Weekly Digital Breakdown

Twitter Increases Efforts to Thwart Cyberbullies

Cyberbullies beware, Twitter has appointed themselves the new sheriff in town. As concerns have mounted about abusive tweets and the reliance on other users to report offensive behavior, Twitter will now be preemptively deleting tweets it deems unacceptable. In addition, they will also be more closely monitoring new accounts created by previously suspended users and once again removing their access in an effort to silence harassers.  

With keyboard warriors gaining confidence behind anonymous handles and relentlessly harassing those with differing opinions, Twitter is working to detoxify the platform to provide a better user experience. To further combat trolls, they will also be testing a mute button that will allow users to hide replies to their tweets as they deem necessary.  

The abusive behavior found on Twitter not only impacts users, but is a growing concern for advertisers.  Brands want to distance themselves from offensive tweets or controversial topics as to not segregate their audience. These additional efforts will provide an added level of security.

This news is a big step toward proactively providing a safer environment on Twitter for all. With algorithms in place as well as real people monitoring online behavior, the platform is already seeing a significant reduction in user alerts of abusive behavior.

https://adage.com/article/digital/twitter-begins-purging-offensive-tweets-testing-mute-button/2165076

Facebook Improves Management for Advertisers

Good news for Facebook advertisers.  A rollout began this week introducing improvements to Ad Manager, the interface used for campaign set-up .  The update includes simplified design and navigation to streamline campaign management. It will provide more visibility into campaign breakouts and performance as well as flexibility with ad-level creative and placement editing tools.  

The announcement also included plans to update Facebook Business Manager later this year to increase campaign setup efficiency for agencies. The changes will include easier onboarding, enhanced features for historical reporting and new organization processes for assets to allow easier accessibility for approved users.

The updates are intended to streamline campaign management. These modifications combined with the recent introduction of the cost cap bidding strategy exemplify Facebook’s efforts help advertisers focus on a combined goal of driving conversion volume and controlling costs.

https://marketingland.com/facebook-gives-ads-manager-a-design-refresh-and-launches-new-cost-cap-bidding-strategy-259580

Amazon Launches Free Ad-Supported Streaming Music Service

Amazon is planning to enhance its streaming music platform with talks of a free ad-supported music service set to launch this year. While currently only subscription options are offered, the new service would be an effort to compete with streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify. To further entice record labels, Amazon has offered to pay a per-stream licensing fee, regardless of advertising sales, as it’s confident the addition will result in exponential growth.

The new service compliments Amazon’s current hold on the smart speaker audience, which is now up to 70% of total users. This base, along with extensive first party data of its members, would also give the streaming services unparalleled targeting access for audio advertisers, further extending its reach in the digital marketing space.  

While it’s uncertain how many paying subscribers Amazon’s music service currently has, estimates are approximately 20 million, which is about half of Apple’s paid subscription base. However, the move to free streaming is predicted to position Amazon to be the fastest growing music service by the end of 2019.

https://www.mobilemarketer.com/news/report-amazon-readies-free-ad-supported-music-service/552900/

Using Personalization to Improve the Customer Experience

Companies are investing big money into personalization as marketers better understand its power.  But a tailored user experience extends beyond customized product suggestions. They can include recommendations based on weather, trending items or geography.  With so much data available, meeting this demand is becoming easier but getting started can feel overwhelming and resource intensive.

By leveraging your customer information and site activity, you can get more granular with your targeting at all points of the journey.  Watch this webinar to learn more about how to start implementing a more personalized consumer experience that will improve your brand presence across platforms to attract new users and retain current customers.


Weekly Digital Breakdown

Bill Introduced to Ban “Dark Patterns” From Collecting Personal User Data

On Tuesday, April 9th, a bipartisan bill was introduced to prohibit deceptive gathering of personal data known as “dark patterns” on various online platforms such as apps and social media networks.  This practice is done by tricking users into granting consent for their detailed personal information with a misleading prompt or unclear verbiage on a pop-up. Users “consent” by clicking something as non-threatening as “agree and continue” not knowing that in their attempt to remove the distraction, they’ve granted access to personal details.

Once information is accessed, it can then be used by third parties for online targeting.  With digital privacy, or the lack thereof, being an ongoing issue, this legislation is an effort to further protect the public with an added layer of defense.  The bill would require companies to disclose the collection of personal data with “clear, conspicuous, context-appropriate, and easily accessible” language.

If The Deceptive Experience To Online Users Reduction Act (DETOUR) passes, it would also prohibit the segmentation of consumers for the purposes of behavioral or psychological testing for advertising purposes without informed consent.  Consequently, the passing of this act could have further ramifications for digital advertising design and targeting capabilities.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/04/09/dark-pattern-bill-senate-warner-detour/

Youtube Content To Be Held to New Metrics

Youtube introduced new metrics for gauging video performance which rewards high-quality content.  This comes in response to recent criticism on how the platform moderates video and text content, according to Bloomberg.  The new metrics have yet to be officially rolled out as YouTube is still ironing out the details of how the measurements will be executed.  

One of the proposed metrics would track a user’s total time spent on the platform, including comments posted  and read. The other is referred to as “quality watch time” for content seen as more constructive to users. Video recommendations and search engine results would be based on the new metrics in an effort to promote more “quality” videos.   

