This Playlist Brought To You By…

Spotify’s new Sponsored Playlists will allow brands to sponsor playlists on the platform that reach a specific target audience based on their campaign objectives. For instance, a brand launching a new breakfast menu could sponsor a “Morning Commute” playlist.

The new ad units include logo placement and rights to the first ad break in the free version of the streaming service. Sponsored Playlists can be supported with both branded and native promotions within the playlist. The feature is currently in beta testing, but Kia (which recently sponsored a New Music Friday playlist) doubled campaign benchmarks on the platform.

Here’s how it works!

Why It’s Hot: Sponsoring Branded Playlists gives brands an opportunity to find unique ways to connect with consumers in a contextual, as well as emotional, way through the power of music. However, the target is limited to those who use the free version of the service. While these consumers are used to hearing ads in playlists, it will be interesting to see what the reactions are to more branded content on the platform.


Spotify Will Now Let Brands Sponsor the Most Popular Playlists

The Power of Six Reaches YouTube

YouTube released a new pre-roll format this week known as Bumper Ads. These pre-roll ads are similar to traditional TrueView Ads on the channel, except that they last just six seconds. The new format is optimized for mobile, where users have shorter attention spans.

Not only are these ads optimized for mobile viewership, but they also present an opportunity for brands to test which format is most successful and engaging. Recently, Audi and Atlantic Records launched Bumper Ads that featured select shots from its longer TV spots.

YouTube has found from early tests that these short-form pre-roll ads perform best when paired with TrueView ads. They are a great complement to the traditional ads as they are optimized for mobile and drove strong lifts in the upper funnels of ad recall and awareness when targeted towards those who had previously seen TrueView preroll ads. The TrueView ads have been found to perform best in lower funnels.

Why It’s Hot: These shorter pre-roll ads could be a great solve for advertising on mobile, as they cater to the short attention spans of mobile users. It will be interesting to see how brands use these Bumper Ads to retarget their key audience on mobile. There is opportunity with these ads to develop smart re-targeting strategies to reach users effectively and across platforms.


The Battle Continues: Google Reacts to Facebook’s Latest Video Announcements


This week, just one week after the F8 conference that was so highly focused on Facebook’s commitment to video, Google has made two large announcements concerning its digital video tools.

This week, YouTube and Oracle Data cloud announced that they would begin tracking sales data for select CPG campaigns to connect the power of YouTube campaigns to in-store purchases. Google announced that early tests showed 61 percent of skippable YouTube ads (TrueView ads) generated significant sales increases.

This Gatorade TrueView ad generated $13.05 in sales for every dollar the brand invested in the ad and also generated a 16 percent lift in new buyers who viewed the ad versus those who did not, according to Google.

Also this week, YouTube released its 360 degree feature to creators and brands—kicking off with a T-Mobile sponsored stream of the Coachella festival. This releases comes just a week after Facebook’s announcement of its 360 video and live content hub, demonstrating the growing trends and interest in publishing live content to users.

On the other side, Facebook and Instagram released a beta program this week for interactive video ads, which would allow users to explore products deeper or even be directed to quizzes simply by hovering over a CTA button in the corner of the video. On mobile, the interactive features are available by swiping on the video and going to a landing page. This new format has proven to increase engagement rates significantly.

Why It’s Hot: As YouTube and Facebook go back and forth to claim dominance in the digital video space, both are opening up new features to brands. There is now more opportunity for brands to livestream content to viewers as well as more engaging videos. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see which platform can out-innovate the other, and what new capabilities are most effective for brands.…/brands-can-now-create-interactive-video-campaigns-facebook-and-instagram-170889


Netflix Makes Its Pre Roll More User “Friend”ly

To announce that all 10 seasons of the hit sitcom are now streaming, Netflix decided to remind YouTube users that Friends is relevant to all of life’s problems and experiences. The brand cleverly created preroll featuring scenes from the show that align with the specific search terms a user inputs to find a video. For example, an inquiry for makeup tutorials serves users a scene of Joey marketing makeup in Japan.

