We’re gearing up to have a really great year with yet another two nominations. We’ve shortlisted for Most Effective Media Agency and Best Use of Creativity (for Autodesk’s video banner campaign) at the 2017 Drum Digital Trading Awards. The Digital Trading Awards recognize the best talent in automated digital trading, with this year’s theme Living the Dream – Programmatic Everywhere, taking a closer look at how the industry has been doing programmatic. This is the fourth year for the Digital Trading Awards, and the 13th award nomination this year for NMPi.
Last week, the annual B2B Marketing Expo was held at the ExCel centre in London. Two packed days, hundreds of exhibitors, and dozens of fascinating seminars. On top of being able to see the latest and most innovative brands, the expo hosted brief half hour talks by subject matter experts. I attended three sessions. The first talk given by Luke Quilter, was entitled: Search Marketing and the Importance of Social Media. Quilter spoke about an integrated approach to SEO and social media.
Quilter emphasised the importance of reevaluating how much content brands have in the early stages of the sales funnel. By sharing experiences via social channels, it puts brands back in the awareness stage. Different channels evolve in different sections of the funnel but unfortunately, many marketers only care about the “DO” or conversion phase and the resulting ROI.
As marketers, we need to think about the different phases and channels throughout the consideration process. Quilter moved on to look at “micro moments” and how consumers make decisions. He offered some quick tips for marketers:
- Don’t focus on particular keywords. Focus on longer tail search terms.
- Focus on context and ascertain where a consumer is in the funnel.
- Google doesn’t look at social sharing for its algorithm. It doesn’t appear to help your SEO, because it’s not causation, but correlation, i.e., if you do good work, write interesting and engaging content, you will notice better SEO performance because more people will be sharing it.
- Don’t forget to leverage your content. Many marketers create content but forget to leverage it, they forget who they are targeting and just write content for content sake.
Quilter also shared some interesting social media facts with the audience:
- Social profiles don’t rank within search results. Many social channels want to be search engines themselves; Facebook is moving in this direction. Bing, however, does rank social profiles.
- People check their phones approximately 150 time per day! This immediate access to information has changed our purchase process. Are we doing enough at the top part of the funnel?
- British users spend 1:20 mins per day on social media!
He finished off his presentation by offering some hope for those who are struggling: “The great thing about digital is that you can fail and switch gears quickly and not have to commit for a long time. Digital is a great place to experiment and try new things.”
The second session was entitled: How to Use Video Content Effectively for Social Media, by AdTube’s Utam Bhutia and was aimed at helping B2B marketers navigate the do’s and don’ts of creating effective videos to share across social channels. Bhudia has been producing videos for five years and saw the benefits of using video for social media to increase engagement and ROI.
What makes a video effective?
- Tell a story
- Be authentic, be yourself
Those two points may seem obvious, but they are not often followed by marketers. Bhudia’s sage advice to the audience was, “You shouldn’t do it for the sales, you should do it for the ‘feels’”. He stressed that an emotional connection is vital for video success. Case studies and CSR videos are good ways to show people how your brand is helping. Bhutia also talked about the importance of educating the viewer and to always remember who is the focus of the video content, “Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world. It’s not about you, it’s about them.” What can videos offer your audience? They can be used to answer brand FAQs, give audiences industry news updates, share info with your customers, and most importantly, put yourself in the position of being industry expert.
Bhutia offered some tips for brands wading into video for the first time:
- Don’t upload videos that won’t engage. If the video is boring, your audience will find it boring and you are wasting their time and your time. Upload original content.
- Don’t upload one video and expect immediate success. You need to continually engage and update your customers.
- Don’t put out content with the sole intention of it going viral. Consistency is key, the internet likes consistency, set a schedule and stick to it.
- Don’t just share to Facebook. Share across newsletters and other social channels.
- Don’t upload click-bait. People don’t like being tricked into watching videos that aren’t what they appear to be.
Their talk tackled several questions and challenges brands have when embarking on call tracking, such as: Are you wasting your marketing budget because you can’t track your calls and leads? Do I really need call tracking? What is it? How much does it cost?
Today brands are faced with tighter budgets and more pressure to prove results in order to prevent future budgets cuts due to improper tracking. Many businesses struggle to track their calls and track their spend, or understand where their leads and opportunities originated.
