Tag Archives: content

Halloween 2015 Marketing Stats and Trends

Written by: Digitally Approved
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Co-written: Hannah Redmond, Director of Strategy, and Rita Mogilanski, Senior Content Strategist

Halloween isn’t just a fun time for trick-or-treaters, it’s also a fun time for marketers. More than 157 million Americans plan to celebrate Halloween this year, spending an estimated $6.9 billion dollars. Brands have the opportunity to capitalize on consumers’ excitement and become relevant with deliberate seasonal content. Here are some content marketing trends and stats to consider this Halloween:

Brands are innovating in the digital space this Halloween.
Target launched an app called “Treatster” where consumers can find the best places to trick-or-treat. Users can add in their own houses and “up-vote” houses in the neighborhood to alert other trick-or-treaters in the area which doorbells they should ring.

34% of consumers used online search to find inspiration for their costume. (Statista) Researching and planning ahead online before buying in-store continues to be an integral part of the shopping experience this fall, with almost half of households nationwide researching online before purchasing Halloween-related items in physical stores.

Consumers are more likely to indulge during the holiday, whether they are celebrating it or not. The top 5 candy sales days of the year are in October. This is in part due to the “permissibility” people feel around the holiday – even those who aren’t trick-or-treating or going to a Halloween party still feel more comfortable enjoying a treat more than at other times of the year. Studies show that people think that the same treats “taste better” during the Halloween season (Mintel Reports).

Halloween videos account for 57% of seasonal makeup tutorial video views. (Think With Google)
Beauty and lifestyle brands should consider Halloween a key moment in their video and social marketing strategy.

Halloween-related searches on mobile grew more than 1,000% from last Halloween. (Bing Ads)This is one of many stats that confirms the need for all content to be mobile-friendly.

Google’s Updated Search Algorithm Puts Greater Onus on Social Content Marketing

Written by: Eric Fransen
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What’s changed?
Google recently announced significant changes to their legacy algorithms — Hummingbird, Panda, and Penguin, which impact 90% of the world’s searches — that took the war against spam links and black hat SEO to new heights. At its core, the change is putting a much greater emphasis on content relevance and quality by stripping out bad searches (keyword stuffing, duplicate content, and hyperlink manipulation) and clearing the lane for the good stuff.

So what does this mean for digital marketers and brands?
The bottom line is this: great, relevant content will prevail over all else. No longer will marketers and SEOs be able to stack the deck to artificially inflate the presence of bad and/or irrelevant content. If the ever-increasing demand for original, quality content wasn’t already apparent — this is your wake up call.

The good news in all of this is, if you’re already creating engaging, high quality content for your marketing campaigns, this is some of the best news you’ll hear all year. With the clutter out of the way, your content stands that much greater of a chance of being discovered by your intended audience.

As a brand or agency, there has never been a more important time to focus on the creation of original content in real time. By reacting to global events and trends quickly in an authentic manner, you’ll not only ensure your content is original and fresh, but you’ll be poising your content (and brand) for discovery. And the changes to Google’s algorithm have cleared the lane of clutter to make a clearer path to the top of the search engine results pages.

Headlines & Stuff

Written by: Digitally Approved
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Here are some cool things we read about this past week:

Facebook Adds “What You’re Doing” Status Updates
Facebook users can now express what they are watching, reading, listening to, eating, drinking, or how they are feeling in status updates. For example, if you share that are you are watching Jurassic Park the movie, your post will contain the movie icon and a link to the movie’s Facebook Page. Jurassic Park would then be added to the Movies Section of your Timeline.

YouTube Wins Copyright Battle with Viacom
A federal judge has cleared YouTube of liability for infringing copyright by allegedly hosting tens of thousands of clips of content owned by Viacom. In a decision issued this week, U.S. District Court Judge Louis Stanton ruled that Google’s YouTube was protected by “safe harbor” provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which broadly gives sites immunity when users upload copyrighted material, as long as the sites remove the content upon request.  The marks the second time that Stanton dismissed Viacom’s case, which the company filed in 2007.

