Monday, February 26, 2018

Advertising Question of the Week - What’s the Deal with 6-Second Ads?

For decades, brands have worked to tell their story in 30-second or 15-second ads. And while the creators of such ads found this challenging, those that embraced it were able to do so with success. 

But 6 seconds? Seriously?

You better believe it.

The 6-Second Ad Is Here

In fact, it’s been here for half a decade.

In 2013, Dunkin’ Donuts created some sugar-glazed buzz when it used a 6-second video for a Monday Night Football spot on ESPN. It wasn’t long before this extremely short form advertising was referred to as “snackable content.” Particularly apropos in the case of Dunkin’ Donuts. (“Donut hole content” was bantered about, but it wasn’t as catchy. No, not really.)

Still, the talk around the 6-second ad died down for a while. And back in 2013, the 30-second ad would continue to rule the roost - where it would hold court for a few more years. 

By 2014, only 29% of ads were of the 15-second variety. But by 2017, that number had climbed to 36%. As the long-winded and tired old 30-second ad is slowly passing the torch to the 15-second ad, that little whipper-snapper 6-second ad is coming up fast on its tail.  

Why the trend toward shorter formats? Well, in case you haven’t heard, science (an others) say that attention spans are waning. There seems always to be something oh-so-shiny just around the corner to vie for our attention. 

This is particularly true of the millennials.

A new study by comScore revealed that millennials lose interest in online ads that run any longer than 5 to 6 seconds. And since they’re a major marketing target, this make conditions rife for the further - and faster - evolution of the 6-second ad. They’re only expected to get bigger, bolder and better in 2018. Just not longer.

Here’s the thing:

When Done Well, 6-Second Ads Drive the Point Home 

Sound ridiculous? Click here to see what we mean. 

In fact, if you went to the above link and watched those ads, you might have noticed that YouTube has a whole slew of them - some of which you may have inadvertently viewed while waiting for the “Otter eats Doritos” video that took you there in the first place.

One talented creator of a 6-second ad is Maud Deitch, who works in Instagram’s creative department. Her incredibly powerful 6 seconds on the effects of global warming received honors at an event that recognizes great 6-second ads. 

“You can really get to a level of poignance and a level of human connection that you cannot get to even in a 15-second spot,” she says. “It’s because you sort of have to understand your subject matter, your medium, your production tools so much more intimately in order to make use of six seconds in an effective way. I think it’s one of the most important ad formats—if not the most important ad format—that we are going to see more of.”

And others agree. 

Creative folks originally thought the time constraint would not be enough to convey an emotional story. But it didn’t take long to recognize one important point:

You Don’t Need An Entire Story to Evoke Emotion 

And honestly, consumers these days don’t want the whole advertising story. That’s why they record shows so they can fast-forward through those longer ads. And if they’re not doing that, they’re looking at their phones during the commercials. Or changing the channel.

Those longer ads are causing commercial viewership and retention to take a hit. So the future of advertising - both online and on TV - relies not just on these 6-second ads, but on these ads being well-executed. 

Yeah, they may be short. But they’ve definitely got something to say.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Art of Marketing to Millennials

Ah, the millennials.  

That largest generational group in the United States. Those wacky digital natives. 

And it’s precisely that digital nativity that has rendered them a new breed of technical literati. This makes them a unique group when it comes to effective marketing efforts. Why?

In the simplest of terms:

Social Media Is the Millennial’s Lifeblood 

Therefore, it is the heartbeat of marketing to them. BUT, it’s not enough to be present. You can’t simply slap something onto Facebook or Instagram and call it a day. Millennials have different needs. They only want to associate a brand that’s as confident and rooted in its values as they are. 

So how do you go about marketing to millennials? Start with these five basic mindsets:

1. Exchange Outbound for Inbound Marketing

In other words, ditch the old-school magazine ads, direct mail campaigns and radio spots. Millennials see these as impersonal, devoid of substance and all about the bottom line. With a deep sigh and gallant roll of the eyes, they simply dismiss them. If they even notice them at all.

What they will notice is a company or business that’s dedicated to improving the lives of their customers. And how does one convey this? By more than simply listing products and services.   

Millennials want informative content. They want blog posts, videos, how-to information, even e-books and white papers. THAT’S substance.

Which brings us to mindset #2.

2. Content Is Key 

But not just any content. 

Forget about trying to grab their attention with viral videos of
bathing rodents or frat parties gone wrong (i.e. most of them). They’re not 3-year-olds. They want authentic content. Trustworthy content. Blog posts and videos that speak to them. They also favor relevant and authentic opinions from real users. 

