Why Changes to Apple Maps Matter to Online Advertising

Why Changes to Apple Maps Matter to Online Advertising

Advertising

Businesses, keep your eyes on Apple Maps. The increasingly popular wayfinding app is making some big changes with the roll-out of iOS 14 this fall. As widely reported, Apple will:

Empower Visual Storytellers

People who visit businesses may upload photos of those businesses on their Apple Maps listings, just like they can do on Google Maps. The next time someone wants to post a photo of their stay at your hotel, they can do just that on your Apple Maps listing. Or if they want to depict the quality and safety of their dining experience at your restaurant, you can expect them to do so on your listing.

Rate Your Business

For the first time, people can rate their experience at your location by giving you a simple thumbs-up or thumbs-down. Now, this is a pretty basic change. On Google Maps, people can actually write reviews, not just ratings. But even still, allowing for ratings is probably going to move Apple Maps closer to being a full-fledged site for reviews and ratings. This development means businesses will need to pay more serious attention to Apple Maps as a source of reputation building. Customer ratings and reviews are increasingly important. Nine out of 10 people read them.

Why the News about Apple Maps Matters to Online Advertising

So why should businesses that advertise online care about these changes? Well, for one thing, anytime Apple changes its products, businesses need to pay attention. Apple is a bellwether brand with a wide-ranging influence across the business landscape. When Apple acts, the world is affected. We believe that the Apple Maps changes mean a few things:

Mind Your Own Visual Storytelling

Businesses need to strengthen their ability to create compelling visual content, including images and video, in their online advertising. Apple is responding to the reality that in the age of Instagram, visual content creates lasting impact. Apple is appealing to the same consumer who follows sites like Instagram closely. The question for any business: how powerful is your visual content? How well do you capitalize on visually appealing ad formats on sites such as Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat to connect with customers?

Think of Maps Apps as Brand-Building Tools

True, Apple Maps is not an advertising destination. But apps such as Google Maps and Waze evolved beyond consumer wayfinding a long time ago, as we have discussed on our own blog. And Google Maps is easily the most dominant map app. As Apple continues to position Apple Maps as the ad-free, pro-privacy alternative to Google Maps, businesses should expect Google to go in the opposite direction. Rather than allow Apple to define its brand, Google will roll out more advertising options for businesses on Google Maps. Watch for them and capitalize on them.

Contact True Interactive

To succeed with online advertising, contact True Interactive. Read about some of our client work here.

 

 

 

Why Snapchat Keeps Growing

Why Snapchat Keeps Growing

Social media

Snapchat has experienced its ups and downs in the past few years, but one undeniable truth prevails: the app continues to flourish. Snapchat is, in fact, exceeding growth expectations: eMarketer, for one, expects Snapchat to gain more than 63 millions users by the end of 2023, as contrasted to an original estimate of 52 million. In addition, according to The Street, Snapchat is on course to be profitable in the very near future, after years of losses: “Analysts expect Snapchat to soon reach its ‘break-even’ point in profits, most likely by 2022. A group of 34 technology analysts estimates the company will earn a profit of $48 million in 2022.”

Why the Growth?

Why is Snapchat continuing to grow despite increased competition from apps such as Instagram and TikTok? Some possible reasons include:

1 Continued Innovation

Snapchat’s owner, Snap, was just named Fast Company’s most innovative company in 2020, which speaks volumes about why Snapchat has rebounded from the brink. TechCrunch also reports that new products are bound to boost engagement with Snapchat and, crucially, ad views. Snapchat’s recent innovations include Cameos, which allow users to edit their own face onto an actor in an animated GIF. And Bitmoji TV features comical cartoons that star the consumer’s customizable Bitmoji avatar. For users who have always dreamed about being a secret agent, say, or a zombie president, Bitmoji TV brings those fantasies to life via episodes featuring a main story as well as shorter, single-gag clips. User avatars appear in the regularly scheduled adventures, which range from sit-coms to soap operas and infomercials. “It’s scripted but its personalized,” Bitmoji co-founder and CEO Ba Blackstock has said. “First and foremost, I hope that everyone who watches this has kind of a mind-blowing experience that they’ve never had before.”

