Online Marketing

The Golden Age of Big Data

Big_Data

The golden age of Big Data is definitely here. At least, as far as the Online Marketing industry is concerned. Most of us have probably heard the term “Big Data” buzzing around rather frequently in the past few years, but what exactly does it mean? Well, as implied by its name, it refers to the collection of data sets in very large scale and high complexity levels. Due to their size, these sets cannot be measured and processed with traditional applications and methods – which is what led to reinventing the game and naming it Big Data.

What’s with Big Data that changes the game so much? Until rather recently, many online marketing experts would rely on their experience in the field and gut feeling for determining how to manage their advertising campaigns and budgets. Using facts and empirical data to support their decisions was considered nice to have. This era is now over, all hail the new Data King. Big Data and predictive analytics technologies have opened the door with a big bang and introduced online marketing to a whole new world of opportunity. Marketers are now able to actually base their game on numbers and algorithms, leveraging data to achieve outstanding results.

Challenges

With that being said, there is no rose without a thorn. With the ever-increasing numbers of online users, the amount of data out there is almost endless. This creates quite a few challenges in the newly reinvented game. While some are easier to overcome than others, they all need to be addressed and taken into consideration. To give you an idea, here are a few obstacles standing in the path of Big Data:

  • Relevancy: Identifying the right piece of data out of the whole mass and figuring out the best way to use it is not such an easy job. The scope of Big Data is entirely different from what most marketers are used to, and so are the goals and best practices. This requires quite a bit of out-of-the-box thinking and experimenting with new creative concepts. Out with the old, in with the new?
  • Technology: The technological challenge plays a key role here. Internet technology as a whole is developing in a supersonic fast pace, and data-oriented technology is far from lagging behind. Dealing with it in an effective manner requires powerful technology-driven personnel and capabilities that are able to provide the right IT infrastructure. This entire framework requires constant maintenance and needs must quickly adapt and respond to the dynamic nature of this niche.
  • Cross-Departmental Collaboration: In order to really make something out of all this data, you need to work across several functions around the board. In terms of an organization, this requires dedicating many resources and having several departments collaborating closely on this. You need people who can deal with the technological aspect of things, as well as people who can actually look into the data, determine what is relevant and know how to approach it. You will then need additional skillful people who know how to translate this data into meaningful and solid business insights, create action items and get things done.

New Opportunities

Nobody promised a bed of roses, but on the flipside of these are unique and significant business opportunities, entirely created by the Big Data explosion. All this data, that only a few years ago was considered meaningless and redundant, has now become an extremely powerful and valuable niche in marketing. Companies are now able to gather, organize, analyze and translate this data into useful business insights and actions. The range of Big Data applications is wide and only growing – From fraud detection, through programmatic media buying and e-commerce, all the way to advanced targeted marketing. As year 2015 approaches its end, with 2016 right around the corner, it is now clearer than ever: Companies that will overcome the challenges and utilize Big Data wisely will have the upper hand. The rest are likely to be left staggering behind.

Trends and Forecasts

The industry has witnessed quite a few important developments in Big Data throughout 2015. What does the future have in store?

  • Sales forecasting will get even better thanks to machine learning tools, that continue to improve. Advanced algorithms that predict consumer behavior will become more and more popular, gradually pushing aside marketers’ hunches and intuition. Another aspect of being able to “foresee” how well a product/service will perform is managing a more precise marketing budget. The more specific and targeted you get with your campaigns, thanks to Big Data analysis, the more accurate you can be when allocating budgets.
  • Data-driven marketing methodologies will further be developed and go more mainstream. Designated live data feeds and dashboards have already started emerging, simplifying decision-making in real time, based on accessible Big Data insights. The first to make these Big Data adjustments are usually the big players in the industry. They tend to have the funds, resources and prime interest to analyze all the masses of data accumulated along the road and translate them into business insights. Stemmed in large quantities of data, these insights usually have strong roots and prove to be very useful. On the other hand, it might take quite a while and some intensive work on behalf of these major players, to properly go over all the data and produce insights out of it. Small and medium businesses, on the other hand, may have less resources, but are usually required to deal with smaller amounts of data. This means that digging into the data could actually be easier for them, and possibly even more productive.

In the bottom line, businesses of all sizes have already started utilizing Big Data. In fact, as time passes, we should see it becoming a standard and essential part of new business strategies. Companies born in this day and age of Big Data already regard it as a natural thing, an integral core of their organization, and shape a great deal of business activity around it. Other players may find the process a be a bit more clumsy, and be reluctant to replace their healthy intuition with machine learning tools, but all in all  the direction is clear. All roads lead to Big Data.

According to Liat Greenberg, Senior Data Analyst at Mars Media Group, having the technological know-how is definitely important. However, having the right people, who know how to leverage it and translate the data into insights is equally important. Here at MMG, we deal mostly with big data. With our advanced BI capabilities and machine learning technologies, we guide the data throughout the entire process From efficiently collecting it, through cleaning and storing it in the right servers, to analyzing and leveraging it to create business insights. If you would like to hear more about our Big Data solutions, contact us at info@m-m-g.com

Mobile Advertising, Online Marketing, Video Marketing

Building Your Video Marketing Strategy

Video_Content2

During the past few years, video has become a widespread sensation in the world of online marketing. Big players in the industry have begun realizing that video plays a very significant role in any content marketing strategy. Users are easily drawn to video content, and brands that incorporate it efficiently get to deliver their message in a powerful and highly engaging way. It is therefore not surprising when over 85% of surveyed companies report that the effectiveness of their video marketing strategy has increased.

