The next job to be obsoleted by technology will be the copywriter, says Mark Duffy of Digiday. Your ninja can’t stop this!
Pinning down just what “native” means can be tricky. But we at Verso have seen concrete results in native units using images that suggest non-advertising content.
“Imagine if the advertising-supported ecosystem went away,” she said.
Linda Yaccarino, head of advertising sales for NBCUniversal, on what is needed to compete with Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, in an era of declining ad revenue.
After a year of Facebook Live, the New York Times sees fewer views but more comments.
They were supposed to be the next big thing in advertising: a kind of native advertising you could book and run programmatically. But the New York Times reports that those “Promoted Stories” style ads with rows of photos and links beneath articles are falling out of favor. While we’re fans of native advertising when it’s executed with an authentic voice, real content affinity, and true transparency, we’re not big fans of “native programmatic”—a concept that seems like an oxymoron at best. As readers continue to complain and high end website continue to notice how poorly click-bait headlines look on their pages, we expect to see less of this kind of advertising going forward.
OK, that headline is a little click-baity. Programmatic is livelier than ever, responsible for as much as 89% of overall banner ad buying by some counts. The question is really: has the word “programmatic” out-lived its usefulness? This “Op-Ed” by 360i’s Kolin Kleveno argues that the term is being used so frequently that it’s becoming meaningless. He argues that the true use of the term should point to two factors in a campaign—data-driven and automated—but it’s being bandied about by every ad tech vendor under the sun. That said, even if we limit the term to those two factors,it doesn’t narrow usage down much these days. With everything from applying an optimization algorithm to running ads in emails only when they’re opened, what’s *not* data driven and automated?
Reddit, the online community of communities, is introducing a new ad option that lets advertisers target users by the groups they frequent most. As Reddit is a passionate community, this is a great way to target users by interest. Because many Reddit users are also outspokenly anti-advertising, the company is wisely providing an “opt-out” option for all users. No advertiser wants to launch their product in the face of someone who would likely turn around and trash the product, just because it’s being advertised to him or her.
A post on eMarketer suggests that listeners still turn to radio for music, followed by owned music, and then by streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify. While radio doesn’t offer the campaign metrics of streaming services, it remains a great way to reach a broad and engaged group of people.
Instagram and Snapchat are the two most popular apps for Millennials and Gen Z. But how do they fare mano a mano? Adweek compares the two based on polling and finds that they’re neck and neck. Instagram doing a little bit better with ad recall, but Snapchat ahead by a nose in quality of features and perceived “coolness.”
In print. Just saying.
Columbia Journalism Review points to the massive decline in print ad revenue at major papers such as The Wall Street Journal—and how we’re seeing the real effects of those declines now.
photo (c) 2016 Martha Otis
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fall tree photo (c) 2016 Martha Otis
Spotify announced a new product — Vertical Video Ads — which allows advertisers to sponsor playlists. Users agree to watch the full video in exchange for thirty minutes of free listening. These kinds of ads are wins for the advertisers, the users, and the platform. At launch, the branded moments are based around six categories: chill time, workout, party, dinner, focus and sleep—each of which could work well for books from novels (chill time) to cookbooks (dinner) to lifestyle (workout). As with any newly launched ad product, the initial minimums are too great for any but the largest brand budgets. But with time, costs will come down, making this an initiative to watch.
“Universal Pictures, a longtime Snapchat advertiser, is among the first to test the Snap code marketing for its new movie ‘The Girl On the Train.’ Mysterious billboards will be showing up around subways in New York and Washington, D.C., and in parts of Los Angeles, according to Doug Neil, exec VP of digital marketing at NBC Universal.”
While the premise may induce a painful deja vu for marketers who went through the great QR code marketing hype of a few years ago, the fact that Snapchat is already being used and recognized by a sizable audience makes all the difference. For genres such as YA, a Snap to Unlock campaign could make a delicious teaser.
A new study of teens and people in their twenties shows that users in this age range care about content that can be saved and accessed later and expect ads to be relevant to their interests. Here’s more from eMarketer on the survey.
A new study suggests that more users are inclined to engage with an ad in the middle of the day than at other times during the work week. While ad exposure is valid throughout the day, mid-day is when more users are taking breaks from studying or working and so more apt to click on an ad.
