Why Billboards Are Playing a Big Part in Digital Marketing

From Sunset Boulevard in L.A. to London here in the U.K.; the traditional billboard is experiencing a resurgence in popularity with advertisers, marketers and consumers. The billboard might be the descendant of one the oldest forms of human advertising, but the format is embracing its new role in a digital age.

It recently came to my attention that from Sunset Boulevard in L.A. to London here in the U.K.; the traditional billboard is experiencing a resurgence in popularity with advertisers, marketers and consumers. The billboard might be the descendant of one the oldest forms of human advertising, but the format is embracing its new role in a digital age.

Outdoor advertising is proving to be the perfect partner for social, and a company called Dash Two have carved out a niche as experts in both the physical and digital realms of advertising. As social media platforms tweak their algorithms and users arm their pop up blockers, many brands are finding that nobody is seeing their ads.

When I asked Dash Two founder and CEO, Gino Sesto why we are seeing this advertising evolving in this way, he advised “Outdoor advertising is a big thing because it’s tangible. Digital is intangible. With a social media post, you might see it or you might not. It comes and goes.”

The arrival of social media and its culture of artfully curated vanity has created a wealth of opportunities for billboards as brands search for new ways to bring outdoor advertising and digital together. Sure, many of us are permanently face down looking at the screens of our smartphones, to think about looking up at a soulless billboard that contains a stock photo image and slogan. But, this is why marketers need to get more creative.

A great example was the build-up to Lady Gaga’s performance at the Coachella Festival. The team at Dash Two found a local liquor store that was close to the event. They approached the owner and asked if they could put a big mural on their store with the promise that they would put the store on the map and drive Lady Gaga fans directly to their store.

When Coachella, started Lady Gaga posted on her Instagram and Twitter directing her fans to visit the liquor store and take a picture in front of the mural to get a free t-shirt. Gaga didn’t have to ask people to share it socially, her fans rushed to the area to capture the perfect Instagram moment and bragging rights that they were there.

Hundreds of people lined up to grab their picture and the images were shared thousands of times online. As for the store owner, he kept the mural up for a year after the festival as it continued to organically grow and put their store on the map.

Outdoor advertising is completely tangible, you can see it, touch it, take photos of it and share it online. An increasing number of artists and brands are turning their back on traditional ads and creating a destination and an experience. There is no one size fits all approach, but against the odds, physical ads coupled with digital media are proving to be the perfect partnership.

There are many other examples, where even online companies such as Netflix are combining the best of both worlds to deliver their message. In a digital mobile-first world, it seems that one of the oldest forms of media can teach the new kid on the block a thing or two about capturing the attention of consumers both offline and online.

Do you have any examples of how digital and physical marketing can compliment each other and create shareable Instagrammable experiences or moments?

Consumer Engagement, But Not Yet Marriage

How many times have we been asked (or asked ourselves) to come up with a valuation of a minute of a prospect’s time and attention, AKA consumer engagement? Almost all advertising is bought and sold using some version of the metric (cost per person, mostly expressed as CPM) and yet no one seems to have nailed an equation that can reliably be used as a baseline.

How many times have we been asked (or asked ourselves) to come up with a valuation of a minute of a prospect’s time and attention, AKA consumer engagement? Almost all advertising is bought and sold using some version of the metric (cost per person, mostly expressed as CPM) and yet no one seems to have nailed an equation that can reliably be used as a baseline.

It’s not that marketers haven’t tried. The most recent expression was reported in Media Daily News at the end of July. Advertisers and agency executives were researched to determine what they “considered” (perhaps better described as their “best guesses”) on the per-minute value of engaged consumer attention and they came up with $1.81. They even produced a bar graph to add verisimilitude.

consumer engagement chart
Credit: Peter J. Rosenwald

This didn’t impress one skeptical reader who commented wryly: “With a sample of 300 people AND no hard guidelines as to how anyone in the survey determined ‘value’ other than for a very narrowly-defined universe, this is just cocktail party fodder.”

Even after a couple of martinis, it would be hard to derive much value from this yardstick of consumer attention. As so-called “opt-in” and “rewarded” advertising models — which let the prospect have some free content before “opting-in” through a paywall or some other device to more content — are becoming increasingly fashionable, it is not surprising that marketers are trying to put some metrics in place to value them.

This illuminates the fact that in today’s multimedia marketplace the “value” of a minute or some other measure of someone’s time, and perhaps even more importantly, attention, depends on a basket of variables that will be unique to each prospect or cluster of prospects. If we can discover which ones are critical to the purchasing process and at what point they influence the customer journey, we may have the beginning of metrics which will intelligently inform our marketing actions. The question is how we get there and the answer remains elusive.

First we need to know what we mean by “engaged consumer”? We all have lots of experience with commercial messages (Wendy’s “Where’s the beef,” for example) which can be described as highly “engaging,” because the creative brilliance attracts the attention of viewers. But that attention has no value whatever for say, vegetarians.

