Leveraging Geotargeting Effectively for Business

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Where targets live, work, shop, and are willing to travel to obtain a particular product or service all play an important part in how advertisers market to them. That's why advertisers need to harness the benefits of geotargeting to create customized, well-targeted campaigns. Geotargeting has the potential to almost double the performance of digital marketing, whether that's via paid search or emails.

If more control over who sees your advertisements is important, geotargeting is a must-have marketing tool. Consider these best practices for successful, targeted campaigns.

Reap Location-Based Content Rewards

There are numerous advantages to implementing geotargeting to connect with customers and encourage conversations and conversions. Equipped with data like a user's IP address, advertisers can personalize content and campaigns for specific geographic regions, tweak deliveries, and track offline sales in a certain location. What better way to segment ads than to appeal to diverse markets simultaneously?

While geotargeting helps to deliver offers or content tailored to a user's location, it even increases email campaign efficiency. This is particularly useful when advertisers want to drive in more retail foot traffic, credit online sales to email marketing, and direct customers to dynamic landing pages specially designed for target locations.

Geotargeting also produces a way to reduce operating costs. If you've ever managed paid search or display ads, you know how crucial it is to cap the scope of an audience. This is easily achieved with geotargeting to limit irrelevant views and clicks and avoid excess budget expenditures.

Exclude Areas Where Targets Won't Be

Excluding locations are just as important as defining them. Whether narrowing the geographic playing field by venue, one side of a street, or by local events, an area that's not specifically being targeted can be excluded, too.

For example, nightclubs or sports bars looking to target college students may exclude an area during school breaks or summer months when students aren't likely to be in the area.

Further, exclusion is an advertiser's friend when a cost-effective method is key to avoiding costly ad rates in high-demand target areas. Some agencies have found low-priced, larger area ad campaigns achieve the same targeting goals when opting out of all areas except the desired target location.

Use Location-Specific Keywords for Paid Search

Consumers often narrow searches down to a specific name, city, or district. "Nail bars near Rodeo Drive," "Miami coffee shops," or "midtown eateries" are search terms consumers are likely to use, and provides just the location criteria advertisers can target. Tourist havens, famous street names, zip codes, and popular venues are just a few location terms to use when you want consumers to find you.

Analyze Target Behavior Based on Previously Visited Locations

Examining a target's location history provides a wealth of information including shopping habits, online frequency, and modes of transportation to bricks-and-mortar stores. The data provide greater opportunities to deliver relevant location-specific ads, whether the target is in an area of interest or not.

Set a Perimeter by Radius or Time Near Areas of Interest

You can set a perimeter, or geofence, to target certain streets or neighborhoods to deliver detailed, proximity-based campaigns and notifications. Unlike geotargeting, which determines location based on user’s IP address, geofencing uses GPS to get a read on specific locations.

For example, a coffee shop can set a three-mile perimeter around neighboring apartment complexes to reach users looking to grab a cup of joe before heading to work. A perimeter can also be defined by time. Advertisers can take advantage of platforms offering mapping applications that allow mobile apps and sites to search by time instead of distance.

Since geofencing uses different technologies, there are some limitations. Its GPS-based infrastructure creates the need for user authorization. So, if a device's location services feature is disabled, geo-targeted ads won't reach the device. However, most users are willing to share their location if they receive something of value in exchange.

Gather Location Data for Facebook Targeting

Capture data on where consumers are willing to travel, not just where they live, and use it for:

●      Anyone located in a selected location

●      Anyone who lives in a selected location

●      Anyone who was recently in a selected location

●      Anyone who's traveling to a selected location

Facebook is the ideal platform to accomplish this. Get your ads in front of the right audience or set up location ad targeting for specific addresses. You can even refine an audience to targets who live in, have recently visited, or are traveling in a particular area.

Geolocation is a powerful tool to help advertisers add context to campaigns. Leveraging the benefits of geotargeting along with careful use of customer information and integrating social media brings advertisers an increase in customer interaction, conversions, and successful campaigns.

Determining the Right Media Mix for Your Ad Campaign

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Today's digital media advertising opportunities are more niched, numerous, and fragmented than ever before. Key target audiences are scattered on streaming TV outlets, online video sites, social media platforms, cable TV and elsewhere. The goal for marketers is to find the most efficient, accurate, and targeted blend of media to use in digital display, mobile ads, in-video advertising, web-only channels, and others.   

Let’s have a look at some of the elements that go into determining the right media mix for your next advertising campaign. 

Find the Right Media Mix

Using multiple advertising mediums to promote your products and services is often a great idea for a campaign, but it's important to get that mix right. Different combinations work better with different audiences. It’s essential that you understand your target audience to determine what media mix to use to use. The choices you make in your media strategy will determine how successful you are with your advertising strategy.

Here are two key thoughts for guidance with your eventual media mix: 1) defining your target audience with a reasonable amount of certainty, and 2) backing up your choices of media with accurate and current data of your audience's media consumption habits.

Define the target audience

Defining the target audience for your product or service should take into account basic demographic data like gender, income, age, location and education levels. You should also know who are likely customers for your offering. Your team can develop customer personas to further drill down on your likely target audience types.

Use good data to choose media targets

Collecting more data on your target audience increases your opportunities to see relevant media matches, across formats, platforms and time zones. This should be clean data. This data can include organic research, industry research, competitor audits and more. Learning how to gather, analyze and effectively use data is one of the most important tools in any digital marketer’s toolkit.

Check the data from media viewing research sites including comScore, Nielsen, and local network affiliates, depending on your product or service. Collect specific data on gender, income, and region. Using the right data can provide the insight needed to boost engagement among target audiences and increase return on investment (ROI).

Omnichannel approach

Marketers are increasingly adopting an omnichannel approach to online advertising. Instead of narrowly focusing on a few niche channels, advertisers are going wide across the board. This means using retargeting, web ads, email marketing, online display ads, direct mail, social media ad programs, and pay-per-click channels to gain the attention of online customers.

The ultimate goal in an omnichannel approach is to spread the touches with your customers. The more times they see your ads, the more attention you can bring to your product or service

Use different media effectively

Maybe your budget doesn’t allow for for a wide omnichannel approach. Maybe your target audience stays glued to YouTube sports clips every evening. You'll find this out by analyzing the YouTube viewer data for your preferred target customer. If that’s the cae, you can concentrate a portion of your ad spend on this particular platform. In another example, Instagram may be your preferred ad location if you are trying to reach a high concentration of educated adults across social media

While using different ways to advertise is often a great idea for a campaign, it's important to get that mix right. Do solid research, gain key data points and spread your campaign around different platforms to develop your next winning ad campaign. 

 

 

5 Ways to Take Advantage of Native Advertising

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Native advertising is more powerful than you may realize. This form of advertising is like a chameleon — a piece of advertising that seamlessly fits into its environment, whether that's social media, a video channel on the web, photo streams, or other forms of content.

Experts predict this type of advertising may well dominate the market in the near future, and for good reason. It gets more views, higher engagement rates, a higher lift, cheaper costs per click, and a better click-through rate compared to traditional banner ads. This advertising also performs particularly well among the coveted millennial audience. If you aren't using it already, the time to get into native advertising is now. Here are five ways to get started.

Choose the Right Ad Channels and Platforms

For most brands, starting with a list of where you want your ads to appear is the easiest starting point. But you should know that it's not an option on every channel and platform. Start by taking that list and highlighting the ones that offer native advertising. Then take it a step further to find the channels that best align with your brand and target demographic.

Align Your Ad With User Intentions

Once you've identified your channels, it's important to make sure your native ads are in keeping with what users are looking for on those channels. For example, if you're among the 48 percent of marketers running native ads on Facebook, you want yours to look like something users would naturally see from their friends. Likewise, if you're creating a travel-focused ad, you wouldn't want to run it on a gardening website.

Consider Design a Top Priority

Mobile-first and "designed to fit in with the channel you choose" are two key design elements that you need to consider. Mobile-first is essential to providing a seamless user experience, which is more important than ever. Additionally, it should look like other content provided on the platform. Ideally, it should look even better and be a step above what everyone else is already doing.

Provide Value to Readers

Quality, relevance, and positioning your brand as an authority go a long way to gaining users' trust and engaging with your audience. Entertain them, inform them, challenge them — just make sure the content is on point and providing value all on its own, which will ultimately strengthen your marketing message.