While the metrics would create a shift in mindset for measuring success, this method appears to be subjective and may be hard to implement.  Several unanswered questions remain about the shift such as how “quality watch time” will be officially measured and how the changes will impact video contributors. No matter what the solution, YouTube continue focus on video integrity and providing a positive user experience.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-04-11/to-answer-critics-youtube-tries-a-new-metric-responsibility

Google Searches By Date Made Easier

Sometimes filtering a Google search for information or a story from a specific time period can be trickier than it sounds.  With an abundance of information available, you may find yourself filtering through several pages of search results.

In an effort to refine searches more easily, Google announced a new search bar command in beta testing that allows results to be filtered by date.  Not only does this help users narrow down their searches for more specific results, but it also gives more insight for SEO campaign data such as ranking patterns over time, the impact of seasonality on their campaigns and even how outside factors can impact performance.

While users could previously search by date by digging through the tools tab, this command makes the process easier in Google’s never ending quest to improve efficiency.

https://searchengineland.com/search-google-by-date-with-new-before-and-after-search-commands-315184?

Navigating Social Media

Social media is integrated in our daily lives as we spend increasingly more time scrolling through posts, pictures and videos.   With the average adult on social media for over 2 hours a day, it’s a necessity for marketers to be on the various channels where consumers are always on and always sharing.

Marketers know social marketing is imperative to business but many may not be aware that organic social posts just aren’t enough. Paid social media benefits include expanding brand awareness, granular targeting capabilities and most importantly, driving conversions.  With nearly two-thirds of small businesses (63%) planning to increase their social media budget in the coming year, it’s important to use those ad dollars strategically to get the most return on your investment.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re in good company.  Only a small percentage (10%) of marketers consider their organizations “experts in social media advertising,” and less than 50% have advanced social strategies and infrastructure.  

To help navigate the process, we have compiled a road map to help you identify goals and measure performance. Check out our guide to learn how to get your social strategy started in the right direction.

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Snapchat Develops Its Own Mobile Network

Snapchat made a big announcement on Thursday about plans for a Snap Audience Network, its own mobile ad platform with targeting across various apps.  The initial launch will be strictly for iOS devices and will extend to Android at a later date.

There are still questions surrounding how this will operate as compared to similar networks.  However it’s projected to compete with Facebook, LinkedIn and Google with the added unique ability for app developers to utilize Snapchat’s same full-screen, vertical video ad format.

The announcement didn’t come with much detail, but it appears to be an effort by the company to help boost it’s own advertising agenda to partner with more agencies and businesses. While there are still a number of unknowns with this new platform, it will be interesting to see Snapchat competes with other social networks and what differentiates them in the space.

https://www.adweek.com/digital/snap-announces-plans-to-build-its-own-mobile-ad-network-to-connect-with-its-audience/

Facebook Exposed for Storing User Data on Public Amazon Cloud Servers

Cybersecurity firm, Upguard, uncovered more than 540 million Facebook user files stored on a public Amazon cloud server this week. Information included user actions on the site, comments and Facebook IDs, all of which were accessible on the server for public download despite profile settings.  Once alerted, Facebook immediately worked with Amazon to take down the database, but cannot verify how this may impact users.

While Facebook policies prohibit user data being stored on unsecure servers, this news adds to the growing data privacy concerns with the platform. After last year’s news that millions of user’s data had been misused by Cambridge Analytica, Facebook audited thousands of third-party data apps and suspended those who were mishandling. Despite continued efforts to protect user data, it appears the extent of the problem may not be fully known at this point.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-04-03/millions-of-facebook-records-found-on-amazon-cloud-servers

Amazon Alexa Advances Healthcare Services

Amazon Alexa users can now utilize the smart speaker for healthcare information with its recently released HIPAA compliant skills.  Users can leverage the technology to manage healthcare needs such as booking appointments, checking a prescription status or accessing stored medical information such as ongoing glucose readings.  The skills are currently only accessible through select partnerships but will expand based on user adoption.

With the launch, some entities are unveiling HIPAA-compliant skills specific to their own recently discharged patients.  Boston Children’s released a skill known as “ERAS” which allows patients and caregivers to ask questions specific to recent patient care records and allows doctors the ability to follow up with patients remotely.

While data privacy remains a huge concern for patients, Amazon confirms data is encrypted and securely stored in addition to the strict guidelines HIPAA puts in place for patient protection.  This announcement is a major advancement in the evolution of remote patient care.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/04/04/amazon-alexa-launches-its-first-hipaa-compliant-medical-skills/

The Journey of the Digital Traveler

Spring has finally sprung and we all feel a little happier.  With summer just around the corner, travelers are starting to plan their summer vacations - whether it be the adventure seeker or the family getaway.  While it may seem early, the change in season has people excited to get outdoors and utilize their coveted vacation time.

With information constantly accessible, people are planning their own trips from start to finish and doing so entirely online.  The travel industry is almost solely digital as consumers want information immediately and would rather avoid waiting on hold to speak with someone who may not be as excited as they are about their upcoming trip.

As a marketer, it’s important to understand this shift and capitalize on getting in front of your audience early and often to leave a lasting impression.  Brands find success when they focus on all stages of the planning cycle turning interest into conversions and revenue.

When planning a trip, it all begins with search.  Travelers do a ton of online searches before booking.  They are comparing everything from destinations, food and even local activities and are doing weeks or months ahead of their trip.  Search campaigns should appeal for those planning in advance and focus on helping the customer through the process.  It’s important to structure campaigns based on proximity to attractions or accommodations offered as the actual act of booking may happen much later.

