2021 Advertising and Marketing Predictions from True Interactive

2021 Advertising and Marketing Predictions from True Interactive

Advertising

If 2020 had a few surprises up its sleeve, the year certainly set the stage for 2021. In the months ahead, businesses are poised to transition more boldly to a digital-first economy, which includes a more seamless approach to e-commerce and increased opportunities for engaging with people through immersive experiences such as e-sports. At the same time, businesses will continue to navigate an increasingly complicated consumer privacy landscape. All those trends, and others, will influence the uptake of digital advertising and marketing in 2021. Read on for our fearless predictions for the year:

E-commerce Grows Up

We’ve all heard the same statistic bandied about: in 2020, the pandemic accelerated the shift to e-commerce by five years, according to IBM. But that doesn’t mean the acceleration went smoothly. As we saw during the holiday season, the surge in online commerce has exposed cracks in the seams for many retailers. Sellers struggled with a variety of issues ranging from stocking items properly to following through with orders. Going into 2021, these challenges are forcing companies to integrate all their processes (online, in store, shipping logistics, etc.) more seamlessly. Larger retailers such as Target and Walmart have already successfully expanded services such as curbside pick-up, which make it possible for shoppers to buy online and pick up merchandise at the store without needing to go inside. Going forward, they’ll follow Amazon’s lead and invest more in their own shipping and delivery services to own the order fulfillment process (Target and Walmart already have them – they’re still refining them, though). As we have seen during the holidays, the strain on shipping services such as FedEx and UPS is becoming unacceptable to retailers, and if they lack the resources to build out their own delivery services, they will partner with businesses such as InstaCart.

In addition, learning from the events of 2020, retailers will likely become more nimble in their approach to advertising and supply chain management in order to adapt to quickly changing shifts in consumer demand. They’re going to do a better job using tools such as Google Insights to adapt their campaigns to consumer behavior. The key will be to ensure their supply chain processes are as nimble.

— Kurt Anagnostopoulos, co-founder

Rough Sledding for Facebook

It may be rough sledding ahead for Facebook in 2021. Do a quick Google News search for Facebook and you will see a slew of articles depicting the challenges the social media giant currently faces. At the top of the list? News that more than 40 attorneys general and the U.S. government are expected to sue Facebook for alleged antitrust violations. And while Mark Zuckerberg has routinely appeared at congressional hearings addressing concerns of privacy, misinformation, and censorship, this latest lawsuit might be a final awakening for businesses who use Facebook as an ad platform.

Adding to Facebook’s already uphill battle is the release of the Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma, which explores the dangerous human impact of social network platforms as told by tech experts who expose secrets behind their own creations. Many media outlets reported a wave of people canceling their social media accounts after viewing the documentary. Of course, Facebook has slammed the documentary, claiming it’s full of misinformation, but is the damage already done? Even if the documentary did not get all the details right, it has undeniably affected public perception of social media platforms. And if even a fraction of current users de-activate their accounts, this will absolutely have a negative impact on audience size available to advertisers. More importantly, with the continued negative publicity surrounding the biggest social media platforms, are businesses really going to want to ramp spend on Facebook and Instagram? My prediction is no. After a crazy year filled with pandemic fears and general social unrest, I do not believe businesses are looking to invest in platforms embroiled in controversy. And if media spend is pulled from some of the social media giants, it may leave the door open for other search engines or community-based ad platforms to emerge. Stay tuned!

— Beth Bauch, director, digital marketing

Walmart Gains Ground as an Ad Platform

The Walmart marketplace is still very much in its infancy. I believe that 2021 will lead to exponential growth of Walmart’s advertising services, and the company will become more competitive with Amazon in this regard. The current platform is still very small scale and, technically, still in beta or just out of it. Many larger advertisers have not been invited to join the Walmart marketplace because it is still so brand new. I believe that Walmart will enjoy a large jump in advertising on their app and site Q1-Q2 2021.