Apples at Union Square Market (c) 2016 Martha Otis
In the FT, ad strategist Ian Leslie goes to battle with the notion that legacy media is dead and digital hypertargeting is the savior. Leslie cites the study that showed Pepsi’s decision to forego traditional advertising for a social media campaign delivered a large number of clicks and comments but very few sales. The FT goes on to talk about Byron Sharp’s provocative book, HOW BRANDS GROW:
“Sharp’s first law is that brands can’t get bigger on the back of loyal customers. Applying a statistical analysis to sales data, he demonstrates that the majority of any successful brand’s sales comes from “light buyers”: people who buy it relatively infrequently. Coca-Cola’s business is not built on a hardcore of Coke lovers who drink it daily, but on the millions of people who buy it once or twice a year. You, for instance, may not think of yourself as a Coke buyer, but if you’ve bought it once in the last 12 months, you’re actually a typical Coke consumer. This pattern recurs across brands, categories, countries and time. Whether it’s toothpaste or computers, French cars or Australian banks, brands depend on large numbers of people — that’s to say, the masses — who buy them only occasionally, leave long gaps between purchases and buy competing brands in
Not many book publishers have enough followers to employ retargeting, but for those that do, this article is worth reading to consider if retargeting is the best use of your limited marketing dollars. While all good marketing starts with the core audience, if you want to turn a predictably solid-selling book into a blockbuster, you need to reach beyond passionate, existing fans to a wider potential readership.
On his blog, Only Dead Fish, Neil Perkin picks up Ian Leslie’s thread and runs with it in his commentary on a “Google Firestarter” event in London, along with reports on talks by Tom Goodwin and Tracey Follows. Worth a read for a dose of what advertising strategists are thinking these days: invisibility, authenticity, and bio-integration.
In an announcement that included improvements to their paid model, Pandora also announced changes to their ad supported model: with opportunities for brands to sponsor more playbacks and skips. Pandora continues to lead in the business of offering listeners value in exchange for their attention. They have proved a strong partner for book advertising in the past, and this announcement makes it clear that they intend to stay that way in the future.
Adidas has seen much more engagement from their Snapchat videos than they have from YouTube. Here’s Business Insider with more details about what’s working for them on Snapchat, from experiments with Stories to Geofilters.
New surveys from various video measurement companies—including Nielsen and Limelight—suggest that 52% of U.S. users skip pre-roll whenever possible, and a majority do not like video ads at all. In fact, nearly 27% of users surveyed in the U.S., Australia, UK and Canada say that without an option to skip pre-roll they’d abandon the video they’d wanted to watch. So, while video engagement remains strong, it may be that paid ad resources are better put to other outlets.
So if pre-roll isn’t the answer to getting people to watch your video, is Facebook? While the social network has touted itself as the premier advertising platform for video, Facebook recently revealed that it has inflated its users’ average time spent watching video for the past two years. Here’s CNET on the controversy.
A new poll from the National Cyber Security Alliance and Microsoft suggests that many more teens use Gmail than use social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat—and even more (91%!) use YouTube. Here’s the link to eMarketer’s story about the findings.
Photo (c) 2016 Martha Otis: A view from the Park during the fall PAMA event sponsored by Goodreads, and hosted by PAMA president Christian Toth
While podcasts still don’t deliver the ad metrics of other digital products, evidence continues to mount that podcast advertising is effective. A new Edison Research study commissioned by the IAB suggests that 65% of podcast fans “are more willing to consider purchasing products and services they learn about during a podcast.”
Four charts from eMarketer show how Instagram’s U.S. audience is substantial and growing, that more than half of US millennial internet users are “active” on Instagram, how the app is favored by college students, and how their user base trends toward higher incomes among U.S. teens.
“’Instagram remains the king of engagement,’ with interactions that are ’10 times higher than Facebook, 54 times higher than Pinterest, and 84 times higher than Twitter.’
It also says Instagram users are considerably more open to what brands have to say on that platform, with 50% of users following brands. ‘Not all brands are benefiting equally on the platform,’ it says, ‘with the top seven brands in terms of engagement capturing 77% of total Index brand interactions over the past year.’
Further, a third of Instagram users made purchases on their phone, which makes them 70% more likely to do so than non-Instagram users.”
