and 29 percent digital (including video, display and paid search). In other words, it’s not just mobile.

  • “’Silo investing’ in some digital formats too heavily can have diminishing returns and even cause sales to decline.” However, this finding was derived primarily from banner desktop ads — not exactly the most engaging format.

  • And the most impact for creative comes from an approach that is unified/connected across platforms, but tailored to each platform. “When campaigns are unified [creatively] across platforms,” ARF SVP Dr. Manuel Garcia-Garcia told the audience at the presentation, “memory activation is enhanced.”

While book publishing budgets do not often allow for including TV in the ad mix, it’s worth noting the bolded bit again based on the 5,000 campaigns included in the study: “The optimal mix was found to be 71 percent traditional media (TV, radio, print) and 29 percent digital.”

#data #research #mix



The same article in Marketing Land points to a study conducted by mobile ad firm Kargo together with neuroscience research firm MediaScience called, “Captivate vs. Aggravate.” The study looks at performance of common mobile units—the Adhesion Banner, the In-Stream Banner, the Interstitial—as well as a unit proprietary to Kargo called the Sidekick. It found that of the three common units, the Adhesion Banner had “fewer people [looking] at these banners for less time. Interstitials were considered the most “annoying,” drawing attention mostly from people looking for the X to make the ads go away. In-Stream Banners got the most positive results for time spent looking at the ad as well as for feelings about the product.




A report from Digiday suggests that Fox News is taking advantage of Instagram’s recent approval of longer video clips to gain a major audience on the platform.  With over 3 million comments, likes and regrams in September—growing faster than Business Insider, Washington Post and BuzzFeed, and out performing such stalward social news powerhouses ads the New York Times, BBC and CNN. Digiday notes a similar success for the brand on Facebook, and we would add that this report is consistent with the high engagement we’ve seen with ads across Fox News platforms. If you provide content that appeals to the conservative audience, a digital campaign on Fox News is one of the best ways to reach them.

#instagram #fox



We are thrilled to welcome into the world a bouncy bundle of bitter joy, AMARO: The new book that gives you a delicious introduction to  the bitter liqueurs known as Amaro by drinks expert, Ten Speed author, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Director of Culinary Marketing, Brad T. Parsons. Here’s a link to the New York Times piece on the book. A book authored by a Verso client at one esteemed publishing house and published by another? That’s AMARO. Cheers!

#amaro #drinksforeveryone


Photo taken under the stars in Brooklyn during a celebration for AMARO's publication (c) 2016 T. Thompson

Next to Now: Sept 16


The Wall Street Journal reports on how the millennial news platform .Mic is rethinking video sponsorship. Mic is allowing advertisers to sponsor their highly popular videos on Facebook:

“Instead of selling…ads based on content genre or audience demographics, Mic is putting its editorial videos into categories, such as clips that elicit emotions or videos that celebrate innovation—two popular genres that typically incite people to share, and letting advertisers run ads next to these types of videos.”

While this kind of sponsorship is not useful for any book that needs time to tell its story, it could be very interesting for a book with immediate appeal to millennials with a high education and relatively high HHI.

#mic #facebook #news



Have you played around with Google’s Display Ad benchmark tool recently? It can be very useful for setting expectations. Click-through rates seem to be going down across the board. If you set it for U.S. Book ads, the display CTRs range from .04-.6% depending on the size. Mobile only sizes such as 320×50 fare a little better with a .18% CTR. While this is certainly the case for the industry as a whole, Verso’s own click-through rates continue to beat industry averages—ranging from about .10% for desktop to twice that for mobile.

#CTR #Google #data #benchmarks



Long a staple of advertising plans for all manner of products, out-of-home advertising has gained a new edge with digital billboards. Digital capabilities mean advertisers can move much more quickly on campaigns instead of having to plan six to eight months ahead for each iteration. As CMO magazine puts it:

“The integration of data and technology means advertisers can tap into OOH like never before. ‘And it’s really shifting into bringing back the things that digital has kind of lost–the sensory experiences, feelings, and interactions.'”

There’s a reason spending on out of home advertising continues to grow.

