Why Digital Ad Spend Is on the Rise

Why Digital Ad Spend Is on the Rise

Advertising

Digital advertising is not only growing, it’s becoming more mainstream. As noted in two recently published research reports, internet advertising spending is hitting record highs and is projected to soon exceed 50 percent of all advertising spend for the first time. Let’s unpack what this information means for your business.

Trends in Growth Reflect Value

According to a report issued by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) on August 6, “U.S. digital advertising revenues reached a landmark high of $28.4 billion in the first quarter of 2019. This is the industry’s strongest Q1 on record.” The 18 percent rise over Q1 2018 digital revenues are part of a trend, as David Silverman, Partner, PwC US, sees it: “These historic Q1 figures are in keeping with digital’s ongoing rise,” he notes. The leaps in growth are also telling, reflecting the value digital ad spend can yield. Sue Hogan, IAB’s Senior Vice President, Research and Measurement, says that “[t]he continued growth of digital ad spend is a reflection of its ability to help brands and publishers reach consumers and build meaningful one-to-one relationships.”

The Balance Is Tipping

Digital advertising isn’t just strong and growing, it’s also overtaking offline advertising. In a report released July 8 by Zenith, internet advertising is predicted to account for 52 percent of global advertising expenditure in 2021. This development would mark the first time digital advertising exceeded the 50 percent mark of all ad expenditures, overtaking analog advertising formats such as linear television, billboards, and print. According to Zenith, print in particular is on the decline, and traditional television ad revenues can be expected to dwindle every year from now to 2021.

Brands should note that internet advertising isn’t a monolithic spend. Ongoing technological improvements to smartphone technology and connection speeds, paired with strong content investment, have informed the growth of ad spend in online video and social media, in particular.

What Does It All Mean?

The reports suggest a few takeaways, including:

  • Digital ad spending is finally becoming mainstream. It’s no longer part of a company’s advertising, it’s central to a company’s strategy.
  • Businesses are getting more sophisticated about how they advertise. They are increasing and decreasing their digital spend in different types of digital advertising to suit the specific needs of a campaign, and to adapt to changes in consumer behavior. The fact that advertisers are upping their spend in video and social media reflects an understanding of the surge in consumer social media usage and, as we’ve noted on our blog, the demonstrated appetite for visual content.

What You Should Do

Taken together, these reports underline how important it is that advertisers constantly assess and respond to consumer behavior. By staying current, savvy advertisers can be leaders, not followers—and reap the benefits of being an informed early adopter. For example, businesses that reacted early to the rise of visual storytelling already have a leg up on those that waited too long. You want to be one of those businesses that monitor how consumers are acting and adjust advertising strategies accordingly — before your competitors do.

A really good example of a trend to watch? Voice search. Per Zenith, “A lot of innovation in search is taking place in voice, which is currently not monetised.” Voice-based advertising may not be paying off yet across the board—but it’s only a matter of time before it does. Smart brands will keep an eye on voice search and take action before it’s mainstream.

Contact True Interactive

How are you sensing and responding? Contact us. We can help you maximize ROI of your online advertising.

How to Advertise to Gen Z

How to Advertise to Gen Z

Advertising

Generation Z is a fast-growing demographic, and savvy businesses are getting to know them and how to connect with them, as good marketers have done with generations that precede Gen Z, such as Millennials and Baby Boomers. Who makes up Gen Z, and why are they important? Read on for a thumbnail sketch of the generation that has grown up in an “always on” technological environment.

Who Is Gen Z?

Pew Research defines Generation Z as anyone born from 1997 onward. Bloomberg research indicates that in 2019, Gen Z will comprise about 32 percent of the population, making it the most populous generation — larger even than the Millennial generation, which, for years, has dominated the imagination and attention of advertisers.

Gen Z is different from any other generation because of one simple fact: they are true digital natives. They don’t know life without smart phones. In addition, they are growing up in an economy where ownership isn’t mandatory or even preferable: Older Gen Zers are comfortable renting someone else’s belongings to get from Point A to Point B (think Uber) or spending time in a new city (Airbnb), a pattern that will probably persist once they come of age and have real spending power. And this is a generation invested in meaningful social connection and expression, where “friend” count, or quantity, is less important than the quality and personal nature of one’s connections.

