If we zoom out on the battle for social commerce supremacy, we clearly see a battlefield full of advertising technology aimed at the hearts of retailers. As social commerce referrals grow, expect that battle to continue. If we narrow the focus on one of the key players, Pinterest, something else becomes clear: Pinterest may very well be winning the war.
Pinterest is a visual discovery engine that 250 million people use when considering what to buy or do next. It’s this level of precise intent that Pinterest uses to create its winning ways and commerce-centric features. To get Pinners to convert, however, Pinterest will need to up its game and offer more robust commerce tools that get both users and advertisers excited. Here are three reasons we’re excited.
Pinterest’s IPO Solidifies its Position on Social Commerce
If there’s any doubt about Pinterest’s quest for social commerce dominance, look no further than its IPO.
Among financial jargon and company outlook, Pinterest reiterates the fact that it’s not like the rest—it even distances itself by defining itself as a “discovery channel” rather than a social network. This isn’t new. Either is the behavior of Pinners, who continue to demonstrate purchase intent. Officially, the company says, “Pinterest is not a pure media channel, nor is it a pure utility. It is a media-rich utility that satisfies both emotional and functional needs by solving a widespread consumer problem that is unaddressed by many other platforms. We call it discovery.”
While an IPO doesn’t result in anything immediately tangible, advertisers should read between the lines: Pinterest is dedicated to commerce, and with its position etched in public stone, expect it to stick to that gameplan.
Fresh Advertising Features and Capabilities Beyond the Buy Button
We know that Pinterest is betting on social commerce; however, long-term success relies on attracting advertisers with features beyond the buy button (now called Rich Pins) .
How will Pinterest build the bridge between the online world and commerce? Time will tell, but the company is already paving the way for advertising features and capabilities that advertisers should get excited about.
If we look further into Pinterest’s advertising world, the enhancements don’t stop there. Pinterest also introduced Catalogs and Shopping Ads, both of which open the door for advertisers to turn product catalogs into visual and actionable ads.
Beyond updates to paid tactics, Pinterest has also shown a commitment to Pinners, releasing new features, like personalized recommendations, browsable sections of in-stock products, and shopping search.
An Infusion of Social Commerce Expertise
Winning the social commerce battle isn’t always connected to advertising technology. Moves to key personnel can have an equally powerful impact. Jeremy King, Walmart’s former CTO, hopes his level of commerce knowledge will be the catalyst to a revolving door of opportunity and innovation centered around social commerce.
Similar to its IPO filing, this doesn’t lend immediate light to tangibility, but for retailers, it’s a promising sign. According to Pinterest’s Founder and CEO, Ben Silbermann, “Not only is Jeremy a respected engineering leader but from the moment we met him, we knew his values around putting the customer first were aligned with our own focus on Pinners. As we build products to inspire people to create a life they love, Jeremy’s technical experience and leadership are a perfect combination to build a visual discovery engine for all.”
Sometimes, appointing a new general is the best way to win the battle. So, if he does what he’s done in the past, this move will likely pay dividends as Pinterest fights for the attention (and dollars) of advertisers.
With Pinterest going public, it’s pushing into the online shopping portal and trying to win one battle while others spread their resources across many. For Pinterest, its gameplan revolves around social commerce. For advertisers, it’d be wise to follow suit.
Longtime Partner to Social Walled Gardens Announces New Holding Company to Help Retail Advertising Platforms Take Root
New York, NY, May 14, 2019—Brand Networks, the innovative technology provider and media solutions partner to the world’s biggest walled gardens, today announces the acquisition of Clickable, and with it, the formation of a new holding company that leverages the tech, experience, and data of both companies. The new organization, Azalea Commerce, is on a mission to help retail brands establish self-contained advertising platforms powered by permissions-based, first-party data.
Backed by Private Equity firm AEA Investors, Brand Networks shareholders and a $40M investment from a strategic partner, Azalea Commerce is equipped to accelerate the monetization of transactional, behavioral, and purchase data owned by retailers effective immediately.
The organization has formed in response to significant disruption in the media landscape which places transactional data and the retailers that own it in a powerful new position. Shopper data enables advertisers to predict future behavior and measure advertising results like never before.
“To-date, Brand Networks and Clickable combined have generated over $5 billion in advertising demand for the leading programmatic exchanges, publishers and social walled gardens,” said Jamie Tedford, Brand Networks Founder and Chairman of the Board. “Azalea Commerce applies that knowledge and experience to power data monetization for a new category of customers — the retailers now competing in the walled garden economy.”
“The launch of Azalea Commerce gives Brand Networks a strong platform to nourish organic growth of our current lines of business while adding new capabilities for customers and partners,” said Dave Fall, CEO, Brand Networks. “According to recent research from Gartner, CPG marketers will spend $178 Billion on ‘shopper marketing’ this year. Some $55 Billion of this spend is expected to move from in-store to online advertising before 2020. Azalea Commerce is uniquely suited to capitalize on this dynamic and explosive growth market.”
