How Demographic Targeting can Help and Hinder Ads

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.

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Is it worthwhile to advertise on Pandora or Spotify?

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

The Necessary Evil of Targeted Ads and How to Eliminate Them

Targeted ads are simply the cost of doing business on the Web. It takes billions of dollars to build and maintain sites like Google and Facebook, and we don’t pay anything to use them. Parting with some private information and agreeing to tolerate some ads is our end of the bargain.

The industry of collecting, aggregating and brokering personal data is known as “database marketing.” The second-largest company in this field, Acxiom, has 23,000 computer servers that process more than 50 trillion data transactions per year, according to The New York Times. It claims to have records on hundreds of millions of Americans, including 1.1 billion browser cookies, 200 million mobile profiles and an average of 1,500 pieces of data per consumer.


Even with all the information that is gathered, some companies still make mistakes and haven’t polished their marketing techniques.  

Farhad Manjoo of Slate shares some examples of poorly targeted campaigns from his coworkers. One colleague, he mentions, was stalked for weeks by Warby Parker, a spectacle retailer after he’d ordered a try-on pair. Another coworker purchased a couple of bras from Soma Intimates using her home computer. Then, back at her work, Soma began peppering her with ads showing half-naked women to anyone who happened by her desk.

My co-worker Adam recently looked up a pair of Asics sneakers for himself and was targeted repeatedly by ads at work. If these companies spent a little more time and energy on learning about who they are targeting their ads to, they would realize that even though showing the ad to Adam during work hours keeps it in his mind, he would not be buying the shoes at that time.

This particular marketing tactic is called “remarketing.”

The theory is that once you’ve visited a certain company’s site but failed to buy anything, you’ve expressed enough interest to make you a target for more ads. You’re the one who got away and if the company is persistent enough, maybe they can get you back!


Omar Al-Hajjar, Indochino’s ad manager, told the e-commerce news site GetElastic that every time his firm increases the amount of ads it shows to people who have visited the site, its traffic and sales go up. “Users don’t seem to mind,” he said.

If you don’t like being targeted by these ads, there is a simple fix. You can install several different ad blockers onto your computer. See if your browser has ad-block extensions. Google Chrome has AdBlock and Facebook Customizer (by Adblock Plus) so you can remove all the annoying ads. Sites like Disconnect.Me are a fast and easy approach to searching privately using your favorite search engine.

Tell us about your experience with persistent ads. Do you feel like they are following you wherever you go? How have you dealt with them? Let me know in the comments below!

How Ben and Jerry’s Increased Brand Awareness by 17%

Love them or hate them (and by the look of it, people hate them) Instagram ads are here to stay. As of now, the ads are only available to a select group of advertisers and Instagram has yet to reveal any pricing structure. That being said, these few ads have been looking very favorable from the companies.

Levi’s had a nine-day campaign which it was specifically targeting to 18-34 year olds. In that time frame, they were able to reach 7.4 million users. As of today, the ad has over 93,000 likes and almost 2,000 comments. The photo Levi posted before the ad had a total of 2,748 likes and 14 comments, and the photo posted after had only 3148 likes and 15 comments.


“Not only were we able to reach a larger audience with our ads on Instagram, but the metrics clearly show we engaged with them in a memorable and authentic way. We’re pleased with these results.”  –Julie Channing, Director of Digital, Levis

In another instance, the popular ice cream company Ben and Jerry’s promoted four different ads. The first one was an ice cream cone right under a cloud, making it look like ice cream. This ad received 386,546 likes and over 5,700 comments. The next three ads they posted had an average of just over 290,000 likes before dropping back down to the 25-30,000 range. The photo they posted right before the ads had only 20,000 and 324 comments.

One of the ads had the benefit of being associated with the extremely popular viral campaign for the movie “Anchorman 2.” For the movie tie-in, they introduced their new flavor “Scotchy, Scotch, Scotch.” Their ad received over 250,000 likes and over 6,000 comments while reaching 9.8 million people. Because of the sponsored ad, 17% more people became aware of the new flavor.


“Since its launch, Instagram has provided us with an amazing platform to connect with our fans and tell our story visually. Ads on Instagram let us reach and engage with more fans about our flavors, fun and values.”  –Mike Hayes, Digital Marketing Manager, Ben and Jerry’s

One of the reasons these companies achieved success is because ads on Instagram are a novelty as of now. But it’s not all roses and sunshine when it comes to these ads appearing on a person’s timeline. There is a lot of hatred and with most cases regarding social media, people are not afraid to express how they really feel.

With the success of the ads from these companies you can be sure Instagram ads are here to stay. What are your opinions on these ads? Do they bother you or do you even notice them right away?


Don’t Get Duped Into Buying Fans Online

Were you one of the people who downloaded the app InstLike? There were over 100,000 people  that did, so don’t worry, you weren’t the only one who fell for this scam.

For the fortunate ones that don’t know what I am talking about, InstLike was an app that promised you more likes and followers on Instagram. All you had to do was give them your username and password. The app would start following random people and liking random photos. Also, the user would start with 20 virtual coins to use to purchase more followers or likes. You could use one coin for one like or 10 coins to add a follower. If you referred a friend, you could get 50 additional coins, which is why this app spread so quickly.

So what’s wrong with buying followers?

There is a common misconception about social media that the more followers and fans you have the more successful your company is, but that’s not the case. I’ll admit it: buying fans online can seem enticing. Adding 50,000 followers can stroke your ego for a bit…but then what? You might have 50,000 followers, but they won’t engage with your content. Those followers are not bound to any contract to follow you forever and after awhile they will hit the unfollow button. Over time, those 50,000 will start dwindling down. Quality fans that engage with you are much more valuable than thousands of followers you buy, which in most cases are out of the country.

It’s fairly easy to tell when a Facebook page has been buying likes. First, click on their likes box that shows the number of fans, where you will get an insight into who the fans are. An important piece of information you will find is the city that the page is most popular in. If it is a local business, it should be in that city. If the business did in fact buy likes, the city in which they are most popular won’t be the same as their physical location, which doesn’t do anyone any good.

What can you do instead?

If you’re willing to spend money to buy fans and followers, why not use that money to run a Facebook or Twitter ad? You can promote your page or posts to your ideal audience, which in turn can gain you fans and followers that will actually benefit your business. For example, if you are a local flower shop, promote a post about flower arrangements to people in your city that are interested in weddings or special events. By doing so, you might gain fans that are interested in purchasing your product, engaging with your page and spreading the word about your company to their immediate circle.

If you want to increase your following without spending any money, you need to commit to spending some time working with your pages. Be active in your social community, commenting and sharing content from other people and businesses. In turn, these people and businesses will likely support you. Engagement is the key to increasing your online following! Remember: social media success is not overnight, it takes time and effort to build your online network.

Utilize your email list. Let your fans know that you’re on social media via an email blast and give them the links to follow and like your company. Chances are if they get your email, they’ll want to follow you online. Let your email base know that you’ll be offering specials sales, discounts and insider info through your social networks so that they have a reason to follow you. According to an infographic by KISSmetrics, by a margin of 64%, users are more likely to buy from brands they follow on Twitter.

If you only take one thing away from this blog it’s that you should be wary of any third party company asking for your password. The one thing I was told the first time I created an online profile was to never give out your password and that’s never been truer in this day in age.

Go Viral With Vine


Some businesses are already harnessing the power of the free video app Vine to market their product. Vine allows users to post a six second video to be tweeted to your followers and the possibilities for these videos are endless. New and intriguing videos have the potential to go viral, especially if done the right way. Do you want to use Vine to make your business go viral? We’ve put together an infographic with some helpful hints.