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A brew of marketing and advertising news for your insatiable knowledge palette

How Do I Know My Online Ads Are Actually Being Seen?

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Mar 03, 2015 @ 07:28 AM

We get this question a lot from clients and it’s a good one. If you’re spending money on certain campaigns and strategies, you need to know whether or not you’re getting a return on that investment. Sadly, many advertisers are spending and getting little in return from their digital campaigns.

According to ComScore research, between May and February of 2012, a whopping 54% of online display ads were never seen by a human being. And to be clear, “never seen” doesn’t mean they were displayed but ignored by people, never seen means actually never seen due to technical glitches, user habits or fraud.

How Do I Know My Online Ads Are Actually Being Seen?eMarketer estimates that last year alone, $14 billion was spent on online display advertising. When you combine this fact with the fact that 54% of online ads are never seen by anyone, you suddenly realize billions of advertising dollars are going down the drain every year.

Technical Snafus and Fiendish Factors

As we mentioned, sometimes ads are not seen because of technical issues, like when ads are displayed on the part of a browser that’s not open on the user’s computer screen (say for instance when the ad is displayed on the bottom of the screen but the surfer never scrolls down). Other times ads may load so slowly that the surfer clicks off of the page before the ad ever has a chance to be seen.

And then there are the nefarious factors such as outright fraud by publishers. Oftentimes advertisers pay for “impressions” that are completely based on fake traffic. This happens when malicious software gives the impression a person is actually on a page and then ads are served up to fake visitors. In other scenarios, online display ads will show on several web pages, but those pages are hidden behind a window on a particular website that is the size of a pencil point.

What Can Marketers Do?

As with any form of advertising, there are no guarantees your online campaigns will be seen or drive traffic. This is why marketers must take a proactive approach in how they buy and monitor online ad campaigns so they have the best shot at significantly improving the percentage of impressions their ads receive.

Here are some ways you can help get your online ads seen:

Consider a Different PositionHow Do I Know My Online Ads Are Actually Being Seen?

For many years, advertisers were under the impression (thank you) the best placement for their ads was the very top of the page. But, according to Google, the most viewable position for display ads is just “above the fold.” Above the fold is the part on the web page just at the break where part of the page is out of sight and requires scrolling.

This being said, be prepared to experiment with your ad placement because it is not the be-all-end-all indicator of your campaign’s success. Average viewability of above the fold ads is around 68%, whereas below the fold is 40%. Depending on your particular budget and if you are lucky enough to get a discount, you may find even below the fold your cost per exposure is good.

Choose the Right Size Ad

Google’s study also suggests vertical ads are on screen longer than horizontal ads and a 120x240 ad had the highest rate of viewability at 55.6%. So don’t put too much attention on grabbing up the most real estate. Ads that were 120x600 (bigger so you’d think better performing) had only a 52.5% viewability rate and a 468x60 had only a 48.2% rate.

How Do I Know My Online Ads Are Actually Being Seen?Create and Maintain a “Block” List

When you’re buying ads through ad exchanges, it’s really important to create and maintain a block list that includes websites with known viewability issues. The sites on this list are then excluded from all future ad buys. You may find a universal block list online that is maintained by other ad buyers to help industry peers avoid fraudulent transactions.

Employ Verification Partners

Verification partners offer “active avoidance,” meaning they monitor and help you avoid unsafe and unviewable environments. Partners report viewability metrics and brand safety metrics down to the site level, and any sites with active issues are dealt with accordingly.

Good Ol’ Human Involvement

Tying all these viewability solutions together is the human marketer with expertise who can deploy, monitor, and oversee campaign setup, block lists, and verification partners. There are many technologies that can help online campaigns traverse the shaky digital landscape, but none of these will ever outperform the individual’s ability to improve their odds of ad viewability.

As an advertiser, you should definitely want to know whether or not your online ads are being seen. The key to increasing your campaign’s viewability is to experiment with ad placement and size, maintain a block list, work with verification partners, and stay involved and on top of your own campaigns, or hire someone to do it for you.

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Image credit: Joel NilssonLoveteamin

Topics: digital advertising, online advertising

Real-Time Bidding 101: Everything You Need to Know

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Feb 24, 2015 @ 08:19 AM

If you’ve moved any of your marketing campaigns online, you’ve most likely learned display advertising has become inefficient because, up until recently, publishers have had no way of measuring the value of the website visitor to which the banner ad is displayed. This has created a situation where advertisers see little ROI on their display marketing budgets because a majority of impressions are delivered to website visitors who are not their target demographic. Enter real-time bidding (RTB), a process that finally allows advertisers to value an impression first and then bid on it in real time.