5 Way to Connect with Gen Z

It’s important that your business understand how to communicate with Gen Z. What are the keys to a meaningful connection with a tech-savvy generation that values just that — connection?

1 Lead with Digital

Use online advertising as the cornerstone for all your advertising. Remember, this is the generation that is growing up digital. As Jonah Stillman, the co-author of “Gen Z @ Work” and a 2018 panelist at Advertising Week in New York City, has noted, “[Generation Z] sees no difference between the physical and digital worlds. This is a generation that is native to technology and has complete comfortability with [their] phones.” This is also a multi-screen generation: if Millennials are known to use three screens at once, you can plan on Gen Z using five. Make sure your ads are present across multiple platforms in order to optimize views and clicks.

2 Be Visual

Gen Z is growing up in the age of YouTube and Instagram. For example, online videos are a key brand discovery platform: Marketing Dive reports that 56 percent of the group has indicated “they want video to reflect the products and services they already own or are specifically interested in.” As we have blogged, creating great visual content is no longer a nice to do – it’s a must-do.

3 Look beyond Facebook

In 2018, eMarketer senior forecasting analyst Oscar Orozco told Business Insider that “[o]utside of those who have already left, teens and tweens remaining on Facebook seem to be less engaged—logging in less frequently and spending less time on the platform.” A 2017 Piper Jaffray survey, in which only nine percent of teens designated Facebook as their preferred social-media platform, confirms this trend. As nineteen-year-old Ishan Goel, a marketing strategist with the Mark Cuban Companies, observes, being on Facebook is “not cool.”

So where is Gen Z spending its digital time? According to Ishan Goel, “Because Gen Zers are individualistic and value their privacy, they prefer anonymous social media like Snapchat, Secret, and Whisper rather than Facebook,” An Hodgson, an income and expenditure manager at Euromonitor International, notes that Instagram is also a go-to.

4 Be Authentic

This isn’t necessarily a generation invested in status. Piper Jaffrey reports that “refined-classic” brands like Ralph Lauren or Vineyard Vines are suffering record lows in the Gen Z market, dropping from a 14 percent average to a 5 percent market share among teens. (That said, according to a recent report from consultancy Irregular Labs, 25 percent of the 1,000 13- to 24-year-old females surveyed indicated that they are saving up to buy a luxury product.)

Gen Zers also value ads with everyday people in them, as opposed to celebrities. Look to retailers like Target for a sense of how to get it right when it comes to authenticity: in Target’s online as well as in-store advertising for women’s fashions, for example, models come in all shapes. And in the store itself, even the mannequins showcasing the clothing are different sizes.

5 Tread Carefully with Cause Marketing

Gen Zers value social issues. In a new study from the consulting firm DoSomething Strategic, two-thirds of Gen Z consumers indicate that there is a correlation between a brand’s association with a social cause and positive impressions of that brand. That said, authenticity (see above) must be established: any whiff of a disconnect between the cause marketing and a company’s values, and Gen Z will not be impressed. Furthermore, a study published in the Journal of Advertising Research suggests that businesses should avoid relying on guilt in any cause-related marketing they pursue.

Contact True Interactive

Looking for more insight into how to reach Gen Z with your digital advertising? Contact us.

Photo by JodyHongFilms on Unsplash

Why Yahoo! Scores An Advertising Touchdown with NFL Live

Why Yahoo! Scores An Advertising Touchdown with NFL Live

Advertising

As more cord-cutters embrace connected TV, advertisers don’t reach as many people as they used to. We blogged recently about the fact that even blockbuster TV shows like Game of Thrones attract a fraction of the audiences that used to gather in linear television’s heyday. The change has created an environment in which content creators and advertisers are invited to find new ways to make money from digital audiences. The shift isn’t limited to shows or series, of course. It also includes live sports, with platforms and publishers such as Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo!, and YouTube landing rights to broadcast games from the likes of Major League Baseball, the NFL, and the NHL. Yahoo!, for example, has adapted to the connected TV era by providing the NFL Live experience, which, in turn, creates an opportunity for advertisers: a less expensive, more targeted way for brands to reach NFL fans.