While no two travelers plan the same, they tend to have one thing in common, the use of multiple devices to gather information and book their travel and accommodations.  According to Google, the purchase journey for a travel accommodation includes 45 touchpoints across devices and sites. Messaging should be seamless across mobile, desktop, and apps and optimized accordingly as consumers are interchanging these and want to feel like they are getting the same information each time.

With brand loyalty declining for travelers, it’s important to provide a better brand experience with personalized messaging.  A recent study showed 87 percent of consumers are more likely to do business with travel brands that provide a personalized shopping experience as they’ve come to expect this type of service.  Messaging should be tailored based on user site activity, fitting into the goals of the trip and making the customer feel that their purchase is valued by the brand.

Finally, retargeting is essential.  Consumers can feel overwhelmed with travel options so it’s important to be in front of them often with the right messaging in their moment of need, leading to the moment of purchase.  This should be applied across all platforms such as social, display, email, etc so that your brand is engaging in the right moment and meeting them on their path to purchase.

While people are daydreaming of their next getaway this spring, the process can be tedious. It’s never too early to plant the seed of interest and help distinguish your brand from the crowd.

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Streaming Video Exceeds Cable Subscriptions

For the first time, video streaming service subscriptions surpassed cable, jumping up 27% to 613 million subscribers last year. The shift is attributed to the consumers being drawn to services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime for the 24/7 accessibility across devices and original programming.   This trend further is likely to continue as more cable subscribers “cut the cord” and rely on digital video for programming.

ttps://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-21/netflix-s-growth-helps-streaming-eclipse-cable-subscriptions

McDonalds Uses AI to Drive Personalization

In an aggressive move to integrate a more tailored dining experience, McDonalds acquired the personalization company, Dynamic Yield.  This technology will be used to create a dynamic menu that will adjust to variables such as weather, time of day or trending menu items.  It will also aid in upselling, or suggesting additional items that compliment your selections. They will begin leveraging the technology for drive-thru customers and plan to expand to self-serve kiosks and the mobile app.  McDonalds plans to roll out the new technology in the US throughout 2019 to increase customer service and clearly distinguish the company from competitors.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/03/25/mcdonalds-acquires-dynamic-yield/

Big News From Apple

On March 25th, Apple introduced its streaming service, Apple News+ to the public.  While some industry insiders remain skeptical about the announcement, publishers are hoping to use the service to expand their audience and drive digital subscriptions.  Apple News+ includes over 300 magazines and select newspapers for a monthly fee. Publishers view this as an opportunity to reach and engage a news centric audience, driving their own revenue through advertisements.  While the audience is shared across multiple publishers, this approach offers the chance to reach readers who may never interact with some publications and gain loyalty. Publishers are not expecting this to be a magic solution but an added layer to in their efforts to increase readership and expand audiences.

https://www.adweek.com/tv-video/publishers-view-apple-news-as-an-experiment-not-a-solution-to-the-industrys-woes/


Facebook Amends Targeting to Fight Discrimination

Facebook is refining it’s targeting options as they pertain to employment, housing and credit advertisements as prompted by a recent settlement agreement with leading civil rights organizations.  Brands promoting these items can no longer target users based on demographic information such as ethnicity, age, gender, religious affiliation or family status. Based on the previous set-up, targeting could include or exclude these criteria or create look-a-like audiences to target similar users.  While Facebook continues to be under right scrutiny for it’s policies, this is just another step they are taking to earn user’s trust and continue focus on data privacy concerns.

https://www.adweek.com/digital/facebook-is-revamping-its-targeting-for-housing-employment-and-credit-ads/

Creating a Consistent Message with Omnichannel

Technology is integrated into our lives more than ever before and continues to evolve at record speed. You’ve likely accessed multiple connected devices today alone, interchanging them as you go.  With constant connectivity and changes in user behavior, having an omnichannel strategy is a necessity. While aware of the importance, marketers often find it challenging to maintain the fast pace while keeping a clean, clear message brand message across platforms.

An omnichannel marketing strategy allows for a unified message at every interaction, but it starts before the ads reach the screen.  Taking the time to dig into the data to not only strategically plan your approach, but also focus on how to best utilize your budget can save you time and money in the long run.

Watch our webinar to learn how to identify your goals and build an omnichannel approach to increase engagement and drive conversions.

Your Guide to Keeping Consumer Data Secure While Personalizing Campaigns

Customers expect personalization. A well-crafted email with a customer's first name and a product suggestion related to a past purchase, for example, has become the norm.  Research shows 98 percent of marketers believe personalization advances the customer relationship, with 74 percent claiming it has a "strong" or "extreme" impact on the relationship, according to Evergage.

While marketers see the value of personalizing messages, creating them requires customer data. To market effectively, you have to know a lot about a customer. That can range from basic information (such as a customer's name and hometown) to more intrusive information like buying history and spending limits.

Having this kind of coveted data provides amazing targeting applications, but it also comes with great responsibility. Customers are concerned about privacy. One survey shows 91 percent of Americans believe customers have lost control over how their personal data is collected and used, according to Pew Research.

