Live streaming is a huge part of social media from Snapchat to Facebook and Instagram. Regardless of who came first, these platforms have integrated live streaming as an integral part of their daily functions. Whether to battle fake news or to reinstate authentic voices against their heavily edited landscapes, live streaming has cascaded into a global phenomenon. So where did this catalyst come from and why is it so prevalent?
The first live stream was innocent. Consisting of the very gumption to prove that it was possible, the band Severe Tire Damage performed live on the internet in 1993. But, just as any technology revolution, their ripple created waves in today’s media landscape.
In 2017, not one, but two advertisers tackled for the first time, on the most expensive field, live Super Bowl ads. Snickers live streamed an ad while Hyundai shot, edited and aired an ad while the Super Bowl happened. Their remarkable efforts reflect a shift in the tectonic plates of society today. Specifically, that people are done being played by advertising.
Lets think back to the 1938 radio broadcast of War of the Worlds that supposedly sent New Yorkers running to the hills. Perhaps the first attempt at either nonfiction or horseplay, they unintentionally defined the phrase, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
Their efforts, ill intentioned or not, are a strong argument to support the FTC’s Truth in Advertising regulations which state, “When consumers see or hear an advertisement, whether it’s on the Internet, radio or television, or anywhere else, federal law says that ad must be truthful, not misleading, and, when appropriate, backed by scientific evidence.”
But in today’s media landscape, the average consumer is bombarded by an estimated 440 – 5,000 ads per day. Even on the low end of this number, 440 ads is a time consuming process for the average consumer to filter based on being honest, straightforward, and factual.
“In our focus groups [twenty-five in 2016] we’re seeing the highest levels of skepticism from consumers across sectors. Distrust of media is at its highest and with that institutions are also under scrutiny. Authentic information and transparency are critical to building trust and live streaming is one way to demonstrate this.” – Renee Fraser, PhD, CEO, Fraser Communications
With buzzwords like “fake news” all over the internet, it’s easy to recognize that distrust in media is high. Ads aside, consumers are bombarded with information whenever they pickup their smartphones. It’s no wonder why a live stream from a handheld camera is the newest development. Low in production value but high in human-to-human interaction. The fact that advertisers are now using the live concept in commercials demonstrates that this phenomenon is only beginning.
What makes you better than your competition and how do you maintain your competitive edge? Those that thrive are constantly asking questions like these to self-assess and improve upon their competition.
In advertising and marketing, those that don’t improve become vintage agencies no longer serving the needs of modern consumers and thus drop off the map. So how do we at Fraser Communications, an agency founded last century, not only keep up with but, surpass the competition? Individuals shared key tactics to increase their competitive edge:
1. Talk less. Listen more.
“Mine is incredibly basic, yet in my opinion very necessary: Talk less. Listen more. Chiming in and adding your “two cents” isn’t so much about adding value – too often, it’s simply fulfilling a perceived obligation to contribute to a conversation. Don’t be part of the endless chatter. Listen, absorb, learn. And make your own contributions more meaningful (and ultimately more impactful).” – Melissa Miller
2. Say yes.
“Not saying no to new challenges that are outside of what I know or “normally” do as part of a communications company. This has helped me learn new skills and helped our clients shine in the faces of their executive leadership.” – Ilene Prince
“Say yes – enthusiastically take on new projects with an openness to learn and creative problem solve. Pull from a diverse array of past experience and projects.” – Elana Polan
3. Stay informed.
“I’ve kept ahead of the competition by reading industry blogs and newsletters. I review pieces on writing, branding, public relations, and social media marketing that analyze current trends, introduce time-saving tools, and showcase exemplary work. This habit strengthens my skill set by familiarizing me with today’s best marketing practices.” – Risa C. Voss Jensen
4. Self improve.
“I feel like an important part of staying competitive is constantly striving to better yourself; to learn more than you knew the day before. Complacency kills careers (and alliteration is awesome). Every day I try to absorb insights from brilliant colleagues, read articles, identify personal and professional growth opportunities, and attend events or seminars whenever I can. I think it’s also important to take yourself out of your daily routine or “bubble” on a regular basis. For the same reason that traveling helps you discover new things and experience different cultures, changing up your work environment can help you gain new perspectives and alter or strengthen previous perceptions. For those working in the social marketing arena, harnessing that range of empathy can mean providing clients with deeper, more meaningful work that truly makes an impact.” – Danielle Thouin