How much the marketer would be willing to pay for an engaged customer, someone who has demonstrated interest in the marketed category and hopefully has the resources to purchase, is more to the point? The Lamborghini dealer should be willing to pay quite a bit more for that engaged minute than the corner taco vendor.

In a September column addressing marketing metrics and suggesting that we stop chasing our tails, I tried to put a figure on the real cost of reaching the target audience for an advertiser like Pampers. Using a $25 CPM cost of a TV spot reaching only women and, after eliminating all women who were neither in the last trimester of pregnancy nor had children under two years old, I came up with a ballpark figure of $208 per thousand. In fact, with a normal average viewing frequency of five times, capturing the engagement of each one of those thousand women for 30 seconds should be worth about $1 ((208*5)/1000), twice that for 60 seconds of attention, not far off of that $1.81 guess.

But will the “engagement” lead to a committed relationship, a marriage if you will, of consumer and brand? Certainly, if the prospect can opt-in or be rewarded with truly relevant and valuable content by clicking to visit the advertiser’s website, and the website can elevate interest to purchase, and the product satisfies and stimulates repeat purchase, the investment in getting that initial 60 seconds of attention will have a quantifiable value.

But putting a figure on that value is as likely to be correct as predicting the length and quality of the marriage.

As a friend of mine says, instead of trying to figure it all out in advance, just start dating.

How Do Agencies Succeed in Changing Times?

The marketing and advertising industry, like many other industries, appears to be in a constant state of flux. So why do some advertising agencies succeed while others fail?

I love the marketing and advertising industry. And like other industries, it appears to be in a constant state of flux. So why do some advertising agencies succeed while others fail?

In business school you’re taught the concept of competitive landscape, the notion that this landscape is dynamic and ever changing. And that competitive advantage is fickle and fleeting. Your competitors are lurking and there’s a constant threat of losing your position in the ecosystem. The companies that succeed in this environment are the ones who continuously evolve and grow. This concept has proven itself to me time and again.

I’ve worked in the advertising industry +20 years. And I believe my professional experience has many parallels with changes in the industry. I’m an accountant by trade, started my career at a privately held marketing firm, followed by many years  in the holding company environment, and now am the CFO at an independent agency. Over the years, I’ve watched the industry that I love evolve into various renditions of itself.

I witnessed an industry predominately comprised of small independently owned agencies, transform via acquisitions and mergers into a handful of publicly traded holding companies. Unfortunately, these agencies have become so large and complex, they’ve struggled to react to client and market demands. And recently,  like my career the industry has come full circle with the return of the small independent agency structure.

And still there is more change in the horizon.  New players such as media giants, consultancies, and in house marketing departments have entered the space and are competing for marketing dollars. Have you ever wondered why agencies like DDB, BBDO, Ogilvy have succeeded with longevity?  Why have they dominated the industry for so many years while so many others have sailed away in the night?

  • These organizations understand what differentiates them from other players and are smart enough not to become complacent. They cultivate, invest in, nurture those differentiations and do not stray very far from their core capabilities. I once worked for an agency, founded in 1903, which originally specialized in tombstone print advertisement. Up until about the 1990’s, tombstone advertising was a very lucrative business and the agency’s client list included many large financial institutions on Wall Street. However, tombstone advertising was a dying art doomed for extinction with the prevalence of Internet technology. But when I joined the agency in 2013, it had successfully evolved to a B2B specialist with a niche in the financial sector. The +115 year old agency is a good example of the importance of nurturing and cultivating ones craft, it didn’t straying from its core capabilities and continues to service many of the same financial institutions at an  expanded capacity.  Evolution is key.
  • Standards need to be high. “If you have passion for what you do, the company you keep, the life you live, it will be reflected in whatever you create. Passion is like that; it springs out, jumps, unpredictable and unplanned, into everything we touch.” — R.D. Laing. These organizations have very high standards for the company they keep, services they provide and are passionate about the work they produce. My first Omnicom agency experience was invaluable in so many ways. Largely, because of the smart, talented, accomplished, passionate individuals that I had the pleasure to work with. Our leadership team of four, consisted of me, an Wharton MBA, NYU MBA and Oxford University graduate.  No, an Ivy League degree  wasn’t a prerequisite for the job. However the agency employed a rigorous screening process and were very selective with hires.  It was truly a special environment where each day was filled with opportunity to grow as a professional, collaborate with extremely talented colleagues and learn from super accomplished senior talent. The agency was successful in many ways, but largely for developing exemplary talent many of whom now hold senior leadership roles at various agencies across the country.
  • Lastly, there is a plan. It’s too easy to lose focus, the most successful leaders and organizations stay focused on the north star.  Successful agencies develop, communicate and deploy a well thought out strategic plan that is flexible and nimble enough to easily and quickly adjust. Generally, the leaders of these organizations are well liked and respected. They communicate their vision and strategy and inspire large groups of people to work towards that shared vision.  There is intention behind every decision, every purchase, every hire, every client interaction.

