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Published: Wednesday, March 02, 2016

 



3 methods for hiring the best employees
I've been in the recruiting business for almost two decades and the question always arises: "How can we hire better and more efficiently?" I would venture to say that most of my clients believe that they have a strategic hiring process in place; however, when asked "why" they are looking to hire, their answers are typically based on their immediate needs, instead of the future of the organization. Basically it's usually a reaction to new or lost business and/or retention issues, rather than planning for growth. There are three key types of hiring in business: strategic, opportunistic and reactive. Knowing when and how to differentiate between them can mean the difference between high performance and underwhelming ROI. Strategic hiring Strategic hiring is part of your vision. It's not what you have today, but where you need to be tomorrow, and who is going to be on your proverbial bus. Strategic hiring needs to be an integral part of your business planning process. In a recent conversation with Chris Powell, CEO of Blackbook HR, he said that he believes that "strategic hiring is being intentional." As you carefully look at the markets you intend to enter, expand, or exit, you should define the pivotal strategies required to enhance your market share, and the key resources (talent) available within the firm. If they are not available in-house, then you need to define the strategic hires necessary to support you. Powell believes that you must "know what skills, knowledge, and attribute you need to achieve what types of outcomes." Adding on to this, Powell wants to understand "what's the performance expectation; what do you need a person to do; what you want them to achieve, and how they should do it?" When you have clear intent and purpose around these things, that is strategic hiring. When you're ready to explore the market, don't leave it up to an inexperienced manager, who doesn't understand your strategic business needs and goals, never mind understanding the intricacies of today's demanding skill sets. Hiring talent is usually your most costly investment and if you're going to rely on your junior staffers, at least help them prepare a list of qualifications, including position responsibilities, education, years of experience, technical or business strength requirements, and salary range. Investing in today's uncertain world of economic ups and downs, leaders need to pay attention to their growth strategy. When hiring your top performers, it's also equally important to invest in their success. Bruce Budkofsky, vice president of dales at Vindico, a video ad serving platform for agencies, said that he implements a number of things that he personally believes in to make the most of his talent investment. "I recognize that I'm paying someone for their skills and their past performance regarding accomplishments; however, the more I can invest in them through training, and helping them build their own relationships in the market place by sending them to conferences or having them join different associations and important boards, the better their chances of success." Strategic hiring is especially important when your company is experiencing an economic down turn. We all hear about massive lay-offs and cost cutting, but often I fear that trimming the bottom-line doesn't always take into account the top line.  Powell states that "some talent trimming is reactionary (e.g., "Hey, we've hit a blip in productivity or performance in the business and we have to shrink down�") and then they do it without really being strategic about it." Powell believes that while you are "trimming down, there's still an opportunity to be strategic. There are business and market cycles, and two years from now things could change, so how are you going to calibrate and modify your business practices to be able to retain and grow talent?" Opportunistic hiring I make it a point to meet these stars, the outstanding candidates, "achievers," "rock stars." Often these stellar candidates are passed over, because he or she doesn't fit the open job sp[...]



5 forces that are transforming travel marketing

A long time ago, travel was a fairly sleepy industry. Then came the digital and the massive social and cultural changes of the last three decades, which disrupted the business in astounding ways, and gave users more choices and control over their experiences. Here are five of the big forces that are reshaping travel marketing in 2016, and how they continue to transform that massive and expansive travel industry.

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The collaborative economy

Suffice it to say, AirBnB and companies like it are radically changing the travel landscape. One of the big ways that peer to peer stays are filling a unique need is that, according to Airbnb, 72 percent of their available venues are outside of central urban zip codes, versus 26 percent for hotel chains. They also tend to offer lower price points, enabling people to stay, on average, for longer periods of time and in locations that are more suited to their individual needs.

But there's a lot more to the collaborative economy than home stays, and it's definitely changing both the core offerings and available amenities at travel providers. Uber, Lyft, Olacab, and Grab are reshaping the transportation industry. Ditto hourly car and bike rental services like Zipcar, GetAround, and Enterprise Car Share. Vayable and Viator enable people to offer individualized activities to travelers, reshaping the tour business. Upaji, FeastWith, and Vizeat empower travelers to share meals with locals instead of only going to restaurants.

And travel companies are also offering on-premise services related to the collaborative economy. Virgin Hotels and Gap, for example, have a deal that enables hotel guests to order and receive "emergency" clothes in their rooms, without visiting a retail store.