It’s Like the Stock Market for Display Ads

Through a reputable media marketplace, publishers and advertisers can make exchanges that make financial sense to both parties. Much like the stock market, where market shares become available and buyers quickly compete for them (the highest bidder winning the shares), impressions become available Real-Time Bidding 101: Everything You Need to Knowand advertisers then may bid on them, with the highest bidder winning that advertising space. Because it uses real-time user data to measure the ‘going value’ of impressions, RTB allows publishers and advertisers to make adjustments to their ‘bids and asks’ as the market fluctuates.

How is all this possible? Once an ad impression loads into a visitor’s Web browser, data about that particular page is forwarded to the ad exchange marketplace where the ad space is auctioned off to the highest bidder. The winning bidder’s ad is then almost instantly loaded into the webpage. It’s not called “real-time” for nothing.

The Benefits of Real-Time Bidding to Advertisers

We’ve already mentioned the fact that real-time bidding is a much more efficient process of buying display ads, but let’s take a look at a few more reasons why RTB greatly benefits today’s advertisers.

Better Testing Equals Improved Response Rates

When dealing with batch-oriented data, which can take hours or even days to access and analyze, advertisers find it next to impossible to make crucial adjustments to their tactics and campaigns. But with RTB’s real-time feedback, advertisers can quickly and easily evaluate multiple strategies, switch ads based on audience engagement, and greatly improve response rates.

Real-Time Bidding 101: Everything You Need to KnowIdentify Garbage Inventory

According to one troubling stat by ComScore, 31 percent of ad impressions cannot be viewed by users. Shady web publishers are also responsible for online ad fraud that totals about $400 million per year, according to Adweek’s Mike Shields. Basically advertisers are spending on impressions that often end up on ghost sites or buried under other pop-up ads. Then there are the really dishonest publishers who stack ads below the fold so no one ever sees them.

Another benefit of real-time bidding are the analytic tools that help spot fraudulent behavior by showing ads that have either very low click-through rates, indicating no one is seeing them, or extremely high click-through rates, which are generally a result of the publisher using bots to pad impressions.

More Transaction Transparency

Because buyers and sellers negotiate directly with one another via these media exchanges, market forces then become the only drivers of price so advertisers can’t be overcharged. Also, the fact that individual ad impressions are auctioned off leads to a fragmentation of the market, which leads to equilibrium prices. That’s a win for both advertisers and publishers.

Better Inventory

Through these media auctions, advertisers have access to better, more efficient inventory. Better inventory means a higher return on investment, and a higher ROI means a bigger bottom line.

With all these tremendous benefits it’s no surprise RTB growth is on the rise. The digital landscape has become increasingly crowded and competitive. More ads are being shown to Internet users than ever before and these users have a small attention span when it comes to being marketed to. Advertisers who leverage the real-time analytics delivered by RTB will remain ahead of the pack.

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Topics: real-time bidding

Newspaper Inserts vs. ROP Ads: Which Offer More Benefits?

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Feb 17, 2015 @ 09:17 AM

According to Nielsen’s 2013 National Cross-Media Engagement Study, newspapers took top honor when participants were asked their opinions about the most effective advertising channels, scoring higher than TV, radio, and yes, even the Internet. The study also revealed newspapers generate the most engagement with consumers compared to other media.

Digital advertising gets all the hype, yet a recent engagement survey by Harris Interactive on behalf of Goo Technologies2 revealed almost 75% of consumers totally ignore banner ads, 62% ignore social media ads, and 59% ignore search engine ads. That’s a whole lot of ignoring going on. By contrast, the study found only 35% of consumers ignore newspaper ads.

What do these figures tell us? Advertising in newspapers continues to be a highly effective way of engaging consumers, creating brand awareness and generating leads and sales, which of course is something we’ve always known. But now the question is what types of newspaper ads offer the greatest efficacy?

Newspaper Inserts vs. ROP Ads

Newspaper Inserts vs. ROP Ads: Which Offer More Benefits?First, let’s discuss exactly what Run of Press (ROP) ads and free standing inserts (FSIs) are before we delve into any advantages/disadvantages.

Run of Press ads are those placed in the actual pages of the newspaper, but the advertiser gives the publisher full choice of where they run. Basically, wherever space allows. Advertisers can request their preference of position, and many publishers will try and accommodate, but nothing is guaranteed. The main benefit of ROP ads is they can cost quite a bit less than other print ads. The disadvantage, of course, is not being in control of where your ad is placed. If you’re selling sporting equipment, getting your ad placed near wedding announcements may not give you a return on your investment, even if your investment was comparatively low.

Free standing inserts, or FSIs for short, are the bundle of colorful brochures stuck in the middle of the paper. FSIs often contain coupons, specials and information about sales for all kinds of consumer goods. Big national brands like Walmart and Target have been advertising with FSIs for many, many years because they have experienced firsthand their ability to drive budget-conscious traffic and generate sales.

Does One Channel Deliver More Benefits?

