8 Advertising Trends Experts Predict Will Die Out In 2020

Year after year, marketing industry leaders experiment with and popularize innovative advertising techniques. From the convenient Instagram shopping checkout feature to advertisements centered on social change, 2019 has been a year of constant connection.

8 Ad Trends Die Out 2020

While many of these marketing techniques are here to stay, a few may not be back for a second round. We asked eight members of Ad Age Collective their take on which advertising trends could fizzle out before the calendar hits 2020. Here’s what they believe will be on the way out, and what new trends we might have to look forward to in their place.

1. Mid-tier influencer marketing

There will be continued effort put into managing influencer programs, but consumers’ trust in influencers is disappearing fast, as are results. Micro-influencers, such as close friends, will remain, and celebrities will continue to play their role. But mid-tier influencers will be replaced by measurable social advertising where it is overt that brands pay to target prospective customers via ads. – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

2. Highly detailed personalization

2019 has been a year of increasing personalization, to a point that consumers are starting to be creeped out by how well an anonymous company “knows” them. In the wake of privacy scandals and data breaches, 2020 will see a pullback in this personalization in favor of advertising that demonstrates how a company is respectful of its consumers and takes steps to secure their private information. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

3. Inaccurate voice search

Our devices are not yet sophisticated enough to provide fully satisfying and accurate responses to voice queries. A comprehensive and SEO-focused content strategy can help advertisers maximize success in voice search today. However, we will see an increase in visual search strategies as improved user experience has driven an increase in visual search adoption. – Kerry Curran, Catalyst

4. Disruptive advertising

Disruptive advertising will phase out. Nearly half of global internet users enlist ad blockers today. The success of influencer marketing and integrated advertising is rooted in an ability to get in front of the right audience in the most authentic, non-disruptive way. We’ll see more creativity in how brands integrate into virtual reality, augmented reality and other tech-driven content experiences to build awareness. – Ricky Ray Butler, Branded Entertainment Network

5. Paid influencers with tons of followers

The idea of paid influencers that oftentimes have a gazillion followers but zero connection to your brand? Going, going, gone. We are quickly, and thankfully, moving to the age of the micro-influencer—the authentic person who happens to have a connection to your brand and also happens to have a social media reach. Finding this group and engaging with them is the evolution of word-of-mouth. – Rich Honiball, Navy Exchange Service Command

6. Simply using data for enhancements

Relevancy is key, and in 2020, brands will leverage data and AI in more holistic, creative ways. Rather than focusing on simply using data to enhance media plans, marketers will incorporate significant personalization strategies in the creative process to improve overall brand experience. – Oz Etzioni, Clinch

7. User-generated content

User-generated content has plateaued. Brands’ social media followers are growing weary of being asked to submit their own content for the benefit of the brand. Influencer commerce, selling products through online influencers, will skyrocket. Today’s online influencers are equivalent to how Michael Jordan was to Nike. Brands will seek influencers who can sell through their network of followers. – Jason Weaver, AirDeck, Inc.

8. Operating without an advertising strategy

Platforms that are not running profitably, that exist only on raising capital with the promise that it’s their subscribers that add value but have no advertising component, will have a hard time surviving in 2020 and beyond. – Jessica Hawthorne-CastroHawthorne Advertising

Data To Decisions

Data without context can lack insights as it only states the obvious—what happened, what was measured, what took place.  By 2020, there will be around 44 zettabytes of data—that’s enough data to fill 1.3 trillion iPhones.  The larger problem is what to do with the data.

Data To Decisions

Data warehousing, data integration, connectors, data dashboards and more, have all been tools sold by various industries all promising visibility and transparency and transformational change.  All of this is eerily similar to the dot-com boom of the late 90s where the promise of a website would suddenly open the floodgates to new conversions and leads.

As with many things, history repeats itself.  Over the past year, businesses have accumulated tons of data.  Alation dubbed it, “the year of the data catalogue,” and Forrester estimates that between 60 percent-73 percent of all data accumulated goes unused.   Data cannot single-handedly change the way we do business as much as a yardstick can build a house.

We need to change the mindset and focus on analysis and insights instead of just data. Here’s how:

Data Analysis Needs To Drive Decisions

Instead of reporting on what is current or what happened, it is important to ask for recommendations of what needs to change.  It’s not enough to be shown where your web visits were week-over-week, instead, question why web visits fluctuated in the first place, while finding a solution behind what needs to be done to change that.  This kind of analysis requires more than just a chart of visits over time.  It requires knowledge of other variables that could factor into that dip. Did the media spend decrease? Did a competitor outbid your search keywords? Was there a new site update that affected user experience?  When analyzing data, there should always be a call to action—what needs to be done to change what is currently happening?

Data Analysis Needs To Uncover Hidden Patterns

At times, it isn’t clear the questions to the answers we’re seeking.  Now that data has increased in size and number of sources, one can use advanced technologies like machine learning and neural networks to find previously unknown correlations.  These will be less obvious correlations between data, and not as simple as media spend vs impressions, or creative type vs conversions.  Could there be additional unknown correlations such as Instagram likes vs conversions, or social listening volume vs average order value?

