…is vital to making a connection with audiences on every platform. This month’s Feature tackles the problem of ensuring that content designed for specific social networks (e.g. Vine videos, Tumblr GIFs) retains long-term value after publication. In our Case Study, we see how PNConnect client Applied Materials crafted a celebration of Moore’s Law that was a hit with social media users. This month’s Digital Guide offers an introduction to paid search advertising, while On Workflow takes us to Madrid for productivity tips from Miguel Rubio, Director of Porter Novelli Iberia. All this plus stats, the latest news in social media and digital advertising, and more.
“The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity Grand Prix winner for mobile at Cannes this year was not a campaign about a mobile device, or a campaign executed on mobile devices. It was one the jury called an ‘enabler’ — a winner that itself facilitated multiple campaigns that were also hoping to take home the Grand Prix.”
Source: Ad Age
Virtual reality (VR) is gaining real industry legitimacy, especially after last year’s $2 billion acquisition of Oculus Rift by Facebook. Now Cardboard has won a prestigious advertising prize by making this technology extremely cheap and accessible to the public. The plethora of other Cannes Lions entries relying on VR speaks to its potential role in future ad campaigns that reach and influence consumers in completely new and unique ways.
“‘Even though native advertising is a new term, it’s an old concept that the Commission has been concerned about for decades,’ [associate director for advertising practices at the FTC Mary] Engle said at the Clean Ads I/O conference last week. ‘For us, the concern with native advertising is whether consumers can recognize what they are seeing is an advertisement or not.'”
While the FTC is putting the onus on publishers to provide adequate disclosure, advertisers themselves are not off the hook. Rather than pushing to keep disclosures hidden, advertisers need to make sure the disclosure is as prominent as it reasonably can be. After all, if the disclosure doesn’t meet FTC and reader standards, the advertiser will take just as much of a reputation hit as the publisher.
“Twitter released a new report Tuesday specifically focused on direct response ads… Direct response ads are intended to drive a specific result, like an app install or a website visit. But Twitter found that when these kinds of ads included a hashtag or mentioned another account, they didn’t perform very well.”
Twitter finds that direct response ads that don’t contain a hashtag or @ mention generate 23 percent more clicks through to websites or 11 percent more app installs. This is likely due to the focus on a single call-to-action. Additional elements like hashtags are also opportunities to distract the reader and draw them to a different destination.
Your Email Or Number
“Businesses desperately want your email address, but it’s annoying to enter it on mobile. Cue Facebook’s latest News Feed ads. A marketer can buy an ad asking for you to sign-up for a newsletter or request a sales call, and with two-taps you can auto-fill your email address, phone number, or other info you’ve registered with Facebook.”
While these “Lead Ads” are currently in the testing phase, they could offer nice benefits to both advertisers and audiences. Audiences would find it easier to share contact information when they are actually opting in to do so, and advertisers would have an easier time collecting that information. Paired with a compelling call-to-action, this could provide a nice boost to response rates.
human-curated trending tweets
“A report by BuzzFeed details the upcoming Project Lightning, a hub that will curate Tweets on the platform centered around events, news and trends… This time around however, it’s not an algorithm doing the heavy lifting. Twitter’s put together a team of editors to ‘select what it thinks are the best and most relevant tweets and package them into a collection.'”
Source: The Next Web
Twitter continues to struggle with balancing newbie-friendly content curation and the unfiltered stream its power users love. Lightning offers perks to both: New users can follow an event without logging in, while registered users can see top tweets without manually hunting for them. Plus, publishers — including brands — whose tweets are highlighted in Lightning streams get a chance to reach new audiences. In the future, publishers may even be able to curate their own Lightning events.
“User generated content (UGC) works best for brands on Instagram, according to a new insight report from digital think tank L2. The report found that across all ages, 55 percent of consumers trust UGC over other forms of marketing; 49 percent said the same of brand websites, and only 19 percent of people trust banner ads above all else. At 64 percent, only professional industry reviews were ranked higher.”
Users tend to think of Instagram as a particularly personal platform, so when it comes to brand messaging, they’re more receptive to content created by other users rather than content that resembles traditional advertising. When crafting your Instagram strategy, consider how you can leverage community voices in order to echo and personalize your core message.
“From this research, we learned that in many cases, just because someone didn’t like, comment or share a story in their News Feed doesn’t mean it wasn’t meaningful to them. There are times when, for example, people want to see information about a serious current event, but don’t necessarily want to like or comment on it. Based on this finding, we are updating News Feed’s ranking to factor in a new signal — how much time you spend viewing a story in your News Feed.”
Source: Facebook Newsroom
Between this and recent revisions to how Facebook prioritizes actions on videos, the News Feed is becoming more sensitive to how users interact with updates. In response, brands need to become more thoughtful about what they post, sharing content that encourages followers not just to skim or click, but to linger and engage. We’ve shared further thoughts on this development on the PNConnect blog.