In a word, yes. While both FSIs and ROP can be an important channel in your overall campaign, in a head-to-head matchup, FSIs offer more advantages. Here are a few:

FSIs Give Consumers Exactly What They Want

At some point in your life you’ve probably sat down in front of a thick Sunday paper and immediately reached for the inserts to help you plan your weekly shopping trip. You’re not alone; many newspaper readers look forward to thumbing through the FSIs on Sundays as well as during the week because it gives them a chance to window shop and to do their weekly budgeting. In other words, advertising with FSIs means you get your offer in front of the people who are looking for it.

Highly Targeted

When placing many other types of ads, both print and digital, the only thing generally taken into account is consumer demographics. But effective ad placement must also take into account geographical data as well. When we conduct an insert buy for a client we are able to use geospatial intelligence mapping and input a single ZIP code, entire city, market or region for the most precise targeting. This allows us reach just the right consumers for our clients.

Impressive FlexibilityNewspaper Inserts vs. ROP Ads: Which Offer More Benefits?

The more flexibility advertisers have with their ads, the more able they are to deliver a highly impactful message. FSIs let advertisers choose between single sheets, catalogs or cards and also whether ads should be distributed in large or small formats, on heavy or light stock, and on whatever day of the week will best reach their target audience.

Inserts Are an Action Medium

Meaning they get consumers to take action, and that’s the whole point of any kind of advertising, isn’t it? According to the NAA’s How America Shops and Spends Survey, 44% of respondents said they brought inserts into the stores with them, and 44% also said they used inserts to make unplanned purchases.

The Bridge between Print and Digital

Like peanut butter and chocolate, print often goes better with digital, and with the emergence of QR codes and personalized URLs, there’s never been a better time to connect your print campaigns to your digital assets. FSIs are a great way to create a bridge to your online landing pages where you can further engage your audience.

There’s no question print advertising in general offers small businesses a highly effective way to reach their local market. FSIs, in particular, have the ability to drive traffic and create brand awareness while targeting a highly-focused demographic that is ready to buy.

Free Guide: How to Target Your Audience with Free Standing Inserts


Topics: newspaper advertising, newspaper inserts

The Death of Print Has Been Greatly Exaggerated

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Feb 10, 2015 @ 07:29 AM

Say it with me: Print is dead. Now let us both go wash our mouths out with soap at uttering such vulgarity and outright untruthfulness. Will meet you back here once mouth has been thoroughly scrubbed…

The Death of Print Has Been Greatly Exaggerated Okay, now that that’s out of the way, don't ever talk about the death of print again. But it’s funny (not really) how “those in the know” are still making this bold statement when it couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, it is because of the emergence of so many digital channels that print is experiencing a rebirth. Instead of killing print, the Internet, through QR codes and promo codes, is giving print advertisers other avenues in which to engage their audience.

According to FedEx Office’s Fourth Annual Signs of the Times Small Business Survey, though many small business owners reach customers and prospects via online channels such as social media, more than half surveyed (53 percent) said they planned on using more traditional channels such as newsletters and direct mail.

Also, research conducted by RP Data revealed property professionals who used a combination of print and digital channels were able to move their inventory for a higher price and with less time on the market.

Benefits of Combining Print and Digital Channels

Connect with Consumers on Their Terms

Consumers will no longer come to you; you’ve got to go to them, wherever they may be. By using a combination of traditional and digital channels, you can be sure to reach your audience at just the right time and in just the right place.

Easier ConversionsThe Death of Print Has Been Greatly Exaggerated

In some ways consumers are like squirrels; they scare easy and need to be patiently wooed before they’ll take that nut out of your hand. Print campaigns are a great way to begin wooing your audience, especially since print is still the most trusted form of advertising. From your print ads you can then send readers to your online assets where they can truly engage and interact with you.

More Metrics at Your Disposal

When you use an integrated marketing approach, you have more metrics at your disposal that can help you determine what’s working and what isn’t.

Extend Your Reach

Some consumers, like Millennials, tend to spend more time online while others, like Baby Boomers, still prefer to get their information from printed sources like newspapers. By using a combination of channels, you have a much better chance at reaching a larger audience.

The Death of Print Has Been Greatly ExaggeratedThings to Consider When Mixing Print with Digital

A recent study by Nielsen research revealed consumers are interacting with brands through more touchpoints than ever before. Yet more proof that combining print and digital is an effective way at engaging consumers where they already are. But how do you develop the right mix of media that will reach your overall campaign objectives? Through some good ol’ fashioned research and planning that will uncover data you may use to develop your strategy. Look at things like:

Your Ideal Customer’s Online Habits

How long do visitors generally stay on your website? Where does most of your traffic come from? Which of your site’s pages get the most attention? Where else do consumers hang out online the most?