Data Analysis Has More Value In Predicting, Not Reporting

It’s not enough to know the status quo.  As of now, all data reporting shows what has happened—even real-time analysis has a delay between the time the action has happened and the time the data has been appropriately captured, labeled, stored and retrieved. According to Microstrategy, “the future of predictive analysis is undoubtedly closely tied to artificial intelligence.” Predictive analysis allows a business to be more proactive than reactive to market trends.  They will be able to change the way they work, mitigate risk more effectively, and reduce the spin of scenario planning.

Mary Meeker publishes one of the most highly anticipated trends reports in technology. In her 2019 Internet Trends report, Meeker comments that the sudden increase in data growth feels like we’re “increasingly drinking from a data firehose”. While data analysis and reporting can feel like a daunting task, nearly two of three companies are making the leap forward through existing tools and services.

Overall, advanced data analytics is being used in all facets of how businesses work, including accounting and financial reporting, human resources and organization managementand results-driven advertising. Businesses need to change their mindset and identify where data can make the biggest impact, otherwise major opportunities are bound to be missed.

About The Author

As head of Hawthorne’s Data Science, Information Systems, and IT departments, Justice Erolin manages the technologies, systems, and processes to enhance and run Hawthorne’s product management. Justice has used his 15-year experience in developing and deploying systems and applications to solve urgent business needs for brands including Volkswagen, Sony, Apple, Coca-Cola, Taco Bell, and Anthem.

Outside of work, Justice loves to cook for large groups and will spend up to 21 hours making the perfect brisket.

9 Tips For Balancing Automation And Personalization In Your Marketing

1. Layer your communication to connect.

Many make the mistake of depending too heavily on personalization, creating an expectation that is difficult to achieve. I find that if you use automation to layer a “base” of communication with customers and personalization to provide the “extra touch,” that balance allows you to reach the full potential of your marketing and you are better able to connect with today’s consumers. – Rich Honiball, Navy Exchange Service Command

9 Tips for personalized marketing

2. Be relevant, but not too relevant.

Eighty-one percent of consumers want brands to understand them, but not at the expense of their privacy. If you get too personal, it can trigger a customer into thinking that your company is creepy, abusing a consumer’s trust and violating their privacy. Using automated email sequences to different broader consumer groups that have common traits are a great way of being personal but not too personal. – Patrick Ward,Rootstrap

3. Keep the human touch.

While AI and marketing automation are important to effectively execute large campaigns, it’s important people are involved in the personalization of messaging as personal human touch is still needed to deeply resonate with a consumer. Consumers are able to immediately tell the difference between a message sent via automation versus personalization because machines can’t mimic the human touch yet. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

4. Have your sales and marketing teams collaborate.

Your organization’s sales and marketing teams should never operate in isolation, nor should one’s agenda set the other’s. By creating goals, metrics and strategies together, you’ll ensure an automated marketing strategy funnels warm leads to a sales team ready for one-to-one personal service that will maximize both functions and delight prospects and customers. – Holly Fearing, Filene Research Institute

5. Use rich text to mimic a regular one-to-one email.

If we are going to automate one-to-one messages, we should make sure they look like  messages that people actually write to each other. Now ask yourself, have you ever created a fully-formatted email with CSS and HTML to send to just one person? No! So then why do we continue to automate those emails? Shifting to rich text will increase your engagement. Be human to be amazing. – Mathew Sweezey,Salesforce

6. Have a scalable data strategy.

Marketers must implement a scalable data strategy that helps them get to know their customers and prospects so that they can first communicate in ways that feel human and natural before they automate. Then they can test carefully and incrementally so as to maintain a purposeful connection between mechanical marketing tactics and the humans on the receiving end. – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

7. Understand your customers’ expectations.

Finding the right balance starts with understanding your customers’ expectations around personalization. At a minimum, you want to meet their expectations and deliver an experience that sustains their loyalty. Invest in accumulating these insights and then deliver against them. The harsh reality — if you lose customers through a lack of personalization, marketing automation won’t save them. – Mason Page, Reflect Systems

8. Use your CRM to drive phone calls.

Using a CRM system to drive outreach is nothing new to B2B companies. B2C companies can delight customers in this way as well, particularly direct-to-consumer (DTC) companies who have a lot of customer information. A thoughtful phone call or email from a real person reflecting specific understanding of your customer can create long term affinity for your brand in a world of automated content. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

9. Go for quality over quantity.

Remember the adage: “Less is more.” Control the number of messages to the number of people you’re targeting. Then segment those audiences. Once someone responds, you can get to ever increasing levels of personalization with the right messages that are relevant to those people. Finally, make it easy for people to opt out and talk to a person live via a chat utility or other channel. – Marc Landsberg, SOCIALDEVIANT

8 Practical Ways To Optimize AI For Marketing

With today’s increased access to quality technology, businesses are constantly searching for ways to improve and tailor their marketing efforts. One development that’s taking the industry by storm is artificial intelligence (AI). Many brands are beginning to incorporate AI into their marketing strategies for more personalized, data-driven outreach.