The Clickable acquisition adds new analytics, search, and data products to Azalea Commerce’s programmatic technology stack, built by Brand Networks and enhanced through previously acquired companies, SHIFT and Optimal. Additional capabilities in programmatic display, video and connected TV were secured through a strategic and exclusive partnership with Tapad’s media business in 2018.
Azalea Commerce goes to market with five offerings to serve demand-side agencies and brand customers, existing publisher and platform partnerships, as well as shopper-centric walled gardens.
Brand Networks, our flagship offering, will continue as the media services center-of-excellence, providing social, video, display and search managed services to agencies and brands.
Iris by Brand Networks, the award-winning, AI-powered platform provides streamlined automation, optimization, data integration and media planning tools driven by AI technology.
Azalea Consulting, the multidisciplinary team comprised of seasoned engineers, data scientists, and systems integrators that collaboratively architect and build next-generation walled gardens for first-party data owners.
GO Local, the local advertising platform that gives retail marketers the tools to create local content and automate hyper-targeted social advertising to drive store traffic, local awareness, larger basket size, and repeat visits.
Shoppably (BETA), the shopper marketing and co-op advertising workflow tool that streamlines collaboration between CPG businesses and leading shopper-centric walled gardens, enabling buying of owned inventory and “shoppable” ads from leading social platforms.
About Azalea Commerce
Azalea Commerce is a holding company created to accelerate development and monetization of new shopper centric advertising ‘walled gardens’. It integrates five core offerings that serve demand-side agencies and brands, existing publisher and platform partnerships, and emerging retail advertising ecosystems. The organization is backed by existing Brand Networks shareholders and a $40 million strategic partner investment.
About Brand Networks
Brand Networks solves the newest and toughest media challenges for the world’s most impactful brands and agencies. Since 2005, the company has created marketing and advertising solutions that blend engineering and expertise to make media work across every digital touchpoint. More than 1,500 businesses trust Brand Networks to develop winning media strategies and deliver holistic brand experiences across social, display, video, connected TV and Amazon. The company is headquartered in Boston with 10 offices worldwide.
With the average person exposed to over 4,000 ads a day, cross-channel strategies have become appealing to advertisers looking to reach people from all angles. But “doing” cross-channel and “doing it right” are two very different things.
With the variety of “places” your audience could be, finding the right spot at the right time can get challenging. The key to simplifying this process is in the planning, mapping your media mix in a way that makes a big impact on consumers, without a big dent in your budget.
Here’s a planning checklist to ensure this approach remains strategic, even as you diversify into new channels.
Connect historical datasets.
Historical data can provide a ton of valuable insight — from where your audience connected with your content to which strategies had the greatest impact. All that information can help inform what platforms to include in your media mix, how to allocate your budget and how to establish performance benchmarks.
For example, you may find Facebook and YouTube have similar click-through rates, but in digging deeper into historical data, you see Facebook consumers stay longer, making them more valuable.
To get started, integrate business insights with data from all ad platforms to build a centralized view of campaign performance, ensuring you understand how each platform defines KPI metrics.
The planning stage is where you want to synchronize KPIs across channels to make it easier to compare metrics like video view rates across platforms. Having this holistic view of data with synchronized KPIs allows you to quickly understand what worked and what didn’t.
Develop audience understanding.
Before choosing your media mix, ask yourself where your audience spends their screen time, and at what time and in what setting is approaching them most strategic. The answers will narrow your target channels and allow you to focus on platforms with the strongest performance.
For example, if you’re looking to advertise to 27-year-olds, knowing that only 54% of 25- 29-year-olds are Snapchat users (according to a Pew Research Center study) will help redirect your attention to alternative platforms. If you’re a travel company looking for sun-seekers in the dead of winter, you might select a platform like Pinterest, which has shown to attract planners and inspiration seekers.
Enable campaign flexibility.
With data and audience understanding in your back pocket, your strategy is bound to be solid. However, be sure to leave room for flexibility. As algorithms change and trends fade, what worked last year, or last week, may not work now — and that’s OK.
While you can and should use every resource to plan a campaign, it’s important to stay flexible and open to change. Data gathered early on in a campaign can later be used to adjust ad creative or targeting, making current campaigns even stronger. Long story short: If something isn’t working, change it!
As you set out to make cross-channel the norm, media-mix planning is a crucial first step. With the checklist above, campaign execution will fall into place, and the proof will be in the results.
Looking for more? Download our Cross-Channel Whitepaper:
With over 70% of the US population watching digital video, many of whom spend nearly six hours a day with the medium, it’s a foregone conclusion that digital video has been cemented as the go-to way for people to spend time with digital.
To no surprise, the advertising world is responding. According to eMarketer, overall ad spending on digital video will surpass $22 billion by 2021. And while some of my contemporaries will say that the spending gap between digital video and traditional TV, which is estimated to be close to 65% today, proves that traditional TV will always dominate, the gap is expected to close to within ~16% by 2023. Reading between the lines, an industry that’s gone unimpeded for decades is in for some serious upheaval moving forward.