Spending Habits

Is your product or service a repeat necessity or a one-time purchase? Does your audience compare prices before buying? Are they on a budget?

What Is Their Emotional Life?

What are your customers’ needs, wants, likes, dislikes, desires, problems, worries, etc.? What makes them tick? What scares them?

What’s the Easiest Way to Reach Them?

Are your customers an older crowd that would rather have a conversation start in an ad in their favorite magazine before that conversation moves online to your Facebook page? How often do they check their email? Are they active on social media? Once you understand your audience better you’ll have a firmer grasp on what combination of channels to use and where your advertising dollars need to go.

As you can see, the death of print has been greatly exaggerated. Small businesses have a habit of looking at print advertising and digital advertising as separate entities, but the truth is they work best when combined in an integrated, holistic marketing strategy. 

Free eBook: The Benefits of Print Advertising



Topics: print advertising

8 Best Practices for Multi-Channel Marketing Sure to Increase Your ROI

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Feb 03, 2015 @ 07:59 AM

Today’s consumers are overloaded with hundreds (if not, in some cases, thousands) of marketing messages a day. Because of this advertisers are finding it necessary to develop tactics that allow their campaigns to cut through the noise and make an impact on their target demographic. This is where multi-channel marketing comes in.

By using a combination of channels like print publications, radio, email marketing and banner ads, marketers are able to:8 Best Practices for Multi-Channel Marketing Sure to Increase Your ROI

  • Generate more qualified leads while driving down the cost per lead.
  • Create a nurturing environment where these qualified leads can engage, interact and eventually convert.
  • Collect data to ensure relevant campaigns that shorten the sales cycle.
  • Grow relationships with current customers and increase profits.
  • Build brand loyalty through consistent communication.
  • Better align marketing goals with sales processes.

With these numerous benefits in mind, here are eight best practices for multi-channel marketing that will increase your ROI.

1. Keep It Simple at First

You’re ready to jump on the multi-channel marketing bandwagon and that’s great, but don’t try to do too much too soon. At the outset, avoid complex campaigns and keep things simple, especially if your company has no history of creating and launching multi-channel campaigns. For instance, you may want to start out with a free standing insert campaign that directs your audience to a special URL landing page where they can interact more with your brand.

2. Don’t Obsess with One Particular Channel

Before you go and throw your entire budget at one or two channels, make sure you have a cohesive strategy in place first. Your strategy will tell you how your audience will interact with all available touchpoints and whether that particular interaction will support or undermine your campaign’s objective. Once you know your strategy and objective, the right channels should become obvious.

8 Best Practices for Multi-Channel Marketing Sure to Increase Your ROI3. Define Your Ideal Prospect

Never waste time or money attracting the wrong prospects. Your target audience must consist of people who are a perfect fit for your offer. So before you even begin to think about “which” channels, think about what characteristics, behavior and needs make up your idea customer and which media they prefer.

4. Don’t Sell – Demonstrate Value

Multi-media marketing requires you get involved in your prospect’s world long before they have identified their problems, issues or needs. Integrated marketers know their consumers intimately and can easily demonstrate the value of their offering.

5. Lead Prospects through the Sales Funnel

Today’s marketers have been confronted with a new dilemma: How do you lead a prospect through a sales funnel that has no straightforward path? It’s no longer enough to simply use campaigns to create demand and then convert; today’s campaigns must guide the buying journey by creating awareness, educating and building trust.

6. Always Be Relevant

Whether it’s an ad you’re running in a local paper or the blog posts you’re uploading three times a week, your information always has to be relevant to your prospect or you’ll lose their attention in lightning speed. Remember, it’s not about what you have to offer, it’s about what they need.

7. Make Connections8 Best Practices for Multi-Channel Marketing Sure to Increase Your ROI

Back in the day the phrase all marketers knew was “ABC – always be closing,” as in closing a sale. But today’s marketers would be better off following a new mantra “ABC – always be connecting,” connecting problems with solutions, connecting stakeholders and opportunities, etc. The beauty is that burgeoning technology and new channels makes connecting easier.

8. Never Stop Testing

You should also “ABT – always be testing” your campaigns. Put successful campaigns under a microscope to determine what worked and why. Use this data to make stronger campaigns in the future, and test those as well. Test headlines, email subject lines, images, days of the week newspaper ads run, ink colors used in your FSI – test everything and never stop.

The bottom line is, because the very act of buying has changed significantly, the act of selling has also changed significantly. Those marketers who don’t adapt their tactics and embrace a multi-media approach will be left in the dust.

Download the CMO's Guide to Integrating Print and Digital Media


Topics: multi-channel marketing

What Multi-Channel Marketing Is and Why You Need It

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Jan 27, 2015 @ 09:16 AM

Multi-channel marketing isn’t necessarily a new concept, but it’s one many CMOs have yet to discover or employ in their campaigns. In a nutshell this approach to marketing combines different tactics and channels to deliver one cohesive strategy and brand message that builds awareness and trust among a targeted demographic.