At the same time, about 50% of companies say that the greatest obstacle standing in their way, whenever dealing with digital video content, is lack of an overall effective strategy. This means that even though video has been acknowledged as important, and is being widely used in campaigns, there is still plenty of room for improvement. We all know as a fact that there is always room for improvement, not only in video, but in all fields of digital marketing. The dynamic world of online never stops evolving and reinventing itself as a whole. So, why now? What’s the rush with video marketing? Well, to put things simply, it’s a brave new world out there for digital video content – and you don’t want to be left behind.

In 2014, there were about 196 million digital video viewers in the U.S. only, and the forecast for the remainder of 2015 is about 204 million. According to predictions, in 2017, the number will be approximately 215 million, and video will dominate nearly 70% of all internet traffic. The time spent by adults on watching digital video is also on the rise, and has stepped up from 21 minutes in 2011 to one hour and 16 minutes in 2015. At the same time, there has been a rather steady decrease in the time spent on watching traditional TV. These trends are not surprising at all, as with all content going more and more digital, viewers are shifting to the comfort zone of watching their favorite shows through connected TV devices. Riding the digital video marketing wave is therefore becoming more relevant than ever, and companies that wish to ride it should get their act together ASAP.

Here are some points to consider when building your video marketing strategy. Hopefully some of these will help you overcome a few obstacles in your path:

Ask the right questions and think ahead:

With all the hype around digital video content, it is rather easy to run around in circles and add video to your campaign “just because everyone else is doing it”. The intention is obviously good, but this could actually lead to undesired results, such as investing time and resources in preparing videos without actually making a real impact. Video content, like all other types of content, must be relevant, and must be thrown into the mix wisely.

According to Gil Eckhaus, Senior Video Business Developer at MMG, before doing anything else, you should ask yourself the right questions: Why would you like to throw video content into your brand’s marketing mix? What goals do you wish to achieve with such type of content: Is it driving brand awareness? Generating more leads? Or maybe just increasing engagement and shareability?

Next, decide what type of video content you would like to produce (practical, educational, entertaining, etc.) and for whom it is intended. The deeper you go in terms of specific segmentation and demographics, the better. Think further in that direction: Who will actually create this content? How will it come across, and via what channel (YouTube, website, social media, etc.)? Dedicate thought to these, document your answers, and let them be your guideline along the way.

Personalizing = Winning

As previously mentioned, video is no different in many ways than many other forms of content. The more specific you are, the more effective you become. Create a map of all the video content you would like to create and all the types and segments of users you would like to reach. If you have already mapped and characterized the different types of users your brand has for textual content purposes, you can use it as a base for your video content mapping. It is highly likely that the types will be similar, and will have the same interests and browsing habits –  whether the content is delivered to them via article, text banner or video. With the latter type, however, the impact of high-quality and relevant content might be much stronger. Many users will prefer watching 40 seconds of interesting video content rather than reading an article on an equally interesting topic. Keep this in mind, stay focused and know your target audience types. Aim to give each and every type a worthwhile video content experience that will be engaging, rewarding and eventually move them to the next stage of the funnel.

Keeping It Short and To The Point

In today’s day and age, the attention spans of users are short, and are getting increasingly shorter with all the text ads, photos, banners, and other bits of content buzzing around. This means that today, more than ever, you need to keep the users mesmerized and fully attentive to your content. I.e., you must keep your videos short and to the point, especially in the beginning. At later stages, once your video library is up and running, and after you’ve developed a sense for video, you will start seeing where there is demand for longer bits of video content. Keep in mind that as far as videos go, in many cases it is up to the users themselves whether to consume them or not. Banners and photos, on the other hand, are displayed right away. Users do not need to hit the play button to view them. Therefore, one of your prime goals should be making your audience hit the play button and watch the video. According to researches, users are most likely to view videos that are less than one minute. Videos that are longer than two minutes have been found as least likely to cause users to view them. In order to make sure your video content belongs to the first category, not only does it need to be engaging and welcoming, but also short and clear.

Measure Your Performance

Measurement is an integral part of the performance game, and will be a main indicator for whether the content you come up with is indeed relevant and meets your goals.Make sure you use your measurement system to collect relevant and important data, beyond mere numbers of views. Look into viewability, completion rates, and GEO’s, examine how users watch your videos and how they engage with them. This data will actually help you know whether your videos are working, and whether you are are on the right track or way off. In case of the latter, you will be able to translate the data into insights and optimize accordingly. It is important to keep your finger on the pulse and be able to respond and making changes whenever needed. You can take measurement even one step forward, and track the numbers all the way down to a single individual user. A user who has fully viewed several videos throughout a certain week, for example, will be regarded differently than a user who repeatedly skips videos after a few seconds.

Mars Media Group engages in a range of worldwide video marketing campaigns, providing various holistic, multi-channel distribution solutions. We leverage vast global reach and technological capabilities to assist agencies, advertisers and publishers alike. If you would like to hear more about the video advertising solutions our experts can offer you, drop us a line at info@m-m-g.com

Online Marketing

Winning Big With Affiliate Marketing

Affilate-Markening

The landscape for affiliate marketers has changed significantly over the past year.

