Tag Archive | advertising

Native? Social? Both?

This summer, I interned at SocialToaster, a social media marketing agency that turns a company’s existing social media following into a team of organized brand ambassadors. Part of my job was to create blog posts and other marketing materials that reinforced SocialToaster’s core business concept, and I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned regarding native advertising and social media marketing.

Native Advertising: You’ve probably heard this term if you’ve kept up to date on the latest digital marketing trends. In short, native advertising is a form of communication that smoothly integrates with a user’s experience on a website or application. For instance, if you see a sponsored Facebook post that tells a story about a company’s new product, this is a native advertisement because it is part of the user’s core experience (i.e., not a banner ad). Online brand ambassador programs are also forms of native advertising: for instance, Maker’s Mark offers incentives for its ambassadors to share content about its brand.

Social Media Marketing, though, is the use of social media platforms to market a company to consumers or businesses. Examples of social media marketing are banner ads on Facebook, a company’s Twitter posts, or Instagram pictures with links directed towards purchasing or other landing pages. Social media marketing encompasses the development of marketing programs targeted at a company’s existing and intended social media audience.

Can Native and Social Intersect? Yes. For example, SocialToaster’s Super Fans (brand ambassadors) can earn prizes for posting a company’s message as a status update or sharing its content on Twitter. Native advertising can be seamlessly integrated into social media marketing because people use social media all the time. Therefore, native advertising and social media marketing are not mutually exclusive; rather, they are two effective forms of marketing that work incredibly well together.

InfluenceofBuying

The Numbers: Consider some facts from a recent Gallup poll:

  • 94% of social media users do so to connect with friends and family
  • 62% of social media users do not believe social media influences their purchasing decisions
  • 29% of social media users use these platforms to keep up on product reviews and trends

That 94% is important, because it means that over 9/10 people who use social media connect with people they (hopefully) trust. Now, if you’re part of the nearly 30% who use, say, Facebook for product recommendations, what are you more likely to look to as a source: a friend’s recommendation, or a banner advertisement? If your friend is a Maker’s Mark brand ambassador and posts a picture of delicious bourbon on Facebook, you’re statistically more likely to click on this post than you are to entertain a traditional advertisement.

But do you even realize your friend’s recommendation for Maker’s Mark is an advertisement? According to the study, 62% of the time, you will not.

And that’s why native advertisements on social media work. Companies can employ people you trust to recommend their products, meaning you might not even realize when you’re being advertised to. But you might find some great products in the process!

-David

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Analyzing Disney Media & Millenials As A Marketing Intern in New York This Summer.

This past summer, I interned for Disney Media Ad Sales and Marketing in New York. My department’s responsibility was to provide Sales with the tools, resources and marketing ideas they need to drive advertising revenue for Disney Channel, Disney X D, Disney Junior and Radio Disney. From my first day at Disney to my last, I was treated as if I was another member of the department which meant I was expected to do analyst level work. This gave me an appreciation of how this key unit functioned as well as what life in the real world would be like in two years when I graduate. While the commute from my home on Long Island was a bit taxing and expensive ($382 a month), going to sleep at 930PM to wake at 6AM was the biggest adjustment I had to make as any normal Hopkins student could attest to.

DisneyInternship

Many of the tasks I was assigned focused on the Research side of the business. I had to create a weekly “Landscape Report,” which outlined the competitive environment for Disney Media as well as updating other key reports which encompassed anything from analyzing VOD (Video On Demand) Ad campaigns to pulling weekly ratings from the StarTrak system for stunts (airing shows out of their normal time periods) and marathons (running a whole season of past episodes back to back). One of the main lessons I learned from the summer is that the Ad Sales Department of Disney only needs one story to tell in order to sell a spot to a potential company. You could comb through mountains of data, but all you need is one positive nugget of information and you run with it. Additionally, if a point you want to use doesn’t necessarily work at first, there are ways to make it work by using phrases like one of the highest rated instead of the highest rated or by saying the show is number one in its time period as opposed to comparing it to all programs that air throughout the week.

I also worked on projects that dealt more with “Consumer Insights.” For example, I developed numerous decks for clients ranging from addressing the interests of “Hispanic Consumers with Pets” to the affinity and preferences of “Toys and Games for Preschoolers and Toddlers.” I analyzed large Mintel Reports and from there, I generated stories that likened a consumer and their affinity for the Disney brand. I specifically enjoyed these projects as they allowed me to get creative and play with images and market the company to the best of my ability.