What Multi-Channel Marketing Is and Why You Need ItTo be clear, multi-channel marketing isn’t a strategy or THE strategy – it’s simply a tactical delivery of whatever your core strategy is, and that’s an important distinction. It’s not enough to say, “We’re going to do multi-media marketing for this campaign” and then simply use more tools and channels. Because if you don’t know what your overall strategy is, the various tools and channels you use may not play nicely with each other and may hamper your campaign’s ability to reach its objective.

With this understanding and an appreciation for the basic principles of an integrated marketing approach, and with the right combination of online and offline tools and tactics based around a single marketing strategy, businesses can blow past the competition.

Is Multi-Media Marketing Really Necessary?

The technological revolution has forever changed the way we do just about everything. Today’s consumers expect to be able to interact with businesses whenever, wherever and however they choose. Marketers who ignore this modern fact do so at their bottom line’s expense. Your prospects can be anywhere, and your business needs to be anywhere as well to connect, engage and convert. As the number of marketing channels grows, it will become even more important to embrace this integrated marketing approach.

The Numerous Benefits of Multi-Channel Marketing

There are many benefits of multi-media marketing, and not just in terms of increasing your bottom line but also growing your entire business.

A Wider Reach

Using an array of channels gives you a much wider reach and puts your business in front of new potential customers.

More Analytical Tools at Your DisposalWhat Multi-Channel Marketing Is and Why You Need It

More channels means more access to analytical tools that offer data from which you can gauge your campaign’s impact. Robust data means your campaigns can become increasingly more intelligent and informed, targeting the right groups at the right time using a combination of channels.

Cost-effective Campaigns

When used long-term, multi-media marketing becomes very cost-effective. Campaigns that are highly targeted and easily measured mean you can be sure your ad dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible so your operational costs are at a minimum.

Brand Loyalty

Multi-media marketing allows businesses to engage and interact with audiences frequently. This interaction has the potential to not only reinforce a brand’s message but also put a personal face on the company which leads to increased brand loyalty.

Customers Appreciate Having a ChoiceWhat Multi-Channel Marketing Is and Why You Need It

When you let customers interact with you via the channel of their choice, it makes them happy, and this in turn leads to more completed conversions, which will make you happy.

More Touchpoints

The more touchpoints you have along your sales funnel, the more information you’ll collect about your audience and the better able you’ll be to craft future campaigns that will be relevant and more persuasive.

Consistent Branding

By using multiple channels your brand message and image stays consistent across all media which allows for more recognition and trust.

In today’s highly competitive and fragmented marketing landscape one channel is no longer enough. If you want to stay competitive and grow your business you will have to integrate your tactics and tools to reach the masses on their terms and media of choice.

Download the CMO's Guide to Integrating Print and Digital Media


Topics: multi-channel marketing

5 Local Digital Advertising Myths that May Hurt Your Bottom Line

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Jan 20, 2015 @ 08:44 AM

As a local business owner you may be late to the digital party because you’ve been under the assumption that brick and mortar establishments don’t require an online presence. And now it’s finally hit you that in order to keep a competitive edge in your local market you need to be online, and so you’re scrambling to get yourself set up and bringing in leads and sales.

There is danger, though, in trying to rush in and claim your online space, and that danger is, as an offline business owner, you’re not up to speed on all things digital and you may buy into some bad information. Even savvy online marketers have a hard time keeping up with the frenetic pace of change that is the digital marketing landscape.

With this in mind, and in an effort to ensure you don’t waste time with online marketing tactics and theories that are antiquated and just downright wrong, here are five local digital advertising myths that may hurt your bottom line.

5 Local Digital Advertising Myths that May Hurt Your Bottom LineMYTH #1: If I Don’t Sell Digitally, Then I Don’t Need to Advertise Digitally

Just in case you’re one of the very few business owners on the planet who hasn’t fully embraced the fact that he needs an online presence regardless of whether he sells online or not, let us put this myth to bed once and for all. It doesn’t matter if you sell pizza on Main Street in your town or if you’re the local plumber, your local market is searching online for what you have and if they don’t find you they’ll find your competition and give them the business instead. In today’s day and age, if you don’t have a web presence you’re simply not going to be taken seriously by consumers – period.

MYTH #2: All I Need is a Pretty Website and I’m Good to Go

Hmmm, like saying I have a brand-spanking-new SUV with top of the line bells and whistles and that’s all I need to get me from Point A to Point B. Well, that car won’t get me very far if I don’t fill it with gas repeatedly and maintain it so it doesn’t break down.