The combination of ever-growing competition throughout the web, legislation issues and limitations introduced by Google has made things rather tricky. However, Affiliate Marketing is not going anywhere. Not only is it here to stay, but new methods of attribution, technological tools and various best practices are continuously being developed, further pushing the limits. Affiliate Marketers are still receiving great ROI from their activity, and it doesn’t seem like they plan to stop. While there are no big secrets or shortcuts to success, here are a few prominent points to consider when setting up an Affiliate Marketing campaign or fine-tuning an existing one:

Create Content With Added Value

Many fully-established brands have to go through lengthy processes of content strategy approval as part of their overall marketing strategy. For the brand’s part, these processes may be tedious, but are still required for ensuring that every bit of content is in line with the brand’s marketing language. Affiliates, on the other hand, do not necessarily have to go through such processes. This is exactly where they get to shine and prove their added value: As an Affiliate, you can be as creative as you like and think outside the box to bring up dynamic and captivating content, quickly and efficiently. For example, choose a topic that refers to many brands within your affiliate program, and write a semi-monthly article about it. Make it interesting enough, with content that your target audiences would find useful, and include relevant links and references to those brands. Take a look at what your competitors do, and make yours even more visually appealing, SEO-optimized and share-worthy. Pull it off successfully and your article will be shared and circulated among your site’s visitors, your brands and their site’s visitors. Such circulation means scoring big points with Google.

Focus on the Brand Itself

In previous years, building a strong brand wasn’t exactly at the top of affiliates’ list of priorities. Self-branding was considered nice to have, at most, and business would go on as usual. However, this reality has recently started to change. Google has gradually started giving more and more significance to the brand itself, clearly preferring websites that users deem trustworthy and engaging. Let’s take a look at a few of the top websites in the shopping, finance, travel and insurance fields: Nextag.com, Shopping.com, Compare.com, Booking.com, Investing.com and Moneysupermarket.com – to name a few – are leading affiliate sites. Their strength lies in the value they offer their visitors: Credibility, fresh content and editorial integrity. Consumers know to visit these websites on a regular basis for a rewarding experience, and are likely to find Affiliate Marketing content in them appealing and relevant. It is therefore worthwhile to dedicate thought to building a strong brand for your affiliate website. Do it right, and you will win the favor of both your consumers and Google.

More Topic Targeting, Less Keyword Targeting

It is no secret that Google has been making efforts to shift the focus of SEO specialists away from keyword targeting. These efforts by Google, including measures such as removing keyword data in Google Analytics and removing exact-match keyword targeting in Google Adwords, make it quite difficult to target individual keywords.

This news item is actually better than it may seem, as advertisers are now required to refine and reinvent their game. Instead of zooming in on keyword targeting, the emphasis is on creating rich, in-depth, topic-oriented and engaging content. Shifting towards this direction means attracting more long tail traffic, which translates into a higher conversion probability.

Mobile, Mobile, Mobile

With the digital advertising world going mobile, it is only natural that Affiliate Marketing would join the ranks. The growth rates of mobile commerce continue rising, and mobile traffic already exceeds desktop traffic in several parameters. Affiliate Marketers that have generated good ROI and performed well in the past with traffic directed mostly from desktop must take these trends into consideration. The game is changing, and mobile is definitely a must. You have to make sure your affiliate program is keeping up with the trends.

For starters, make sure all your existing affiliates and brands are fully mobile-compatible, including all creatives and banner sizes. Secondly, ensure that all brands joining the affiliate program are mobile-optimized before they jump in. According to several reports, around 70% of consumers who reach non-mobile-optimized platforms don’t fully complete the funnel and stop before making the purchase. Generally speaking, over 60% of online users regard their mobile experience with a certain brand as a very significant ingredient in their overall opinion of that brand. A brand that provides a positive, memorable mobile experience scores many points. Other than providing a game-changing platform, the world of mobile has opened up certain niches and doors of opportunity for mobile-related products. For example, many partnerships are being formed and developed around buying/selling mobile advertising space in apps and mobile games. Therefore, if you haven’t fully gone mobile yet, the time is now. Don’t be left behind.

MMG manages a powerful affiliate network, and controls a platform from which both advertisers and publishers can benefit. With our advanced integration and real-time reporting tools, accompanied by our vast cross-vertical coverage, we can offer you various solutions for your exact Affiliate Marketing needs. Our experts will be happy to assist you and guide you through your marketing journey, all the way to success.

Drop us a line at info@m-m-g.com

mars.media

 

Online Marketing

About to launch a PPC campaign? Pay close attention!

PPC

As you probably know, PPC campaigns are a highly cost-effective and overall great form of advertising. Their performance-driven and precise nature allows advertisers to reach specific targeted users who have expressed interest in a service or product, with great ease and efficiency. If you choose to hire someone to manage your PPC campaign, be prepared to invest quite a lot of money and time in it. Bear in mind that you may not be able to immediately justify the expense, so extra dedication and patience may be required. On the other hand, handling your PPC campaign on your own is not necessarily as simple as may seem. There are quite a few pitfalls that one may easily fall into when dealing with PPC campaigns, as well as several ways to elegantly walk around them. Try to keep these in mind whenever dealing with pay-per-click advertising – whether if by yourself, or by using the services of designated PPC experts.

Clearly Defined Goals

Many advertisers actually begin running their campaign without having specific goals, and simply set them as they go. This approach might work in certain cases, but not so much with this one. Before fully diving into your PPC campaign, it is important to set specific and measurable goals. Upon starting any online advertising campaign, it would be wise to know exactly what you aim to achieve and how to make it happen. In PPC it is even more so: The payment is made per click, so everything is accurately measured and performance-oriented. This means you need to watch your step even closer whenever dealing with this.

