marketing

Users Like It Raw. Authentic Content Wins.

Last week a great piece in the The AtlanticThe Instagram Aesthetic Is Over – detailed the trend of organic, real imagery making a comeback and being more relevant than ever before. Especially for influencers who are now opting for on-the-fly content rather than overly produced, fancy filter pics. The insta-pros are experiencing better engagement and growth with raw and real.

The reality is real and authentic content never went away. 8 years ago I presented at conferences about real-world authentic shots in fashion were outperforming studio shoots. Then our team a year later was a USA Twitter Trending Topic for 20+ consecutive weeks (a record) with a campaign using original, authentic content.

 

Where brands and influencers fall short is thinking that audiences only want authentic content. People want to be entertained, informed and persuaded. Doing this effectively – aka consistently over time - requires a variety of content types – studio, raw, user-generated (UGC), original animation and video. Aspirational, fun, intriguing, emotive “produced” content STILL WORKS! Look at the top fashion brands, consumer tech, gaming.

 

Above all, the quality of the creative is what matters most – sure aesthetic matters, but it’s far from everything. Produce assets that have VALUE. When you give to the community, it’s remarkable what the community is capable of giving in return. Do the best you can with the resources available and continuously improve.


Joseph Nolan is the founder of JONO MKT, a digital marketing and strategy agency. He’s pioneered digital and social transformations at several billion-dollar brands and is an alumnus of the renowned MA Strategic Public Relations program at USC Annenberg.

Still Wondering "Do Social Ads Really Work?"

When Facebook’s annual revenue hovered around $40.6B in 2017, an SVP of marketing approached me and the following conversation took place:

 

SVP: Do Facebook ads really work?

Me: Well, about $40B in revenue says they work pretty well.

SVP: Right, but could just be a fad. When one business does something everyone else will jump onboard. Maybe it’s just great PR by Facebook or people riding a tech wave.

Me: Sure, but it’s $40B globally, companies everywhere.

SVP: Of course, surely you believe word spreads across borders with the internet nowadays etc.

Me: Well, we also have months and months of data and tons of spend to prove performance.

SVP: Right, but I’m still not sold.

 

This actually happened…the reality is many people still don’t believe anyone “buys anything off social media” or, a step further, that social media impacts the sales journey. Part of me didn’t want to pen this piece because it sounds so outlandish, but clients and marketing peers continue to ask, “do ads in social media (any network) actually work?”

 

100% they work! Absolutely there are instances where social ads may not be effective, but I’ve found in these scenarios that other channels fail too including SEM and the holy grail email. Such cases tend to be more so about the inadequacies of the business and its web presence rather than shortcomings of online marketing channels.

 

Now the Facebook research appears to be done in-house, but people spend more time on social than anywhere else so it’s common sense that they’ll be willing to shop during the hours that they’re liking and posting selfies. Remember, Facebook’s ad platform in particular is phenomenally powerful, so odds are better than average that they can find people likely to buy.  The article also contains a bunch of good links to Facebook best practices and techniques, so take a peek. Time to get onboard, the world isn’t only search, email and amazon. Social demands a seat at the table too.


 Joseph Nolan is the founder of JONO MKT, a digital marketing and strategy agency. He has pioneered digital and social transformations at several billion-dollar brands and is an alumnus of the renowned MA Strategic Public Relations program at USC Annenberg.

Buzzworthy Big Brands - Insurance Companies?!

Latest report from Engagement Labs published by MarketingCharts shows insurance brands (yes the most thrilling businesses) dominate word-of-mouth advertising. How the heck???

Absolutely, mega-sized budgets help but the execution and quality of creative are what make the campaigns talk-worthy and not simply a forced impression during the NBA playoffs.

State Farm dominates prime-time sports audiences using a-list athletes everyone knows and twists on relevant life events – Aaron Rodgers, James Harden, Chris Paul, etc.  

Geico somehow excels running multiple creative concepts concurrently, a totally unique approach which gives average brand managers a panic attack since creative consistency is thrown out the window. Among the US’ largest advertisers by spend, they’ve been executing this winning strategy one gecko, one 15-minute call at a time for ~10 years, a testament to the talent of their agencies and internal leadership.

Allstate wins over and over with their infamous Mayhem campaign that shines during March Madness and NFL. And of course, viewers are always in good hands with the iconic spokesperson Dennis Dexter Haysbert.

Now the controversy…where is Progressive? Hard to except “Liberty, Liberty, Liiiiiiiberrty” outperforms friendly quote lady Flo and Progressive’s #1 #2 guy.

