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Friday5: 5 Things You Should Know About Advertising on Instagram

One year after being acquired by Facebook, Instagram began offering native advertising to a limited group of brands as a beta. Since then, the visual-centric social platform has collected and reported initial results, opened their doors to more advertisers and introduced features to sweeten the deal for digital marketers. As native advertising becomes the norm of digital advertising and display media continues to fall by the wayside, Instagram, with its limited functionality and palette for creative expression, has taken steps toward becoming a staple in the social and native advertising world.

1. Simplicity of the platform

Unlike its parent company Facebook, Instagram is a simple social feed focused on photos and videos in a mobile-first format without an algorithm limiting content’s organic reach. Its minimalistic design allows images and videos to span the entire width of a mobile phone’s screen, keeping the user’s attention on the content itself instead of other functionalities/features of the platform. Brands have been successfully using Instagram as part of a social content strategy from an organic perspective, though the platform’s simplicity is also a strength of its advertising options, as well.

2. Truly native video

Facebook and Twitter offer native advertising and both added native video uploading relatively recently. Instagram was a video production and distribution platform before it introduced advertising and, due to the visual nature of Instagram content, video advertising on the platform is truly native. Furthermore, Instagram’s advertising guidelines prohibit overt branding in sponsored content, making it appear organic in a users’ feed.

3. Introduction of image carousels

This week, Instagram announced carousel-format image advertisements, allowing brands to include multiple images in one promoted post. Like stories on Snapchat, these carousels allow brands to publish and promote multiple images without overloading users’ feeds with separate posts. This feature could open new opportunities for brands whose products or offerings are better shown with multiple images, such as an energy drink company showing a new variety of products in one image and focusing on individual products in each subsequent image.

4. Clickable links

Until this week’s announcement, the platform disabled links in organic and promoted posts in an effort to keep users on the platform instead of linking to other content like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. The non-linkability prevented brands from driving action from their Instagram content, which limited content impact to driving positive brand lift, product recall and other loftier, hard-to-measure metrics. Introducing clickable links that open webpages in a browser within Instagram allows advertisers to drive measurable impact, even if that’s just a visit to the brand’s website. As pointed out by TechCrunch, clickable links also give e-commerce companies a new reason to advertise on the platform since their business relies on driving online sales.

5. Results

Instagram has released case studies detailing the success of beta advertisers on the platform. Ben & Jerry’s sought to drive awareness for their brand and new flavor Scotchy Scotch Scotch among an 18-35-year-old audience. Over the course of an eight-day campaign, Ben & Jerry’s reached 9.8M people, increased ad recall by 33 points and increased awareness of their new flavor by 17 percent. Over nine days, Levi’s reached 7.4M people and increased ad recall by 24 points in an effort to build awareness for Levi’s products and lifestyle before the holiday season. The case studies available are still somewhat limited and don’t speak to what metrics advertisers have access to, but prove Instagram’s ability to scale sponsored content in a native format on a fast-growing social platform.

Image credit: Instagram

Facebook Ads Manager and Product Placement on Netflix

Facebook Ads Manager goes mobile, product placement tactics on Netflix and more of the latest digital news.

Facebook Ads Manager App Now Available

Earlier this week, Facebook announced the launch of Facebook Ads Manager, enabling advertisers to manage their ads from mobile devices. The app will allow users to create and edit ads, track results and monitor spend, and has built in alerts for ad budget expirations. Currently only available on iOS, the app is set to roll out to Android phones later this year.

Netflix Isn’t Closed to Advertisers After All

Netflix doesn’t run ads on its streaming video service, but product placement is a different matter. Brands can arrange to have their products appear in Netflix’s original series. Global brewing company Anheuser-Busch InBev signed a deal to be the exclusive beer featured on “House of Cards,” which premieres today. The company is providing products as props for the show, and other large brands are rumored to have arranged product-placement deals in past episodes.

Twitter Finally Launches an Official WordPress Plug-In

This week, Twitter released an official plug-in to better incorporate WordPress on their platform. The new plug-in offers a one-click sharing button and allows customization of embedded tweets, among other features.

Introducing Twitter Ads Reporting from Simply Measured

Simply Measured has rolled out Twitter Ads Reporting. Advertising metrics have been available through the Twitter Analytics Dashboard, but now marketers can easy access key info right from Simply Measured’s user-friendly platform.