What Is NFL Live?

NFL Live is currently the only free mobile site for watching live NFL games. Yahoo! makes free NFL viewing a reality by empowering businesses to advertise on NFL Live. Some of the advantages to advertisers are straightforward: brands get their name in front of six million+ people who have downloaded the app, for example. But it’s not just the volume that matters—it’s the ability to target viewers. Instead of buying advertising spots for certain times during a game (the third quarter of a Bears/Packers game, say), advertisers on NFL Live can reach out to particular audiences. By targeting a group as specific as women ages 25-34 making $100,000+ annually, an advertiser may not reach the largest audience — but they can reach a market they determine is uniquely suited to their brand. It’s a trade-off that can be lucrative, bringing to mind the maxim “quality versus quantity.”

Another perk: it’s less expensive to advertise on NFL Live. A typical network ad during an NFL game costs about $300,000. By contrast, there is no minimum spend for advertising on NFL Live. Advertisers can spend as much or as little as they want.

How Is Yahoo! Expanding NFL Live to Yahoo!’s Fantasy Football App?

Yahoo! has done something else. The company is ramping up its NFL Live offering by also streaming NFL games on Yahoo!’s popular Fantasy Football app. As Yahoo! Fantasy analyst Liza Loza recently said, “NFL fans all over the country can root for their favourite teams and watch all local and primetime games free and unauthenticated in the Yahoo! Fantasy Football app, the Yahoo! Sports app and other Verizon and NFL media properties on phones and tablets.” Multiple streaming locations mean a larger audience. They also hold the promise of attracting new fans. Yahoo! Sports general manager Geoff Reiss said that the digital platforms have brought in a “concentration of younger fans watching the NFL . . . Half of our fans were under the age of 40. I think one of the reasons the league was interested in working with us is we would be a means for them to reach younger audiences.”

Contact True Interactive

Yahoo! is a prime example of a business that’s adapting with the times. It’s important that advertisers remain nimble and aware of what companies like Yahoo! are doing, and capitalize on the opportunities that the changing market affords. Accept the fact that you won’t be reaching as big of an audience. Embrace the reality that you can in fact reach a much more targeted audience: one that’s smaller but more measurable. Call True Interactive for more insight into how to do that.

Why Advertisers Embrace Nostalgia Marketing

Why Advertisers Embrace Nostalgia Marketing

Advertising

In Rob Sheffield’s autobiographical memoir, Love Is a Mix Tape, Sheffield observes, “I get sentimental over the music of the ‘90s. Deplorable, really. But I love it all. As far as I’m concerned the ‘90s was the best era for music ever, even the stuff that I loathed at the time, even the stuff that gave me stomach cramps.” Sheffield is talking about nostalgia. Smart marketers know how to tap that vein. Research shows us that nostalgia gives our lives, whether we are 20 or 80, a sensation of comfort, continuity, and meaning. What businesses wouldn’t want to evoke those feelings in a customer? Hence the rise of nostalgia marketing, which uses past themes or products to evoke a specific, positive emotion in customers. Nostalgia marketing isn’t new, exactly — when you see the word “throwback” in relation to a brand, that’s nostalgia marketing at work — but in recent weeks, shows such as Netflix’s Stranger Things have underlined just how powerful nostalgia marketing can be.

Why Nostalgia Works

The irony of nostalgia marketing is, of course, that the past helps make a business more relevant to current interests. Look a little deeper, though, and it’s not hard to see the allure. Research shows that nostalgia can act as an antidote to boredom, loneliness, and anxiety. It can literally make people feel warmer on cold days. And from the perspective of the advertiser, it’s a gold mine in that it can reach multiple generations equally effectively. Nostalgia marketing appeals to the college student stressed by exams who finds refuge in references to beloved cartoons from their childhood. It also attracts the overworked middle-aged manager, who gets a boost from that can of New Coke. And therein lies the power of nostalgia marketing: it’s not limited to a certain age bracket.