8 Practical Ways

But are you ready to start using AI in your marketing efforts? Eight members of Ad Age Collective shared some practical approaches to making this technology impactful for your own business campaigns.

1. Start small and simple.

The scary aspect of AI is that most marketers don’t know where to start. Rather than thinking you need to implement AI in every facet of your job, think of some quick wins that would make your life easier as a marketer. Phrasee and Automizy are two examples of AI tools that analyze your email subject lines before you send out a campaign to help optimize your subject line, leading to increased open rates. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

2. Find the balance between ‘artificial’ and ‘human’ intelligence.

The same question that is being asked today was asked several years ago with the emergence of “big data.” The reality is that artificial intelligence is a wonderful thing, a tool that helps you to process, predict and project your marketing. However those that default to the “answers” that AI provides are often missing the point; AI can enable stronger human thinking, not replace it. – Rich Honiball, Navy Exchange Service Command

3. Aim to find something that solves your problems.

Over the years, I’ve discussed AI with dozens of experts who influence which AI solutions and companies are selected by large enterprises and/or partners. In one case, I asked, “Out of the thousands of companies you could recommend, why this one?” The answer was beautiful. “It works.” The expert’s point was: Many “sell” AI, but very few offer AI that solves something important. – Lana McGilvray, Purpose Worldwide

4. Use AI to support your human marketing staff.

AI will be a critical component for data collection and analytics to streamline efforts and minimize potential expensive errors. After the data is scrubbed clean of errors, centralized and uniformed, AI can be implemented to support the marketing team to quickly and effectively analyze results and determine the best campaign strategies that would not be possible for a human to compute. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

5. Think beyond your usual KPIs.

Optimizing digital spend with AI brings marketing back to real business by putting data to work. AI that optimizes directly toward true business outcomes — with client-specific data, audiences and creative inputs at the core — offers a competitive advantage beyond stale KPI metrics. The Xaxis proprietary AI technology, Copilot, delivers beyond traditional media metrics using customized algorithms. – Kerry Curran, Catalyst

6. Shift from predictive to prescriptive solutions.

There are interesting AI solutions that have evolved from predicting what is going to happen based on prior occurrences to now, where they can prescribe solutions. For example, in SEO, if a tool observes positive results from a competitor’s tactics, it recommends similar tactics that will either blunt the competitive force or offer ways to apply the learning more broadly. – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

7. Find out what people are saying about you.

AI is powerful enough to read all the content published about your company and products globally and understand or categorize it more consistently than humans. AI can predict how exposure to that media drives various business outcomes. Use those AI-driven insights about what the world is saying about your company to produce better, more engaging content. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

8. Apply AI to account-based marketing.

There’s no time for thumb-twiddling in the dynamic world of B2B marketing. AI in ABM tells you what personas matter most to your opportunities and what they care about in real-time. But, to truly harness the power of AI-driven insights and orchestration, AI must be baked into the core of your marketing solution. Only then can you uncover valuable insights and deliver targeted messages at scale. – Latane Conant, 6sense

An Instagram World With No ‘Likes’ — How Does the Test Impact Advertisers, Users?

Instagram made a big move. What’s the official motive behind testing a social media world with no “likes”?

The CEO of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, stated in the announcement that the test in the U.S. and Canada was “about creating a less pressurized environment, where people feel comfortable expressing themselves.

Hundreds of Likes

For all intents and purposes, Instagram’s latest power move has an alibi: The platform claims to be more concerned with the well-being of its users than with making a profit. Whether or not the company’s true motives are in line with reducing mental illness in its young users — including their stress, anxiety, and depression — the test has certainly changed the way the platform operates.

Diving into the many possible outcomes of this potential change is essential for marketers and Instagram users, alike, in order to best understand what to expect from the future of social media.

Whether positive or negative, the removal of likes has garnered opinions from the masses. Feelings toward the test range from anger to animosity to excitement. The fact of the matter is, likes have been a major catalyst in the way Instagram is used and success is measured, both personally and professionally. For brands utilizing influencers for promotion, likes have acted as a currency by showing how engaged an audience is, while effectively helping brands make decisions on whether or not an influencer should endorse their product or not. Without it, the marketplace will have to be optimized by these advertisers as they uncover what’s to come on the forefront of social media marketing.

Why Instagram Users Are Angry

It comes as no surprise that many of the users who are angry fall under the influencer and celebrity category. For many of them, Instagram likes have completely built their platforms as social media stars. Many of them uncovered the amount of engagement it took from early on and were able to build a fan base of loyal likers in order to gain enough clout to start being paid for promotions. It has been hypothesized by some influencers that Instagram doesn’t actually care at all about the well-being of its users. In fact, while its CEO claims the company “will make decisions that hurt the business if they help people’s health,” others are claiming that the test goes deeper than that, and is ultimately in favor of Instagram’s business: It has been hypothesized that this is being done as a means for control.

