Targeted advertising, much like everything else, has seen many changes throughout history. It has had to adapt and keep up with transitions in technology and culture. Now, we are living in the middle of a digital media based world. The major trend in this realm today is storytelling, pictures, and visual-based content. Advertising must, once again, adapt its style and targeting to this trend.
Imagine as a consumer, you message a company with a question you have about a product or service. You don’t end up buying anything, but you are somewhat bought into the company as you initiated contact with them first. Later, you are messaged by them offering a discount on your next purchase. You have just received a sponsored message!
The future is a subject that can be intimidating to all, but some no more than those constantly trying to be ahead of the curve when it comes to trends and shifts in what appeals to us all. That would be us, those in the world of marketing and advertising. The ways in which our industry will change is shrouded in a cloak of mystery, but our best interests lie in the words of those who continue to dominate the social, marketing, and advertising worlds.
I didn’t say he was a teacher of GOOD social media usage. In fact, he pretty much showed us all how not to use social media. #JebCanFixIt? Really? Yes, it’s difficult to represent an entire campaign and slogan in just a few words, but could they really not come up with something better?
On June 28, 2011, Google launched their social network product – Google+. The Internet went crazy. Rumors flew around about needing to whip up a Google+ profile for your business because Google would, in turn, rank you higher. That may or may not have happened – but most likely did. Now, March of 2015, Google+ is changing again. And, the Internet, once again, has gone a little crazy. Fun fact: search volume for the keyword “Google+” is up 122%, month over month! So, with that, here’s the scoop:
This week, Google announced that it was revamping its Google+ product, splitting the once all-inclusive social media platform into Hangouts, Streams and Photos. Soon after, many news outlets pounced on this news, proclaiming the end of a maligned platform that never saw as much use as Facebook or Twitter.
The thing is, Google+ isn’t going away. It might be called something else, but for those that still like posting updates and interacting with others socially will still be able to do so through Streams. Google may retool this area, as the concept of Circles and so on was never something that caught on with a majority of users.
Those that use Google Hangouts for chats, conference calls and video interaction will still be able to do so. Hangouts, in particular, is a strong component of the overall experience, as the free features it provides rival the paid experiences of many rivals like Skype, GoToMeeting, Lync, or even FaceTime.
Those that love the Photos feature of Google+ for automatically syncing photos from mobile and desktop, organizing them for you and allowing you to find them easily — that will still work too. I’ve tried a lot of photo backup solutions, and I still gravitate back toward Photos, because it integrates seamlessly with Android phones as if it were a native, offline photos app.
Using Google+ for social posting will still be important…
For those that want to get their message to the widest possible audience, streaming content on Google+ will still be important. Often, a public Google+ update will get a more favorable Google search listing than a comparable public Facebook post (and Twitter is only now going back to being re-indexed by Google). Many apps like Flipboard and HTC’s BlinkFeed still aggregate content from Google+, along with the other social networks, and I don’t expect that to change after the split.
Bottom line: Google+ got a bad rap, but whatever part of the social media network you still liked using will carry over — it’ll just be rebranded and might work a little differently. But, as with everything else Google has done, we will first complain, then adapt, and begin to find effective ways to leverage their changes.
Follow StrataBue on Google+
The digital marketing team at StrataBlue will also adapt and learn about ways to leverage Google’s new version of their social network(s). Feel free to drop us line if you want to talk – click here to fill out an online form now. Or, stay connected with us by following our own Google+ page! Click the image below to connect!
So a little fact about myself before I dive into this blog – I love the TV show The West Wing. Yes, I know, it stopped airing in 2005 but Netflix is like a drug. I’m not super political and as a quick disclaimer, this blog post will also not be political. With President’s Day occurring earlier this week, I felt it would be appropriate to talk about how the Internet and social media changed the ways in which the President and his staff disseminate information.
We all know that location matters when ad targeting. Interests matter. These things we believe to be self evident. But what about targeting ads by age, or gender or even race or ethnicity? There are times where it can help a campaign, but there are also times where making assumptions about a certain demographic can put roadblocks in your path toward better engagement and better conversions.
Pandora, Spotify and other music services are the wave of the future for music listening. MP3 purchases and CDs are way down in sales, as the public at large moves toward services that will stream their favorite music for a low monthly fee. It doesn’t matter for many that you don’t own the tracks, if you can access a radio station that plays them frequently (in Pandora’s case), or has access to any songs at any time (in Spotify’s case).
As of this article’s publication, Pandora boasts 76.5 million users and Spotify 60 million users. The massive popularity of both music services, and the fact that the large majority of users opt for the free, ad-driven version of the service, means that advertising there can make a lot of sense. Let’s look at what’s involved in an audio ad and whether it’s worthwhile to advertise this way.