In The Upside Down . . . and Beyond

Stranger Things, the Netflix series that is equal parts sci fi exploration of the parallel universe of The Upside Down and‘80s homage, provides a great example of nostalgia marketing. Look no further than the copious New Coke references in the show’s Season 3, which takes place in 1985, the same year New Coke made its short-lived (79-day!) debut. Sure, New Coke may have been a debacle at the time, but fast-forward to 2019, when the beverage giant has the opportunity to turn an embarrassment into a win. By making New Coke (briefly) available again — Coke spent six months poring over records to make sure the New Coke design and recipe were properly recreated — and generating advertising tie-ins to the show, Coke is hoping it can play on nostalgia to court older consumers who remember the advent of New Coke in the first place (whether they liked it or not). But it’s not just an older generation that’s being targeted: younger Netflix viewers from the millennial and Gen Z generations love the show, and because they don’t have any strong negative associations with New Coke, they represent a rich new demographic.

Pepsi has also been known to rewind the clock. In 2013, PepsiCo took advantage of the social phenomenon #ThrowbackThursday to generate some buzz about product, posting images of its “throwback” Pepsi sodas, which were made with “real sugar” as opposed to the high-fructose corn syrup soda manufacturers switched to back in the 1980s in response to tariffs.

Other brands, such as Wendy’s, have used classic photos for Throwback Thursday posts; Wendy’s underlined the nostalgia by pointing out how the fast-food chain debuted the first modern-day pick-up window.

Wimbledon, the oldest tennis tournament in the world, and arguably the most prestigious, has also embraced nostalgia in a bid to generate more revenue. As reported in Digiday, the tournament, as part of a six-week campaign, “created an immersive, theatrical recreation of the 1980 final between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe. Billed as a virtual time capsule of sorts, the recreation of the match was backed by archive footage from the real one on the tournament’s social media channels.”

Doing Nostalgia Marketing the Right Way

Like any marketing strategy, nostalgia marketing comes with a few ground rules. To achieve the best results, you want to do it right, namely:

  • Know your audience. Are they going to understand or appreciate the throwback?
  • Leverage all the tools you can, ranging from social to online advertising.
  • Know the nostalgia “hot spots.” Create content that targets your audience’s elementary and high school years, generally ages six to 16. And don’t forget “parental nostalgia,” the nostalgia many parents feel for their children’s childhoods.
  • Try to draw on content creators who actually lived in the time or place your brand is recalling. Someone who participated in the experience in the first place is much more likely to invest the marketing with emotion and meaning.
  • Take advantage of brand history if your company has been around awhile. Nostalgia strategies can be built around reminding customers of the positive experiences they’ve had with a product over the years.
  • Pay attention to the details and get the callback right.

Bottom line: authenticity is key.

Contact True Interactive

True Interactive knows how to plan and implement digital advertising of all kinds, including throwback themes. Contact us to build your business with online advertising.

Advertising Opportunities in the Era of Connected TV

Advertising Opportunities in the Era of Connected TV

Advertising

The final episode of Game of Thrones set an HBO record, with 19.3 million viewers tuning in on May 19. Though this number sounds big, it’s small potatoes compared to the numbers generated during the heyday of linear television: consider the 105.9 million viewers attracted by the M*A*S*H finale in 1983, for example. The reality is that we’re simply not gathering around our TV sets to create massive audiences for advertisers anymore (with notable exceptions such as the Super Bowl). In fact, audiences are increasingly fragmented as they watch television shows across multiple devices and channels, on their own time and terms. What do these changes mean for advertisers?

The Challenges

For one thing, it’s harder to reach people en masse. And depending on the viewing platform, television shows may not even offer an opportunity for advertisers to air commercials. Sure, the Big Three television networks still allow advertisers to place ads, and opportunities like the Super Bowl and Academy Awards can still be lucrative. But shows appearing on HBO or streaming platforms like the forthcoming Disney+ don’t accept advertising.