I believe the advertising industry is at a crossroads. With recent senior leadership changes at several of the holding companies, changing client demands and structures, with a steady growth of internal marketing departments. Which agencies will prevail and succeed in this next phase?

 

5 Dynamics That Kill Your Mobile Conversions

Mobile conversions should be happening all day. It’s not a stretch to say that we are slaves to those little rectangular pieces of technology we carry in our pockets 24×7. The smartphone has come to define every aspect of our lives, from waking up each morning to getting to work on time and from finding a quick bite to eat to even finding true love.

Mobile conversions should be happening all day. It’s not a stretch to say that we are slaves to those little rectangular pieces of technology we carry in our pockets 24×7. The smartphone has come to define every aspect of our lives, from waking up each morning to getting to work on time and from finding a quick bite to eat to even finding true love.

If mobile phones are so central to our existence, why do businesses repeatedly find the old faithful — desktop computers — to be better performers in terms of conversions and sales?

A SaleCycle study of 500 global brands showed that while 51% of traffic came from mobile devices, only 36% of total sales followed suit.

mobile conversions
Credit: Rohan Ayyar

What makes mobile conversions lag behind their desktop counterparts, given that we lead our lives almost entirely inside these metal and glass cages? More importantly, what can you, as a marketer or business owner, do to improve your mobile conversions? Here are some worrying mobile optimization snags that might be seriously hurting your sales.

Mobile Site Speed Isn’t Priority No. 1

Earlier this year, Google made it official: Mobile speed is a bona fide ranking factor for all websites in its search results. Period.

And oh, if you haven’t realized it yet, Google now prioritizes your mobile site over the desktop version while adding your pages to its index.

You may not care about your SEO rankings (really?) but a quick-loading mobile page has other proven benefits — such as increased engagement and, by extension, better conversions. Mobile web design platform Duda carried out a study involving over 4,000 sites, which found that mobile sites with a render start time (RST) under one second showed a 50% higher conversion rate than those with RSTs of three to four seconds.

mobile conversions related to site speed
Credit: Rohan Ayyar

All of this data conclusively means just one thing: If you want to maximize sales, you must make sure your site loads blazingly fast on mobile devices. Try these guidelines:

  • Optimize images to render faster. Drop animations and other frills that eat up bandwidth.
  • Avoid auto-playing videos on mobile sites.
  • Keep the number of scripts to a minimum and make sure they’re parsed faster.
  • Reduce advertising clutter that slows pages down.
  • Use compression, CDNs and other web technologies that quicken loading times.
  • Leverage Google AMP for a huge jump in page loading speed.

Mobile Site Not Optimized for Local Search

Here are some data points from the Mobile and Search channels of Google’s Micro-Moments resource base. Chew on these stats for a moment (each):

  • 40% of all searches from mobile devices have local intent.
  • 76% of local searches result in a visit to the physical outlet of a business within 24 hours. 28% result in a purchase.
  • People who perform local searches on mobile devices are 65% more likely to buy from companies that customize their mobile sites or apps with local information.

In other words, most smartphone users use local search with purchase intent and heavily patronize businesses that help them find information they’re looking for right there on their phones. Don’t miss out on this opportunity that comes knocking on your mobile website’s window every single day.

A quick checklist to rank well (and convert well!) on local mobile searches:

  • Build content-rich city pages for the markets you operate in. Create dedicated content relevant to each city. e.g. A music store may have content like the “The 10 best nightclubs in Miami” or “Who’s playing at Madison Square Garden this week.”
  • Set up your Google My Business page and keep it updated.
  • Get pinpoint accuracy in your N-A-P (name, address, phone number) data in local business directories.
  • Go socially local with your Facebook business pages.
  • Work on getting local reviews for your brand and business from influencers, niche-focused review sites and crowdsourced review forums.

No Attention Paid to Mobile Design and Usability

User experience is one of the key elements of conversion optimization. This could not be truer on a smartphone screen, where real estate is at such a premium.

For the record, that’s not me saying this; it’s data. Here’s a snapshot from a Qubit study (Opens as a PDF) of 1.2 billion e-commerce journeys with mobile touchpoints:

mobile conversions chart
Credit: Rohan Ayyar

When every pixel counts, are you doing what it takes to convert users?

UX designer Chen Ben Ami offers some practical ideas on mobile optimization, like keeping buttons larger on mobile sites to preempt “Fat Finger Syndrome,” keeping navigation simple, using the right color combinations (visible on mobile screens) for backgrounds and layouts, leveraging the “Click to Call” button and so on.

But my favorite piece of advice is this real gem, which recommends taking a hard look at how your mobile site appears at different times of day. For example, when a user visits your mobile site during the day, they can reach you with a single tap. However, what happens when they visit your site after hours?