You can define short-term goals, such as increasing revenue or boosting the number of site visitors, and/or long-term goals, such as improving brand recognition or strategic profit growth. Whatever goals you define, be sure to make them realistic, and to set clear measurement parameters. This will provide you with a clear and empiric overview of your campaign’s performance, and allow you to optimize and adjust accordingly.

It’s All About Conversion

One of the most basic building blocks in online marketing is the conversion itself. Eventually, it all boils down to a simple question: Will a user respond to the call-to-action and make the click? As you can imagine, in most cases “yes” means success and “no” means failure. We like to go for success. Dedicate plenty of thought to Keyword Research, to Ad Groups, to Creatives and to Landing Pages – but always keep in mind the Conversion factor. It almost goes without saying, but still needs to be said. Focus on conversion: Create clear call-to-action buttons, implement tracking codes and make each and every conversion count. Measurement is key for successful optimization, so make sure the codes are implemented properly and that all data is accurate. Insights based on inaccurate data may lead to inaccurate conclusions.

Smart Optimization and Patience

Optimize wisely, be patient and thorough. It is rather easy to jump to conclusions based on partial data. Begin with monitoring the more granular terms, see how they perform, and continue fine-tuning on the go. Gradually zoom out and move on to the broader keywords and adgroups, avoid skimming through and remaining at surface level. Take the time needed, as long as you go over each and every keyword. It is better to wait a little longer and base your conclusions on solid and reliable data than jump to hasty conclusions that might result in costing more money than returning the investment. As soon as you get a full grasp of your campaign and begin “feeling” what things work better than others, you will be able to make smart decisions faster. However, even then, always keep your finger on the pulse and remain level-headed and calculated.

Plan Your Budget for Success

A sensible game plan for budget allocation is always good to have, for all types of campaigns, including Search. This game plan becomes even more significant when setting up a Display campaign, where budgets can easily go out of hand without even noticing. Display networks are a vast space, and one could easily get lost in them without a well-thought-out game plan. Always aim to begin with a relatively small amount of money that you are comfortable testing with. If you see that a certain list of managed placements is performing better than others, allocate more of your budget to its direction. Work in an organized manner, and separate the different placements into their own ad groups. This way it becomes rather easy to shift more money towards the groups that give you the best ROI. Once you clearly identify those successful groups, gradually feed more money into them, and you should continue seeing better and better ROI. Unlike the world of Search, the reach in Display is almost endless, and once you start riding the right wave, you are bound to see great results.

Use Multiple Ad Formats

Another bit of advice regarding Display campaigns: Many advertisers believe that creating ads in as many formats possible is a waste of time and resources. Image ads, for example, indeed tend to perform better than text ads. So why bother and go for something else? Quite simply, because some websites support only one specific kind of format, and you don’t want to find yourself unprepared. Be ready for any scenario: Other than the core format that you think performs best, create as many formats as you possibly can, just to have that extra edge whenever necessary. If you reach a certain placement in which you are the only advertiser with a specific format, you will score extra and get more exposure for less spend.

PPC Goes Mobile

A rather common mistake, which could be easily avoided, occurs by failing to optimize PPC campaigns for mobile. In this time and age, more and more searches are being carried out on mobile devices and tablets. Be sure to keep this in mind and make your landing pages responsive and fully mobile-compatible. Businesses that don’t have effective mobile landing pages tend to suffer from significantly reduced conversion rates. In order to avoid this, ensure that all your pages are mobile-optimized and that you use mobile call-to-actions, such as “Call Now!”, wherever possible.

Google vs. Google Partners: The Cost of Conversion

When an advertiser creates a new search campaign, the default is set to “all features”. What does this mean? In this case, it means that your ads will appear both on Google Search and on Google Search Partners. The benefit here is pretty obvious, as you will get more exposure. So where is the catch? Right here: More exposure is not always a profitable thing, as you may end up paying more for every conversion without even knowing about it. Google doesn’t show you exactly how profitable your ads on Google Search Partners are; such data is not easily displayed for you to make decisions based on it.In order to know exactly how profitable this option really is, simply download the campaign report and compare the conversion costs on the Google Search Network vs. the Google Search Partners Network. It may sometimes be worth it, and other times – not so much. So bear this in mind, and make your decisions based on knowledge more than on default settings.

Mars Media Group always keeps its finger on the pulse regarding all online marketing models, including PPC. We seek to find the latest industry trends and best practices, implement them and look for ways to push the limits further. Leveraging our technology and advanced optimization systems, with access to 95% of the worldwide traffic via our RTB platform, we can offer efficient PPC solutions for various needs. To hear how our experts can help you, please contact us at info@m-m-g.com

Affiliate Marketing, Mobile Advertising, Online Marketing, Performance Marketing, Social Marketing

Content Marketing – Challenges and Recommendations

 

As previously discussed, Content Marketing is becoming a key element in every marketing strategy. It now stands out as one of the most powerful techniques available for businesses that wish to strengthen their relationships with existing followers and reach new customers. However, not all businesses know exactly how to use it wisely and effectively.