As a result of this shakeup, there are three major trends that advertisers need to prepare for:
The Emergence of 5G
Wireless 5G connectivity is coming to a screen near you, and while we expect a relatively limited number of 5G-connected devices will be available in 2019, it’s widely accepted that they’ll be available in abundance by 2020 when they’re expected to take off exponentially. Nevertheless, 5G already has serious implications for users and advertisers alike.
The immediate implication of 5G from a user perspective is the ability to watch digital video in 4K Ultra HD in a higher-quality environment where buffering will become a thing of the past. Net-net, expect an increase in adoption.
For advertisers, 5G is opening the door for higher quality videos and experiences, as well. For example, it’ll reduce the need to balance site experience with performance; even if the site is heavy with video and high-resolution content, it’ll still load instantly. 5G will also make way for more AR and VR experiences that create more immersive, more memorable moments.
While we wait for the world to catch up and take advantage of 5G’s possibilities, you’d be smart to remain apprised of the developments and stay at-the-ready to explore new interactive advertising formats as they become available.
Appealing to Consumers “On the Go”
With video being easier to transmit, it’ll become more prevalent, especially in the physical world—at bus stops, train stations, in cars, etc.—as advertisers try to reach people when they’re “on the go.”
Imagine this: You’re sitting in a taxi on your way to work. On the back of the seats, there’s a small TV. During your commute today, a series of pre-canned ads run, which serve their purpose but go largely unnoticed. With 5G, we’ll be able to take this a step further and make the advertising experiences relevant to each person. If you’re shopping for a Chanel bag, for example, you’ll see a relevant ad. If you’re planning your next vacation, you’ll see something that may influence that decision. You get the idea.
While this type of advertising, typically referred to as out-of-home (OOH) advertising, has been around for years, taking the form of billboards and other static mediums, the reality is that today there are far more opportunities for digital advertisers to scale their digital video advertising efforts in high-traffic, low-clutter environments.
The focus on OOH digital video advertising will continue to make a lot of sense as the market shifts to engaging consumers when they are on the go in public places. Combine that with 5G connectivity, and the world’s in for a truly personalized advertising experience.
But just because YouTube continues to shine, it doesn’t mean you should ignore emerging formats and technologies.
On the hardware front, collapsable phones are being built by all the big phone manufacturers, including Samsung and Huawei. Corning, the glass manufacturer that provides many of the biggest smartphone makers with Gorilla Glass, is even working on bendable version of that glass. Many pundits expect collapsable phones to immerse the market, providing futuristic ways to consume digital video content thanks to new rich media formats that take advantage of larger screens. Once this technology is widely adopted, we’ll see a wider array of ways to consume digital video via mobile devices.
As digital video reigns supreme, expect new services to pop up as well. Quibi, for instance, is on a quest to write the next chapter of the film narrative by creating a platform to share short-form, user-generated digital video on mobile. For Quibi, advertising implications aren’t immediately clear, but reports have the company planning to charge $5 a month for viewing with limited ads and $8 a month for an ad-free version.
The emergence of 5G as well as new services like Quibi and hardware like collapsable phones, digital video is well positioned to make an impact on the lives and minds of the digitally connected. As both eager startups and age-old institutions divert their attention away from traditional means, any advertiser, regardless of industry, vertical, or area of expertise, needs to redefine their strategy and address the emerging trends. Digital video now reigns supreme and there’s no getting around it.
In the modern sense, automation was coined by D.S. Harder, an engineering manager at the Ford Motor Company. Today, automation spans beyond the automotive industry and applies itself to anything deemed too costly or time consuming to do at scale, including social advertising. Just like D.S. Harder used automation to improve Ford’s production of automobiles decades ago, marketing generalists as well as social media analysts and ad buyers are applying automation to marketing to do the same: to work better, faster, and smarter.
For Social Ad Buyers, the Need for Marketing Automation Tools was Overdue
If there’s one element solely responsible for the rise of marketing automation, it’s the degree of complexity throughout the world of digital communication. Initially, marketing automation tools were systems for scaling email marketing efforts. No longer. Social advertising has become a key component.
When Facebook first introduced ads to its platform in 2007, managing the twists and turns of one ecosystem was within the realm of possibilities. Today, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
For any social ad campaign to succeed, media buyers must constantly pull the right strings, turn the right dials, and throttle up and down when necessary. Everything from adjusting campaign bids and budgets to swapping creative and targeting combinations, the role of the modern social media buyer is far too complex to manage without outside help. It’s impossible.
When we add the fact that most paid social initiatives span across ecosystems and platforms, each with different nuances and intricacies, one can see why social ad buyers would wave the white flag.
Thankfully, the market is responding, opening up opportunities for media buyers to offload some of the time-consuming but necessary tasks of social advertising. Today, marketing automation tools shouldn’t be seen as a sign of weakness, they should be seen as a strategic move to boost performance and efficiency.
The Power of Marketing Automation Tools in the Hands of Social Advertisers
The popularity of marketing automation tools continues to grow. According to Forrester, marketing automation spend will reach $25 billion by 2023, which will represent a 120% increase when compared to 2017. For any social advertising purchase decision maker, this shouldn’t be a surprise—the power and benefits of marketing automation tools are unparalleled and unmatched.