Instead of wasting a click and having the customer listen to an out of office message, you could offer a contact form in place of the click-to-call for the “night version” of your mobile site!

mobile conversions phone graphic
Credit: Rohan Ayyar

Shopping Carts Not Persistent, Not Cross-Platform

The Qubit study we referred to earlier also found that mobile shopping experience and browsing behavior has a direct impact on actual revenue from cross-channel sales on other digital channels. Further, mobile shopping activity also led to a 19% growth in desktop revenues.

What this means is that users who discover an item on mobile tend to either visit the store or complete the purchase on desktop devices. This process of device hopping to complete a single transaction would be greatly eased out if the site in question saved the user’s shopping cart for a future session on the same or another platform. Say “hello” to cross-channel shopping carts!

A simple way to enable cross-channel shopping carts would be using the customer’s login information, which stays the same across devices. Another way of offering an omnichannel shopping experience is by linking cookies and device IDs, or setting up user identification and tracking using tech such as Google Analytics User-IDs across multiple devices.

Painful Checkout Process

Have an e-commerce site? Pay special attention to your forms and checkout process in particular to nudge along mobile conversions. Research from comScore found that close to 20% of users don’t make a purchase on mobile because they find it too difficult to enter data into forms on smartphones.

mobile conversions clock chart
Credit: Rohan Ayyar

Ease the way for your mobile users by keeping forms short and requiring minimal details from users. Adopting autocomplete and auto-suggestions in forms and search bars are examples of usability-driven design on mobile commerce sites and apps.

Another effective way of reducing clicks and smoothing out the mobile checkout process is by embracing simpler payment options, like mobile wallets. After all, what’s easier on a smartphone — paying with one-click using Apple Pay or Google Pay or entering a 14-digit credit card number, expiration date and CVV number?

Parting Thoughts

Fifty-three percent of users on the web today access it via a mobile phone. Just as mobile usage is rising, so is actual transaction activity. As data clearly shows, this trend of consumers going mobile first is only going to get stronger. So instead of spending time retrofitting your websites to mobile in order to improve conversions, learn from these and other mobile-focused factors to build a true mobile-fantastic (not just mobile-friendly) website that encourages engagement and sales, and takes your business headfirst into the next decade.

4 Effective Outdoor Advertising Tips From the Pros

Outdoor advertising is one of the oldest and most prominent ways for business owners to market their products and services. Effective outdoor advertising is a great way to impact audiences consistently and on a large scale.

Outdoor advertising is one of the oldest and most prominent ways for business owners to market their products and services. Effective outdoor advertising is a great way to impact audiences consistently and on a large scale.

However, with the overwhelming amount of sensory overload around us, it’s difficult to catch a consumer’s attention. That’s why it’s important to know how to use outdoor advertising effectively. This article will look at the various types and provide tips for effective outdoor advertising to make sure your advertising is bringing in customers.

Types of Outdoor Advertising

There are many different types of outdoor advertising. They include:

  • Billboard advertising
  • Point of sale displays: Usually found near the checkout counter to attract impulse buyers
  • Street furniture: Advertising found on bus shelters, kiosks, telephone booths, etc.
  • Mobile billboards: Found on the side of a truck or bus
  • Guerilla advertising: Low cost, unconventional marketing and usually involving an outdoor public display

Outdoor marketing is an effective way to market. However, when it is not done correctly it only serves to promote brand awareness, not to bring customers in the door. Outdoor advertising usually delivers a limited amount of information to customers that must be absorbed in a short amount of time.

Therefore, it’s important to keep the message you’re sending through this type of advertising short and to the point. Expect to follow up with indoor advertising, such as direct mail, radio, print and the internet to effectively get customers to buy your product.

Cost of Outdoor Advertising and Its Effectiveness

Outdoor advertising is not cheap, and you will pay more if you choose to advertise in a visible, busy space. Although the cost can be high, this is necessary if you want to ensure your ad is seen by a large population of people.

Also, the size of your sign will also be a major factor in the cost and effectiveness of your advertising. If your sign is not easily visible by your target audience, even the best advertisements wont make an impact.

A system called Gross Ratings Point (GRP) tells how effective your advertisement will be. Your GRP is a number that ranges from 1-100. A GRP of 50 means at least 50% of the population will see your advertisement at least once a day. Advertising with GRP of 50 is expensive, especially in major cities.

Tips for Effective Outdoor Advertising

Even if you have a great space to market your product, the marketing you use must stand out. Here are some tips that will help your advertisement get the results you’re looking for:

Make Your Advertising Sharable:

Think outside of the box to make your advertisement stand out from the competition. This is a great way to increase your reach as your advertisement will generate its own advertising, organically. For this consider bold marketing, creative digitals or experiential advertisements to make an effective impact on consumers.

Go for High Traffic Sites:

As mentioned earlier, high-traffic sites cost more than ones in quieter spots. Although, it may be tempting to go for a less expensive option, limited exposure is a waste of money. It’s a better investment to go for the more expensive, high-traffic sites.

Look at the Competition:

Look at what the competition is doing for inspiration. This way you can analyze what is working for them and what is not. By doing this you can strategically design your campaign for success.