Millennials’ buying behaviors and attitudes are largely inspired by people they know in person or online. Not hugely different from the “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality that has driven the baby boomers and Gen Xers. 

But where millennials differ is in their being inspired by strangers who share their interests on social networks. They carry these “influencers” with them on their smartphones everywhere they go.

In fact, over 80% of millennials say user-generated content has at least some influence on what they buy, while over 70% say it’s important to read the opinions of others before making a purchase. 

So take the necessary time to spruce up your content. After all, it’s what they’re going to be tweeting, snapping, sharing, liking, pinning, forwarding, commenting on or whatever new social media verb was birthed an hour ago. 

3. Speak The Language of Millennials

While creating content, remember that millennials are very much about solving problems - problems created by those generations before them. 

Do the research. See what’s making millennials tick. Or whatever the digital version of “ticking” is. But be cautious about getting too political or too opinionated. You want to draw them in and spark their interest - not scare them away with scary rants.

4. Invest in Multiple Platforms

Multitasking is a way of life for millennials.  

They’re scrolling and opening tabs and switching from one window to the next. They’re also switching between devices  - going from tablets to phones to smart TVs and then back again. 

With millennials being synced across so many devices, it’s nearly impossible to get their undivided attention. But with social media as tool, this can work to the benefit of strategic ad campaigns. 

If you divide your brand’s ad investment into multiple platforms, you’re going to have some serious reach across many channels. Plus, you have the advantage of posting in real-time. So let’s say, for example, you create some ad content that’s relevant to a popular TV show. You can leverage it by promoting it in real-time across ALL of those social channels to target that specific audience during the broadcast.

Not too shabby.

5. Offer An Experience

Unlike their crankier and more independent Xer predecessors, millennials embrace the collective experience. They love being part of something. In fact, they like it so much that FOMO (fear of missing out) was born.

That being said, Millennials are thrilled when a brand creates an experience for their audience. 

For example, when Budweiser got wind of the fact that nearly every Millennial had seen Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, they ran with it. Playing on the nostalgia of that movie, they created a challenge to find the “golden beer can.” Millennials would buy a case of beer, in hopes that they’d get that golden can and win a prize. But even if they didn’t, they still ended up with a case of beer. So it was a win either way. 

(Though some would argue that a case of Bud wasn’t nearly the “win” that a chocolate bar would have been. But you get the point.)

Give Millennials A Story, Not Spin

That’s essentially it.

Millennials are far more receptive to brand storytelling than they are to straightforward advertising. This is important to remember because  millennials tend to exhibit early adoption
tendencies and then remain loyal to brands they trust.

So rather than crafting ads they’re expected to witness, make them part of your brand’s conversation instead. Address them directly through social media to spark a connection. And take the time to win their trust. It’s a worthwhile venture. 

At least as much as searching for a golden can.  

Monday, February 19, 2018

Advertising Question of the Week: What Are the Best Times or Days to Send My Email Newsletter?

Had this post been written ten years ago, we might have advised you to send them out at the end of the day. Because that’s what logic seemed to dictate at that time and, well, frankly, everyone was doing it.

That logical dictation has since been blown out of the water.

Yet - very much in the spirit of old dogs being unreceptive to new tricks - it’s still what many companies are doing.  

But Mailing At the End of the Day Is Actually the Worst Time

Assuming you’re an email newsletter subscriber yourself, you’ve probably noticed the deluge of these newsletters that come at the end of the work day - coming at you when you’re at your most haggard and world-weary. Not your most “receptive” time.  

Or even worse, they come so late in the day that they accumulate in your inbox where they eagerly await. For you to erase them. 

Because honestly, even if that newsletter has the most mind-blowing content in the world, you’re probably like most people who’d rather just "clean housefirst thing in the morning. In other words, you find far more satisfaction in deleting that barrage of emails clogging your inbox than in receiving data-driven marketing tips at 7:08AM. 

That being said, avoid sending your own email newsletter between 6PM-7PM.  Consider it the witching hour. It’ll be up against way too much competition. 

And forget about sending it after 9pm or before 7am. It’ll likely get rolled into the gruesome horror show that is the next day’s inbox clearing.

So Then What Are the Best Times to Send My Email Newsletter?

We were recently intrigued by a highly unscientific study
whereby a man subscribed to 100 different newsletters to see what time they landed in his inbox.  

He found that nobody sent an email newsletter in the 11AM-noon, 1PM-2PM, and 2PM-3PM hours. 

