Fine dining, with a side of tech

A study published in 2016 in the Journal of Consumer Marketing shows that we mere mortals are highly suggestible. The line between our appreciation of how food looks and enjoyment of how it tastes can become blurred. Researchers discovered that our enjoyment of indulgent foods increases significantly when we take a picture before eating it, and can even boost our experience of consuming “less pleasurable” (by which it means healthy) foods.

I’d suggest that you read this article you if you fancy your tech and a good meal.

https://www.cnet.com/news/chefs-special-fine-dining-with-a-side-of-tech/?ftag=CAD-03-10aaj8j

Great report on the key factors which lead to optimal video performance on Facebook

Facebook’s research team has published a new report which looks at the key components of the best performing videos on the platform, while also comparing the performance of the same video content across both Facebook and Instagram.

The impetus behind the research is obvious – Facebook offers a video ad option called ‘Placement Optimization’, which enables advertisers to reach people within their target audience across both Facebook and Instagram. But if video content optimized for Facebook doesn’t work as well on Instagram, the option might not prove beneficial, right?

Facebook Releases New Report on Video Performance Across Facebook and Instagram | Social Media Today

Placement Optimization will show your ads across Facebook’s platforms

To study the potential benefits of cross-platform video usage, Facebook worked with MetrixLab to first analyze 68 video campaigns in order to determine the key factors which lead to optimal video performance on Facebook. Of those 68, Facebook found that only 12% of them were considered ‘Outstanding’ performers, with the majority (78%) either ‘Sub-optimal’ or ‘Problematic’.

Facebook Releases New Report on Video Performance Across Facebook and Instagram | Social Media TodayAccording to MetrixLab, the top performers were able to differentiate themselves because they were designed specifically for Facebook, as opposed to being re-purposed TV ads or cross-posted from other platforms.

Based on this, MetrixLab put together a list of four key, Facebook-centric elements which saw video ads perform best on the platform:

1. Incorporate brand identity early (within the first 3 seconds)

2. Show the brand for at least half the video’s duration

3. Make the video as short as it can be and as long as it needs to be

4. Feature the message up-front for those who may not watch the whole video

These tips are fairly generic, and along the same lines as we’ve seen in other Facebook video reports, but given their repeated relevance in such studies, they do bear re-iterating.

When optimizing for Facebook’s feed, you need to consider that viewers will come across your video as they scroll, and with sound off (Facebook is moving to ‘sound on‘ by default, but you should still assume a significant number of viewers won’t have audio when viewing). As such, you need to deliver your messaging, prominently and efficiently, to maximize response.

Facebook Releases New Report on Video Performance Across Facebook and Instagram | Social Media Today

You can see how Red Bull have taken a Facebook-specific approach with their video assets

But as noted, how does that relate to Placement Optimization? If videos optimized specifically for Facebook perform best on the platform, do they also translate to the Instagram environment?

Unsurprisingly, according to MetrixLab’s research, they do:

“MetrixLab tested [80 ads] on both Facebook and Instagram, and found a crucial correlation in performance between the platforms. This means that ads that perform well in one feed will generally perform well in either feed.”

Facebook Releases New Report on Video Performance Across Facebook and Instagram | Social Media TodayThe research also confirmed their findings that videos not specifically optimized for Facebook performed poorly on both Facebook and Instagram, while feed-optimized videos also performed comparably similar across key performance metrics on both platforms.

But as noted, you’d expect Facebook-commissioned research to support the case for their ad products – otherwise, why would they make them?

And while the insights here are focused on paid ads, it’s interesting to consider the implications for video on each platform in general, that video optimized for Facebook will likely work well on Instagram. Both are feed-based systems, of course, so the correlation makes practical sense, but in order to maximize your social media marketing performance, it’s important to optimize for each platform, rather than cross-posting, so it’s not always the case that one format will work on another network.

The other – and arguably most important – element in this process is audience, and focusing your messaging on the right audience and strategic objectives for each platform, but still, there are some key considerations here for video creators, and important notes on optimizing your content.

In short, what works best for Facebook video likely works well on Instagram also, which may provide expanded opportunities for your video efforts.

You can read the full Facebook cross-platform creative report here.

https://www.socialmediatoday.com/social-business/facebook-releases-new-report-video-performance-across-facebook-and-instagram

martech sees 16% of budgets

Marketing technology (aka martech) is now a massive industry – and London-based WARC has some numbers on the subject. The market intelligence firm surveyed more than 500 North American and UK brand marketers, finding that the martech marketplace currently sits at about $34.3 billion in annual expenditures for marketers. In other words, marketers are now spending an average of 16% of their marketing budgets on martech, according to WARC’s survey. The firm found that marketers are most likely to use martech tools for email marketing – indeed, about 85% of them are currently doing just that. A majority of respondents also said that they use martech tools for social media, and for managing CRM (customer relationship management) programs.