LinkedIn Launches Major Mobile App Upgrade, Leads with Content
This week, LinkedIn released a considerable upgraded iOS and Android mobile phone app that emphasizes user personalization and brings forward the company’s growing content strategy. Version 6.0 most notably adds a personal newsfeed as the default mode. The app has highly accessible commenting and sharing tools, so that the user can engage in professional conversations while they are occurring. The new app also emphasizes personalization. A slider menu lets the user add shortcuts that access more than half a dozen key LinkedIn activities, such as one’s own groups, people who have viewed your profile, news and your own recent activity. With the release, LinkedIn also emphasized its international reach, reporting that 64% of its members are now located outside of the U.S. The app update expands language support to 15.

Facebook Launches Open Graph Mobile
Facebook this week, unveiled three new products at its Mobile Developer Conference in NYC that will put the company on an even faster track to becoming a mobile first platform. The company announced Open Graph Mobile, which takes Facebook’s social graphing product to the mobile platform for the first time. Facebook also released the latest figures for mobile, which include over 680 million mobile users and the fact that over 81% of iOS apps and 70% of top 100 grossing Android apps integrate with Facebook.

Twitter Looks to Emulate Google with Keyword Ad Targeting
This week, Twitter announced the ability for advertisers to target Promoted Tweets to specific keywords users may include in a tweet. For example, someone might tweet they are hungry and want a burrito. Taco Bell could bid on the words “hungry” and “burrito” to run a Promoted Tweet linking to a coupon code for a free burrito to that user and anyone else whose tweets include those two words. Advertisers can also import keywords they use on other platforms, such as Google’s AdWords.

Facebook Seeks 7-Figure Price Tag for Summer Debut of Video Ads
Facebook is hoping that its hotly anticipated video-ad units can be a more-than-$4-million-dollar a day business out of the gate – if its asking price is met. The social network still hasn’t finalized the format of the video ads, but it’s been shopping the product around the agencies, looking to lock down commitments for the first available units in June or July. While the format of the units isn’t totally nailed down, it is widely assumed that they’ll be autoplay and presented in a video player that expands beyond the main newsfeed. Assuming four daily advertisers will meet Facebook’s asking price – it would be earning more than $4 million daily from the ads.

Global Social Media

UK Leads the World For Twitter Users
A recent survey found that the usage of Twitter is highest in the UK, with 21% of respondents saying they frequently use the service at least once per week. The UK is followed by the U.S. with 18%, Italy with 14%, France with 9% and Germany with 8%.

Noteworthy Campaigns

Crowdsourced Music Video Records Viewers’ Cursors in Real-Time
Rock band Light Light recently collaborated with Amsterdam-based design studio Moniker to create a one-of-a-kind music video. The online video is interactive and allows viewers to participate simply by moving their mouse cursor around the screen. The interactive video is called “Do Not Touch” and is for the single “Kilo.” It invites users to take part by hovering their mouse cursor over certain objects through a set of instructions. The movement of the cursor is recorded in real-time and as more people participate in the experiment, more cursors will appear on the screen each time. Check it out here.

Audi Lets Fans Write the End to the Next Iron Man Comic Book
Audi has partnered with Marvel Entertainment for its latest campaign. The car company is creating a crowdsourced digital comic book featuring Iron Man. The campaign allows fans to decide how the story ends. Users can submit their sketches for the final panel of the comic book and the winning entry will be published. The ‘Steer the Story’ e-comic book features Tony Stark who goes on an adventure in the Audi R8 sportscar prototype. Users can vote for their favorite entry, but the final decision will be made by a panel of judges from Marvel.

2013 SXSW Recap

Written by: Larry Weintraub
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I’ve had a few days to digest my SXSW Interactive journey so here is a recap…

If I had to summarize this year in 3 words it would be, Don’t Fear Failure. That was a mantra I heard from mega venture capitalist, Vinod Khosla and echoed (in his own subtle way) by SpaceX / Tesla founder, Elon Musk. Both were inspirational speakers and when merged with the question asked of Musk, “You will be disappointed if _______ doesn’t happen in your lifetime?” and the chalkboards I saw around an Austin hi-rise construction site that stated, “Before I Die I Want To _______” I came away with an urgency and a confidence to take on the world.