Run A/B Testing on Ads

As important as location, design, and content are in native advertising, you can't really gauge how well your ads are working without testing them. A/B testing is a great tool that lets you optimize your native advertising to make sure it's perfectly placed and contains effective call to action (CTA) buttons, the right shading and colors to enhance user engagement, and the right image size and ratio to maximize ROI. A few A/B tests to consider include:

●      News feed mobile vs. desktop

●      A/B versions of your landing page with different color schemes, languages, and tones

●      Test creative and messages on age ranges within your target audience

When it's done correctly, native advertising offers readers fresh content and helpful information while offering brands and marketers a new, exciting, and effective means to get their message out there. Great headlines, great platforms, great design, and compelling content all add up to huge success.

 

 

Is Connected TV All It's Cracked Up to Be? Yes!

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In recent years, mobile phone screens and desktop monitors have taken advertisers' attention away from running campaigns on the family TV. With more people cutting the cable cord and relying on internet streaming for programming choices, connected TV in the family room is moving ahead.

Connected TV is popular with cord cutters, or those who have ceased paying for TV services in the home. According to eMarketer estimates, about 33 million have stopped their subscriptions to a paid TV service. Another recent report, the "Q1 2018 Nielsen Total Audience Report," found that the average U.S. adult now spends more than 11 hours each day listening to, watching, reading, or interacting with some form of linear or digital media.

Connected TV is a key reason for the uptick in media consumption. While there might be some growing pains in the category, connected TV is showing it's living up to its initial hype.

Doubling Growth

In the past year, connected TV has doubled its advertising growth, overtaking the number of impressions over mobile devices. The "Q2 2018 Video Advertising Benchmarks Report" from Extreme Reach found connected TV had 38 percent of video ad impressions in 2018's second quarter. Those video ad impressions are mostly from consumers' preference for platforms such as Hulu, Netflix, Roku, Apple TV, Google's Chromecast, and others during the U.S. prime time of 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.

The anticipated growth of connected TV means a comparable increase in video advertising. But it will be online, through connected TV.

Analyst firm Forrester notes that all the big players, including Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google, are looking to a future in which consumers watch video online rather than on traditional linear TV channels. It will likely lead to a more fragmented video world. There will be more on-demand video content consumed, and more opportunities for advertisers to reach these fragmented audiences at different price and reach windows. 

Advertiser Benefits on CTV

Here are the benefits of advertising on connected TV:

  • It's easy to get ads seen by a target audience faster: Connected TV gives marketers and advertisers a more accurate route to reaching relevant viewers. Instead of aiming for large, general audiences, marketers can narrow their ad campaigns for a more relevant reach.

  • There are opportunities for specific targeting: Connected TV advertisers are getting more sophisticated about targeting methods, including first-party, third-party lookalike modeling, CTV retargeting, and cross-device targeting. This area is expected to grow in importance in the coming months. 

  • Ads are shown fewer times on CTV: Instead of a barrage of ads coming in between programming segments on traditional TV, ads on connected TV are fewer in frequency. This results in higher view-completion rates because consumers aren't overwhelmed by ads.

  • Connected TV consumers are in a more receptive, relaxed state of mind: Connected TV viewers see ads when they are ready for entertainment. Advertisers believe this increases the chances a brand's ad to make a good impression on viewers, compared to other platforms when this may not happen.  

  • Ads can become shoppable: Making connected TV ads more interactive and useful to consumers is a priority for online advertisers, as it's easier to build interactivity into ads over connected TVs.

Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu are all showing increased usage over connected TV. As advertisers catch up to meet these receptive audiences, the connected TV category looks to grow incrementally in the coming years.

 

8 Ways Bing is Important for Search

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Google may be the dominant search engine, but for advertisers looking to reach diverse audiences, there's more to search than Google alone. Microsoft's Bing search engine offers advertisers alternative options that might be right for them. In this article, we'll discuss some key differences between Bing and Google and outline the importance of these differences.

Growth for Bing

In Microsoft's fourth quarter, the company reported Bing's revenue rose 17 percent over the past year. Even though it's still dwarfed by Google, which owns nearly 75 percent of the search engine market, Bing holds a respectable third slot (after Baidu) with nearly 8 percent of search engine market share, according to NetMarketShare.

But Bing makes up for its smaller size in different ways. These are the kinds of things marketers should keep in mind when drawing up a well-rounded search strategy:

  1. Demographic differences: According to 2016 research from GML Consulting, Bing users tend to be older, wealthier, and well educated. For marketers looking for an affluent audience, likely connected to the Microsoft online universe already, Bing can be an effective tool.

  2. Search results: According to Search Engine Land, Bing uses an enriched basic search that goes further than typical search results. When you search for "movies," for example, Bing shows users movie options for streaming outlets such as Amazon and Netflix, as well as what movies are playing in cinemas near you. This asset shows increased thinking in Bing's search makeup.

  3. Easier purchase links: Bing tends to display "real-world context" results that allow consumers to buy goods and services more easily, while Google tends to offer results for consumers to learn more before making a purchase.

  4. Unique query searches: Unique query searches are high on Bing, meaning they're only displayed and found on Bing and users searching for them have a high intent to buy.

  5. Most relevant entity: Advertisers can use Bing Entity Search API to identify the entity with the most relevance based on the search terms used. This can be used to see the multiple entity types while searching for favorite local businesses, video games, books, and movies.

  6. Working with Bing Ads: Bing Ads is less costly on cost-per-clicks than Google's AdWords. There's also less competition on popular keywords, which can lead to better ad positioning and improved click-through rates.

  7. Bing for Business: By increasing its deep discovery tools in a more robust knowledge graph, Bing's Places for Business allows businesses to place more emphasis on its website's published content and data. This is another alternative to promoting a company's brand for online and offline consumers.

  8. Negative keywords: In Bing Ads, negative keywords don't negate targeted keywords. This is an important feature for advertisers who don't want their ads being shown when a search query contains a bid-on keyword but is irrelevant to the advertiser's business content and landing page copy.

The recent uptick in Bing's business shows its product improvements are working well for brands that use it. It keeps the competitive search engine market companies in deep discovery mode for adding new search methods, and means Bing's improvements are helping to optimize campaigns for business marketers.

What Facebook AR Ads Mean for Your Business

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Facebook is driving yet another advertising innovation with its recent launch of augmented reality ads. These in-feed ads leverage cutting-edge AR technology to make the ad personal and the advertising experience fun.

Generally, AR involves superimposing computer-generated images over real-world video or camera images. Facebook's mobile camera permissions will allow advertisers to offer AR video experiences from within normal-looking news feed ads.

How will this help a business? If it sells sunglasses, for instance, a static news feed ad showcasing a pair of designer sunglasses can now be overlaid with a "tap to try on" feature button that opens AR capabilities within the app and allows the user to see the sunglasses on their face in real time.

How Can Consumers Interact With AR Ads?

Facebook anticipates AR ads will present an experience that mobile phone users will want to interact with, increasing the probability of click-through conversions. Each tap to "try on" can allow your customers to sample lipstick shades, hat styles, or the latest jewelry trends without ever stepping foot inside the store.

Large furniture pieces, draperies, or home accessory products can be superimposed on pictures of the shopper's home taken with a mobile phone in real time, providing a level of personalization not possible with a traditional in-store experience. Easing into larger (and potentially more difficult to return) purchases with this immediate feedback can help build consumer trust and increase purchase conversions.

Marketers advertising experiences can consider offering "picture yourself here" ads or sharing interactive elements of the destination or event. Facebook users will be able to create static photos of their AR ad experiences for easy sharing with their friends, and all AR ads can be equipped with calls to action.

What Tools Will Facebook's Video Creation Kit Offer?

Facebook is launching a video creation kit to help businesses convert from static photo ads to the video-based news feed advertising that their users prefer. With just a few clicks, advertisers can upload existing images and add overlays and logos to build mobile-first video ads.

Video creation kit and AR ad availability will roll out to Facebook advertisers throughout 2018 in anticipation of the end-of-year holiday season.

 

7 Digital Marketing Trends to Watch for the 2018 Election Season

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 Political advertising isn't just about spending money — it's about creating a platform for powerful messaging to influence the voting process. Highly specific targeting is also necessary. These factors play a large role in shaping the trends in digital-political marketing, and that's just as true in 2018 as it was in 2008. Here are seven digital marketing trends to watch for the upcoming season.