5. Work as a team.
“Keep everyone in the loop – our weekly status meetings that include all departments are great because including everyone often leads to fresh perspectives and experiences that help solve problems.” – Elana Polan
6. Find balance.
“Work life balance… Log off when you are on vacation or even on the weekends and evenings. It’s important to have balance when we live in a world where we are reachable 24/7. We have to set boundaries, not only for our own personal health, but also to not set a precedent of being available any and every given moment.” – Caroline Lenher
Similar to a destination wedding, destination viewing is a media event that consolidates viewers to one location whether it be a platform or network. Examples of well known destination viewing events include the Super Bowl and the Oscars. These events offer large audiences for advertisers and are associated with a high price tag. This year, to air a thirty second ad, it cost a reported $5m for the Super Bowl and $2.5m for the Oscars.
Advertisers pay these prices in the hopes to be the most talked about ad. Some utilize hot button issues while others might use celebrity power or puppies to reach new fans. Although these destination viewing events aggregate viewers to a single location, advertisers rely on cross-platform conversation to compound interest. Given that an estimated eighty-four percent of smartphone and tablet owners engage with those screens while watching television, commenting on the content and the ads, they aren’t wrong.
“We take destination viewing into account when planning media by utilizing events for certain audiences such as sports, Dancing with the Stars, The Voice finale, and more. People want to see or hear the action as it happens. No one likes a spoiler.” – Renee Fraser, PhD, CEO, Fraser Communications
Advertisers even use these popular events to create ads broadcasted afterwards. Honda for example, although they did air an ad during Super Bowl LI, had a Super Bowl viewing party that raised money based on commercials with cliche advertising techniques. The donation drive was filmed and commercials aired after the Super Bowl. Strategies like this show that destination viewing events are being utilized far past the events themselves.
With content no longer king, and distribution taking over, it’s no wonder why advertisers are milking destination viewing events for all their worth.
“Searching for posts with the hashtag #superbowl, Netbase used its Instant Search social analytics engine to mine 300 million sources (including social networks and blogs), and found that 2.7 million people authored 5.7 million original posts between noon Sunday and 1 pm Monday (all times EST), leading to almost 40 billion impressions.” – Nelson Granados, Forbes
This level of distribution has advertisers foaming at the mouth. Destination viewing events, with their distribution potential from the event as well as user authorship on social media, will continue to garner global attention of both fans and advertisers.
Remember jingles? Those hard-to-forget musical ditties that extolled the virtues of almost every product and service advertised in the 20th century? Remember “Plop Plop Fizz Fizz”? “You deserve a break today”? And that classic, “I’d like to buy the world a Coke,” revisited in the Mad Men finale and attributed to Don Draper’s EUREKA moment?
The American jingle was the most valuable concept in the communications toolbox for over 100 years. It was a simply brilliant way to cut through the clutter and brand a product or service. But with the advent of MTV, and the desire of recording artists to cash in on their extensive songbooks, jingles fell out of favor in the late 80’s. My generation of Mad Men and Women scorned them. “If you don’t have something to say, sing it” was the knock.
Today, Fraser Communications’ efforts with First 5 California to get parents to talk, read and sing to their children ages 0 to 5 has had us immersed in recent brain research. We discovered that, lo and behold, those ancient jingle writers were onto something: Human beings remember words better when they rhyme. And they REALLY remember them when those rhymes are set to music.
And so, we went back to the well, and wrote a jingle. Then because “Plop Plop Fizz Fizz” was made even more memorable by Speedy Alka Seltzer, we created three enthusiastic animated mascots to sing our song: The Smarter Birds – Parrot, Owl and Songbird.
Great music is hard to create. Great jingles even harder as there is less time to arrive at a melody and there are specific things you need to communicate. With Anthony Marinelli of Music Forever, we were able to access the most talented songwriters in Los Angeles, and compose a winning toe-tapping tune. Then, for our characters, we partnered with the inspired and skilled animators at The Mill.
We spent five months developing our Smarter Birds, writing their backstories, rewriting lyrics, listening to the melodies that could bring those lyrics to life, shooting, editing, and getting energized daily by our wonderful First 5 California partners, who were hugely supportive during this delightful journey.