“Essentially, the concept strives to resurrect the 20th-century TV broadcasting model within the context of a 21st-century social network. Having just recently started testing mid-roll ads, Facebook Live wagers that viewers who log onto the site to see photos and updates from family and friends will not only want to watch live broadcasts — but will also stay tuned for the ads that scroll in the midst of the live programming.”
The two main problems: (1) mid-roll ads are easy for users to skip since it’s so easy to put down your phone during a break in the programming, and (2) there’s a distinct lack of quality control; even major publishers such as the New York Times are forced by their deals with Facebook to stream too many video hours to sustain high standards.
A recent ad fraud report cited by the Wall Street Journal suggests the most ad fraud happens with Google’s Chrome and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browsers. While both companies fault the study, it’s clear that since the two companies have the most users they also make the most attractive targets for fraudsters. While Microsoft has failed to patch security holes on IE (especially discontinued but still popular iterations), Google continues to work hard to try to stay ahead of the fraud where possible.
The Pew report on reading in America is out, with results in line with what we’ve seen in recent years: overall adult reading is slightly down, ebooks remain plateaued, and the core demos of America’s strongest readers remain affluent, educated women:
“In the most recent survey, those most likely to be book readers included women; young adults (those ages 18-29); [and] those with higher levels of education and higher household income . . . These patterns largely hold for overall book reading and for the different reading platforms – printed books and e-books.
“The average woman read 14 books in the past 12 months, compared with the nine books read by the average man, a statistically significant difference. The median number of books read by women was five, compared with a median of three for men, which was not statistically significant.
“Those with higher levels of education were more likely to have read multiple books than those with high school diplomas or less. The typical college graduate or someone with an advanced degree read an average of 17 books in the previous year, compared with nine for high school grads and three for those who did not graduate from high school.”
The first vertical video ads have gone live on Facebook, and the results suggest a 3x improvement in performance and efficiency. This might be simply an example of a format getting increased attention mostly because it’s new, but given how video and social consumption have moved to mobile, we do think vertical video is here to stay.
The New York Times reports on the continued importance of out of home advertising, even as online ads steal budgets from print and broadcast. The continued growth of digital innovation with billboards—both with creative and with user targeting—means the venerable ad platform is just as vital today as it was 100 years ago.
An article in Marketing Land points to a new report from ComScore that shows that two-thirds of all time is spent on mobile, and over half of time spent on mobile happens within apps. But while mobile has most total user hours, desktop still is king of the conversion. When the consumer is ready to pull the trigger, s/he still heads for the desktop. Here’s Business Insider’s take on the ComScore report.
Ceiling photo detail (c) 2016 Martha Otis
Venture Beat details how messenger bots in services such as Facebook Messenger, Kik, and more are changing the nature of how we can advertise, bringing the promise of 1:1 customized marketing closer to fruition. While current messenger bots are fairly crude, more nuanced bots are in development:
“A.I. bots with advanced brains . . . will change the advertising industry — both online and offline — forever. They can create and deliver completely measurable advertising campaigns that bring together all the elements of integrated marketing: video, mash-ups, voice, music, images, photos, personalization, and mass coverage on an individual basis. They do this by automating their analysis of ‘conversation logs’ generated in the code’s back end when you interact with a bot — with your permission, of course.”
On the heels of introducing its version Snapchat Stories, Instagram introduces a new channel called “Events” that will live within its “Explore” tab and allow for live video. Innovation or high-speed copy-catting, either way it will prove a serious entry in the live video market with Periscope and Facebook Live.
A study from Yes Lifecycle Marketing suggests that the best time to send a holiday marketing email might be December 12, 2016—a date dubbed “Green Monday.” A retail industry-created holiday like Black Friday or Cyber Monday, Green Monday falls on the second Monday of December:
“Only 10% of retailers deployed Green Monday campaigns in 2015, according to Yes Lifecycle Marketing, indicating that competition for the inbox may be lower than more popular retail holidays such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
Green Monday saw an average email open rate of 14.5% in 2015, while open rates for Cyber Monday email campaigns has an average open rate of 12.9%. In addition, Cyber Monday open rates fell year-over-year while Green Monday open rates have increased.”
eMarketer posts seven charts about the current state of Facebook: over-35-year-olds v. millennials, mobile v. desktop use, and more.