1. Dynamic Database Systems

Properly code and build detailed databases to include demographic information. Data of this nature aid in identifying voting history or frequency. If possible, include data relative to voter belief systems. A deeper understanding of demographics in terms of digital marketing provides a broader range of information to segment and target voters from polling data.

 

Most of the information needed to establish an efficient database strategy can be obtained through field or telecommunications analysis. Surveys, polls, and petitions are alternative sources, too.

 

Using demographic information, advertisers can search or track data with greater efficiency. Then there are added benefits to targeting through:

●      Email list segmentation: Divide lists into categories — one devised of persuadable voters and the other containing enthusiastic supporters. Lists can also be narrowed to include volunteers, contributors, registered voters, inactive voters, and even political signage.

●      Fundraiser data: Zero in on donors and research their worldviews, which could be issues ranging from economics to abortion rights. Aim to push their response buttons.

●      Advanced data modeling: Build a dynamic database using transactional data such as contributions made to political campaigns and causes.

 

Don't forget that people change and their perspectives will, too. Over time you'll need to bring in new data, refresh old data, build new models, and update accordingly.

2. Integrated Multichannel Marketing

 

Synchronizing messages across channels to increase awareness, favorability, or familiarity is no different on the political landscape. Integrated communications allow advertisers to deliver consistent messages to targets of a defined audience.

 

Popular in every sense, the internet still brings advertisers opportunities to share through social media, websites, and mobile apps. For specific groups you are targeting, create immersive experiences via channels such as:

●      Video

●      Direct mail

●      Email

●      Facebook newsfeed

●      Banner ads

 

To amplify this strategy, customize messages across ads or email — for instance, by retargeting. It's a cinch when used in combination with dedicated, promotion-specific landing pages.

3. Direct-Response Content

Copy containing a cleverly crafted call to action (CTA) and unique selling propositions are essential components to highlight the benefits of politically infused campaigns. To further solidify your marketing efforts, add separate landing pages for each segment you're targeting.

 

Imagine this: Your marketing team creates spectacular offers and drives traffic directly to the brand's homepage. The problem with this? There's no way to target messaging or measure its effectiveness. Clear messaging delivered through multiple channels deserves dedicated landing pages.

 

According to recent findings, 48 percent of landing pages contain multiple offers. Attention spans are short, so stick with a single offer and CTA button instead. This ensures audiences are only focused on taking one action at a time.

 

Also, minor tweaks are sometimes needed to increase response rates. Adopting a test and optimizing strategy for use on the regular keeps the marketing machine running.

4. "Bumper" Pre-roll Video

Video plays an essential role in online advertising. The short, memorable messages that work in your favor when targeting voters are those featured on YouTube video, as bumper pre-rolls. Six seconds is all it takes to maximize your reach, and Google Ads offers an intuitive platform to create bumper ads for mini-messages that have minimal impact on the viewing experience.

 

Again, focus is instrumental. To get the most out of your 6 seconds, design three distinctive ads that focus on one element in particular. Also, a combination of music, voice-overs, emotion, and comedy play well in bumpers.

 

Using video-based content is effective. More interesting are the benefits of retargeting, when advertisers can target people who show interest. Once a viewer engages, they become the perfect candidate for dynamic pre-roll ads. This method re-targets viewers with the same offers or category of products in the same price range.

 

Advertisers can get creative and take more chances with short-form messaging — even more so with Trueview campaigns. Each ad can be distributed to serve a different purpose: one for deeper engagement and one for reach and awareness, for example. Also, video retargeting continues to turn convention on its head, all while generating high returns on investments.

5. Digital Audio

Yes, power still reigns in audio — specifically, delivery of highly creative messages to voters in their unique environments.

 

With the rise of voice activation and recognition technologies such as Amazon's Alexa and Google Home, audio is an emerging tool to reach voters of all backgrounds and ages. With music being a top entertainment choice for many Americans, consider using Pandora as an outreach method in the next voter cycle. It's a premium, clutter-free environment where voters are tuned-in and receptive.

6. Mobile Devices

Advertisers need to be where many voters are today — on mobile. Voters use mobile to watch TV, stream audio and video, check their social feeds, and play games. A shift to mobile advertising is important. Advertisers who embrace this strategy gain a winning advantage for future campaigns.

7. Influencer Marketing

Reaching a few targeted voters can prove to be more effective than reaching the masses. Employ this digital marketing strategy to reach and influence important leaders capable of taking on the role of brand advocates to deliver messages to larger audiences.

 

The benefit of political advertising? The influencer (person, brand, web page, or source with vast reach) has credibility with — and the ability to influence — an audience. The success of using an influencer depends on how well the influencer spreads marketing messages and the impact those messages have on the audience.

 

What's next? Political marketers need to take an audience-first approach to generate sufficient awareness and persuasion. Advertisers are poised to leverage these valuable marketing techniques in strategic ways.

6 Ways Advertisers Can Prepare for the 2018 Holiday Season

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The winter holidays will be here before you know it. That means it's not too early for advertisers to get their holiday campaign planning started.

1. Perfect Your Holiday Strategy

Developing a campaign strategy means determining the best way to promote your brand through the holiday season. Much of the focus is usually on the big holiday shopping days that fall just after Thanksgiving in late November: Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year's Eve can also be vital to advertising success, as each holiday has its own competitive advantage. Once you determine which holiday(s) are ideal for your advertising campaign, it's easier to put your plan into motion.

2. Create Holiday-themed Promotions

Talking to others gets your creative juices flowing so you can prepare holiday-themed promotions that can be implemented when the time comes.

One effective promotion may be offers centered around your campaign theme, such as discounts on some of your bestselling items. Offers can also come in the form of content specifically created for holiday use. For example, gift guides give shoppers inspiration. A few ideas include:

●      $15 holiday treats for coffee enthusiasts

●      5 gifts Mom/Dad will love for $50 or less

●      3 must-have gifts for kids for $25 or less

3. Look at Other Sales Opportunities

Not every holiday campaign is exclusive to Christmas. There are other shopping days tied to the holidays that deserve promotional attention, too.

Small Business Saturday is the day after Black Friday and two days after Thanksgiving. On this day, people are encouraged to show support for local businesses in their area. This is a prime opportunity for advertisers to offer shoppers big deals. According to a survey from American Express, which promotes Small Business Saturday, and the National Federation of Independent Business, 108 million shoppers spent $12.9 billion on Small Business Saturday in November 2017.

Another promotional opportunity for online retailers is Green Monday, which falls on the second Monday of December.  Back in 2007, eBay noticed that was one of its best days for online sales, so a "holiday" was born.

Finally, there's Free Shipping Day, an annual one-day event held in mid-December and targeted towards procrastinating shoppers who have to get their presents shipped quickly. This promotional holiday provides consumers with a way to buy a lot and save big on shipping charges, with a guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve.

4. Prepare a Marketing Calendar

With every marketing plan comes countless hours of research, refinement of tactics, creating a message, and cost analysis. What's next? A marketing calendar. A blueprint for the campaign launch process, a marketing calendar guides each stage, from initial planning to the precise time to increase online ad spending.

One thing you can do in advance is run organic campaigns on a platform such as Facebook Ads. Starting now gives you a head start to evaluate your audience to see what's trending, the content they're responding to, and the offers you think might be of interest to them.

When it comes to Facebook Ads, monitor ad performance regularly and make sure to follow Facebook's troubleshooting guide if there are problems. If your ads aren't getting results from consumers, you'll want to have time to rebound. But remember, according to a 2016 survey, 40 percent of U.S. consumers start their holiday shopping by Halloween.

5. Deploy a Social Media Strategy

Once you have your plan in place, it's time to get active on social media to get in front of the right audience before the winter holidays. Your marketing calendar comes back into play here. Think about what types of content you need to produce during the holiday season. Should you provide blog posts? eBooks? Be selective in your focus, because overwhelming your audience with holiday-related advertising to get them in the shopping mood doesn't cut it.

Your audience is likely to gravitate towards content that makes a difference in how they live or helps them narrow their holiday wish list. Engage with your audience and find out what it wants.

Get people talking, sharing, liking, and eventually buying. Have some fun. Ask your audience to share memorable moments with photos and the stories that go along with them. Branded hashtags for use on Instagram or Twitter keeps the conversation going.