I also wrote sections of “Ad-Intel” Reports which analyzed the business foundation of potential advertisers such as Nike and Microsoft. I analyzed anything from current products to their key target demographics to their potential revenue stream for FY 14. By breaking down these industry giants, I was able to understand the fundamentals of running some of the most successful corporations in the world.

I was also chosen to be “Group Leader” and oversee an Intern Project that dealt with media consumption among the Millennial Generation. The “Disney Media” portion of the project focused on analyzing specific social media tendencies in the kid space, which became a bit tricky as you are not supposed to join a social media site until you reach the age of 13. However, we were able to determine that although kids aren’t supposed to be on social media before 13, they are. As a result, a lot of the same patterns we found with Millenials and their use of social media rang true for kids as well.

I along with 12 other interns presented our Millenials data to 80+ Executives from throughout the Disney/ABC Television Group. Being able to not only craft a presentation but to verbalize it as well is an invaluable skill that I will need later on in the business world. I made it through without any “ummms” or pauses, and I even answered ad hoc questions in the middle of my portion. It really is something to have people in the audience who have generated billions of dollars in ad revenue for Disney, ABC and ABC Family listen to your words and take in the slides that you created.

Besides the networking aspects in the television industry that this internship provided, it really proved to me that I would love to one day pursue a career in the media/marketing side of business. This summer I was lucky enough to come to work for a company that affects millions of lives a day and that everybody recognizes. Therefore, you take extra responsibility and pride in everything you create. Don’t tell anyone but Disney Channel now joins ESPN as my favorite network and I’ll be watching “Girl Meets World” every week when it returns for its second season (date and time to be announced).

Glenn Hyams, Class of ’16

Writing Seminars Major, Minor in Entrepreneurship & Management, Concentration in Marketing

JHU Graduate Produces Mother’s Day Video.

Ever since I started my graduate school adventure at Miami Ad School San Francisco (a portfolio school for advertising), I have been shown the true value of personal projects.

Personal projects that allow one to freely execute a campaign without being limited by the corporate aspects of advertising; personal projects that encourage individuals to pursue something true to themselves, while having fun playing with social norms.

This is how the idea of “Call Your Mom” came about. Everyday, we walk by so many strangers without interacting with them at all. My team and I wanted to break this social norm and get to know strangers in a unique way – by gaining insight into their relationship with their moms.

We therefore took to the streets of San Francisco and asked people when they had last called their moms. The end result was beautiful, and fully supported a notion we strongly believe in: if you are passionate about an idea, go and execute it. The benefits of advertising don’t just have to come from the professional workplace.

 Jiayi Wang ’13

I hope you enjoy it …

My Movie Internship: Hollywood Is Just As Business-Orientated As Wall Street.

Many people overlook the fact that Hollywood is just as business-orientated as Wall Street. From a strictly business perspective, a movie is a staggering—and very risky—investment: producers and studios can pour hundreds of millions of dollars into a single production in hopes that the revenue generated from ticket sales, home-video sales, merchandise, etc. will turn a profit. Investing in a movie is precarious because of the underlying notion that no one can predict whether or not a movie will be good, and if it is good, if audiences will want to see it and purchase tickets. In order to dilute the risk factors, then, studios rely on securing high-profile celebrities and creative teams, reverting to known blockbuster genres, remaking classic hits, and making sequel after sequel (Saw 7, anyone?).

Unsurprisingly, box office sales are the primary way a movie earns money, and most movies earn close to 50% of their domestic gross in their opening weekends. The rare exceptions are the movies with strong legs, like Gravity or Avatar, which hold well in the marketplace for continuous weeks. Thus, luring audiences into the theater that opening weekend is especially critical, and consequently studios carefully deliberate release dates and spend huge amount of money marketing a film. In fact, most tent-pole movies (a movie, usually a blockbuster, that ‘holds up’ or balances out a studio’s financial performance, e.g. Despicable Me 2 or Harry Potter; they’re often expected to turn a profit in a relatively short amount of time) can have advertising budgets comparable to their production budgets. That is to say, if a movie’s cost is $80 million, it could have close to that in marketing efforts behind it. Additionally, if a studio knows a movie is going to be a flop, and they generally do, they might increase or decrease the marketing budget, either to make one last push to persuade audiences to see the film or to cut their losses. Securing a strong opening weekend turnout is also the reason why movies with widespread critical acclaim publicize their reviews early, while studios with flops on their hands tend to keep poor reviews under wraps until the last possible moment in order to prevent them from discouraging audiences.