There was a single focus to these efforts: We wanted the first-time exposure of the jingle to “stick” in the mind, and be hummable all day long. And we succeeded, if the videos of children hearing it for the first time are any indication. Now, we’re taking our Smarter Birds on the digital and social media road. Our fingers are crossed and our toes are tapping that another generation of California parents will talk, read and sing (with our song in their repertoire!) to their children every day, exercising their brains, and helping them succeed in school. Did I tell you we’re also making Smarter Bird puppets? And writing a Smarter Birds activity book?
All these efforts fell into place beautifully, proving that even though a jingle is a simple thing, its power is enormous. Let the Smarter Birds fly.
If you went to school for business or communications, you’ve probably heard of a concept from the 1800s called the sales funnel. If not, you’ve likely heard of a synonym such as the AIDA-model, sales pipeline, or purchase funnel. Recently, due to the development of digital sales and marketing, critics have come to suggest a modified version of the traditional sales funnel.
What’s wrong with the sales funnel?
1. The funnel assumes a linear buying process but in reality, buyers behave erratically. Customers bounce from one funnel stage to another, come in and out at various stages, and skip stages. This fluidity is contrary to the idea of a funnel which has only two openings at the top and bottom.
In both B2B and B2C businesses, customers are doing their own research both online and with their colleagues and friends. Prospects are walking themselves through the funnel, then walking in the door ready to buy. – Mark Bonchek and Cara France, Harvard Business Review
2. Marketing is separate from the sale. The funnel shows marketing leading a consumer to purchase and assumes that marketers aren’t part of the sale. However, in today’s world where customers are able to self-educate themselves, marketing and sales go hand in hand.
Marketers are providing content and resources to inform buyers before they contact sales. Both marketing and sales need to consider the complete end-to-end buyer journey and work together to close deals. – Mike Renahan, HubSpot
3. The end goal is a purchase. Before the internet and instantaneous communication, options were limited and places to purchase harder to find. Today, options and places are plentiful and comparison shopping is the norm. Due to this increased competition, companies are focusing on engaging customers through centralized marketing rather than a simple sale.
The first step is to begin thinking in terms of people, rather than platforms. Marketers need to be ready with a holistic message that can be seen by consumers wherever they are, at any given time, agnostic to the platform or device they’re currently using. Centralized marketing teams need to be able to look at campaigns across all touch points, identifying how each peg in the pinball machine contributed (or not) to the sale at the end. – Jason John, AdvertisingAge
4. Relationships are more important. In the digital age, people can experience brands through social media, virtual reality, live events and more. Gone are the days where you have to be a customer to be a brand advocate. Because of this, marketing has changed from leading directly to sales to being more about the relationships built along the way.
Consider a real world journey of a family’s trip from the U.S. to Mexico. Visa mapped out the entire experience, from where the family gets ideas on where to go (TripAdvisor), to how they gather input from friends (Facebook), to how they pay for their cab (cash from an ATM) or hotel (credit card), to how they share photos of their trip with friends back home (Instagram). Only a few of these situations are opportunities for transactions, but they are all opportunities for relationships. “When you change from decision to engagement,”Antonio Lucio, Chief Brand Officer at Visa says, “you change the entire model.” – Mark Bonchek and Cara France, Harvard Business Review
What does the new sales journey look like?
The most important change in the sales journey is that buyers now research many options and move towards the sale at their own pace.
How can marketers navigate the new sales journey?
In the digital world, marketers need a complex understanding of the sales journey and the many resources customers have at their disposal. To pursue relationships and experiences over persuasion and promotion, marketers need to turn to big data and analytics for help.
At Fraser, we study analytics to understand where people are in their sales journey. We recently conducted a program for our client using retargeting, where we tailored unique messages for different consumer segments. We were able to shorten purchase consideration time by half, therefore lowering our client’s CPA (cost per acquisition). – Renee Fraser PhD, CEO at Fraser Communications
Although the reliability and predictability of the customer’s journey has disappeared, marketers today have a valuable opportunity to connect with future customers and build ongoing relationships. Through analytics and tracking, marketers can develop holistic messages that engage customers beyond the traditional sale and foster a meaningful relationship.