Marketing automation tools can vary in function. What we do know is that most of them aim to take mundane, repetitive tasks off the table—and social advertising is no different. Think: bid and budget adjustments and promoting content based on performance. Because media buyers spend hours every day paying attention to the nuances of campaigns across the social ecosystem, they often find themselves jumping through flaming hoops instead of focusing on higher-return activities like strategy and creative.
If the “necessary evils” of social ad campaign management are controlled by marketing automation tools, the result is added time back. Rather than spending time on rote calculations and maintenance, media buyers can address higher-level questions and activities, like, “How can we get users to interact with our product?” or “Are we targeting the right audience?” With more time, media buyers have the bandwidth to move the needle in ways that are more impactful.
Boosted Performance and Efficiency
No matter how much money social media buyers put into campaigns, the reality is that social ad management is the key to cost performance. The best way to avoid over-investment is by optimizing campaigns several times a day. Done manually, this can take hours and leave plenty of room for human error.
By adding marketing automation tools, social media ad buyers can slash waste and boost performance and efficiency through frequent and automatic optimizations day and night while keeping tabs on how fast their ad dollars are spent.
Decreased Learning Curve and Increased Campaign Execution
Between added features and deprecated functionality, the levers and dials media buyers have to turn are constantly changing. Take Facebook vew tags. Initially introduced as a way to measure ad impressions on desktops, their function lost luster as habits shifted to mobile. Facebook responded, and media strategies had to adjust. It was either sink or swim. These changing tides are built into most marketing automation tools and remove much of the need to stay apprised of every change in direction.
To amplify the challenge, what happens when a new platform comes to the table and a client wants to invest experimental budget? Generally, the onus is on the media planner and the media analysts and buyers to get up to speed. However, if their marketing automation tools are engineered to account for emerging adtech in a way that mirrors existing interfaces, the learning curve drops and mastering each channel takes hours, not days.
Bringing Marketing Automation Tools to Life with Iris by Brand Networks
At Brand Networks, we recognize the importance of giving media teams the marketing automation tools they need to save time and energy without sacrificing performance. That’s why we built Iris by Brand Networks.
Inside the platform, our rules-based automation helps media buyers control their social campaigns based on conditions (e.g. impression capping, responding to campaign KPIs). Furthermore, with third-party providers integrated into Iris, media buyers can activate or pause their campaigns based on real-world events, such as weather and sports games. Automation like this helps deliver more relevant experiences to audiences across social.
To empower even more automation inside Iris, we launched Rule Templates, a range of predefined templates that allow media buyers to easily activate a specific rule for their campaigns. This means that by choosing a Rule Template, the conditions and actions are pre-populated for the campaign–saving time. This reduces the risk of manual errors when setting up rules with complex logic, and simplifies Open Signals’ workflow, allowing media buyers to focus on more strategic decisions.
Want to see our marketing automation tools in action?
In the modern sense, automation was coined by D.S. Harder, an engineering manager at the Ford Motor Company during the 20th century. Today, automation spans beyond the automotive industry and applies itself to anything deemed too costly or time consuming to do at scale, including social advertising. Just like D.S. Harder used automation to improve Ford’s production of automobiles decades ago, social media buyers are applying automation to marketing to do the same: to work better, faster, and smarter.
For Social Media Buyers, the Need for Marketing Automation Tools was Overdue
If there’s one element solely responsible for the rise of marketing automation, it’s the degree of complexity throughout the social advertising world. When Facebook first introduced ads to its platform in 2007, managing the twists and turns of one ecosystem was within the realm of possibilities. Today, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
For any social campaign to succeed, media buyers must constantly pull the right strings, turn the right dials, and throttle up and down when necessary. Everything from adjusting campaign bids and budgets to swapping creative and targeting combinations, the role of the modern social media buyer is far too complex to manage without outside help. It’s impossible.
When we add the fact that most social initiatives span across ecosystems and platforms, each with different nuances and intricacies, one can see why social media buyers would wave the white flag.
Thankfully, the market is responding, opening up opportunities for media buyers to offload some of the time-consuming, but necessary tasks of social advertising. Today, marketing automation tools shouldn’t be seen as a sign of weakness, they should be seen as a strategic move to boost performance and efficiency.
The Power of Marketing Automation Tools in the Hands of Social Advertisers
The popularity of marketing automation tools continues to grow. According to Forrester, marketing automation spend will reach $25 billion by 2023, which will represent a 120% increase when compared to 2017. For any media buyer, this shouldn’t be a surprise—the power and benefits of marketing automation tools are unparalleled and unmatched.
Marketing automation tools can vary in function. What we do know is that most of them aim to take mundane, repetitive tasks off the table—think bid and budget adjustments and promoting content based on performance. Because media buyers spend hours every day pulling the right levers and paying attention to the nuances of campaigns across the social ecosystem, they often find themselves jumping through flaming hoops instead of focusing on higher-return activities like strategy and creative.