Choose content guaranteed to solicit positive responses and then schedule publications for November through December. Don't forget to monitor all social media accounts, as performance is paramount to campaign success. Also, social monitoring helps track keywords to better respond to those commonly used during the holidays.

6. Review Previous Performances

Analyze which campaigns worked well in past years and determine what made them work. Like life itself, marketing trends change. You may have to dig through archives of data to find out which campaigns worked, which didn't, and which platforms affected visibility and reach.

Review past reports and use social media marketing tools and analytics to make prudent budgeting decisions. This will help to determine where your resources are best used for the upcoming holiday season.

Successful holiday campaigns are all about preparation. Be clear about what you want to offer and use the right approach to draw shoppers online and into your stores.

5 Things You Didn't Know About Connected TV

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Introductions to traditional television changed history, and connected TV has the potential to change television's history — especially when it comes to advertising. While it may still be finding its footing, there are plenty of benefits to connected TV, and understanding them may be one key to helping the platform take off.

1. More Mature Audiences Watch CTV

The average connected television (CTV) user is older than advertisers might think, and almost 70 percent of these users have children.

Though older Americans grew up watching program favorites on traditional TV sets, they aren't reluctant to try new forms of entertainment. Actually, mature audiences are shifting away from cable and broadcast television to watch programming over the internet in increasing numbers.

This new trend offers marketers opportunities to reach multiple household members — 2.6 viewers on average are being reached with connected TV advertising alone. Better still, connected TV ads provide access to decision makers and influencers within households simultaneously. This lays the groundwork to develop and deliver the right messaging at favorable times.

2. Audience-Based Targeting Has Potential

Connected TV targeting is advanced, seamlessly combining traditional TV and digital marketing. This allows advertisers to guide ads toward targets by demographics, interests, and geography. Advertisers can even narrow geographic targeting down to a ZIP code.

For example, viewers who use CTVs are required to log in with email addresses or universal identifiers via social media profiles. With the use of third-party data, a user's profile is completed based on device, geolocation, interests, online behavior, language, and more.

Specific audience segmentations are used to deliver relevant messages to brand-receptive audiences as well. Throw in sophisticated targeting, and advertisers find high-value audiences they can serve connected TV ads to through their IP addresses or device IDs.

The general idea is to build an audience segment of qualified users who have been exposed to the brand's CTV ad. Once achieved, these users are then served with related ads across multiple digital channels. Consistent messages across different channels and devices drive site traffic and profits.

In the end, success is possible for advertisers who have developed well-defined target audiences using data-driven algorithms — those outside of traditional TV buying parameters. Similar technology is applied to optimize the price paid to reach that high-value audience.

3. Less Is More in Advertising

With traditional TV, three to five commercials run consecutively, which effectively overwhelms viewers. More importantly, the viewer is likely to ignore or forget the commercials altogether.

Unlike its predecessor, connected TV commercials appear at a much lower rate, with only one ad shown at a time. When casual or TV binge watchers aren't besieged by an onslaught of commercials, they're more attentive. Viewers not only see an interesting ad, they also remember the brand behind it, and perhaps even engage. An action may not occur right away, but showing an interest is favorable since the viewer may become a future customer.

4. Lights + Camera = Action With Digital Video Ads

High-quality videos aimed at the right viewers in prime environments is a surefire success strategy. It's the future of video advertising, with enormous opportunity and relative acceptance among consumers.

Placing video ads on streaming service providers to reach an audience you wouldn't otherwise through broadcast TV is a no-brainer. It merely involves networking with companies that buy CTV ads from ad tech companies like MediaMath or The Trade Desk. Check out the local market too.

Let's say you want to broadcast a message to viewers highlighting a private school in a major metropolitan area. Using video ads comprised of aspiring student testimonials or scholastic achievements is likely to garner the attention of parents. Ads such as these placed on premium outlets like CNN and local news channels are viable media sources for consideration.

What are some other facts to consider?

●      Less fraud, since CTV is a closed, controlled ecosystem

●      Advanced targeting, enhanced survey, audience analysis capability, and dynamic ad insertion

●      Full-screen TV experience on large entertainment devices, along with co-viewing

●      Wider reach of cord-cutters

●      Closer digital format to TV commercials

●      Support for third-party ad serving and measurement

5. Digital Audio Ads Are Hidden Gems

You might think the audio market is irrelevant or antiquated. Surprisingly, it's the underdog that's poised to be the next big marketing combat zone. In fact, radio has a broader reach than TV and mobile devices, reaching an estimated 228.5 million adults.

Why not make an audible appearance on music streaming services such as Pandora, SoundCloud, Spotify, or local radio stations?

To get the biggest slice of this marketing pie, know your audience. Audio ads aren't limited to basic demographic details, so get specific about lifestyle preferences, location, and age. Knowing the audience gets advertisers closer to ideal choices in stations, markets, and time-of-day broadcasts during the targeting phase.

Since the audio medium differs greatly from video and digital, you not only have to harness creativity, but also choose words with caution. Another important factor is monitoring real-time campaign insights — always be in the know about when and where ads run to receive proper airplay.

For a broader reach across multiple stations, a marketing agency is a go-to aid to position digital audio messages on a variety of channels.

Connected TV advertising gives viewers the ultimate branding experience by allowing people to consume digital video content on TVs from the comfort of home, work, or play. When considering adding connected TV ads to your marketing mix, use them as an extension of traditional television buys, or as a complement to digital advertising to better manage campaigns across CTV and other devices at the household level.

Clean Marketing Data Is Critical — Here's Why

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Dirty data, or data filled with errors, leads to poor marketing decisions. It's a pervasive problem that affects nearly every business. After all, data is the cornerstone of the modern information age we live in — even more so in the new marketing landscape — which relies heavily on the complex information that's more readily available today than at any point in the past.

The volume of customer data collected every day is immense, which is why it's so common for companies to have, or plan to have, a large marketing database to corral all its customer data.

In a perfect world, collected data is used seamlessly to provide marketers with the insight needed to guide campaigns, make decisions, and target audiences for promoting specific services and products. Unfortunately, dirty data costs businesses billions of dollars every year and has far-reaching consequences.

To remain competitive, prioritizing data quality is essential. Adtaxi wants to spread the word with all the essential details you need to know, from what dirty data is to how to clean data for optimal results.

The Lowdown on Dirty Data

The Data Warehousing Institute estimates that businesses in the United States lost $611 billion in staff overhead, printing, and postage due to low quality customer data. The real cost goes far beyond that, as poor data quality frustrates prospects and alienates loyal customers while eroding a company's credibility.

So, what is it? The simplest definition of dirty data is a database record that contains errors. Those errors could come from inaccuracies that existed from the start or from changes over time. As TDWI points out, roughly 2 percent of the information in customer records become obsolete within 30 days as customers go through life changes including moving, marriage, divorce, and death. Data entry mistakes and errors that occur when source systems change is also problematic. 

Perils of Dirty Data

In truth, having great data is the foundation of any effective marketing campaign. It allows organizations to engage with their target audience and respond to shifts in dynamics quickly and effectively to get the most return on their investment. As mentioned, errors in the data making up your customer database can cost you. Some consequences of having bad data include:

●      Wasted printing costs

●      Inaccurate customer metrics

●      Tracking errors

●      Inaccurate marketing segmentation

●      Misleading customer records

●      Missed opportunities

●      Decreased revenue

 

Characteristics of Clean Data

There's more to clean data than simply making sure it's accurate. To judge your data as clean, it should meet five criteria:

●      It's valid: you can judge it as accurate or inaccurate

●      It's accurate, up-to-date, and as current as possible

●      It's complete: all the necessary fields contain all the necessary information

●      There's no duplicate information and there are no (or minimal) errors

●      All the data values are consistent — same time zone and same unit of measurement throughout the database.

 

How to Clean Your Data

Don't make the mistake of confusing data cleaning with data purging. You can have clean data without deleting old records, which can be useful for creating reactivation campaigns or generating scoring models. Instead, prioritize eliminating useless information with a multi-step cleansing process:

●      Complete a data audit to identify discrepancies

●      Set data cleaning workflow constraints as a team so the program knows what to look for and your team understands how to deal with anything that falls outside of those parameters

●      Execute the data cleaning workflow

●      Review the data to make sure it's correct and to manually correct anything as needed

 

To combat the changes that naturally occur, cleaning data should be an ongoing process for businesses and marketers alike. Collecting clean data from the start is a way to control data quality and reduce heavy data cleaning workflow.