Voice is the future of search

Both Google and Bing have stated that the majority of search queries they receive take place via voice on mobile.  It stands to reason that, given the hands-free capabilities of handsets and mobile phones, voice would eventually take precedence over text-based search. With the vast improvement in the quality of digital voice assistants like Google Now, Siri, and Cortana, it was only a matter of time people discovered the immense convenience of voice search and rely on it for their queries.

But what does this mean for a small business, and how should you change your digital marketing strategy given this trend? Let’s look at some ways in which businesses can make their content voice search-friendly.

1. Focus on Phrases and Longtail Keywords

The search focus has shifted from terse, awkward keywords to long-tail phrases, or even entire sentences. That’s because voice searches make use of natural language. The way we talk is decidedly different than the way we type. The phrases and keywords that we use while speaking to digital assistants would therefore be different than those we use when entering text in Google search.

“What is the weather like in Miami today?” is an example of a conversational/natural language query more likely to be spoken to a digital assistant, as opposed to “weather miami,” which we would type into a search bar. Content optimized for voice SEO would therefore need to focus on this very important aspect of the nature of voice search.

2. Anticipate Specific Questions Asked in a Conversational Manner

Voice search might use entire sentences, but it’s also specific in nature. People do not ramble on when speaking to a digital assistant, possibly because a more specific question leads to a more accurate answer.

A query such as, “Find an Italian restaurant near me,” with the user’s location enabled can return precise results for users. Business owners would therefore want to optimize their websites and content for intuitive but specific queries. This can be accomplished via a detailed FAQ page or a blog containing authority content created around longtail keywords and conversational but specific questions. This would require you to research the kind of questions your target audience most frequently poses to digital assistants and produce content around those queries. It’s a good idea to take each of those questions and flesh out the answers in the form of quality blog posts.

As long as your content answers customer queries in the best and most useful manner possible, expect Google to take notice of it and rank the website/mobile site accordingly.

3. Optimize Your Website for Local SEO

Research has found that voice search is three times more likely to be local in nature. With this in mind, businesses should keep their profiles and contact information up to date, since this is what Google will pull for queries such as, “Where can I get the best coffee in Seattle?”

For a coffee shop owner, this would mean including accurate opening hours in their profile, including the precise location of the shop, and optimizing the content on the website to be found via keywords such as “best coffee” or something more specific, such as “best spiced chai latte.”

Find out the kind of questions your target audience is most likely to pose to a digital voice assistant, and create content that provides specific answers to these queries.

4. Make Sure Your Website Is Ready for Voice Search

According to Google, micro moments (moments during which users need immediate, relevant, and ready-to-use information) are key to capitalizing on any kind of search, especially voice search. Since our smartphones are our constant companions, it is natural that with internet at our fingertips, they are going to be our first source of information. Google has therefore been encouraging businesses to be cognizant of the increasing use of mobile in internet search and accordingly optimize their sites for mobile.

We now have mobile and voice search to pay attention to. Businesses that take advantage of these micro moments stand a good chance of racing ahead of the competition:

  • Anticipate at which stage(s) a user is most likely to need the services your business provides.
  • Anticipate the nature of information they need to make a decision.
  • Provide users with the relevant information at that stage in order to help them make a decision, or leave them with clear further guidance.

For this to happen, businesses must ensure their websites are optimized for mobile, for local SEO, and for voice search. In order for a mobile site to be of use to someone during a micro moment, it needs to load quickly, be user-friendly, contain relevant information (local SEO), and produce the right answers in response to a voice search query. Taken together, this maximizes the chances of a user choosing your service.

Making the Leap

The nature of search and the evolution in search algorithms, based on changing technology and shifting consumer habits, require businesses to move in tandem with newer trends. That is the way for businesses to stay relevant and competitive.

Gen Z Hates Your Ads … but They Love Your Videos

One hope for display

How do we solve for the death of display and consumer aversion to ads? Create a better experience for the end user, and start doing that with the video medium they embrace.

In fact, the industry has been morphing into video, and the speed at which it’s happening is picking up. Facebook has been quickly releasing new video-ad formats; shoppable video ads appear on Snapchat and Instagram; and Twitter partnered with Bloomberg Media on 24-hours-a-day news streaming.

Video completely reinvigorates a consumer’s end experience with an ad. For example, AOL found that mobile video ads are five times more engaging than standard banner ads, with technology and business verticals seeing over 800% higher engagement. Additionally, ads that incorporate video drive 9X as many post-click site visits as standard display ads.

