Amidst Ad Blocking Crisis, Brands & Publishers Look To Sponsored Content Options
On August 10, 2015, Adobe in conjunction with UK startup PageFair, published a report illustrating the rise of ad blocking -- ad blocking rates grew by 41% globally, and 48% in the United States (see their entire report above). With the release of iOS9, Apple's latest operating system now features mobile ad blocking capabilities. Furthermore, starting in November, Google will penalize sites with app install ads (read more on their official Webmaster blog). As seen below in Business Insider's graph, the rapid rise of ad blocking (costing advertisers an estimated $22 billion in 2015 alone) has prompted brands including Nylon to focus their marketing efforts on sponsored content (see Digiday's article on Nylon here).
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Influencer Marketing Campaigns: How To Accurately Measure Campaign Success
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are quantifiable performance metrics/values that show whether or not a marketing campaign reaches its goals and/or business objectives. With influencer marketing campaigns (wherein a company works with a digital star and/or social media influencer to effectively drive engagement and increase direct response), brands may have specific primary objectives followed by secondary ones. KPIs are typically determined by the brand, are brand-specific, and vary depending on individual marketing campaign goals. Although they may overlap in nature, these marketing metrics fall into two categories: branding KPIs and response-based KPIs.
"Dear brands, I've been having a bit of trouble with you recently. You don't seem to understand social media at all. What's worse is, you don't seem to understand that we do...far more than you. Which is why we have these audiences you want access to."
Want To Get The Most Out Of Working With Social Media Influencers? Start By Listening To Them.
Increasingly more and more brands are teaming up with top social media influencers to market their brand, product, or service. In an effort to engage Millennials, fast food giant McDonald's recently announced their partnership with YouTubers Gabriella Lindley and Oli White in order to build their new YouTube channel, Channel Us. Hallmark, for their recent "Signature Styles" branding campaign, partnered with notable tastemakers, bloggers, and YouTubers to feature stylish outfits inspired by their new line of cards. Mercedes-Benz partnered with Casey Neistat to make a "YouTuber commercial" with an adjoining 3-part behind-the-scenes promo series.
From Adidas to Starbucks to Castrol and almost every industry vertical and advertiser category, companies are now recognizing just how immensely valuable marketing with social media influencers can be. In order to effectively break through the growing social media noise, brands seek the aid of powerful social media influencers to help with both branding and direct-response marketing initiatives.
The Glaring Problem With Brands Working With Social Media Influencers?
Most brands have a difficult time working successfully with and creating alongside top social media influencers. Influencer marketing is a newer sect of marketing that involves critical elements of social media, social media platforms, online video channels, and the influential tastemaker personalities that shape massive consumer audiences.
After a particularly frustrating month of dealing with brands, London YouTuber Dodie Clark "Doddleoddle," created a video titled "Brand Deal Rant" where she outlines the existing problems she's encountered and her best advice for brands desiring to successfully partner with social media influencers. With two YouTube channels totaling over 300K+ subscribers and 21.5+ million total video views, Dodie innately understands how to create content that resonates and build audience affinity.
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3 Tips For Creating Sponsored Content With Instagram Influencers
Sponsored content is a great way for brands to target and engage their ideal audience. When executed properly, sponsored content via social media influencers is a highly effective way to broaden brand awareness and promote social media engagement (see our post here for why social media engagement matters for sponsored content). Top influencers can have hundreds of thousands to millions of followers. Although there is a constant influx of new social media platforms, Instagram has established itself at the top. With 300 million active users, and 70 million average uploads a day, marketers are looking to tap into the platform’s reach.
Instagram’s premise is simple: it is a user-generated photo and video social sharing app where its users can also follow accounts based on their aspirational lifestyle interests, including brands. Many brands, such as Chandon, are targeting Millennials who, earlier this year, have become the most populous demographic in the United States. Within a year, Instagram use has risen 16% among young adults (19-29) which makes it an ideal platform for marketing to Millennials.
Gina Harney "The Fitnessista" Shares Her Thoughts On Blogging, Viral Posts, & Social Media
In an effort to share healthy meal examples and fitness ideas with her personal training clients, Gina Harney started blogging in 2008. After three years, her blog "The Fitnessista" reached one million monthly page views. Since then, The Fitnessista has become a highly sought-after resource of fitness workouts (including sections like 'barre,' 'playlists,' 'cardio and HIIT') and a dedicated recipes section complete with vegan, gluten-free, and dessert categories.
Check out her interview feature as The Fitnessista shares her thoughts on getting started, her "breakout" moment, top-viewed post, and her seasoned advice to brands seeking to partner with influential bloggers:
How did you get started blogging?
I started blogging back in 2008 when my husband and I had just moved to Valdosta, GA. I still hadn’t met a lot of people and was working as a personal trainer. Many of my clients would ask me for eating examples for healthy meals, so I started the blog as a way to share ideas with them and also connect with others who shared a common love of fitness and healthy eating.
What was your first blog post?
It was a short introduction with an idea of what the blog was going to be about. I actually ended up deleting it because it was so weird/awkward.
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Marketing to Millennials Through Social Media Networks, Channels & Platforms
The days of reaching Millennials through traditional print and television advertising are quickly dwindling - as reported in Wall Street Journal, many TV networks are quickly pioneering digital strategies involving top "YouTubers" (YouTube video bloggers or "vloggers") in an effort to retain millennial viewership. In a 2015 census report, Millennials (18-34) have outpaced Baby Boomers to become the most populous demographic in the United States, spending an approximate $1.3 trillion annually. Millennials are highly tech-savvy and socially conscious consumers. They choose to align with brands that reflect their own set of interests, lifestyle aspirations, and expect the brand to be responsive to what the consumer wants.
