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Family with two kids in masks in airport

Pitching for tourists: How and when to market post COVID-19 travel

By | Banner - Advertisers, Banner - Content Creation, Banner - True Native, Content Marketing, main blog, Uncategorized

Unquestionably, travel has been one of the hardest hit sectors since COVID-19 hit. New data from Pubmatic has revealed a 96% drop in ad spend from the first week of March to the second week of April, as country after country locked down, and airlines pulled flights.

As we hurtle towards June, we’re starting to see some green shoots, as thankfully infection rates decline across Europe. Flights are once again being scheduled, with British Airways predicting “a meaningful return” to the sky from July.    

The importance of tourism

Many countries who are heavily reliant on tourism, such as Spain and Italy (around 12 – 15% of GDP), already have plans to bring visitors back as soon as possible. Sicily announced that it will discount plane tickets and pay for every third night in hotels in an effort to lure back tourists. Spain’s tourism minister has said they hope to welcome foreign tourists back by the end of June.

After the banking crisis in which the country was badly hit, Iceland turned to tourism, which now accounts for 9% of GDP.  The country is already preparing for tourists in June who will be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival at Reykjavik airport.

In Britain, the focus has turned to domestic tourism to save the summer season. Visit Britain have proposed an extra bank holiday later this year to help businesses who were closed during the first stage of lockdown. Domestic tourism alone is worth £80 billion a year to the UK economy.

Advertising when?

The Irish Examiner recently reported that Tourism Ireland are tendering for a COVID-19 research programme. It’s essentially a piece of work designed to tell them when to begin marketing Ireland as a tourist destination again.

This week, Visit Scotland reported “a slow but steady return to traffic on visitscotland.com and an upturn in long lead (90+days) flight bookings.

Given the long consideration phase when booking a holiday (see our blog on Why long form content is key to influencing travellers) and strong signs that we’re moving to a more optimistic phase (see Why your brand content should now be optimistic), perhaps that time should be now?

Hitting the right notes

Getting the tone right in the current climate will be key – I’ve already seen some great campaigns including Visit Switzerland’s activity-packed “Dream now, travel later”…

Visit Britain have grouped a selection of quintessentially British content together, creating a hub containing everything from recipes you can make at home, to 360 degree videos, and articles on binge-worthy British TV shows.

Finally, Travel Saint Lucia have been hosting live streams twice a week, showcasing activities from kite surfing to live island sunsets. There’s also been interactive content you can join in with, from cooking classes to yoga classes with a stunning backdrop!

Remaining front of mind

All these campaigns have one thing in common – encouraging us to think ahead to when we can travel again. Those that remain front of mind will benefit the most when people start booking in serious numbers again.

Let us help you generate some wanderlust ahead of re-opening. Contact us today to see how we create and distribute inspiring on-brand travel content that performs.

 

Couple of man and woman sitting back to back and reading

Clearing 2020 – how to attract home students

By | Banner - Content Creation, main blog, Uncategorized

The government announced today that students will be receiving their A Level results on 13th August, meaning that universities and their media agencies now have a firm date in the diary to start planning this year’s clearing campaigns.

Despite not sitting exams – 9 out of 10 students say they are continuing their application as planned according to a recent Ucas and YouthSight study. Ucas said:

“Overall applicant behaviour in the 2020 cycle is currently consistent with previous cycles, with the expected number of new applicants each week, and no significant moves to change firm choices or providers, or to defer entry, so far.”

Student concerns

It’s obviously been an unusual year, with grades decided by teacher’s assessments and a wait to discover when results will be announced. As such, the same survey found that:

“Over half (51%) of respondents feel supported at the moment, but want more help. While 37% said felt fully supported now, this is higher amongst white applicants (40%) and lower amongst BAME applicants (29%).”

How content can help

One way universities can help is by producing and distributing useful content that addresses head-on their potential student’s concerns. Some of the best performing articles we’ve run for universities have done just that:

Practical guides to student finance
Articles addressing how to socialise at university
How clearing works and is it for you?
How to balance life with studying
What to expect from your first week

As well as helping with practical advice, you’ve also the chance to explain how your university is best placed to support potential students, remaining front of mind during the selection process.

Who’s your audience?

It’s also a concerning time for UK universities, with overseas students who account for a third of all tuition fees, likely to arrive in far fewer numbers this academic year.

Last year a record number of students found a course through clearing. This, combined with a rush to recruit home students, is likely to make this year’s clearing process even more competitive and important for institutions. 