Opportunities in a New Era

 So what’s an advertiser to do in an era of connected TV?

  • Take advantage of the good things that are part and parcel of the connected TV era, like the tools that now exist to help you understand your audience. There are technologies out there — AUDIENCEX is one example — that allow advertisers to come up with more targeted ads. You may no longer have the ability to advertise to massive audiences, but you can target smaller, deeply specific demographics you think might respond to your product: millennial women who live in Boston, say. You can also better understand, and act on, the times that audience might respond best to what you’re selling.

Both the whiskey and cookie campaigns knew how to tie in to the cultural phenomenon that was Game of Thrones in smart, inventive ways, making both products shoe-ins for the themed show-end parties that inevitably took place around the globe. Meanwhile, Shake Shack offered Game of Thrones menu tie-ins—a Dragonglass Shake made of custard “frozen with packed snow harvested beyond the Wall,” and a Dracarys Burger “griddled by the fires of Drogon and Rhaegal.” The items, part of a secret menu, were meant to be ordered in Valyrian, a tongue consumers could master with the help of a Shake Shack-provided translation guide. Mountain Dew featured a cast of musicians singing the Game of Thrones theme as part of Mountain Dews #ACanHasNoName campaign — an example of how businesses incorporated humor to provide light commentary on a TV show known for its heavy themes.

These brands typically relied on social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to generate audience impressions that would continue to accumulate after the final episode of Game of Thrones. The tie-ins weren’t restricted to food and drink. Adidas’ Twitter promotion highlighted six limited-edition pairs of shoes “[i]nspired by the colours and details of the Seven Kingdoms and beyond The Wall.”

Even the American Red Cross got in on the action, partnering with HBO to kick off a Bleed #ForTheThrone Facebook campaign that encouraged blood donations in exchange for an opportunity to win an Iron Throne. The Red Cross did its homework, too, spending the largest majority of its advertising dollars to reach males in Hartford, Connecticut, and Chicago where apparently the appeal of one’s own Throne looms large, as noted here.

As these examples show, it’s never been a better time for advertisers to tap into popular culture to invigorate their brands. The nature of the rules—and opportunities—has simply changed. The question is: have you?

Contact us. We understand advertising in the era of connected TV.

Why the Amazon/Sizmek Deal Matters

Why the Amazon/Sizmek Deal Matters

Advertising Amazon

On May 31, Amazon said it will acquire assets from Sizmek, an advertising technology firm. The announcement consisted of three paragraphs with little detail. But the deal is valuable for Amazon as the company builds a stronger advertising platform to compete with Facebook and Google.

Amazon Advertising Gains Market Share

Amazon’s advertising business is slowly taking market share from Facebook and Google. According to eMarketer, Amazon will capture 8.8 percent of U.S. digital ad spending in 2019. This amount trails far behind Google (with 37.2 percent market share) and Facebook (22.1 percent). But Amazon is building its advertising operation from scratch, and in a short time it has emerged as a threat primarily to Google, as consumers shift their product searches away from Google and toward Amazon.

How Sizmek’s Assets Will Help Amazon

Amazon purchased Sizmek’s ad server and dynamic creative optimization tools, the latter of which helps personalize ads using data. Sizmek’s tools will bolster Amazon’s already strong warehouse of customer data with even more data from ad serving. Doing so will give Amazon more targeted ways to advertise to the millions of people who search for products on Amazon and willingly share their personal information with the company. The deal isn’t making Amazon bigger, but it will make Amazon smarter.

What Advertisers Should Do

At True Interactive, we help businesses capitalize on Amazon as an advertising platform as part of our broader digital advertising offerings. We’ve been actively blogging about the many features Amazon Advertising is developing, such as video ads on Amazon’s mobile app. Based on our own experience, we suggest advertisers:

  • Examine how partnering with Amazon Advertising will help you attract and acquire customers, even if you don’t sell products on Amazon. As The New York Times reported recently, Amazon is tapping into its rich vein of customer data to help companies create more targeted ads across the digital world – an “insanely powerful” capability, according to the article.
  • Watch as Amazon’s competitors evolve their platforms to compete with the Amazon threat. For instance, Google recently announced new features intended to make it a stronger mobile advertising platform (which we discussed here). And, don’t forget Microsoft. Its own advertising business, while small, gives businesses an alternative to the Big Three of Amazon, Facebook, and Google.