At the start of 2015, Adweek published research from Salesforce reporting that a vast 70% of marketers will spend more on social this year with special emphasis to mobile and content. Brands are augmenting their marketing strategies to focus on social media and are able to target highly specific audiences through the digital or social media influencers Millennials follow (YouTubers, Instagrammers, Bloggers, Snapchatters, Viners, et al.), with top accounts featuring follower counts in the millions.
As such, brands are successfully marketing to Millennials through the use of social media by partnering with these top influencers to create engaging, aspirational, and authentic content. Here are best examples of how brands are marketing to Millennials through social media on channels they prefer the most:
In an effort to get marketers to look beyond sheer views and impressions as an indicative measure of marketing success, Minneapolis agency Solve created a completely blank, untitled YouTube video. With a total pre-roll ad buy of $1,400, the four minutes of white space and silence garnered an impressive 100,000+ views for the entire marketing campaign.
Beyond Total Views: Determining Effective Social Media Engagement For Sponsored Content
While the blank video experiment proves its point regarding the sometimes arbitrary total views and impressions, it does raise an important question: if views and follows can be easily feigned or bought, what then are the best ways to gauge campaign effectiveness for sponsored content? Furthermore, amidst mounting data suggesting the ineffectiveness of traditional paid media options (i.e. banner ads, Trueview ads) coupled with the rise of ad-block software, what is the best way for brands and companies to effectively market online and create meaningful social media engagement for sponsored or branded content?
What Is Effective Social Media Engagement?
Effective social media engagement for sponsored content goes beyond initial video or total page views into consumer or audience behavior. Though it is important to start with these traditional reach metrics when evaluating for total possible exposure, executing effective online marketing moves quickly from views, followers, subscribers to evaluating the actions taken upon being exposed to the sponsored content.
Effective social media engagement includes or results in:
Likes - perhaps the most basic form of audience endorsement or approval, the amount of +1s, thumbs up, hearts or likes is still a fair measure of social media engagement
Sharing content - the best content is worth sharing; how many retweets, shares, or "re-grams" (sharing on Instagram) does your content generate?
Tagging others - along with sharing, tagging others gets the original paid content directly (and now, organically) into the attention of related audiences/demographics
Commenting - beyond views or impressions, does the content move and prompt the viewer to take action by leaving their personal input?
Positive sentiment - regarding the nature of comments left, what is the overarching view or attitude?
Direct response - are audiences clicking over to your website, signing up, or responding to your CTA (call-to-action)?
To generate buzz and create shareable aspirational lifestyle content for the launch of their new CLA, Mercedes-Benz partnered with top YouTuber, Casey Neistat. Check out the rest of our post to see how many other car brands are marketing with social media influencers across all channels including Instagram and YouTube.
To Leverage Massive Consumer Reach, Car Brands Are Marketing With Top Social Media Influencers
In a recent article published in Automotive News, media strategist Peter Ternes of General Motors states "auto companies court influencers because they reach audiences carmakers wouldn't otherwise -- consumers who might never watch a car commercial or read a car magazine." Additionally, Ternes says car brands are "telling the same story to the same people over and over again" however, with the success of influencer marketing campaigns, these traditional automakers are now telling a new story to a completely different audience, previously unreachable.
See how car makers including GMC, Cadillac, Toyota, Maserati, and several others are partnering with top social media influencers to reach and engage vast new audiences across new and emerging social publishing channels:
Mercedes-Benz: YouTube & Instagram Marketing Campaigns With Several Top Social Media Influencers
Thinking About Advertising On Instagram? Here's How These Brands Are Doing It: Wendy's, Stoli, Chandon, And More
Since its inception in 2010 as a simple photo app, Instagram has grown exponentially to become one the top social media sharing platforms among Millennials (who have outstripped the baby boomer generation to become the most populous demographic in the United States) and Generation Z. Instagram has grown in usage from 2013 -- from 37% of young adults (18-29) to 53% in 2014, according to a Pew Research survey. Furthermore, Instagram’s success is not limited to the United States; it is reported that in 2018, one third of global internet users will be actively using the platform.
Countless brands from almost every industry vertical, including Moët & Chandon, Stolichnaya, Wendy's, Revolve, and Capital One have optimized their social media marketing strategies to target and engage active Instagram consumer audiences by determining which visual style is the most appealing.
Examples Of Brands Advertising On Instagram:
Instagram's user experience, a seamless feed of personally-curated images, has reshaped the way that we perceive others, and how we depict ourselves. This is also true for brands, who have realized the immense potential to target Instagram’s 300M active users, who share an average of 70M photos daily. To capitalize on this untapped and massive advertising opportunity, brands are evaluating their marketing strategies, sometimes moving away from heavily edited photos in exchange for a more realistic portrayal, and partnering with top social media influencers for high ROI campaign results.
A subsidiary of Moët & Chandon (of multinational luxury goods conglomerate, Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy "LVMH"), Chandon is appealing to female Millennials in an effort to rebrand its image. Traditionally, Moët & Chandon is known for being a luxury European champagne. Like many brands seeking to quickly build audiences and brand affinity, Chandon partners with top social media influencers (recently top lifestyle bloggersKelly Mindel of studioDIY and Ashley Rose of Sugar & Cloth).
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How To Find Instagram Influencers For Your Marketing Campaign
UPDATE November 29, 2018 — In a study published by independent technology and market research company, Forrester, brand engagement rates on Instagram (2.26%) are significantly higher than any other social platform including Facebook (0.22%) and Twitter (0.03%). Coupled with its 1 billion active users (over half of which are 18-29-years-old, and 41% 24 years-old or younger), Instagram has proven to be a high-ROI marketing channel for many brands. This explains why the Instagram influencer marketing industry alone is projected to reach $2 billion by 2019.