According to Forrester, most B2B marketers have a difficult time creating relevant and engaging content that customers will want to read and share. Less than 15% of surveyed marketers have said that they believe their content greatly contributes to their businesses and actually provides an added value. Hence, the huge potential of Content is definitely far from being maximized, and there is quite a long way to go. Keeping the following points in mind could greatly increase your engagement with users and improve your Content Marketing effectiveness altogether:

Self-promotion Overkill

Elegantly showing how proud you are of your brand vs. over-pushing this notion is a fine line to walk; It is a skill content marketers should develop and carefully adopt when executing their daily activities. It is a strategic decision for marketing departments to make, one that can have a tremendous positive impact on a brand’s content creation aspects.

  • According to recent studies, almost 90% of brands nowadays share only their own research and views with their readers. This makes it difficult for their audience to regard them as objective sources for information, and will surely have an effect on reliability and engagement.
  • Referring tastefully to your own brand on one hand, while maintaining a broad-scale informative tone on the other, can be the key for balance and success. For example, quoting researches and studies carried out by other brands, or adding explanatory user-generated content into the mix could be a great way to create balance and lead to success.
  • Other studies show that more than 50% of online readers are altogether distrustful of various types of sponsored content. The extent is so great that some users have already developed “banner blindness” and do not pay any attention to online ads and banners. It is therefore not surprising to find that readers appear to be even more skeptical and distrustful of overly-promotional content that excessively promotes a specific brand.
  • “Trust” is the keyword for creating successful engagement, and its importance must be recognized for successful content implementation. Your content should therefore be smart, subtle, non-intrusive and relevant. Consumer attention span is rather short, and you don’t have many chances before being “blacklisted”. So make sure you do it right.

Lack of Focus on the Target Audience

According to research carried out by The Content Marketing Institute, some 65% of brands fail to grasp one of the most basic principles on which marketing strategies are built: Realizing who the target audience is, understanding what they want, and focusing your messages on what they need. This concept is the bread and butter of online marketing at large, and becomes even more relevant when referring to Content Marketing. Content marketers create the actual words and messages that at the moment of truth either intrigue a user or make them move on. Assuming your intention is to make them read your content, and hopefully spread it to others in their network, you must understand who your potential readers are, and what things interest and excite them at this moment of truth.

  • First, it is important to get the basics right: Your target audience must be specifically and clearly defined. The better you carry out your research and understand your audience, the more granular you can become, making your message sharper and more effective.
  • Continue by defining your demographics and identifying your customers’ problems and challenges. Afterwards, use your content to solve these and simplify things for them. Many marketers reach this point, but then commit the mistake by creating content that they think is interesting, rather than content that their customers would find interesting.
  • Try to zoom out and put yourself in their shoes. If you find it too difficult, you can even conduct a small survey: Prepare a few questions, and present them to a number of people within your target audience. It is most likely that you will not receive any surprising answers, but even one different angle that you haven’t thought about could be meaningful and significant enough.
  • For example, imagine your website revolves entirely around cooking, and features various explanations and recipes of different cuisines. If you are a big fan of Italian food, but your target audience lives in Asia, and is mostly interested in Asian food, they would obviously prefer reading more about the latter. On the other hand, do not forget that they still like food and cooking in general. A balanced mixture of content would therefore be a good path to take: You can discuss other cuisines, but keep the bulk of your content about the Asian kitchen. Always keep in mind that in order to make things meaningful and relevant, your content’s balance should lean more towards your audience’s interests and needs.

On a final note, if you acknowledge these points and implement them in an organized manner, sticking to a clear strategy and documentation routine, you will already be ahead of the game.

Mars Media Group’s Marketing Team regularly stays current with the latest Content Marketing trends, and is always on the lookout for more creative and innovative ways to further push the conventional limits.

Mobile Advertising, Online Marketing, Performance Marketing

Programmatic Media Buying – Trends and Expectations

As year 2015 approaches the finish line, we can already look back and examine how the online media world has behaved so far. While some predictions were less accurate than others, nearly all predictions regarding Programmatic Media Buying turned out to be correct. It is indeed becoming part of the mainstream standard, and sooner than later it will turn into a must-have for advertisers. As many media experts have predicted, Programmatic has started to become a widespread sensation, and the entire industry has already started shifting towards that direction and making proper adjustments.

Here are a few interesting trends that stood out so far in 2015. These have only started gaining proper momentum, and should become even stronger in 2016. It is therefore good to keep them in mind:

Mobile Video Media Buying Goes Programmatic:

According to several researches, Video is the media format most sought after by users.
Demand for video is currently greater than supply, and it seems that as time passes, users seek to see more and more video content. There is a good reason behind YouTube’s popularity, and behind the emergence of platforms such as Vimeo, LiveLeak and Filmon.
Cisco claim that by year 2018, some one million minutes of video are expected to flow through the network every second.
They are not the only company to have similar claims, and with the trend proceeding in that direction, we should see more and more companies investing additional funds in video content and programming.
We have already witnessed this in the past couple of years, with big players such as Amazon, Google and Yahoo, acknowledging this rise of the Video medium, and taking actions accordingly. It should be interesting to follow these major names in the industry, and to keep an eye open for the smaller names, to see how they adjust their game plan to match the growing video content and programming trends.

On the other side of the fence, we have the users. There has also been a great increase from their end, and we gradually see more user-generated video content: In fact, while brand-created videos make up some 17% of content on YouTube and less than 1% on Facebook and Vine – user-generated content makes up 32% of the top videos on YouTube, 17% on Vine and more than 50% on Facebook.
This increase is significant on both sides, and it implies that that video ads, real-time video bidding, and programmatic video advertising are growing, and should continue in that direction.
Video is big in 2015, and only getting bigger. More and more companies are expected to jump on the bandwagon, and production cost will be driven down even further. To deal effectively with the large amount of video content and demand, programmatic media buying and real-time bidding will further be implemented. These trends will make video buying more affordable, easy and efficient.