So how can brands provide personalized marketing and protect customer data at the same time? Here are some tips:

Get Consent to Contact

Before reaching any customer digitally, make sure you have permission to do so. Aside from being a best practice, it's also mandated by new privacy legislation. The European Union's GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), for example, requires businesses to get consent from digital customers before collecting, storing, and using personal data.  Although this legislation was passed in Europe, experts say more laws aimed at protecting personal data elsewhere in the world are likely in the future.

How do you get consent? Ask customers to voluntarily join your email list, or run a promotion on social media that asks for permission to contact the participant with future offers. Whatever the tactic, get permission to make contact.

Don't Assume You Know What Customers Want

Many marketers make assumptions on behalf of customers, and that is starting to bother those customers. What kind of assumptions? Marketers sometimes use pre-checked boxes on forms that automatically sign up subscribers for promotional emails. These pre-checked boxes assume every customer wants to get coupons or a weekly email digest, when customers might not want that at all.

Or, let's say you're at a trade show and you exchange business cards with dozens of people. When you get back to your office, you add everyone to your email list. Why? You assume everyone wants to stay in touch after the show. But they didn't give consent to join your email list at all. That's another assumption.

One of the best ways to respect customers and their privacy is to avoid making decisions for them.

Explain How Information Is Used

One of the best practices pushed in laws like the GDPR is transparency. GDPR requires brands to tell customers how their personal information is collected, tracked, and used.  Many brands use cookies to track a customer's online activities. Since GDPR was enacted, brands must explain how their sites' cookies collect, track, and store data. As a result, you've probably seen "cookie consent" messages pop up on your favorite websites, like this one:

blog21MAR19.jpg

In this case, customers can accept the data tracking policy, select how much data they want collected, and see how their information is used by the company.

Whether you use cookies or not, one of the best ways to show customers that privacy matters is to explain exactly how you gather and use their personal information.

Be Honest About Data Breaches

Data breaches happen, and some of the biggest companies have experienced them. While they're embarrassing, it's important to tell your customers about it, and quickly.  

In the U.S., Uber was forced to pay a $148 million settlement when a 2016 data breach was found to have been covered up by the transportation company's then-CEO, Travis Kalanick. The breach wasn't made public for a year, according to USA Today.

Customers want transparency. In Europe, the GDPR sets strict requirements that companies notify customers of any stolen data within 72 hours.

Personalization and privacy have become a balancing act for brands across the globe. Customers want personalized experiences, but they want to trust their data is safe and being used in ways that they approve of.

Insta-Game Changer

Today Instagram announced the long awaited confirmation of the beta rollout of Checkout on Instagram. There’s been rumbling in the industry for months about Instagram’s desire to push in-app ecommerce sales and it’s finally becoming a reality.  A select list of top brand partners will now allow users to shop right in the app. This tactic is a win for everyone involved and has been much sought after.  Providing in-app checkout is a great way for brands to encourage shopping with the ability to customize content based on user profiles. It also allows Instagram users to keep scrolling longer, eliminating the need to leave the platform for additional product information or purchases.  But most importantly, it provides a more personalized experience for the users while simplifying the shopping experience.

So how does it work?  The new checkout option will be an extension of the existing shopping tags already in place and will now include a “Checkout on Instagram” button in the post,  allowing for purchase completion within the platform. User information will be securely stored on Instagram to make future purchases for any participating brands that much easier.  Although this is only being extended to select brands while in beta, it’s definitely a play to become more competitive in the ecommerce space while leveraging the growing audience already in place.

The continued push for social ecommerce has the potential to be a big revenue driver for both Instagram and businesses.  With Instagram users expected to reach 113.3 million US users in 2019, according to eMarketer, it only makes sense to provide in-app conveniences to users which keep them engaged.  Since Instagram is personalized according to your interests, retailers have access to detailed user data that gives them significant advantages in what products or services they promote and to which audiences turning casual viewers into loyal brand shoppers.

Integrating social and ecommerce is the match we’ve been longing for.  In a market where consumers expect personalization at every interaction and have been conditioned for immediate gratification in their online experience, this pairing is sure to resonate with users.  

The Power of the Hashtag

Hastags are now a normal part of social media activity but you may be wondering how you can leverage them for business.  When used strategically, hashtags hold an amazing power to reach large audiences and there's little doubt they can serve as effective tools for marketers when properly implemented.

One of the major benefits to marketers are the countless ways to measure hashtag campaign performance. Engagement, for example, could include metrics about retweets, replies and comments. Awareness might be measured with reach, exposure and volume. Traffic to your website could be measured in clicks, conversions and shares.

Hastags can create opportunity and increase visibility.  Here are some examples of successful hashtag campaigns at work.

• #TweetFromTheSeat

After launching its #TweetFromTheSeat hashtag campaign, Charmin earned "Time Magazine's" vote for the "Sassiest Brand on Twitter."

RESULTS: Approximately 80,000 new followers

• #WeAccept

This Airbnb campaign used images of people of various ethnicities with the hashtag #WeAccept to demonstrate the founders' commitment to welcoming groups such as refugees.

RESULTS: 1,954,277 YouTube views, 109,000 Instagram views, 14,022,922 Facebook views

• #LikeAGirl

The Always brand used the #LikeAGirl hashtag as a call to action, inviting women to tweet about the positive things they do "like a girl" to remove the stigma from the phrase. They complimented it with a #LikeAGirl page hosted on Always.com..