To celebrate the insurance industry entertaining us all, feast on compilations of the best commercials from these big brands…and our favorite from Progressive.

Jamie's 40th birthday bash has karaoke, acoustic guitars, and a lot of shocked faces. His voice is almost as beautiful as a home and auto bundle with Progressive.

The best and funniest commercials from Geico "A Gecko's journey".


Joseph Nolan is the founder of JONO MKT, a digital marketing and strategy agency. He has pioneered digital and social transformations at several billion-dollar brands and is an alumnus of the renowned MA Strategic Public Relations program at USC Annenberg.

Cambridge Analytica: Hysteria Hyped

Photo Credit: Huffington Post https://bit.ly/2unxdhe

Photo Credit: Huffington Post https://bit.ly/2unxdhe

Cambridge Analytica and Facebook hysteria. Put aside political preferences and selling of user lists (although emails lists are regularly purchased). Let’s focus on what’s also under assault this week breaking the internet – so-called “psychological warfare,” better known as digital marketing.

That’s right, people are freaking out that they were marketed to and how well the marketing performed. But the reality is that the user targeting and messaging doom and gloom scenario described by the Guardian and genius of Mr. Wylie are actually the norms of modern-day digital marketing. That is, using sophisticated audience targeting and tailored messaging. It happens every day, all the time, all over the world.

Mr. Wylie’s fancy algorithms to find people most likely to click – that’s called data science.  Thousands of companies invest in data science to drive their businesses, maximizing return on investment.  This isn’t just a Facebook, Google, Amazon thing – it’s a way the world works thing.  And 99% of time smart, good people do their best and the right thing for customers and companies.

Ever see one of those “recommended products” sections? How about an email for “products you may also like?” Data science and digital marketing in action. The notion that this is the first time everyone is experiencing this is outrageous. Think about it, everyone complaining about data science today has experienced it many times within the last 24-hrs and had zero issues with it.

Back to Cambridge…it’s Important to understand the way Cambridge used the data isn’t novel or magical. Looking closely at what’s been reported, using the data from 50 million app subscribers accelerated and reduced the cost of what could’ve been closely replicated through traditional digital marketing methodology. Works something like this…

1. Build basic websites, Facebook pages and Instagram profiles. Even launch their own Facebook app instead of buying data!

2. Target users based on numerous political attributes – profile interests, TV shows, celebrities, politicians, geography, etc.

3. Launch political/cultural ads to determine the degree of users’ liberalism or conservatism

4. Measure people’s engagement with the ads then tailor subsequent ads/messaging

It’s that straightforward but would absolutely take some time to be done well.

Furthermore, people are really losing it over how effective ads were. The fact that messaging can be tailored to groups of people is being called “spooky.” But it happens to everyone ALL THE TIME. Every speech. Every meeting. Every ad. Messaging is tailored to the audience. How about the new video where the gentleman describes putting great content out into social media – hello! Social media teams around the globe do that every day. In fact, there’s a huge industry dedicated to communicating effectively called public relations - been around for centuries, leveraged by politicians and companies. Usually people enjoy being told what they want to hear, it’s not seen as offensive or controversial.

The truth is a user would only keep being served ads if he/she liked, clicked, watched ads or visited sites. Stop engaging with ads, stop receiving ads. Which means people are actually upset about their own actions. This is like people complaining about ads for products they liked and bought – think about it.

And, Interestingly, even candy bars are causing a ruckus. The seemingly alarming discovery by Wylie that certain people like Kit Kats, is not rocket science and accessible via the Facebook Audience Insights tool or more slowly via expensive 3rd-party research databases. In fact this author made a similar discovery once that revealed an audience indexed high for frozen yogurt and small pickup trucks/SUVs. Rather than turning this universe-altering finding into something like “Operation Kit Kat” and calling the CIA it became nothing more than Operation Water Cooler topic and a lighthearted way to start meetings. Cool story bro, but we never held photoshoots in front of Chevy Colorados and Toyota Tacomas with people eating Pink Berry (maybe we should have tried that…).

Broken down to its simplest form, here’s a translation from hysteria to marketing speak. Ph.D. in rocket science not required.