However, be careful not to put your attempts at a good marketing campaign in jeopardy by calling out your competition. One example of this is when Audi put up a billboard advertising their latest car with the slogan, “Your move BMW.”  BMW then responded a week later with an ad featuring their latest car which simply read, “Checkmate.”

Keep it Simple:

Effective outdoor advertising serves to give information quickly. So, send a message that can be absorbed in just a second or two. Keep text as limited as possible— around six words is best. If the image is giving the reader information, try not to duplicate it with your text. Because an image may serve to grab consumers’ attention more than anything, focus on making that a stunning focal point that tells a story. People are highly receptive to imagery, concentrate on relaying your message this way.

Outdoor advertising is a great way to market your product. However, if you do not use it effectively, it’s a waste of money. Most importantly, do your research before putting yours up. When advertising is done correctly, your company will benefit tremendously.

 

Selling Is Hard. 1 Easy Thing Can Make the Difference

Not going to lie. Selling is hard. Marketing your product or service to convert better than another brand is just plain difficult, as so much advertising sounds and feels and looks the same.

Not going to lie. Selling is hard. Marketing your product or service to convert better than another brand is just plain difficult, as so much advertising sounds and feels and looks the same. Add that to the harsh reality that the minor differences between brands offering similar products and services often don’t mean much to those discriminating buyers on the other side of the screen, conference table or phone.

And all of the “tricks of the trade” marketers use, like discounts, free gifts and compelling content, are the same tricks the old dogs have been using for many years. And they just don’t move buyers to action all that much anymore.

So what’s a marketer with a big sales lead quota to meet every month to do?

Stop Selling

Stop selling and start persuading. I’m not talking about persuasion in a manipulative sense that relies on one’s ability to master a carefully crafted telemarketing script that gets people to believe promises and sign up for an offer that often seems to be good to be true — because it is. I’m referring to persuasion in a natural sense, which involves influencing people to believe you, trust you and give you a chance because you are real, and really honest, reflecting the kind of person people see themselves to be vs. reflecting a polished sales rep with an arsenal up their sleeve.

If you Google “persuasion for selling,” you’ll get many lists of proven and best-practice persuasion skills from all the ”authorities” like Entrepreneur, Inc., Forbes and more. These include things like “playing hard to get, talking the talk of their industry, establishing authority and using words that make you seem trustworthy.” True, these telemarketing words may influence some to engage in a sales journey with you and your company, but there’s another big factor that persuades people to act on your offers even better: Transparency.

Everywhere we go, we are bombarded with marketing messages telling us if we do or buy something, we will be better. Be it prettier, richer, sexier, faster, smarter and so on. Yet so little of those advertising promises really come true. That form-fitting black dress just doesn’t look the same on the average Size 14 body as it does on the not-so-average Size 2 of the model in the ad. And when the dressing room mirror doesn’t lie, we end up leaving with negative feelings about ourselves and often about the store or brand associated with our missed expectations.

What does leave us with positive feelings that leave us trusting, believing and open to buying is when marketers, salespeople, brands, and stores create realistic expectations and are not shy about discussing the realities that many of us don’t want to face. A good example of this is Target. Instead of just showing models with zero body fat in swimsuits on in-store billboards, the brand shows women who look like many of their shoppers. Women who wear a Size 10, 12, 14 — because they have a few bulges that show when wearing a bikini. And at Target, these bulges show in larger-than-life photos at the point of sale, unashamed and unabashed.

In B2B, transparency rules. When we admit our flaws and imperfections, we are more approachable and most importantly, believable. Unconsciously, the mental wall or defenses break down among consumers when they listen to people who have flaws, have experienced failures just like we do and have. No one wants to surround themselves with perfect people and, thus, live with the pressure of being perfect, too; or the suspicion that perhaps that marketer or salesperson is not as good as they claim to be or is selling them promises they know will be broken. We do want to align with people who have ups and downs, successes and failures, just like we do.

One of my favorite examples of transparency in selling comes from Cam Conklin, VP of global sales and marketing at Innovatus Imaging, a leader in the medical device space. His approach is simply:

“I won’t promise to get everything right 100% of the time. But I will promise to fix any issues or problems on our part 100% of the time.”

By being real and never over-promising, Conklin opens doors other can’t.