There’s one thing advertisers can always count on for Super Bowl, a high price tag. This year, the price tag of a thirty second commercial hovered around five million dollars. Despite cost, our advertising firm weighed in on our favorite ads of Super Bowl LI. Below are the ads that inspired and entertained us, regardless of which team caught the last touchdown.
The Audi ad was bold – taking on equal pay and equal respect for women. Many ads like this stirred up a dialogue, making the audience engage and talk about real issues. Forcing ourselves to confront our own values and our differences. Despite disagreements, we still need to move forward together. – Renee Fraser
84 Lumber utilized ‘transmedia’ in the best possible way. They took advantage of the fact that everyone watches TV with at least one other mobile device nearby, and combined that with the power of storytelling to instill intrigue while sending a strong message of inclusion to many who are uncertain. And it worked – so well, in fact, it shut down their website! – Danielle Thouin
Honda had a very cool use of celebrity. I felt it accomplished the “inspire” message that others tried, but succeeded with humor rather than trying so hard with politics and sadness. – Mollie Bauer
I liked Kia with Melissa McCarthy. The combination of humor, a little politics, a great celebrity and tie in with the car made for a memorable commercial. – Erin Shinn
The Skittles spot for its levity – definitely got the biggest laugh at our party. – Ilene Prince
Bai – because Timberlake makes everything better. Walken AND Timberlake? Magic. – Mollie Bauer
Buick with Cam Newton and Miranda Kerr was cute, fun, and relevant. – Caroline Lenher
I loved the NFL family spot with little kids representing great players past. – Bruce Dundore
Watching the US women’s Olympic gymnastics team win big this week (very big), I was mesmerized not just by their talent, which was jaw-dropping awesome, but their focus, their team work, and their camaraderie. They didn’t just win the gold; they won it by a point spread not seen in years. I was impressed by their intense focus, coupled with a confidence in the face of not just their own, but the world’s, expectations. In their eyes and body language it was clear to me that they knew they would never falter.
“We’re going in as the best team in the world,” Olympian Aly Raisman said. “So we should carry ourselves that way.”
You really can’t help but be inspired by these perfect athletes and all they did to become that way. I start thinking that there are things we could all learn from them to make us stronger and help build our business as we compete for our own kind of gold.
- Take smart risks
- Set realistic goals
- Have the right mindset
- Never stay down
- Embrace competition
- Keep your reputation in mind
To this wise listicle, I’d like to add my three observations that I think are applicable to the advertising and marketing worlds, and probably to all businesses:
- Intense internal focus.
Olympic athletes have an intense focus. That focus is based on what they know they are capable of and the sense of purpose they have. It’s a primal focus, so deep they don’t notice the others around them. The gymnasts make a connection with the audience in a perfunctory way, and then go right into their routines and performances with pure determination. This is important. In business, we need to be able to connect with our goals and engage our capabilities and talents to achieve those goals. Yet, unlike the Olympians, we have to make an empathetic connection with the audience. Making eye contact, reading body language, and making sure our clients/audiences understand our communication are our Olympian tasks.
Implicit in getting to the Olympics is a lifetime of intense self-critical practice. Inherent in each failure, each missed landing, each botched approach to the vault, is the opportunity to improve. When we go after new business and don’t win, we often think of it as a loss and let it go, when in reality it’s an opportunity to improve, a chance to get better at our game. When we have an opportunity to pitch we need to see it as not only a test of whether or not we win it, but also a test of our ability to reach farther. Practicing helps us win new business, but it also hones our skills for our existing business.
In this weeks 4X100 relay, Brazil had the lead after the first turn, then the lead shifted to France. But when the now legendary Michael Phelps jumped in the water, he carried the US team to victory with each stroke of his almost avian arms. This is the epitome of teamwork. When we operate as a team, it’s vital that each member of the team recognize when a team member is struggling, and jump in to help that member and the rest of the team succeed. Olympic athletes exhibit a tremendous respect and exhilaration for their teammates and appreciation of their competitors. Clearly, that is part of being a success. In our own businesses we have to cultivate teamwork and remind ourselves that none of us are as good alone as we are as a team. Practicing with the team, acknowledging each strength and weakness of the team members is an important part of our victories.
With the UPS listicle and my three here, the Olympians can teach us much. I would venture that there are probably hundreds of things we can learn from these perfect competitors. They have achieved a level of “personal best” that few of us will. But, like them, we can dream, then learn, then practice, then focus, then activate the team to help move our businesses across the finish line and win our own version of the gold medal.