Corn at Union Square Market photo (c) 2016 Martha Otis
Highlights of the week: New announcements from Hulu, Instagram, and Nielsen released in the high heat of summer—with changes coming to the competitive landscape of video, social, and email marketing that are so vital to book advertising.
With this announcement that Time Warner has taken a 10% stake in Hulu, the major cable player takes a stake in the platform that’s a redoubt for cord-cutters everywhere. It’s a smart move by Time Warner, and provides more cash for Hulu to invest in areas that are ripe for expansion including live events and new content.
This article in USA Today reveals that Nielsen is now adding Facebook to its social ranking of TV shows. While Twitter remains a major player as a second screen to TV, any mention of social has to include Facebook. This shift makes the Nielsen social rankings much more relevant.
“Scale in users is great. That’s more eyeballs for ads served via AOL technology on the plethora of media properties the combined companies own.
“Scale and depth of data are even better. Verizon will have ownership of consumer data not only on phones and mobile devices; it will be able to pair that with consumer behavioral data from the media sites that AOL and Yahoo own.”
There are dangers with any merger that a confused transition can alienate customers, but Verizon’s acquisition of AOL has proceeded relatively smoothly. So this will certainly be a merger to watch for email marketers everywhere.
According to this insightful article from The Next Web, Instagram’s “Stories” spells trouble for Snapchat: Instagram’s bigger, better monetized, and easier to use for both consumers and advertisers. That said, there is something to Snapchat’s difficulty from a teenager’s point of view, precisely because parents can’t figure it out. As long as the Generation Z can claim Snapchat for their own, they’re unlikely to give it up.
User tracking is a major part of any marketing toolkit. As tracking has gone beyond desktop cookies to reach user log ins via Google, Facebook, and email, it has become easier to track users with a greater degree of confidence in the data. Digiday has a useful primer on the state of the art of user tracking across devices.
“In the second quarter, the average inbox placement rate was 79% in the second quarter, down from 81% in the same quarter a year ago and 82% in the third quarter of 2015.”
As email marketing grows in prominence, this is to be expected. It’s worth noting that Verso email marketing partner LiveIntent only counts emails that are actively opened and downloaded–making a LiveIntent buy the surest way to reach consumers by email.
Smart, clever, informative native ads are one of the most exciting growth areas in advertising. Digiday walks us through the process that has brought significant improvement to Slate’s native efforts. In addition to bringing a more Slate-style voice to the content, the new native ads are more transparent about the sponsorship. This is very important point with native advertising, and it’s worth underscoring: don’t try to trick the reader, be upfront about your sponsorship and s/he will be more open to the content of what you’re saying:
“Most people spend their time trying to avoid ads, but Slate found that on its more explicitly labeled ads, the click-through rates were three times higher than the previous units (though Slate wouldn’t disclose the CTR). The publisher also contends that average time spent on the new units doubled, to 4 minutes, 15 seconds.”
With over 100 million users worldwide, Spotify is the leader in a battle for listeners among Pandora and Apple Music. As advertisers, we have found that Pandora’s deep sets of user data and targeting mechanisms, not to mention their flexibility on price, has made them our go-to for book advertising. But with Spotify’s latest announcement, it might be time to reconsider Spotify for book ads. As reported in Adweek:
“The music streaming service announced today it will start offering programmatic advertising for the 70 million people using the free version of its platform. The Swedish company launched private marketplaces in partnership with AppNexus, Rubicon Project and The Trade Desk for buying both 15- and 30-second audio spots.”
More good options are always better for book advertisers. We are happy to have some new ways to target the Spotify audience.
The Guardian debuts a “surge news” ad product that’s similar to surge products from the New York Times and Washington Post. Given that surging news could be everything from the weather to a terrorist attack, it’s good that they are allowing advertisers to set keywords for any topics they don’t want to appear against. But for the right title, it could be a great way to be adjacent to the most relevant stories of the moment.
The long tail of the weird, the wild, the passionate, the hand-made is alive and well on emails thanks to services like Tiny Letter. With 100% opt in subscribers and open rates greater than 70%, these are audiences advertisers should reach for niche products—and there’s non nichier than most books. In the old days of the Internet we reached this audience via blogs through channels including the Verso Reader Channels. Now we get them via emails.
Hudson riverfront photo (c) 2016 Tom Thompson