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Jobs and Social Media Make Strange Bedfellows

Facebook has announced a new partnership, called Social Jobs, that partners with the Department of Labor, National Association of Colleges and Employers, DirectEmployers Association, and the National Association of State Workforce Agencies. It plans to promote this page in the 10 states with the highest unemployment rates and Puerto Rico.

The plan is to reach people spending a lot of time on facebook already with tools for job searching and educational opportunities. However, the real plan is to enter the lucrative job search business.

As facebook enters the market of job listing and employers begin to post jobs on facebook, the question will become how will people apply and will the employers you apply to jobs for have access to your facebook profile?

The personal nature of content we all post on facebook can do more harm than good. We always do a facebook search when we receive resumes and those candidates that don’t lock down their profiles are scrutinized for every drunk party photo and politically incorrect status update they have ever made. With people posting constant status updates on facebook, it could be the worst way to search for a job if there is access to your personal profile.

We would like to think that facebook users would clean up their profile and that prospective employers would not judge prospective employees by their facebook profile, but we know better. We are a firm believer in separating business and personal and facebook is personal, LinkedIn is business. But, if facebook is going to do it anyway we better start deleting a lot of content we’ve posted there!

By | October 20th, 2011|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Facebook Changes We Embrace

As consistent “early adopters,” we jumped on Facebook’s new timeline change while it was still in the developer’s release beta stage—and waited for the barrage of outraged comments from Facebook users about how much they hate the new design once it was rolled out publicly last week.

Today’s article in TechNewsWorld pretty much sums up why we think the new design is pretty great, as well as why users are wary about the change. As always, privacy tops the list of social media user concerns and is usually the root of controversy. As a digital media agency, more data means stronger target marketing. We understand public concern about privacy and security, however what the new timeline does for the user is make Facebook easier to use—and privacy setting can be changed for Facebook’s timeline with a single click.

As the TechNewsWorld article indicates, “privacy advocates warn that timeline will contain new categories of information regarding media consumption and lifestyle habits as users connect to more social apps. This could make it easier computer criminals to unearth personal details that can be used to craft attacks. The vast amount of data that will be available on timeline will also increase the opportunities for intrusive and problematic advertising, the privacy coalition warned.” It’s the last sentence that sums up why our agency is pleased with the new changes and believes it should be noted that privacy advocates have questions every new design or change from Facebook since Facebook was, well, Facebook.

Successful social media sites (and Facebook tops every list for number of users, usage and popularity) know that there is a balance between revenue streams from advertising and user privacy. With the ability to change privacy settings with just one click, users can “opt-in” or “opt-out” of being a targeted online ad demographic. It’s the” opt-ins” that we’re excited about, creating a stronger targeted user base for advertising and allowing highly targeted ad content.

TechNewsWorld sums it up: “For advertisers who know how to take advantage of it, timeline could boost branding and raise brand awareness because it focuses so strongly on the visual element. Smaller businesses with restricted budgets may find timeline easier to leverage than apps, which are generally more expensive.”

For agencies like ours, with multiple years of experience getting the most from targeted online advertising for our clients with budgets large and small, timeline gives us a unique opportunity for maximizing ROI on campaigns, as well as a deeper level of reporting.

How about you? Have you jumped on the Facebook timeline train yet, or are you hesitating?

By | October 3rd, 2011|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Niche Advertising Gets Even More ‘Niche-y’

In a piece recapping online trends last week, The New York Times reported that “like newspapers, portals like AOL and Yahoo are confronting the cold fact that there is less general interest in general interest news. Readers have peeled off into verticals of information – TMZ for gossip, Politico for politics and Deadspin for sports, and so on.”

The article continued with, “Part of the problem is the result of a fundamental shift in web behavior. Media stalwarts erected a frame around the Web and organized, and sometimes produced, content. Now the frame around content is the web browser itself, and consumers do their own programming and are more inclined to see news consumption as a kind of voting, selecting smaller brands that reflect their sensibilities.”

