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digital advertising

Wtf is 'Digital Advertising' Anyway?

By David Berry: Once upon a time, when advertising budgets were dominated by TV, radio and print, the media landscape was easy to understand. Clients could feel and hear their ads, and the media was easy to understand too. A TV ad goes on TV. A radio ad goes on radio. A print spot goes in a newspaper or magazine.

But then along came digital, and the confusion began. Clients -- and even agencies -- were, and still are, slow to embrace it. Largely for the same reasons anyone is resistant to change; it goes against what they know. The medium itself challenges the entire process that so many in the creative world took for granted.

  • Client Sends Brief
  • Creative Team Brainstorms
  • Creative Team Comes up with Great TV Commercial
  • Creative Team Wraps Billboard, Radio and Print Campaigns Around TV Commercial
  • Yay! 

Digital isn't that easy. And a lot of it isn't even visual or auditory in nature, so it's much harder to wrap your head around -- and therefore, harder for agencies to sell, and even harder for clients to sell to their own bosses. So, what is digital advertising exactly? In short, it's literally anything that is online. 

Digital advertising refers to marketing media that is digitally displayed. Digital advertising technology exists on the Internet, on smart phone and hand-held media devices, and even on automobiles and billboards.
— SmallBusiness.Chron

Within that definition, there are a number of categories which the ads fall into (and more than what I'm showing here).

  • Display Advertising. (Let's call them banner ads.)
  • Affiliate Marketing. (3rd party partnerships where content sites get a cut of sales from other people's products. Looks a lot like display advertising.)
  • Social Network Advertising. (Sponsored content and retargeted content.)
  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM). (If it's in the top 3 on your Google search, it was paid for.)
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO). (If it's on the first page after the ads, SEO got it there.)
  • Mobile Advertising. (Ads that are targeted to your phone, because you fit the target audience or because you're near a place that wants you to shop.)

But there's something that a lot of digital ads have in common, and that's what makes it so hard to digest -- so much of what makes it good is never seen. For advertisers who spend millions of dollars on their ads, it's a terrifying prospect to say "hey, that TV commercial you can watch every day on your favorite stations? Let's drop that in favor of a bunch of Google Ads that you'll never see, with targeting too convoluted and detailed for you to understand."

How do you cut through the clutter and know you're not being had? Well, we'll talk about that next week. But for now, hey, you know what digital is. That's a good start.

- DB

Here's How Much You Should Spend on Advertising

By David Berry: A question that every - every - marketer hears from prospects or clients is "how much should I be spending on ads?" And there isn't a marketer alive who can give you the "right" answer on the spot (though some could come close).

When I get asked this question, my favorite response is "one million dollars." I say it with confidence too. Invariably, the person who asks me chuckles, and then I explain the same thing every other marketer will explain to them.

"It depends..." 

Of course, even though "it depends" is the start to the right answer, people don't want the right answer. They want a tangible number that they can touch and feel. That they can react to and say "oh, I can afford that" or "oh, that's too much."

Today, though, I'm going to try to give you a "pretty good" answer to the question, based on a few assumptions:

  • You're a small-to-mid-sized business and you sell a product to consumers
  • You haven't done a ton of advertising yet
  • You have a lot of shifting priorities and don't know where to start

If that's the case, I can make a few more assumptions:

  • Advertising has to pay off quickly, or there won't be more money to play with
  • You'll watch over every dime once you start spending money on ads
  • You may be inclined to freak out, change direction or shut it off at the first sign of volatility

The good news? A lot of small-to-mid-sized businesses are just like this. Now, let's dive in.

Put Aside $5,000. I say $5,000 for a few reasons. It's an amount of money with which you can test and learn what works and doesn't work for your business. Plus, it's enough where you could justifiably stretch it out for several months. Too many first-time advertisers say they can afford a certain amount, yet when it comes down to actually spending it month after month, they balk. They freeze. And they pull back without learning or selling much. By putting your investment aside ahead of time, you remove the chance that you'll panic and pull back if you pay as you go.

But $5,000 Isn't Likely to Transform Your Business. Treat your initial $5,000 investment the same way you would treat the purchase of a sofa. You might recoup some of your costs on it, but the goal is to use it for a purpose. And that purpose, in this case, is to learn which approaches, messages, visuals, targeting, etc. are the ones that work for you.