While influencers do have a home on Instagram, the brand deals and partnerships they forge on the platform do not currently have anything in them for InstagramThus, the removal of likes could make it so that marketers opt to spend their advertising dollars directly through Instagram, more heavily utilizing Instagram’s advertising tools. This begs the question(s): Why would they no longer go through influencers? Can they still get a feel for the overall engagement a user has? Unfortunately, because the metrics marketers rely on when selecting influencers will no longer be visible, it may become challenging to obtain real and true metrics, as these numbers can be easily manipulated if sent over from the source.

And frankly, for some losing likes simply means stripping down and removing their online social status, and they don’t like it. The measurement of likes acts as a symbol for popularity and fame, and many have expressed their dislike toward the change because of this. Removing likes will make it harder for users to determine if someone is cool simply by measurement, and understandably, for those for which Instagram has helped shape careers, this poses a threat to their success.

Why Instagram Users Are Excited

More obviously, many Instagram users are excited; particularly younger users and their parents. Having the platform to rely on for social status and humble brags has created uncharted territory in the adolescent social scene. Likes are the most obvious cool factor when looking at a user’s profile. For regular users who peruse Instagram as a social tool and not to create a business, the pressure to depend on likes as a means of validation, a measurement of self-worth, and a ranking of social status, could completely shift the way young users post. This feeling of “not being enough” if you don’t have the most likes in your social circle is exactly what Instagram claims to be tackling head-on with this test.

But this may not just be a positive change for common users; some influencers have actually expressed their excitement and support for the change, as well. As mentioned, Instagram has evolved over the years from a simple photo-sharing tool to a space where people are constantly trying to be the very best on the scene.

Many users claim that a major shift in the way Instagram was used happened when it changed the feed from chronological order to placing the most engaging posts at the top. The reason many influencers rose to where they were when this change occurred was because people genuinely enjoyed the creative energy they were putting into their profiles. When top-engaging posts were the first thing seen upon opening the app, influencers (and regular users, alike) had to evolve with the change, if they wanted to continue to get the attention they were used to. As a result, many sacrificed their own creativity by means of posting something less original that would guarantee high engagement.

For those who have felt the need to conform to the more popular style of posts, removing likes would mean they may no longer feel constricted or bound to posting things that are guaranteed to perform well (i.e. attract enough likes to deem them relevant enough for the top of the feed). This may allow for a more fruitful array of postings from influencers, celebrities, and young users of Instagram, bringing back into the picture a sense of creative freedom and self-worth.

What It All Means for Users and Marketers, Alike

Whether or not the test is here to stay, the statement it’s made so far has shaken many of its users, and most have an opinion. From regular users — particularly those in Generation Z — to influencers and celebrities, and brands that use Instagram as part of their sales funnel, the feelings of frustration and utter glee are certainly worth evaluating as Instagram chooses how to move forward.

7 EASY WAYS TO BRING YOUR AGENCY INTO THE MOBILE-OPTIMIZED WORLD

Smartphone usage is higher than ever, with an estimated 5 billion people owning and/or operating a device. With the amount of time the average person spends on their phone each day, there’s a large window of time advertisers could be taking advantage of to get their content in front of their audience.

7 Easy Ways Mobile

Tailoring your advertisements to be both user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing on mobile devices makes it easier for users to engage with content on the go. That’s why we asked members of Ad Age Collective to share some simple, yet effective ways agencies can move toward mobile optimization. Their best answers are below.

1. Deeply understand your customer.

To optimize the consumer experience for mobile, agencies must answer, “Who are they, where are they and why are they using this device at this moment?” Because technology enables us to know they’re on a mobile device and where they are, you can deliver the right content and capabilities at the right time, thereby eliminating anything that distracts from the intended path. Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

2. Say less.

Advertising has struggled since its early days to deliver impact with focus. Don’t say everything; say the most important thing. It’s even more essential now when you have only a few words and an engaging image to connect. Know “this.” Do “this.” If you’re successful, they’ll learn more later. – Moira Vetter, Modo Modo Agency

3. Keep it quick and easy.

Mobile optimization should always be part of a brand strategy. Creating a mobile interface that is optimized for quick and simple reading with easy buttons to click through to complete the process is key. Also, audio advertising where the user can verbally respond to “learn more” from an ad or Google’s Accelerated Mobile Page ads are gaining popularity as they optimize the advertising experience. – Jessica Hawthorne-CastroHawthorne Advertising

4. Focus on mobile-first creative.

The most effective way to move toward mobile optimization is to ensure clients are focused on creating mobile-first creative, such as 4:5 video, which is supported by both Facebook and Instagram feeds. According to Facebook, mobile-first creative aided recall by 46%. – Michael Lisovetsky, JUICE

5. Create lite and full versions of your ads.

Agencies and brands alike can optimize mobile campaigns by creating varied lite and full versions of ads that are easily viewable and clearly readable on both smart and feature phones, while maintaining the integrity of the brand message and creative. Along with a well-thought-out audience segmentation strategy, this approach empowers agencies to engage more people with a consistent brand message. Anas Ghazi, WPP