If the “necessary evils” of social campaign management are controlled by marketing automation tools, the result is added time back. Rather than spending time on rote calculations and maintenance, media buyers can address higher-level questions and activities, like, “How can we get users to interact with our product?” or “Are we targeting the right audience?” With more time, media buyers have the bandwidth to move the needle in ways that are more impactful.
Boosted Performance and Efficiency
No matter how much money social media buyers put into campaigns, the reality is that only a fraction of the campaigns will get in front of the right eyes. The best way to avoid this is by optimizing campaigns several times a day. Done manually, this can take hours and leave plenty of room for human error.
By adding marketing automation tools, social media buyers can slash waste and boost performance and efficiency through frequent and automatic optimizations day and night while keeping tabs on how fast their ad dollars are spent.
Decreased Learning Curve and Increased Campaign Execution
Between added features and deprecated functionalities, the levers and dials media buyers have to turn are constantly changing. Take Facebook view tags. Initially introduced as a way to measure ad impressions on desktops, their function lost luster as habits shifted to mobile. Facebook responded by limiting functionalities and forcing media buyers to adjust. It was either sink or swim. These changing tides are built into most marketing automation tools and remove much of the need to stay apprised of every change in direction.
To amplify the challenge, what happens when a new platform comes to the table and a client wants to invest experimental budget? Generally, the onus is on the media buyer to get up to speed. However, if their marketing automation tools are engineered to account for emerging adtech in a way that mirrors existing interfaces, the learning curve drops and mastering each channel takes hours, not days.
Bringing Marketing Automation Tools to Life with Iris by Brand Networks
At Brand Networks, we recognize the importance of giving media buyers the marketing automation tools they need to save time and energy without sacrificing performance. That’s why we built Iris by Brand Networks.
Inside the technology, our rules-based automation helps media buyers control their social campaigns based on conditions (e.g. impression capping, campaign KPIs). Furthermore, with third-party providers integrated into Iris, media buyers can activate or pause their campaigns based on real-world events, such as weather and sports games, to deliver more relevant experiences to audiences across social.
To empower even more automation inside Iris, we launched Rule Templates, a range of predefined templates that allow media buyers to easily activate a specific rule for their campaigns. This means that by choosing a Rules Template, the conditions and actions are pre-populated for the campaign–saving time, reducing the risk of manual errors when setting up rules with complex logic, and simplifying Open Signals’ workflow, allowing media buyers to focus on more strategic decisions.
Want to see our marketing automation tools in action?
We know modern consumers use multiple devices across channels to interact with brands. We also know that advertisers are answering the call by going cross channel and bringing every facet of their digital advertising together, including planning, buying, and targeting. Although the mass migration to cross-channel advertising is in motion, few are going all in, often neglecting to consider the glue that keeps digital together: the creative.
To make sure you don’t leave out the last piece of the puzzle, Brand Networks teamed up with special guest and Forrester principal analyst, Joanna O’Connell, to set the record straight about how you can work with creative teams to unleash the power of creative and achieve a true cross-channel state.
Here are a few of the most popular questions from the audience.
Question #1: Is Dynamic Creative just an advertising buzzword? What’s the actual state of this ad technology, and what can advertisers actually expect?
David Sanderson’s Response: Dynamic Creative isn’t a new concept. In the beginning, it was all about connecting data to inform the construction of the ads—think of launching an ad for sunglasses where it’s sunny and one for coats where it’s cold.
Today, Dynamic Creative is more sophisticated and offers tons of opportunities for advertisers willing to dip their toes in.
One of the more promising use cases that we continue to see success with is using it to serve cross-device sequential messaging. When done right, this can be a good way to drive target audiences from awareness to purchase—all in a seamless and unified ad experience.
Imagine this: You’re launching a digital campaign to promote an upcoming blockbuster. The first stage of your campaign is to drive awareness, so perhaps you use ads across CTV. From there, you pinpoint those who completed the initial ad and serve them a functional ad of the full trailer via an interactive ad format on another device to drive deeper consideration. On the other hand, those who didn’t engage the first time are served the initial ad a second time. Finally, for individuals who continue to demonstrate intent, you deliver a final ad with a CTA to buy a ticket.
When it’s all said and done, your target audience gets a sequential story that helps push them toward the desired outcome.
Question #2: With advertisers spending more on advanced creative tactics, how can they manage and/or reduce frequency across platforms without hurting their market share?
David Sanderson’s Response: With anything in adtech, telling a story that makes sense—and doing it without wasting money—is important.
When it comes to advanced creative treatments, the key is to set reasonable expectations and to use a measurement for success that equates to real business outcomes. For the most part, this means engagement and time spent—it’s not about getting the most eyes on your ads, it’s about getting the right eyes and getting them to stay there.
With interactive creative treatments, you should be creating more relevant ad experiences and providing consumers with something that’s actually valuable to them. Finding these high-value consumers on the other side of the screen and getting them to engage with your fantastic creative drives performance of your campaign objectives. In that scenario, you know your advertising dollars are well spent.