 

The Top 10 Ways to Creatively Build and Develop Your Online Audience

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Building a successful online audience of loyal brand advocates takes time and insight into demographics. For brands and marketers to attract and maintain loyal followings online, leverage networks, platforms, and marketing strategies effectively.

Here are the 10 best approaches to identify and engage a qualified audience.

 

1. Leveraging Partnerships With Influencers Who Have Desirable Audiences

 

Looking to add another powerful layer of engagement? Want to be as relevant and credible as possible? Benefits abound when brands and marketers collaborate with established trendsetters with rock star quality and unique storytelling mastery. The key is knowing how to cash in on them.

 

Start with the right questions. It's important to have a deep understanding of the scope and future impact of an influencer's offering to ensure a favorable outcome of your brand's goals. From execution, data, and analytical tools to cost, disclosure questions help you identify and connect with the appropriate influencer talent. In the end, it's beneficial to you, consumers and the influencers, too.

 

2. A/B Split Testing Every Email Communication

 

Retaining customers is easier than prospecting for new ones. It's why A/B tests are critical to new email campaign experiments. To improve conversions, it's a cinch to run effective A/B tests when you:

●      Settle on what you'll test: For the best results, test one thing at a time. Some considerations might include subject lines, personalization, message layout, text, or images.

●      Test whole or partial lists:  To get an accurate account of email opt-in responses, start with your entire list. Go for partial list testing if your A/B test service charges per email address, you're trying something new, or offering time-limited promotions.

●      Know what to test for: Decide on what you'll test for before launching your emails. Review previous results from consistent campaigns or open rates for future improvements.

●      Use proper testing tools: If your email campaign software is devoid of support or built-in A/B testing, consider splitting your lists into two separate lists and send different campaigns to each.

●      Analyze your results: After running a campaign with two different email versions, examine the results of open rates, click-throughs, and conversion rates. This helps to lower the risk of losing sales.

 

3. Including Exclusive Information in High-quality Content for Expert Brand Positioning

 

To perfectly position your brand to stand out from competitors, you'll need to leave an enduring impact on your target audience. This is easily doable through a genuine mix of targeted content through different formats, mediums, and touch points.

 

Bottom line: Give the people what they want. Take the reader's perspective into account and ask yourself: Is it informative? Is it relevant? Does it offer value? High-level content is what attracts a large following, especially when it's entertaining, engaging, and useful.

 

4. Expanding Client Lists with Look-Alike Modeling

 

For marketers, the challenge to reach more of the right customers is real. The struggle oftentimes extends into tailoring new strategies to increase the reach to a larger audience — particularly with relevant advertising. Here's where look-alike modeling works to streamline the process.

 

This secret weapon defines customers most likely to engage with your marketing messages. Also, it extends your reach by analyzing the common behaviors or traits of current customers to capture new ones exhibiting similar characteristics. The strategy behind this ingenious method is to find new targets that look like your best customers.

 

Why use it? According to 30 percent of advertisers who reported using look-alike modeling, their results doubled or even tripled that of standard targeting. Given these benefits, two common approaches are sure bets to get started:

●      To build look-alike models from email or direct mail lists, work with third-party data providers to build offline model audiences.

●      When using online customer data (i.e, an active website audience) build look-alike models via data management platforms that house third-party data.

 

Even if you start with offline data for digital marketing, you can still reach your model audience within digital channels through mobile, video or display.

 

5. Determining and Choosing to Interact on Platforms Where the Targets Spend the Most Time

 

To grow your fan base is to know where your audience hangs out to absorb content and get social interaction. Once you begin to navigate platforms that are ideal consumer breeding grounds, you'll need three things:

●      To know where your audience engages with your chosen platform at all times, on any channel factually and in real time

●      Content management offering the ability to optimize, test, and scale content to identify critical components of the audience journey

●      Platform automation to distribute great content to build momentum, boost conversions, or page views

 

Take Facebook, for instance. It's the one platform known to drive an audience and site traffic. With its popularity, a brand can quickly make it a top priority, find a large audience, and define a content strategy and voice.

 

6. Providing Valuable Gated Content

 

To gain access to a name, phone number, or even an email address when looking to get contact information, you need to master the use of gated content, or information that a user must fill out a form to access. You'll find that it's not a matter of what you should gate, but more of the what and when gated content should be used. Whitepapers, ebooks, podcasts, videos, and product demos are a few optimal content sources to generate leads and build online viewership during the audience journey.

 

Time invested in gating helps to drive leads deep into a sales funnel, where they're primed and nurtured over time. Also, leads from gated content are much more likely to convert, which creates opportunities for high conversion rates.

 

7. Taking Advantage of Social Sharing

 

In an effort to extend your reach and gain more adoring fans, use social sharing to your advantage. If it's more tweets, likes, or pins you're after, make awesome content to compel people to share. Do this with enticing headlines, irresistible offers, humor, and visuals. Posting at the right times is an added bonus to capture more attention and drive up the ante in social shares.

 

8. Engaging With Your Audience

 

Once you've gained a solid footing in delivering interesting content, encourage comments and feedback. Engage with active followers and respond to inquiries, including positive and negative comments, in a timely fashion. When readers request more information on certain topics, publish articles or blog posts to address their questions or concerns.

 

9. Focusing on Organic Search

 

When consumers are interested in something they take to the web to connect with the information they need. Use targeted keywords in your niche and evergreen content to stay top of mind on a search engine results page when they're ready to buy. With this cost-effective approach to the "pay to play" method, you stay ahead of your competitors. Besides, consumers are more likely to click on the top organic results over paid ads.

 

10. Maintaining Interest With Retargeting

 

Sometimes customers reach your brand early in the purchase journey as a result of interacting with an ad, blog post, or some other means. In either case, they're often not ready to make a purchase on the first visit. Not to worry, they're just in the consideration phase.

 

Simply reconnect with them through retargeting. Target users based on specific actions taken on your site and offer value on commonly viewed products. Consider retargeting existing customers who've been unresponsive to emails. Get behind the power of lead-gen ads like the ones offered by Facebook.

 

Every aspect of building an online audience comes down to understanding customers and what motivates them. Armed with the proper knowledge, it's easier to use digital channels to reach well-defined targets, improve engagement, and drive sales.

Harnessing Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Predictive Modeling in Digital Marketing

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Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and predictive modeling offer a clear path for digital marketers to deliver personalized service efficiently and with ever-increasing reliability. But they're not the same thing. Here are the differences, and how they can be used.

What Is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

As humans, we're able to harness our natural intelligence to make predictions based on experiences we've had in the past. Say, for example, you've allotted 15 minutes for your morning commute, but in the last week you've actually spent closer to 30 minutes navigating through traffic and construction. You predict that next week will be the same based on these experiences, and modify your schedule to allow for 30 minutes in the future.

Artificial intelligence allows for a computer to make these predictions without your input. Based on the dynamic traffic and construction data available to it, an AI system can estimate, often with greater accuracy than human intelligence, the amount of time your commute may take, and then rely on traditional programming to prompt you to leave sooner for work.

How AI Is Used in Digital Marketing

AI takes a data-driven approach to digital marketing by analyzing customer patterns, profiles, and purchasing decisions to deliver personalized content that is relevant to your customer and results in conversions. Product suggestions and pricing can be based on data pulled from any of these dynamic sources for a complete customer-driven experience.

What Is Machine Learning?

Machine learning is a subset of AI that allows machines to learn and improve from experience without being programmed to do so. Returning to our commuting example, if our AI system predicted you'd need 30 minutes for your commute but your trip actually took 35, the machine could automatically change its estimate for the following day based on this new experience.

How Machine Learning Is Used in Digital Marketing

Facial recognition, natural language processing, and chatbots are three major areas where machine learning has created a marketing stronghold. Machine learning is also used to manage user-generated content (to flag or rank posts), to rank search engine results to determine which appear on the first page, and to determine which marketing activities have the highest return on investment.

It's also important to note that machine learning is responsible for filtering certain types of marketing emails to the spam folder, so it's even more important to send relevant emails that your customers want to read.

What Is Predictive Modeling?

Predictive modeling is used as a practical application of machine learning. It's a general practice that relies on using identified patterns to make informed decisions about future events. Predictive modeling existed before AI, but now can be used in tandem with these very large digital marketing data sets.