6. Think like a consumer, not a marketer.

So many brands and agencies think too much like marketers when building an online strategy. We need to be concerned about the end consumer’s experience with the brand, more than about getting a message out. If we think like we live, we will always have mobile first in mind. Figuring out how your consumer accesses and uses your brand on the go should be a first step in building any strategy. Maggie O’Neill, Peppercomm

7. Develop websites in React.

Creating a mobile app can be expensive, and more consumers are looking for mobile-friendly browser experiences. By implementing React as your front-end language, your site will be responsive and optimized for the browser experience. – Patrick Ambron, BrandYourself.com

How To Use Trending Shopping Days to Maximize Holiday Campaign Strategies

With Thanksgiving falling on November 28, the 2019 holiday season is shorter this year. With 27 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, this compresses all festive holiday shopping into a four-week period filled with a variety of marketing opportunities. There may be fewer shopping days, but brands can take advantage of every single one to get the most out of their holiday ad campaigns — if they get started early, that is.

Maximize Holiday Campaigns

Let’s look at the numbers. During the 2018 holiday season, total retail spending increased by 5.4 percent to $998.32 billion, with both traditional retail and e-commerce thriving, according to eMarketer. Brick-and-mortar sales rose 3.9 percent to $874.42 billion, and e-commerce soared by 16.7 percent to $123.90 billion. Last year’s Cyber Monday racked up $7.87 billion in e-commerce sales, representing the single largest online spending day in history, while Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day also experienced significantly above-average growth rates for online sales.

This year, estimates from the National Retail Federation and Deloitte expect holiday retail sales to increase steadily by around 4 to 5 percent, with e-commerce continuing to pack a heavy punch.

These numbers underscore the importance of the holiday season and holiday ad campaigns for retailers. The growth of e-commerce and the proliferation of new holiday shopping days, such as Green Monday and Super Saturday, put a lot of pressure on brands to leverage holiday fever to craft an omnichannel ad strategy that drives sales. As we approach the holiday season, there are a few critical points brands must consider when it comes to maximizing holiday campaign strategies.

Timing is everything

The first and most important question is when to spend. Timing is everything, and brands should be planning their holiday strategy far in advance. Although we began seeing some holiday promotions as early as October, effective promotional campaigns are up and running by early November to capitalize on early shoppers and to raise brand awareness before Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Holiday emails sent early in the season drive two times the conversion rates than those sent later. Getting started early allows you to test out messages and strategies so they are fine-tuned when the holiday season gets into full swing.

Map it out

The planning process should include a preholiday checklist that takes marketers through what they need to know and do to prepare.

The first item is to set your goals: What do you aim to achieve, and what metrics will you use to measure success?

Secondly, look at your calendar to decide what holiday shopping days you want to focus on and how you want to pace the campaign over the course of the holiday season. Will you send out promotions on Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, or just focus on one? What budget will you allocate for each of those days? Know that many retailers rely on the majority of their annual sales during the holiday season, and understanding competitive marketing, messaging and advertising spend is key to maximizing share of voice during this season.

Third, evaluate past performance. All of these decisions should be made in part by considering the previous year’s performance. If a Black Friday campaign from last year wasn’t as successful as you had hoped, why was that? Would it have been more effective in a different time frame or targeted at a different audience?

The fourth step on the checklist is to give serious thought to every channel. There are so many ways brands can reach consumers these days: display, mobile, search, social, audio, video, connected TV, geofencing, billboards and more. Consumer shopping habits have changed, and even if they do shop in brick-and-mortar stores on major holiday shopping days, they are likely also browsing online, comparing prices and searching for deals and offers throughout the holiday season.

It can be difficult for brands to stand out during these weeks of media saturation, meaning an omnichannel marketing strategy that targets consumers with messages on multiple devices and accommodates multiple shopping patterns is a must-have. It is also key to identify marketing through a national campaign and how much incremental marketing will be needed regionally or locally.

Geofencing

This is just as true for digital brands as it is for brick-and-mortar stores. The boundaries between online and in-store are blurring. Beyond traditional ads, there are new strategies physical retailers can take to drive foot traffic and conversions.

For instance, historic geofencing is a technique to conquest a competitor’s customers by targeting them with a message that pushes them to your store or website instead. With foot traffic attribution, brands can not only connect their digital ads to sales lifts in store, but can also serve ads to shoppers while they are in-store to enhance their shopping experience and upsell them on relevant products.

Stay true to what works for your brand

The final step is to take a good hard look at your brand’s resources and assets. Video may perform better than static ads, but video is also expensive. Brands need to craft strategies that maximize reach without sacrificing quality.

To that end, consider investing in higher-quality private datasets, which may be more expensive but can drive performance with better targeting, and make sure your creative is spot on and has continuity across all media channels.

Go with what works — in 2018, the promotional offers that appealed most to U.S. internet users were price discounts (95 percent), free shipping (75 percent) and free gifts (52 percent). As direct response marketers well know, the offer itself is critical. All the strategizing and optimizing in the world won’t help if the promotional messaging is not compelling.

Ultimately, maximizing holiday campaign strategies boils down to considering what your goals are, what your brand is, what timing makes sense, the media your consumers spend time on and what message is likely to have the greatest impact. Start asking those questions now, ahead of the holiday shopping season, and you will be ready to reap the rewards when November 28 hits.