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Taking a fresh look at digital advertising
The shiny age of "ad tech" has slowly faded into a deep abyss as the growth of digital advertising calls for more transparent practices and scale than ever before, with a need for solutions that offer more than just general technology for advertising's sake. This need couldn't come at a better time, as in Q3 of 2015 alone, the U.S. reached its highest spend ever with $15 billion in ad revenue, according to IAB.  While it may seem evident that we're on the brink of a digital advertising spend boom, there are still a number of challenges that must be addressed from ad fraud to ad waste, ad blocking to relevancy, in order to maximize this upward trend. Despite the fact that the list of problems seems never ending, we find ourselves in a good position to tackle the ultimate question head on: what can really be done? Time to address the hype With most of the "hype" around ad fraud and intrusive ad placements, there is a bit of opacity in the industry, as advertisers tend to turn a blind eye when certain problems and issues are brought up. However, we are starting to notice that these problems could be capping even greater industry growth, due to the sheer fact alone that brands and advertisers today are begging for a better experience when it comes to engaging consumers. On a constant mission for better relevancy and less intrusiveness, advertisers are increasingly raising questions about the transparency of decisions and the costs involved across the entire ecosystem. This is where hype turns into reality. As of late, neither the publisher nor the advertiser has had a complete view of the whole buying and selling process. With little insight into where their ad spend is actually going, the advertiser has a poor experience because they are unable to get a clear and accurate view of their return on investment.  At the same time, publishers often see only a proportion of the total revenue and not the full fee paid by the advertiser. In this environment, many different tech providers are competing to try to bring an additional benefit to the process. The irony is that there are so many of these point solutions that it's hard for them to create any real value, for the publisher or the advertiser. Until now, no single party has had a complete view of the whole buying and selling process. When all is said and done, despite these problems, one thing will remain certain; advertising is not going anywhere -- people need it. So this is just the beginning of the rally cry to the industry. The time has come for the advertising industry to face a reality check and get its act together. Time to fix what's broken With so much fraud and waste in the industry, there needs to be a stable "fix" that benefits everyone -- publishers, advertisers, and consumers alike. And while the industry is optimistic that the current problems stirring up will be the best thing that has happened to the space in a long time, more people need to make this a priority in order to ramp up the timeline for change. One of the biggest problems is that we live in a quarterly business world. Getting rid of waste and fraud at once will hurt businesses for some time, but it's the only way to "cure" the problem and create a long-term solution. Until this happens everywhere, we must continue to push for solutions where the right message is delivered to the right person, in the right format, at the right time -- basic principles of marketing. Only then can we provide total transparency to create a more streamlined, understandable, and positive experience for everyone involved. By becoming more transparent, advertisers will have better-performing ads, which in turn makes publishers more money with less ads. This will help allow for a better user experience and a better balance between the value exchange between ads and free content, a problem that has led to the rapid growth in popularity of ad blockers. Consumers are being turned off by intrusive, irrelevant advertising content, and advertisers are havi[...]



Learn to think beyond the page
In 1995, YouTube launched as the first video-sharing website where users could upload, share, and view videos with a simple click of a mouse. In the beginning, marketers failed to recognize the potential of video as a marketing asset and they did not utilize the platform in a meaningful way. Slowly though, industry ears perked up when they realized popular videos could be monetized through overlay and display ads. This was just the beginning. Fast-forward 20 years, and the rise of video marketing has skyrocketed. The use of video in marketing has evolved over time from personal marketing campaigns, to viral marketing, to the current age of social video marketing. Even from its humble beginnings, video has dramatically defined how brands communicate with the outside world and how marketing professionals tell their stories. Throughout 2016 and beyond, video will continue to be one of the most crucial tools for a brand's success. By 2017, it's projected that 74 percent of all internet traffic will be in the form of video -- a staggering majority. And a recent Nielsen survey reported that 64 percent of marketers believe video will continue to reign supreme. The demand for video is driven by consumers' dwindling attention spans, a backlash against traditional advertising, and an increasing appetite for visually-stimulating content. Five years from now, one could safely assume consumers might not read articles like this at all -- they might be watching them instead. Top brands like Lego, Nike, and Dove have pioneered video to engage consumers and potential buyers. Video enables brands to transcend through targeted, personalized, and engaging content. For example, Dove used video to defy traditional beauty standards and inspire self-esteem through the powerful #choosebeautiful video series. Lego, an original pioneer of content marketing, uses video to create small universes on branded microsites, enabling fans to watch their plastic characters come to life. And Nike, along with its #BetterForIt initiative, used video to promote fitness and inner-confidence through original short films. Professional sports teams like the NFL have also pioneered the use of video by using it to offer exclusive content, behind the scenes footage, and branded entertainment experiences. Recognizing the current landscape, one thing is for certain: a brand is no longer bound by the product it sells but instead defined by the ecosystem it creates around it. And video will be the primary tool helping brands broaden their horizons. To accommodate the demand for video as a content marketing asset and for multimedia campaigns, many top advertising and marketing firms like 72andSunny and BBDO have equipped themselves with large in-house video production studios -- adding a whole new layer to the creative workforce. Armed with in-house tech-savvy employees, modern marketing and advertising firms are now digital, agile, and looking for new ways to leverage the overwhelming number of information platforms available today to share video content with their audiences. This ranges from social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; to legacy sites like YouTube and digital news sites like the New York Times. And, let's not forget the treasure trove of owned brand content in the form of microsites, apps, and blogs. Video has changed the game, and the ability to think beyond the page and onto the screen is critical to marketers' success. As a bonus, marketers now have the ability to unlock treasure chests of insight about consumers, dramatically freeing up the creativity of companies and brands alike to adopt personalized and tailored strategies that resonate more deeply. Now and in the future, video will be the vehicle to deliver this new creative explosion to the masses. In the coming years, we'll see more native video ads, greater use of live-streaming, more channel-specific content, and a rise in micro video content. For marketers, the key to survival rests in the ab[...]



10 marketing acronyms you know but can't define

It's no secret that marketing, as an industry, loves its acronyms. For better or worse (often worse), we'll try to shorten just about any common phrase over a single syllable.