However, as content marketing programs grow and platforms evolve, it’s increasingly important to publish content crafted specifically for each “spoke” of your publishing ecosystem — for example, native Facebook videos, Vines, and Tumblr GIFs. Tailored on-channel content on each social network is key to meeting the distinct needs of that platform’s audience and standing out in crowded news feeds.
But how can you realize the maximum value of this social media content over time and ensure that it doesn’t get lost in the constant stream of updates? Keep these guidelines in mind:
- Carefully construct titles, keywords, tags and/or descriptions. Make sure you’re accurately and helpfully describing your content in a way that search engines will be able to interpret and surface. This includes both web search engines like Google and in-network search engines, like Tumblr’s (recently much improved) search functionality.
- When uploading a video to Facebook or Twitter, also upload it to YouTube, where it’ll be easier to tag and can be catalogued in search results.
- Collect related social media updates/campaigns and embed them in blog post round-ups. This surfaces them to a new audience and gives them a permanent, centralized home on your owned platform. This is also a great chance to present content shared on different social networks all in one place — Instagram shots next to embedded Tweets next to YouTube videos. Be sure to add any context a reader will need to understand the material.
Tailoring unique content to each of your publishing channels doesn’t have to mean limiting its audience or how often followers appreciate it. With proactive categorization and smart repurposing, your niche content can continue to resonate for months or years to come.
Publishing evergreen content is a great way to attract new readers through search results and inbound links, while also boosting engagement for existing followers. The optimal evergreen strategy will depend on your specific program goals, but for widespread reach and appeal, make your content:
1. Newbie-friendly: Don’t assume readers have much prior knowledge, either about the content subject matter or your brand. Focus on introductory content, such as how-to articles that answer beginners’ questions, that align with basic search queries.
2. Substantial: Evergreen content is a long-term investment, so take the time to make it great. Over time, content that is thorough, authoritative, and well-crafted steadily expands its footprint, as more and more sites link to it as a valuable resource. Strive to provide the definitive answer to a specific question or problem.
3. Well-packaged: An evergreen blog post sitting in the archives can generate a lot of search traffic, but it’s all but invisible to readers coming straight to your homepage. Look for ways to repackage and elevate your best evergreen content — for example, gather how-to articles into a “Beginners’ Guide” site section, organized by topic.
Messy, of course, with big stacks of scrap paper I reuse for scribbling or taking notes, a notebook always handy, and usually my Mac and a camera.
I have the luxury of being in charge of looking for new services for clients, both current and potential. So more often than solving actual problems, I’m on the lookout for unattended needs. Currently, I’m getting involved in some cool influencer marketing stuff.
I have Spotify on constantly in my headphones. Often I’m browsing greatest hits from other countries (for some reason, I usually like Ireland’s Most Listened Songs) or binge listening to some artist that has come to my attention. For the last weeks it’s been Stromae. Any Belgians reading?
I am an avid newsletter subscriber and reader. I use them to stay up to date with trends and find inspiration. In my opinion, the most interesting newsletters focus on innovation, entrepreneurship, or technology. They’re helping combine technology and storytelling. A few examples: Springwise, The Creators Project, Makezine, Kickstarter… I also keep up with the latest in analytics and social media.
I try to read as much as possible. I work with projects from very different sectors, so the first thing I need is some context. I have to get used to the vocabulary and find out what the main issues are, what the main media outlets are, and what people are already saying online.
Unfortunately, I am easily distracted. I’m a bit like the dogs in Up getting off track whenever they see a squirrel. I constantly write to-do lists on any nearby paper to remind myself of top priorities.
A few hours into the morning. When I first sit down in the morning, I have to address any urgent matters and get organized. Then I block off some time to focus on whatever needs real attention.
In 1965, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore famously observed that the number of transistors per square inch of integrated circuit had doubled every year since their invention — and he went on to predict this trajectory would continue. The projection, revised in 1975 to a doubling every two years, has proven to be fairly accurate, in part because it’s been a key factor informing planning across the semiconductor industry. Applied Materials asked PNConnect to help commemorate the 50th anniversary of this momentous prediction, which came to be known as “Moore’s Law.”
The PNConnect team conceived a campaign built around a series of visual comparisons of technology from 1965 versus today. To introduce the campaign, Applied Materials published a blog post a month prior to the anniversary and released a new comparison graphic on social media every Thursday, using the #TBT (Throwback Thursday) tag. The social media content linked back to the blog post, which included additional commentary on technological advancements over the past 50 years. The corporate communications team repurposed the materials on its internal employee portal and as resources for pitching media outlets around the milestone.
— Applied Materials (@Applied_Blog) March 26, 2015
This campaign is a testament to the power of advance planning and engaging visual content. With enough lead time and dedicated resources, PNConnect and Applied Materials were able to produce timely, top-quality content that audiences were excited to engage with and share. Arranging content around an extended storyline also helped build and sustain interest for a longer period of time. By releasing a new asset every week, Applied Materials kept its audiences engaged, instead of overwhelming them with a one-time “content dump.”