Why It’s Hot: This is the first responsive pre-roll execution of its kind, and successfully leverages the interests of the viewer to make the ad relative.


Netflix’s Clever YouTube Prerolls Use Your Searches to Cue Up Specific Scenes from ‘Friends’:

Instagram: A Platform for Music Enthusiasts

Nielsen conducted a study to quantify Instagram’s impact on music sales and found that Instagram users spend 42 percent on music, tickets, and merchandise compared to the U.S. population averages. Other stats revealed that Instagram users spent more hours listening to music than average for the U.S. and were also more likely to listen to pop. Interestingly, Instagram Music fans also were twice as likely to pay for streaming music. Find more cool stats around this key audience in the article!


Why It’s Hot: Brands with a target that index high in music or attending live events should look to Instagram as an effective channel to reach and engage with these consumers.

Are You Hungry Yet? Taco Bell’s Mobile Strategy


Taco Bell really wants Millennials to consider the fast food chain a legit breakfast option. So the brand has recently upped its mobile targeting strategy to make sure its reaching its audience when breakfast is on their mind.

Taco Bell recently partnered with Aki, a third-party mobile targeting and analytics firm, to help deliver a refined mobile targeting strategy. Aki can identify when the target is searching for breakfast recipes and even what apps they use first thing in the morning to help Taco Bell identify and leverage key moments to advertise to its target. Taco Bell is also using Waze, a direction app, to target its target and even give them step by step directions to their closest location.

Beyond mobile ads, Taco Bell is using the social-poll platform Wishbone to let users vote which new menu item is most appealing to them–ideally making them crave the meal!

Why It’s Hot: Taco Bell’s mobile strategy is a great case study for all brands because it leverages key moments and targets based on age, geography, interests, and cravings.


Facebook Can Now Track Offline Sales

AtlasUnderstandThePathFacebook Atlas, Facebook’s “people-marketing” tool that gathers consumer insights from the platform, received an update this week that could potentially allow marketers to track the success of their Facebook Atlas campaigns on retail sales.

Facebook Atlas campaigns integrate other websites and publishers, not just Facebook Ads. Thus, marketers can get a fuller picture to see how their digital efforts drive actual sales.

The update also allows marketers to see which platforms, digital or mobile, are driving the brick and mortar sales. This can help advertisers optimize their campaigns for the platform that is the most successful for business. Not to mention, Facebook Atlas allows advertisers to optimize against these results and insights in real-time so that campaigns are highly efficient.

Brands using the Facebook Atlas have already seen real results:

  • Mini discovered 30 percent of sales conversions started on desktop but that final conversions were driven by mobile ads
  • Fashion brand Yoox found that its Facebook Atlas campaigns were driving a 29 percent lift in sales

Why It’s Hot: In the past few months, more and more tools have become available to help bridge the gap between digital campaigns and brick and mortar sales–something that clients care a lot about! In the past, it has been difficult for advertisers and brands to quantify the success of social or digital campaigns in terms of actual sales. But thanks to the increase in new tools dedicated to comparing these metrics, that may soon be a problem of the past.


Breakfast: The Latest Social Trend

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 6.02.37 PMOver the past few months, breakfast has become a trending social topic, fueled primarily by McDonald’s all-day breakfast debut last year. The brand announced the release of its all-day breakfast menu with an all-day Twitter campaign that increased mentions of the brand by 133 percent on the first day of launch.

And just this week, breakfast once again saw a big return to trending conversations, with major brands leveraging consumer behavior and cultural moments to increase brand awareness and engage consumers.

This week, iHop released its new Snapchat campaign–customized and location based geo-filters for its various chains that can only be unlocked when at a restaurant. Though customizable geo-filters are now open to all Snapchat users, iHop decided to launch the campaign based on a strong consumer insight. The brand stated that they receive thousands of snaps from diners in restaurants every day, and wanted to give them a way to further engage with the brand while tapping into the existing behavior.

In the first few days of release, the filters generated over 3 million impressions. 

Beyond Snapchat, iHop also introduced a name generator on its website that transforms your name into a fun breakfast item that can be shared on social.