Problem? Not for online media pros and marketers who have been focused on niche advertising online for more than two years now. We’d expected this shift long before the “collapse” of print publishing, seen it in our own and in colleagues online behavior, and in case studies and our own campaign analytics. We have numbers to back it up, including a highly successful new mom-targeted ad campaign we ran last year in which in-app advertising returned a staggering 50% higher ROI than online display ads placed on niche sites (which did quite well to their end).

In other words, we were niche-y when niche-y wasn’t cool. We’ve been making targeting recommendations to our clients since day one. We are  certainly advertising on “general interest” and “web portal” sites, but have seen better ROI from geo- and demographically-targeting online ads. Sure, the CPMs are slightly higher, but when it comes down to actual impressions reaching the intended specific audience (like moms-to-be), they’re worth every penny.

More impressions on general interest sites, you say? Yes, more impressions from a general interest audience-but fewer end users completed an advertising client’s requested call to action and therefore, lower ROI for the campaign. The verticals are key to getting those coveted targeted impressions, whether reaching out to new moms or sports fans, teen drivers or online shoppers.

Bigger doesn’t mean better. Bigger means larger audience. We’ll take small and targeted over large and general any day of the week.

By | September 19th, 2011|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Fine Line Between “Edgy” and Offensive in Advertising

Advertising has always been about creativity and “pushing the envelope” but it also used to be about brand management. Lately, we have seen a lot of brands having to apologize for their advertising. There’s the argument that it creates a “viral” nature of the ads that gives them much more push than the paid media of the campaign ever would, but to me that sounds like an agency trying to (as my dad would say) polish a turd.

The longest lasting backlash so far this year is the Summer’s Eve “Hail To The V” campaign. The campaign, created by Dallas agency The Richards Group has taken a lot of heat for their “talking vagina” ads featuring what can best be described as ethnic sounding accents saying stereotypical things relating to the racial makeup of said talking vagina.

I would be the first person to say that coming up with a campaign for a feminine hygiene product would probably be the challenge of my professional career. But, that should not be an excuse to come up with creative that an agency promotes as edgy or has viral potential but in reality is a campaign that is offensive and damages a well known brand.

Sadly, it’s happened again this week. Nivea is apologizing today for a print ad in Esquire called “Re-civilize Yourself.” As soon as buzz started about the ad it was negative. The power of social media means something can go viral very quickly. It also means once one person is offended and they have a large social media following it can become a mob mentality that grows into an all out PR nightmare.  This happened to other brands this year. HomeAway got into it because they threw a doll that looked like a baby up against a window in their Super Bowl commercial. Once it was reported that families were “horrified” by the commercial, it was only a matter of time that HomeAway issued an apology.

It’s hard to know sometimes if something is going to offend. But, an agency should have the strategic and seasoned industry professionals in the room to protect the brand and straddle the line between edgy and offensive. Snicker’s is an example that did a great job with their football ads featuring Betty White. No one was offended that Betty White got tackled and thrown in the mud because it was clear it was funny and was not advocating elder abuse. The ads still went viral, but in a good way for the brand.

Agencies are under great pressure to keep their accounts and build brands and grow sales in a tough economy and tough competitive marketplace. Losing sight of protecting the brand they work for with no one checking the creative team and inserting some strategy and wisdom in the process is blame I place squarely on the agency leadership (not the creatives). Too many hire young and inexperienced because they want to get people that understand new technology. I do that, too. But, someone has to manage and guide those young and inexperienced people even when it seems like you’re throwing cold water on a campaign that you don’t get because you’re old.  What I do get is protecting the brands we work for with a professionalism that sometimes means our campaigns may not be edgy, they may not go viral, but they don’t force the CEO of the clients we have to issue apologies for the work we did on their behalf.