— Tim Colucci, vice president, digital marketing

Augmented Reality Takes Hold

I think in 2021 we will see more brands invest money into creating virtual experiences for their customers. Augmented reality (AR) was already becoming popular before the onset of COVID-19, but now, given the urgency to shop online during the pandemic, consumers are missing the in-store experience of physically trying on items. And retailers are responding with AR: Warby Parker, for example, has created a virtual try-on for their glasses via their app. My glasses broke this weekend, and instead of going to a Warby Parker store to try on different frames, I could use their app to see what the glasses would look like on me, and felt more confident ordering online. Another brand capitalizing on the opportunities inherent in AR? A make-up line called NARS. They allow you to experiment with their products, such as blush and eye shadow, through a virtual try-on feature. Overall, I think more retail brands will create virtual shopping experiences for their customers in 2021.

— Taylor Hart, senior digital marketing manager

E-sports Dominates

The world of e-sports is never one to stop changing. With e-sports accumulating a total revenue that reached more than $1 billion in 2020 (a $150 million increase from 2019), we can only expect that to continue to rise in 2021. Given the ongoing global pandemic and application of stricter stay-at-home rules, more and more people will turn to e-sports as another form of entertainment. It all starts with streaming services that allow e-sports players to become household names in the gaming industry. Giving these players an opportunity to reach tens, potentially hundreds of thousands of viewers without leaving their home is something advertisers can only dream of. Players will do sponsored streams, with designated ad reads to be presented at certain points during the broadcast. The NFL is also getting involved with Twitch (the biggest live streaming platform), getting some of the big name streamers (e.g., NICKMERCS and TimTheTatman) to watch Thursday Night Football on stream with various advertisers as sponsors. Watch for more professional sports and entertainment services to follow in the footsteps of the NFL and try to reach this large, somewhat untapped market.

— Max Petrungaro, digital marketing associate

Privacy Dominates the Executive Agenda

For years, CEOs and CMOs have treated consumer privacy as a problem for their information technology teams to worry about. No longer. Privacy is rapidly becoming a C-level problem that can damage a company’s reputation if managed poorly. A variety of forces have elevated the importance of privacy in the United States. First off, the state of California rolled out a tough privacy act, the California Consumer Privacy Act, in January 2020, and then made the law more strict in November. Because California is one of the world’s largest economies and is a bellwether state, what happens there will influence how other states treat consumer privacy. In addition, the big technology firms are already under close scrutiny, and the new presidential administration is likely to take an even closer look at their privacy practices.

Speaking of the tech giants – their actions are casting a spotlight on privacy. As widely reported, Facebook has launched a public campaign attacking Apple’s privacy iOS 14 updates, which are going to make it harder for Facebook and other platforms to target users with ads. Meanwhile, Google continues to move forward with its plans to stop supporting third-party cookies on the Chrome browser by 2022 – an action that continues to reverberate across the ad industry. In 2021, businesses will face a year of transition as they navigate an increasingly complicated consumer privacy landscape. The challenge involves more than reacting to changes in legislation and cookie tracking technology; advertisers also need to stay on top of emerging tools such as Verizon Media’s ConnectID, designed to manage ads without the use of third-party cookies. School will be in session constantly.

— Mark Smith, co-founder

More Social Shopping

With the world of online shopping expanding in 2020 due to the pandemic, I predict that 2021 will bring new ways to shop across social. Instagram has already released its e-commerce store to elevate shopping online. I predict that the platform will continue to refine its online shopping tools, even as more social networks follow Instagram’s lead and create additional opportunities for shopping right from consumer smart devices.

— Bella Schneider, digital marketing manager

Online Video Explodes

Online video is going to explode as the number of streaming services expands. I believe we are also going to see a cheaper, monthly subscription option (akin to the base Hulu subscription) that includes video ads as a way to subsidize lower-cost services. It is rumored that HBO Max will offer this option, but I believe we will see similar offerings from Peacock, Disney+/Hulu (which I believe will be combined at some point . . . in 2021?), and Amazon Prime. I think the opportunity for more ad space is going to be too good to pass up as more and more consumers cut the cord OR sign up for multiple streaming services. In addition, I believe we will see other live TV options becoming available from streaming services: cord cutters will still have the opportunity for live TV . . .  plus the ad space that goes along with it.

— Tim Colucci, vice president, digital marketing

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The Consumer Privacy Rights Act: Advertiser Q&A

The Consumer Privacy Rights Act: Advertiser Q&A

Advertising

The state of California has passed the Consumer Privacy Rights Act. This legislation allows consumers to prevent businesses from sharing personal information and limits businesses’ use of personal information including precise geolocation, race, ethnicity, and health information.