2 Excellent Timing

Snapchat came along at the right time, as the Millennial and Gen Z population began to swell—and come of age. Launched in 2011, the app appeals to the Millennial and Gen Z populations with its promise of content that is both ephemeral and authentic. As co-founder Evan Spiegel noted in the company’s first blog post, “We’re building a photo app that doesn’t conform to unrealistic notions of beauty or perfection but rather creates a space to be funny, honest or whatever you might feel like at the moment you take and share a Snap.” And the platform has captured a sizable demographic. As Statista notes, Millennials and Gen Z, together, now comprise about half the U.S. population.

3 International Expansion

Snapchat continues to expand effectively into international markets, one profound example being the uptake of Snapchat in India. As TechCrunch observes, “Snapchat’s user growth has been on [a] tear thanks to international penetration, especially in India, after it re-engineered its Android app for developing markets.”

The Challenges

It’s not all smooth sailing, of course. As 24/7 Wall St. points out, Snapchat’s features can be—and in fact have been—easily copied by competitors like Facebook. When Snapchat introduced Stories, which allows users to share snaps in a narrative style, it was making a successful bid to keep users engaged and coming back for more. Facebook’s response? Its own version of Stories on both Facebook and Instagram; and the release of Instagram Threads, a camera and messaging app for “close friends.”  As Wired notes, Facebook chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made it clear to employees that doing what’s best for users might include replication: “Zuckerberg’s message became an informal slogan at Facebook: ‘Don’t be too proud to copy.’”

Furthermore, Snapchat lacks the reserves of cash that Facebook enjoys. 24/7 Wall St. opines, “While it’s still too soon to assess the impact of Instagram Threads on Snapchat, the salient point is that Instagram’s owner (Facebook) has a virtually unlimited war chest and a seemingly visceral need to stomp on Snapchat, if not to stamp it out entirely.”

Staying Viable

The key for Snapchat? Staying nimble and creative in the competitive and ever-evolving social landscape. In short, the app will continue to thrive if it keeps on generating features that both users and advertisers will love – especially advertisers, whose revenue Snapchat needs. One example of courting advertisers with more features: Snapchat’s Swipe Up to Call ads, which give users the opportunity to swipe up on their screen and immediately and directly call or text the advertiser.

Contact True Interactive

To succeed with online advertising in 2020, contact True Interactive. Read about some of our client work here.

Apple Showcases Its Augmented Reality Tools at WWDC

Apple Showcases Its Augmented Reality Tools at WWDC

Marketing Mobile

When is the next Pokémon GO going to come along to make everyone love augmented reality (AR)?

This is the question on the minds of many technology watchers who are waiting for another AR breakthrough. But applications like Pokémon GO don’t happen very often. The real value of AR comes from people and businesses using it to share immersive experiences that complement our lives rather than making us drop everything and focus on AR.

Perhaps that’s why Apple has been careful to sell AR as an evolutionary tool that will enrich how we live, whether through practical application or content that engages. At Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) Apple accentuated tools that should make AR easier to use – perhaps not glamorous developments, but important ones.

ARKit Update

For example, Apple announced an update to ARKit, its software development toolkit for AR (and competitor to Google’s ARCore). Among other improvements, ARKit will capture the motion of a person in real time with a single camera. As Apple noted, by understanding body position and movement as a series of joints and bones, you can use motion and poses as an input to the AR experience — placing people at the center of AR. Apple also announced human inclusion, meaning that AR content realistically passes behind and in front of people in the real world, making AR experiences more immersive.

Those improvements matter because for AR to attract advertisers and consumers, it has to offer something different beyond what anyone can experience in a 2D world. As it stands, AR is catching on with advertisers. According to eMarketer, global augmented reality ad revenues are expected to rise from $779 million in 2019 to $1.2 billion in 2020 and $2.6 billion in 2022 – not a huge number, but higher than $166.7 million generated in 2017. Most of that money is coming from display advertising. Making AR more powerful and immersive will build more momentum.

Making AR Easier

Apple did something else: made AR easier to develop. With new Reality Composer and RealityKit tools, developers will be able to create AR apps easier on Apple’s operating system. As Apple noted, Reality Composer helps anyone create AR apps even if you lack 3D experience.