Charlie Ray is the CEO of digital media agency Broad Street Interactive and has to apologize for his own gaffes a lot, he prefers to not have to do it professionally. Follow him @CharlieDR

By | August 18th, 2011|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Visions of a Healthy Holiday Online Season for 2011

It is hard to believe it’s time to start thinking about the holiday shopping season as we sit in air conditioned conference rooms complaining about the heat in the dog days of summer. But, holiday thinking is already on the minds of many of our clients.

It’s well known that retailers count on the holidays to make their year, and even in a down economy that is still the case. US retail e-commerce spending for the entire November – December 2010 holiday season reached a record $32.6 billion, marking a 12% increase from $29 billion last year and an all-time record for the season. (comScore)

For the first time since comScore began tracking e-commerce activity in 2001,

Cyber Monday (Monday, Nov. 29) ranked as the heaviest online spending day of the year at $1.028 billion. It also registers as the first online spending day on record to surpass the $1 billion spending threshold.

Green Monday (Monday, Dec. 13) ranked as the second heaviest day at $954 million, followed by Monday, December 6 at $943 million. Free Shipping Day (Friday, Dec. 17) ranked fourth at $942 million, while Thursday, December 16 rounded out the top five with $930 million. Eight days in total surpassed $900 million in spending for the 2010 holiday season.


While it is too early to forecast holiday sales for 2011, it is not to early to have a strategy in place for the season. Online consumers are more savvy than ever and are searching for a “deal” to make a purchase and more and more that “deal” has to be even better than just free shipping.

It was 2008 that “Free Shipping” first took the online shopping segment by storm and since then it has gained in popularity and is now a major deciding factor in making an online purchase.  comScore asked consumers how important free shipping was to them when making a purchase and 55% of respondents indicated that they would be at least somewhat likely to abandon their shopping cart without that promotion.

While retailers debate free shipping as a reduction to their margins, during the third quarter of 2010, the average order value for transactions involving free shipping was 41% higher than transactions without free shipping. Free shipping can help make or break an online retailers season.

More than free shipping, consumers are looking for deals and special offers that provide the appearance, if not reality, of deep discounts. In an economy with declining consumer confidence, bargain hunters ratchet up the expectation on retailers for cost savings.

There is reason to hope for a holiday sales season that is not all bad news. June retail sales saw a modest jump as opposed to a projected decline.

In order to make the best of a tight retail season, online retailers must plan ahead for their online campaigns to secure inventory at prices that can be locked in now and put together strong incentives to entice customers to spend online this season.

With good execution, sound strategy and a bit more consumer confidence we can expect a Merry Christmas for online retail in 2011.

Charlie Ray is CEO of Broad Street Interactive, a digital media planning and buying agency. He can be reached at charlie@broadstreetinteractive.com
By | July 20th, 2011|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Google+ isn’t just facebook for Google

I admit when I first heard about Google+ I dismissed it without much thought. But, as I reluctantly accepted an invitation and moaned about yet another social media password and user ID I have to remember and remember to update, something happened that changed my mind. The user interface! Simple! Clean! Easy to navigate! Drag and drop my new people I add into the appropriate circle and that’s it. Then the sharing, easy!

So, that’s enough superlatives about Google+. The release is gaining an estimated 1 million new users every day and is expected to reach 20 million users by the weekend of July 15. A rapid 350% growth in such a short time should make even the most devoted facebook fan do a double take. Facebook is the social media Goliath we all love to hate. Didn’t people feel the same about their seizure-inducing MySpace profile pages at one point? I know I was all about my background and my song and my fonts on MySpace before I abandoned it for facebook. How long before we crave to create “circles” in Google+ that makes us embarrassed about our facebook profile without its own “circles” to manage?

The internet is a fickle place, as are the people that use social media. Google has hit a nerve with me on two points. One, I am never more than 30 minutes away from deleting my facebook profile so I’m a ripe target and two, I’m already on Google for email, search, calendar and feeds so I’m comfortable in their space.

Granted, I am usually an early adopter so that contributes to me signing in and poking around. It’s amazing how quickly things change. Just a week and a half ago, Business Insider was one among many poo-pooing the new social platform.