#billboards #OOH #digital



As part of IAB’s recent podcast upfronts, ESPN announced that it’s bringing it’s acclaimed 30 for 30 series to podcasts. With in-depth reporting about sports news, 30 for 30 videos appeal to sports fans of a more thoughtful bent . . . which is to say, sports fans who might be inclined to buy books on a subject in an effort to go deeper than in-game color commentary or talk show style chatter.  For book publishers who might not be able to afford a :30 ad on ESPN, running mid-roll on a podcast might be a highly targeted ad solution.

#sports #podcasts #espn


Next to Now: Labor Day Weekend

Whether you’re planning on watching the U.S. Open, mourning and celebrating the life of Gene Wilder, or just sitting in traffic trying to make it to the beach, there’s a lot of news to catch up on over Labor Day weekend. Read on.



In an effort to take on sports powerhouse ESPN, Sports Illustrated and Fox News have agreed to an editorial and ad sharing deal across their businesses. According to the WSJ:

“Combined properties operated by Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports brought in about 68 million unique visitors in July, which would make it the second-largest sports publisher behind ESPN, which brought in about 79 million visitors, according to digital measurement specialist comScore.

On their own, Fox Sports ranked third in the sports category in July, while Sports Illustrated came in 10th, according to comScore.”

#sports #fox #si



As the premier video platform sees increasing competition from Facebook  and Twitter live video platforms, YouTube is looking to develop more social tools to help video creators interact with their audience. They are calling the new effort, “Backstage.” According to VentureBeat’s Harrison Weber, Backstage’s features will “live alongside the Home and Videos tabs within individual YouTube channels,” and content posted through Backstage will be included in channel subscribers’ feeds and notifications.”

#youtube #video



In programmatic advertising it’s vital to know what kind of data you’re using and whether it’s first, second, or third party. This ClickZ article provides a good primer on the differences and advantages of each. 

#data #programmatic



After testing the podcast waters with “Women@Forbes”, the venerable business publication is going all in with podcast network Podcast One. 

#business #podcast #forbes


World's Fair Globe photo (c) 2016 Martha Otis

Next to Now for August 4

The tomatoes are plentiful and perfectly ripe at the Union Square Greenmarket and the Olympics are set to start in Rio. It’s peak summertime and a terrific moment to think about great books, passionate readers, and finding new ways to connect them.


A recent Atlantic article on book readers looks at recent Pew data and finds both good news and bad: The bad news is that the number of American who opened a book last year (any book: paper, e-book, audio) declined . . . again. The good news is that the number of kids who read for pleasure has stopped declining and more American than ever are going to college. Book buyers correlation to education is very strong. It’s interesting to note that while education strongly correlates to numbers of books read, HHI above $50k a year is in the same ballpark for books read as HHI above $75k/year.

#readers #data #demos #HHI #education



In this New York Times article on Verizon’s purchase of Yahoo, Tim Armstrong, head of Verizon’s AOL unit, points out that the long-term advertising landscape does not have to be entirely owned by Google and Facebook. The article is a good overview of why Verizon’s been on a buying spree recently, and how their purchases line up with their efforts to become a viable third option for advertisers.  It’s also good on the potential conflicts of interest and privacy concerns that could have the FCC putting breaks on any effort to combine mobile, Web, and broadband user tracking. Watch this space.

#verizon #advertising #data



The United States Olympic Committee has put non-sponsors on notice that only approved USOC sponsors can use the “official” hashtags #Rio2016 and #TeamUSA. This is patently ridiculous and shows how the old “lock-it-down” marketing mentality is persisting even in new open social channels. If you want to participate in crowd-sourcing your message and communicating on open social channels brands (including the USOC) have to relax their commitment to “owning” 100% of the conversation. There’s no other way to have a conversation unless you want to take the world back to the U.S.S.R.  If you want to own the message, that’s perfectly understandable, but then you have to restrict your participation to the kind of marketing channels that let you have a one-way conversation with your audience. The Olympics are theoretically an event that’s about global openness and free competition. To try to reshape your message of the event with old-fashioned legal bullying is anti-Olympic, anti-American, and bad marketing.

#soapbox #olympics #social  #Rio2016 #TeamUSA



The IAB has released a study that shows how advertisers can win back the 26% of users who have turned on ad blocking. Not only are these users open to turning off ad blockers, the path to encouraging them to do so is simple to follow:

“Respondents who use ad blockers stated that the adoption of the LEAN principles (Light, Encrypted, AdChoice supported, and Non-invasive ads), which address a number of the tactics outlined above, would have the greatest influence in getting them to turn off ad blockers. For instance, results showed that men ages 18-34, who are the main ad blocking demographic on desktops, are also the group most inclined to turn off blocking if sites adhere to LEAN.”