It’s important to understand the Consumer Privacy Rights Act. California is a bellwether state. What happens in California may influence how other states enact consumer privacy laws. With that in mind, I have provided answers to some commonly asked questions.

What is the Consumer Privacy Rights Act?

The Consumer Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), also known as Proposition 24, is an update to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). The CPRA provides more safeguards and protections to consumer privacy.

What was the original California Consumer Privacy Act supposed to do?

The CCPA, which became law on January 2020, granted new rights to California consumers. The CCPA imposed requirements on how businesses collect, use, and disclose information about California residents. For instance, businesses subject to the CCPA must provide notice to consumers at or before data collection. Read more about the CCPA on our blog.

What does the Consumer Privacy Rights Act do?

The CPRA makes the CCPA stronger. Here are some specific features:

  • Greater protection of California residents’ personal information, ranging from their location to their ethnicity.
  • Tougher safeguards to protect minors’ information. For instance, the law requires businesses to include an opt-in requirement to sell the data of consumers under age 16.
  • The establishment of a California Privacy Protection Agency to enforce the above requirements, which will be funded by up to $10 million per year.

Having an agency dedicated to CCPA will likely lead to more businesses in compliance and enforcement of penalties.

Does the Consumer Privacy Rights Act apply only to businesses in California?

The CPRA may apply to you no matter where you are located. If a California resident can access your website, compliance is required. This was true with the original CCPA as we blogged. Those requirements remain very much in force.

When does the Consumer Privacy Rights Act go into effect?

Most of its provisions will go into effect on January 1, 2023. Meanwhile, the CCPA remains in effect.

What should I do about this?

Do your homework now. Remember, the CCPA is the law – so it’s important to ensure compliance on an ongoing basis. At the same time, make sure you understand the additional provisions of the CPRA.

Understand the tightened requirements. For starters, double check the strength of your opt-ins and opt-outs. Do you have a process in place to quickly address privacy requests? Err on the side of being more conservative in consent for data capture.

Take a closer look at how the law defines personally identifiable information (PII). The definition is becoming more complex as privacy law evolves. Now is a good time to examine how you are using PII.

Make sure you have a clear snapshot of how you are doing business with California residents.

Consult with your advertising partners, including any ad tech firms you work with, to ensure they are compliant with the privacy law.

How do I ensure I am compliant?

A number of security firms provide compliance services. Unless you have a strong in-house security team, your best bet is to look for compliance help from a specialist. Also, here is a resource for additional insight:

The CPRA Will Bring New Rights, Responsibilities and Regulators to California Data Privacy Law,” the National Law Review.

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Advertiser Q&A: Connected TV

Advertiser Q&A: Connected TV

Advertising

As we blogged in 2019, we are living in a connected TV (CTV) era, one in which audiences are fragmented, consuming content across multiple devices and channels. CTV provides brands with tremendous opportunity, but some confusion persists about what it is exactly. Read on to learn more about CTV, how it differs from over-the-top (OTT) TV, and how it might benefit your brand:

What exactly is connected TV?

Connected TV refers specifically to the device used to access content (e.g., devices such as Amazon Fire, Roku, and Apple TV, not to mention gaming consoles like Xbox). Andison Flores at LiftIntent explains, “CTV is anything that allows your TV to access video content through the public Internet, as opposed to traditional cable.”

Is connected TV the same as OTT?

Though CTV and OTT are often used interchangeably by marketers, brands, and even reporters, there is a distinction. As Tal Chalozin, Co-founder and CTO at Innovid, says, “OTT means you are accessing content ‘over the top’ of infrastructure providers.” For example, users might be purchasing bandwidth from a provider like Comcast. But they can go “over the top” of Comcast by buying additional content—subscribing to Hulu, say, or Netflix. Chalozin explains, “You’re using the bandwidth provider as an access layer but not as the main way you’re accessing content.” In short, OTT refers to the new breed of content providers.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) makes a handy comparison:

  1. “Use CTV when you are specifically talking about Smart TVs and streaming devices that are attached to TVs. Mobile and desktop devices are not included under the term CTV.
  1. Use OTT when it doesn’t matter which devices are included. For example, if you want to talk about ‘OTT services’ (like Hulu or TubiTV), and delivery to a particular device doesn’t matter. OTT is still a valid term that distinguishes premium television content from the vast world of online video where user-generated content is commonplace.”