But responses to the news have been underwhelming, partly because Apple is restricting these tools to its own operating system. But another reason is that journalists seem to be waiting for that next AR killer app to capture their imagination, and software development tools are not going to do that. Perhaps the AR version of Minecraft will be the next killer app. Meanwhile, advertisers will continue to create AR that engages, such as Toyota’s new AR experience and Snapchat’s ongoing AR features. People may not use AR every day, but when they do, they remain highly engaged. Apple isn’t creating engagement – but it’s giving businesses tools to do so.

For more information on how to build advertising that engages consumers through digital, contact True Interactive.

Image source: https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2019/06/highlights-from-wwdc-2019/

Snapchat: The End Might Be Near

Snapchat: The End Might Be Near

Social media

Unless Snapchat figures out a new game plan to create proprietary features and experiences, 2019 will be the end of the popular photo-sharing app. The stock of its parent company, Snap, is scaring away investors. Its user base has plateaued. Each time Snapchat introduces a new feature, Facebook and Instagram copy it. For instance, Instagram users can share permanent photos on their profiles as well as more temporary content on stories that disappear within 24 hours, a feature that was once unique to Snapchat. Instagram is also becoming more engaging for users with the option to share public comments, likes, as well as create polls in stories, all features that Snapchat lacks. With the launch of its latest feature IGTV, Instagram is on the rise for 2019.

Where does the rise of Instagram leave Snapchat? In a very difficult place. That said, Snapchat still has cards to play, such as monetizing its location data for advertisers and building up its content platform as a broadcast media for businesses such as the National Football League, which told Advertising Age that it doubled viewership of its highlights video to 2 million during the most recent season. Another ray of hope for Snapchat: Facebook keeps hurting its own brand, to the point where it is vulnerable to losing advertisers.

What Snapchat needs is a proprietary feature that makes it so lovable to advertisers that they remain loyal no matter what Instagram or Facebook do. To that end, its R&D center is looking for a solution, perhaps involving augmented reality, where Snapchat has succeeded.

But Snapchat needs to work fast before investors’ lack of faith in Snap and pressure from other platforms brings the fabled platform to an end.

Apple Offers a Glimpse of an Augmented Reality Future

Apple Offers a Glimpse of an Augmented Reality Future

Branding

Apple’s September 12 special event was mostly about hardware product launches, as it usually is. But Apple also reminded us of the company’s commitment to building an augmented reality future.

First, let’s recap a few of the big announcements:

  • Pushing into healthcare: Apple also revealed the latest version of the Apple Watch 4, which features a slew of personal wellness features such as the ability to monitor and report when the wearer experiences a fall and better heart monitoring/reporting. The Apple Watch is one essential element of Apple’s growth as a healthcare player, with the development of wellness apps being another essential element. In coming months, watch for Apple to make more announcements about healthcare as part of a broader strategy to develop its services.

The above announcements have dominated the news. In addition, two developments caught my eye:

  • Augmented reality for learning: the launch of a new iPhone app, HomeCourt, which uses augmented reality (AR) for basketball training. As reported in GeekWire, HomeCourt uses AR to track basketball shots. According to GeekWire, “AR tech built into the iPhone — including the newA12 Bionic chip— and artificial intelligence technology developed by HomeCourt maker Nex Team can detect a hoop and basketball to measure kinematics, trajectory, release times, and number of shots made.”
  • Augmented reality for play: the announcement about a new real-time augmented reality game, Galaga AR. As VentureBeat reported, “This AR adaptation of Galaga comes from Directive Games. When you look at your iPhone screen, you can see a bunch of alien-bug spaceships that you have to shoot down. You’re not only trying to survive, but you’re also trying to beat the other players. It was a pretty cool demo, with a lot of blasting onscreen and loud sounds.”

These launches are not so much about sports and gaming – they are signs of Apple’s continued growth as an AR leader. CEO Tim Cook has made no secret of his passion for AR. It’s telling that Apple demoed two very different forms of AR – one for training and one for entertainment. Both learning and entertainment comprise the sweet spot for AR.

As I noted earlier this year, various AR apps and games are currently being introduced into the App Store and Google Play, and many more are in the process of being developed using Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore. Consequently, incorporating AR technology into new tools or games for phones, tablets, and laptops will become the new norm.

You can take it to the bank: AR is going to continue growing for both business and pleasure – and Apple will have a leadership role in that growth. For more insight into how businesses can use AR to build their brands, contact True Interactive.