How Predictive Modeling Is Used in Digital Marketing

Predictive modeling allows a digital marketer to chart a marketing campaign's performance in real time, assign priority to sales leads, or rank product search results for relevance in real time.

With the vast amount of data now available to digital marketers, AI, machine learning, and predictive analysis offer ways to work smarter, not harder. A digital marketing strategy focused on improving the quality of customer data can result in actionable insights with ever-increasing reliability.

The True Costs of Implementing In-House Advertising

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There's been a recent trend among many brands of moving their advertising in house, as first reported by the Association of National Advertisers in 2013. Many companies cite faster turnarounds and lower costs as top reasons to make the move. Although the popularity of going in house hasn't yet reversed, an increasing number of brands are realizing the choice isn't always cut and dry, and that bringing advertising in house isn't always as effective and efficient as they initially believed.

As technology continues evolving and the marketing landscape changes, brands' needs and wants shift. Before you decide whether in-house or outsourced advertising is right for you, consider the following potential costs.

Costs of Recruiting Talent

Unless you have qualified team members ready to take the helm, forming an in-house team can cost more than you might think. Recruiting top talent isn't the only issue. Recruiting, onboarding, and training all cost an average of more than $4,000 per hire, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. Once you add each member of your in-house team's salary and benefits, you can easily see how the costs start piling up.

The Danger of Tunnel Vision

In-house teams do have an edge on agencies — they know their brand inside and out. But there's a downside to that, too. As a part of a company's culture, your creative team can get swallowed up by it and ultimately lose touch with your customers. Pepsi's 2017 ad featuring Kendall Jenner may well be the most spectacular example of the lack of perspective that can come when relying solely on an in-house marketing team. The tone-deaf message made this ad instantly out of touch with the reality experienced by the very audience it was meant to target, and the backlash was swift.

Lack of Innovation

Not to say that in-house talent can't be innovative, but your team will likely be focused more on developing the core product than on the latest and great digital technologies available. Heavy workloads and potential skills gaps don't help matters. Outsourced teams are used to the fast pace of digital marketing. Not only do they typically notice new algorithms and innovations first, they also have access to better tools and partnerships with digital giants than you may not be able to leverage with your in-house team.

Technology Know-How

Keeping up with the latest tech isn't the only thing you could be sacrificing. The amount of technological proficiency you need from a strong in-house team is substantial. There are so many systems involved in integrating distribution channels and marketing mediums. Your team may know certain aspects well, but still have a blind spot. For example, many brands end up outsourcing their video marketing even if they have an internal team, because of the challenges associated with producing high-quality video.

Ultimately, brands should consider their options carefully before making any decisions. In some cases you might find it makes good sense to bring most of your marketing in house, leaving the door open to outsource as needed for creative competencies you haven't mastered. But for many companies, outsourcing remains a strong go-to for cutting-edge creative talent that understands how to blend ideas with data and technology to best represent your brand.

Getting Smarter: Here's How AI Is Changing Digital Marketing

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the way marketers see interactions with consumers. It's becoming the way for products and processes to work smarter with more data and less human intervention. Put simply, AI is "intelligence" shown by machines rather than that of humans.

AI exists in making things work through a combination of machine learning, big data, and cloud computing. At AI's core are algorithms that are integrated within products and processes to solve specific problems. Over time, products using artificial intelligence can be trained in a variety of ways to learn from past examples.

AI in Digital Marketing

Each time humans interact with artificial intelligence machines, we leave more and more data to be parsed, sorted, filtered, and used to increase AI learning. With a wider range of data, algorithms can work faster on their analyses. This increased data collection is how digital marketers learn more about our searches, buying methods, among brand preferences, among other things.

More than 50 percent of marketers already are using AI in some form, according to recent Salesforce research, and another quarter (27 percent) of marketers will start using AI technology in 2019. Also, a recent Business Insider study noted that marketers are using elements of artificial intelligence to better plan and execute keyword tagging, segmenting and tracking in current campaigns.

For brands and advertisers, the big question for using AI is how it fits into their current processes. AI machines are great at sifting and sorting through incredible amounts of data for programmatic advertising, for example, but will AI learn to create stories using human emotions in ads?

AI to Anticipate Consumer Behavior

Data collected via artificial intelligence are helping marketers anticipate consumers' needs.

Natural Language Processing (NLP) is a promising area for the study of consumer behavior, and is being researched by data scientists and digital marketers. NLP machine-learning technology can find trends in patterns and behaviors, and help digital marketers to look past keywords and show online ads to people based on much more context. 

AI in Chatbots and Customer Service

Chatbots are another way that AI is changing how marketers interact with consumers using machine-based AIs. For example, HGTV launched its own chatbot named Hazel to interact with customers on Messenger or the HGTV Facebook page. HGTV uses its Hazel AI to share design-themed pictures and information to customers in the form of pictures, videos, and content. 

AI in Voice Search

AI is already being used in voice-activated digital assistants. Marketers are exploring how to use voice search for Amazon Echo or Google Home devices, and shifting their SEO strategies to include this new machine learning.

Google is also using AI technology in its search tools. When you ask Google, "How old is Drake?" the search box below automates related questions to you based on your initial query about Drake's age.

AI in Data and Demographics

Successful AI-based machine learning is dependent on large sets of data, and uses those data sets to specialize in specific demographics data collecting and targeting. As digital marketers collect more data through AI experiences, brands can use that data to gain more organic traffic from potential buyers.

AI in Image Recognition

AI is advancing the use of image recognition for easier creation of ads/social media posts.  Facebook recently experimented on Instagram with learning tools to create higher accuracy rates for image recognition. Facebook engineers were able to train image recognition networks using hashtags, and ended up achieving an 85.4 percent accuracy rate.

Google, too, is using AI to enhance image recognition with its Cloud AutoML Vision. It's an AI-assisted tool to let enterprises, brands, and agencies create custom ML models for image recognition. Brands with thousands of product images can use machine learning models for image recognition to avoid having to do this work manually.

Ask and Receive: 5 Ways Smart Speakers Are Shifting Shopping Experiences

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Smart speakers — those voice-activated digital assistants in your home or office — are changing the way people interact with news and information and how they buy goods and services. Launched within the past few years, these devices from Amazon, Apple, and Google have outgrown their early "fad' status, and have made a dramatic impact on consumers' lives.

Gone are the days of writing date reminders on your kitchen calendar or jotting down reminders on Post-It notes affixed to your computer screen. Now, notes Google, nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of smart speaker owners make their digital assistants part of their daily routine. Last year, users directed their voice devices to check weather and commuting routes, sports scores, and news updates while streaming music and radio. Now, increasing numbers of people are using voice devices to make online purchases with their Amazon, Google, or Apple-connected accounts.

Transforming Consumer Shopping Habits

A recent study from shopping analytics firm Narvar found that 42 percent of voice device owners use voice devices to make purchases — that's a big jump from the 29 percent of smart speaker owners from six months ago. The increase is due to more routine usage and familiarity of the voice-activated devices. As a way of comparison, do you remember when consumers were skittish to place shopping orders online over the internet? As usage increased and security measures got better, online shopping took off in numbers and sales. Expect the same here.  

You can now plug in a Google Home device, click over to Walmart Voice Shopping and make purchases directly using voice commands. If you use Amazon Echo, you can ask Alexa to update your grocery shopping list as you remember needed items.

More consumers are using voice-activated devices, and more marketers are creating new opportunities on the platform. It's time to see what early impact is forming around shopping patterns via voice devices.

Let's look at five ways voice-activated assistants are shifting our shopping experiences.

People are spending more time with voice-activated shopping experiences. A March 2018 study by OC&C Strategy Consultants found smart speaker devices have become more common in family homes, and usage is more prevalent. Accordingly, purchases made through voice-activated devices will rise sharply, and may hit $40 billion in sales by 2022. This increased time by consumers using voice-activated shopping will likely result in less time engaging with our mobile phones and the web via desktop, tablets, and laptops.

More people are creating lists to do their voice shopping. Amazon Echo users can now create lists for anything. "Alexa, create a list" is all it takes to create lists for such things as important family dates, school project tasks, grocery shopping lists, holiday shopping lists, or similar lists. Using voice devices to create shopping lists can also help later for certain product discovery.