Question #3: A lot of advertisers are cutting costs and turning to automated tools to do the heavy lifting. Is creative the place to do that?
David Sanderson’s Response: In some instances, absolutely.
For any advertiser looking to cut costs and be more efficient, it usually comes down to pulling back from the resources that don’t provide the same amount of value you put into them or turning over control to technology that can do the job better. When it comes to creative, there’s no shortage of tools and technology available to enable scalable solutions.
My advice is to start with what you want the advertising experience to really be. Then work backward from there. For instance, if you want a dialogue with your audience, don’t serve a standard/flat banner. If you want engagement, provide functional and useful interactivity. If you want specific messages for specific audiences, like Dynamic Creative, figure out the outcome, and then loop in a creative technologist who can give an efficient solution.
When you get to the point that creating meaningful creative experiences for your customers is mission critical, it’s generally a good rule of thumb to loop in a specialist who understands every aspect of the creative world and what it takes to tie those features and capabilities to each stage of the consumer journey.
Looking for more? Don’t miss David’s on-demand webinar:
Since our founding, Brand Networks has been helping the world’s most successful brands and agencies harness the power of digital advertising. In the beginning, that meant social, but as the online world grew, so did we. Over a decade later, social is still infused into our DNA, but we’ve evolved to tap into other powerhouses, like Amazon Advertising, programmatic display, and video options like OTT.
Throughout it all, one element has never changed: Rochester, New York.
Founded jointly in the Flower City and Boston, Rochester has long served as Brand Networks’ center of technical excellence, propelled by an unmatched talent pool of tech minds from local institutions like the University of Rochester and RIT.
As the engine that drives the Brand Networks forward, keeping fuel levels stable has relied on attracting the best. As Rochester’s Innovation District continues to grow, the only way to do that is by offering an equally attractive place to work.
That’s why we called High Falls home for our first chapter—it was central to everything we love about Rochester. We took that environment inside as well, giving our team everything they need to succeed, including an open concept workspace, full access to snacks and beverages, and plenty of ways to relax and take mental breaks.
In late 2018, with the feedback from our employees, we packed up and headed down the road, relocating to Tower280, which is at the center of Rochester’s tech resurgence. Although our location changed, our commitment to culture and community remained at the core. That will never change.
According to Matt Osborne, Senior HR Generalist and Recruiting Director, “It comes down to giving everyone access to an environment conducive to personal and professional growth. When you infuse that into a collaborative culture with open communication from all levels, the end results is transparency and a company direction that everyone can understand and support. That feeling of inclusion really makes a difference.”
Each and every person who walks through the front doors every day are at the core of what makes Brand Networks special. If they enjoy where they’re working, it’s contagious, and you’ll see improvements in both the quality of work and quality of life. At the end of the day that is all that matters. Being voted one of Rochester’s top workplaces is all the validation we need to know our culture and vision is resonating with our most valuable asset: our employees, we couldn’t be more thankful.
If you take pride in maintaining a high-level of advertising innovation, you’ve noticed that the “OTT” (over-the-top) and “advertising” are being linked just about everywhere. Spawning initially in the wake of Netflix arrival, OTT is starting to impede upon traditional TV’s ground that hasn’t experienced this type of pressure in decades. On the off-chance that OTT advertising isn’t on your radar yet, let me explain.
According to the IAB, OTT refers to a device that can connect to a TV (or functionality within the TV itself) to facilitate the delivery of internet-based video content—think streaming boxes, media streaming devices, smart TVs, and gaming consoles. The OTT landscape represents a growing subset of cord-cutters shifting away from traditional TV. In fact, the number of people using an OTT service will eclipse 180 million when it’ll account for 54% of the US population. When we narrow the focus to just millennials, that number rises even more. According to a study by Parks Association, 85% of millennials subscribe to at least one OT services.
To no surprise, advertisers are paying attention. Estimates predict that ad spending on OTT will eclipse $2 billion in 2019—a 20% year-over-year increase.
As more people jump onto the OTT bandwagon, a growing number of OTT providers will make advertising inventory available to appeal to a wider array of viewers and advertisers. For advertisers looking to gain an edge in this nascent yet exciting world of futuristic TV, it’s time to pay attention and look away from saturated environments where competition is fierce and prices are high. When it comes to OTT advertising, savvy advertisers need to be willing to look outside of the box; emerging OTT platforms like IMDb Freedive, Pluto TV, fuboTV, and Sony Crackle have advertising power, too.
When Amazon purchased IMDb, it was a move to expand beyond books and appeal to a broader audience. Over a decade later, Amazon has done that. After growing IMDb audience to more than 250 million unique monthly visitors and cementing it as the go-to for entertainment information, the company is taking another strategic step. This time, to appeal to OTT advertisers with IMDb Freedive.
Freedive’s ad inventory is still evolving, as are best practices and expected advertising outcomes. As the world waits to see how Freedive develops, it’s already becoming an enticing option, despite a level of uncertainty. Due to the availability for advertisers to use Amazon’s behavior and in-market targeting, i.e., the same targeting superpowers that make Amazon Advertising an advertising force, Amazon advertisers are showing a willingness to dip their toes into the fresh waters.