For Minimum Competition, the 2PM-3PM Spot Is Ideal

Even though the other two time slots showed no competition,
they bookend the lunch hour. As such, email newsletters are far more likely to fall victim to the “hangry”, or to those in food coma during those hours. But between 2pm and 3pm, work life can get pretty dull and a newsletter might be a needed distraction.

For Minor Competition, Shoot for the 10AM-11AM Slot

The brave leader of this unscholarly study then found that only one email newsletter came in between 10am and 11am. And there’s something to be said for a little competition. Especially if your newsletter sparkles in comparison.  

Are There Also Better Days for Sending Email Newsletters?

Yes. But you probably already guessed that.

Wednesday Is the Best Day

Strangely enough, the study found that Wednesday is the day with the least competition. In fact, it is on Wednesday that some newsletters get double the open rate of Monday and Tuesday. So for now, at least, Hump Day a darn good day to send your email newsletters.

Saturday Is a Close Second Runner-up

Yeah, it’s not an official business day. But in terms of sending your email newsletters, Saturday deserves your attention. Especially if your newsletters speak to certain interests or are more on the entertaining side. Saturday will provide more time to give it the attention it so clearly deserves. 

Forget All about Sundays and Thursdays

Sundays are an exceedingly low competition day. However, it’s something of a wildcard day, being a bit more buttoned-up than its older sibling, Saturday. And for many, it’s a day of rest. Or going to Home Depot. So who wants to compete with that?

Thursdays, on the other hand, are a high competition day. So marketing experts would advise against it since it’s too easy to get lost in the shuffle. 

Sending Your Email Newsletter At the Optimal Time Makes A Difference 

Of course, there will always be the exceptions. Farmers might seek the latest data on corn vs. soybeans at 6am. Or bakers may be pouring over a newsletter at 4am to learn about the next greatest thing since… sliced bread. 

But unless you’re driving it home to an early morning demographic, you’ll want to avoid those heavily competitive times.  

After all, it’s always nice to get a letter when you weren’t expecting one. Even if it’s a newsletter.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Question of the Week - What Makes Some Creative People Rather… Difficult?

This is a particularly relevant question for those working in the ad industry - seeing as it’s the primary refuge for creative
people who have ceased romanticizing starvation and homelessness in the name of their creative venture. 

So yeah, there is more than a handful of advertising creatives who never envisioned themselves designing ads for walk-in bathtubs or attempting to convey the sheer excitement of banking apps. And they may not be thrilled about it.

But that’s not really the reason they can be challenging. It’s much more than that. And just to be clear, we’re not isolating creative people as the sole proprietors of onerous behavior. 

There Are Jerks in Every Line of Work

Take surgeons, for example. Many of them - men and woman alike - have that certain je ne sais quoi. Let’s call it outright over-the-top cocky swagger. But think about it. It makes perfect sense. When you’re getting cut open, do you want the surgeon who’s going into battle for you to be confident and aggressive? Or would you rather have an easy-going, agreeable barista type on the front line? 

It’s not all that different with creative people. Some of their being seemingly difficult is born out of necessity. And some of it is just part of being a creative in a society that doesn’t always embrace it.

Way back in the mid-1990’s, Psychology Today published an article by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Creativity: The Work and Lives of 91 Eminent People, that highlighted the creative personality. And he’s something of an expert on the topic, seeing as he spent over 30 years researching how creative people live and work. Much like Jane Goodall and her chimps. 

He prefaced the PT article with this: “Creative individuals are remarkable for their ability to adapt to almost any situation and to make do with whatever is at hand to reach their goals.”

So it sounds like they should be easy to get along with and to understand. But what Csikszenthmihalyi found is that it’s far more complicated than that. 

It turns out that one huge requirement of living as a “creative” is this:

They Must Possess the Ability to Inhabit Opposite States of Being Simultaneously

And at all times.

For example, in their work to bring forth a new reality, creative people alternate between the flightiness of imagination, and the rootedness of that reality. 

And in order to stay innovative, they must also keep one foot forever in the stream of rebellion, and the other in the pool of conservatism. Because it seems that innovation is most easily digested when reckless abandon is mixed with a measure of stability.

In their work, creatives also have to balance being playful and disciplined, extroverted and introverted, humble and proud - this last one being particularly challenging. And since they tend to be open and sensitive, they’re prone to both deep suffering and pain, as well as surges of mind-blowing enjoyment.  

In other words, being a creative simultaneously dwelling in two worlds at all times takes some nerve, some grit and some unorthodox coping skills. And, just as with the aforementioned surgeon, the chutzpah required to navigate this difficult situation is often mislabeled as being difficult, challenging, jerky and a series of other demeaning and incriminating adjectives. 