You'll Get There, But You'll Need to be Patient: I have a client who spends $2,000 a month on ads and generates close to $7,000 in revenue. Another spends around $10,000 a month and generates around $25,000 in revenue. But that didn't happen overnight. In fact, in both cases it took us about three months to come up with an approach that generated consistent revenue. If either client had panicked in the first 90 days and abandoned ship, they wouldn't be seeing the success they're seeing now.

So there's your magic number! $5,000. Now, where do we start? Well, that's a conversation for another day. Or, you could email david@dbpluspartners.com to discuss it :)

-DB

 

5 Things I've Learned as DB + Partners Celebrates its 1st Birthday

By David Berry: A year ago, I started DB + Partners with the following:

  • No savings/reserves to float the business while things got off the ground
  • No real expertise running a business
  • No clients
  • An idea for a business model that was different (and hopefully different enough to stick out)

A year later, DB + Partners is humming along. The business has 11 clients, 10 of whom are in the B2C space and seven of whom have a retail component to their business.

In terms of work, the disciplines now fall in to two distinct categories. One is paid social media management with a focus on lead generation or sales conversions, the other is copywriting. (And the 'Partners' in our business name means we have experts who extend our expertise into other categories).

I'm fortunate to say that 'business is good.' DB + Partners won't be confused with a major ad agency, but then, I never intended for that. In fact, I take a direct shot at them on my website. With that said, a year in business has taught me a number of things about business. Here are five of those things.

Fun Fact! This was the first version of the approved logo design for the business; it's a color scheme I haven't used publicly until now. Like it?

Fun Fact! This was the first version of the approved logo design for the business; it's a color scheme I haven't used publicly until now. Like it?

Every day has a 'wtf am I doing?' moment. In a corporate environment, there's always a second set of eyes. Plus, numerous people smarter and more seasoned than you. So when a decision gets made, you have the comfort of knowing it was vetted along the way. Plus, there are other people managing payroll, operations, web management, invoicing and so on. When you're on your own, not so much. And, there are things you were never trained for. The sooner you get comfortable with the discomfort, the sooner you can find a way around it - or through it.

The easier it is to explain, the easier it is to get buy-in from a prospect or client...

There are several advantages to being 'small time.' You work on what you want. You're faster, more agile. You don't have to go through the bullshit of hierarchy, or hold back on speaking your mind for fear of disrupting the apple cart. It's you and your rag tag crew against the world. In a world where getting shit done is the ultimate trump card, smaller is better. 

You get to say what you're really thinking - and that's what your clients want. I used two curse words in the last paragraph and I feel just fine about it. Also, when I have an idea, I speak it. If I have a criticism, I speak that too. It's my name on the line and no one else's. Scary? Sure. Risky? You bet. But time and again, here's what I've learned - clients love it. And they've just about had it with the businesses/partners that care more about looking good than being good. 

Clients have just about had it with this game that cares more about looking good than being good. 

But, there's the weight of a major inferiority complex. Spoiler alert - there are a lot of things you don't know how to do. For example, I'm not a videographer. It's a skill I wish I had - and one I know is valuable - and it's also a prime example of why I created DB + Partners the way I did; to leverage the skills and expertise of others without claiming it as my own. I know smart, talented people. So rather than try to offer a service I'm not great at, I'd rather be upfront about it and connect you to the guys/gals I know can hit it out of the park where I can't. You don't have to know everything. But you do have to be smart, resourceful and helpful. There's value in those things, and your clients will see it - even when you're not the one doing the work.

Hard work isn't measured in time. I'd ask any ad agency (or company) why they're so damn obsessed with how many hours their people work while sitting in front of a desk inside an office. That's a working model that hasn't been 'innovative' for more than 100 years. A good business cares about results. If I'm done with my work day at 2pm and I kicked ass for my clients, guess what? I'm done for the day. If I have to work until 2am to kick ass for my clients, then guess what? That's what I'm going to do. From wherever I damn well please.

There are plenty more lessons, but I figured that's enough for today. What have you learned? And do you agree with my insights? 

-DB

The Death of the Ad Agency

By David Berry: Something big is happening in the ad agency world. That thing? Agencies are going away. They are dying.

A 2016 Wall Street Journal article summarized it well: "Many big marketers are [sic] moving away from “agency of record” deals—retainer-based relationships in which a single agency was responsible for most of a client’s projects that in some cases lasted decades."

The agency of record model has been around since, well, forever. It's the model Don Draper used.