Combine heavy native promotion across Amazon Fire TV devices, along with the massive brand power of IMDb in TV and entertainment, and you have an advertising offering set up to draw a huge audience for years to come. For any advertiser, IMDb Freedive deserves your attention, especially as you look to scale beyond Amazon’s walls.
Pluto TV is a live-TV streaming service similar to Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, and Hulu, with Live TV and offers an array of content, including over 100 live and original channels and thousands of on-demand movies and partnerships—all for the low price of nothing (although paid subscriptions are on the way). Available through a number of connected devices, including Amazon Fire TV, Pluto TV continues to fight for market share, amassing over 12 million active users.
Like most free OTT service, Pluto TV is built on an ad-supported model that offers a handful of advertising options capable by employing server-side ad insertion technology to combine content and ads into a single experience. To move beyond direct managed service buys and give advertisers more ways in, it linked with SSPs like SpotX and Telaria to power the programmatic monetization of its OTT content and help match advertisers with its premium inventory.
Furthermore, with an acquisition by Viacom, Pluto TV continues to differentiate itself from the pack. By becoming a Viacom entity, not only does that mean that Pluto TV has access to Viacom’s premium content, which few OTT providers have access to, but a general infusion of resources coming from an acquisition should propel Pluto TV’s infrastructure and technology forward. As PlutoTV evolves to appeal more to viewers, and takes steps to attract advertisers, like new distribution deals, both parties should flock to the platform.
Fubo TV takes a slightly different approach to OTT by being the only sports-focused live TV streaming service. With top leagues and teams (plus popular shows, movies, and news coverage) available through TVs, phones, tablets, computers and other devices, fubo TV is positioning itself to appeal to a large but niche group of advertisers, including CPG, auto, and telco, whose advertising success relies on reaching this target demographic away from linear TV and the soaring prices.
With a different approach to OTT, fuboTV’s advertising options also differ, giving advertisers the opportunity to reach an active group of sports fans who are watching any of the 30,000 live sporting events across major sports as well as events like the Olympics.
When it comes to growing its OTT advertising, the path to success seems to always travel through third-party partners. To that tune, the company inked a similar partnership with SpotX to connect its advertisers to those of SpotX’s via programmatic advertising. While its strategic moves are similar to others, fuboTV’s strategy is aimed at the sports world and its relative niche inventory. Think of this as a way to narrow your sights and refine your approach to sports-related initiatives. That said, the partnership isn’t confined to sports—advertisers can still target audiences by different data segments, including live, VOD, device, and language.
All-in-all, fuboTV and PlutoTV are similar. Advertisers’ interest will depend on the target audience and how appealing this niche subset is to the business.
As the crowded OTT landscape develops, services offering similar functions have work to do to stand out. Sony Crackle (formerly Crackle), a division of Sony Pictures Television fits that bill as it goes down a path less traveled. While most of the OTT landscapes approach things from a broad perspective, going after viewers wherever they are, Sony Crackle pitches a “console-first” message. Reading between the lines, this approach seems to lend light to the fact that the company wants to appeal to gaming fans with an optimized and prioritized video experience. From there, it can funnel down to other devices and content preferences. As PlayStation continues to dominate, this appears to be a wise move.
To attract advertisers, the company teamed up with Nielsen Marketing Cloud to power its addressable advertising capabilities across devices and platforms, including mobile, connected TV (CTV), streaming boxes, and gaming consoles. When it signed the dotted line in Q3 2018, the partnership opened the door to analyze and track data from its streaming viewership via intelligence-powered segmentation and real-time integrations. Reading between the lines, Sony Crackle made the move help it deliver more relevant OTT advertising experience no matter where its content is being viewed—not just on consoles. A win-win for everyone involved.
In an effort to scale even further, Sony Crackle has been actively expanding its original offerings by diving into both unscripted and esports generes—the latter of which represents another move by the market to give you a way to tap into the esports market that’s expected to generate $1.79 billion in revenue in 2022.
There’s no getting around the fact that OTT and corresponding advertising offerings are in hyperdrive as more content and advertising inventory becomes available. From an advertising perspective, businesses of all types would be wise to shift a percentage of spend from lower-performing channels to the OTT space in search of granular, digital-like targeting in a low ad-clutter world.
While the industry giants offer plenty of appeal and deserve attention (Netflix, too, as it rolls out an expected ad-supported model), having a willingness to tackle more nascent, less crowded spaces, could offer another level of advertising performance and efficiency.
Learn how we help scale and optimize your OTT campaigns across apps including IMDb Freedive, Pluto TV, fuboTV, Sony Crackle, and more.
Are you insourcing your social advertising efforts right now? Or maybe you’re not ready yet, but you’re planning to take social advertising in house in the next few years?
Whether you’re an agency or a brand marketer looking to bring social into your in-house operations, you’re not alone.