The biggest difference between the jerky creative and the jerky surgeon though is that almost nobody questions the surgeon. But creatives have to field questions (and criticism) about their work. ALL OF THE TIME. And regardless of the adage, there are plenty of stupid questions. 

So here’s the thing.

Creative People Have to Willing to Take Risks and Break from the Safety of Tradition

Which is usually not a problem since most are, by nature, prone to deep thinking and not terribly compliant. In fact, studies have shown that the part of the brain that lights up for creativity is also the part that controls rumination, pondering and self-awareness. In other words, their brains are created to push, reinvent and question. And it can be irritating for those around them. 

We get it. 

But some of the most creative people in history - Frank Lloyd Wright, Maria Callas and Oscar Wilde, to name a few - were famously difficult to be around. 

Yet it is also highly creative people who incite progress and institute change. So maybe they’re hard to work with. And you might call them difficult. Burdensome. Jerks.

Because they are sometimes. But keep in mind that it can be uncomfortable to be around people who bring dissent and want change. Especially for people who don’t want change. 

Which begs the question, are those who resist change just as difficult? 

Something to consider.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

4 (Relatively) Simple Ways to Boost Sales Conversions

If you have an eCommerce website merely because it’s amusing and “something to do when there’s nothing to watch on Netflix”, then you don’t need to read this.

But if you’re dramatically less unfettered by reality, you’re probably looking to expand your audience base, instill customer loyalty and, of course, generate more revenue from your eCommerce site. 

That means your focus should be on converting more sales

So How Does One Boost One’s Sales Conversions?

Well, for starters, “one” can do this by incorporating the following (relatively) simple methods.

1. Secure Your Site

People are freaking out these days about security. And with good reason. No one wants to be robbed. Especially of their identity. It’s so hard to find a new one.

At any rate, if you want people to spend money on your eCommerce site, they need to know that their information is safe and secure at all times.

Reassure your customers that you are doing everything you can to keep them safe.

Some of the simplest ways you can do this are to: 

  • Get an SSL certificate
  • Display credit card images/PayPal logo to demonstrate that you only accept trusted payment options
  • Implement secure registration logins
  • NEVER store your customer's credit card data in case there’s a data breach

Leaving your customers feeling nervous about pressing that “Confirm Purchase” button is no way to gain sales conversions. Assume they’ve got enough to worry about right now. They probably do.

2. Offer Coupons and/or Discounts

Especially to repeat customers. It’s a no-brainer. 

With a coupon, they’re more enticed to finalize their transaction. They get a deal and you get a sale. You also get their continued loyalty.

You can offer coupons in specific amounts off the total purchase price. Or maybe it’s a discounted percentage. Possibly a free bonus product. Just be sure it’s not a puppy. Or any other living creature. Except maybe a plant.

Consider having a dedicated section just for coupons and discounts. Much like a blog. Speaking of which…

3. Get A Blog Already


Okay, so creating a blog might not sound all that simple. But with the right content and some regular contributions (whether you write them or you hire a blog writer), you can get it up and running in no time. 

Plus, giving your customers the option of extra reading material that will educate, entertain, or even enlighten is going to give you more click through traffic. And it infuses your eCommerce site with a more human element

Being able to inform your loyal customers about your business, services or products and special deals is effective in boosting those sales conversions.

4. Provide Live Chat Support

If your customer has an issue, do they have the option of live chat to get support? Yeah, this one might cost you some dough on the front end. But giving your customers access to live chat can easily pay for itself. 

It’s up to 30% cheaper than providing phone support. And those who are manning the desk can handle multiple chats - thereby increasing efficiency.

Plus, people like it. In our “instant gratification” culture, they get quick or even immediate response. No more hoping for return emails or waiting on the phone and listening to Mel Torm√©’s cover of Michael Jackson’s Beat It, praying that you don’t get disconnected in spite of the musical torture.

You can collect data from those chat sessions to better understand your customers’ gripes and how to alleviate them. As such, live chat instills more trust in your brand and customers are 20% more likely to convert after a successful live chat session.

Live chat allows online stores to act more like brick-and-mortar retailers. 

Now, with all of that said, here’s the most important question to ask yourself:

How Solid Is My eCommerce Site’s Foundation? 

We’ll spare you the plethora of “the importance of a strong foundation” metaphors. They’re as played-out as that $1 Hall and Oates on scratched vinyl at the record store. 

But that’s not to say it isn’t so.