From trailers and posters to TV spots and other publicity efforts such as Comic-Con parties and online presences, creative advertising attempts to both raise awareness about the movie as well as highlight it as worthy of the ten-dollar ticket price to see it on the big screen. A film’s trailer is without question its strongest advocate, and as such, most studios begin creating a trailer months in advance of its release. Studio executives work with the filmmakers as well as with external production companies (known as trailer houses) that specialize in either print (the poster) or audio-visual (the trailer) media to design a campaign that positions the movie in a particular, meticulously crafted light. Everything from the music and dialogue to the font of the copy (text) to the emotion the trailer evokes is highly scrutinized and debated because the trailer is not only the first glimpse audiences will have of the movie, but also, if constructed successfully, the most influential marketing tool.

Executives begin researching the campaign by reading the film’s script and watching trailers for similar movies. They study those trailers to understand what worked well and what did not, but to see how other marketing departments have approached a related topic: what angle on the story did they take? Was the focus more on the visuals or on the story? How much of the plot was revealed and in what ways? While they are researching, executives meet with filmmakers to decide how they want to advertise the film, read the script, and look at dailies. Dailies are visuals (both photo and video) of everything that has been filmed, uncut, on a single day; as filming progresses, the quantity of dailies increases and the executives have more footage to work with. The creative process really begins here, when executives work with trailer houses to select and edit the footage, piecing together the trailer that aligns with their vision about how they want the film to appear. The trailer houses send a number of versions of each cut of the trailer to the executive, each with varying music, copy, visuals, etc. The executive then considers what works well and what needs to be changed, and the trailer houses then make the edits. This editing and re-editing usually lasts several weeks. Once the trailer is ready, and the filmmakers have given their approval, the trailer is usually screened before several test audiences of various demographics. These test audiences comment on not only whether or not they like the trailer, but if the trailer is effective at accomplishing what the studio intended, e.g. was the film’s plot clear? did the jokes work?  When the trailer is finally ready, it ships, or is released.

Timing the shipping of trailers is crucial, as there are often specific movies to which the executives want them to be attached or accompany. Attaching a trailer to a movie means that the trailer will always play before a certain movie in the theater; the term comes from when the actual 35mm film of trailer would have to be physically attached to the film of the movie. Perhaps the most well-known recent instance of this was Warner Bros. attachment of Man of Steel’s teaser to The Dark Knight Rises. Studios can also vary attachment based on theater type, i.e. if you go and see the newest Thor in 3D, you would have been treated to a five-minute sneak peak of the upcoming Captain America. This strategy is more commonly exhibited with IMAX screens, as an added incentive to pay the higher ticket price. If a trailer accompanies a feature, it will often play before that film, but it doesn’t have to. Studios work with theaters to have their trailer shown before a movie, but the theaters have the final say and usually make their decision based on the expected audience of the film playing and the release date of the advertised film. In other words, the theater might not choose to screen a horror trailer before the latest Pixar film. This is why if you see a movie in theaters more than once, there may be different trailers before it each time, or if you see a movie at a different theater, there will also be different trailers.

While premiering a trailer in theaters remains the most common approach, in recent years studios have begun exploring other avenues by which to do so, such as on late night talk show’s (Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy trailer premiered on Jimmy Kimmel), during major television events (Universal’s Neighbors, the new Seth Rogen comedy, first aired its trailer during the Roast of James Franco), or at events such as Comic Con. This strategy is becoming increasingly popular, as with certain events or television programs, studios can target a more specific demographic. With the ability to watch trailers anytime online, the timing of shipping the trailer might appear to have lost some of its importance, but the opposite is true. The Internet can create immense hype for a film when a trailer is released and shared across various social media platforms, and studios need to time this hype to prevent it from coming and going too soon.

– Andrew Townson ’14 atownson@jhu.ed

Selfie Nation

A few years ago, I would cringe when I saw a selfie posted on a social media website, immediately thinking of the selfie bathroom pictures that frequented Myspace. However, the selfie has surged in popularity, with self-taken photos and videos being utilized as a tool for self-promotion and expression. Even Oxford Dictionaries highlighted the trend when it proclaimed the selfie to be the 2013 word of the year.