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Over-acronyming (totally a word) can cause confusion when the same acronyms come to mean several things or are incorrectly applied. But there's also another danger: acronyms that are so commonly used that we either forget or never knew what they actually stand for. Sure, we might know enough about their usage to get by in conversation. But not knowing the underlying components of an acronym (or, an initialism, if you want to be a grammar nazi about it) can water down your true understanding of a concept and, worse, leave you open to embarrassment should you fail to recognize the complete phrase when used.

Below is a list of acronyms that, on more than one occasion, I've found to be incompletely understood by the people throwing them around. A simple understanding of the words behind the acronym would have gone a long way in our conversations. What would you add to the list?

CAN-SPAM

Wrong: Cuddly Antelope Necks, Suspiciously Positioned Against Morlocks
Right: Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing

Let's start with one that everyone is forgiven for perhaps not knowing. CAN-SPAM, as in The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, changed email marketing forever with its restrictions on when, how, and to whom companies send email. While most marketers at some point have wondered aloud if their tactics are "CAN-SPAM compliant," few recall the massive acronym behind what is now generally regarded as an annoying yet necessary set of restrictions.

But it's worth remembering: More than a decade ago, "pornography" and "marketing" were legislatively lumped together as pervasive societal evils.

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The power of the consumer in today's digital world
In today's world of digital innovation, advanced tools and targeted campaigns are driving marketers and advertisers to interact with consumers in more tailored, engaging, and pertinent ways. These progressions are being adapted across the spectrum -- from entertainment to political campaigns -- and are shaping consumer experience. Curious to hear from those at the forefront of digital trends, IAB asked industry executives where they saw the biggest opportunities in digital at their 2016 IAB Annual Leadership Meeting in Palm Desert, California.
 
One of the biggest advancements in digital is the potential to be even more relevant to consumers through the integrated use of mobile and local, says John Costello, president, global marketing and innovation, Dunkin' Brands. This coupling power gives marketers the ability to have 1:1 communication with consumers which can build brand and drive profitable sales, he says.
 
These big changes in digital could be shifting how we shop, proposes Lindsey Slaby, founder, Sunday Dinner. Retail environments are no longer going to be a place just where you shop but where you go to experience and have community, she says, whether it be on your phone or through store displays.
 
Emily Bazelon, staff writer, The New York Times Magazine, sees big potential in the rise of podcasting. As a host of Slate's "Political Gabfest," Bazelon realizes there's a real intimacy to the medium that builds strong a loyalty between the listener and host which can translate into exciting possibilities for hosts, listeners, and advertisers alike.
 
Another big opportunity has to do with tailored packaging and services specifically geared for the consumer. As with all things digital, the power has gone to the consumer, says Jeffrey Cole, director, center of the digital future, University of Southern California.
 
Watch the video to hear more.
 
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You can see more off-stage interviews and speaker video highlights from the 2016 IAB Annual Leadership Meeting on IABtv. IAB members can see the full videos from ALM by logging into their Member Portal at portal.iab.com

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The hidden power of portals
A hotel manager would never delegate its front-desk service to the building's architect. So why, then, do so many companies task their IT teams with designing customer self-service portals? As a user-experience designer, I have observed this pattern among service-based companies in industries as far ranging as insurance, healthcare, financial services, and more. Too often, companies treat portals like an afterthought, reducing their value to a tool that cuts costs or lowers call center volume. As a result, these companies either fail to involve UX designers, strategists, service managers, marketers, or data scientists in the process of developing their portals, or they simply purchase portal software from a vendor without considering its implications for the overall service experience or brand. This is more than just a missed opportunity. If the design of your portal doesn't take stock of your customers' wants and needs, then the end product will likely deliver a sub-par experience that alienates customers and tarnishes your reputation. Moreover, misalignment between your portal, call center, sales force, website, and other external-facing functions can create inconsistencies that negatively impact everything from operations to customer retention. Left unchecked, these problems will cannibalize your brand, albeit slowly and quietly. The good news is, investing in UX design can change all that. A portal whose design is based on customer insights can provide several competitive advantages for your company. Here are five big ways that your business can benefit, highlighted using familiar digital services and apps. Improve operational efficiency A well-designed portal can dramatically improve the efficiency of your customer-service operations while lowering its costs. Companies receive the greatest benefit when their portals are built to automate simple tasks, such as addressing requests for documents or making basic changes to customers' policies. Consider, for instance, how Southwest Airlines' portal allows flyers to easily check in to flights, pull up boarding passes, and change flights. This reduces strain on Southwest's customer-service representatives, improves satisfaction among customers and makes the entire operation run more smoothly. Capture more data about your customers The better your portal is designed, the more your customers will use it; and the more that your customers use it, the more data you can gather about them. It's no secret that this kind of data can have huge benefits for your company. For example, it can deliver key insights into how your customers think, act and respond to your services. It can inform the development of new products or help you uncover business opportunities. And it can help you figure out how to tailor your offerings to individual customers. This is one of the reasons why Amazon is such a dominant force in the tech space. It leverages data to develop a rich understanding of individuals' behavior and preferences while keeping tabs on the marketplace at large. That information allows the company to know how, when and where to iterate its offerings to remain relevant.  Create, test, and deploy services faster Portals make it easier, faster, and cheaper to add new service offerings to your repertoire. They're also great vehicles for testing prototyped versions of services before you invest time or money into a full-scale launch. Another bonus: The adoption of these services happens faster if they're delivered through a portal that your customers are already using, such as an app. The various loyalty and payment apps of Starbucks (a former client of Blast Radius) have allowed it to innovate and pivot at a blistering pace, contributing in a very real way to its continued dominance of the hyper-competitive world of coffee. This was only possible once the company saw their digital service as a key component of the o[...]