RESULTS: Twitter followers tripled in the first months; 177,000 #LikeAGirl tweets in the first three months, including celebrities

Ready to get started on your next hashtag campaign? Consider these guidelines:

1. Research existing hashtags.

You want to create a hashtag unique to your company, so do your homework to ensure you're not diluting your messaging by distinguishing yourself from competitors. Incorporate trending hashtags into your campaign to complement your main hashtag.

2. Create a tag that's unique to the brand.

Generic hashtags are fine as supplemental pieces, but your primary hashtag should be unique to the brand. Good examples include Lay's #DoUsAFlavor, Ryu's #WhatsInYourBag and the Worldwide Breast Cancer organization's #KnowYourLemons.

3. Create unique tags for different promotions.

Be creative and use different hashtags for different campaigns, products, etc. Oreo, for example, has used #MyOreoCreation, #OreoHorrorStories, and #PlayWithOreo.

4. Use the hashtag across multiple social media platforms.

Hashtags aren't just for Twitter. Use them on all social media updates.

5. Test varying amounts of hashtags per post to find your sweet spot.

As a general rule, use two hashtags on Twitter and seven or fewer on other platforms.

6. Choose niche hashtags.

Stay away from generic hashtags and get more specific, such as using #BigAndTallTuxedos over a broad term like #Tuxedos.

7. Follow your hashtag on social media.

Keep an eye on what others are saying by following common hashtags you use.

Using these tips, you'll find hashtags can make an impact on your marketing strategy and increase your reach.

Tips for Marketing to Spring Break Travelers

No matter your target audience, spring break is an excellent time for brands to get in front of their consumers.  With college students spending an estimated $1 billion on spring break every year added to the amount spent by families who take advantage of the time off school for travel, spring break has become a huge marketing opportunity.

For business, you can use this time to boost your brand, attract more followers and promote sales. Here are four tips to get started.

Hold a Spring Break Sale

Regardless of your business, running travel-themed marketing campaigns can entice consumers to try your product or service. Spring break is the ideal time to clear out inventory or offer promotional items to drive more traffic to your website or physical locations. One example of success was a direct marketing campaign by Great Wolf Lodge.  They offered a promotional discount to travelers who booked rooms during spring break to increase reservations and attract repeat customers.

Leverage Social Media

Spring break is a great time to host contests, giveaways and live events for your followers. It's also an opportunity to create a campaign centered around themed stories and invite your followers to contribute. This could include videos, photos or written content detailing their adventures with your product, letting everyone in on the fun they're having. Users with the best stories or photos could then win products or services.  The authenticity of showing products in use resonates with consumers and creates the feeling that your brand is part of the spring break experience.

Deliver an Experience

Experiential marketing tactics are all about becoming another factor in the fun surrounding spring break. They aren't about making revenue as much as they are geared toward exposing travelers to your brand and letting them interact with it, creating a positive impression to share with friends, coworkers and families. In a recent example, Axe took a two-pronged approach by setting up a tent and games on a popular beach to attract spring breakers, in addition to sponsoring toiletries at popular hotels.

Stamping your presence on a hot spot is not the only way to take advantage of experiential marketing. You could have brand ambassadors hand out samples and free gifts or use your social media strategies to drive traffic to your website with interactive games or events.

Sponsor Events

Whether it's a party geared toward college kids or a families, sponsoring spring break events can increase brand awareness, provide an opportunity for engagement and help your brand gain traction. Many times this doesn’t require you to be on the site to reap the benefits, but attendees will likely take note of your name on the promotional materials or sponsored activities.


Spring break is a tradition where people of all ages are ready to celebrate the end of winter with some fun in the sun.  Use this time to your advantage to get in front of consumers and be part of the action.


Leveraging Platforms for March Basketball Hysteria

Basketball viewing during the March tournaments used to be restricted to only the game(s) that were playing on cable at the time. Now, fans have the ability to watch multiple games on various devices while staying up-to-date with bracket-busting news via social media.

Social platforms alone have become a hot spot for hoops hysteria.  During the 2015 tournament, there were 350 million impressions on Facebook and Twitter, according to Koeppel Direct. In 2017, March Madness Live (MML) brought in 69.1 million live streams. All the excitement is prime opportunity for brands to leverage the influx of users streaming the live action and catching up on the day’s wins and losses. To help your brand slam dunk its campaign, we’ve provided some strategy tips.

Facebook

Facebook profiles are full of customer-specific data, including a user's college history and location, which provides ready-made segments for your ads. This presents a variety of strategic campaign options to appeal to various audiences.

A company selling sports gear, for example, can create Syracuse Orangemen ads for Syracuse alum, or a travel agency can create an ad for a Final Four trip aimed at fans vying for the chance to see the games in person.

Instagram

Instagram has access to Facebook data allowing for similar segmenting of users.  It also presents the opportunity to leverage trending hashtags around game excitement.  Adding a relevant hashtag to your message can tie basketball and your brand together. The searchability increases your brand presence when used correctly.  For example, Acme Footwear asked users to pick the game winner by combining the predicted winning team name with its company name for responses like #dukeacme. Fans love to show their team fandom and get excited to be a part of the celebration.

YouTube

To get the most bang for your buck, consider launching a campaign via YouTube during the tourney.  With audience-specific targeting available, you can show ads to users who have watched a specific video or tournament related content.  You can also leverage remarketing capabilities to further your reach.