Hey, it's me, Don Draper. I used the agency of record model. And I might be out of a job if I was still working in 2017. But damn, I'm handsome.

Hey, it's me, Don Draper. I used the agency of record model. And I might be out of a job if I was still working in 2017. But damn, I'm handsome.

As advertising has shifted away from traditional media - radio, TV, print - and into a more scattered digital space, things have changed. Brands need more content, more often. They need strategic thinkers and they need consultants with expertise in video campaigns, display media, SEO/SEM and so on. Each varying need requires a unique skill set, and many of those skills don't exist in great depth at the agency level.

So, outside consultants - particularly in the digital space - have come in to bridge the gap. The role of the consultant has grown, because of their narrow expertise and agility, while the strength of the agency has declined because their expertise is less defined. They've become less agile too.

So what does that mean? Brands are putting agencies to the test. They know that the ball is in their court. They're challenging agency partners to work on leaner budgets, and sometimes to receive compensation only on a performance upside. Accenture, Deloitte, EY and KPMG (the 'big four' of the consulting world) are scooping up the specialty work that the big agencies haven't mastered and - in the instance of Accenture - are actually buying up ad agencies to bolster the creative side of their own businesses.

The net-net is this - you, as a business owner or lead marketer, do NOT need a big ad agency to solve your problems, though they'll likely try to sell you the benefits of having it all 'under one roof.' The reality is that they're likely skilled in a couple of areas, and doing patchwork to make up for the rest of it.

What you actually need is a goal. You need a handful of experts working to get you there. And in most cases, that's it. 

And if you're an agency, the key to your success going forward will be in specialization. Agencies like DDB have already made great strides in doing this, or have at least worked to make their teams more agile and mobile to better serve client needs. Agencies that can pull that off will be just fine. But those who are still using the model of 10 years ago? They won't be here in 10 years. In fact, they'll be gone sooner than that.

- DB

Sex, LinkedIn & the Truth About 'Disruptive' Advertising

By David Berry: Have you been on LinkedIn lately? I have. Admittedly, of the social media sites in my day-to-day repertoire, LinkedIn ranks below Facebook and Instagram, and probably on par with Twitter. Which is to say that I check it two-to-three times per week.

But something is happening on LinkedIn that should be opening eyeballs. Like if you're a digital marketer, it's a drop-everything-you're-doing and seriously look at this type of situation.

See? Very eye-opening.

See? Very eye-opening.

It seems that LinkedIn adjusted its algorithm, or more simply said, it changed the way it shows you content when you log in to your feed. If you're a regular LinkedIn user, you've noticed it too.

The phenomenon is this - at the top of your feed, and all throughout it, are photos of professionals whom you've never met (mostly attractive women) who have posted images of themselves alongside vaguely-inspirational copy about their profession or a recent occurrence at their job.

And these posts stay at the top of your feed for days; sometimes up to a week.

In case you haven't been on LinkedIn recently to notice it, here is an example of my feed - which I literally just opened. I cross my heart, hope to die, I logged in and this is the first post that showed up.

Now, I'm sure that Michaela is a fine professional; maybe even a great one. Her post goes on to describe a generic story intended to motivate her followers. I dig it.

But let's call a spade a spade - replace her bottle with a glass of moscato, or hell, leave it as is - and it's basically another selfie of an attractive woman that you'd otherwise see on Instagram.

But here's the difference - random people on LinkedIn and Facebook don't dominate news feeds with 22,000+ likes and 1,200+ comments. Sure, it happens sometimes, but this is happening every single day on LinkedIn.

As marketers know, it's extremely difficult to reach a lot of your own fans/followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and it's nearly impossible to reach people outside of those groups. Yet somehow, with a little bit of sex appeal, LinkedIn is doing the opposite and practically giving mass exposure away like it's food nearing its expiration date.

In fact, even before this trend started in earnest, some brands were catching on to it. Candace Galek started a bikini business called Bikini Luxe and built it largely on the back of her audience on LinkedIn. In early 2016, she posted this image and it went 'viral' with more than 40,000 views in a month:

Galek told Digiday that "from March to date, Bikini Luxe’s LinkedIn traffic was higher than its main traffic driver Pinterest, where it usually receives more than a million impressions per month. My personal updates are getting more comments than 95 percent of Bill Gates’ posts. He has five million followers while I only have 25,000 on LinkedIn."