Why is connected TV getting popular with viewers?

As Anna Kuzmenko, COO at BidMind by Fiksu, notes, CTV offers users the freedom to “watch whatever they want, whenever they want.” Millennials and Gen Zers in particular have “cut the cord,” eschewing the limits of linear TV viewing in favor of streaming.

Why is connected TV popular with advertisers?

Advertisers are following their audience. According to Forbes, a recent study from the Leichtman Research Group estimates that 80 percent of TV homes in the U.S. have at least one connected TV device. That number represents a steady increase from the 57 percent logged in 2015, and 24 percent in 2010.

Predictably, CTV use soared during the pandemic: Forbes also cites a Nielson report, which notes that CTV viewing exploded from 2.7 billion hours during the pre-pandemic week of March 2, to 3.9 billion hours during the weeks of March 23, March 30, and April 6. Even during the week of May 4, when stay-at-home laws eased in some states, CTV viewing remained above pre-pandemic levels at 3.5 billion hours.

These stats are good news for advertisers embracing CTV. So is the fact that CTV allows brands to reach out to specific audiences. As Forbes notes, “CTV’s targeting capabilities are the ‘holy grail’ for advertisers.” Many CTV companies use ACR, or Automated Content Recognition, which collects data that can inform programming recommendations for users and better target ads to niche groups. Although audiences in the era of connected TV may not be as huge as the linear TV days, CTV helps brands better understand and reach their niche market effectively.

And the future of CTV looks bright. Kuzmenko says, “In 2021, CTV ad spend is estimated to hit the significant sum of $10.81 billion.”

How do you set up a connected TV campaign?

The approach for now is very passive: you give a connected TV provider such as Verizon Media/Yahoo the desired demographic you want to reach, and Verizon Media/Yahoo tells you what the CPM (cost per thousand impressions) will be. Verizon Media/Yahoo manages the rest.

Note: different providers have different requirements. With Verizon Media/Yahoo, for example, you can dive in with any budget, but a $20 CPM is minimum if you want to get a reasonable amount of impressions. And as might be expected, the more targeting that you do—narrowing your demographic by city, say—the more expensive advertising is going to be.

What metrics can connected TV providers give you?

It varies. iHeart Media gives you impressions, cost, CPM and completion rates as well as some demographic results with similar KPIs. Verizon Media/Yahoo gives you impressions.

Additionally Verizon Media/Yahoo can include conversions as well based on users’ IP address, Yahoo mail receipts, and other proprietary data/tools.

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New Report Underscores Importance of Google My Business

New Report Underscores Importance of Google My Business

Google

Software provider Moz has released its 2020 State of Local SEO industry report, and the insights are revealing. The report, which surveys the priorities of website owners across several industries, focuses on organic content, but it’s still a useful tool for advertisers. That’s because a brand’s priorities for organic content are usually a good indication of its advertising priorities; in short, the Moz report provides insights into digital marketing that can influence online advertising. Two headliners, according to Moz? Google My Business (GMB) and Maps. Read on for more details about these tools, and how they might support your business.

The Growing Importance of Google My Business

One of the big take-aways of the report is the growing influence of businesses’ GMB listings. In fact, according to Moz, businesses are increasingly viewing GMB listings as critical to their local search result rankings: “75% of marketers believe that the use of Google My Business profile features impacts rankings in the local pack.” The report recommends keeping abreast of GMB features and management, making sure details such as categories, and descriptions, are up-to-date. In short, more businesses are investing time in their GMB page, and you should, too.

Google Maps: More Than a Wayfinding Tool

Another recommendation: mind your presence on Google Maps. The report casts a spotlight on Google Maps’ rise, describing it as “a go-to tool for how consumers navigate their community.” And as consumers find their way around an area, it behooves brands to position themselves front and center. The benefits of learning the nuances of Maps, and keeping one’s map intelligence accurate, cannot be overstated.

These findings underscore how significant GMB listings and Google Maps are to businesses. Google continues to dominate the online landscape even if it is having a down year in the advertising sector.