“Identify people” means create an audience

o   Use your own email database or ad targeting info like demographics, interests, shopping behavior, prior ad engagement

“Ads designed to get a reaction” means strategic messaging and great creative assets

“Sophisticated secret algorithms” means use data to determine people most likely to click

o   Propensity to purchase models for existing customers, scoring (ranking) leads

The right moments” means media strategy and where people are in the funnel

o   Awareness – consideration – likely to purchase

“Get better over time” means measuring results and improving

“Serve ads based on people’s reactions” means behavioral targeting and sequential ads

o   Different messages displayed in a particular sequence

Hopefully this article contributes to quelling the hysteria a bit. In the end, it’s important that we understand what we’re so upset about and look closely at how information is presented to us. Political preference and marketing are obvious causes of angst in this instance. If marketing’s got you down, realize this is the way the world works and has been for quite some time. If it’s politics, understand modern marketing isn’t unique to the right or left. Though content is everywhere and nonstop, you the user still has power over what you decide to click, watch, visit and buy. The game’s not over. You still have a choice. And regarding that choice…there’s an algorithm for that.

____________________

Joseph Nolan is a NYC-based marketing consultant and thought leader with over a decade at major brands in auto, ecommerce, lifestyle and fitness. Opinions are his own. Feedback, article ideas and business inquiries welcomed at joe@jonomkt.com. Learn more at jonomkt.com + @josephjnolan.

 

Facebook Algorithm Apocalypse 2018

Breath in…and…out. Step back from the social media ledge, the world isn’t ending (yet). Although the buzz about the great Facebook algorithm change of 2018 has been so tremendous, one might think the digital marketing apocalypse was finally upon us. 

Yes, the reality is branded content was further deprioritized and social ad inventory will decrease - so buckle up. The results at first glance can cause concern: ad rates may increase due to decreased inventory and fewer people will see organic content. Now what for marketers??! Damned if you pay, damned if you don’t.

Not so fast on the doom and gloom. Let’s pause for a minute and take a close look at the social landscape. First regarding advertising…ad rates may increase but maybe not as pervasively as anticipated and not so much so as to be a deterrent from spending. What if in the future you received the same number of purchases for the same cost as today but frequency and impressions went down? In other words, your CPMs go up but your CPAs stay the same - greater efficiency. Not so bad after all, right? And, all the while users have a better experience which means they spend more time on Facebook and that benefits both Facebook and your business. Not impossible...

That’s right, we tend to neglect that Facebook has the most powerful ad intent platform in history and it’s in their best interest to continue to deliver results for their advertisers. Better today than ever before, they know when people will watch your vids, click your ads and buy your products. Don’t believe me? Simple example, they retarget other members of a household using the same IP address with relevant ads within 1-3 minutes of a user visiting a company’s site - get on onboard it’s not hype.

Additionally, the ad platform has evolved perhaps more significantly in the last 6-8 months than ever before making it easier for marketers to be more successful. Asset creation and testing, advanced targeting and measurement, robust campaign optimization capabilities - all of these previously privileged to 3rd party ad tools now at the fingertips of every advertiser in Ads Manager. So the tools are available to the masses to be more effective, more efficient with less wasted spend.

Now the good stuff, the holy grail of social media - organic content. It’s FREE so it’s got to be good - oh wait, forgot about those rapidly growing content production and personnel budgets…The reality is the organic reach percentage is already at ~0.7% on Facebook and ~4-10% on Instagram — that means that on average less than 1% of your Facebook fans will even see a post every day, let alone engage with it. And, the engagement number is roughly 10% of the 0.7% reach! Now maybe that organic reach drops to 0.4%, or 5% on Insta…so what? Is that really making a dent in your campaign?

The best brands generate up to ~9-10% of traffic organically from social channels (excluding media publishers and top of the top online retailers) and these visitors tend to be overwhelmingly existing customers. This means that organic traffic isn’t the cure all of online customer acquisition like many companies are learning the hard way after over leveraging personnel allocation to content creation. Should you continue try to excel at organic content in order to maximize that organic reach and engagement rate - ABSOLUTELY. Is organic content effective at retention - YES. Does organic play a role in acquisition - SURE. Magic bullet - NO.

So should you look to diversify further from social with this latest algorithm? Where will you go? Display ads? Likely not, the c-suite threshold for believing 22 impressions causes a purchase has about reached its peak. More paid search? Perhaps, but you’re probably really good at SEM already and you’re saturated. Event marketing? Nope. OOH? Umm, no. Straightforward solution: continue to get better at social overall - organic and paid - and excel at omni-channel / CRM. Instead of screaming SOS, start championing S-E-S. Now more than ever it’s a Search - Email - Social world. And not necessarily in that order...

----------

Joseph Nolan is a NYC-based marketing consultant and thought leader with over a decade at major brands in auto, ecommerce, lifestyle and fitness. Opinions are his own. Feedback, article ideas and business inquiries welcomed at joe@jonomkt.com. Learn more @ jonomkt.com / @josephjnolan.