Friday5: 5 Reasons To Pay Attention To Product Hunt

As spheres of online influence evolve and shift, and social networks become more niche, it’s important to keep a pulse on all channels where influential individuals and general consumers are talking about your or your client’s product. Enter Product Hunt – a community-based website built as “a place for product-loving enthusiasts to share and geek out about the latest mobile apps, websites, hardware projects, and tech creations.” Users go to the site to browse recently discovered products, post discoveries of their own or join conversations about specific products. As conversations about brands and products continue to proliferate from mainstream social channels, Product Hunt and similar sites are increasingly important spaces to watch.

1. The Community

One of the great things about Product Hunt is the community built around these products. The platform marries the power of word-of-mouth marketing and peer referrals with the democracy of a forum style. Brands and corporations are marketing their products through a variety of channels and tactics, but Product Hunt removes the guesswork of investigating every product imaginable and surfaces the ones that are most relevant and intriguing to its community members. Furthermore, the Product Hunt team actively discourages asking or incentivizing others to upvote products on the site, which bolsters the credibility of the community promoting these products.

2. Product Launch Exclusives

Instead of launching a new mobile app by simply adding it to the iOS App Store or Google Play, marketers can release products exclusively on Product Hunt to offer first access to early adopters and get the conversation started. The people on the platform are fellow product-hunting consumers, makers, developers and members of the startup community, among others. Together, they constitute an influential community that could help get a new product off the ground. “Hunters” share their findings on social media, whether it’s a product they found themselves or a recent find from a fellow hunter.

3. Journalist Access

Product Hunt provides journalists unprecedented access to makers on the platform through a private messaging function. We know the rise and evolution of social media and shifting spheres of online and offline influence have changed the way journalism intersects with brands, and Product Hunt is ahead of the curve by providing a direct channel of communication. They know the product makers put their lives into their work and deserve recognition, so they make it easy to tell their story through news sites and other media sources. This could provide opportunities for earned media once somebody else adds your or your client’s product to Product Hunt.

4. Email Digests

Product Hunt knows and understands their site, while very active, is not the only place their users spend time online. Recently added products are sent in daily or weekly digests to their subscribers, meaning new products added to the site are constantly surfaced to their dedicated constituents on a regular basis – they don’t miss a beat.

5. Product Hunt Radio

The site’s blog is home to a weekly series called Product Hunt Radio. Often co-hosted by members of the founding team Ryan Hoover and Erik Torenberg, the podcast-like episodes include thought leaders in the tech and media industries and cover tech and Internet culture and new and emerging products. Their radio show, hosted on the audio streaming service SoundCloud, could be a great opportunity to have a client thought leader join the conversation and create compelling, amplifiable third-party content.

Image credit: Chris Devers

Friday5: 5 Predictions for GoPro As A Media Company

Media companies look and feel fundamentally different in 2015 than they ever have before. They’re real-time (for better, or worse), they’re social and they are content driven. But, in a world where, as Richard Edelman put it, “The reader is now also content creator and advocate,” they also don’t have to be made up of traditional journalists and reporters.

Take GoPro. It currently distributes its owned content on Virgin Airlines, LG Smart TVs and recently, announced the spring launch of a Roku channel featuring a combination of original and user-submitted content. Here are five predictions for how this move could change our experience with GoPro, as a brand, moving forward:

1. Behind the Scenes Revamp

GoPro already has partnerships with the National Hockey League and the X-Games, where GoPros capture close-up footage during games. With cord cutters on the rise—steering away from traditional TV and cable, and instead opting to consume entertainment through an Internet connection in the home—Roku channels are a prime source of in-home entertainment. GoPro’s ability to push live or near real-time behind-the-scenes footage from live events, even if they aren’t streaming the whole event, could allow them to capture a new frame of relevancy.

2. Content Creators Connection

Vine and YouTube have shifted traditional notions of popularity, creating new tiers of celebrities where anybody has the opportunity to reach mass audiences with their content. Through GoPro’s newest distribution channel, content creators have another avenue to share. And, it’s one built on a powerful community connected by a central element: the shared experience of using the same tools. We may see social layers built to allow creators to connect with one another, and even collaborate on future products.