And after all, isn’t that why we’re in this?
YouTube influencers. There’s little doubt that this phrase has become one of the industry’s hottest buzzwords. You’ve heard of them, maybe you’ve spotted a billboard promoting a “YouTube Star” on the freeway, or perhaps you’ve tuned in (or even subscribe) to a few YouTube vlogs yourself. From cooking, sports, beauty, and everything in between, it’s safe to say that there is a YouTube channel for practically every category under the sun – and the people that power these channels serve as way more than your average TV show hosts. These folks are brands within themselves – real people whose raw authenticity serves as the not-so-secret sauce that continues to reel in millions of highly devoted eyeballs every moment of the day. And not surprisingly, many of these “stars” are breaking records in user engagement and views, likely by the time you finishing reading this post.
Over the past few years, Fraser Communications has collaborated with several major YouTube influencers, including Dulce Candy, The Eh Bees Family and The Daily Bumps, each bringing impressive results to our clients. From nearly half a million views on one video alone, to thousands of engaged comments and significant web traffic spikes, each influencer has delivered unique value that is unsurpassed by other mediums.
Whether you are part of the nearly 75% of marketers investing in influencer marketing or not, it pays to know a little bit about the enigmatic force behind YouTube’s best and brightest. After all, research shows that YouTube, which boasts more than 1 billion monthly users and is the internet’s second largest search engine, has the best ROI compared to any other social platform. It’s no surprise that brands want to work with YouTube influencers more than ever – and why it’s becoming one of today’s highest-ranked ways to reach and engage with customers.
Impressive numbers and promising outcomes tend to result in brands taking rapid moves to align with the “hottest” YouTube influencers. But in this fast-paced online ecosystem, it pays to stop for a moment and make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into. Let’s take a deeper dive into YouTube marketing territory – namely,with 5 things NOT to do:
1. Leave your strategy on the backburner.
You’ve invested in building your brand, so it’s absolutely critical to work with influencers that align best with your business. Choosing the right influencer that more seamlessly fits with your brand is far more important than choosing the “hottest” YouTube star of the moment. Create your strategy and seek influencers who make sense for your brand and identify with your consumers’ personas.
2. Ignore an influencer’s engagement rate.
Massive numbers in the form of subscribers and views are definitely worth something, but not considering an influencer’s engagement rate is a huge mistake. For example, an influencer may have 1 million subscribers but very low engagement, say 50-100 comments or likes per session. If you compare this influencer to one with a smaller subscriber base but higher engagement rate, the latter is likely yielding a more devoted fan base, potentially creating a stronger opportunity for marketers.
3. Choose an influencer based on their latest videos alone.
Working with a platform like YouTube gives brands a chance to evaluate influencers on many levels, one being their engagement – namely, comments and likes – before they even step foot into negotiations. Through careful review of an influencer’s audience feedback, brands get a real-time look at their followers and conversations to help determine if they could be a good fit. And don’t make the mistake of only looking at their top videos. Many influencers “pin” certain videos to the top of their pages, resulting in inflated views and comments. Take a deeper dive into older or more buried videos to get a 360-degree view of their content and how they connect with their audiences. It’s also wise to check out influencers’ interactions on other social media platforms.
4. Disregard an influencer’s unique personality and ideas.
Coming to the table with a strategy is important, but keeping balance with an influencer’s ideas and style is just as critical. Remember, an influencer’s biggest asset is its engaged audience, and they’re already experts in knowing what types of content makes them tick. Marketers who are flexible and open-minded with influencers can expect a more seamless, genuine integration – and, ultimately, stronger results.
5. Look at content one-dimensionally.
Aligning with a YouTube influencer has many perks, one of which is receiving great content with a long shelf life – one that could potentially exist forever. But content creation goes far beyond vlogs. When choosing influencers, make sure you look at their social media value beyond YouTube. Many also boast significant followings on other platforms, like Instagram, SnapChat and Facebook – and some curate their own blogs – all of which open up doors for increased content opportunities for your brand. When negotiating, it’s also important to consider obtaining rights to their content for repurposing on your own social channels and web properties.
Have you worked with a YouTube influencer? Thinking of aligning with one? Share your questions or insights with us. We’d love to hear your thoughts.