15 Tips To Consider When Starting A Podcast

Podcasts are one of the fastest-growing methods for a business to connect with its current and potential clients and expand its influence and reach. Many people listen to podcasts since they are portable, easy to access and fit into a busy schedule.

There are only a handful of ways to get a podcast right, and a myriad of methods to get it wrong. A podcast has to compete against a lot of other, similar recordings, and it needs to prove its worth — or else it won’t get the recognition it deserves.

15 Tips for Podcast

To help, 15 members of Forbes Agency Council offer their best advice for businesses planning to start a podcast and keep it running for as long as possible.

1. Have A Clear Plan

It’s easy for many of us to talk about a topic that we find interesting or know a lot about, but make sure you don’t run off on too many tangents. Stick to the goal, the question or the topic to keep your podcast on track and your listeners engaged. Remember, it’s a podcast, not a broadcast. It doesn’t need to be perfectly polished. Your skills will improve and evolve over time. – Bernard May, National Positions

2. Know Who You Are Talking To

I’ve created many podcasts for my clients, from concept to production. The one thing that I know is that brands need to know who they are talking to. Podcasts are just like ads: Do you know who you want to talk to? Podcasts, similarly to video, don’t need a massive number of listens to have a high ROI. What you need to do is focus on your core audience and make sure they follow and listen. – Azad Abbasi, Genius

3. Think End-User First

When brands create podcasts, content typically tends to be focused on what’s important for the business. This approach results in each episode having a different target market, which prevents it from building community. Treat podcast episodes like serialized storytelling rather than a single public relations opportunity and you’ll find greater success, increased consumption and engaged listeners. – Carey Kirkpatrick, CKP

4. Provide Value Without Fluff

Standing out is a critical problem to solve with starting a new podcast. What’s the best way to do it? Provide value without the fluff. Shorter length podcasts that are jam-packed with value have an easier time gaining traction and retention than ones where the listeners have to sit through an hour just to hear a few points of interest. – Nishank Khanna, Demand Roll

5. Defining The Cadence And The Structure

One mistake that is constantly made with podcasts is people who are not taking them seriously enough. If you want to have a successful show you need to plan ahead and show when you are going to be creating content. When you put that content out, you always, without question, must be on time. You also must constantly bring an exceptional format to the show. – Jon James, Ignited Results

6. Build Viral Awareness

Every guest you host and every company they represent should be an advocate for promoting the program. Leveraging individual company newsletters, databases and social media channels will help build a following. In addition, make sure the focus of the podcast (its messaging) is clear and concise so people looking can find you based on their interests. – Ilissa Miller, IMiller Public Relations

7. Be Extremely Customer-Centric

Remember that your podcast content is not about you. Make sure that every podcast topic and episode is laser-focused on bringing value and entertainment to your audience. Think about what they want to learn in your industry and don’t be afraid to talk about things that you don’t offer. Focus on their interests and they will stick around to hear the rest. – A. Lee Judge, Content Monsta

8. Capture A Niche

In order to survive in the extremely congested podcast landscape, the podcast must adequately capture a niche and communicate that niche in a way that is extremely clear to the target audience. General topic podcasts are extremely difficult to sell to a saturated market — find a particular thing you can own and run with it. – Stefan Pollack, The Pollack PR Marketing Group

9. Become Predictable

Become predictable but not in the repetitive, boring sense — in the way that your fans know when they can expect the next release, the type of content they will hear, and how that content will be delivered. From my experience, maintaining a consistent schedule is just as important as delivering interesting stories to your listeners. – Korena Keys, KeyMedia Solutions

10. Don’t Copy Someone

If you find yourself needing to copy someone else for lack of your own originality, then maybe the time to start a podcast just isn’t right. We don’t need more content for the sake of more content. If you’re patient, your original idea will eventually come, and then it’ll be time for you to go all in before someone else beats you to it. – Greg Trimble, Lemonade Stand

11. Remember Your ‘Why’

We’ve just started our own podcast, so we’re experiencing these challenges firsthand. My biggest tip would be to always remember why you created it so that you don’t go off-topic, off-brand and off your strategy. Always think about how you are going to add value to someone else’s day. If you hold that in, you’ll be able to stay on track. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

12. Ask Better Questions

Having started my own podcast recently, my tip would be to make sure you get really good with asking better questions. I saw a lot of videos on how to ask good questions before I sat down to frame my own. Asking questions that don’t lead to a one-word answer would be my one tip. – Namita Ramani, Above Digital

13. Learn Your Distribution Model First

Developing a good podcast is similar to making a website search engine-optimized. Strategy-wise, the search engine component to podcasts is as important as the content itself. Having knowledge of your potential distribution is crucial, so it’s best to start with a distribution model and work your way back through content creation and storytelling. – Scott Harkey, OH Partners

14. Promote On Social And Track Results

It’s critical for the success of your podcast to properly leverage social media to drive listeners from your target audience. Make sure to share a link to each episode on the social platforms relevant to your target audience of listeners: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Snapchat and/or LinkedIn. Tracking visitors to your podcast will allow you to optimize future distribution efforts. – Jody Resnick, Trighton Interactive