What You Should Do

  • We recommend that you maintain a strong strategy for maximizing GMB as a platform for paid and organic content. As we have blogged here, more than half of search queries on Google result in no ensuing clicks to brand sites. That’s because users frequently find what they need on GMB pages—when businesses have taken the time to make them rich and informative, that is. Make sure your GMB page has substance, from compelling images to accurate location data. As we recommended earlier on our blog, it’s important that you link your GMB account to your Google Ads account. As Google discusses in this tutorial, linking your GMB account to your Google Ads account makes it possible for your ads to appear with location extensions, which encourage customers to visit your storefront. Through location extensions, customers can see your ads with location information such as your address. And then they can get more information about your location by clicking on location extensions.
  • We also suggest that you have a plan for maximizing Google Maps as a platform for paid and organic content. As we blog here, Google has managed to effectively accommodate advertising without corroding user experience on Maps. That’s good news for brands and users alike. A satisfied user will continue to use Google Maps—and subsequently see content, such as promotions, posted by savvy advertisers.

Note the mention of organic and paid content in both suggestions above. The rationale is this: if you are going to spend more time building up your Maps and GMB organic content, why stop there? Google makes a plethora of advertising tools available, tools that can increase your visibility even more—and attract more customers. Get to know those tools.

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Through offerings like Google My Business and Maps, Google can help your brand achieve the visibility you desire. Not sure how to make the most of these platforms? Contact us. We can help.

Amazon, Facebook, and Google Earnings: Takeaways for Advertisers

Amazon, Facebook, and Google Earnings: Takeaways for Advertisers

Advertising

The week of April 27 was especially important for the online advertising world. The three companies that account for nearly 70 percent of online ad spend – Amazon, Facebook, and Google – all announced quarterly earnings. Here was the first time advertisers would see the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on ad spend. And the news was better than expected.

Amazon Advertising Surges

Amazon announced a rise in quarterly revenue as people sheltering in place increasingly relied on digital to manage their lives, including purchasing products. Amazon’s Advertising service saw a 44-percent increase in revenue (advertising is included in the “other” category in Amazon’s earnings). Why did Amazon’s advertising business do so well?

  • For one thing, consumers on Amazon are searching with intent to buy. And a lot of people are searching on Amazon. According to CivicScience, 49 percent of product searches start on Amazon, versus 22 percent on Google.
  • Amazon without question became a more attractive place to find things to buy as shelter-in-place mandates took hold. According to Learnbonds.com, Amazon’s monthly unique visitors for March, 4.6 billion, easily exceeded competitors such as eBay and Walmart.
  • Amazon was prepared to help advertisers build their visibility during the surge. As we have reported on our blog, over the years, Amazon’s advertising service has developed a number of products that have served Amazon and advertisers well. Those products include Sponsored Ads, Video Ads, and Display Ads, among others.

Amazon said it will plow its profits into COVID-19-related relief activities. As CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement, “If you’re a shareowner in Amazon, you may want to take a seat, because we’re not thinking small. Under normal circumstances, in this coming Q2, we’d expect to make some $4 billion or more in operating profit. But these aren’t normal circumstances. Instead, we expect to spend the entirety of that $4 billion, and perhaps a bit more, on COVID-related expenses getting products to customers and keeping employees safe.”

Amazon’s steady development of an advertising service helped put the company in the position to be able to accommodate this expenditure.

Facebook and Google: Signs of a Turnaround

To no one’s surprise, both Facebook and Google saw a slowdown in revenue earned from online advertising, especially in March. But stock shares for both companies rose after they announced earnings. Why? Let’s take a closer look.

Facebook: More Users and Engagement

Facebook announced that even though ad revenue had dropped during the quarter, it was showing signs of turning around in April. Overall, quarterly revenue rose by $17.74 billion. As Facebook said in a statement, “After the initial steep decrease in advertising revenue in March, we have seen signs of stability reflected in the first three weeks of April.”

In addition, Facebook said that monthly active users had increased 10 percent year over year to number 2.6 billion, and engagement was up as people sheltering in place increased their use of social media.

The advertisers who maintained their spending levels during the dip in March benefitted by being present during the surge in user engagement, as we discussed on our blog.