Here’s Digiday’s detailed and helpful report on the study. The message is clear for advertisers: deliver ads that are contextually relevant, respectful of users, and fully transparent. These are principles Verso has believed in from the founding of our agency, and they remain best practices for advertising now.

#adblocking #iab



Instagram is feeling the heat from Snapchat. To combat the rising new social platform, Instagram has just introduced “Disappearing Stories” Now you can post an image to Instagram that will disappear after twenty-four hours, a direct crib from their competitor Snapchat. eMarketer has an article about the new program:

“’The temporary nature of Stories—on Snapchat and now Instagram—is just part of their appeal,’ said eMarketer senior analyst Cathy Boyle. ‘The way the short video clips and images are strung together chronologically over the course of a day allows users to step into the lives of their friends, a few seconds at a time. The visual and near-real-time nature of Stories makes it a compelling way for friends to connect, not to mention another way for advertisers to engage mobile users.’”

#snapchat #instagram


Tomatoes at the Union Square Greenmarket photo 2016 (c) Martha Otis


Next to Now: Things Are Looking Up

What’s the cause for optimism? Our latest readings on advertising and what it means for book publishers. The links below point to new intelligence on fresh data, smart research, inspiring creative, reader-centric design, and the potential for real world impact.



In a reminder that different platforms call for different standards, Snapchat is telling its video creators to pay close attention to the audio. This is in direct contrast with Facebook’s recommendation to create video that works without sound at all. They’re different platforms with different audiences and content expectations, so it makes sense to create different video for both. If you want to compare the platforms though, Snapchat says a recent study with MediaScience gives them an edge over TV, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. According to AdWeek,

“The study encompassed biometric testing to capture emotional responses, as well as eye-tracking and exit surveys . . . Snapchat says its ads garnered twice the visual attention of Facebook, 1.5 times more than Instagram and 1.3 times better than YouTube. When compared to those platforms and TV, Snapchat claims that its ads generated greater emotional response and twice as much purchase intent.”

#snapchat #social #video



In a recent blog post, Ben Evans does some smart thinking through the issues around mobile video and the problems of trying to compare TV ads with Facebook video plays with Snapchat Stories. They’re different animals with different metrics. Bonus video: Lyrical School puts it all in context for you with Run and Run.

#mobile #video #TV #facebook #runandrun



R/GA boils down Mary Meeker’s epic deck to the slides brand advertisers need to focus on. Here’s our boil-down of R/GA’s boil-down for book advertisers:

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With over 1,000 different audience segments to use for targeting, Pandora has been one of our strongest ad partners in recent years. We are pleased to note that their redesign improves on their strengths. AdWeek notes:

“The streaming-music service is introducing responsive mobile display ads that automatically adjust to a phone’s screen size and that live in the square space housing album art. The format, which also applies to images that accompany audio ads and first impression takeover ads, is a move away from pop-up ads. A second major update for the app is the introduction of muted video ads, which will allow advertisers to serve promos within a responsive display unit that can be unmuted and watched in full-screen view.”

Other aspects of the redesigns go even farther to allow users some choice over the ads they see by allowing users to swipe right to dismiss ads. Anything that enhances the user experience is good news for book advertisers.

#streaming #pandora



AdExchanger has more on the new units in this interview with Pandora’s group product manager Eric Hoppe.

#streaming #pandora #data



No, but it can feel that way, especially after reading the New York Times piece that suggests Google and Facebook take up 85% of total US ad revenue. This article from April suddenly popped up in our feed this week with comments and criticism from The Motley Fool, AdWeek, IAB, Business Insider and more. As mammoth as the two platforms are, it’s unlikely that 85% number is accurate. And while book publishing is certainly not representative of the larger advertising market, it’s worth noting that Google and Facebook advertising products are nowhere near 85% of what we run at Verso.

#facebook #google



Pinterest studied the effect of Promoted Pins on real-world store purchases:

“The study found that Promoted Pins drive 5-times more incremental in-store sales per impression when compared to other campaigns measured by Oracle Data Cloud, which include social media platforms as well as programmatic vendors and publisher websites, said Jon Kaplan, head of global sales at Pinterest.”