3. The GoPro Gap

There is still a consumer education element to GoPro’s actions that is necessary for it to succeed. Too many people are unaware of the amazing content they produce. Introducing a Roku channel is a smart way to start putting it in front of people. Next, it would make sense to see GoPro expand partnerships with Smart TVs to feature content on a channel of its own.

4. Shoppable Video

GoPro’s Roku channel will feature content that allows viewers to “learn which GoPro products were used to ‘get the shot.’” Social channels are becoming increasingly shoppable, allowing users to find products and click-to-buy from almost anywhere. This channel may allow GoPro to test videos where users can break down the content, identify what products (accessories, mounts, etc.) were used and buy them directly through their Roku.

5. Accessories get Stylized

We’ve seen fashion become an important factor in wearable devices, with top designers such as Rebecca Minkoff and Tory Burch leading the way. Consumers need devices to fit into their personal style; we may begin to see an increase in products and accessories designed in partnership with brands like Nike or North Face* to incorporate GoPro stylishly into gear. Imagine a snowboarding jacket with a GoPro chest mount built in, a bag with a GoPro compartment — compatibility that makes producing content on a GoPro more accessible, convenient and naturally integrated with daily life.

There are many other directions GoPro could take next, from a full-length feature film created solely on GoPro devices, to its own Snapchat channel on Discover. What are your predictions for GoPro’s next moves?

*Edelman client

Image credit: wales_gibbons

Twitter’s Deal with Google and Looping Instagram Videos

Twitter reaches a deal with Google, Instagram rolls out endlessly looping videos and more of the latest digital news.

Twitter Reaches Deal to Show Tweets in Google Search Results

This week, Twitter reached a deal with Google to make tweets more searchable within the engine. Google users are expected to see Twitter content appearing in search results in real time over the next six months. The deal means more opportunities for Twitter to convert and engage users outside of the social platform, and will generate additional advertising opportunities since content will be seen by larger audiences.

Instagram Introduces Endlessly Looping Videos to Please Advertisers

Instagram has adjusted its video settings so that video clips automatically loop in the feeds of users. The update will be welcomed by brands keen to get their video ads in front of eyeballs and played as many times as possible.

A Faster Way for SMBs to Promote Tweets

Quick Promote, a new advertising option from Twitter, will encourage small and medium-sized businesses to promote and amplify their content directly from Twitter’s analytics dashboard. Twitter recommends promoting tweets that already have received high engagement, which will then intuitively be targeted to users with similar interests to those who have already engaged with the content.

YouTube Massively Improves Video with One Small Change

In a recent change, YouTube has dropped Flash as its default method of video delivery in favor of HTML5. Read on to find out why they made this change and learn how it benefits users.

Image credit: Kolby

Friday5: What was it about SERIAL that was so darn engaging?

Yeah, I mean, who else did it? They’re running out of suspects.”

If you’re like us, you’re one of the two million people that streamed each episode of Serial. Since it made its debut in October 2014, Serial, the new podcast spinoff of “This American Life” consistently topped the iTunes charts, spawned dozens of discussions – both online and offline – and made a lot of people anxiously excited for more each Thursday morning.

It’s been a month since the podcast ended and momentum around this is still running hot. The subreddit is constantly updated with facts, debates and discussion even after the series ended.  What was so engaging about the podcast? After we peeled the layers back, we realized it may be the intersection of three main PR pillars: content strategy, audience identification and platform selection.

1. The Story Itself

Audiences are captivated by stories that are emotional, encourage discussion and present mystery. For Serial’s inaugural season, they choose to focus on the real-life story of a 32-year-old man named Adnan Syed, who was convicted of murder at age 17 in Baltimore, MD. The story detailed the case that convicted Adnan, the fact that Adnan continues to profess his innocence, and the current interviews and audio of witnesses that lead to the police’s case.  Because the story touched on those areas, it created a sense of mystery that drove the audience to find the answers, to start discussions, to develop their own theory. The story turned audiences into Sherlock Holmes to solve the case. Serial was a success partially because the story kept the audience guessing and made them feel like they were part of the journey to find answers. We’re always told that content is king when telling a story, and while that is true, it’s important to consider how we interpret the story to fit how an audience will engage with it.