Yes, this year was more crowded than ever. Trying to get into a panel meant missing other panels because it required a 45 minute pre-session sit-in to guarantee a seat. And parties, well, there were plenty, but again, if you wanted to go to the big ones, count on showing up well ahead of the start time. And I heard a lot of negativity. “This is my last year.” or “wow, this place is ridiculous, I can’t get into anything.” But if you’ve been coming to SXSW for a few years, then you learn how to navigate Austin for these few wonderful days. Flexibility is key and you want to give yourself room to end up on an unplanned adventure that might put you on a bus or cab ride to something you will never forget. And the food, believe it or not, Austin’s food gets better every year. It is already my favorite food town in America but each year I discover even more, often from a truck or at a party. Rarely from an actual sit down restaurant. (Not knocking Austin restaurants, I just rarely find myself eating at one during SXSW).

In addition to the great panels, parties, food, and inspirational speeches, I also observed a lot of trends and new technologies. I paid close attention to how brands were vying for attention and gleaned valuable insights into where we’re headed as interactive human beings.  Here are some of my highlights (and thanks to my friends Brad, Tom, Bryon, and Jeff at The Marketing Arm for helping to compile this list):

MakerBot

Bre Pettis, the founder and creator of the 3D Printer opened the conference by explaining all the ways that 3D printing is changing our lives. In addition to telling us how easy it is to replicate missing toy train tracks and create shot glasses, he debuted the new 3D scanner which literally spun a garden gnome on a plate while lasers captured all aspects of the object.  While we all don’t need a 3D Printer today, at a reasonable cost of $2,200 (relative to its magic-like capability), it was easy to see how these could be a home staple in the coming years.

Google Glass, Talking Shoes, and Popcorn

The new futuristic Terminator-style Google Glasses were all the rage at SXSW. There were demonstrations and a handful of friends of Google were spotted donning their glasses about town. Personally, I can’t wait for these. Meanwhile at the Google Playground popcorn, candy, and mini peanut butter and jelly sandwiches kept me satiated as I did the obstacle course wearing talking shoes that told me to keep going when I really wanted to rest and have a root beer float.

3M’s Virtual Concierge

If you were wondering where to go and what to do at SXSW, never fear, Jennie, 3M’s hologram-ish virtual concierge was there to answer your questions and make you uncomfortable with her Disney Haunted Mansion-like eyes that followed you as you strolled the Austin Convention Center. I actually liked this display and saw it again at JFK airport welcoming me to the Big Apple. If you make your living as a greeter, you may want to start expanding your skill set.

Brand Activations

Chevy provided the best utility once again with their Catch A Ride activation enabling people to test drive everything from an electric Volt to a sporty Corvette. Need a lift in the rain, try flagging down a Chevy. No really, try. Needless to say, I got pretty wet on Saturday.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick spoke at the conference and told us all about the trials of bucking up against the old world of taxi driver cartels. Meanwhile Uber sports cars were seen driving people around along with Uber pedicabs which offered free rides to Samsung Galaxy phone owners.

Ford could be spotted showing off their open source programming for their vehicles with a collaboration with Glympse. If you don’t know, Glympse is an app that can show your friends where you are when en route to meet up. It may sound a bit creepy, but think about how many times you’ve wondered what’s taking your buddy so long to get to you.

Getting a drink in Austin is not that hard to do. Local vodka company, Tito’s made it even easier by providing the Tito’s Trolley that circled downtown Austin while whetting your booze whistle in the process. A simple activation that ironically stood out in a crowded field of brand activations.

Award for Standout Brand

Meanwhile, this year’s award for most visible brand was Samsung. There were numerous activations including pop-up stores, rooftop party decks, the aforementioned pedicabs, old-school phone booths, and even a giant building enabled with NFC which offered up cupcakes, drinks, and snacks when your Galaxy Tab phone was tapped against the bricks.