Brands are leaning in hard—at least for now. According to a survey of 412 US client-side marketers conducted by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), 78% of respondents claim to use an in-house agency for some portion of their previously agency-owned work, up from 58% in 2013. A Google search will return many publications citing in-house advertising as an opportunity that can’t be overlooked.
Brand Networks has the luxury of not needing a strong opinion about this. We are one of the very few social advertising providers offering bothaward-winning social advertising technology and highly experienced managed media services for some of the top advertisers and agencies across the globe. Admittedly, we see reduced margins when clients insource, but the scalability of our software platform is unprecedented in any services business. It’s win-win for us and our clients in either scenario.
We also go above and beyond the typical social advertising specialty shop by offering services that help our clients tie digital together across channels. We believe this is the new frontier in performance improvement, and we want to help our clients head into the future..
Bringing social advertising in-house can be futuristic, even for media agencies. This is especially true for consumer brands—where advancing the marketing function is almost always a core priority. Social is an ever-changing landscape. But cutting out the so-called “middleman” to create cost-efficiencies can create cost-per performance… Right?
Recent reports reveal many brands aren’t ready for this move. I’ve seen the same on the agency side. Many advertisers backtrack away from their insourcing efforts after realizing the grass isn’t greener on the other side—at least so far. Why is that?
Risk is underestimated. Timelines are unrealistic. Success is rare.
Falling back to managed service is the norm. Brands or agencies chasing short-term gains almost certainly see a dip in performance and efficiency. Many times, they even “backslide” into managed services.
If you’re committed to in-housing, do it right and reap the long-term benefits in one straight shot.
Brand Networks advocates for and supports a transition that goes like this: Crawl. Walk. Run.
I won’t get into the whole process we use to help our clients win in this article, but I can advocate for three foundational keys to success:
Key 1: Plan Enough Time for Knowledge Sharing
An in-house transition deserves more than “a meeting”—it requires genuine knowledge sharing. Full stop. Tap into the minds of the social advertising experts who have been at the helm from Point A to Point B, and you’ll successfully continue the journey from Point B into the future.
Savvy advertisers take the time to understand the big picture as well as the individual campaigns. What targeting approach worked best during the holidays? How do consumers respond to video ads on this emerging platform? How does seasonality impact overall strategy and individual campaigns? Every question is a good one—different seasons, different objectives, and unusual circumstances require knowledge transfer that new teams will need.
Knowledge transfer is about more than just “having the historical data.” Rushing through the insights-sharing step may seem like a way to save time and resources, but without it, new teams will have to start from the beginning. This will mean investing valuable company resources to rediscover lost knowledge on their own.
Key 2: Set a Foundation by Transitioning One Initiative at a Time
Any project manager will tell you a good plan should begin with a timeline and a scope. If the timeline is longer, if the scope is more detailed, and if the setback schedule is more specific, then the chances of success are much greater.
Start with a solid plan, and, most importantly, transition one campaign initiative at a time, beginning with the simplest and least risky executions. You don’t start driving by jumping on the Autobahn and pushing your car to 120mph.
Define the goals for each type of campaign or group of campaigns. Start with a few campaigns in the same objective and work with your media partner to understand the foundation and best practices of that first set. How has this first segment performed in past quarters? What about in previous years? How have the measurement and optimization strategies related to this segment’s objective evolved over the same period?
Allowing internal teams to slowly take the “wheel” will give them the chance to understand what success looks like and what’s driven historical success. This will help them get up to speed safely and confidently.
Key 3: Scale Only When Ready and Call in the Experts When Needed
Social advertising may seem operational to you. (It’s strategic, too, when done right.) But for the sake of argument, a factory assembly line is operational, too. If you can’t do it once, you’ll never be able to do it in a hurry, over and over again. Your internal teams are exuding confidence. Maybe they’re experienced. (They should be.) But that doesn’t mean they know how your particular assembly line works
After they’ve delivered the first few campaigns, help them scale into production mode. Bring in your previous partner to help you iron out the kinks in the at-scale process. Use them as an extra set of eyes and ears to bounce ideas off of, and check every element in your campaign—from strategy, performance, and competition.
Finally, give your internal team the opportunity to let go when atypical scenarios arise.
Is it time to spend 25% of your budget fast during the Black Friday or Memorial Day sale push? Are you launching a new product or approaching your peak season? Do you have your bid and spend strategies in place to drive the best ROAS? Whatever way you look at it, your old partners have done those things for you, and know them well. When the risk is high, look to your longtime consultants to help. If your current vendor is a true partner, they’ll be there—especially if they are experts at using the unique technology your teams have adopted to make it all work.
Follow these keys to make your goals a reality. Don’t underestimate. Social platforms are still-maturing, ad types are always changing, and targeting capabilities are being impacted by regulation. This space isn’t solid ground; it’s a boiling sea. This is the primary reason many brands and agencies use specialized managed services partners in the first place.
For now, the shift to in-house is underway. Take your time and do it right.
Crawl first. Walk second. Run third. Do these things with a trusted partner at your side and gain the efficiency you seek.