President Obama's famous selfie at the Nelson Mandela memorial

President Obama’s famous selfie at the Nelson Mandela memorial

Companies have released a wave of selfie marketing campaigns, aiming to transform their customer relations by focusing on individual experiences with their products. Instead of producing professional and poised photos, brands have tapped into user-generated content. Raw and unedited evoke feelings of trust, as consumers rely upon each other to identify new deals, brands, and trends.

Coach has launched a particularly successful selfie marketing campaign with its #coachfromabove hashtag. Customers are encouraged to share pictures of their Coach shoes around the world on Twitter and Instagram, with the possibility of being featured on the official company website. Other companies, such as Applebee’s, are using self-taken videos as a promotional tool. Applebee’s is giving customers the chance to be featured in national TV commercials by posting their reactions to new menu items on Vine with the hashtag #BeeFamous. Even museums have caught onto the selfie trend by promoting this past January 22 as #MuseumSelfie Day, sparking fun and ridiculous selfies posted by museum enthusiasts across the globe.

A selfie of Eminem with the Mona Lisa

A selfie of Eminem with the Mona Lisa

However, some selfie campaigns have drawn mixed reviews, such as Dove’s selfie film for their Campaign for Real Beauty. In the film, women exhibited self-portraits and wrote complimentary notes to one another. Although the video promotes redefining standards of beauty, critics have scoffed that the video is contrived – and obviously so, as the video is ultimately designed to sell Dove’s beauty products. Many selfie videos are artificial and contrived, such as the Turkish Airlines YouTube video featuring Kobe Bryant and Lionel Messi. The two athletes have a staged selfie shootout, and the fun and successful video has over 130 million views.

Celebrities have also come under public scrutiny for posting too many selfies on social media. In reponse to critics, James Franco wrote a defense of the selfie for the New York Times, emphasizing that the selfie is a legitimate and powerful tool for self-promotion. He wrote, “selfies are avatars: Mini-me’s that we send out to give others a sense of who we are.” Over the past year, I’ve come to terms with the selfie. I’ll send selfies to friends on Snapchat, and even upload a selfie to Instagram or Facebook every once in a while.

One of James Franco's many sefies

One of James Franco’s many sefies

A selfie I took in Havana, Cuba by the Malecon

A selfie I took in Havana, Cuba by the Malecon

Do you use selfies on social media? Should businesses continue to use selfies in marketing campaigns, or do you think there will be a new trend that will redefine social media marketing in 2014?

– Kara

How the Internet and Advertising Technology Destroyed Newspapers.

Newspaperdeathwatch.com” dedicates itself to “chronicling the decline of newspapers and the rebirth of journalism,” and tracks an ever-growing list of newspapers that have gone bankrupt since 2007 when the site began. Dozens of revered daily newspapers have closed their doors in the wake of one of the most pronounced cases ever of technology disruption of an industry. All newspapers, especially those that focus on local news, have faced shutdown or drastically downsized operations.

The reason for this decline has less to do with the fact that readers consume news on their computers, tablets, and phones as most people suspect. Readership numbers are not down; if anything, total reader numbers have surged since the internet has made content more accessible for local newspapers. Rather, the decline has occurred due to fundamental issues of supply and demand of “advertising inventory,” which represents total, sellable available advertising space. The internet, as well as advertising technology, has created infinite advertising inventory in a world that previously had a finite amount inventory, all of which sat with newspapers and magazines.

Newspaper Advertising Revenue
In 1994 if a brand wanted to reach a national audience that reads news, or on a specific day (rather than a weekly or monthly magazine), that brand could advertise on either The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal, and to an extent The Washington Post and USA Today. Advertising inventory to target newspaper readers was scarce, and limited to these newspapers with a broad reach. Newspapers contained a fixed amount of pages and square inches that could house advertisements, and with this limited supply came a high price for advertising space, and incredible power and influence for these newspapers. Rumors of the golden age for advertising salespeople include tales of newspaper ad salespeople being entertained, perversely, by brands that hoped to be moved up a “wait list” for advertising placements. Life was good for newspapers.

As the internet grew exponentially in the late 1990’s, so did the amount of advertising inventory. Any person with an internet connection and a blog was technically a “publisher,” and could procure content to a large audience similar to a newspaper. With more content came more advertising inventory, and suddenly major newspapers were no longer the sole purveyors of this finite source of advertising inventory. Advertising inventory could be found everywhere on the web. In 2003, Google opened the advertising floodgates by creating a network called “Adsense” that allowed publishers (even your roommate with a video game blog) to sell advertising space, and in a way that would be more “targeted” than newspapers. An advertiser that only wanted to advertise to video game buyers could do so a lot more efficiently by running on your roommate’s blog than he could on, say, the Wall Street Journal.