9 digital marketing rules we need to establish
One truism I've learned in assessing and developing people in the workplace is that people's greatest strengths are almost always their greatest weaknesses. Perfectionists, debaters, influencers, analyzers, you name it. People's greatest strengths are almost always too strong. Digital marketers are no different. Rather than continuing to be plagued by these weaknesses masquerading as strengths, let's establish nine rules in digital marketing to save us from ourselves. We will not accept last click/touch attribution We come in contact with a number of marketers and agencies who want to use last touch to measure conversions. We know this isn't right, so we ran research internally across billions of impressions to determine if last touch had any merit. What we found is that for every 100 signals provided by last touch, two -- yes, two -- are directionally accurate in actually driving a better outcome for the marketer. This isn't to say that optimizing to last touch won't make the campaign appear better, but it won't improve your ROAS much, if at all. Because every ad server and site analytics platform is built on last touch or click, it's what marketers use. To drive real performance using online media, though, a multi-dimensional attribution model is required. But this doesn't mean a multi-six-figure study. Much simpler models can be built in-house or through your vendors and partners. However, it takes a commitment and more effort than just believing what the ad server says. With a bar of "2 out of 100," raising it is rather easy. We will not freak out at every sensationalist headline If we do one thing well as an industry, it's write sensationalist headlines that send every marketer (and, in turn, agency and vendor) into scramble mode. "56 percent of all ads are never seen by a human!" "$7.2 billion will be lost to fraud in 2016!" Of course companies use these headlines the way a teenage boy uses a horror movie on a date: to get marketers to jump into their arms for safety. There are two reasons this is such a problem. The first is that these fire drills almost always cause the marketer and agency to stop the work they're doing on something important to address this perceived urgent matter. The second is that a quick look at the calculations or data behind the stories always show why the story is more hype than substance. As smart marketers we should not seek to be first to address every potential problem, but instead to understand the full scope of new information and prioritize it appropriately. We will expect digital to be measurable, not magical Each channel within a media plan should be measured to its fullest, but none should be expected to have super powers. Let's take a local business that uses TV advertising. When considering digital media these local businesses often ask, "Will I know exactly how many sales I make from digital?" It depends on what the business sells and the digital media tracking available. That said, there is absolutely no way the TV can measure this. While it's easy to think this is a local/small business problem, that's unfortunately not the case. There are many Fortune 500 marketers who still want more provable metrics from digital despite plenty of proof consumers spend as much or more time with digital than they do broadcast media.view full article | Add a comment[...]



In our modern relationship with brands, who's branding whom?
We love brands. Throughout his 13 albums, Jay Z name-drops 62 brand names. "The Lego Movie" -- 101 minutes of unabashed product placement -- was a runaway success. In 2015, a French couple would have named their daughter Nutella if their government hadn't intervened. What is it about a brand that induces people to tattoo the golden arches on their forearms?     Is this a corporate takeover of our lives? Should we resent the control that corporations seem to have over us? Or, do we embrace the ability to express our identities through their creations? For answers, we can start at the beginning of brand --- long before the first limited liability company. At the dawn of mankind, nature's visual language, like the black and yellow stripes of a wasp, helped us make sense of a complicated world. Early tribes, religions, and nations became the first true brands, representing powerful, emotional ideas. They simplified complex surroundings, created a sense of belonging, and built beliefs that were strong enough to die for. For most of the industrial period, commerce didn't address these needs. Brands seduced us with functional distinctions, like quality and price. Ivory was touted as "soap that floats" and Campbell's was "the most delicious tomato soup you ever tasted." While a rise of competitors slowly unlocked the power of choice, they failed to connect emotionally. Down deep, we needed more. Unfulfilled by commercial brands, we found emotional enrichment in Lennon-inspired haircuts, peace signs, and raised fists. These movements streamlined our choices and provided something to believe in and belong to. Soon, commercial brands started catching on. In 1961, Pepsi moved its advertising from "refreshes without filling" to "for those who think young." Nike first uttered the phrase "Just Do It" in 1988, igniting not a campaign, but a lifestyle. Around the same time, Starbucks was developing the "third place" -- a gathering place and multisensory experience. Companies were learning, first through products, then with experiences and services, to embrace brand as a vehicle to fulfill our needs and enrich our lives; not just to sell more product. This has led to an obvious shift in the balance of influence. Today's brands respond directly to our needs by satisfying us as strongly as other cultural, social, or political groups do. Service-focused brands like Airbnb sell neighbors and community, so it's understandable that we've let them into our lives and welcomed them as part of our identities. "Google" was officially added to the dictionary as a verb. Apple actually excites a neurological reaction in the brain similar to that of religious devotees. Babies are named Facebook, Ikea, and (almost) Nutella. But just as we've let brands in, we can also shut them out. The 2010 Gap logo was recalled in a week. The 2013 Tropicana packaging update caused a 20 percent decline in sales and an almost immediate return to the original. When was the last time you thought about Blockbuster (defunct only five years ago)? When brands connect with us, we give them power. And when they don't, we take it away. In this new era of heightened brand reciprocity, what is your bond with brands -- and who's branding who? Lauren Cascio is senior manager, brand and marketing at Lippincott, whose exhibit "Like Me: Our bond with brands" will be coming to New York from September 26-October 7.  On Twitter? Follow iMedia at @iMediaTweet.  view full article | Add a comment[...]



