Content Distribution Is A Hot Mess Right Now

Ryan Skinner

Publishers Are Engaged In Self-Harm With Marketers As An Accessory

You remember when the email spam problem maxed out almost a decade ago? Or when content farms threatened to turn Google search results into useless piles of keyword-slurry? Or peak belly fat?

There should be a word for the moments when the mechanisms that aim to keep our electronic information corridors running well, fail.

It’s shaping up to be one of those moments for the content distribution space (and particularly its sub-discipline native advertising or sponsored content).

You can pity the reader who arrives at an article on many publishers’ websites today; I’m talking about you, Guardian and Forbes, but also you, New York Times and Washington Post. How is the reader to know if the article they’ve come to read is the product of a straightforward pay to publish play, an informal “link exchange” relationship, an “influencer” play, an independent opinion piece or a piece of pure editorial? They can’t.

For the record: The “clear labeling” commandment is a fig leaf. By the time a reader has gotten so far through the article that they’re wondering why it keeps promoting a particular mindset, product or opinion and started searching for cruft around the article, the trust in the information, the source and the medium is lost.

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Jive And Salesforce Reaffirm Their Commitment To Customer Communities

Kim Celestre

Today, both Jive and Salesforce announced updates to their customer community offerings. Although their updates do not include any groundbreaking innovations (where is McKayla Maroney when you need her?), I find it interesting that Jive and Salesforce have significantly dialed up their marketing efforts for their external-facing community solutions. Historically, both vendors have primarily focused on their internal enterprise community tools and seemed to be on a gradual trajectory to building out their external customer-facing community products. Today's announcements reflect my position that customer communities are becoming the tour de force of social marketing strategies. Brands will increasingly seek out the best-of-breed social depth tools and/or enterprise community platforms that facilitate digital interactions with their prospects and customers — on their owned web properties. In response to this demand, Jive, Salesforce and other vendors are dialing up their customer community features. 

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The Beginning Of The End For The "Programmatic" Ad Network

The acquisition of [X+1] by Rocketfuel signals the beginning of the end for “programmatic” ad networks. Since the industry’s shift to programmatic, countless ad networks have changed how they market themselves, adjusting their sales language to mimic legitimate programmatic platforms. The “programmatic” ad network insertion order-based and flat-rate business model has prolonged the black box opacity that spurred the need for demand side platforms and exchange based media buying. It’s only fitting that one of the industry’s most successful “programmatic” ad networks — Rocketfuel — is addressing client demand by making a move that launches them into the digital marketing SaaS market.

There is a lot to be said about the success that Rocketfuel has had in the industry; they have done great things for marketers looking to automate audience prospecting and retargeting. They certainly have done an amazing job marketing their programmatic chops, with the success of their AI product and their success with agencies running performance based campaigns. Their recent revenue growth and the fact that Rocketfuel had the capital to acquire a DSP/DMP in [X+1], are testaments to the success that they have had in the industry.

Despite their success, prolonging opacity for marketers in this market is a short-term strategy, and Rocketfuel is positioning itself for long-term success.

Coming from the agency trading desk world, I did not partner with Rocketfuel for several reasons:

  • Rocketfuel works with marketers and agencies on a flat-rate business model, which is aligned with traditional ad network buying.
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Beacon Marketing: Be Wary Of The Hype

Thomas Husson

Beacons have a great deal of disruptive potential as they bridge the digital and physical worlds. I quite like this quote from Steve Cheney, SVP at Estimote: “Beacons as a platform are really a wedge into ‘appifying’ the physical world. They give context to a physical space. They are a way of actually extending the network intelligence to the edge again, something that has been missing since the desktop era. Beacons are truly a way of giving your smartphone eyes—place dumb signs around you and let your phone discover and read them.”

Beacon technology offers new opportunities for marketers across a wide range of industries and verticals. In particular, they enable marketers to:

  • Engage consumers in their mobile moments via in-app interactions.
  • Improve the customer experience.
  • Understand customer behaviors by leveraging analytics.
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Let's Talk About Programmatic

Programmatic – one of digital marketing’s buzzwords of 2014. It seems today everyone is doing programmatic ad buying – and if you’re not, then some would say your media strategy is lagging behind. 