Digital Video Ads

With people now watching sports via live-streaming channels at all hours, digital video ads are a great way to stay in front of consumers.  This spans platforms, increasing opportunity for exposure. Facebook, for example, will interrupt a live stream with breaks for ads. Since viewers are already engaged in the game and ads are limited, you have a captive audience who are more likely to remember your brand and product.

The hype surrounding bracket success, or the sleeper team that’s sure to be a bracket buster, presents a great opportunity to reach consumers with fun and memorable ad experience.  Fans are engaged and playing into the excitement is sure to be a marketing win.

Digital Marketing Trends for 2019

To kick off 2019, we’ve identified the top trends you can leverage to improve your marketing strategy, reach a growing audience and boost branding and sales. We cover the advancement of voice search, the increased adoption of streaming video and the implications of artificial intelligence on how chatbots can improve your business to name a few.


Watch the webinar for a full breakdown of the 2019 trends worth noting for your marketing strategy.

Leverage First-Party Data to Boost Personalization

To succeed in today's marketing world, personalization is crucial. Research shows 84 percent of customers say being treated like an individual and not a number is important to winning their business, according to Salesforce.

To treat customers like real people, you need to know who they are. But this isn't always easy. Sure, you might remember a few customers who frequent your business, but it's impossible to know everyone, let alone create marketing messages tailored to each person.

Personalized messages rely on customer data. You need to collect data in every category possible. From collecting email addresses at checkout and tracking order histories to asking customers to fill out forms and surveys, your data collection strategy should be diverse and continuous.

Any data you collect is considered first-party data. Thus, the emails you collect on your website form, the information shared when customers join your social media contest, and the data collected as customers browse your site are all first-party data. You collected it.

To help marketers take personalization to the next level, we'll dive into the data world and explain what first-party data is and how to utilize it.

  • Tips for Using First-Party Data Effectively

Once you have first-party data, it's time to put it to work for you. Here are a few tips:

  • Do a Deep Data Dive

At the beginning, you probably focused on collecting the basics from customers, such as their names, email addresses, and ages. Now, it's time to go deeper. You need behavioral data like past purchases and browsing history to create more detailed messages.

  • Refined, Smaller Segments

As you collect more data, you can create more defined segments. Essentially, you should segment your segments. For instance, if you segmented your customers by sex, take it one step further and segment based on past purchases. So rather than just sending an email to all female customers, you can send an email to all female customers who made two shoe purchases in the last month.

The further you define your segments, the more personal the messages become. An email aimed at your female customers isn't as targeted as an email sent to shoe-loving female customers who have recently made purchases

  • Use Data for Targeting

You can leverage first party data to improve your advertising strategy. Platforms like Facebook, for example, allow you to input data to customize audiences that see your ads. The more data you have, the more likely you are to attract interested customers.  

  • Deploy Retargeting Messages

By monitoring customers' online actions, you can deploy retargeting campaigns that are specific to each user. Let's say a customer comes to your site, searches for shoes, and spends considerable time looking at a pair of black heels, but never makes the purchase. They can then be retargeted via a variety of platforms (social, mobile, desktop, etc) with a tailored message that includes that same pair of shoes.  Retargeting gives you the ability to deliver personalized content to customers who have actually shown interest.

With these tips, you can up your personalization game and start connecting with customers on a deeper, more meaningful level.

Here's How to Get Better Data With Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the go-to tool to monitor customer behavior online. This free tool is used to track metrics on more than 27 million websites, but the power of the tool rests with the user. You can glean all sorts of information from Google Analytics, but to gather advanced data beyond clicks and conversions, you have to know a thing or two about the platform.

To help marketers get more from Google Analytics, we'll explain how to use filters to refine data and get a better look at your online activity.


Use Filters

One of the easiest ways to get more from your data, is to apply filters. Google Analytics gives you the power to add the following filters:

Exclude data

  • Include data

  • Change data

  • Search and replace data

  • Set up advanced filter

Filters give you a different perspective and help you get more detailed metrics. For instance, you might filter your traffic to exclude any internal hits. In other words, any employee who visits your website from inside the building doesn't count in your traffic stats.

To add a filter, log into your Google Analytics account, go to Admin, and click filters under the Account column. Then simply add any of these pre-made filters to your data.

Strategies to Filter Data

You can collect and sort data in hundreds of different ways, but here are a few common ways that marketers apply filters:

Measure Traffic From Local Audiences

Set a filter to see what kind of traffic your site gets from people who are in a specific location. If you know where people are located, you can create personalized campaigns that cater to them. For example, if you’re opening a new store in Phoenix, you can create a campaign that’s especially for Phoenix-based customers that announces the new store.

  • Exclude Traffic From Company Employees

We mentioned this example above but the idea is to remove any traffic data that stems from people inside the company. The idea here is to a more accurate traffic reading. If the company website loads automatically on every computer when it’s started, for example, that’s not customer-based traffic so you wouldn’t want it included in your stats.

  • Eliminate 'Fake Hits'

Spammers are constantly trolling sites looking for a way in. As they conduct their searches, their visits are counted as traffic. You can exclude these ''fake hits'' from your metrics for more accurate readings.

  • Tips to Create Effective Filters

Before you log into Google Analytics and add filters, you should know a few things:

  • Create an Unfiltered View

You need one view that's untouched, or unfiltered. That way, should other data get rearranged or deleted, you'll always have this view as a fail-safe. Name it something obvious such as ''Unfiltered View,'' and make it clear to everyone this view shouldn't be touched.

