Interactive Media

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You Get What You Pay For

The digital media budget continues to grow year over year. With targeting and reporting getting better every year we see bigger budgets and the competition continues to be fierce among vendors and publishers to get these dollars as they shift from other media.

The above could be a sentence from any time in the last few years, but one thing has not changed since the first transaction in history. You get what you pay for.  We tend to forget that when it comes to media and the clamor to buy the latest or the newest innovation or the most detailed reporting package and all at the cheapest price is hurting the digital media buy.

Lately, I’ve been seeing more pop-ups than usual, more inventory below the fold and at the very bottom of the page and fake pre-roll loading on what I consider to be legitimate websites. All in the quest to get the most inventory at the cheapest price.

The ad to the right is a great example. The company that served this ad is a “trading desk” that touts their ability to drive traffic and get their CPC price down from a respectable $1.08 to $.049 in a case study on their site. You know why they can get the cost per click that low? Because inventory like the space to the right is basically free.

We could deliver inventory like this for you all day, too! We could serve millions and millions of ads for your brand and stretch your ad budget to deliver quantities of impressions and clicks that would blow your mind. But, we will remind you that you get what you pay for. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

We aren’t going to claim that every ad we buy appears above the fold and we never serve ads at the bottom of a page like this one, but it isn’t our strategy. When we buy inventory, we are measuring its performance and delivery in ways that tell us where and when that ad appeared. If we’re delivering clicks but no conversions, we know immediately something is wrong with the campaign (or the landing page. Sometimes it’s a horrible landing page).
The bottom line is buyer beware. Don’t be seduced (I say this way too much) by fancy proprietary software, amazing slide shows with graphs you dream of presenting to your CMO and promises to get you the reach and share of voice beyond your dreams for half the cost.

The fake boogeyman of ad retargeting

A good rule of thumb is to not watch TV News. It’s geared to the education level of a fourth grader and the tactic of scaring a viewer is their bread and butter. “What you’re having for dinner may kill your family…find out if you’re in danger tonight at 6!”  I won’t use this to continue my rant on local TV news, but rest assured there’s one in me.  My rant is based on the package in the morning news about retargeting advertisements on the internet. Shocker! Websites were delivering different content to users based on their browser, their geography and all sorts of secret private information the scary computer has on you!

What the article did not mention is that a.) all advertising targets an audience. Some, more successfully than others. Yes, radio, I’m talking to you. And, yes, direct mail, kudos to you! b.) there is no such expectation of privacy when you are visiting public websites and then, of course, c.) you can always opt out of everything.

Ad retargeting worksBut, I’d like to take a moment to discuss this fake outrage over retargeting and how people call it an invasion of privacy and creepy. Fact is, if it were not for advertising there would be no content for you to look at, read, or watch online. There would be no television to watch, no radio to listen to and no daily newspapers to read. There’d be no golf tournaments or concerts in the park, either. Advertising pays or subsidizes all of these things and without them we wouldn’t have them or we’d be paying for all of the cost of those things…and much more.

Nobody says advertising is not annoying sometimes or even intrusive.

Retargeting allows advertisers to spend their dollars more efficiently by reaching their target audience without having a lot of waste in their budget *cough* TV, print, radio *cough* and so as budgets shift from less effective targeting mediums there is bound to be rancor as lost revenues sink in. Hence, TV news packages on the boogeyman of internet retargeting!

It’s in our interest for advertising to work-not just because I’m speaking as an agency-but as a consumer of media and a consumer of products and services. When my favorite content gets advertising revenue they can produce more content and more quality content so I win. I pay for that content by watching their commercials or responding to advertising on their site. If the ad is relevant to me, all the better!

As an advertiser, it’s also important to know that retargeting advertising is not the end all be all for your budget and media plan. While it can be a good idea for some, it’s a terrible idea for others…or it simply won’t work. You have to have a big enough audience to target once, much less again. And, if you don’t put a frequency cap on your campaign you are going to annoy everyone with how many times they see your ad over and over. Now, that is not only creepy but amateurish and annoying.

How Email Marketing Has Changed-for the Better

While many companies still rely heavily on email marketing to reach out to customers, there’s no question that new communication channels (like social media and online display advertising) and consumer habits (anti-spam sentiment) have contributed to a decline in traditional email marketing. A recent comScore study found that “in November, 2010, the number of visitors to web-based email sites declined 6 percent compared to the previous year, while email engagement declined at an even greater rate.”