Most marketers are still trying to make sense of the programmatic buying space and answer questions like:

  • How should I be using programmatic and what can it do for my brand?
  • What types of programmatic technology should I be using?
  • Am I getting the most out of my current programmatic approach?
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Two Things To Consider Before You Invest In A Social Content Curation Platform

Kim Celestre

Chances are, you've recently visited a brand's webpage and stumbled upon a visually appealing, Pinterest-like media gallery with photos of happy customers and the brand's products. Today, media galleries are all the rage as marketers attempt to capture the priceless content their audiences are generating on social networks and at live events. But before you run out and invest what's left of your 2014 marketing budget on a social content curation platform (see Figure 2 from this report) make sure social content curation will help you:

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A European Market For Social Media? Does Not Exist

Ryan Skinner

An agency head told me how he was on a call between the European head of marketing for a US brand and that brand’s board of directors. The chairman asked the marketing honcho, “How is the European market?” The marketer answered, “There isn’t one.” Awkward silence. “That is, there is no European market. There is a French market. A German market. A British one. And so on. I can tell you about those.”

In no other sphere of marketing are these national differences magnified more than in social media. Social media is, by its nature, participatory and thus takes on the form, tone, and color of its users. Social media in Germany is German social media. In France, French social media.

Then brands enter the picture. That social media strategy hatched in Dallas or Dublin, with a sum earmarked for translations, will not cut it.

Three reasons cookie-cutter strategies will fail in Europe:

  • Europeans as a broad group are less likely to engage with brands on social media than, say, in the United States or metro Hong Kong.
  • Europeans’ usage differ significantly country to country; Italians usage is not comparable to German usage.
  • Each market boasts strong local players that excel at the intricacies of their market’s social media usage.
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What Lies Behind That Result From Facebook

Ryan Skinner

Pundits’ take that Facebook has “solved” mobile advertising after its home run last week hid a bigger, behind-the-scenes story:

We’re finally seeing branding and direct response marketing merge in a meaningful and measurable way; Facebook is just one place where it’s happening most demonstrably.

Here’s important context: Facebook’s quarterly earnings beat projections last Thursday, driven by the 62% of its ad revenue that comes from mobile. Also note that Facebook’s only ad revenue from mobile is its in-feed ads (or native ads, or whatever you want to call them).

The in-feed ad is Facebook’s holy grail. If they can manage to position ads in users’ mobile feeds so that these ads: a) perform well, and b) don’t kill engagement with Facebook, then they can print money against their 1 billion-plus monthly active users.

Facebook knows they’ll need advertisers’ and their agencies’ help to achieve this. That’s why I want to draw your attention to a slightly less publicized study that came out of Facebook and two partners the week prior to its quarterly earnings announcement.

Working with the social ad platform Adaptly and Refinery29 (one of a new set of savvy content-driven eCommerce outlets), Facebook showed that social advertising that merges branding and direct response outperforms direct response ads alone, by a margin of about 70%.

Facebook Valuable Content Uplift

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Use The Cloud For Success Down Under

James Staten

Pop Quiz: If your company has conquered North America and Western Europe and is now looking for the next big market, where should you go? The no-thinking, because it’s obvious, answer is of course China. But if you want low cost of entry and a rapid return on investment you might want to aim a bit further South - to Australia.

While it isn’t as big a market as China (or even India) and may have a higher cost of living, which can make establishing a beachhead there expensive, Australia has significant enough similarities to the western world — a well-educated populace, a high income citizenship and desire for new technologies and innovations — to make success here far easier. And if you are doing ROI calculations around this decision, it has a key advantage over its Asian peers: higher acceptance of cloud services. 

How does greater cloud-readiness translate into higher ROI? Because your company can leverage cloud-based services to reach and serve Australian customers faster, cheaper, and with a better economic model that maximizes the profitability of crossing shores. And in our latest Forrester report, we show you how Australian companies are using the cloud and achieving success through this activity.

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The Social Users Marketers Want To Reach Are On Mobile

Thomas Husson

With Facebook announcing its earnings today, it will be interesting to know more about the performance of video ads and Facebook's teen usage, following my colleagues’ research that showing young people are using the site more rather than less.

I’ll be curious to hear if there is a business strategy update, but I don’t think we’ll have more insights on what “unbundling the big blue app” really means. I think one possible option is that social data and contextual identity will be the layer on top of Facebook’s new social conglomerate.

I personally will be looking more specifically for an update on mobile app installs. There's no doubt that Facebook has disrupted the app marketing space by becoming a key player in app discovery — which is the key driver behind its mobile ad revenues.

A growing and significant part of this business comes from direct marketers looking to drive app installs, primarily from gaming and other businesses that are increasingly dependent on mobile, such as travel and retail companies. These players know the lifetime value of their apps and have calculated how much they can spend to drive each app download and still have a positive return on investment (ROI). But marketers in more-traditional businesses or who are pursuing other marketing goals should pay close attention to the unique attributes of their mobile social users and optimize their social strategies to engage them.

Why?

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