2. The Characters/Players

There’s no denying – people can relate to other people and characters. The podcast structure reproduces the conventions of classic novels; each episode unfolds the plot and characters from episode to episode. It was the way each character, including the narrator, became a storyteller that made Serial so engaging. The audience could either relate to life as a teenager or understand the struggle of recounting every moment of a day six weeks prior. We see the narrator take the role of main character in the story and the audience is driven to trust her as a journalist. Listeners ultimately connect with her as a narrator as though she is a friend. Character development is critical to creating an engaging piece of content. Infographics and articles were written just about the characters in Serial. Fans would rave about it to friends and family on Facebook and through word-of-mouth, celebrities tweeted about it, and a subreddit spawned more than 43,000 subscribers who discussed each character and their role at length.

3. The Delivery

The most engaged audience responds to an emotional connection to a story, andSerial is no exception. When we create content for our clients, we ask ourselves, “Will the target audience relate? Would they share it?” The delivery was successful in several ways. The installments of episodes, the website and even documents and maps that helped the audience understand each played a role in the success of Serial. While the story was told in weekly episodes, once the final episode was published, a resurgence of new fans emerged who binge-listened to the entire season. The story was not just told through the eye of one person, each character and the actual audio of interviews led to the success. Even the theme song for Serial was so unique that it would excite the audience every time they heard it. Serial was executed in a way that drove emotion and mystery to its audience and that delivery was optimal for audio storytelling.

4. The Medium

While podcasts have been around for about 10 years, Serial has definitely helped the medium gain popularity. So why now? We know content has something to do with it. As listeners waited for new episodes each week, they re-listened to the series. They savored the details and gained a deeper appreciation for the story. They turned to other outlets – news articles, blogs, Reddit, Twitter – to learn more.

At the end of the day, the podcast structure invited listeners to do their own investigating, leading to a shared experience – online and offline.

The truth is, podcasts are a very unique medium compared to television, film and even social media. We listen to podcasts during our commutes. We put them in our headphones when we’re going for a run. These entertainment sessions are much more intimate; typically podcasts are something we listen to alone and talk about with others later. With such an intimate experience, it’s very common for those who listen to quickly become addicted to them and think of the podcast hosts as friends. Even the sponsors become a part of your life; who can’t stop thinking about Mailkimp – er, Mailchimp?

We live in a world of rapidly evolving technology and our endless thirst for more content, however, to yield returns, sometimes we’ll need to harness the power of slow. Podcasts are the perfect medium for just that.

5.  Engagement: Bringing Online Offline

Social was always intended to be a way for people to connect along the lines of shared interests, but with a goal of finding each other and connecting offline as well. We’ve lost sight of that, and this content experience brings it back – revealing the true power of “social as social.” We recently hosted a brown-bag lunch in Edelman’s Washington, D.C. office to connect and discuss our varying perspectives on Serial. It was riveting and even more engaging for those in the room (and even via phone from Edelman’s London office) than we imagined it would be. We had a room full of colleagues, many of whom wouldn’t typically interact, but here we all were. Why is this, and how do we harness this magic for clients? We simply cannot underestimate the power of word-of-mouth marketing – creating and crowdsourcing viewpoints is the first step, but sharing these viewpoints with others and driving people to online discussion boards gets us to the real heart of social: engagement. Engagement is key. Content is the driver but when done right, the social engagement takes on a life of its own and evolves the content into something new and even more valuable. Something everyone feels some ownership stake in. This is when true engagement happens. This is the magic that moves the needle – for a community, for a courtroom, and for a client.

This post was written by Aimee Rose, Tatiana Posada and Aleena Hasnain

Image credit: shinemy

Football Newsfeed on Facebook and a Discover feature for Snapchat

Football fans get their own newsfeed on Facebook, Snapchat features daily brand content and more of the latest digital news.

Facebook Launches Football-Only Newsfeed

Facebook rolled out a Twitter-esque live feed of content only relating to the Super Bowl. The newsfeed will feature reactions from fans all over the country, as well as posts from your own friends and posts from the NFL, teams and players. Down the road this will likely be a hot spot for advertising, though no hints from Facebook on that front yet.