There's no visual branding with voice shopping. It's an audio play. Shoppers have far fewer opportunities to interact with visual branding when shopping by voice. In fact, the visual aspect is almost completely missing from the voice shopping experience. Will this harm sales that rely on visual allure? Can it help generic items that are well known by name?

There is less product variety offered via voice shopping. A recent Google Home survey showed that more than half (52 percent) of voice-activated speaker owners say they'd like to get information from brands on promotions, sales, and deals about products and services. As the opportunities build for brands and marketers to pitch their goods directly to smart speaker owners, it could be only a matter of time before device owners are ordering from "suggested' items" rather than a wide selection of goods in a certain product category. Could this create a shopping environment where the major category players win out over the lesser known brands? At least some seem to find it possible.

More automated returns will be processed using voice shopping. The returns process for consumers may become more automated and streamlined over time. Voice shoppers will get speaker reminders about product deliveries and returns. If you're dissatisfied with an item bought via your voice-activated device, you'll be able to return it with return labels already sent to your email address.

Figures of Speech: How Smart Speakers are Changing Search

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Voice search is becoming a big part of the lives of web users who as looking for information or  searching for products and services. One big reason why is due to voice recognition accuracy, which is now up to about 95 percent, according to Google. This advancement in artificial intelligence technology has created growth in the "smart speaker" industry.

The Amazon Echo launched in mid-2014 and almost overnight created the smart speaker category. Today, all the top tech and electronic companies offer a smart speaker. Voice-activated search on these types of speakers has become part of the daily routine for those who have one.

Nearly three-quarters of those who own voice-activated speakers say they use the devices daily, according to Google, and more than half of people age 55 and older say being able to search using smart speaker empowers them to seek out answers and information.

How does this affect consumer search and marketers' techniques for search? One such area to consider is the increase in semantic search queries. Semantic searches are more about finding the context and meaning of a person's search request rather than just focusing on the keywords. Voice-activated searches have become more commonplace, and that's helping to build more semantic searches.

Let's look at a few areas where voice search is having an impact on marketing methods:

●      Higher numbers of casual searches: People today don't have to reach into their pockets for their phones to do a search. Instead, they can call out a query in their living room. This added convenience is leading to higher volumes of casual searches ("Hey Alexa, where can I get a pizza on sale today?") and meets customer needs more quickly, so marketers have to be ready to respond.

●      More data and personalization: Marketers are able to see and collect more data on users than ever before. People are using multiple accounts on multiple devices, which is giving device owners more data to offer to marketers. Because of this, the future likely includes more product customization and in-depth search personalization.

●      More audio searches, less visual branding: Smart speakers today are voice-only ("screenless searches,") lowering the visual component of branding used in search visibility and rankings. Marketers need to consider future search terms that are simple to speak and easy to announce for clear searches. 

●      Optimizing for voice marketing: Marketers need to review segments and stages in the existing customer journey. Where does voice marketing fit in for the brand? Google recognizes voice in short search queries and voice engagement tasks. Marketers will have to adjust their schema markups to make the transition in this evolution, though one study notes that schema may not play such a key role in voice search.

●      High domain authority matters: Voice search may rely more heavily on the authority of a domain for its answer, as it's giving users only one key answer. The higher the domain authority, the more confidence Google feels in providing that answer. This differs from a traditional web search that offers 10 URLs on page one of Google available for users to check.

Voice-activated search over smart speakers continues to evolve, and it's important for marketers to stay on top of this fast-growing segment.

A Job Well Done: 5 Interesting Facts About Labor Day

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We celebrate it every year on the first Monday in September — barbecues, last-minute vacations, and a farewell to summer are common themes among Americans celebrating Labor Day.

At Adtaxi, we believe people matter just as much as technology. We even made that part of our mission statement. That's why we want to honor the people behind this national holiday and the blood, sweat, and tears they poured into their work so we could all enjoy what we have today. It's more than just an excuse for a weekend getaway or a blowout barbecue. Check out these five fascinating facts about Labor Day's little-known backstory.

The Labor Movement Started Way Before Labor Day

During the earliest days in America, workers suffered in terrible conditions. There was no minimum wage law. Workers were lucky to make enough to put food on the table. Long hours and dangerous, dirty conditions were the norm. Kids as young as five years old would work in factories and mines to help feed their families. The labor movement really kicked off with a strike that took place in 1768 in protest of wage reductions to New York journeymen tailors.

Labor Day (Probably) Didn't Start in the U.S.

Like anything else, there's disagreement about who came up with the idea of Labor Day. But one thing's certain: Canada beat the U.S. by about a decade. The first Canadian Labor Day was held in Toronto in 1872 as a demonstration demanding workers' rights. The idea quickly became popular, and the first Labor Day demonstration in the United States was in 1882.

The First Labor Day Was a Parade (and a Protest)

The idea to create a movement to honor workers started gaining popularity in the early 1880s and the first Labor Day in the U.S. was planned by the Central Labor Union and held in New York City on September 5, 1882. Roughly 10,000 workers chose to take unpaid leave to participate in a parade from City Hall to Wendel's Elm Park at West 92nd Street and what is now Columbus Ave. The event culminated in a concert and speeches in the park, all part of the workers' protest demanding the end of backbreaking 12-hour days, seven-day work weeks, and a lack of basic rights and protections.

Oregon Was the First State to Make it a Holiday

What we now know as a holiday wasn't always a holiday. That first labor protest parade inspired other regions to start holding their own parades. Oregon was the first state to declare "Labor Day" a holiday in 1887. Congress passed an act making it a legal holiday in every state and the District of Columbia on June 28, 1894. That's also when it was established as the first Monday in September every year.

It's a Real Celebration

What started as a movement to improve conditions and celebrate American working people evolved into more than just a parade. We still celebrate the achievements and contributions of everyone in the U.S workforce, but Labor Day also marks the unofficial end of summer. That's also where the fashion rule "no white after Labor Day" started. The rich population in the Victorian era would return from their summer vacations and store their white summer clothing for the next year in preparation for returning to work and school.

Labor Day is among the biggest shopping days of the year. It's a big day for businesses of all kinds, but it also has some fascinating history behind it. Whether you celebrate with a big backyard bash, heading out of town or going to a parade, send off summer in style.

 

6 Ways Amazon Has Changed Buying Behaviors

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Consumers love to shop online because it's easy, comfortable, and often comes with a significant price savings. It hasn't always been this way, but over the last 20 years Amazon has successfully changed the way people shop all over the world.

The world's largest online retailer has grown from its humble bookselling beginnings to influence nearly every aspect of the consumer buying experience, from browsing to ordering to returning. Here's a look at the top six ways Amazon has changed buying behaviors:

1. Checking Amazon First and Last

Running low on printer ink? You might reach for your phone to check Amazon's replacement price before considering another retailer. Have those ink prices made you consider buying a new printer? A bigger purchase might prompt you to consider "showrooming," or getting a feel for the printer at a brick-and-mortar store before ordering it online for a lower price.

2. Shopping by Voice

With the introduction of Amazon's Alexa, the company has become a major player in making it possible for people to shop by voice. Now there's no need to even lift your phone to order that replacement printer ink. Just tell Alexa and it will show up at your door.

3. Buying Groceries Online

The convenience of shopping online has disrupted weekly trips to the grocery store with Amazon Prime, Prime Now, and the Whole Foods merger. Consumers are increasingly ordering both perishable and non-perishable groceries online for quick pick-up or home delivery.

4. Buying Clothes Online

Prime Wardrobe makes it easy for people to purchase clothing online by decreasing the time spent finding the right item and returning any wrong items. Consumers are growing increasingly likely to purchase higher quantities of clothing at a time due to the ease of returns.

5. Ease of Returns

Whether it's clothing, furniture, or a simple book, Amazon has streamlined the return experience to ensure a return is almost as simple to make as a purchase. By simplifying a return to just a few clicks, buyers are more likely to make a purchase with which they'll be satisfied.

6. Endless, Searchable Aisles

Brick-and-mortar stores are physically limited to the number of different products they have available for purchase. Through their extensive network of warehouses and other drop-shipping practices, Amazon offers a seemingly unlimited selection of items that is searchable with a single click, rather than hunting through a crowded store.

While many of these changes may feel sudden, Amazon has been influencing consumer buying behaviors since 1994, allowing the company to affect an entire generation of purchasing decisions. Traditional retailers today are challenged to build a response to Amazon's disruptions by listening to the needs of their customers, whether it's through an exceptional in-store experience, a desirable loyalty program, or a curated product selection that can't be replicated.