Online advertising is changing rapidly as the major players make acquisitions and develop their products organically. Advertisers will benefit so long as you remain vigilant and capitalize on these improvements. True Interactive can help you. As an outside party, we constantly evaluate new tools and ensure that our clients benefit from them with effective digital advertising campaigns. Contact us. We’d love to make your online advertising more powerful.

How Verizon Media Is Evolving

How Verizon Media Is Evolving

Advertising

Verizon Media (formerly known as Oath) is enduring a transition. But advertisers, especially business-to-business brands, should keep the company on their radar screens and be ready to act on some of the changes occurring at the subsidiary of Verizon Communications.

Verizon Media Shares Mixed News

In recent months, Verizon Media has been the source of difficult news, including layoffs and declining revenues. One piece of news we’ve been following and reacting to throughout 2019: the closing of the Oath Ad Platforms ad server in 2020. As Verizon Media told Adweek,

Following a strategic review of our business, we have decided to close the Oath Ad Platforms Ad Server, effective 2020. We are working with our customers to ensure they are supported as they migrate from the Ad Server platform. This does not affect our Oath Ad Platforms SSP business.

I see the shutting down of the Oath Ad Platforms Ad Server as good news for Oath customers. Advertising on the Oath Ad Platforms Ad Server means using the Yahoo! platform, which lacks strong functionality and uses dated features. With the shutdown of the Oath Ad Platforms Ad Server, your business will transition to Bing. This change is especially advantageous now that Microsoft organized its advertising products under Microsoft Advertising. The rebrand entails the launch of new features such as Sponsored Products and an enhancement of recently launched features such as Microsoft Audience Network, which is powered by artificial intelligence. Advertisers will be in a stronger position thanks to the stronger role Microsoft now plays.

A New Phase for Verizon Media

Meanwhile, Verizon Media is entering a new phase that includes the embrace of augmented reality and virtual reality, according to CEO Guru Gowrappan. In a recently published interview with Fortune, he said,

The biggest thing we’re investing in is 5G [the faster successor to 4G LTE mobile networks]. Every product is going to have an aspect of 5G. You’re going to have deeper integration of augmented reality and virtual reality.

We not just have front row seat and access to what is happening but we’re also building all of our apps, products, and content in that experience. So if you go to our Los Angeles office, we have the first 5G animation studio [Ryot Studios]. It’s brought down the cost of producing animation, and Ryot does a lot of AR content.

He also plans to integrate e-commerce with advertising more effectively, following the example set by Instagram. As he pointed out,

Let’s say you’re watching the Dallas Mavs and want to buy a jersey while you’re watching. We want to integrate commerce more deeply.

Also, the ad model itself has become combined with transactions. That’s what Instagram does. It’s advertising and sponsorships, but in the end, it’s enticing you to come in and transact on the platform.

These are bold statements for a company emerging from hard times, but the company understands that its previous game plan has been flawed.

What You Should Do

My advice to brands advertising on digital:

  • Take stock of Verizon Media’s considerable publishing assets, such as Engadget, Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and Yahoo! According to Verizon Media, its publishing platforms deliver an audience of more than 1 billion people.
  • Watch how Verizon Media evolves its ad products under Guru Gowrappan. He has made it clear that it’s no longer business as usual at Verizon Media. The possibility of ad products using AR and VR is exciting, but the more important near-term development is the integration of e-commerce with its ad products for businesses seeking a tighter integration between online ads and sales.
  • Make sure you understand the impact of the demise of the Oath Ad Platforms Ad Server. Talk with your agency partner if you’re working with one. Ensure that you understand the role of Microsoft (which I see as a positive one).

As always, contact True Interactive if you need help navigating the digital landscape. We have deep experience with online advertising. We’re here to help.