Snapchat Launches Discover

This past Tuesday, Snapchat launched Discover – a new feature where users can view daily content from brands and publishers like ESPN, CNN and more. According to Snapchat’s blog post, stories can feature works from artists, publishers and even Snapchat’s editorial staff. This is another step for the photo-sharing platform into the media and advertising realms.

Twitter Introduces Group Direct Messages and Native Video Sharing

The two latest features from Twitter include group direct messaging where you can opt to privately message a group of followers, and native video sharing and editing, which allows users the ability to capture, share and edit 30 second videos using the camera button directly in the app. Twitter is also working on additional product updates such as breaking news alerts and standalone apps to drive user growth and boost engagement.

Pinterest Ads Now Being Shown in Users’ Home Feeds

Early this week, Pinterest announced that users will start seeing promoted pins in their home feeds as brands now have the opportunity to promote content directly in this prime real estate. Previously, promoted pins were only shown to users in the search and category feed sections of the site.

Friday5: The Future of Mobile Messaging is Now

In our smartphone-driven world, mobile messaging apps have risen to prominence among social media networks and have blurred the lines between the two. These platforms, especially the five listed below, should be on every modern marketer’s radar as they become more ingrained in society as a primary form of digital communication.

1. Snapchat

This week, Snapchat released their much anticipated Discover feature, which will let users see highly visual mobile content from media publishers such as ESPN, Comedy Central, People, CNN, Vice and Warner Music. With a single click of your mobile screen, you now have access to short form video content distributed through these publishers’ selected Snapchat Discover channels. Every several hours these channels are refreshed with content and distribute new stories, some have interactive elements as well.

According to Snapchat’s blog post and video, users will be able to watch daily stories compiled by artists, publishers, and even Snapchat’s own editorial staff. These stories will feature “full screen photos and videos, awesome long form layouts, and gorgeous advertising.”

2. Yik Yak

Yik Yak is an anonymous virtual bulletin board that has a very strong user base among college students. With the app, users are able to monitor the latest things going on in their current location. Since its launch in November 2013, it is now active on over 1,000 US college campuses and plans to expand overseas in 2015. The application is not only for college campuses; for example, during November’s protests, people used Yik Yak to peek at Yaks being posted within the Ferguson geo-fence.

Forward thinking brands could look to monitor conversations on Yik Yak within particular locations. For instance, a brand sponsored geo-fence could be utilized at an activation at SXSW or Coachella, with the person whose Yak receives the most engagement receiving a surprise and delight reward.

3. Line

Line is another messaging app which is hugely popular around the world, but particularly in Asia and Japan. As with many messaging apps, stickers are popular—many apps use them to expand on the regular set of emojis that most phones carry natively. However, Line’s stickers are so popular—Line can earn $10 million per month—that they’ve launched a separate sticker app entirely. With stickers generating such huge user engagement for the company, there’s a great opportunity for brands to create and push their own sticker packs to Line Stickers for users to explore, perhaps as part of an integrated campaign.

4. WhatsApp

WhatsApp continues to gain momentum, announcing 700 million users this week (more than Instagram and Twitter combined) and its $19 billion acquisition by Facebook. The once primarily mobile messaging app, which is “regularly used by half the population of the Netherlands,” according to Forbes, recently debuted a desktop web app to bring the typing-heavy experience to a full-sized keyboard. As a video-heavy platform, this could mean more screen real estate for sponsored videos (if WhatsApp monetizes that way). The new feature doesn’t cannibalize the smartphone app – logging in involves scanning a QR code with your phone from the computer screen, and the web app shuts down if and when the phone dies.

5. Kik

Kik is a messaging app that has largely been flying under the radar, or at least lower than the others listed here. According to a study commissioned by the company, Kik has highest engagement among 14-17-year-olds, beating out the staple social networks for mainstream marketers. If you’re watching the mobile messaging space, keep a close eye on this Canadian-based startup as it continues to monetize. Last November, Kik began offering ”Promoted Chats,” which allow brands to send stock responses to the masses and communicate with users in a more intimate setting than social feeds. It’s the 23rd most popular free app in the US iOS App Store at the writing of this post.

This post was written by Matt Stanton, Josh Lieberthal and Chris Rooney.

Facebook creates Super Bowl ad targeting and a new video-streaming platform rolls out

Facebook is targeting Super Bowl audiences, a potential YouTube competitor rolls out and more of the latest digital news.