Beyond Conklin’s example and sales philosophy, here are some tips for increasing transparency:

  • Sales Is Hard. Tell Those Stories: Every person and every brand has stories; some good and some not so good. As you tell your stories of success and how wonderful your brand is, tell stories about what it took to get there. What are some of the hurdles your company had to overcome to get to place of success you currently enjoy. A story of how your customer satisfaction rates were once in the 80s and what you did to get them in the 90s tells a customer many things about you. For one, your company doesn’t settle for “good enough,” but rather works hard to improve. Second, your company cares about customers and making them happy. And three, your company is willing to invest money in creating better experiences vs. just paying off shareholders and increasing executive bonuses.
  • Project vs. Promise: Ask any purchaser in any industry, and you’ll likely hear that their greatest frustrations include the hype and over-promises of sales executives. Over-promising doesn’t just occur in promising big returns like 90% success rates, record turn-times for repairs or services that maybe you achieved once but can’t duplicate consistently, and so on. It happens with the words you use. Do you promise or predict outcomes? Or do you project the possibilities according to real statistics from real customers? We are okay when economic analysts or politicians project certain outcomes, as we know that they may or may not happen and that they are projecting from statistically valid data that may or may not represent a trend. If marketing and salespeople share statistics and data that support projections for outcomes vs. implied promises like “All of my clients have achieved 100% increases in growth since hiring me,” chances are, they will achieve better outcomes.
  • Admit Your Failures, Because Selling Is Hard: Instead of trying to paint yourself as the poster child for a perfect account executive, and deliverer of all that your prospective client seeks, be real. Sales is hard. Admit when you have failed, discuss why, and describe what you did to fix the problem. My example: As a consultant, I have always achieved substantial increases in response and revenue generated from my psychology-based marketing campaigns tested against controls. Except for once. I broke even vs. delivering the triple-digit increase I implicitly set up as the expectation for my test. My failure was in trying to fix something that wasn’t broken. I took a marketing campaign that wasn’t failing and tried to elevate it when, in reality, the customer target didn’t need anything more to decide to purchase it or not. I learned a key lesson: If it’s not broken, don’t try to fix it. And learn to walk away when something or someone really doesn’t need your help.

To the above point, walking away is hard to do, as we are wired to compete and win business. Yet walking away pays off. You don’t set yourself up to fail, you can focus your resources on other opportunities, and you gain a higher level of respect from the target client who, in turn, may hire you just because they have discovered just how much they can trust you. We all hear stories of how David Ogilvy would walk out of a business pitch for a new advertising account if he discovered the competitors’ ideas were better than his. Takes a lot of guts to do that. And clearly, as Ogilvy has ruled the agency world for decades, this level of transparency did not hurt his sales or his legacy.

As you develop marketing and sales strategies, presentations and supporting marketing messages, take a step back and do an in-depth “reality” check. Dare to face your failings, not just your strengths, admit your limits and boundaries, and build your messaging around what’s real for and your clients.

In the end, we are only as good as our successes. And how we learn and help others learn from our failures.

5 Hottest Trends in Digital Out-of-Home Advertising Right Now

Digital out-of-home advertising (DOOH) is one of the fastest growing and interactive forms of advertising around. When done correctly, digital out-of-home advertising is accepted more than any other type of advertising due to its advancements. It is not only a selling tool, but a way for advertisers to interact with their clients.

New York City crossroads digital advertising display
New York City crossroads digital display | Credit: Brooklyn Outdoor by Candice Simons

Digital out-of-home advertising (DOOH) is one of the fastest growing and interactive forms of advertising around.

When done correctly, digital out-of-home advertising is accepted more than any other type of advertising due to its advancements. It is not only a selling tool, but a way for advertisers to interact with their clients.

With digital advertising, comes the concern that audiences will be able to turn off the advertisement. However, with DOOH this is not the case. These types of advertisements can’t be turned off and are hard to ignore.

Digital out-of-home offers innovative technology and powerful software that makes digital out-of-home ads a force to be reckoned with.

Here are the most noteworthy trends to keep an eye out for:

1.Data-Driven Advertising

Integrating live-streaming into digital displays gives clients with the ability to provide audiences with real-time information. Giving updates on events such as the scores of sporting games or voting polls, gives audiences a clear picture of the “now.”

Although traditional out-of-home advertising is the top medium used to create lasting impressions with clients, DOOH takes this to the next level. Combining data and technology with a general marketing campaign takes advertisements from visual to experience.

2.Visual Experiences

When companies make the mistake of not incorporating out-of-home into their marketing campaign, they miss out on a great way to deliver strong visuals.

People are incredibly receptive when it comes to visuals. For this reason, digital ads care a captivating way to provide direct experiences for consumers.

Out-of-home gives clients the ability to reach audiences at bus stops, in taxis and on their routes of daily commute. This has a major impact on consumers as they are exposed to OOH ads so often, they unconsciously influence them. This is especially true when paired with mobile advertising.

3.Smart Ads Through Smart Phones

Statistics show that nearly 70 percent of Americans are smart phone users, making them the most convenient way to connect with audiences. The way to do this, is through installing beacons on digital advertisements.

Beacons are real-world data generators that give clients the opportunity to turn advertising locations into signals that market directly to their target audience. By integrating beacons into DOOH, brands can engage in real-time with consumers.

4.Brand Building the Right Way

Taking advantage of new technology and measurement platforms is an accurate way to analyze brand data and allows consumers to connect with the right audience. Out-of-home advertising is the catalyst of brand building by giving brands the ability to reach large target audiences by marketing to their specific behaviors.