Crowdsourcing in Action

Merging branding with innovation, American Airlines and AT&T combined for a Hack to create the next great travel app. We didn’t get to see the results, but we were told that over 50 developers participated in the event.

Apps and mCommerce Aplenty

In the App world, there were some previous year favorites hanging around such as Highlight and GroupMe both geared to encouraging people to get to know each other a little better amongst the crowds of people. While mobile payments could be felt from Square, Level Up, Intuit, and others. It was actually hard to pay with cash at times and nearly every food truck in Austin was ready to swipe your credit card across their iPhone.

Content Galore

Content was king at SXSW this year. TV networks were prevalent and at any moment you could find yourself posing on the Game of Thrones throne, meeting the stars of Deadliest Catch, checking out with SyFy Network and Warner Brothers had to offer, or learning the secrets of the new Netflix season of Arrested Development.

Also showcasing in the quickly growing field of digital content was the comedy troupe JASH, made up of Sarah Silverman, Michael Cera, Reggie Watts, and Tim & Eric. Underwritten by Mountain Dew’s new energy drink Kickstart and built on the YouTube Channel platform, JASH made quite the splash. If the teaser they provided at SXSW was a sign of times to come, we should see some great comedy coming our way and some incredible brand integration that feels relatively natural and  not forced.

So much to see, so little time, so much fun, so much inspiration.

SXSWi Recap

Written by: Larry Weintraub
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If you ask me how SXSW Interactive (SXSWi) was this year, I’ll tell you it was fantastic and that I was personally inspired on multiple levels.  Yes it was crowded, I’m not sure the exact number but I heard tale of 20,000 plus attendees, and yes it rained for part of the time.  But SXSWi is all about what you make of it; I went with an open mind, a light agenda, and the desire to learn, and I had a blast.

To summarize SXSWi 2012 in just a few words, it was a place to get motivated for what’s next.  The sessions I attended and the people I met were all looking forward and not back. This year wasn’t so much about what the next big technology was, it was more about what the next big concepts are.  Concepts like The Future of Content, The Start Up Revolution, Storytelling, and Distinguishing Your Product.

Here is a (relatively) short recap of my trip to Austin (Sessions link to the audio when I could find them)…

About Austin / SXSWi

Inside ACC Day 1
  • Long Lines – It started a little rough, the line to get my badge stretched through the entire building.  Estimates were 2 – 3 hour wait time.  #humblebrag, I was able to sneak in with some friends who were sponsors, but I felt a little guilty about it.  This signaled that this year would be much more crowded than in year’s past and made me realize that if I wanted to see specific sessions or attend parties, I’d have to plan on getting there early.
  • Beyond ACC – A few years back the only place you would need to be during the day was the Austin Convention Center.  But now sessions are scattered amongst multiple hotels, bars, restaurants, and private homes.  You learn quickly that you just can’t go to everything and you have to plan your day around travel.  The upside is that Chevy provided free rides if you could “Catch a Chevy” or test drive one of their new cars.
  • Rain – For the first two days it rained hard.  It put a damper on the companies that had outdoor installations and it also made it challenging to get from place to place. The upside was that crowds weren’t too bad and Bing was offering up free food and drinks to lure you in to their soaked city.