Facebook Packages Own Super Bowl Audience for Ad Dollars

This week, Facebook began tracking users’ status updates, comments and more for keywords related to the Super Bowl. These interactions will give valuable data to advertisers who can then create ads for segmented audiences including users planning on watching the Super Bowl and users going to a Super Bowl party.

Several Major Brands are Already Investing in YouTube’s Next Challenger

Vessel, a new competitor in the video-streaming business, opened its services to the public this week. To access video content, users can choose to pay a monthly fee or watch ad-supported videos. Creators on this platform are expected to earn more revenue than on YouTube, as a large part of ad and subscription revenue will be shared among them. Brands including Chevy, Jaguar and Dove have signed up as advertisers thus far.

The Pinterest Conundrum

A senior researcher at Forrester argues that Pinterest’s marketing value lies more in the future than in the present. By 2016, Pinterest’s ad offering could trump that of other social sites — but today, most brands struggle to successfully use it as a marketing tool. Do you agree?

Twitter Buys Indian Mobile Platform ZipDial, Hoping for User Boost in Developing Nations

Twitter recently acquired ZipDial, an Indian based mobile platform, in a move that could bring Twitter to billions of new people around the world. ZipDial’s current platform sends users messages directly via SMS, and is a widely used in India and developing nations. This acquisition will likely bring a helpful boost to Twitter’s advertising revenue, which has fluctuated over the last year.

Friday5: How The White House Mastered Fractured Media

A version of this post was originally published on Medium.

It doesn’t matter where you land on the political spectrum: one can’t help but notice how the White House continues to master the ever fragmented media landscape. The White House knows to reach people where they are vs. relying solely on the traditional “mainstream” channels of its predecessors. Though however masterful it may seem at first glance — the principles the White House is putting into action can be broken down into a set of best practices.

1. Tapping the reach of internet celebrities

The notion of an “internet celebrity” was something many media and professionals once scoffed at — now it’s a multi-million-dollar industry with many of the top players who have built vast audiences on YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine laughing all the way to the bank. “Pewdiepie” for example is considered to be YouTube’s #1 highest paid YouTube star taking in an estimated annual income of nearly nine million dollars after YouTube’s cut.

Obama’s move to once again utilize internet celebrities to access their audiences and generate an amplified response is becoming a standard tactic in the playbook of marketers and communicators. The strategy is simple — in order to reach millennials, you have to be culturally relevant to them and traditional celebrities are no longer the only ones shaping cultural relevance. The internet celebrity not only offers a gateway to cultural relevance but also a potentially huge audience. One of the Obama Youtubers for example, has a channel subscription over eight million. For those of us however that don’t enjoy the clout of the White House — working with these influentials is largely a paid game. Get ready to carve up your media dollars.

2. Showing Vs. Telling

Throughout the State of The Union address, there were live tweets as you would expect — but there was also a barrage of visual content ranging from infographics to nostalgic pictures of Obama as a boy riding a tricycle. On Facebook, videos were posted that split screened images and text that acted as visual aides to Obama’s speech — illustrating the main points and bringing to life his spoken word.

3. Publishing Direct – Mobile First

The White House made history as it bypassed the tradition of leaking the transcript to the media before making it public and published a copy directly to the mobile and social optimized Medium platform. By doing this, a precedent has been set, sending the signal that people are media as much as the media itself is. Also, it’s a nice win for Medium.

4. Owning Your Owned Assets

In this age of social savvy media upstarts, the general public and influencers who distribute your message, the White House still understands the value of the home court advantage and used various means to drive traffic to Whitehouse.gov/SOTU which directed users to a content hub where the State of the Union could be watched online as well as hosting several assets such as graphic and animated gifs. The owned property also does what many other assets cannot — it’s a CRM data acquisition strategy prompting visitors to share their e-mail and zip code which places them into “the system.”

5. Why It Worked

There’s much that can be learned from watching the White House pull the many levers now needed to reach audiences where they choose to engage. But many of the strategies and tactics are not new — they are simply planned and executed with the understanding that many efforts vs few now need to work in concert, and a message can be “controlled” more than you think if the right levers are pulled at the right time.

Image credit: Diego Camblaso

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