On the broader scale of things — With mobile already dominating the scene, and with all the video content consumed on mobile devices, we should definitely expect massive usage of Programmatic in that area.

“One-stop-shop” Advertising Platforms will gain popularity:

Along with Programmatic’s shifting into the mainstream, integrative solutions for simplifying media processes have begun emerging. Solutions for self-service real-time bidding and programmatic buying dashboards have become more popular, and are expected to develop even further. Technological developments and specific needs have sped up the development of such platforms. These solutions were required for dealing with several issues that hindered the marketplace’s fast pace, mostly caused by the fragmented advertising ecosystem: Mainly ineffective targeting, inability to calculate advertising ROI, clumsy integration in terms of UI and lack of standardization.

Such platforms have managed to solve these by putting together several ad exchanges and marketing resources under one umbrella. This actually provides a single, user-friendly simplified interface, through which advertisers can manage all their campaigns efficiently. We should also see an improvement in terms of cross-channel and cross-segment efficiency. The data accumulated by users will be provided as feedback to advertisers and help them optimize audience segments and creatives.

Big Data-Driven Targeting will step up

As established, judging by the powerful trends in 2015 so far, it is safe to assume that Programmatic and RTB will only continue to evolve. One of the keys to its fast-paced evolution is the user data that feeds it, optimizes it, and helps to shape and evolve it. Some of the big players in the social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, have already begun further implementing segmentation and targeting based on big data. At the same time, third-party big data companies are likely to become key players in the ecosystem. While major companies can afford to invest resources in developing their own big data capabilities, others still need to rely on outsourcing. These big data companies have provided services up until now, and should continue doing so in larger scale, to meet for the growing needs of advertisers that seek to leverage their personalized marketing capabilities. With Programmatic being utilized all over the place, the massive amounts of data could be efficiently processed and analyzed, using machine learning and algorithms to optimize and provide clever insights.

Throughout the past few years, we at MMG have made great efforts in the Programmatic field and set ourselves as a leading force in the industry. This has led us to developing our own strategic buying methods and technologies, positioning us on top of the programmatic buying game.

To hear about MMG’s Programmatic Media Buying solutions, please drop us a line at info@m-m-g.com

 

Email Marketing, Mobile Advertising, Online Marketing

Location-Based Marketing

With location data being everywhere, from the photos we share, through online transactions we make, all the way to the various GPS-enabled apps we use – it is no wonder that Location-Based Marketing is on the rise. Many users are willing now more than ever to share location data with brands, in return for more personalized content and tailored promotions.

That’s exactly where the great value of Location-Based Marketing lies: Advertisers can easily reach highly engaged and loyal users, while the latter – on the other hand – receive customized and relevant content, based on where they are at a given moment. Such insights are proving to be significant: If a user is standing near a sportswear store, for example, it is highly likely they are interested in buying sportswear.

We have seen this type of marketing growing strong throughout 2015, and it is expected to become even stronger in 2016.

Location as a marketing approach is still relatively new, which means there is still a lot of untapped potential and room for exploration. There are several parameters under the Location-Based Marketing umbrella which should be taken into consideration when experimenting and finding best practices

Make content matter:

As we all know, content is big, and becoming bigger by the day. It is the core foundation of any successful engagement pyramid. Effective content is key to gaining users’ attention. Irrelevant content, on the other hand, will cause users to lose interest and most likely ignore future communications coming from your direction. Once you have been “marked” as irrelevant by a user, it is very difficult to re-gain their trust and become relevant again. Many brands have tried maintaining relevance in various creative ways, including maps, augmented reality means and beacons.

For example, the 313 Somerset mall in Singapore has launched a beacon-based mobile advertising network. It allows users of the Tring313 app to receive coupons and sales alerts once they enter 50-500 meter distances from the mall. According to retailers, this has led in many cases to a 46% sales conversion. Another example would be the campaign launched by Quirky and GE, which teamed up to develop a mobile-controlled air conditioner. The campaign targeted the Boston and NY markets, and was based on Poncho, a weather alert system that sends out daily forecasts through email and text messages. Whenever the temperature rose above 25 °C, a promo with a link to purchase the air conditioner popped up in the weather alerts delivered. According to Poncho, their e-mails have a 60% open rate and almost 100% of text messages are read. While there is no data on the CTR itself, there is no doubt that in terms of branding, many people have seen the air conditioner ad.

Make it personal:

In order to successfully reach and impact mobile users, your approach needs to be personal and meaningful to them. With many distractions and many advertisers fighting over their attention, you have to stand out and make them feel somewhat special. First of all, know your designated target audience. Carry out effective segmentation, look into relevant data, make cross-references and ask yourself the right questions: What are they interested in? What offers do they like? What are their favorite app features? These are always important to keep in mind, no matter what kind of advertising approach you decide to use. However, when advertising in the high-paced mobile ecosystem, it can be even more critical than usual. Once you have these insights, use them wisely to determine which type of promotion and what timing would be most effective.

In order to ultimately make the conversion or make your brand seen and “registered” in the users’ mind, the user must feel that the ad is intended specifically to them. You must refer to something they are interested in, during a specific time in which they are engaged and have that interest in mind. For example: Sending a promotion notification of a 10% discount at a coffee shop to a user who is currently at a coffee shop, and has stayed there for at least 5 minutes, would be doing just that.