If you have a great looking website with helpful content, how will people find it? Unless your local customers already know you and purposefully type in your business name, you can’t assume your website will automatically be returned in the results. You need to have a strategy to get visitors to your site. This can be SEO, claiming your local listings on sites like Google Places and Yelp, or using social media to drive traffic.

And speaking of social media…

MYTH #3: I Don’t Need Social Media for My Type of Business

Although we won’t deny that certain types of businesses have an easier time interacting with customers on social media networks like Facebook and Twitter, having a social media presence is still a good idea for a couple different reasons. One, these platforms help you monitor your business’ reputation, and two, social media can help you outrank your local competition who still may not have embraced it.

MYTH #4: I Don’t Need to Optimize for Mobile

And you still think this, why? Trust us, the thousands of marketing experts exclaiming the importance of optimizing your website for mobile haven’t been doing so because they have nothing better to do. They’ve 5 Local Digital Advertising Myths that May Hurt Your Bottom Linebeen doing it because cold hard data has shown mobile usage is through the roofs. According to Pew research, as of January 2014, 58% of Americans have a smartphone, and we can assume that number has increased in the past year based on historical patterns of smartphone adoption by consumers. In June of last year, Comscore offered this piece of data: “Mobile platforms – smartphones and tablets – combined to account for 60% of total digital media time spent, up from 50% a year ago.”

We don’t know how to make it any clearer – the entire world (okay, a slight exaggeration but it’s only a matter of time) is migrating their online activities to their mobile devices. If the entire world cannot interact with your website because it’s not optimized for mobile, then who on earth is going to do business with you?

MYTH #5: I Need a Huge Budget to Market Online

If you’ve had a professional marketer call you or knock on your door claiming they can help you gain traction online and it will only cost you X thousands of dollars every month, run for the hills. The truth is local digital advertising does not have to cost much at all. The key is to spend a little bit of time up front to figure out your specific goals and focus on one method or channel of marketing at a time.

Hopefully now that some of these myths have been dispelled you will embrace local digital advertising and put it to work for you.

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Topics: local digital advertising

7 Best Practices for Magazine Advertising

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Jan 13, 2015 @ 08:51 AM

You’ve no doubt heard that many companies are migrating their advertising dollars to digital channels; you may even be considering following suit. But before you completely abandon traditional advertising channels like print magazines for banner ads and social media campaigns, consider the following.

Many brands still use print magazines as a channel to engage consumers in the offline world. In fact, in some industries like B2B manufacturing, as much as 60% of companies use print magazines as part of their marketing mix. What do they know that you don’t?

Well, according to a 2013 Custom Content Council study, more and more brands are investing in print magazines because they have discovered magazines are an effective channel for customer education, retention and brand loyalty. It would seem that as many brands uncover the real preferences of their target audience and understand how they like to consume content, the role of printed magazine has taken a prominent position in their marketing mix.

The Benefits of Magazine Advertising

Before we get into magazine advertising best practices, let’s take a quick look at some of the many benefits this traditional advertising channel offers:

  • Magazines allow brands to stand apart in an overcrowded digital market and create lasting, memorable engagement.
  • Subscription-based connections with readers means brand loyalty and repeat messaging capabilities.
  • Your printed content can be repurposed in digital channels to reach a broader audience.
  • Magazines are typically kept around for a long period of time. One single magazine left in a doctor’s office, for instance, can generate repeat exposure for a brand. Also, an ad placed today will reach people months from now, which can’t be said for all media channels.
  • Magazines allow for highly targeted advertising so your budget is used to only reach the people who are interested in your offer. Can you say better ROI?

The following seven best practices will help you create and place effective magazine ads:

1. Choose the Right Publication

Your first step is to take a look at the available magazines and determine which will be the best fit in reaching your target market. If you’re selling inground pools, it makes little sense to place an ad in a magazine that caters to new parents.

2. Examine the Publication’s Circulation

Once you’ve identified the magazine that reaches your audience you’ll want to learn everything there is to know about the magazine’s reach. To do this, ask a sales rep about their circulation numbers, distribution areas, pricing and market image. When looking at circulation, be sure to focus on actual direct subscribers because many magazines wind up on the shelves at supermarkets and may never be sold. Also, pay attention to the magazine’s market image; while a particular magazine may have a lower circulation, if it is well-respected it may serve your needs better than a publication with bigger numbers but an overall lower image score.

7 Best Practices for Magazine Advertising

3. Place Your Ad Where It Makes the Most Sense

Deciding where to place your ad will depend on your budget and content. Bigger budgets will be able to afford those positions that offer the biggest reach, like near the table of contents or adjacent to a relevant article. However, you can often spend less by placing your ad next to a prominent ad and “borrow” all their eye traffic.