3 tips for retailers to maximize online success
With 2015 in the rearview mirror, online retailers have the opportunity to take a breather and reflect on what worked from a marketing perspective in 2015, and what changes they can make for a more successful 2016. Over the past year, consumer behavior continued to evolve, with shoppers spending more time researching and purchasing online and across multiple devices than they had in years past. In fact, 67 percent of consumers moved across smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers when shopping online. To keep on top of this shifting buyer behavior, retail marketers should pull out all the stops to ensure their customers are experiencing a truly connected retail experience. Here are three things retail marketers should keep in mind for a successful 2016: Embrace mobile With the explosion in mobile usage, having a unified, cross-device view is more important than ever, as a consumer is more often than not viewing content or ads on multiple devices before making a conversion. For example, a consumer may see a retailer's display ad on their iPhone one day, read an email promotion from that same retailer on their tablet the next day, and click on a paid search ad on their desktop computer the day after that, before finally going to the retailer's website and converting. A unified view of the customer journey across devices provides marketers with insight into how content and/or ads seen on one screen impacts action taken on the other. Additionally, a responsible cross-device view enables marketers to measure the contribution of each of these disparate touchpoints to an ultimate conversion so they can better understand the effectiveness of their campaigns, as well as how to best allocate budget by device type. Connect SKUs with marketing touchpoints Since retailers typically sell a number of different brands and products, it's critical for marketers to understand which marketing channels and tactics contribute to which products being sold. Advanced marketing attribution provides this insight by assigning fractional credit to all of the touchpoints that contributed to an eventual conversion, and then analyzing that data side-by-side with vital customer order information such as product Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) purchased, order value, the time of purchase, customer geography, and more. As a result, retailers receive a holistic view of what marketing tactics contributed to which products sold, at what time-lag from various stages in the marketing funnel, from which location, and the amount of revenue generated. For example, if a retailer wanted to increase sales of a particular product (let's say winter coats), marketers at the company could deliver more ads for that product using the promotional tactics that performed best at producing conversions, or even bundle relevant products (e.g., winter coat with matching gloves) together to increase sales volume. Optimize promotions and offers When it comes to promotions, marketers must identify which offers will drive the highest number of conversions and revenue. But when using antiquated last click or rules-based approaches to measurement, determining which offers will generate the highest return on advertising spend is a constant game of hit or miss. Advanced attribution techniques that incorporate predictive analytics, on the other hand, enable marketers to look at different combinations of offers based on budget, duration, and location to identify the offer(s) that will generate the greatest response. Given that the retail sector thrives on running promotions, this insight is not only critical for trumping the competition with the most unique and compelling offers, but also for ensuring those offers deliver the best return for their business. By keeping these trends in mind, online retailers will set themselves up for a fruitful and [...]



5 lies you hear in marketing

You don't have to be Mulder and Scully to know that the truth is out there. The trouble is all marketers are liars. But as Seth Godin pointed out in that fantastic book, "the truth is elusive [and] no one knows the whole truth about anything."

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So what's a marketer to do? You can't uncover every lie, but then again, that isn't your job. What works is a healthy dose of skepticism. In fact, it's the best inoculation against the bright shiny object virus that the intersection of marketing and technology. So here are five skeptical doses for you to consider.

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Are 30-second TV commercials too long for today's viewers?

Viewer patience: the TV contract vs. digital

iMedia traveled to thinkLA's Motor City West and spoke with Brad Seitter, EVP of Business Development at TVB, about the 30-second TV commercial and why it has remained unchanged for decades. Discover why this ad length is here to stay and listen to an expert explanation on the social contract for both TV and digital as it relates to marketing to consumers.

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Learn more about thinkLA and upcoming events.

Click here to subscribe to the iMedia YouTube channel!

Article written by media production manager David Zaleski and video edited by associate media producer Brian Waters.

"Watching television" and "TV spot" images via iStock.