5.Ads That Mean Action

OOH advertising is a tried and true method in getting audiences to take action. Engaging with consumers through a combination of OOH and mobile devices, means engagement is at the fingertips of target audiences.

Consumers are always turned on and on-the-go. This gives OOH the unsurpassed ability to bridge the gap between audiences and brands that drives action from consumers. It is without a doubt that anyone who includes OOH into their marketing mix will surely benefit.

How Big Idea Marketing Can Live on in Data-Driven Storytelling

In an era not so long ago, creative directors lived in a world where the big idea was the champion — and that champion came from highly compensated (more or less) idea makers, both themselves and their creative teams, and the big idea was put to the advertising test. If big idea marketing were provocative enough, then it might win creative awards at a global creative festival. Other creatives would fawn, congratulate each other, and champagne would flow. Not a bad outcome, if you’re a creative director.

big idea marketing
Credit: Pixabay by Mohamed Hassan

In an era not so long ago, creative directors lived in a world where the big idea was the champion — and that champion came from highly compensated (more or less) idea makers, both themselves and their creative teams, and the big idea was put to the advertising test. If big idea marketing were provocative enough, then it might win creative awards at a global creative festival. Other creatives would fawn, congratulate each other, and champagne would flow. Not a bad outcome, if you’re a creative director.

But did the advertising work? Did it achieve a client business objective? Did it engage customers and produce sales, orders, leads …? Perhaps, or perhaps not. Back then, only direct marketers cared about measurement.

How Data Has Changed Advertising … Forever

Enter data. Well, data entered the advertising marketplace when direct mail and direct selling made its debut. But not to discount direct mail pioneers and their cousins in direct-response print and broadcast and telemarketing, let’s fast forward to the digital era. Wow! Today, do we have data!

Combine that creative genius with a heavy dose of data insights and strategy, and now we have data-driven creative — where creative effort is measured against action. No more gut instincts and guesswork. Agencies and in-house marketing departments can prove that their creative ideation works and, in fact, can use prospect and customer data to drive the creative ideation to predict and produce defined business outcomes.

Is there still a role for big idea marketing? Of course! In fact, breakthrough creative is indeed a mechanism for breaking clutter. But now, we have the means for one more de-clutter breakthrough: relevance. Using data insights to drive strategy, combined with compelling creative and storytelling, and now we’re proving our C-suite mettle.

There’s a role for creative festivals.

Rethinking Ad Festivals

But how about a data festival … or a data-driven storytelling festival? Well, we may just have one, and it’s been around for a while. It’s the International ECHO Award Competition, with its call for entries now underway. (I’m a member of the Data & Marketing Association ECHO Board of Governors.)

If an agency today is not proving its command of creative, data and relevance, then it’s not proving its presence as a business driver — no matter how many creative trophies are in the case. Winning an ECHO is different. It’s always been about data-driven storytelling, and it’s always been about strategy, creative AND results, more or less in equal measure. ECHOs serve as proof points for agencies, and in-house marketing teams, that they have data chops. They serve as signals to C-suites that ECHO winners are trusted business partners who know ad tech, martech, data management platforms, analytics prowess and have a discipline to test and measure — all in equal faith to the creative big idea.

Left brain, right brain. Yes, there’s still necessary discussion today about data, measurement and unfettered creative. But in today’s world, we can have both creative and relevance through data. In fact we must have both to capture elusive consumer attention, and to produce action … to prove our worth.

This roster of agencies let’s fast forward — and their agency groups let’s fast forward — have been named ECHO Award finalists, and Diamond, Gold, Silver and Bronze ECHO trophy winners in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Who will be joining them in 2018? In October, in Las Vegas, we’ll find out.

Credit: DMA

Transit Advertising Tips for Success

Exposing your advertisement to the diverse crowds of people who use mass transit is a great way to market your company. Strategically placing and designing your ad is a creative way to reach to your target audience. There are certain tips that will ensure you are marketing your advertisement in the most effective way. Read on to find out more about what transit advertising can do for you and how to use it effectively in your marketing campaign.

Exposing your advertisement to the diverse crowds of people who use mass transit is a great way to market your company. Strategically placing and designing your ad is a creative way to reach to your target audience. There are certain tips that will ensure you are marketing your advertisement in the most effective way. Read on to find out more about what transit advertising can do for you and how to use it effectively in your marketing campaign.

Advantages of Out-of-Home Transit Advertising

One reason that transit advertising is so effective in out-of-home advertising is that it’s hard to ignore. Passengers riding on a bus or train, or waiting at a station, are likely to be there for several minutes, making your ad impossible to ignore. Your audience will have plenty of time to study your ad and let the information sink in.

Being able to choose the size and location of your ad is also a huge advantage. Exterior locations, such as buses and bus stations, provide the benefit of your ad being seen by passers-by. Companies can create ads that capitalize on this by featuring colorful and innovative designs.