- Professional Recording
Unlike a text or graphical ad, the ads on Pandora and Spotify are audio. In some cases, there’s a graphical popup element for the phone app, so there may yet be some text / graphic design element to the ad. For the most part, it’s audio. This is something you’re not going to want to have someone in the office record on their iPhone.A good audio ad is professionally recorded in a sound studio by a trained voice actor, is attention-grabbing and witty, doesn’t apologize for interrupting the music, and gets to the point early in the time alloted.
- The Ad Script
You’re going to want to write a dialogue script and read it aloud to make sure it sounds natural. Like with any other ad, be sure there’s a call to action, such as a coupon code or an easy-to-remember URL. Again, if there’s a graphical pop-up ad in the music app’s user interface that the user can click on, be sure to integrate these well in the planning and scripting process.
- Ad Rates
Both Spotify and Pandora have ad rates that are not public until you get in touch with them, likely because they fluctuate often due to the surging popularity of streaming music services. However, both ad departments are easy to get in touch with with ad rates, specifications, ad standards, minimum buys and so on. It’s going to be somewhat pricey — especially compared to a typical social media ad on another platform.
- Not Just Audio
Pandora has dozens of different ad configurations that stretch beyond audio ads, to animated overlays to banners to custom mixtapes. Agencies that really like to think outside the box will find a lot to play with here.Spotify also has just introduced video ads to go along with their traditional audio ads, and these join their many other ad formats, such as watching a video to get 30 minutes of ad-free listening, display ads and even homepage takeover ads.
- Should I?
Advertising on a music service is a way to reach a connected, music-loving audience in a hyper-focused way that might not be possible on another platform. That bears repeating: Listeners on Spotify and Pandora are music fans first, so if your product makes sense to that kind of person, then give it a try.
To explore out-of-the-box thinking with advertising your product or service, contact StrataBlue today.
Creating Buzz in the Community and Building an Email List for Restaurant Opening
At StrataBlue, we work with lots of restaurants. And when it comes to the recipe for a new restaurant’s opening, creating buzz via social media and using email to acquire and communicate with customers are key ingredients it the success.
The proprietors of a new restaurant came to us just four months prior to their targeted open date. They didn’t have a logo, let alone a website. They were still planning the menu. And even though they’d signed up for social media profiles, they had no branding or content up.
- Our Challenge: How do you create word of mouth and buzz when the restaurant is still months away from opening?
Our StrataBlue team made it our mission to aim for massive, targeted reach and to build and educate an audience that included local foodies and social media influencers, who could help us serve up the maximum amount of online reach and digital buzz.
Cooking up the Foundation:
While the eventual goal was to grow a social media following, generate and amplify buzz, and build a foundational email list, we had a lot of work ahead of us before we could begin posting content and amplifying it throughout the social sphere. Our graphic design and social teams worked hand in hand with the restaurant proprietors to create the overall voice they wanted to convey through their branding and digital presence.
Our graphics team started from scratch to design the following:
- branding materials
- menu design
- social media profile branding (Facebook & Twitter)
- social media display ads (Facebook & Twitter)
- email marketing templates
Meanwhile, the social media team worked to set up and brand the following digital channels:
- Facebook Page
- Twitter Profile
- Instagram Accounts
- Email Marketing Account
Digital Buzz Building:
StrataBlue took care of the social media before the restaurant was open for business, so this created a fantastic opportunity for us to tell the story right from the start about the development and vision. It also allowed us to involve the local community from the outset.
Our goals were to:
- Announce the restaurant to the community and begin educating them about the concept, menu development, and plans for drink specialties and weekend entertainment.
- Build a climate of anticipation around the launch.
- Connect with the locals and foodies to create excitement and buzz within the foodie community.
Even before the time came to open its doors with a promise of delicious food, StrataBlue ensured the restaurant was an aggressive user of social media channels to connect with potential patrons, and grow its digital footprint.
- We began posting teasers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, cross-promoting content between the various platforms three months prior to a September opening date.
- To increase the number of social media impressions, both Facebook and Twitter advertising were used to drive awareness, while connecting and engaging with more followers.
- Appealing to a customer’s eyeballs is where Instagram came in, and we were able to show off what the restaurant would bring to the table (pun intended). We also used all social profiles to chronicle the evolution and construction of the restaurant, posting photos of both food and interior progress.
- Socially shared and promoted content was also dedicated to staff Q&As, specialty cocktails that were planned, and entertainment acts that were being booked to perform.
- While the website was being designed and built, we set up a landing page to announce that the new concept was coming. An embedded lead capture form was used to gather subscribers who wanted to be the first to know all the launch details, including opening week festivities.