15. Don’t Be Afraid To Get Personal

A good podcast tells a story audibly but makes you visualize the situation, personal story or character of the narrator or interviewee. When starting a podcast, strive for that personal connection by sharing relatable stories with human flaws that people sympathize with. The audience will feel they truly “know” the person and continue following their story in subsequent podcasts. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

4 Steps for How Direct-to-Consumer Challenger Brands Can Scale to Win

The rise of direct-to-consumer and challenger brands in the marketplace over the past several years has driven a dramatic paradigm shift. This new wave of products, services and subscription models has captured the mind and spirit of U.S. consumers, particularly in the coveted Millennial and Gen-Z audiences. It has also obliterated the traditional rules of marketing. To succeed moving forward, every marketer has to understand how the game has changed in order to win. Challenger brands that want to climb to the top, and stay there, have to be smart and strategic about how they engage consumers.

Challenger Brands

Why is this happening now?

Over the past several years, the U.S. cultural and political landscape has been marked by upheaval: Widening income gaps, the #MeToo movement, massive personal data breaches, shattered norms, unusual political allegiances, election meddling. and non-linear warfare, to name a few. Consumer behavior has always correlated closely with larger social trends, and this moment is no exception. The current social upheaval is reflected in the marketplace through the increasingly rapid introduction of startup disruptors, like Uber, AirBnB, Casper, and Peloton. It’s no coincidence that when the cultural zeitgeist is one of disruption and perpetual change, “disruption” is what every business strives for. Perpetual change is our new normal.

Driving these changes in the marketplace are technological advancements and tools that fuel agile, upstart challengers, which seek to steal market share from legacy leaders. Interestingly, many challenger brands have direct-to-consumer (DTC) business models. They are also borrowing tactics from the Direct Response advertising and marketing playbook. Testing creative messaging, offering configurations and call-to-actions along with triggering an impulse buy, and measuring everything as precisely as possible are all hallmarks of Direct Response—newly re-christened as Performance Marketing.

From a digital platform perspective, the tools and services to support challenger brands with DTC models are all there. However, scaling up past digital is the true test of whether these brands will have a significant and lasting place in the market. As the costs of advertising on Facebook and Instagram increase and the competitive bidding in AdWords becomes untenable, the target cost-per-actions needed for businesses to scale (and perhaps close another round of funding) begin to drift out of reach.

While there are other channels—such as social media influencers and out-of-home—they can make it tricky to show accurate ROI. The fact is that if a challenger brand wants to scale effectively beyond digital, TV is the answer. Why? Because the array of strategic options with linear, connected and addressable TV is continually being refined. Moreover, the attribution and analytics to track TV performance to provable ROI is more advanced than ever.

How to scale and win

The key to winning—meaning to scale beyond digital—is simple, but it requires the right ingredients and the right partner. Here are four steps that direct-to-consumer challenger brands can take to effectively scale to win.

1. First, brands need to craft compelling creative messaging that will elicit the desired response from their audience. Generally, this entails balancing an emotional component, to hook them, and a rational component, to drive responsiveness. A/B testing tools that offer configurations and call-to-actions can help brands uncover the best performer within their creative options.

2. Secondly, a brand’s audience segmentation and media strategy must be spot on. Brands can learn quite a bit about their audience through digital channels and there are formulas to apply those learnings and the profiles in a CRM to TV. Additionally, TV can provide more “spillover” than digital, so there’s an opportunity to test out an audience’s sweet spot.

3. Third, media buying must be optimized weekly. With accurate attribution, analytics and reporting, media buyers have the information at their fingertips to heavy up on the best performing stations and day parts while balancing clearance to meet business objectives.

4. Lastly, and most importantly, brands have to measure everything. TV post-logs, BVS detections, Google Analytics, Omniture, Adjust, Appsflyer, Liveramp and other data sources should be fed into custom attribution engines with fully refined algorithms to deliver results, insights and directional data to make better decisions, which drive even better results.

All of these steps must be iterative in nature. Winning in today’s landscape requires an agile model that seeks to continuously improve results in order to achieve sustainable scalability. Just like any advertising investment, there is risk involved. There is risk involved in starting a business, raising money, and taking on the role of marketer. Now, brands have to decide if they want to scale up and capture market share or be content with where they are now. Direct-to-consumer and challenger brands have endless opportunities ahead of them, if they know how to take advantage of them.

The Versatility of Connected TV and How to Best Integrate Into Marketing Strategies

Connected TV covers a broad range of executions and it can be a very powerful tool in a media mix if properly deployed.