This is especially important for paid search because tracking allows marketers to understand how their interactions were generated. Cornelius and Goward walked the audience through a typical customer journey and demonstrated how a call tracking system can track a phone call made against a customer journey (in their example, for a holiday search). They demonstrated how to assign special tracking identification, such as numbers that generated a unique code assigned to that particular caller. That ID was then able to indicate how far they went in the journey and if they converted. These insights allow brands to tweak their campaigns to ensure a higher likelihood of conversion.
While Goward and Cornelius showcased their own call tracking tool, Bing and Google have these tools available for marketers with easy to follow instructions, if they do not have a ready-made system in place. With the trend towards a mainly mobile environment firmly established, and the addition of “call now” buttons to many mobile websites, accurate call tracking becomes an invaluable tool for improving conversion and customer satifaction rates.
The seminars were informative and enjoyable breaks from circling the stalls, with good take aways for B2B marketers on social, mobile, sales, call tracking, paid search and analytics. B2B often gets pushed aside for B2C marketing but it was good to connect and engage with industry experts and show that B2B is alive and well.
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The first session of the day’s conference, Ad Blocking: Friend or Foe was formal, but for the remaining guest speakers, talks were broken down into casual panels, giving the audience a better chance to ask questions and join the conversation.
This first panel, The Big Questions – Adblocking Friend or Foe?, caused lively debate because it featured Christian Dommers, Head of Development of AdBlock Plus, defending the ad blocking perspective from a volley of heated panelist and audience questions. He argued that although this issue seems to have exploded fairly recently, with the advent of mobile ad blocking, it’s not new, “Ad blocking has been an issue for years, it’s about the user, and his rights, and his right to protect himself.”
AdBlock Plus recently came under fire from advertisers and publishers for their part in the creation of the Acceptable Ads Board. The Acceptable Ads Board is an independent industry-wide group that determines which ads will make it past AdBlock Plus’ filters. The sticking point has been the accusation that AdBlock Plus are making money off the backs off advertisers and publishers while pretending to be the Robin Hood of web clean-up. AdBlock Plus faced harsh criticism this past September when the Wall Street Journal reported that several large advertisers had come forward, claiming they were being asked to fork over a portion of their ad traffic in order to be whitelisted. Dommers was adamant that AdBlock Plus was not earning at the publisher’s expense, nor engaging in underhanded tactics; he argued that this has been an issue since 2002, and that whitelisting certain ads is best practice.
The discussion then moved onto whether charging advertisers and publishers for whitelisting was acceptable. Martin Ashplant, Metro’s Digital Director challenged Dommers, asking, “Why do you get to say whats OK, and not OK? You’re the arbiters of a system that penalises”. Dommers stood firm saying, “AdBlock Plus are not arbitrating, the users of Adblocker make the decision of what’s deemed an acceptable ad, and what’s not an acceptable ad.”
Ashplant took a harsh stance towards ad blocking activity; Metro actively bars content to users who have ad blockers installed. Ashplant says it’s a big issue for the Metro, 19% of their impressions were found to have ad blockers installed. Other large publications have followed suit, The New York Times has recently experimented with similar messaging with some users. When the user with an ad blocker installed visits the page, a message pops up saying: “The best things in life aren’t free.” and then prompted to whitelist the paper or subscribe to read content. Ashplant felt publishers were being punished for the ‘worst in class’ players, and users who had one bad experience weren’t going to turn ad blockers off for advertisers who did have decent ads. “There is certainly room to improve at the moment and also, just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. We have to work very hard to convince those who use adblockers, not to use them.”
More control for publishers might be around the corner with Google’s launch of AMP, which creates web pages that load quickly. This may be an avenue worth looking into for advertisers, Ashplant added, “What will the monetization from this look like? It could be an interesting proposition, and give publishers more control.” Another suggestion was for publishers to look at apps to circumvent ad blocking and to better engage with consumers. Ad blocking on mobile is still relatively minimal because people spend a lot of time in app on their phone, but it’s still popular on desktop.
57% of people polled by the IAB had no clue that advertising funded the content they saw online. IAB CEO, Guy Philipson suggested that in light of this grim statistic, advertisers need to reframe the conversation with the consumer and better educate them about the relationship between ads and content. Philipson also mentioned that retargeting is an issue; users don’t like being followed around the internet, or like having their transaction data used later for advertising purposes.
What do we need to do to move forward towards change? Dommer concluded the session by maintaining the that its up to the individual to be able to control what they view online, while Ashplant appealed to advertisers in the audience to take the issue very seriously, “Companies and organizations will be forced to close down, or put that charge on the consumer because someone has to pay for that content.”