The debate over Google+ and facebook will rage on and I don’t pretend to know who will be the winner or if the world is big enough for two social media giants. I do enjoy watching it play out, though.

By | July 12th, 2011|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Online Ad Spend Up 20%, Have you checked your budget lately?

The advertising budget shift to online continues its double digit growth and is projected to reach $50 billion by 2015, according to a new report published by eMarketer.

Several factors support the overall upshift in online ad spending. Search remains a major source of ad dollars, and will gain $2.38 billion in new spending this year. There is also sustained support for banner ads, coming from ad networks, large sites like Yahoo! and Google, and big gains at Facebook. Video continues to be the fastest-growing format.

The report shows that major growth in video contributes to the larger ad spends. Still, digital advertising’s influence far outpaces its budget allocation. Video continues to offer a rich experience and creative story, even in the small screens allocated to pre-roll and original content.

Small business also is a big factor in the continued growth of online ad spending. As small businesses abandon newspapers and yellow pages for online advertising, the growth reaches from increased budgets at large global brands to the local retailer. With self-serve advertising solutions and reductions in the minimum buys across networks and direct publishers, smaller companies can now enter the digital ad space efficiently and affordably.

As even smaller budgets can target online through behavioral targeting, retargeting, conversion tracking and rich media the networks and publishers are responding with solutions that bring results for most budget levels. As marketers become more savvy with their expectations of ROI on advertising, online becomes attractive due to its measurability and affordability.

When you are putting together your advertising budget are you giving digital the same amount of consideration and strategy you are putting into a broadcast or print schedule? When discussing creative are you thinking about how the digital audience is different than the broadcast, print, OOH and other audiences?

We’re here to help. It’s what we do. We work with traditional agencies, marketers and digital agencies to develop, plan and buy digital media that provides the right audience at the right price. Give us a call to help with your next plan.

By | July 8th, 2011|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Right Creative Makes the Difference: Print vs. Online

Traditional media agencies have been placing print advertising campaigns for decades, but many have failed to catch up to the new standards for online advertising (or keep up with the ever-changing online market). As a “niche” digital media agency, it’s our job to stay on top of not only new technology, but also to work with our clients on online advertising strategies-and how they differ from print media.

Recent data from eMarketer shows just how quickly the print industry is losing its audience.  In 2010, people spent 9% less time reading newspapers and magazines as compared to 2009, while in 2009 they already spent 12% less than in 2008. The average American spends only 30 minutes reading newspapers and 20 minutes reading magazines per day, significantly less compared to more than four hours of TV and video consumption and more than two and a half hours that people spend online.

The only two mediums that are taking more of people’s time are mobile and internet.  In 2010, time spent on mobile increased by 28.2% and is now 50 minutes on average per day, while time spent online grew by 6.2% to 2:35 hours.  It seems that mobile and internet are crowding out the print industry. This is where audience becomes important-and where we start throwing around words like “engagement” and “actionable” when it comes to creative display advertising online.

This shift in how people consume media is why it is very important to have creative that appeals to the audiences where they are. Print creative and online creative are vastly different. Not just in specifications, but in content and messaging. It is important to choose a creative team that can build compelling creative in the digital space…and get it right the first time.

We often have to send creative back to the client because it doesn’t meet the specs required for online ads or the messaging simply doesn’t work for the online audience. Invariably, it is because the creative person is not primarily focused on digital and may not create the ads the right pixel size or file size or with the click tags inserted correctly. This wastes time and money. We love good creative, but as agency and clients know…creative is an expense and expensive. It’s important that it not get caught up in a loop of changes.

It is important to consider the creative for the campaign when developing a strategy for online advertising. The creative is so important to a successful campaign.

A comScore study last year found that the creative is 4x more important than the media plan for campaign success. First, as a media planner…ouch…we take a lot of pride in our strategic planning, but secondly we get it. We’ve seen some creative that made us whince we try to figure out how we’re going to deliver results based on mediocre creative.