“In order to do this really well, our goal is to build AI systems that are better than humans at our primary senses: vision, listening, etc.”
There are a few varieties of paid search available, but the starting point for most brands is the Google AdWords pay-per-click (PPC) program, which dominates the market. Microsoft’s Bing Ads, which is integrated into Yahoo! search as well as Bing, follows the same basic model.
In a pay-per-click program, the advertiser only pays when someone clicks on the link in the ad, rather than paying for ad impressions (each time someone sees the ad). There are five basic steps for setting up a PPC ad:
- Choose keywords to target. (“Keywords” refers to keyword phrases with multiple words, in addition to single word searches.)
- Write the text for the ad, which includes a headline (25 characters max), a site URL, and two descriptor lines (35 characters max each).
- Create the landing page the ad will link to.
- Set your bid for the targeted keyword or keyword group — the maximum you’re willing to pay per each click on your ad.
- Set the maximum amount you are willing to spend each day.
Google offers several free tools to help you investigate common search terms related to certain topics and outcomes:
- Google Trends shows the popularity of certain search keywords over time, compares the popularity of multiple keywords, and notes variances across geographic regions.
- Google AdWords Keyword Planner suggests keywords related to your initial term and provides popularity data for those options.
- Google Webmaster Tools provides verified site owners with information on what factors are affecting a site’s search ranking and which keywords are currently driving visitors to the site via search.
Search engine result pages include multiple positions for paid results, and in most cases, there will be multiple advertisers vying for the best placement, the position at the top of the page. Google determines ad position based on the Ad Rank of each competing advertiser. Your Ad Rank score is based on your bid, the quality of your ad, the quality of your landing page, and the inclusion of any ad extensions (features that show additional business information, like a phone number). The ad with the highest Ad Rank gets top placement.
“Quality,” in this case, primarily means how relevant your ad text and landing page are to the keyword you’re bidding on. Google’s goal is to ensure that paid ads are actually useful and interesting to search users. For optimum placement, it’s best to create a separate ad tailored to each set of closely related keywords, rather than use a single ad for a larger campaign with many keywords. For example, if you sold vintage 80s action figures, you would want to create a “Star Wars Action Figures” ad for keywords like “star wars action figures,” “star wars figures,” and “star wars toys,” and a separate “He-Man Action Figures” ad for “he-man action figures,” “he-man figures,” and “he-man toys,” rather than lumping all keywords under an ad for “Classic Action Figures.”
Ad position determines your actual cost per click as well. You don’t pay your maximum bid amount: You pay just enough to beat the maximum bid of the advertiser in the ad position below yours.
Paid search is well suited to driving a specific conversion, such as making a sale or filling out a lead generation form. A standard approach is to link to a landing page that offers valuable content in exchange for filling out a form.
However, it’s also a great fit for crisis communications, competitive positioning, and new media opportunities. For example:
- You can target search terms related to negative news coverage with links to material clarifying the facts and your brand’s position.
- You can target search terms related to a competitor to make sure a user who searches for those terms also learns about your own product or service.
- You can target search terms related to a recent major media hit to help surface the story to a larger audience, especially if the news will interest users outside your typical audience.
With AdWords, you can target ads for an exact keyword phrase, simple variations on a phrase (a target phrase plus additional words), or a broad grouping of similar phrases. One common strategy is to start with a broad match, monitor how different keywords perform, and then narrow the target to the best-performing phrases.
The secret of paid search success is a cycle of testing and refinement. By trying out variations on ad text, landing page experience, and targeted keywords, and by tracking impressions and clicks, you can figure out what approach yields the best click-through rate (percentage of total impressions that result in a click on your ad) and conversion rate (percentage of impressions that result in a conversion, like a sale, form submission, or content download).
For more information about our team and approach, or to learn how we can help your organization with digital strategy, development and measurement, please visit the PNConnect site.
Mary Gaulke wrote this month’s Feature about getting evergreen value out of short-term content. Erik Sebellin-Ross in San Francisco created our Guide to paid search and Miguel Rubio in Madrid took the hot seat for On Workflow. Stephanie Pham and Mark Avera in Atlanta contributed stories and insights for the Social Networking Stats section, while Mary Gaulke provided the latest stats. Christopher Barger in Detroit, Mary Gaulke, and Erik Sebellin-Ross compiled stories and insights for Noteworthy News and Advertising Trends. Brittany Dixon in San Francisco shared our Case Study on Applied Materials.
Mary Gaulke photographed our cover and welcome backgrounds. Some backgrounds courtesy of subtlepatterns.com.
Thanks to Jennifer Laker, Jeff Stieler, and Pete Schiebel from the Platforms team for providing design and development support, and to Mary Gaulke, Tom Harris, and Chris Thilk for editorial oversight and proofing.