McDonald’s breakfast also had a winning week, thanks to the brand’s campaign that tapped into the conversation around the Oscars. The brand released an ad which spoofed acceptance speeches.

Acceptance speeches often drag and are a hot topic of conversation around viewers. So the brand decided to make the official 45 second allotted time more “bearable” by taking the time to thank everyone who make’s its All-Day breakfast possible. This is another example of a brand leveraging cultural trends and consumer insights to deliver fun, engaging content.

Why It’s Hot: These brands are keeping their breakfast “hot” by leveraging consumer habits and cultural moments to enter their products into trending conversations. They are using these insights to create engaging content that is more brand-focused and less promotional.



Thanks to Visa, You’ll Never be Running on Empty Again

visa-token-service-cars-1At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, Visa will debut prototypes of its new connected car apps, which use the Internet of Things and Visa mobile payments to help drivers pay for things like gas and parking from the driver’s seat.

Partnering with Honda, Visa built an app located in a car’s dashboard that uses the brand’s Visa Token Service to make payments outside the car. Tokens are linked to bank accounts and much harder to scam or steal than credit card information. These tokens are also exclusively for car-related purchases through the app.

So how does it work? When your tank is low, the app notifies you and knows just how much gas the car needs to fill up. When you arrive at a gas station, Bluetooth allows you to pay for the fuel with tokens through the app, without leaving the car.

Similarly, a second Visa car app can pay parking meters by calculating how much a spot costs. This is done through a partnership with booking app ParkWhizz and is only accessible at one of the partner’s locations.

This is just the start of Visa’s vision for the Internet of Things and Tokens:

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 11.12.57 AM

So what does it mean for brands? Coffee or other gas-station related brands could potentially tap into the car app to offer exclusive discoutns and offers to customers who use the technology to buy their products. If this technology sticks, it could be used for other types of vendors and stores, further opening the possibility for brands to connect with consumers using mobile payment apps.

The car apps will be tested in the spring, but there are still a lot of bugs to work through before this kind of car-payment technology becomes a widespread reality. It also has huge cost implications, since gas pumps and stations will need to be equipped with the proper technology. Not to mention, there will need to be standard protocol and procedures for the token payment methods.

Why It’s Hot: Cash and credit cards are slowly being phased out thanks to apps like Venmo and even social options such as Snapchat pay. With Visa’s new app, drive-thrus and gas stations could be totally cash and credit free. It will be interesting to see how secure this technology is and how many will be willing to completely ditch old ways for this alternative way to pay.


New Video Platform Guarantees Viewer’s Full Attention

magnets_0New video platform Syncroll offers the first 100% guaranteed completion rate option for advertisers with a platform optimized for attention rate and interest.

Despite a growing interest in digital video ads from both brands and consumers (video ads are now the most engaging ads for Milennials) there are still hurdles and inconsistencies when it comes to actually measuring the success of video ads and making sure your audience sees them.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the threat of virtual “bots” that skew the success of social posts when brands optimize for impressions or views. These bots often mimic human behavior and fill in gaps between actual traffic or engagement with a video and the desired benchmark a brand has set—making it seem like the brand is meeting its goals when in reality a lot of the traffic is fraudulent.

Not only do bots skew the results of video ad engagements, but the APIs on the platforms also deliver confusing results. YouTube and Facebook differ in their definitions of views, making performance metrics hard to quantify and compare.

With all the chaos and confusion, brands are between a rock and a hard place as they combat measuring performance while continuing to optimize for the most engaging type of digital ads. However, Mediabong launched a  new video platform it calls Syncroll to solve this. Syncroll’s algorithm calculates in real-time a viewer’s interest in a video, prioritizing engagement and actions over views. Advertisers using Syncroll only pay for video ads that are watched in full.

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 11.53.41 AM

Syncroll’s KPIs are based on attention rather than views or completion rates, which the platform says is a more telling metric and also more useful when it comes to retargeting.

And brands have seen real results with the platform. Volvo and Netflix saw a 30% increase in video competitions and engagement rates using the Syncroll platform.