Google: YouTube Is the Star

Meanwhile, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, reported quarterly revenue of $41.16 billion, a 13-percent year-over-year increase. Revenue from advertising rose 11.6 percent, with advertising from YouTube surging by 33.5 percent.

Alphabet acknowledged that online ad revenue had taken a hit because of COVID-19. But in an investor earnings call, the company’s Chief Financial Officer, Ruth Porat, said that “We have seen some very early signs of recovery in commercial search behavior by users.”

Because Google is very active in the travel and retail – industries that have been rocked by the pandemic – its performance actually exceeded expectations.

As with Facebook, advertisers who maintained their levels of spending benefitted as the general population shifted its behaviors online during the first quarter. As we noted on our blog, many businesses adapted their tone and content to demonstrate empathy with ads running on Google sites such as YouTube. Those businesses positioned themselves well.

What You Should Do 

Amazon, Facebook, and Google will continue to dominate the world of online advertising for the foreseeable future. Here is what we suggest:

  • Don’t go dark. Businesses that maintained their visibility online during the March advertising downturn benefitted from the increase in online engagement. Even as states ease up their shelter-in-place orders, social distancing is not going away anytime soon. We’re living in a digital-first world now amid longer-term behavioral changes. Being present with paid media means taking a digital-first approach.
  • Mind your tone. As I blogged in March, businesses need to do a gut check on the tone of their content. Many businesses have successfully incorporated empathy into their advertising while others have changed their messaging to focus on health and safety. Taylor Hart shared some examples of successful social media advertising in this blog post.
  • Be open to different forms of engagement. It’s important that businesses be ready to adapt different forms of engagement to reflect changing user behavior. For instance, as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pointed out during Facebook’s earnings call, livestreaming on Facebook is a more attractive alternative to live events. Moreover, Facebook had already been seeing a marked increase in use of its Messenger app before the pandemic. Héctor Ariza recently shared examples of ad products that capitalize on the popularity of Messenger. Given the increase in Facebook’s monthly average users, now is a good time to try those products.
  • Capitalize on new ad products. Google is fighting hard to protect its turf amid the rise of Amazon Advertising. The company continues to roll out new products to make the Google universe more appealing to advertisers. For instance, I recently blogged about how Google has adapted the YouTube masthead ad format for the era of connected TV. As Mark Smith discussed in December 2019, Google has been developing some impressive location-based advertising tools.

Contact True Interactive

We know how to create and manage online advertising that is appropriate for the times we are living in — don’t hesitate to reach out. We can help.

 

How Brands Can Be Meaningful during Unprecedented Times

How Brands Can Be Meaningful during Unprecedented Times

Advertising

When a disruption hits, businesses face the challenge of how to stay engaged with people in a meaningful and appropriate way. The question isn’t simply, what should they say? It’s also, how should they say it? Brands need to walk a fine line. They don’t want to launch advertising and organic content that comes across as tone deaf. At the same time, offering words of comfort, if done clumsily, might sound insincere. The COVID-19 pandemic is not the first time businesses have faced this challenge, nor will it be the last. And businesses are successfully rising to the occasion.

You might already be familiar with the Ford Motor Company’s response to coronavirus, in which the brand scotched suddenly irrelevant March Madness ads and focused on the simple message that payment relief is available to customers affected by COVID-19.

Here are some additional examples of brands striking the right tone when they reach out:

Hanes: Keeping It Simple

Hanes has kept things short and sweet in social media announcements that lay out the facts: namely that the company is retrofitting some of its production facilities to make medical masks. The global apparel manufacturer, which has dedicated factories normally devoted to the production of tee shirts and sweatpants to that of masks, expects, at peak output, to manufacture approximately 1.5 million masks a week. The production switchover is certainly laudable. At the same time, it can be awkward for a brand to share this kind of news without falling prey to being sentimental or committing a or humblebrag. Hanes manages to avoid both pitfalls by sticking to the facts, even as the business demonstrates its grasp of what it means to be human: the post ends with an appeal to practice not only social distancing, but also kindness.