In the new digital market of mobile usage and smartphones, how can companies successfully use email as a marketing tool? Email is still the least expensive method of reaching and engaging with customers (and potential customers). But how do you ensure that you’re reaching (a) the right demographic and (b) users that are likely to convert to customers? In our campaigns, we have found that incentives are the key to consumer engagement. The best example is the product we launched earlier this year for our clients that allows them to build a contest campaign as a self-serve product. Our clients can easily build out a contest for their audience, populate the imagery in a customizable HTML form, use standard contest rules or customize their own rules in just a few easy steps. Our agency hosts the campaign, as well as prepares a custom display campaign to drive entries to the contest.

Marketers are increasingly using web-based sweepstakes and contests in their integrated marketing campaigns, bringing a classic direct marketing tactic to consumers via the Internet. Contests are great ways to build valuable email databases, which companies can market to over and over. Few things are as valuable as the “warm lead” of a contest entrant-and the ROI is high for any budget, from local businesses to national brands. Contests generate excitement and build interest about a product, event, grand opening, sale, or a brand.

Our clients can log in and see entrants and download email addresses or have Broad Street Interactive manage a reply email campaign with a special offer. Most importantly, this “client controlled” product allows companies running contests to view statistics, manage their own campaign, and own their content and leads from the entries. The result? Incentives for consumers-and new leads for our clients.

Learn more about our MyBSI Contest product here (PDF) or contact us directly!

By | April 20th, 2011|Interactive Media, Marketing|0 Comments

While the “Dumbphone” Market is still relevant

In the digital media space, every strategist and media buyer will work tell you exciting tales of location based ad units, in-app advertising, and QR codes that will revolutionize the way we reach your target audience. Well, that all may be true…years from now. And, today it’s true if your market is early adopters, techies and people living in urban centers like Austin.

But, as we often do here at Broad Street Interactive, let’s look at the facts. People bought over 60 million smartphones in the second quarter of 2010. That’s a huge number, right? Well, not when you consider that during the same period people bought over 260 million “dumphones.” It is true that smartphone sales are increasing by double-digit rates, but the limits of 3G coverage worldwide will continue to hinder their market share growth for some time.

Smartphones won’t be as popular as regular phones in the U.S. until Q4 2011 or Q1 2012, according to Nielsen.

Even when people have smartphones, they don’t lose SMS. We run SMS campaigns that reach target audiences for our clients and get great results. While an SMS campaign may not be as new and exciting as location based advertising through things like Foursquare, we are still using SMS to generate ROI for our clients.

There are more than 4.6 billion mobile phones in the world, and there is at least half a decade or more until dumbphones stop being relevant. That means billions of dollars are on the table for innovators in the feature phone space.

We believe in using mobile display and in-app mobile advertising where appropriate. We recently completed a campaign reaching pregnant women with an awareness campaign about breastfeeding and had great results (which you can read about in our white paper) using mobile display.

We also use SMS to reach certain areas and demographics we cannot reach using mobile display. For example, we’ve found that Power Moms are mobile enthusiasts who are 35% more likely to use text messaging/SMS on the go.

By | November 10th, 2010|ad agency austin, Interactive Media|0 Comments

Adventures in hyperlocal advertising

Online advertising news sites are buzzing about “tapping into the hyperlocal market – like in Fast Company’s recent article, “Can Anyone Tap Into the $100 Billion Potential of Hyperlocal News?” Broad Street Interactive has been doing it since 2007, and here’s how and why:

As this article in Media Transparent states, “National advertisers ignore the hyperlocal markets because they are too sales labor intensive in their focus on mom & pop SMEs.” Exactly. Agencies like ours, while we include national sites, CPC, and other types of engagement in our campaigns, began with a hyperlocal focus. Our network of sites for CPM campaigns was built on hyperlocal engagement.

We believe in relationships with hyperlocal publishers and web sites, have built those relationships over the past few years, and manage them intensively. We have a network of publishers exceeding 2,700 on the hyperlocal level. These publishers are the players in their local communities and are trusted sources of local information. It’s these relationships that allow  us to buy premium inventory on these web sites and obtain high visibility and good results – without having to resort to buying “remnant” or large “ad network” inventory to fulfill our clients’ campaign goals.

Because local online advertising has grown on average 45% a year in the last five years, big media companies are finally catching on and setting up “local” shops and hoping to win advertising dollars, according to iMedia Connection. We certainly don’t overlook “local” sites owned by large online publishers, but we find we get better results by going directly to trusted media outlets in local markets to get exactly what out client is looking for and what we’ve spent the past few years building: Local engagement.