Standard print specs and print ads don’t translate online. As a supporter of the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau), our agency is part of an industry-wide group that helps set standards for online ad sizes and creative collateral in the digital space. So many traditional agencies overlook the opportunities that online advertising offers: video pre-roll, flash, calls to action, and other design elements that make an online ad campaign “clickable.” The creative should have a call to action, offer something to the end user (in print media, the “reader”), and create an opportunity for that user to take the action immediately.

Print is not dead and creative in print is beautiful, but just as I wouldn’t go to a podiatrist about my sore throat clients–shouldn’t rely on a print creative to build their online campaign.

By | June 28th, 2011|General Business, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Google to charge businesses when people click for directions

Google suddenly appears to be nickel and dime’ing the small businesses it courts so aggressively with its latest change to adwords. Google plans to begin charging for clicks on directions in the businesses location page in the same manner they now charge for clicks on an ad’s headline or phone number. Their reasoning is, “If your campaign has a high number of these clicks, this indicates that your customers are interacting with your ads to get directions to your business.”

As a business owner this would make no sense for me to pay anything for. If a user is so interested in my businesses they searched for it and they are going to click on “directions” to come buy something from me then it’s a customer I do not need to pay to acquire. They are acquired! In using PPC, we are trying to drive customers that are interested in the products our client sells to purchase them from our client as opposed to a competitor. We know that when they are searching, there is buyer intent. If the intent is so strong they want directions to the store then why in the world would we pay for that?! It does not make sense.

But, since so many small businesses drink the Kool-Aid that Google search is the end all be all to drive customers to them and they do not really understand how search and PPC works, they will wind up paying for these clicks by default.

Therefore, the most important FAQ on this new option is the one we’ve provided for you below.

I don’t want to pay for clicks on directions. How can I opt out?
You can do this by removing the location extensions associated with your campaign.
By | June 6th, 2011|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Reaching men online, why would you?

A traditional agency friend asked me today about reaching men online as opposed to through print. I put together a very quick synopsis and thought I would share it on our blog.

Men are hyper-connected and spend more time online. While men and women are drawn to the same interactive activities-connecting with friends, family, and colleagues through email and social networks, finding information through search and content sites, and seeking entertainment-men spend more time online than women. In fact, the average time spent on a computer over the period of a month was one hour longer for US men than for women.

There are 60.9 million men online age 18-49. Men in this demographic are active, driven, and like to be in the know. They use the Web for sports, entertainment, and to get things done. They tend to be heavy Internet users and are avid online shoppers. These men are also connected on their mobile devices, using them for Web browsing and to be productive on the go.

They Get It Done
  • 82% agree one of the best things about the Web is being able to get more things done quickly
  • 57% like the challenge of doing new things
  • 33% willing to make personal sacrifices for financial success
They’re in the Know
  • 44% say they tend to be more informed about current events than others
  • 30% say it’s important to stay up-to-date on what’s hot and what’s not
They Shop
  • 44% bought consumer electronics online in last month
They’re on the Go
  • 36% say it’s important to be able to access the Internet on the go
They Enjoy Offline Activities
  • 45% play video games
  • 34% exercise
  • 26% go to the movies
  • 19% play sports

Online Radio

Radio is now an interactive medium, engaging millions of consumers online and via mobile devices every week. eMarketer estimates nearly 80 million internet users will tune in to internet radio stations weekly in 2011.

Video Games

More than four out of five male adults ages 18 to 29 said they played video games, while 23 percent of respondents 65 and older said the same. You can reach more men than ever with the innovative experiences that solutions like Xbox and Xbox LIVE advertising offer.

Mobile

Thirty-two percent of men had made a mobile purchase in December 2010, double the 16% who had done so in November 2009. A substantial portion of this growth had occurred by July 2010, when 29% of men had made a mobile purchase.

By | June 3rd, 2011|Uncategorized|0 Comments