The second panel, Creative, the Value Exchange and Targeting Millennials, focused the conversation on ad quality, creative spend, and native advertising. Lolly Mason, Head of Media Partnerships EMEA at Celtra issued a challenge to advertisers: “Let’s create something awesome that people want to interact with. We’ve been disrespectful as advertisers to users, so it’s not a surprise to see an increase in ad blocking. People are annoyed by interstitials that won’t close down, or ads blasting loudly on your desktop or mobile, it’s a horrible experience. Millennials are not used to seeing the rubbish sites of the 90s.”
The panel agreed that people don’t necessarily hate ads, citing the earlier Ipsos example of John Lewis and Sainsbury’s Christmas ads. People talk about them, anticipate them, and like sharing them. The same holds for movie goers, who go to the theatre early to catch movie trailers. People will watch these ads and engage with them because they are done well.
Laura Jordan Bambach, Creative Partner at Mr. President felt that the balance between creative and message spend is out of whack. Brands are not spending enough on the message, and the quality of message is suffering. “You forget the person on the end is a human being and might want to be inspired.” The creative element is under a tremendous amount of pressure, with many creative agencies dying out because they can’t keep up. Bambach added, “The split between media and creative has really done us a disservice. We’ve become very lazy as an industry. There are opportunities to do really exciting thing, workout side the box.”
Panel moderator Bob Wootton, ISBA, noted that the creative being offered now is clearly insufficient, with all the ad blocking taking place, and Dale Lovell, Chief Digital Officer at Adyoulike suggested that the technology that underpins the ad process is struggling to catch up. Lovell works with native advertising and indicated that the majority of native ads are user initiated. He also said that Millenials are very demanding, very impatient, and have set the bar high for advertisers. The session concluded with all panellists optimistic about the future.
The final panel discussed The Future of Ad Blocking. What should advertisers do about ad blocking? How are they affected?
Nigel Gilbert, VP and Strategic Development EMEA at AppNexus, said, “The commercial issues are fairly obvious, if 30-40% of ads are blocked, it creates scarcity and prices will rise. The other issue is that with ad blocking, there is a part of the demographic you can’t advertise to, and that’s a problem and something advertisers need to get ahead of.”
Piers North, Strategy Director at Trinity Mirror noted that the monetization issue is more of a desktop problem than mobile at the moment. While mobile will be impacted, it’s a much smaller share of the pie in terms of ad blocking activity.
The panelists were asked if they felt there was an onus to educate publishers and advertisers? Nigel Gwilliam, Consultant Head of Media and Emerging Tech at IPA, responded, “The short answer is yes. It’s a very important wake up call…Consumers are telling us there is an issue here. The way forward might be to ask what do we do about that other than threatening to turn off content. Are there better ways? We need a better understanding of what is OK vs what is entirely unacceptable.” He concluded by suggesting that “badges” might be a solution.
Dr. Johnny Ryan, Head of Ecosystem at Pagefair felt that advertisers want a reduction of clutter, and cut right to the chase saying, “The meat of the discussion is this: advertising 1.0 is over. We have a smaller sandbox. Focus on premium ads.”
The common refrain of the day was that ad blocking is a wake up call to advertisers and publishers. While ad blocking activities have been around for several years, the renewed interest and surge in the installation of ad blockers, especially on mobile, is sending a clear message that consumers are not happy with what they’re getting. Advertising is no longer about captive audiences, users are actively participating in, and now controlling, what they want to see. Advertisers with shoddy practices and ads are being taken to task. This is a call to action; consumers are no longer willing to be subjected to intrusive, disruptive advertising. The advertising industry must sit up and take note, listen to consumers, or face the very real prospect of being shut out across all screens.
Net Media Planet and the Perfume Shop hold joint search seminar
The second in our series of Net Media Invites seminars took place last Thursday at the Groucho Club in Soho. Our Managing Director, Sri Sharma, provided key learnings and guidance for planning and executing paid search campaigns that will build successfully on ad campaigns in the offline world. And Matt Walburn, Marketing Director of The Perfume Shop was kind enough to come along to provide the client perspective.
The audience certainly seemed to feel that their presentation provided food for thought. Here are the charts from the presentation for you to look at…
Strategies for integrating paid search with offline activity to improve ROI
image credit: E01 on Flickr