Sessions

  • Lots of Sessions about “Me” – The first panel I attended was the CEO and founder of Thrillist talking about… well, Thrillist.  I also saw sessions where leaders from Google Plus, SCVNGR, Funny or Die, and Living Social talked about themselves.  There were quite a few of these, and some were better than others.  The best ones were where the speakers spoke about mistakes they made and gave insight into what was coming.
Kawasaki + Gundotra
  • Great session about “Me” – I watched the Fireside Chat between social media celebrity Guy Kawasaki and Google+ Plus mastermind Vic Gundotra.  Kawasaki literally grilled Gundotra about Google+ with questions like, “Why don’t you open your API already like your competition?,” “What are you doing about the SPAM issue?” and “Will we see advertising around everything we do in Google+?” I give Gundotra credit, he answered every question with articulate professionalism and he didn’t shy away from anything.  He took full responsibility for the API issue saying that his mission was to open it up by year’s end but that because of the Google ecosystem that includes search, Gmail, and Android, he needed it to be of the highest quality and he wasn’t willing to allow things to break all the time like they do on a certain other social network.  He claimed that they were hyper focused on the SPAM issue and pointed out that because of Gmail, they were the best at figuring this out.  And he stressed that while you will see advertising, because of the laser targeting capabilities that Google has, you should be seeing incredibly relevant advertising.  He also stressed that not everything will have advertising, he said that you should not expect to see ads when you open content like photos.  The main takeaway, and the most important point for marketers like myself was that Gundotra wanted everyone to stop thinking of Google+ as a social network and instead think of it as Google 2.0.  He said that for the first time, all Google products were working together including search, documents, email, social, and mobile.  This is just the start of a major renovation for Google, he said, and you will see a continuity like you’ve never seen before.
  • Great session about storytelling – I went to the session titled, “Does Your Product Have a Plot?” by R/GA’s David Womack.  A full house watched as Womack described the structure of a good story and how some brands have mastered the art of storytelling and how others have not.  I am a huge fan of storytelling and as Womack was talking I found myself scribbling thoughts on how to improve many of the projects I’m working on right now.
Tim O’Shaughnessy and Steve Case
  • Another great session about “me” (Part 1 – Steve Case) – My favorite session of all was the Fireside Chat between AOL founder Steve Case and LivingSocial CEO Tim O’Shaughnessy in a session called, “Tapping Into America’s Secret Sauce: Entrepreneurs.”  Both were there to promote their own initiatives but the insight that O’Shaughnessy gave about building his business and where it was going was truly enlightening.  Case promoted his political initiatives surrounding the Small Business / Start Up act which is culminating right now in the Senate.  He explained that 40 Million jobs in the US are attributed to small businesses and that we should be promoting growth in this sector vs. large businesses which ultimately don’t net a lot of new jobs, they just rise and fall and essentially stay even.  Case also spoke about the Sharing Economy and some of the investments he’s made in transportation (zipcar) and hospitality (Exclusive Resorts). He also referenced his appearance on the Colbert Report and how Colbert asked him about sharing toasters.  Additionally he discussed the idea of Crowdfunding concepts like Kickstarter and how the Start Up bill would allow this to happen on a grander scale and relieve some of the restrictions that currently prohibit companies from having more than 500 investors.
OgilvyNotes Interpretation
  • Another great session about “me” (Part 2 – Tim O’Shaughnessy) – Case admitted in full transparency that he was an investor in LivingSocial but then proceeded to ask some incredibly challenging questions of O’Shaughnessy like, “When will you go public?” and “Why did you partner with Amazon?”  O’Shaughnessy handled the tough questions well and consistently referred to Groupon without calling out their name.  He explained that the climate was not right to go public (Groupon!) but that it was a necessary step to compensate both investors and employees.  In reference to Amazon, he said that LivingSocial is a local company and Amazon is a massive national/global company and together they were ideal partners.  This is where it got interesting.  He explained that LivingSocial’s mission is to be the local company that powers businesses that have things to sell.  Meaning that LivingSocial was looking beyond just “deals” and finding ways to help small businesses grow through their platforms.  One example he had was that LivingSocial was helping restaurants create new businesses such as cooking schools in their less busy hours.  He said that the “deal” business was just one step in their plans.  When Case asked “What mistake did you make that you could advise others to avoid?” O’Shaughnessy replied, “Move faster.”  He explained that LivingSocial started as a Facebook-based advertising-based business that was earning $1 Million a month and then scrapped that business for the “deal” business.  He said that was a hard thing to do both for his employees and investors but that in hindsight he wished he’d done it faster.  He said that 3 months could have made all the difference (alluding to the fact that Groupon got the jump on them).  The final point that resonated with me was when O’Shaughnessy explained that they realized the impact of Facebook ads before anyone else.  While other web-based companies were using mostly Google search, they realized that their audience was responding tremendously to Facebook ads.  He told the audience to pay attention to new forms of advertising and marketing that others haven’t figured out yet.