You will find that even simple and small things, such as using first names, make the difference between a dull generic ad and a personalized relevant one.

Make it worth their while:

Most human beings get a kick from that warm and satisfying sensation of being rewarded. It is part of human nature.

As an advertiser, it is important to keep that in mind. Reward your users, give them that satisfaction. It will very likely increase their engagement and sense of loyalty. For example, you can give them points for using a certain feature of your app at a certain location. If they are currently shopping in a store, give them points which can be used as a discount at that specific store. An interesting variation on that strategy would be identifying that a potentially relevant user has reached a certain location within the proximity of your store. Once such a user has been identified, a notification could be sent to them, informing them that they have earned a certain discount, for example, encouraging them to enter the store and make the purchase. Alternatively, if a user has saved a coupon that grants them a discount somewhere, it would be very rewarding to send them a reminder whenever they are within the relevant proximity. This should increase trust on their behalf, allow them to enjoy the coupon, and be interested in receiving more communications from your end.

Marketing successfully to the mobile generation, which is constantly on the go, requires creative thinking and innovative technology. Implementing Location-Based Marketing as an approach to complement and enrich the already existing Mobile Advertising strategies has only just begun, and already seems very promising. There is plenty of room for experimenting, finding all the right balances and discovering how to make the best out of this new advertising era.

Mars Media Group remains at the forefront of technology and innovation, and is already incorporating precise location-based targeting techniques on a regular basis. An interesting example would be Mars Media Group’s collaboration with Yandex on the Russia’s biggest taxi ordering app service, YandexTaxi. In this campaign, the Location-Based Marketing technique implemented was City-Based Targeting: It allows to effectively reach highly-engaged users in the supported cities in Russia, currently Moscow, Ekaterinburg and Saint Petersburg.

At the same time, MMG’s experts never miss a beat – We constantly adapt to the fast pace of things, and are always on the lookout for further ways to leverage our Location-Based Marketing practices.

Online Marketing

The Internet of Things

The term “Internet of Things” or “IoT” has been buzzing around quite frequently in the past few years. Some people regard it as “The New Transformative Technology Revolution”, describing it as a world in which some 40 billion objects will be connected to the internet by the year 2020. Wired magazine referred to it as “An era where most mundane items in our lives can talk wirelessly among themselves, performing tasks on command, giving us data we’ve never had before.”

So what exactly is it, this Internet of Things?

In a nutshell – it is a network of physical objects, embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enable them to interact one with another by collecting and exchanging data. This can apply to an enormous range of “things”, and the number of appliances only keeps on growing: From letting you know where you placed your “lost” car keys, through checking on your oven from the other side of town and turning it off, all the way to smart cities that analyze data on water supply and sensors that monitor your baby’s skin temperature and sleeping position. All these are the Internet of Things.

Even though the actual expression “Internet of Things” was coined by the British technology pioneer Kevin Ashton back in 1999, the definition has not changed since then.
According to Ashton, “The Internet has been almost completely dependent on people for its supply of information. But in the future, things will be able to input data themselves. It will be as though a net is laid over the physical world, linking up and processing the abundance of data generated by “smart” things and ubiquitous sensors. This is expected to reveal patterns and make everything from energy to logistics transparent and potentially open to real-time optimization.”
All studies and forecasts indicate a massive growth in numbers of connected devices and sensors during the next few years. This will create an unprecedented amount of data flowing from many directions, and will require advanced and huge-scale means for collecting, analyzing and storing it. Many countries around the world have already started allocating more and more funds to further develop this field, and budgets are only expected to continue growing.

Effects on the Industry

According to Gartner, among the industries that are predicted to profit the most from the Internet of Things are Manufacturing, Healthcare, and Insurance.

Manufacturers of commodities are expected to benefit greatly, as this will allow them to have a precise real-time overview in of their entire inventory, including key factors such as the intake and depletion of materials. These insights will provide them with the ability to quickly respond to changes in the market, to customer preferences and to consumer behavior. These things are already being done nowadays by manufacturers, but usually with somewhat lesser efficiency. In terms of healthcare, there are also quite a lot of benefits in store: Many companies have already started riding the wave and developing quite a few appliances, from containers of prescribed medication being able to “tell” whether their owners have taken their pills, and remind them via email or text messages if necessary, all the way to “smart” clothes equipped with sensors being able to detect when older people fall down, and call for help if they don’t move afterwards. The possibilities are virtually endless, and with the right infrastructure and creative spark of imagination, the sky really is the limit.

The Challenge of Standardization

It seems that one of the main obstacles standing in the way of the Internet of Things, possibly hindering its fast pace, is lack of technical standardization.

Such standards are essential for ensuring that all devices from all manufactures can successfully communicate one with another. Sensors are now being connected via WLAN, Near Field Communication (NFC), Zigbee and Bluetooth. According to Navigant Research, in 2012, almost 40 million devices worldwide were equipped with Zigbee. In 2020, the numbers are expected to increase by more than five folds, and stand on over 200 million. The numbers of the additional standardization technologies are behaving in a similar manner, but researchers already have their eyes set into the future. Completely new approaches are being explored and developed all the time, as the great potential of the IoT has been realized, along with the need for a global, fully compatible standardization protocol.

Mars Media Group is embracing the IoT revolution and currently developing tools that support it via Native DSP.

It should be very interesting to follow the standardization trends and technologies, and see how the industry adapts to the fast-paced Internet of Things revolution.