4. Know How Much Text Is Right for Your Audience

In theory, print ads should be short and sweet. But that rule isn’t set in stone. For instance, if you’re selling cars, your audience may want to read a full list of benefits and features. Some consumers, if they see ads with lots of text, assume the quality of the product or service offered is superior to an ad where the text is sparse. The moral of the story is, KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE and their perceptions.

5. Create Compelling Headlines

You have mere seconds to grab the reader’s attention before he or she may turn the page. Create compelling headlines that address the specific needs or desires of your target audience. Don’t just put your company’s name or your product name as a headline – consumers couldn’t care less. They really just want to know what you can do for them.print-digital-magazine-ad

6. Make Sure Your Ads Are Integrated

It’s more than likely you won’t solely advertise through one channel, which makes it very important that all your advertising is integrated and all your design elements match the overall brand identity. This includes your print magazine ad which must fit into the larger picture of the story you are telling. When your ads are integrated they work together to lead your prospect through your entire sales cycle.

7. Make Your Budget Work Harder

ROI ultimately means making your budget work harder. You can’t place cost-effective ads without first knowing the publication’s schedule. This will help you sync your ad placement to readership and business cycles. Obtaining a media kit will give you rate information as well as the magazine’s reach.

Print magazines are a highly effective channel for customer engagement and brand storytelling. They allow you to cater to consumers’ special interests while creating loyalty. If you haven’t experimented with magazine advertising yet, maybe it’s about TIME – which is a magazine and a very good one.

Free eBook: The Benefits of Print Advertising


Topics: magazine advertising

Here's a Little Secret: Traditional Advertising Channels Still Work

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Jan 06, 2015 @ 08:44 AM

As many companies abandon traditional marketing methods in a mad dash to embrace social media and online tactics, those advertisers in the know stick with what has always worked. While traditional channels may not suit every brand story or budget, many are still a great way to extend reach, engage consumers and increase the bottom line.

Consumers Prefer Traditional Advertising

Why is it that digital ad budgets get bigger and bigger and news of the decline of print ad revenues continues to make the rounds, yet many studies reveal that consumers are still far more likely to interact with and trust traditional channels?

According to an Adobe survey consumers continue to rely on word of mouth from family and friends (51%) as well as consumer forums (35%) to gain credible information on products and brands. These channels were closely followed by traditional media such as print ads and television with 28% of respondents referring to them, only 17% trusting websites, and a mere 8% looking to social media to gain brand awareness.

The same survey scored traditional media as the most effective (47%) and company websites as somewhat effective (18%).

Here's a Little Secret: Traditional Advertising Channels Still WorkAnother study by the Shullman Research Center found that traditional advertising channels such as print and television were the best bet for reaching affluent audiences. In fact, the survey clearly indicates that four out of the top five advertising channels for reaching millionaires (you know, those consumers who have money to burn) were traditional, with print ads receiving the highest level of interest (74%) from survey participants.

Which Traditional Advertising Channels Are Right for You?

Not all channels work with all offers and messages so it’s important to know your business as well as your target audience inside and out.

Newspapers and Magazines

Obviously the goal of any advertising campaign is to reach your target audience and you can easily determine what channels they prefer (in this case print vs. digital content) by studying print readership demographics and examining purchasing data.

You may find despite the many claims that print is dead, your particular audience still very much engages with newspapers. As we mentioned previously, this is especially true if your audience happens to be affluent, in which case it makes loads of sense to drop a good chunk of your ad budget into newspapers.

Magazines also have their advantages like offering advertising that has the ability to reach a highly targeted audience. This means you’ll be able to reach only those consumers who are likely to spend their dollars with you. If your product or service is highly specialized, then advertising in specialty magazines that cater to a very particular audience will likely increase your ROI.

Some things to remember when advertising in newspapers or magazines:Here's a Little Secret: Traditional Advertising Channels Still Work

  • Before purchasing any print ads, be sure to request a copy of the publication’s media kit so you can examine their current circulation numbers and readership demographics.
  • Choose an ad size that makes sense for your budget. Contrary to what you may think, full page ads aren’t the only ones that make big impacts. Well-designed smaller ads can also be highly effective at sharing your message.
  • You’ll want to study the publication’s schedule to place your ad effectively. By knowing your demographic and the publication schedule you can ensure your ad gets the highest traffic for your market.
  • Many newspaper and magazine readers interact with both the print and online versions of the publication, so consider buying a robust advertising package that will place your ad both in the online and physical publications.

Television and Radio

Not all businesses have the budget to handle radio and TV campaigns, but if you do, these channels can perform beautifully and reach your local audience. Placing TV and radio ads calls for some real strategy and the ability to study demographics in order to choose TV shows and radio stations that already reach your market.