Your site can be secure, interesting and chock full of coupons and live chatters, but these methods are only going to work if you have a solid foundation at the beginning. 

And the foundation in the case of your eCommerce site is user experience (UX). So if you haven’t addressed that part, then you’re going to have to spend some time building that foundation.

1. Make sure it’s easy to navigate. 
2. Give it adequate (not over-the-top) branding.
3. Provide a smooth checkout process. 

Plus, the design should be in line with your brand and product base. And would it kill ya to throw in some great imagery? No. No, it wouldn’t. 

Finally, the search function should not require a search function to locate. Because that’s ludicrous.

But don’t stress.

There Are Many All-in-One eCommerce Platforms Available

Or if there is someone you know (or can bribe) who is more tech-savvy, you can have it built from scratch. You could also solicit the wisdom of advertising professionals. They can help you figure it all out.

Yet another option would be to just scrap the whole idea and binge watch Game of Thrones on Netflix for the third time. 

But that last option only applies if you don’t care about your eCommerce website. Or, really, life in general.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Question of the Week: How Will the Lack of Net Neutrality Impact Influencer Marketing?

That’s a good question. And if we had a crystal ball (or believed in them) we could answer it (or pretend to). 

As professional marketers, we can only guess what the impact will be on influencer marketing at this point. What we can say for certain is that there WILL be an impact.

And it might happen sooner than later.

What Was the Benefit of Net Neutrality?

Those who favored the now halcyon days of net neutrality are concerned that Internet providers will start giving preferential treatment to sites that pay them or that they own. And if history has anything to say about it, that sounds about right. 

Furthermore, without net neutrality, those same providers are able to legally discriminate against sites that they don’t like. And they can choose to not like them for any reason at all. 

It doesn’t even have to be a good reason. They may simply not like the cut of the site’s jib. As such, they will make it much harder and SLOWER for people to access those sites.

Now, since influencer marketers rely on their websites,
content, and audience engagement to grow, they’re obviously concerned that without those fair access principles in place, their presence will be weakened. (Like going from a triple shot espresso to a cup of diner coffee.) 

Especially if the ISP Grand Poobahs - like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast - start placing commercial interests  first. 

So what does this all mean?

The Loss of Net Neutrality Will Change Influencer Marketing

And while several ISPs have publicly vowed to maintain neutrality, not all of them have. Over time, this is bound to have some repercussions.

1. Say Good-Bye to Unlimited Data

The repeal of net neutrality will likely be felt on the mobile level first. Broadband companies - if they so choose - could put the kibosh on streaming services and choose pay-by-play data packages instead. 

Influencers who rely on Instagram and Snapchat will probably see a reduction in the streaming content these platforms produce. Again, to keep data usage costs down.

2. Influencers Will Have to Charge More to Brands and Agencies

With net neutrality, audiences became accustomed to getting their content quickly. But as this starts to change, influencers and influencer networks will have to start paying out to the ISPs to get speed. (Sounds vaguely like a drug deal.) This cost will then be passed down to the agencies and brands who hire influencers.

Which leads us to point #3.

3. All Hail the Micro-Influencer

It could potentially become more and more expensive for brands to work with high-tier influencers. So rather than use a well-known influencer (think Beyonc√©), they may have to leverage several micro-influencers (think The Backstreet Boys) across a campaign to get the word out. 

For the money they’re paying, these agencies will need to squeeze as much out of those micro-influencers as possible. And those Backstreet Boys are just not the chipper upstarts they once were. 

4. “You Can’t Put a Price on Knowledge”

Unless you’re an ISP.  

The thing is, most Americans get their news and info from search platforms and web-based encyclopedias. The sheer volume of content and the archival nature of the data on these sites makes them more expensive to host. As ISPs are now free to charge these “heavy-hitter” sites, the sites are then forced to charge users a subscription fee to offset those costs. 

And don’t believe for a minute that you can just get all your information from the “Uncle Larry’s Cavalcade of Interesting Facts” website. If the ISP feels that Uncle Larry wronged them, they’ll make it really difficult to see Uncle Larry. Or make him “disappear.” 

While this last point on paying for knowledge has a less direct impact on influencer marketing, it is a scary thought overall.

The Loss of Net Neutrality May Not Be That Bad

Again, we just don’t know.

It would be nice to believe that these ISP empires will recognize they don’t need to make any more money. It would also be nice to believe that nobody ever suffers. Especially puppies.

The bottom line of the loss of net neutrality could very well mean higher prices for the end user. At first, it may not seem like much. But who knows what it says for the long run?  

We sure don’t. But we can guess.