Broad Street Interactive has run successful campaigns on the hyperlocal level not just based on small DMAs in the marketplace, but also based on congressional district, zip codes outside of large cities, and small community newspapers and networks. Because we have strong publisher relationships and a large network of more than 2,700 hyperlocal sites to choose from, we’re also able to optimize campaigns and be nimble when managing online campaigns.

Want more information on how you can maximize your online spending through hyperlocal advertising? Contact us here!

Apple eases app restrictions: Why this is good news for advertisers

In an announcement earlier this week, Apple announced changes to its application development restrictions to boost mobile ads. If you heard a giant “whoop!” of joy in your office, it probably came from ours. Of course, this is good news for app developers, but it’s great news for advertisers, particularly our hyper-local clients.

Before these changes took effect, there were several applications we have engaged for advertising for our clients quite successfully. However, if the client wished to target a specific state or geographic area, we were restricted to selecting smart phone applications that were “allowed” to sell geo-targeted advertising in app, such as TVGuide or WhitePages. The reason? There were restrictions on selling geo-targeted advertising on apps that were not designed to “know” the user’s location. So if we wanted to advertise on a news application that didn’t have local content, or another application that didn’t have to know where the user was located in order to work, we could only do so with our national clients.

The new terms will keep in-application advertising on the iPhone open to other mobile competitors, as well as enable advertising services that operate cross-platform. Read the full story, including the allowance of use of third-party tools such as Adobe Systems’ Flash software, here.

And if you’d like more information on the success of adding in-application advertising to your online campaigns, contact us here!

By | September 10th, 2010|Interactive Media, mobile|0 Comments

Do buzz and hype outweigh ROI and performance?

In other words, is the emperor wearing clothes? We’ve seen this in the world of technology many times in the past few years, most recently with the release of the iPad (and buzz about the upcoming “iAd” mobile advertising platform). And we had a flurry of client calls in the weeks after the release of the iPad, most asking how they can get in on advertising in the “new mobile market.” As an agency, the most important thing we must consider with regards to placing media is ROI for the client. Although the numbers (and the hype) for mobile advertising have been all over the media, hype doesn’t necessarily mean ROI. The media calls mobile the “golden interactive loop,” but just how “golden” is it?

We saw it coming with the release of the iPad—Apple taking “dead aim at Google’s search advertising” with its iAd mobile advertising platform ( The good news for agencies like ours is that it brings another competitor to the marketplace, expands the reach of our geotargeted, hyper-local mobile advertising. Yes, it has taken some time for publishers to get on the mobile advertising bandwagon, particularly with the dramatic increase in and technological improvements to mobile devices (such as the iPhone, Android, and other “smart” phones) over the past few years. Our agency has worked with some of the “early adapters” for some time now—Pandora, Yelp, and Google Mobile, among others—and with moderate success for our clients. They work wonderfully for national clients, but many in-app mobile platforms still lack geo-targeting capability and strong reporting functions.

We don’t see mobile digital advertising as a replacement for traditional online display ads (did we actually just use the word “traditional” to describe online advertising?!?), but it certainly is another option to offer for campaigns with specific demographic targets. For example, if we have a campaign that has a primary goal of reaching 18-34 year-old males with a precise number of impressions in mind, and a secondary goal of a high click-through and conversion rate (say, signing up on a web site), mobile advertising is something we would consider including in that proposal—from Pandora music to text ads—as long as the target demographic is right for the campaign. Ideally, what we’d like to see is more geo-targeting capabilities on these platforms, along with transparent reporting functions.

At Apple’s Worldwide Developers conference in early June, Steve Jobs announced that the company has signed mobile ad campaigns for several large brands, including AT&T, Best Buy and Chanel, among others. TechCrunch also reports that in just eight weeks, Apple has garnered more than $60 million in iAd commitments for 2010 – or half of all mobile advertising spend forecasted for the second half of the year (according to Apple). The iAd platform will allow users to interact with ads from within an app – without disrupting their primary mode of engagement, whether that be playing a game or watching a video. The platform debuts on July 1.

Read more about Apple’s iAd mobile platform here and, as always, contact us directly if you have a product or service you’re ready to take to the (digital) streets!

By | June 16th, 2010|Interactive Media, mobile, projections|0 Comments

Things I’m liking at iMedia’s Breakthrough Summit

I’m having a great time at iMedia’s Breakthrough Summit this year. It never ceases to amaze me at the speed in which new technology presents us with so many new and exciting ways to reach our client’s audiences. First of all, it is a special honor for me to even be in the room with the attendees. VP’s of Ogilvy & Mather, Brand Managers for Kraft and Best Buy, and the media buyers for some of the world’s leading brands. I feel smarter just being here.