#pinterest #realworld


Photo (c) Martha Otis

Next to Now: Fall Harvest Edition

Just in time for the fall harvest, a host of new ad units are announced from Twitter and Snapchat . . .

Watch for “Promoted Moments” in the next few days. The ad opportunity will only be as successful as the platform that offers it. 

#social #twitter


More new features are coming from Twitter all the time, including video pre-roll. Publishing partners get 70% of the revenue:

So far, 200 publishers, sports leagues and television networks have signed up to run the ads in their videos via Twitter Amplify, including the WWE, MTV, Vox Media, Aol and HGTV.”

#social #twitter


But maybe that’s because we’re already on them all the time.



In Fusion, Alexis Madrigal offers a nuanced take on “The Deception that Lurks in Our Data-Driven World” that’s especially relevant for advertisers in the age of data:

“Take the ad-supported digital media ecosystem. The idea is brilliant: capture data on people all over the web and then use what you know to show them relevant ads, ads they want to see. Not only that, but because it’s all tracked, unlike broadcast or print media, an advertiser can measure what they’re getting more precisely. And certainly the digital advertising market has grown, taking share from most other forms of media . . . But scratch the surface, like Businessweek recently did, and the problems are obvious. A large percentage of the traffic to many stories and videos consists of software pretending to be human.”



For a cool $750,000, Snapchat will turn its new selfie “lenses” into an ad for your book:

“The Financial Times reports that the Venice, Calif.-based player is starting to sell sponsored “lenses” in the coming months. This will add to a new feature the app rolled out two weeks ago, which adds graphics like big eyes to photos and vomiting rainbows to videos. The one-day ad unit will reportedly cost $750,000 for big-ticket holidays like Halloween and Christmas and $450,000 the rest of the year.”

#social #snapchat


Advertising is increasingly taking advantage of personalized creative to boost engagement—whether it’s making sure the creative reflects the time of day, the location, or the user’s age:

“Among agencies that did use data for dynamic creative, demographic data was the most common type employed for the purpose, with 58.4% of respondents claiming to use it. More than half (55.3%) of respondents said they apply location API. Time and weather data were also used fairly frequently.”


Next to Now: What Are You Building?

A Week in Reading Book-Related Ad Tech, Link by Link

For the Week Ending May 1, 2015

New data on who’s gaming now. This has been true for a long time but it’s always worth reminding people (and by “people” we mean ourselves): teen boys aren’t the only one’s gaming. Also, there’s new data on how people are gaming, which is important to note:

Smartphones may have been used less than PCs and consoles among gaming households in the ESA study, but among the population as a whole, mobile is far more popular.



Laura Olin has been running an amazing, unclassifiable newsletter, every week something different, for a while. She’s just started doing it under the auspices of The Awl. Here’s where you can find out how to subscribe.



In the rush to reach audiences on mobile, don’t forget desktop. While a large percentage of purchase research is done on mobile, the bulk of online buying still happens on desktop—behaviors that point to the importance of cross-device targeting.



Snapchat’s Discover traffic drops. That’s not surprising. The question is how will it evolve as the platform matures.



“Creatives need more data” says this article lead—but what the creatives really say is that they need more time and money.



Is Joseph Mitchell still one of the all-time greats in creative non-fiction if his non-fiction was more “fiction” than “non-”?



Good news from Hulu: Subscribers up 50% in 2015, Total streams up 77%, New investments in content, Programmatic and Custom ads coming.



“At NewFronts 2015, BuzzFeed introduced POUND, which allows advertisers to track distribution across social media, and a new distribution analytics platform to show how videos perform over time.”



Do you have a strategy for interacting with readers during “micro-moments”?



With Viacom’s “Vantage,” is TV media buying getting the data boost we’ve been waiting for? “Vantage is a bit of like a computer dating service. The client inputs the sort of traits it looks for in a customer, and Vantage’s proprietary algorithm spits out a list of shows where the two are most likely to intersect.”

#tv #data


Amazon experiments with ads on Kindle. Among the new ad offerings, William Boyd writes a “brand-relevant” story sponsored by Land Rover, distributed for free on Kindle.



An interesting new mobile video ad unit—with content keyed to the article the user is reading. The more relevant tech can make our ads to users the better.

#mobile #video