Some things to remember when advertising in radio or television:

  • TV and radio ads have to be unique and creative in order to grab the viewer’s/listener’s attention in 30 seconds or less. Spend time really considering what your unique message is and how you can relay it in an engaging way.
  • Mixing and matching air times can be a great way to stretch your ad spend. Sure prime time seems the logical choice to reach as many prospects as you can, but it also will cost a pretty penny. Better to mix and match high dollar and cheaper slots to gain the most reach for the best price.


Billboards still have their place in a marketing mix and can communicate a brand’s message clearly and loudly. Billboard advertising works best for those messages that are simple and compelling and that need to reach a larger market in a specific geographical area.

Some things to remember when advertising with billboards:Here's a Little Secret: Traditional Advertising Channels Still Work

  • Bargains don’t always pay off. Yes, well-placed billboards may cost four times as much as ones placed in crappy locations, but they will get your message in front of your audience, whereas the cheaper placement may only get your message in front of pigeons and a garbage dump.
  • Do you have something everyone needs? It’s hard to target drivers, which is why billboards work best when your offer is something everyone needs, like car insurance, a better night’s sleep, or good ol’ gasoline.
  • On average most drivers will see your billboard for only two to three seconds, so this means your message has to get to the point. Make sure your design is clean and your images are engaging. You must have a big call to action. Also, your URLs or 800 numbers should be easy to memorize as drivers won’t be able to write them down.

The key to great advertising has always been and will always be identifying and understanding your particular market. Traditional channels can be highly effective at reaching certain demographics. The thing to remember is, it doesn’t have to be a one or the other situation. The best advertising strategies are robust and mix traditional channels with digital channels to ensure the greatest reach.

Free eBook: The Benefits of Print Advertising


Topics: traditional advertising channels

Why You Need a Print Media Buying Service

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Dec 30, 2014 @ 07:56 AM

Print media buying is not just a specialty – it’s an art form that requires many skills to navigate a constantly-shifting landscape and get the best ROI for your clients. Sure, you can try and go it alone and make your own print media buys, but we think you’ll find it easier and more effective (and profitable) if you seek help from seasoned pros.

Here is why you need a print media buying service:

Comprehensive Knowledge 

Media buyers have very specialized knowledge about all of the various media channels because they constantly monitor outlets and publications in order to know which will give clients the most bang for their bucks.

Consumer Behavior Why You Need a Print Media Buying Service

But it’s not enough to only monitor channels; media buyers also understand that consumer trends influence effective buys and so they make it their business to know your target demographics’ preferences and behavior by conducting the right research and mining that data for clues.

Marketing and Branding Best Practices 

An effective media buy must take into account your overall marketing and brand objectives. A good buyer not only understands basic marketing fundamentals but how those weave into a positioning strategy and brand engagement.

A Grasp of Statistics and Analytics

Good, nay, great media buys require a firm grasp of fundamental statistics and the ability to measure change, use spreadsheets and predictive analysis. If you can’t wrap your head around development indices, post-buy analysis and media weight analysis, then using a print media buying service that can not only manipulate data but extract great meaning from it will help your campaigns immensely.

The Ability to Optimize Your Advertising Budget

Working with a print media buying service means your budget will be given priority and care. Media buyers will do extensive research to determine the best way to spend your dollars by evaluating things like pricing rates, demographics, publication formats and geographics. They will also optimize the campaign by leveraging medium, quality of channels, and time and space required.

Why You Need a Print Media Buying ServiceThey Know Placement and Timing

Being in the right place at the right time has tremendous advantages, and this is especially true for advertising. Media buyers understand the nuances of timing and ad placement. Each specific channel offers unique opportunities to connect with and make an impact on a target audience.

Working with a good print media buyer means having someone in your corner who will take into consideration what time of day your audience might be the most receptive to your particular message and which medium that message should be delivered in. Once they figure out medium and timing, they will then be able to determine the optimal placement for your ads.

They Can Teach You the Art of Patience

As the saying goes, “You can’t rush greatness” and print media buyers who’ve been in the business awhile have learned patience is a necessary ingredient to advertising success. Testing new media channels or working with new print partners will yield results, but those results won’t happen overnight. Good media buyers don’t insist on quick results but rather look at solid data to determine campaign effectiveness.

They Have Negotiating Clout

If you yourself don’t have terrific negotiating skills you’ll definitely want to seek out a print media buying service. Because they place ads for several clients at the same time, their total spend is simply greater than what a single advertiser offers, and this spend gives them real negotiating power when it comes time to talk contracts.

The difference between print campaigns and successful print campaigns generally boils down to working with a knowledgeable media buying service that can help you uncover your customer’s behavior, analyze critical data, optimize your budget, get the timing and placement of your ad just right, and negotiate contracts on your behalf so you’ll see the greatest returns on your investment.

Request a Free Local Media Analysis for Your Clients!


Image credit: Chris Willis (originally posted to Flickr as Antique Clock Face) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Topics: print media buying

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