The Importance of Typography in Marketing

The Importance of Typography in Marketing

Marketing

Since 2010, the number of websites in existence has increased from 200 million to nearly 1.8 billion, according to Internet Live Stats. How is a brand supposed to stand out? We’ve often discussed on our blog the importance of using strong visuals. In addition, brands need to take a careful look at the typography on their site. Typography is an analog-era term referring to the style, arrangement, or appearance of typeset matter. But typography also applies to digital content in a very important way.

When you look at content on a webpage, your eyes tend to jump around from object to object. Our job as marketers and designers is to make sure each webpage is well balanced in order to increase maximum viewability. In return, a visually appealing webpage creates more engagement with users and increases the amount of views, clicks, and conversions. Users are also more likely to remember content, images, or the brand name when the webpage is more visually appealing — thus, creating more brand engagement. Here is where typography comes into play.

What Is Typography in the Digital Age?

Typography consists of all the written elements on a page that make up its style. These can include specific colors, typefaces, the space between characters and paragraphs, the font style, size, and weight, and other embellishments.

In a sense, typography is a balancing act. The content and images on a page need to be perfectly balanced in order for the content to maximize the space on the page and to appear visually attractive to the consumer. Each element needs to be executed to perfection in order to create this essence of balance.

Typography and Brands

Typography is especially important for brands to engage a user. The typography a brand selects says a lot about the brand itself: its name, values, style, etc. A livelier typeface, such as Disclaimer or Gatsby, suggests that the brand contains an element of fun and flair. A more elegant serif or cursive font, such as Adelaide or Hamilton Grand, suggests a more sophisticated style from the company. The same goes for serif and non-serif fonts. The fonts can give off a more serious versus youthful vibe.

Brands need to be consistent with typography, including considerations such as the color, word choice, typeface, size, and spacing. Without these there would be no clear focus, and the webpage content would appear cluttered. Here are a few examples of considerations brands need to keep in mind when choosing typography:

  • Readability. Tracking, kerning, and leading are equally if not more important than selecting the most suitable typeface for the brand’s style. These three elements of typography help with the readability and legibility of the content. They maximize the spacing of the letters, words, and paragraphs so that the reader is able to read with ease. Additionally, a piece of content that is easier to read will draw in more readers.
  • Hierarchy. With typography, it is important to maintain a balanced type hierarchy. The goal is to direct the user to the most important points on the page. The most important element on the page should be the most dominant item on the page, or the easiest for the eyes to locate. Following a hierarchy allows for the readers to read with ease and locate the most important elements on the page first, with all other elements following depending on level of importance. If the title or main headline is the most important message, then it should be the easiest for the eyes to locate on the page, with sub-headlines, descriptive text, images, captions, etc., following. The hierarchy does not need to follow this order specifically. It can vary depending on the level of importance to each business.

Other factors that influence typography include the use of responsive design. A site that uses responsive design adapts to the size of the screen regardless of the device a person uses to view a site. A webpage that uses responsive design also demonstrates good hierarchy and maintains a sense of flow and balance, drawing the reader’s eyes to the most important aspects of the page first. Some of my favorite examples include the Milwaukee Ballet, Food Sense, and Forefathers Group.

The Importance of Consistency

Although this post has focused on the use of typography on websites, businesses should choose typography that creates brand consistency everywhere people encounter the brand, such as webpage, business cards, flyers, posters, etc. Everything should create a sense of overall flow and should be recognizable to the brand itself. In order to maintain this “flow,” marketers should familiarize themselves with the brand’s standards guide, and if the brand does not currently use a guide, the company should create one.

A brand standards guide contains all of the typography elements that pertain to a brand: size, color, tracking, kerning and leading, typeface or a specific font style, as well as guidelines around the company logo such as where to use a logo. By being familiar with the guide, marketers can create consistency. If a company is looking to rebrand, it is also important for marketers to consult the branding guide in order to revamp the new brand but keep intact the integrity of the old brand. Doing so ensures that the new brand does not stray too far from the current view and perception of the company and maintains brand permanence.

Company Examples

Amazon

Amazon is an example of a company that uses elements of its logo across multiple media. For example, the packaging calls out Amazon as well as directs the user to the Amazon website. The packaging also uses the same arrow on the box that it does within the brand logo, going one step further to create a more memorable brand experience and demonstrating consistency across all markets.

Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola has always used typography and color to distinguish between various products. The original Coca-Cola logo uses a lively script font unique to the Coca-Cola brand. Diet Coke uses a similar script to distinguish the “diet” aspect of the product and then uses a modernized serif font that intertwines creating that same script feel. The colors used in the cans are unique to the flavor of the drink. The website also uses these colors to tie the brand together. On the homepage, silver is used as the main background color, with black as a secondary color for type and other graphic elements, and red being used to indicate the most important features on the page. Each product’s subpage is unique to the specific product itself and is similar to the can in which each drink is sold. Coca-Cola uses different dominant colors for each: Coca-Cola red, Diet Coke silver, and Coke Zero black. This application demonstrates good brand consistency since consumers are familiar to the style of each can.

True Interactive

We recently rebranded from KeywordFirst to True Interactive. While rebranding the company, we maintained the integrity of the old brand by continuing certain aspects into the new brand. Our colors remained the same—orange and grey—as did the placement of the type. The main difference is that the style of the type was revamped.

Across all our social media we use similar profile pictures of our logo that contain the full logo or portions of it. Our cover photos are also consistent across all media using either a photo that depicts our brand in a clear and concise manner, or colors that are consistent with our company vibe. Our website uses the same orange and grey colors, as well as the same font style, to create a sense of unity across all of our pages. 

How well does your choice of typography reflect your brand?  The answer may not be obvious especially if you are undergoing a major corporate change such as a rebranding or a merger. If you’re not sure about the answer, it might be time to take a closer look at what your brand stands for and how well your style reflects your brand values.

Facebook Changes the Narrative at F8

Facebook Changes the Narrative at F8

Social media

The 2018 Facebook F8 Developer Conference created an opportunity for Facebook to change the narrative about the embattled company. At the annual event, Facebook usually unveils new products and a glimpse at the company’s future. This year’s event just happened to occur only weeks after CEO Mark Zuckerberg spent two days on Capitol Hill defending the company’s approach to data privacy. So you can be sure Facebook was eager to inspire coverage about something besides Mark Zuckerberg going head to head with angry legislators and trying to assure investors that Facebook is improving its approach to protecting user data.

And Facebook delivered with a slew of announcements and demonstrations that reminded Facebook watchers of its commitment to connecting people through an ever-evolving social platform. Highlights included:

  • FaceDate, a dating feature in which Facebook members can make their profiles to non-friends who opt in to look for someone to date. With FaceDate, Facebook is reinforcing its core mission of connecting people, a mission that Facebook periodically updates as it did last year with the rollout of the “bring the world closer together” mantra. It looks as though Facebook wants to bring the world closer together one person at a time and in relationships that go beyond friending. It’s a reasonable move that doesn’t stray too far from Facebook on its best day: connecting people.
  • Augmented and virtual reality: Facebook has been marching down a path of creating augmented and virtual reality experiences for some time, as manifested by the purchase of VR firm Oculus in 2014. In 2016, Mark Zuckerberg placed AR/VR at the far end of a 10-year roadmap. Facebook F8 showed that Facebook appears to be right on schedule. The company released Oculus Go, a lightweight, relatively affordable VR headset that liberates VR from the confines of a stationary computer. Oculus Go is important because it’s supposed to make VR more affordable while delivering a reasonably high-quality VR experience. Meanwhile, on the AR front, Facebook showed off progress with its AR camera for interacting with AR content in the real world. Among other announcements, Facebook disclosed that AR is coming to its Messenger platform.

Facebook also embedded AR into the actual F8 experience, such as with an AR scavenger hunt in which participants looked for objects using their devices. Through the hunt, Facebook tested with the camera (accessible from inside Facebook) by, in effect, relying on F8 attendees as the test group. Although there is nothing inherently new about an AR scavenger hunt, the hunt gave Facebook a chance to test target-recognition technology, which unlocks AR effects without requiring you to tap on your camera app. The feature is not yet available and so F8 amounted to a beta test.

For two days, Facebook succeeded in repositioning itself as a media company shaping the future of social experiences. Some of the news coverage reflects the kind of narrative Facebook wanted to tell at F8:

Never mind that Facebook’s AR and VR experiences still come down to providing developing tools disconnected from consistently good content. What matters is that Facebook changed the narrative. For a larger rundown of everything Facebook announced at F8, go here. And contact us to discuss how to build your brand on Facebook.