Budweiser: Walking the Walk

A crisis demands that we dig deep for our noblest responses, and Budweiser respects that impulse in a recently released ad. Over a piano score, the brand honors those who are stepping up in this age of COVID-19, from healthcare workers to musicians providing joy via shelter-in-place balcony serenades. But Budweiser doesn’t stop at a shout-out. In an acknowledgement that sports are currently on pause, the ad uses sports team names (e.g., Warriors and Angels) to  describe the heroes of COVID-19. Then Budweiser goes on to announce the company’s shift of sports investments to “help our heroes on the front lines/By using stadiums to host American Red Cross blood drives during the COVID-19 crisis.” Budweiser understands the power of not only naming the heroes, but being one.

Little Caesar’s: Still Open, Still Safe

Restaurants everywhere have been rocked especially hard as shelter-in-place mandates have taken hold. Unfortunately for them, confusion has often arisen as to what shelter-in-place restrictions actually mean. Is restaurant food available? And if it is, is it even safe to eat? Little Caesar’s speaks to these questions and fears in a tightly edited 15-second spot that provides reassurance on several levels. First, as opening shots of happy eaters over the years attest, Little Caesar’s encourages viewers that the pizza has always been, and continues to be, delicious and available. From there, the ad moves quickly to the promise that the pies are “never touched after [cooking]” and “available by non-contact carryout and free delivery.” Little Caesar’s knows that familiar pleasures like pizza bring solace in times of uncertainty; their ad provides comfort and practical intel in equal measure.

Jack Daniel’s: Reflecting Our Current Reality

Jack Daniel’s encourages social distancing in a recently released spot that depicts loved ones continuing to connect from afar in innovative, goofy, and moving ways (sometimes, but not always, over happy hour). In a series of vignettes set against the backdrop of Cyndi Lauper’s song “True Colors,” Jack Daniel’s manages to celebrate the resourcefulness of social humans being asked to temporarily be the exact opposite. The ad wraps up with a simple written coda: “Dear Humanity, Cheers to Making Social Distancing, Social. With Love, Jack.” Jack Daniel’s understands what we’re missing, and in reminding us of the ways we can still connect, instills hope.

Contact True Interactive

These demonstrations of support and sympathy matter. And when the crisis does eventually subside, people will carry within them a feeling of how they were treated. As you work to connect with and support your customers, during the age of coronavirus and beyond, don’t hesitate to reach out. We can help.

Advertisers, Watch Your Referrals

Advertisers, Watch Your Referrals

Google

At True Interactive, we use tools such as Google Analytics to monitor and measure everything we do. And doing so includes keeping close tabs on referral traffic. Referral traffic consists of visits that come to your site from sources outside of Google’s search engine. When someone clicks on a hyperlink to go to a new page on a different website, Google Analytics tracks the click as a referral visit to the second site. Referral traffic is a recommendation from one site to visit another — like an assist from one basketball or hockey player to another leading to a score.

Referral traffic helps you understand how people find your website. With good referral data, you can understand, for instance, whether your Facebook or Instagram pages are sending traffic to your site (and how much traffic).

But you need to keep a close watch on how Google Analytics measures referral traffic in order to get a true measure. Recently, for one of our clients, we noticed that Google Analytics was reporting a sharp increase in referral traffic from payment sites such as Affirm and Paypal. When we looked under the hood, we noticed that Google Analytics was giving those payment sites credit as the referring sites for customer transactions.

Now, payment sites are essential for a transaction to occur. They make the web more seamless by making online checkout happen faster. Customers making purchases on ecommerce sites probably don’t even notice when they’re referred to a third-party payment site to complete a purchase. But that doesn’t mean Affirm or Paypal should get credit as the referring site. Affirm ensures the purchase happens easily. But Affirm becomes part of the picture after a customer has decided to make a purchase, not before.

Fortunately, we monitor Google Analytics data closely. We acted quickly by adding the third-party payment sites in question to the referral exclusion list, or a list of domains whose incoming traffic is treated as direct traffic (instead of referral traffic) by Google Analytics. We were able to course-correct quickly enough to ensure that we continue to provide our clients accurate data.

The lessons here:

  • Watch your referral traffic closely.
  • If you find a spike in referrals for third-party payment sites, take a closer look at your referral exclusion list. The payment system might be getting an inordinate amount of credit that another site should be getting credit for.

How closely do you monitor your Google Analytics data?

Contact True Interactive

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