With these innovations, in an extremely simple “supply and demand” scenario, the supply of advertising inventory surged, so the price of advertising space dropped considerably. Much of this expanded inventory came at the hands of Google Adsense and a few other networks. Surprising to some, roughly 95% of Google’s revenue (which was $50 billion in 2012) comes from advertising. Google is, at its core, an advertising company.

Because the value of advertising units has plummeted, newspapers today simply drive less revenues, whether print or digital. And the unfortunate newspapers with operations that require higher prices for advertising sales than the market was paying, found themselves underwater and on possibly newspaperdeathwatch.com. Hit especially hard were the local, smaller newspapers that could not attract advertisers the way that larger, farther reaching newspapers could.

In the next article I will explore how advertising technology, despite bringing an industry to its knees, is now rewarding and leading a resurrection for premium newspapers that have a strong brand and broad reach.

Tripp Weber graduated Johns Hopkins in 2009 with an International Relations major and Entrepreneurship and Management Minor. He currently works as an Advertising Manager for the New York Times.

– Tripp Weber

The Business of Biking (Across the Country)

I’m glad to be back on campus, and I’ve brought a little two-wheeled friend with me.

The summer of 2013 was the most exciting one of my life. I traveled with the 4K for Cancer Team Portland on a 70-day, 4,500-mile trip across the country. Our mission was simple: to help raise awareness and support for young adults suffering from cancer. Armed with little more than my trusty bicycle, my sturdy hand pump, and a small black backpack, I set out from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor at 7:30 am on June 2nd, 2013 for the adventure of a lifetime. Our team was filled with cyclists ranging from beginner to expert in ability, and we definitely formed a tight bond during our excursion.

Our team about to depart for Portland.

Our team about to depart for Portland.

However, the trip was a serious business venture. While it may seem to be mainly an athletic endeavor, biking 4,500 miles requires quite a bit of resources. Riders need food, water, spare tubes, bike parts, and other necessities in order to survive, let alone conquer the Rocky Mountains. Today, I want to explain how our team managed to acquire what we needed to embark on our journey. First, a few key points:

  • The Ulman Cancer Fund is a nonprofit organization. Before the ride, each of us needed to raise a minimum of $4,500 in donations before participating in the ride. These donations helped fund scholarships for young adults whose education was interrupted during their treatment.
  • None of us were able to work this summer. Try holding down a job in addition to being on a bike for 10 hours a day: it’s just not happening.
  • We needed to feed 25 people on a daily basis with no food budget.
Our team awarding Philip with a scholarship to help him continue school after his cancer treatment.

Our team awarding Philip with a scholarship to help him continue school after his cancer treatment.

Shelter was taken care of well before the trip started. Members of the team called leg leaders were tasked with calling churches, high schools, and even the occasional vacation home to find free housing for us each night. Believe it or not, people were willing to let us crash on their church floors without paying a cent.

Some hosts even rolled out the welcome mat for us!

Some hosts even rolled out the welcome mat for us!

Food was possibly the most anticipated commodity of the day. Hungry cyclists, whether at a lunch break or ending point, needed food all summer.

  • Breakfast was usually taken care of by our hosts. Church and high school communities were more than willing, for the most part, to provide us with a hearty breakfast before we took off for the day’s ride.
  • Lunch was always a wild card during the day. We had a rotation of 2 people per day who would work the food van and find food donations for everyone on the team by calling and walking into various restaurants along/close to our route. Subway, Chipotle, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and McDonald’s were largely responsible for feeding us this summer.
  • Dinner was usually provided by our hosts, but was every once in a while provided by the food van. Restaurants such as Buffalo Wild Wings, Burger King, and various local pizza places helped us along the way.
That's what it takes to feed 25 people.

That’s what it takes to feed 25 people.

Bike parts were often donated to us on the road as well. Inner tubes became more valuable than gold during the trip, so we were always happy to have a bike shop throw a few our way.

Setting up the donations for these items felt like a full-time job. During the trip itself, people in the food van made sales pitches to almost every restaurant they could and explained our mission plus why 25 adults didn’t have enough money to feed themselves during the day. I definitely practiced skills in sales, public speaking, and resource management during the trip, and I look forward to continuing this education during the coming school year.