Why It’s Hot: Guaranteed views is a more cost effective KPI for brands and a better indicator of ROI from digital ads. The capabilities Syncroll offers could help brands wary of entering the space of digital video content more willing to test the waters and media spend dollars—thus giving consumers more of the content they desire.

How to Play the Game: Winning Over Sports Fans

voice-feb01-01-2016A recent study on Global Sports Fans found that while the majority of fans know who sponsors their team, 80 percent also think that brands fail to consider their audiences when amplifying partnerships.

This study asked 2,000-plus sports fans across the U.K., U.S., Japan, Spain and Brazil their opinions on how brands are doing when it comes to partnering with sports teams. And the results weren’t great.

“Only 17 percent [of sports fans] believe brands are interested in them”

This article states that this disconnect is a result of brands focusing more on the  partnerships than on the actual fans and their rituals.

The key to winning over sports fans is by engaging with their existing behavior and creating meaningful experiences for them to have with others at the game. 63 percent of sports fans say that the rituals they have at stadiums, like doing the wave or singing cheers with others in the stands, are a key part of the live viewing sports experience. In fact, music was cited as the number one form of entertainment at sports games by fans.

Brands who want to truly capture the attention of dedicated sports fans must find ways to create meaningful experiences for fans that add to the live experience while integrating the existing behaviors and rituals of fans.

American Express did this during the most recent U.S. Open, when they offered an onsite virtual reality experience for attendees. Fans could virtually play against Maria Sharapova in a four minute game that was the first consumer-oriented VR unit to go in market. Why was the activation such a huge success? It not only added to the live experience of the U.S. Open, but it also directly engaged with the interests of fans by allowing them to join in on the competition. It was far more than a “sponsored by” message from the brand.

Why It’s Hot: With the hype of Super Bowl abuzz, everyone is talking about the best TV spots. But what will truly be interesting to see is what brands (if any) go beyond TV and develop more engaging activations that contribute to the actual experience for fans attending the game.

Source: 6 Ways Brands can Draft Modern Sports Fans


Street Music Takes on a New Meaning

Coors Light is testing interactive ads throughout Manhattan that generate real-time playlists based on what is trending in that neighborhood.

The month-long activation is a partnership with music app Shazam and LinkNYC. Coors Light transformed the new WiFi kiosks into innovations that create real-time, curated playlists for consumers. The kiosks are in select neighborhoods throughout NYC and can be activated by a smartphone. The playlists are updated every 15 minutes–always “refreshing,” just like Coors Light.

The execution not only uses new technology, but it also engages deeply with consumers by playing on the emotional need state of the local community. The unique idea is also in line with the brand’s commitment to offer a “refreshing” experience by giving consumers the chance to refresh their playlists.

The idea is definitely unique coming from a beer company and is also in line with current musical trends. In 2015, over 1 trillions songs were live streamed across the top music apps. What will be interesting, though, is to see whether or not users will actually engage with the kiosks. While social sharing is natural, stopping on the sidewalk to hear a playlist may be asking too much of busy New Yorkers.

Why It’s Hot: The execution is more engaging and interactive than most out-of-home ideas, and the integration with the current moods of the neighborhoods gives the campaign a personal touch. As technology opens doors for brands, it will be interesting to see which brands can successfully find a way to be cutting edge while still tapping into the emotions of consumers.


The Bots Have Eyes

Though fraudulent bots have existed for years, advertisers are truly beginning to feel the impact of them as more and more brands are increasing their ad spend on websites and social media channels. A study from the Association of National Advertisers reports that online “bots” that mimic human behavior with false clicks on ads could cost the industry more than $7 billion in wasted spending.

Using technology to determine whether online ads were viewed by real humans or fake bots, fraud detection company White Ops estimated that the average company lost between $250K and $42M in ad spending thanks to bots.

The report also found that ads that are purchased to optimize impressions or those targeted to very specific demographics get the most exposure to bots. The reason, is that the demand for views on these ads is greater than the number of humans that will actually see the ad.