Look, digital marketers talk all the time about being 'disruptive,' which is the latest, most played out advertising buzzword in recent memory. It's advertising-speak for 'getting noticed.' Well, guess what - selling swimwear on Facebook or Instagram isn't disruptive. It's expected. 

There are half a billion scantily clad models out there, some hawking their poses for validation, and others doing it on behalf of brands. What exactly separates any one brand from the next? I'll tell you - almost nothing.

Let me be clear - I am not recommending a regression to the same old 'sex sells' pitch. What I am proposing is that if a brand wants to be 'disruptive,' then they need to start thinking in a truly disruptive way. 

The verb 'disrupt' literally means: "To interrupt (an event, activity, or process) by causing a disturbance or problem."

Guess what? Posting a bikini model in a feed filled with spreadsheets, data and industry trends is disruptive.

Telling an Instagram user to take a snack break with a bag of Cheetos isn't disruptive, no matter how charming Chester the Cheetah is.

Telling a LinkedIn user to stop working so hard, walk out of the building and take a well-deserved break with a bag of Cheetos is disruptive.

LinkedIn might not be the way you create a disruption for your client. But right now, I'm willing to bet it can.

-DB

A Quick Lesson in Facebook Retargeting: The Most Powerful Advertising Tool in Social Media

By David Berry: This blog has become an outlet for broad level insights for marketers, as well as business owners looking to gain a few tips that might inspire new ideas. But today we're going to get into some nuts and bolts - and you'll walk away with some tangible tips that you can implement to create social media ads that do more than get a few new fans.

Today's blog centers around retargeting. If this is the first time hearing this term, I'll try to make it simple for you. Retargeting takes users who have been to your website or app and, based on what they did or didn't do there, hits them with additional messaging to encourage purchase or action.

The rationale for 'why' is quite simple - according to AdRoll, only 2% of shoppers convert (buy something) on their first visit to an online store.

Retargeting focuses on the 98% who don't buy something the first time.

It's easy to understand why retargeting is so valuable to marketers. Billions of dollars are spent every year by businesses in hopes of finding the right people to buy their stuff. Most of it is wasted on people who don't care or never even notice.

Retargeting only focuses on the people who have done something that shows they are interested in what you're selling. That means they've visited your website, added something to a shopping cart, searched for products, entered payment information and so on. 

And as a marketer, that means spending money on people who might actually buy.

Here's a real-life example from a client of mine:

Let me explain what you're looking at. These are two campaigns that I ran side by side for a client last month. The campaign labeled 'FB Website Clicks (Groupon)' was a group that utilized targeting insights from a Groupon campaign and generated a 1.71% CTR rate - not bad. (Many brands will see website click ads with CTRs of under 1.0%).

The campaign above it, 'Retargeting/Conversions,' however, had a CTR of 7.84%, or more than 4X stronger than the other campaign. Plus, it led to 205 users going to my client's website and actually adding one of their products to their shopping cart. And in this reporting window (10 days), they generated 4 attributable sales - it is possible, or even likely, that these users made purchases that were not as easily attributable, as well. 

And again, the rationale for why this works is simple - these users already showed you they were interested. You're just doing them the favor of following up with them to remind them. And in due time, if they're truly interested, they will buy from you.

That's your mini crash course. But now, how do you go about making this work for your business?

Facebook thankfully makes it easy(ish). If you're not too savvy with implementing code on your own website, you may want the help of a developer. Don't worry, once upon a time, I didn't know how to do this either. Plus for most strong developers, installing this snippet of code (and some of its extensions, aka 'Custom Events') to your website is a pretty quick task.

Facebook actually gives you all of the tools you need in order to create the code and it provides a step by step guide for installation, too. You can view that information here.

Don't get me wrong, there is still plenty of work involved with creating good ads, adding in layers of targeting and testing, testing and testing again to see which ones actually drive sales. But the reality is that in the realm of 'sophisticated marketing,' this is an attainable skill set to learn. And the value of taking the time to do so could truly change the financial outlook of your business.

-DB

Why Good Marketers Are Good Lovers

By David Berry: Valentine's Day is less than a month away, so I've got romance on my mind. My girlfriend will be happy to read that. But all the thoughts of chocolate and delicious meals (let's be honest, that's every day) reminded me of my favorite analogy.

And that is to compare good marketing to being a good lover. Before I explain, let's all share in the romance of a good Keith Sweat music video.