Video is a versatile, engaging and sharable format — three key factors that any ad today needs to break through the noise in a saturated digital landscape.

Not only can video quickly deliver a message in an engaging way, people share well-crafted video with others. No one shares a display ad unit with their friends.

The static display ad will become one of those relics our children laugh about because, eventually, video will move into its rightful place as king of advertising. The industry needs to embrace this, and focus on better video user experiences (new formats, best practices on length, content and brand safety).

If the “Snapchat” generation is a barometer for what the future of consumer ad expectations will be, experience needs to overcome thoughtless monetization. It’s time for all advertisers — and the ad tech companies they rely on — to deliver.

The Era of the Empowered Consumer: Insights From the Gartner Digital Conference

Marketing is getting smarter.

Jake Sorofman, a research vice president at Gartner, said that CMOs are on track to spend as much (or more) on technology than their CTO and CIO counterparts this year; more than one-fourth of every marketing dollar is spent on technology.

Dan Curran, CEO of PowerPost, a client of ours, was really intrigued by this finding. “The conference certainly left everyone feeling optimistic regarding the evolution of content marketing technology,” he said. “However, every stage of the content supply chain must evolve.”

And as marketing evolves to become savvier and more intelligent, so will the content it’s creating for audiences. Most audiences and content consumers have grown to expect somewhat more personalized content from the brands they interact with, and that content marketing trend is only going to continue with a move to “atomic content.”

2. Customer journeys are discovered, not created.

I’ve seen plenty of marketers waste time and resources by trying to develop buyer personas and engineer their customers’ path to their company and then create content around what they’ve put together. However, the best customer journeys aren’t created; they’re discovered.

And with additional players in the game — especially social media platforms and other tools that make it easy to distribute content — your audience members’ journeys are more complicated than ever. Andrew Hsu, CEO of Spotlight, noted, “Marketers must acknowledge the remarkable roles Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Google play in their customers’ lives. From customer acquisition to relationship building through customer servicing, marketers will be borrowing moments from, shaping experiences within, and co-existing beside these market-shaping platforms.”

To improve your customer experience, study what your customers actually do, what kind of content they consume, and where they go for it. Use data to discover how your best customers are coming to you, and create content that enables their journey.

3. Content is your best tool for hitting trust touchpoints.

Marketing is expected to create exceptional brand moments at every customer touchpoint, and audience members touch six different channels before they become customers.

Think of touchpoints with your audience like moving targets: It’s not going to be easy to hit each one every time, but as marketers, it’s up to you to hit as many as you can — and content can be your biggest help. The more you hit, the better you keep your audience engaged and the more trust you build with them. So listen, learn, and engage with triggered, personalized content.

https://www.inc.com/john-hall/the-era-of-the-empowered-consumer-insights-from-the-gartner-digital-conference.html

Been thinking about local

A year ago, Google location searches exploded –  “closest,” “nearby,” and “near me” searches were performed 35 more times than they did in 2011.

People demand instant, accurate, and helpful information on Google. Because of this, it likely comes as no surprise that Google has had to make many complex updates to its algorithm to keep up. Gone are the days of “cookie-cutter” search results. Google now strives to deliver the most customized, local search results possible. A Brooklyn pet owner, for example, searching for “veterinarians nearby” will get totally different results than a pet owner in the Bronx searching the same keyword phrase – all thanks to Google’s local-search result algorithms.

Amazing Local Search Stats to Consider

Here are some specific local search trends that are good to be aware of if you are trying to put together a local marketing strategy for your client or business:

How to Rank for “Near Me” Searches on Google

It’s one thing to understand the latest local search trends, but It’s another thing to know what to do about them. Here are some specific tactics that veterinary practices (and other local businesses) can use to improve their rankings for high-volume, high-value “near me” keywords:

  • Keep your Google Map listing up to date. Make sure your Google map listing is claimed, and has accurate information about your clinic, including address, hours, services offered, and website URL. After you’ve set up your map listing, you’ll need to maintain it and keep it updated ongoing.
  • Get those reviews!  These days, pets are considered family members. Location matters, but what matters even more is quality medical care, which is something that can be gleamed easily by reading online reviews. Small businesses that have many reviews, and a high star rating to go with, will benefit from higher rankings, and thus more exposure on Google.
  • Include information on your website about the locations you serve. Instead of targeting broad locations, focus on less competitive areas and neighborhoods.
  • Focus on your mobile site. If your website is not mobile-friendly, it needs to be! People are increasingly searching on their mobile devices, so your website must be (a) mobile-friendly and (b) deliver a great user experience. This will play a big role in your SEO efforts.

“Near me” searches are not slowing down, but the real takeaway is that we live in a mobile age, wherein we demand instant answers to all our questions.