As brands increase their KPIs for impressions and simultaneously implement specific targeting capabilities online, bots are the ones filling in the holes to make sure advertisers seemingly meet their goals. It’s a classic problem of supply and demand-with bots falsely increasing the supply curve to reach a deceiving “equilibrium.” Some publishers will even pay third-party vendors to “source traffic” to their site—increasing both views and the percentage of views that come from fake users.

“The problem is bots often behave better than humans. That is to say, if a campaign is trying to reach the goal of clicking an ad or spending time on a page, the bots will click more often and stay longer. The result: Agencies are left optimizing for bot behavior, not human actions.” –Digiday

But there is hope. A White Ops case study found that brand survey results on inventory with bot-blocking technology had 22% higher brand engagement and 9% higher view rates than the inventory without the blocker. Thus, bot-blockers can both save money as well as improve campaign results.

Why It’s Hot: Ad fraud is a huge problem that will continue to misrepresent the success of online campaigns as well as cost brands millions of dollars if not combatted. Though agencies are beginning to certify publishers in the buying space to help filter out “sourced traffic,” the issue of ad fraud is still not top-of-mind in the industry.


A Diamond in the Rough: Tiffany’s Approach to Twitter

In the past year, Tiffany has become Twitter’s top luxury brand and increased its followers by 30 percent by providing users with product updates that come from a genuine voice rather than a promotional one. The brand approaches the 140 character limit as delicately as its products—using each word carefully to deliver a message in an engaging way.

A report from Engagement Labs recently ranked Tiffany & Co. as the most engaging luxury brand on Twitter, primarily driven by its #WillYou engagement ring hashtag. Tiffany & Co. offers a winning combination of product and entertainment to inform fans while not coming off as a billboard. The tweets also maintain the brand’s witty voice throughout. According to the VP and Creative Director of Global Digital Marketing at Tiffany & Co., often its these culturally relevant and colloquial tweets that perform the best.


Why does it standout? The brand does what many others struggle to do—find a way to use Twitter to promote content without losing that brand voice. And all under 140 characters. Even championed brands like Nike are considered to be one of the worst brands on Twitter with overly-promotional posts that lack the brand’s strong voice.

Why It’s Hot: Tiffany & Co.’s Twitter success can be attributed to its willingness to step away from its products and engage in more meaningful, authentic ways with fans. While it is hard for businesses and brands to let go of their product goals, this case study proves that doing so can actually increase brand loyalty. Tiffany & Co.’s Twitter voice is now as precious and coveted as one of the tiny blue boxes.




Snapchat Gets Smarter

Snapchat has taken its capabilities to the next level recently with new filters and lenses, but the channel is now going further to specifically help brands capitalize on these new features. Snapchat is partnering with big data firms to provide better insights on its users to advertisers. Using firms like Datalogix, Epsilon, Acxiom and BlueKai Snapchat will soon be able to tell advertisers how Snapchat users are using their mobile devices to connect with other brands—including what they’ve recently bought, viewed, or downloaded on their phones.

This data coupled with geolocation information will provide brands key insights into the interests and demographics of Snapchat users. Knowing how Snapchat fans are using their phones and what type of content they engage with most often on mobile will allow advertisers to create content on the platform that will truly resonate with their target. The data firms can even tell brands if specific users are millennials so they know whether or not they are reaching their desired audience.



And speaking of Target, the brand has jumped full speed ahead on the Snapchat trend—recently using the platform’s geofilters on Black Friday to engage with customers in the checkout line. Read more about the integration of Snapchat into Target’s holiday campaign here.

Snapchat has recently signed on other big-named brands as sponsors, including Nordstrom and Starbucks, meaning that these new insights could lead to more strategic integration of Snapchat into brand campaigns in early 2016.

Why It’s Hot: Though the partnership with big data is a smart way for Snapchat to lure advertisers, it also provides an opportunity for brands to use the platform in a more effective way than ever before. By understanding the habits of Snapchat users that engage with their channel and knowing other mobile content they interact with, brands can optimize the content they push through the site to deliver what will resonate most with its consumers. The result? Smart, strategic executions that will be authentic and engaging to the consumer.


Snapchat is cutting data deals to lure advertisers