  • Filters Work After the Fact

In other words, you can't apply filters to data you already have. Filters are only applied to data collected after settings are in place.

  • Filters Are Applied in Order

The order in which you apply filters matters. Google Analytics applies filters in the order that you set them, so take some time to think through the process.

  • Work With Pre-set Filters First

To start, use pre-set filters like ''exclude data'' and ''include data'' before you move on to creating an advanced filter. Advanced filters give you the power to customize your metrics, but it's aimed at savvy users.

Google Analytics gives businesses great insights, but getting pertinent data that are specific to your company takes some work. By applying filters to your data sets, you can refine your results and get a better understanding of your audience.

Getting Started With Marketing Personalization

To reach customers, a generic email, text, or Facebook ad won't cut it. Today's customers have high expectations. They expect personalized advertising that's relevant to their lives, and they are willing to help make that happen.

As many as 57 percent of consumers are willing to share personal data, as long as it results in personalized content and offers. At the same time, the majority of consumers (88 percent) aren't happy with the level of personalization they receive from brands they like, according to research presented by Econsultancy.

To help marketers better meet consumers' expectations, we'll explore what personalization is and why it's important, and provide a few tips to get started.

Personalization Defined

Personalization is more than just adding a customer's first name to an email subject line. Personalization is the act of knowing your customers and creating customized content and messages that resonate with each one. Customized content can take many forms. From sending a personalized promotion to customers based on their purchase history, to targeting a specific audience for a Facebook ad.

Why Personalization Is Important

Personalization helps brands attract and retain customers. By crafting messages and ads that are relevant to customers, you’ll draw more people in and keep the customers you have delighted with your efforts.

In time, you’ll build a relationship with your customers. It's similar to building a relationship with a friend. The closer you get and the more experiences you share, the more trust you develop.

As we've mentioned, customers want personalization. In fact, 58 percent of customers are willing to switch half of their spending to brands that excel at personalization, according to a recent report.

Tips to Achieve Personalized Marketing

To put your new personalization strategy into place, here are a few tips to get started:

●       Collect the Right Data

Get to know your customers. In today's modern age, that means collecting personal data. You'll likely need a tool or platform to collect, store, and utilize the data. Ideally, you'll get both demographic information (like name, age, and sex) and behavioral information that tracks things like past purchases and visit frequency.

●       Segment Audiences

Your customers are likely a diverse bunch. To pull off personalization on a large scale, you'll need to segment your customers, or break them into smaller, like-minded groups. Doing so gives you the power to create content for each niche.

●       Start Small

Create a small list of ways you can personalize your next marketing campaign. Don't try to do it all at once. For example, segment customers by location and send a promotion that's specific to a store in that area.

●       Test, Test, Test

As with any marketing campaign, you should test to see what's working and what's not. You can test many different personalization tactics. For instance, you can send an email that includes a customer's name and test it against a generic message that doesn't include the name.

Personalization is an important marketing and advertising tactic, but it takes some time and effort to perfect. You need to collect data and leverage it in a way that customers will respond to. Doing so will help you build a strong relationship with your customers.

How to Use Instagram to Grow Ecommerce Sales

Instagram sees engagement from over one billion active users every month, offering brands a unique opportunity to interact with potential customers right where they are. Instagram's visual-heavy platform can be harnessed to boost ecommerce sales driven by social engagement. These five methods can help your business develop an Instagram strategy that increases conversions, drives sales and creates loyal customers. 

Create a Business Account

If your business is still relying on a personal Instagram account to drive ecommerce, it's your first priority to make the switch to a business account. Instagram's business accounts have access to advanced features such as Instagram Insights, promoted posts, and the ability to include contact information.

To switch, log in to your Instagram account and go to settings. Tap “Switch to Business Profile.” Here, Instagram will prompt you to connect to your business Facebook page, choose a category for your business, and fill in your contact details. You'll be able to start running ads and obtaining audience insights immediately.

Curate Your Instagram Aesthetic

Instagram is a visual medium, and it's important that each image or video shared is artfully crafted individually and displays a cohesive visual theme for your business account.

Drive ecommerce sales by portraying your products in their best light, in ways that appeal to your customers. Curate an artistic vision for your brand by including posts and images that aren't quite so promotional as well. An aspirational photo or conversational post can encourage customer engagement with the brand.

Tag Products Within the Instagram Post

The ability to tag products within an Instagram post is a major benefit of converting to a business account. With product tagging enabled, your customers have a direct path to purchasing the featured product on your own website or via Facebook's Catalog.

 To use Instagram Shopping, you must first connect your business profile to a Facebook Catalog. Products that have been added to the Catalog can then be tagged in an Instagram post, up to five per single image or video.

 Research and Target Hashtags

 Similar to keyword targeting for search engine optimization, Instagram hashtags allow your content to appear in searches by potential customers on the platform. Researching these keywords takes a familiar path towards identifying the topics your customers are searching for and targeting trending social media hashtags.

Utilize Instagram Advertising

Instagram offers its business accounts a number of ways to advertise to potential customers. Within the Ads Manager, your business profile can set up, run, and track campaigns using the same targeting tools offered on Facebook.