Types of Bus Advertising

Buses are very effective in out-of-home advertising due to their exterior and interior ad space. Interior ads have the advantage of catching and holding the attention of consumers who will be riding the bus. While Exterior ads have the benefit of offering exposure to everyone the bus passes. If you are interested in bus advertising, here are options to choose from:

  • King and Queen Signs: These are the largest of advertising signs, located on the sides of transit vehicles and attached with an aluminum frame.
  • Tail Signs: These are conveniently located on the rear of the vehicle. This provides ad exposure for some time by vehicles who end up behind the bus in traffic.
  • Interior Cards: These smaller ads are located inside the bus and only seen by passengers. These can be located on the tops of bus windows and on the divider behind the bus driver.

The newest development in bus advertising is the bus wrap, which entails covering the entire bus in an ad. This is typically an ongoing expense where you rent advertising space on a monthly basis. Although this can be expensive, if within budget this option  pays off with great exposure. Bus wrap advertisements are not limited to using the whole bus, but options are available for the sides, back and front as well.

Designs and Schedules

Keep in mind exterior transit ads have a small window of time to be viewed by the public, so choose your design carefully. Be sure to use eye-catching images that tell a story with as little text as possible to capture the attention of passers-by.

People are visually receptive. Although indoor advertising has the advantage of reaching a more captive audience, it is best to rely on images and designs with minimal wording.

It is also important to consider the route of the bus or train you are advertising on. You can strategically reach your target audience by choosing to advertise specific routes.

Although mass transit has always been a popular form of transportation, the economical benefits are making the option even more popular.

9 Secrets to Award-Winning Billboard Advertisements

In this age of the Internet, there are still many old-fashioned ways to advertise outside of a computer screen. A billboard is a great way to market effectively, providing high visibility for your company. However, to guarantee your billboard is doing all it can to attract customers, here are nine things you should keep in mind.

In this age of the Internet, there are still many old-fashioned ways to advertise outside of a computer screen. A billboard is a great way to market effectively, providing high visibility for your company. However, to guarantee your billboard is doing all it can to attract customers, here are nine things you should keep in mind.

The 6-Word Rule in Out-of-Home Advertising:

When people pass a billboard, it is likely they are not going to take time to stop and read it … especially if they are driving. A billboard must rely on delivering a message using images and a minimal amount of text. As a rule, it is best to keep text to six words. Although you can go over this recommendation by a bit, if you need a lot more words to advertise your product, billboard advertising may not be for you.

Noticeable Billboards that  Don’t Cause a Huge Distraction:

Most people look at billboards while they are driving. An image that is too distracting could cause accidents, resulting in a negative perception of your brand. Avoid overly sexual or controversial images.

Know What a Billboard is For:

Billboards are a great way to promote consumer awareness. However, they will rarely lead to a direct response from customers. This is due to the fact that consumers are not likely to take the time to read the ad for a website or phone number and, if they are, they are not likely to take the time to write it down. An exception to this may be if the phone number is highly memorable or if the website or phone number is the billboard headline. Otherwise, if you are looking for direct action, you are better off relying on print advertising, television, radio, flyers, websites, and mail for promotion.

Send a Simple Message:

When advertising your company on a billboard, it’s a good idea to be creative in sending a message to customers that will really stand out. However, remember that billboards are usually sending a message to passerby’s that they need to absorb quickly. Creating a message that is overly complicated might confuse them, so it is best to stick to something that is smart, but simple.

The Billboards More the Merrier:

Every billboard has a Gross Point Rating (GRP) which is based on traffic, visibility, location, size and more. If a billboard has a GRP of 50, that means that at least 50% of the population in the area will see your billboard at least once a day. To increase exposure, its best to have several billboards. Of course, this can be expensive, but it is also effective.

Consider Using Digital Advertising

A flat billboard can be effective in promoting your business, but being creative can be a great way to make your sign really stand out. Adding moving parts and 3D elements and using a means for people to interact with your sign are all excellent ways to grab people’s attention. Signs such as these can even attract press so that the billboard can generate its own publicity … totally free!

Be Concise

Use your space wisely. Avoid repeating any sort of information, even if you are using text to explain your visual. Also, make sure your imagery pops so that you are using your advertising opportunity wisely.

Think About Your Logo Size

When creating a billboard, often companies want their logos to be as big as possible. Although we can all probably see the logic in this, it is also important to make sure the logo is in proportion to the other images that will appear on the ad. Some companies market effectively with billboards without even incorporating a logo.

Do the Arm’s Length Test:

Billboard advertising is not cheap and, if you’re going to invest, you need to make sure it’s going to be a worthwhile investment. One good way to do this is to take the ad and print it on a business card, then look at it at arm’s length. This will provide the same effect as someone passing by your billboard quickly. If the image still pops, and you feel the message it is sending is clear, then you are good to go. If not, consider tweaking some elements. Billboard advertising can be an effective way to market your company. However, it’s important to make sure your billboard gets a message out to consumers in a concise and effective way.