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Technology brands shine with innovative video campaigns
Viewership was dominated by technology brands in the month of January. The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) occurred early in the month in Las Vegas, where technology, automotive, and engineering brands from around the world exhibited their upcoming projects. A handful of these brands released video content showcasing their new inventions, including Kia and Intel. Kia, ranking first on the chart with a cumulative view count of over 100 million, received the majority of their views from their "X-Car" campaign and their CES-related content. In a lead-up to both the Australian Open Tennis Championship and the release of "X-Men: Apocalypse," Kia's "X-Car" advertisement features tennis-star Rafael Nadal and tells a fictionalized coming-of-age story about how "supernatural" powers allowed Nadal to become a tennis star. This is the second time that Nadal has partnered with the brand. In the video, Nadal comes across the new X-Car transformed Kia Sportage, and footage from the upcoming X-Men film is used to provide context. Released on January 3, the original video uploaded to Facebook received over 15 million views. Intel released a lot of content from CES; the brand received over 12 million views from three videos introducing upcoming virtual reality programs and 360-degree sports technology. The most viewed of the three, "Replay FreeD," shows how 360-degree video technology can freeze and analyze a track runner's form as he leaps over a hurdle.  Samsung, ranking at No. 2, released their "Let's Go to Work" campaign showcasing Samsung Virtual Reality that features LeBron James and the music of Public Enemy. The video begins with a wake-up call to LeBron to begin his day's basketball training and then follows people's daily work lives through trains, construction sites, offices, and kitchens as they mouth the words to "Welcome to the Terrordome" by Public Enemy. The campaign received nearly 14 million views in January. The campaign promotes Samsung's "Striving for Greatness" program that allows people to get closer to the life and training of LeBron James through their virtual reality gear. height=354 src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/1I1Pc5g4tYI" frameBorder=0 width=630 allowfullscreen> Google, ranking at No. 3, received most of their views from a campaign promoting the newly improved Google App. The campaign includes eight how-to videos that exemplify the diversity of the app and its functions. Real-life examples included how to "Beat the rush" by using the app to check traffic on a specific road, or how to "Ramen" by searching for ramen restaurants near a specific location. The campaign also includes two Star Wars-themed videos featuring Google searches related to the light side and the dark side. The campaign was released in mid-December and received nearly 24 million views in January. Narrative storytelling was a popular technique in some of January's most viewed ads, helping brands like AT&T, Wendy's, and Amazon. In AT&T's "Your Network," viewers are taken through the history of telecommunications beginning with Alexander Graham Bell's first telephonic communication and ending with the digital evolution occurring today. The video's stunning cinematography and culturally relevant narrative helped it gain nearly 10 million views. In Wendy's humorous "Gouda Bacon Cheeseburger" ads, viewers are taken through the trials and tribulations of football players with the names "Gouda," "Bacon," and "Gruyere" as they get ready for a game. Gouda and Gruyere are finally given a chance to play with Bacon when their coach makes a last-minute game day decision. When the three players come together on the field, the team wins the game. This football-themed spoof was released alongside other "faux" [...]



4 ways luxury brands are reinventing their appeal

The minds, hearts, and hands that create luxury are true champions of creativity in service of the imagination. They bring artistry to their work. They make emotional connections, liberate dreams and engage people in the art of fine living with stories and experiences that go beyond the surface of the object itself.

Branding of luxury goods is at its best when it, too, looks beyond the surface of wealth and opulence. Here are four ways that luxury brands are bringing captivating, artful, and even surprising stories to the fore -- and reaching new customers in the process. These are outstanding examples of the new luxury codes.

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Little details are now a big deal

Final quality has always been the main selling point for most luxury brands -- not the painstaking details of how the products are made. Today that mindset is changing. Increasingly, shoppers are curious about the details of design and craftsmanship, and many luxury brands are pulling back the curtain to reveal the sources of their artistry.

Chanel has invested in several ateliers that are unsurpassed in the expertise and artfulness they bring to their craft, such as Lesage (pearl embroidery), Lemarie (feathers and camellias), Causse (gloves), and many others. These artisans retain their independence while Chanel ensures the continuation of its suppliers. And Chanel burnishes its reputation as a champion of the finest craftsmanship.

Guerlain exhibits craftsmanship that goes far beyond the core product, with packaging that rivals the perfume inside. One astonishing creation represents more than 500 hours of collaborative craftsmanship between the perfumer, a watchmaker, and the jeweler Lorenz Bäumer. A diamond-studded pendant fashioned after the company's iconic bee incorporates a miniature mechanism that opens the bee's wings to reveal an inner chamber containing the perfume.

Savoir-faire is key to the brand message. It's no longer only a matter of appearance. It's about the beauty of deep craftsmanship.

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17 creative ways marketers can address the rise of ad blockers
The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. Don't worry about it Duran Inci, Optimum7  "Marketers shouldn't worry about it since this doesn't concern marketers. At the end of the day, we're not spammers. Marketing is not about advertising; rather, it's about building brand awareness and portraying a powerful message. There will always be channels for us to advertise on. The message and the approach are what matter most. Focus on creative ideas and innovation first." Partner with content producers Curtis Thornhill, Apt Marketing Solutions "Marketing to customers with an authority on a subject allows marketers to bypass ad blockers and deliver their message to customers in a way that creates trust and ultimately drives a purchase. By partnering with content producers and websites, marketers can reach those source's pre-existing audiences in a way that allows content that interests them to reach them directly." Control distribution through retention Carter Thomas, Bluecloud Solutions "The companies that rely on advertising the least are the ones that have the best ability to capture and control native traffic. As ad blockers dampen the ability to drive new visitors, it is increasingly important to retain current visitors." Use native advertising Stephen Gill, Tiller  "As traditional ads lose market share due to ad blockers, more brands will transition their efforts to storytelling with native formats such as content, lifestyle advertising, and product placement on social platforms like Instagram. Mobile native ads draw double the CTR of display ads, and in some cases, bypass ad blockers to reach the right audience in context. " Create great stories Shane Snow, Contently  "The answer is clear, but it's easier said than done: Create content that people actually want to read, watch, or listen to, rather than something that interrupts them. Great stories are the only real solution to ad blocking." Repurpose your written content David Ciccarelli, Voices.com  "Consider repurposing your written content by having it serve as the basis for short videos or audio podcasts. There is something tremendously authentic about seeing someone on camera or hearing their voice on an audio podcast that creates a connection that's difficult to replicate with just text. Plus, you'll gain visibility on YouTube as well as the iTunes and Google Play podcast directories." Diversify your efforts Erik Huberman, Hawke Media  "There are plenty of ways to market a brand without using straight advertising -- native marketing, influencer marketing, and podcast marketing are all good examples. Digital banners are not the only way to build a business." Think like the customer Michael Kleinmann, The Underwear Expert, Inc.  "You don't want to see ads and neither does your customer. Stop marketing to them and start creating content that you and your customers are interested in. We've created an entire business around this at The Underwear Expert. We produce 200+ articles, with custom photo shoots and video content, each month as part of our content strategy." Form relationships with sites and content creators Blair Thomas, EMerchantBroker  "Advertising via banner ads can feel like throwing your money away. The fact is, it can very well be a wasteful endeavor. Rather than advertising in the traditional sense, find sites with users within your demograph[...]