Conversations

Aside from the great sessions I attended, I received tremendous inspiration from the countless conversations I had primarily with people I was meeting for the first time or hadn’t seen in quite a while.  The topics that motivated me the most revolved around:

  • Content – It was clear from all the major media companies and countless start ups that content geared for online and mobile viewing is being produced at a rapid rate.  I have a personal point of view that within the next two years, once the connection between our mobile devices and our televisions becomes seamless, there will be an explosion of content.  We will go from 1,000 channels on our television to hundreds of thousands; that we’ll see far fewer shows that reach 5 million people and more that reach 10,000.  But those shows will be targeted.  We’ll see shows about home improvement, gardening, tax preparation, education… you name it.  There will be seemingly endless niche-based programming that will not have major ratings, but it will be appealing to advertisers and sponsors because of it’s hyper targeting.
  • Innovation – Riffing off of something that Tim O’Shaughnessy said in his panel, true innovation is not about improving another company’s product by 10%, it is about complete reinvention.  There was a lot of bouncing of ideas with people and improving each others’ concepts.

Sponsors 

Lots of them.  It is really hard to stand out at SXSW because there is a ton of competitive noise and very little space to properly brand yourself. That said, there were a few standouts:

  • Chevy – You could not miss Chevy at SXSW.  Their cars were everywhere as was their signage.  As previously mentioned, they provided tremendous utility with their “Catch a Chevy” program which helped people get from place to place – a significant help with the bad weather, the spread out sessions/parties, and a huge lack of hotel rooms.
  • Bing – Great setup with food, drinks, and games.  Bummer on the rain and the technology breakdown of trying to register on non-working laptops was comical given the Microsoft sponsorship.
  • Nike – Amazing installation for people that owned the Nike Fuel band.  Block long exercise court lined with massive digital walls.
  • The Sponsored Cafes – CNN and Fast Company took over restaurants and offered free food, drinks, entertainment, and co-sponsored interactions from the likes of 3M, Samsung, and Kind.

Parties

Also lots of them.  The best thing I experienced this year was seeing music at some of these parties.  I’ve spent the last couple of years trying to avoid music to just focus on tech, but sometimes  you just can’t get away from your true love.  And this year I ran smack into a couple of amazing bands that ended up being highlights of my SXSWi experience.

Ghostland Observatory
  • Friday night I was introduced to Ghostland Observatory at the Start Up America Partnership (Steve Case’s cause) party and was literally blown away.  I haven’t been this excited after seeing a band since the first time I saw Nine Inch Nails play.  Turns out I’ve been living under a rock and these guys are already huge, but thanks to @Brad Alesi at The Marketing Arm for introducing me to these guys.
  • Speaking of Brad Alesi, he also introduced me to Green River Ordinance at the AT&T w/ Jason Falls party.  Again, I didn’t go expecting to see a band, just to hang with some AT&T folks and to have great hot dogs @Frank, but turns out I got treated to a great band, who like Ghostland has been around for quite a while and has a huge following.  I must be living under a rock.  But glad I climbed out to see these bands.

In conclusion, I had a great trip, saw some amazing sessions, ate like a fool, rocked out, and came back invigorated!

Here are some other reports back from SXSW that will give  you some additional perspectives:

Holy Sales

Written by: Digitally Approved
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In 2009, we still find ourselves running into the question “Why should we hand over our content to the consumer?” Brands and content producers for decades have guarded content and its distribution doggedly, and for good reason too — there was money to be made. The majors don’t call the reel room “the vault” without cause.

But in the era of open borders and open source culture much of that content has started to seep out into the hands of the consumer. We’re all well aware this created a significant reaction from major studios with lawsuits announced as often as releases in the early 2000s.

Anyone remember these ads?

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