Online Marketing, Performance Marketing

Content Marketing to Continue Growing

Entering the fourth quarter of 2015, we can see that Content Marketing is indeed continuing to lead the herd, as predicted.

It has been around for some time now, and has made a powerful impact since day one – Mostly due to its cleverly subtle nature and its ability to go viral through social networking.

However, it has only recently been acknowledged as a truly essential and highly effective form of online marketing. With 89% of Content Marketers saying it works and delivers results, Content Marketing really does live up to its title as “The Future of Marketing”.

Here are a few trends and forecasts to keep in mind for the near future of Content Marketing:

1) Annual spend should continue to grow:

With the growing understanding of how much Content Marketing is important, more and more content marketers find themselves abandoning the need to fight for budgets. Instead, they are taken more seriously, are given more funds and accordingly – are expected to deliver better results. In 2013, the budget allocated for Content Marketing in the US was 12.4% of total marketing spend. Two years afterwards, in 2015, the budget is about 23.3%. According to assessments, the budget in 2017 is believed to reach 33.1%.

With the budget allocation continuing to expand, it seems to only be a matter of knowing how to use it wisely. To fully maximize the annual growth, the next step seems to be obtaining the proper expertise and developing industry standards for measurement and optimization.

2) Measurement tools will develop further:

According to several researches, the majority of participants (58%), from various business sectors, believe that Content Marketing is completely measurable. Participants from the media sector have even more faith, as 65% of them believe that Content Marketing can be completely measured.

When asked about the importance of developing tools for further advanced measurement, 66% of total participants responded that they are more likely to invest in measurement tools now than 5 years ago.

The numbers speak for themselves, and it should be interesting to see what the future holds in terms of advanced designated measurement tools.

3) Standardization of the micro-targeting approach:

Targeting, in many aspects, is the bread and butter of online advertising. Digital marketers are always on the lookout for improved and more advanced targeting options. According to assessments, Content Marketing will continue going with the micro-targeting approach, taking it even one step further.

This means that businesses could actually get to connect better with their customers and know them in a more personal and deeper level. From a customer’s point of view, receiving personalized and granular bits of content encourages trust and leads to loyalty. From the business’ point of view, this process results in loyal and highly engaged customers, who remain devoted to the brand. These site personalization technologies, with which we are familiar from the E-commerce world, are now being utilized by other industries for personalizing content distribution to customers. This trend is expected to become more and more popular, and best practices should improve as time goes by – leading to more targeted responses and better results.

Online Marketing

Content Marketing – Challenges and Trends in 2015

The traditional world of marketing is becoming less and less relevant, as time passes.

Many consumers ignore ads on magazines and newspapers, almost automatically, and skip through commercials on TV. In this regard, online marketing in the past decade or two has stepped forward where more traditional forms of marketing have declined.
However, users have now become so used to surfing the net, that they can consume content without paying attention to banners or buttons. This is referred to as “Banner blindness”, and requires marketers and advertisers to constantly reinvent the game, in a way, in order to stay relevant.

One of the solutions developed is the Content Marketing approach, which has become increasingly more popular in the past few years. It is focused on creating and distributing relevant content in the consumer’s natural browsing environment, and by that – attracting specific targeted audiences, calling them to profitable action.

That is exactly where its magic is, and that is why it has now become bigger than ever. More and more budgets are allocated toward its direction, and marketers integrate it more and more into their overall strategy.However, life is not entirely peachy for Content Marketing. Despite its popular use, there are quite a few challenges lying ahead. Here are some prominent challenges and trends expected for Content Marketing through the rest of 2015:

1. Publication vs. Distribution: Creating high-quality content and making it public is important. However, it is only the first stage. True value comes from distributing it and delivering it to the right people. According to research carried out by Altimeter, only 26% of marketers invest in content distribution, even though more than 50% believe they need to.

Closing the gap between publication and distribution is what will make your marketing content stand out, reach your audience, and eventually make the difference.

2. ROI Above All: As conventional paid media is stepping aside to make more and more room for Content Marketing, the burden of proof is on the latter. Marketers using this approach will need to prove that it indeed pays off, and we should expect to see tools being developed and best practices being defined for measuring ROI in content.

Parameters such as consumer attention and deep engagement with a company/brand will become indicative and measurable, just like CPC and CPM.

3. User Experience Matters: The increase in mobile content consumption in the past few years has changed the game in several aspects. Users have several different ways of consuming content, often across customized and personalized streams, including websites, news apps and social apps.

It is therefore important to be aware of these channels and consumption patterns, which may be rather sporadic and random. Always keep in mind that the average user may have a short attention span, or just change their mind within seconds, with no apparent reason, regarding how valuable a piece of content is.

Being prepared for all these scenarios is among marketers’ biggest challenges in Content Marketing.

4. Conventional Ads Going Subtle: As content gradually becomes a further integral part of marketers’ advertising strategy, conventional ads should become less bold and obvious. With Content Marketing becoming so popular, many of the typical banner ads have become mostly ineffective.

Other than creating brand visibility and awareness, they miss most of their purpose. Sponsored and branded content are proving to deliver better results, including broader reach and increased ROI. Advertisers should therefore carry on with the trend, and continue working closely with publishers to carefully create clever and subtle ads. These relatively simple, yet effective ads, should be placed in contextually relevant pieces of content and keep on doing their magic.

If you want to ride the Content Marketing wave, and learn how your marketing strategy can benefit from it, contact us at info@m-m-g.com