10 Must-Visit Digital Marketing Events for Fall 2018     

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When summer vacations end, work begins again. That means it's time for digital marketers and online advertisers to decide which events to attend during the autumn digital marketing conference season.

Digital marketing conferences hold fantastic opportunities to expand your professional network, learn new ways to tackle current challenges, and uncover techniques, tactics, and tips to help you become a better all-around digital marketer.

We've checked the U.S. digital marketing conference calendar for the remainder of the year, and we're most excited about these 10 must-visit conferences. These industry events can help you learn new methods from top executives in digital marketing, online advertising, content marketing, search engine optimization, and mobile marketing. Here's what you should know before you register.

September 2018

September 4-7           INBOUND 2018 / Boston

INBOUND is a big show, with over 20,000 attendees expected. That's a lot of marketers for meeting and sharing ideas. From creating brand stories and building high-volume lead generation to learning how to leverage your data for revenue generation, it's all here.

September 13-14       Digital and Content Marketing Summit / San Francisco 

Forward-thinking marketers will attend this San Francisco conference to learn new insights about content marketing's role in the marketing mix, find authentic online engagement, and seeing how virtual reality (VR) and digital storytelling might change the future of marketing.

October 2018

October 7-9                &THEN Conference / Las Vegas

Marketers, directors, and account managers will head to Las Vegas in early October for the DMA's annual &THEN conference to learn about disruptive creation methods, tech data insights for advertisers, and digital marketing techniques for the business landscape.

October 8-9                Swivel Digital Marketing Conference / Bend, OR

Swivel wants those attending its SEO and marketing conference to recharge and refresh themselves at this year's show in the mountains of western Oregon. Top tech companies will be on hand to show off new methods and technologies, and attendees will learn about new social media tools and SEO software capabilities.

October 16-18            PubCon 2018 / Las Vegas 

If you're an internet publisher, then PubCon is the professional web publishing conference for you. Now in its 18th year, Pubcon brings together SEO executives, web publishers, and content marketers to figure out the next steps for success in the web publishing world. Agenda topics this year include marketing subscriptions, advanced PPC, Facebook ads, and SEO for content marketing. 

October 24-25            SMX East / New York City

Search Marketing Expo East is run by Search Engine Land (the leading SEO industry website) and dedicates itself to being focused on search marketing and its place within the overall marketing mix. Content topics will include mobile-first SEO, web speed, SEO crawling, and SEM targeting. Digital marketers and online advertising pros who understand SEO will feel right at home here.

November 2018

November 4-7            UnGagged Las Vegas / Las Vegas

UnGagged offers topical sessions in all things SEO and digital marketing, including sessions on content marketing, influencer marketing, social links, and managing brand reputation. Video recording devices are banned from the speaker sessions, allowing for premium content to be shared by attendees only. 

November 7-8            DMWF North America / New York City

Those attending this New York conference will mingle with 1,000-plus other marketers to learn tips and insights about content marketing, data analytics, digital strategy, e-commerce, brand recognition, and newer issues surrounding mobile marketing, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality.

November 13-16        B2B Marketing Forum 2018 / San Francisco

This MarketingProfs event brings together the brightest B2B marketers to share digital marketing and advertising strategies for B2B email, account-based marketing, pipeline generation, content marketing, and B2B SEO strategy.

November 14-15        Internet Summit / Raleigh, NC

Executives from Facebook, Square, Gartner Consulting, The Onion, Bit.ly, and other leading tech companies highlight the speaker list at this year's conference. This tech summit will showcase sessions on engagement and conversion, B2B/B2C marketing, user experience and design, mobile strategies, content, social media, and brand storytelling.

November 28             Intrigue Summit / Miami

With more than 200 speakers, the one-day Intrigue Summit will offer content on marketing strategy. This conference encourages audience participation in discussions about sales, marketing, and digital strategy issues and challenges. 

December 2018

December 11-12        Growth Marketing Conference / San Francisco

Executives from Lyft, Dropbox, Spotify, and others will tackle topics including finding growth and innovation through unique B2B marketing methods, storytelling through brands, and finding data models.

Building Trust Using Customer-Centric Approaches in Marketing

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In [A1] the competitive environment of business marketing, more and more brands are working to adopt a customer-first philosophy. In the past, marketers focused their efforts on boosting revenue or site traffic with flashy ads bragging about the wonders of their products. But this hasn't attracted customers in the most effective way.

Today's technology has changed the game. Consumers are more empowered and prepared to take their buying power into their own hands, and those flashy ads aren't cutting it anymore. Consumers want to know about the value that the brand and product offers them, and how it can help them do things better.

How can you create customer-centric marketing campaigns? Adtaxi has five tips to help you start building consumer trust and boosting your conversions.

Organically Attract Customers With Inbound Marketing

Outbound [A2] marketing (think magazine ads and direct mail) is all about getting people's attention to garner interest in your product. But today's buyers are more likely to seek knowledge and find solutions on their own than they are to respond to outbound marketing. That's where inbound marketing comes into play. This strategy transforms your brand into consumers' go-to resource by providing them with the information they need when they want it. These consumers then become more likely to buy from you when they're ready to do so.

Provide Actionable Advice

For [A3] this to work, stick to creating content that puts your audience's needs and interests first. The content shouldn't be about your sales pitch. Instead, focus on creating high-quality content that's well researched, visually friendly, and on point with the issues your target audience cares about.

While you should include a subtle product pitch or call-to-action, the content itself shouldn't feel like readers are being sold something. Instead, that should feel like an afterthought added to a piece that stands on its own merit.

Integrate Customer Engagements

Just [A4] as you want to create a seamless customer experience across all your platforms, you also want to create a single, seamless conversation with your customers to provide long-term value while building trust. To make this happen, all your marketing silos should be integrated. That way, when a customer makes a purchase on his or her mobile device, he or she won't continue getting ads for the same thing on a desktop.

Have Honest Interactions

Your [A5] customers can be your most effective salespeople. Word-of-mouth marketing is powerful, especially in the age of social media, where customers can read reviews from anywhere in the world at any time. Part of that process includes having honest interactions with consumers when you're providing customer service, asking for feedback, or engaging with people on social media.

Create Goal- and Behavior-Based Buyer Personas

Buyer [A6] personas are nothing new. Traditionally, businesses have used them to profile the markets they're targeting with different consumer segments. But when brands create both goal- and behavior-based buyer personas, the emphasis switches to helping buyers across multiple segments based on their goals, attitudes, and behaviors, which organically shifts marketing to customer-centric strategies.

To be effective, brands need to truly understand their customers, and use the data available to deliver marketing efforts personalized to fulfill their customers' needs and solve their pain points. After all, that is what customers want to know more about. Making the shift to truly customer-centric marketing delivers great results – just wait and see!

 [A1]Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielnewman/2015/02/17/marketing-building-a-customer-centric-marketing-eco-system/#2e4cece31cb2
https://digitalmarketinginstitute.com/en-us/the-insider/how-to-succeed-with-a-customer-centric-marketing-strategy
https://www.forbes.com/sites/christinecrandell/2015/10/09/going-beyond-customer-centric-marketing/#722c7d9d5278
 [A2]Source: https://digitalmarketinginstitute.com/en-us/the-insider/how-to-succeed-with-a-customer-centric-marketing-strategy
https://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2016/06/08/is-your-content-marketing-strategy-customer-centric-heres-why-it-needs-to-be/#5fa60673422c
 [A3]Source: https://www.ngdata.com/expert-tips-on-creating-a-customer-centric-marketing-strategy/
https://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2016/06/08/is-your-content-marketing-strategy-customer-centric-heres-why-it-needs-to-be/#5fa60673422c
https://www.crazyegg.com/blog/make-your-content-actionable/
 [A4]Source: https://www.ngdata.com/expert-tips-on-creating-a-customer-centric-marketing-strategy/
 [A5]Source: https://digitalmarketinginstitute.com/en-us/the-insider/how-to-succeed-with-a-customer-centric-marketing-strategy
https://www.ngdata.com/expert-tips-on-creating-a-customer-centric-marketing-strategy/
 [A6]Source: https://www.ngdata.com/expert-tips-on-creating-a-customer-centric-marketing-strategy/