What makes a great user experience?
The rise of user experience has been a big focus for brands and marketers in midst of the technological advances in today's digital world. But what exactly determines a great user experience? That was the question posed to some of the top industry executives featured on-stage at the 2016 IAB Annual Leadership Meeting in Palm Desert, California. IAB captured their perspectives on the hot issue in a short, off-stage interview.
 
What's core to having a good experience online is when users know what they're getting and they get what they want, said Jimmy Wales, founder and board member, Wikia. However, Emily Bazelon, staff writer, The New York Times Magazine, believes the best experience is one that is unexpected and allows the user to feel the experience is as much art as it is commerce.
 
John Costello, president, global marketing and innovation, Dunkin' Brands and global chairman, Mobile Marketing Association, positioned user experience as the key to building your brand, and it boils down to listening to your consumer and finding out what's most important to them. Dionne Colvin-Lovely, national media director, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., delved further by saying a great user experience is one that allows the consumer to go deeper and advances their experience within that context.    

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You can see more off-stage interviews and speaker video highlights from the 2016 IAB Annual Leadership Meeting on IABtv. IAB members can see the full videos from ALM by logging into their Member Portal at portal.iab.com

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2 answers to the ad-blocking conundrum
The increased use of ad blockers among consumers has created significant friction in the digital advertising industry. Some people are blaming ad-tech, certain publishers, and of course aggressive advertisers. While that is an interesting discussion, at this point the causes are not really relevant. Instead of placing blame, we should focus on the tangible things that we can actually do to balance the need for consumer expectations and advertiser needs. We need to make a distinction between interruptive, which all advertising is and should be, and disruptive, which ruins an experience to the point where a user will install software to stop it; even when it takes up precious storage on a smart phone. All communications mediums eventually evolve their advertising approaches, and digital is no different. The key difference for digital compared to the past is that instead of seeking alternate content with a more acceptable advertising format, users are able to install software to eliminate the advertising experience altogether, withdrawing their eyeballs from all content providers at once. It's that difference -- the near-permanent and universal loss of the ability to monetize a user across nearly the entire industry -- that changes the stakes for digital advertising compared to past channels. That shared responsibility provides the opportunity and impetus for cooperation among its stakeholders. There are numerous factors at play here: certain tactics work better for large publishers than small, some players have other businesses like ecommerce to consider, some have subscription revenue, others have offline brands to protect, and we have to consider the extortive business model employed by some ad blockers, among other facets. It's a complex issue, but here are two things we can work on in 2016 to move towards a palatable solution for everyone. Industry cooperation and standards The innovation in targeted, engaging, and interruptive but relevant ads in the mobile space is promising and ongoing, but mirrored by equally disruptive and frustrating placements and formats as well. It's the latter that we need to work together on to fix. Collaboratively we've made great strides as an industry on important issues like privacy, and we need to treat ad formats and the resulting user experience equally seriously. Let's gather and share research, and issue guidelines to stakeholders accordingly. Do 30-second pre-rolls on mobile have a bigger impact than ads that takeover the entire screen? What about sponsored-post placements? Do things like polite notifications work? Can we limit content for ad blocking users? I think a lot of players in the space are doing this individually, but there's a lot at stake here. If we can standardize the experience to some degree at an acceptable level, then we're in a better position for our second strategy. User education and choice It's a common refrain (one I've made myself) to bemoan the users who want something for nothing: access to great content without having to pay for it, directly or via advertising. There's merit to that point, but regardless of how we got here, we can only decide what we do from here to improve the situation. Consumers should have the choice to determine how they compensate content creators for the privilege of consuming their content, but we should also work towards ensuring there's a value exchange in every case. We may not know what that looks like right now, but consumers are already making choices on their own -- and they're choosing ad blocking in increasing numbers. If we can structure these choices in a way that gives them freedom to c[...]