Instagram ads appear directly in user feeds, either as an Instagram Story, a photo, or a video up to 60 seconds in length. A highly integrated Collection Ad can combine video and images to allow potential customers to browse your product catalog from within their Instagram feeds.

Whether your business invests in Instagram advertising or takes an organic approach to driving traffic, it's clear consumers enjoy being inspired by brands within their Instagram feeds. You can help your customers complete their purchases by using Instagram's business account tools for driving ecommerce sales.

Brand Perception: What It Is, Why It Matters and How to Measure It

When was the last time you really thought about your perception of a product brand or service? Sure, we might use online brands every day in our work or at play, but do you think about how you perceive a brand? You should.

Brand perception is important. It's the sum of our feelings, attitudes, and experiences with a product or service. Brand perception is what moves the needle for companies, taking a common product and giving it elements that evoke emotional feelings. Every car ad during football season is appealing to a viewer's emotions about the brand. Every skincare ad seeks to sway a consumer's emotions into creating a favorable brand perception.

Ultimately, the customer is the one who decides their perception of your brand. Whether you're marketing a consumer commodity like clothing, or a high-level B2B web application, how consumers view the brand can make or break a product.

Let's break down exactly what brand perception is, why it matters and how you can measure its impact in your daily work.

What Is Brand Perception?

Put simply, brand perception is the sum of feelings a consumer has about a brand. These thoughts and feelings happen when a consumer is aware of the brand, and what follows when that consumer hears, sees, or interacts with the brand and its product.

Brand perception incorporates a multitude of areas that touch upon the brand's customer interactions. From product development and packaging to public relations and social engagement, brand perception is a top-level measuring stick of a product's visual presence, goodwill, and emotional character. All of these can play into the product's success.

Think about Facebook, for example. Last year Facebook's brand perception fell out of favor with many because of privacy issues and the platform being found to be the conduit of false or misleading news stories. Brand perceptions of Facebook were significantly changed in 2018, which is why the company is now making moves to make public opinion of its brand more positive.

Even for small companies, brand perception is one part of a larger marketing equation. How does your product or service resonate with its target audience, why does it matter, how do consumers feel about your brand, and how can you measure this?

Why It Matters

Brand perception is important because it reflects what consumers think about a company's culture. We've mentioned Facebook, but this affects even emerging online brands such as Fashion Nova and Everlane.

You might see a branded TV spot, read a review, or catch a pre-roll YouTube ad. These brief interactions can quickly change a consumer's perception of a company from negative to neutral, or from neutral to positive. That's the power of brand perception, and that's why it matters.

Once consumers formulate a perception in their minds, whether positive, negative, or neutral, it's hard to change their beliefs. That's why companies are trying hard to measure brand perception on their own.

Measuring Brand Perception

How can companies measure brand perception? There are agencies that would be glad to charge $5,000 to $25,000 a month for the privilege, but your own team can scout the web to get a fairly reliable reflection of consumers' perceptions of your brand. Some ways your research and marketing teams can do this might include:

●       Setting up Google alerts to track online mentions.

●       Reading online reviews. (This is critical for all brands. Efficient customer response can also help with brand reception.)

●       Social listening, which means monitoring social media comments, hashtags, and other mentions.

●       Measuring metrics for pay-per-click brand search and dwell time.

Overall, companies need to work hard to measure brand perception. A brand owner must measure the brand from the outside to truly understand how people view it. To do so, companies can try a variety of methods to gauge brand perception:

●       Track metrics in your target audience around your brand.

●       Use custom research among primary and secondary target audiences.

●       Conduct a brand audit on your company's brand perception against that of your leading competitors'.

●       Track customer sentiment through each stage of the purchase cycle, including information search, product evaluation, comparison research, buying decision, and post-buying feelings.

Brand perception is a critical part of your company’s marketing effectiveness. Getting a handle on it and putting your resources into knowing how to use it will help your company better plan its marketing campaigns.

Driving Your Digital Presence with Video

We live in a world of convenience at every turn. Information and entertainment is available on demand. Thanks to streaming video and Connected TV, you can view the content you want when it fits in your schedule with the click a button or voice command.  The landscape for viewing has changed immensely having not only an enormous effect on traditional television advertising, but also how marketers are adjusting their budget to accommodate the rapidly changing landscape.

With Connected TV users expected to exceed 190 million in 2019, the need to adapt to this growing platform as another vehicle to tell your story is becoming more imminent by the day.  Digital video now accounts for an average of 25% of a daily video viewing for the average person, which is only projected to increase. However, many marketers are not adjusting their budget distribution accordingly and are missing a valuable opportunity to get in front of their target audience.  Auto dealerships specifically have been one of the slowest adapters to this increase in video consumption, many of which are still spending 100% of their video advertising budget on traditional television versus digital video.

So what makes it different and why should dealerships care?  Unlike cable ads, Connected TV (CTV) and video campaigns can be measured and optimized as part of your overall digital strategy.  Ad effectiveness can be tracked by views, clicks and video completion rates (VCRs). This data enables more insight into the customer journey and car buying experience.  In addition, the power of view-through data can help you attribute users who saw your ad and later took action to get more information or contact the dealership, furthering your ability to measure your return on investment.

Interested but don’t know where to start?  We have broken down the basics to help you better understand how video and Connected TV can help your dealership accelerate past traditional television and begin transforming your market presence.

Download our white paper on Digital Video and The Rise of Connected TV