Okay, now that we've got that out of our system, let's get to it. Far too many brands miss the love lesson altogether. They think, "well, I have this great thing/service to sell, and if I just tell people about it, they'll want to buy it."

Invariably, it doesn't work. It turns into a few weeks of consistent social media efforts and very little ROI, then complete abandonment. Or a handful of emails or blog posts, minimal response, then the complaint that "ugh, this stuff just doesn't work."

Anytime I engage a business owner in this conversation, I ask them, "Well, if you gave up so quickly in your love life, would you have ever gotten married?"

The response is always the same - a smile and a chuckle. But that's exactly where we should be looking for our lessons as marketers. Any successful relationship involves a consistent, measured approach. You have to vary your pursuit; dinner one night, dancing another, or an event centered around a shared interest. And here's the kicker - you have to show consistent interest in the one you're pursuing! If you want to keep them, you always need to be attentive to their changing needs and wants. If you decide that they're not worthy of your pursuit - and only once you're sure that's the case - then you can move on.

You can't ask a girl on one date, abandon her for a few months, then show up out of nowhere and ask her to marry you. Or keep taking her on the same date over and over again and expect her not to wonder if there's something better out there. This may sound like total lunacy, yet that's exactly what brands do all the time!

They post a few pieces of content one day (a first date), then immediately start asking for clients to buy their products (marriage proposal) without much regard for how the content was received - if at all. Then they wonder why consumers are slow to buy from them.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but your brand/product/service isn't special enough to circumvent the rules of marketing. There are no overnight successes. Those who are consistent, attentive and dedicated to their customers will win them - and keep them.

Any good lover knows that.

-DB

 

5 Things Your Marketing Team Should Do Before 2017

By David Berry: Lost among the memes and mockery of the 2016 Presidential Election is the reminder that Q4 is finally upon us! For most businesses, this is a time of professional reflection; a look at where the business has been and - just as importantly - what that means for where the business is going. What is your marketing team doing to get ready for 2017? Well, here's a good place for them to start.

  1. Look at What You've Done. Bonus points will be awarded if you set up benchmarks for performance at the start of 2016. If you did, then measuring success becomes a true exercise in measurement, and far less of a guessing game. Unfortunately, here's how a lot of small to mid-sized businesses go about their marketing: Let's do what we did last year, if sales didn't go down, let's do that again. Instead, use available data to identify what worked and didn't (Facebook analytics, email open rates, sales data, etc.) and make the best judgments you can.
  2. Evaluate What the Competition Are Doing: Every business has competition, including yours. And while it would be difficult to really see what's driving their wins/losses, you can still get some insight by paying attention and doing some research. Subscribe to their emails. Follow them on social media. Google them. Find them and see what they're doing and try to get a sense of what's working and what isn't working. Blogs, podcasts, emails, social media, etc. are all things you can see for free to gain insight.
  3. Evaluate What the World is Doing: Did you know that digital advertising spends will surpass TV this year? TV is indeed a major player, but the new money in advertising isn't going to TV; it's going to mobile (text, social), digital (display, retargeting) and social (Facebook, Pinterest, etc.). And it's definitely not going to print.
  4. You Need a Plan to Stick To: What are the themes that you'll focus on each month in social media, email, retargeting, SEM, events, etc.? Get specific. Build out a communications calendar that lays out the themes for your communication and considers multiple touchpoints, along with increasing/decreasing frequency depending on the business's needs and priorities. Then stick with it. Marketing isn't a light switch; you can't just turn it on and expect it to work. It takes time and consistency, and that only comes with good planning. For extra help, take a look at this great article from Forbes.
  5. Measure Your Wins/Losses and Adjust Accordingly: If you can find a way to map your monthly sales over your monthly advertising expenses and identify correlations, you may be able to identify which marketing efforts are working and when. Furthermore, if you're invested in digital marketing (social media, email marketing, display campaigns, etc.), then it's actually very easy to measure success, right down to leads and revenue. If you don't measure, you have no ground to stand on when justifying your plan, or criticizing anyone else's.

And when in doubt, hire some pros. Yes, of course business' like mine benefit from it if you do, but the reality is that you have a business to run. You shouldn't be running all of the marketing decision making at the same time. I talk a bit more about that on this video below with Arturo Arca from Pragmatique Legal. Any questions? Email me at david@dbpluspartners.com.