3 ways to earn my marketing budget
As I act as the digital marketing arbiter between my clients and the digital marketing landscape, my team and I play a perpetual game to stay ahead of the latest products that will provide my client's business substantive gains. As such, I regularly challenge my media team to explore these new trends either through reading articles, like this one, or to reach out to our extensive publisher/vendor list for some insight. With every meeting, we perpetuate a metaphorical game of "Frogger" through these potential partner's value propositions to find our winners.  As 2016 gets into full swing, early indications are pointing to the following areas that my team will be keenly focused on and likewise keenly interested in learning more about from our industry partners. Advanced programmatic bidding (or header bidding) Header bidding may sound a bit foreign to some buyers (myself included -- until I was turned on to it by Adrian Menstell), but far more top-of-mind for publishers offering up their inventory on ad exchanges (e.g. DoubleClick Exchange or Pubmatic). The idea of header bidding isn't new, but is starting to gain more traction as publishers start to leverage it in the hopes of squeezing a bit more margin out of their inventory. Essentially, this method allows publishers to offer up their inventory to multiple ad exchanges at the same time, allowing them to compete for the inventory (instead of just leveraging one).  Ultimately, this directly affects Google's DoubleClick exchange (since most publishers use DoubleClick's DFP as their ad server that directly feeds them to Google's DoubleClick exchange), as it will allow smaller players more opportunities to win bids. Why do I care as a buyer?In every agency I have worked for to-date, I have allocated a sizable portion of the budget to invest in programmatic media in all their forms (e.g. open exchange, private marketplace, programmatic guaranteed, etc.). As such, programmatic partners who are participating in header bidding may impact my client's business as the pixel burden on the publisher's site (e.g. added JavaScript calls) could slow load times, which can lead to user drop-off. Drop-off in turn leads to lower on-site conversions, and will directly impact my client's business. Secondly, while early indications suggests that there won't be any increase in media costs, I will be looking into if this is in fact the reality for my client's digital partners and if there needs to be a shift in our programmatic strategy. Targeted authentic content marketing Content marketing can be one of the most valuable tools a marketer can employ if the message is authentic and insightful. While this seems obvious, much of what marketers send out as "authentic" is just marketing jargon, not a voice of an actual consumer, due to legal concerns, resources, or simply a lack of ideas. Too often content marketers are satisfied with embedding their corporate tagline messages through syndicated content, advertorials, endorsements, syndication of positive PR, and/or a blog post. While these tactics are a good baseline, there should be more to the campaign than simple amplification, especially for products/services that require several layers of corporate "buy in." As an example for a B2B marketer, if your company is selling a piece of enterprise software, a corporate 401k retirement package, corporate travel deal, medical equipment, etc. -- those corporate buyers will likely need buy in from those in finance, IT implementers, and/ or C-Suite executives before a "sale" can be accomplished. This means that a marketer can either [...]



10 crucial best practices for native advertising

Native advertising is one of the fastest growing sectors of digital advertising, but also one of the least understood. The market for native is expected to reach almost $14 billion in 2016. In order to understand how to make the most of your native advertising dollars we first need to understand the three different segments of native advertising.

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The first type of native advertising is social. These are the ads you see on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. They are delivered in-feed and match the style of the site. In a way these units paved the way for all other types of native adverting. The second type is editorial content. This form of native advertising seeks to deliver content or articles promoting brand content that mimics the look and feel of a site's editorial. The third type of native is image-based native ads. These ads deliver a visual experience that matches the look and feel of the site on which the ad is delivered. Image-based campaigns provide opportunities for scale and optimization in the programmatic context, yet also require some finesse to ensure success. Below are 10 tips for creating effective image-based native ad campaigns.

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3 things marketers are doing wrong in programmatic today
Last year was a landmark year for programmatic advertising. For the first time, programmatic digital display ad spend outweighed traditional direct sales and made up 59 percent of total display advertising spend in the year. eMarketer estimates that this number will grow to 72 percent by 2017. However, even as programmatic buying in the U.S. turns six, many marketers are still missing out on big opportunities made possible by these technologies. Looking to improve your programmatic strategy? Here are three things you might be doing wrong, and a recommendation for how to right them. 1. You equate programmatic with lower-funnel marketing If you're still only using programmatic for website retargeting, then you're missing out on some serious value creation. Advanced programmatic advertisers are already leveraging this tech to reach prospects and customers across every stage of the customer journey, from awareness to advocacy -- and for good reason. To squeeze the best results out of data-driven display, marketers should build an integrated programmatic strategy that includes both upper-funnel (prospecting and promotions) and lower-funnel (retargeting and loyalty) marketing. If you're working with a fully stacked demand-side platform for your programmatic marketing, then you can probably count on the technology to be, on some level, self-learning. (This just means that it uses ongoing analysis of aggregated data to improve targeting and messaging strategies automatically, as more data accumulates.) By running different campaign types through one platform, the performance data from each campaign can help to inform, and refine, the others. On the other hand, when you run upper-funnel and lower-funnel programmatic campaigns in silos, you'll likely find yourself targeting the same customers with numerous campaigns, which can result in inefficient spending and -- worse -- over-exposed consumers. For this integrated, full-funnel approach to be successful, be sure your programmatic partner is excluding new users from the lower-funnel campaigns, and known users from the upper-funnel campaigns. 2. You think programmatic is only about media buyingIn the early days, it's true that when marketers talked about "programmatic," it most likely referred to automated buying and selling of digital media -- real-time bidding, in particular. Today, the term encompasses pretty much any tech that uses a combination of real-time data and stream technologies to create better digital advertising. Buying is the first piece, but what happens when you win the ad impression? That's where programmatic creative comes into play. The fact is, people have changed -- profoundly and forever. The customer of today expects to be spoken to as an individual, which is why many have pegged 2016 as The Year of Personalized Marketing. "Personalization" and "at scale" may sound like mutually exclusive benefits, but with programmatic creative, advertisers can use the same real-time data that are used for automated buying to also optimize the creative for each user. This strategic combination of programmatic buying and programmatic creative will set apart the truly data-savvy digital marketers from the amateurs. 3. You're still measuring all programmatic campaigns on the same two or three performance metricsWhen it comes to lower-funnel programmatic campaigns, we've all been trained to look at hard KPI's like CPC (cost per click) and CPA (cost per action). However, in advancing your strategy, and especially when starting with more upper-funnel campaigns, [...]