As consumers increasingly utilize streaming and connected TV services, either as a substitute for linear or as an extension of their TV viewing, connected TV advertising is proving to be a versatile channel in a brand’s overall marketing strategy. The truth is, connected TV covers a broad range of executions and it can be a very powerful tool in a media mix if properly deployed. In order to achieve proper execution, it is important to fully understand the entire versatility of the channel. In this article, we will explore the different iterations of CTV as well as the best ways to approach this emerging channel with and without traditional TV integration.
Bill Cogar

Connected TV: Making the Most of Your Advertising Dollars

Broadly speaking, CTV refers to TV programming that is streamed through an internet connected device. This includes smart TVs, Apple TV, Roku devices, gaming consoles (PlayStation, Xbox), and any video content streamed on an iPhone, tablet or desktop, commonly referred to as full episode player (FEP). In addition to device type, CTV also describes over-the-top (OTT), which refers to network provider extensions like DirecTV Now, HBO GO, and others. Additional examples of OTT include YouTube TV (lives in Google’s walled garden) and Hulu, which historically has operated from an open exchange and only recently started to break up its inventory putting more into auction.
When referring to CTV advertising, media buyers are referring to a range of executions, the nuances of which can be leveraged to drive brand awareness, lead generation and conversion as well as data and audience learnings, including attribution. The nuances that exist within CTV, including channel, programming type, and device type, can each be uniquely leveraged to reach specific users and achieve specific objectives. It is also important for brands to note that the nuances within CTV vary greatly in quality and cost. For example, a CTV ad delivered to a targeted audience using highly targeted data and delivered within premium network content during primetime hours provides a different value and experience than a CTV ad delivered to a broad demographic on mobile device in-app in off peak hours, yet on paper these can look deceptively similar. With the level of fragmentation that exists, it can be difficult to fully understand exactly what is being bought and placed, and if you are merely looking at delivery metrics to gauge performance, then dollars can be easily wasted.

Targeting and Tracking for Top Exposure

The most valuable aspect of CTV is the ability to apply granular audience targeting in order to identify high value users and bid specifically to place messaging in front them. In order to reach these highly valuable users, buyers and strategists must layer data, targeting, inventory, and bidding strategies in order to create effective and efficient buys. In addition to targeting, the ability to track and attribute your campaign to measurable actions like activity post exposure is beneficial for several reasons. Like other digital channels, CTV utilizes digital signals to track user’s activity after ad exposure. Smart TV executions rely on cross device mapping in order to create a device graph for each household, and measure activity on other devices tied to that IP address. With cross device mapping in place, marketers can see if a user who was served a CTV ad on their Roku device later visited a brand’s website on another device connected to the same WiFi router. This kind of direct attribution is beneficial because an individual’s ad exposure can be tracked to a user’s activity and optimized to ROI actions. Attribution is achieved by mapping the exposure of users to an advertisement to their web activity post-exposure. For example, direct actions like form fills or purchases, to indirect impact measurement like searches they conducted after being exposed. Additionally, ROI value is further enhanced when CTV is executed as part of a holistic digital campaign that includes display, social, and search.

CTV is effective for top of funnel efforts, while complementing other digital channels if the right strategies are deployed to ensure all channels work in harmony. These other strategies can include sequential message delivery, funnel modeled audience profiles, and re-engagement strategies that drive influenced actions. Beyond brand awareness and exposure, CTV can be leveraged with performance-based objectives in mind. Whether it is utilizing tracking and attribution to tie exposure to conversions, or as part of a re-engagement strategy to connect with users who have expressed interest but not yet converted, CTV is able to deliver high value messaging to specific users with specific influence in mind. CTV’s ability to be measured with high accuracy through pixels and cross device measurement means that even with view through attribution, the exposure these ads generate should be viewed as high value.

An additional benefit of a CTV campaign is its use as a testing platform to prove a creative or audience hypothesis, before rolling out to more mass reach channels like linear TV. Because CTV sits in between digital and traditional channels, it provides a platform to understand response and engagement with content and audiences with the flexibility of digital execution. Therefore, it is a great way to experiment with audiences, creative, programming, and other variables to collect data that can be used to make decisions across channels. CTV can uncover audiences that are likely to respond to your product or disprove audiences that will not respond. The campaign can identify data points for programming and interests within existing audiences; potentially preventing an expensive buy on a network that is not likely to perform, and it can deliver response metrics to different creative tests; helping direct creative teams toward more effective messaging. All of this can be accomplished with lower investments and within shorter time frames as statistical relevance can be reached quickly and cheaply if executed well.

The question becomes how should CTV be integrated into a brand’s marketing mix? Due to its flexibility, CTV can be executed in many different ways. It can be used as a testing vehicle for linear TV executions or as an integrated awareness driver with linear TV, providing an extension of reach and frequency that improves overall exposure rates and provides stronger attribution signals on the effectiveness of both channels. It can also be run as an extension of Digital buys as a way to fill the funnel with high value sight, sound, and motion touch points along with a re-engagement vehicle to drive deeper influence throughout a user’s journey, and as a way to deliver video content in attention heavy inventory. However, it can also be executed as its own standalone effort with its own KPIs for success. Overall the most effective position for CTV, like with any marketing channel, is within a larger strategy where all channels work together toward a common objective with shared thinking and data between them.

The strongest teams to run CTV campaigns will bring both TV and digital experience to the table, with the teams working closely to share expertise, share data and learnings, and leverage knowledge bases to extract the best of all that CTV has to offer.