This year’s focus has been on “Mobile” and I have to admit, I’ve long been a naysayer when it comes to spending a lot of money on mobile. I still believe it isn’t right for every client, but I have to fess up that I’ve changed my mind about mobile on some levels.

In addition to Mobile, here are a few things on the list that I can’t wait to share with our clients (and prospective clients) that I believe will help them generate great results on their upcoming campaigns.

  • Mobile “Location” Advertising–Both in GPS systems and on mobile devices, this technology serves relevant ads to a relevant audience when a user is nearby. Wow! Can  you imagine looking for an ATM and having a map pop up and tell you your bank has one nearby? Or how about for political candidates using it to advertise early voting locations? Those are examples for the types of clients we work with but the possibilities for retail, travel, entertainment clients are outstanding. I look forward to the opportunity to include this in an conversation with you.
  • Mobile “Click to Call” Advertising–Just like it sounds, mobile ads can now include a “click to call” or “click to email” option within the banner itself. Talk about getting an immediate response from your media. I love this idea.
  • Music Video Content Advertising–I especially like this for awareness campaigns trying to reach the young male audience. The fact that it can be targeted like nobody’s business also impresses me.
  • In-Game Content Advertising–What if your food brand could be the ingredients in a game where you run your own bakery? Kooky, I know, but what if I told you Moms 25-40 were playing these games for 45 minutes on average. Still Kooky?
  • Original Content Production–I enjoyed the vendors that talked about creating original content and distributing that content for your client. My first thought was, “That would cost a million dollars.” But, I was pleasantly surprised at the affordability.
  • Reaching the Frequent Traveler–There are now ad platforms that reach travelers in airport by sponsoring wi-fi hotspots, wrapping display around wi-fi and OOH (Out Of Home) video displays inside airports. As a frequent business traveler I actually pay attention to these ads out of sheer boredom.
  • Social Media Apps Advertising–I really liked this idea for the hard to reach male 18-34 demographic. What a great tool to use in-content advertising geo-targeted and reach an audience for an awareness campaign.

All in all, iMedia this year has given me great additions to the toolbox for our client solutions. I still believe my favorite quote is “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” I apply that logic to a lot of the latest technology and drill down targeting capabilities with online advertising, however, there are some exciting new ways we can reach your audience with affordable solutions that make sense.

I cannot wait to talk to you about them. What are you waiting for? Let’s schedule a meeting.

Local newspaper tweets away relevancy?

Austin, Texas is a city of early adopters. When Twitter launched it quickly became the city with the most Tweeters and the local media outlets were the first to embrace Twitter as a way to communicate with a news audience in a new way.

Today, the Austin American-Statesman changed all of that by introducing advertising in their news stream tweets. In the form of a coupon or special offer, the abrupt inclusion of an ad in the Twitter feed caused quite a stir in town.

We all know media is finding ways to remain relevant and explore new revenue streams. (The “Tweet Ads” cost $150 per Tweet and are limited to 2x per day) However, there has been much discussion about the appropriate use of Twitter by media outlets, including the Statesman’s own condemnation of other outlets using RSS feeds to populate their Twitter and only posting headlines instead of using the micro-blogging service as it was intended.

The Statesman is not selling the ads for items other than “actionable” items and “doesn’t know” what sort of click-thru rate they will see from the ads. They are banking on their followers being an attractive audience to advertisers.

At this point, I will advise my clients to not spend money on an ad that violates the “spirit” of Twitter as it may cause more backlash than positive results from their advertising dollar.  I want to ensure our clients that when they approve a budget to spend money that we are placing advertising in places we can be assured of measurement and success so that we may provide a real ROI to our client…not a wild guess.

As a fan of Twitter, I oppose cluttering up my feed with spam Tweeters and ads that are disguised as Tweets. I’d rather see the Twitter page skinned with an ad or wrapped in advertising rather than being tricked by those I follow into thinking that “Buy 1 Get 1 Free” is a local news story.

By | September 24th, 2009|Interactive Media|0 Comments

Where do you spend your ad dollars?

We ask our clients all the time where they are spending their money. Here’s our most popular answers and we thought we’d ask the world the same question. We’ll share the results and talk about why each answer is valid depending on your product, service, message or marketing goals.

(We’re also testing out a new free blog poll service to see how it works.)

By | September 23rd, 2009|Interactive Media, Marketing|0 Comments