Measurement & KPIs:
We defined KPIs to measure our performance, which we carefully measured over the course of the campaign:
- KPI 1: Growth of the social following across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
- KPI 2: Overall digital media impressions and reach
- KPI 3: Email list subscriber growth
- KPI 4: Increases in website traffic (the landing page went up two months prior to launch and
the full website was launched several weeks before opening)
The restaurant’s grand opening was a massive success! During the first five months (three months prior to opening and two month after), the restaurant’s website received 49,000 visits by nearly 35,000 users, and the brand now has a database of 2,100 email address with which to send targeted e-newsletters.
Prior to opening night, Social Referral traffic and Direct traffic made up 19.14% and 25.33% of website sessions, respectively. After five months, the client was able to attribute nearly 10% of their website traffic to StrataBlue’s social media efforts. Direct website traffic, which demonstrates brand awareness and also includes some email and social media traffic, made up 21.43%.
The social media strategy achieved fantastic results within the first five months: 7,100+ Facebook Likes, nearly 1,250 Twitter Followers, and 960 Instagram fans actively engaging.
Overall, the multi-channel campaign drove well over 2.5 million digital media impressions across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Two months post-opening, the StrataBlue team continues to use social and digital marketing to generate traffic to both the client’s website and brick-and-mortar location. Business is booming!
Would you like to see what we can do for your new business? Get in contact with us today!
If you blog or do display ads for your company or client, you’ll often need to repurpose images. Resizing, cropping and blurring out sensitive data are all part of the game. You could rely on a website or Windows Paint to do the job, but these tools are slow and have limitations. Instead, try an easy-to-use free application called GIMP. No, not the scary Pulp Fiction character. GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It’s like Photoshop, but not quite as advanced — but GIMP being free instead of hundreds of dollars is a big draw.
It works the same on Windows, Mac or Linux, so try installing it on one of those platforms and fire it up. Open up an image you’d like to manipulate.
Here are a few of the main tasks you’ll want to do as a blogger or social media advertiser.
Cropping for Ads
This is one of the most useful features in this application. Most advertising, especially social media advertising, has to be an exact size. So you want an image in your ad — here’s the best way to get it in exactly the dimensions you want.
In the Toolbox window, click the selection box tool in the upper left. Select Fixed: Aspect Ratio. In the box below that, enter in the dimensions of the ad with a colon in the middle. For example, Facebook website link ads are 1200 x 628, so put in 1200×628. Go back to the image, and drag a box around the center of it. Notice that the box has fixed dimensions.
When you’ve got the box on the best part of the image, click Image, then Crop To Selection. Then, resize the image to 1200×628 using the instructions below. Viola! A perfect ad image.
Resizing or Scaling
You’ll often need to resize an image to fit your blog dimensions or ad dimensions. That’s one thing that GIMP does very well.
Click Scale Image
Enter in the desired width and height. The chainlink icon means that aspect ratio will be preserved when you resize, which is important to avoid distorted images.
Cut the resolution down to 72-150 pixels per inch, because that’s more than enough for Web display purposes.
Click Scale, and the image is exactly how you want it.
Changing Image Format
Sometimes you’ll grab a creative commons image from Wikipedia, and it’s in an odd format like SVG or something. No sweat. Open the image in GIMP, then click File, then Export. Simply change the image’s file extension to JPG or PNG or whatever you want, click Export, and GIMP will automatically convert it for you.
Blurring Sensitive Information
Sometimes you’d like to post something that happens to have account info on it, but the rest of the graphic is useful. It’s easy to blur out sensitive information in GIMP. Open the image, then click the Selection square tool in the upper left of the Toolbox window. Put a selection square around the info you’d like blurred out.
Under Filters, click Blur, then Pixelize. The default selection will likely be enough. Repeat for any other sensitive bits on that image.
Screenshots look better with a black border around them. Also, you can easily highlight important information with a red square around it. Here’s how to do both.
Choose a color. The default is black, so when doing a border around the whole image, skip this step. Otherwise, click the black square beneath the tools in the Toolbox window, then select a new color. (Pure red is in the upper right.) Click OK.
Make sure the selection box tool is selected, then drag a box around the area you’d like to highlight. (Control-A to select the whole image for a black border.)
Click Edit, then Stroke Selection…
The default is usually OK here, or you can make the width bigger. Click Stroke, and the desired border will appear.
A Note about Creative Commons
When using images in a blog or advertisement, it’s best to check on the copyright. Google Image search will let you find creative commons images that can be used in ads, or use a public domain image website like moreguefile.com. Taking an image from anywhere on the Web without checking first is bad policy, and can likely get you in trouble with the copyright holder. Check first!
Bring Out the GIMP
GIMP is pretty powerful and does almost as much as Photoshop for 0% of the cost. Experiment with it and find out how to get GIMP to work for your needs!