Why now is the time for engagement online

As we enter the second phase of lockdown, we’ve seen engagement rates increase across our network of premium publishers as screen time increases. With other channels, notably OOH and print are challenged at this time, we’re able to help repurpose assets quickly to get campaigns away while attention time is high. Contact us today to see how we can help you plan a tactical campaign.

 

World Travel

Why long form content is key to influencing travellers

By | Banner - Advertisers, Banner - Content Creation, Content, Content Marketing, main blog, Uncategorized

2019 has been turbulent for the travel industry. 17 airlines have gone bust so far this year including heritage brand (and high street travel agent) Thomas Cook. As a parliamentary enquiry examines the reasons behind the company’s collapse, it’s clear there were multiple factors – from a botched merger to a pile of debt.

However, one reason that can’t be overlooked is changing consumer habits. According to trade body ABTA, only one in seven of us booked our holiday with a high street travel agent last year, and of those people it tended to be older and less wealthy consumers.

For most of us, both the starting and end points of planning and booking a holiday is now online, with many of us choosing to be our own travel agent, purchasing our flights and accommodation separately. But this user journey is far from simple – research from Expedia shows that in the 45 days before making a purchase, British travel consumers visit travel sites an average of 121 times!

Family seaside holiday

Decisions, decisions!

Perhaps the most surprising finding from the same report is that:

“More than half of British online travel shoppers begin their research with multiple destinations in mind — 54% are still considering multiple destinations when they begin their travel booking journey”

So, with nearly half of all consumers open minded regarding destinations, the opportunity for tourist boards, hotels, airlines and OTE’s (Online travel agents) has never been greater – with three quarters of the 50 million of us online in the UK engaging specifically with travel content.

January blues

As we approach peak booking period in the UK, when around 5 million brits secure their getaway each January, now is the time to inspire potential bookers and get front of mind. The way to do that? Inspirational long form content. Indeed, 65% of us are influenced by brand content while planning their trip according to travelagentcentral.com

Cruise Holiday Sunshine

So, what works?

We’ve run hundreds of travel campaigns over the past few years for hotels, airlines, train operators, cruise lines, OTE’s and tourist boards. Here’s three reoccurring content ideas that I’ve noticed driving the best engagement for our clients:

Think ahead – as summer draws to a close, minds turn towards Christmas markets. As the cold dark nights of January hit us hard, thoughts turn towards sunshine and beaches. There’s a good reason the BBC schedule Caribbean detective drama Death in Paradise each January! Use these themes in both article copy and headlines to connect with your audience.

Specialist Themes. Run multiple articles aimed at different interest groups. Think foodies, adventure travellers, solo travellers and even train geeks. Some of the best performing content we’ve run has targeted specialist interest groups, rather than just a broad-brush approach to a destination or country. You genuinely wouldn’t believe how many people love trains…

Build an itinerary. Successful brand content usually includes one of two things – useful or interesting information (and hopefully both!). It’s what we call the value exchange between advertiser and audience. City breaks are now the nation’s favourite getaway, and by their very nature, tend to be for a long weekend. “48 hours in the city of your choice” is a fantastic format that hooks the reader and provides useful information.

For more insights into native travel campaigns or to book a campaign, please contact us

 

Dissecting 2017’s full year IAB UK Adspend results

By | Uncategorized

So, the headline news at the IAB yesterday was that the UK’s digital advertising market is up 14.3% YOY and was worth a staggering £11.55bn last year. The numbers have finally been crunched and there’s some interesting nuggets in the report which we, along with all the key players from publishing groups and adtech companies, submit to twice a year. The key takeaways are:

  • Smartphones are driving the bulk of the growth – an increase of 37% YOY
  • 45% of all digital advertising is delivered on smartphones
  • Online video is now the largest display format – accounting for 39%

Separating native and sponsored content

From a native perspective, one of the interesting changes to themethodology is separating sponsored content from native. As native advertising becomes a catch-all, encompassing click-out formats and promoted social media posts, it’s become important to work out exactly what is stay on site brand content and what may have simply shifted from traditional display budgets. For the record, Native (which includes Facebook and Twitter) is now worth over £1 billion, with sponsored content making up £124 million.

Growth chart

Video formats shift

Pre-post roll has lost its crown as the largest video format, having been overtaken by outstream in 2017. With budgets shifting from television to online, this could be because of limited pre-roll availability and the need to find audiences online at scale.

The growth of the private market place (PMP)

With 4/5 of display budgets being traded programmatically, it’s clear that programmatic has been a huge success. What’s more interesting is the shift to programmatic direct – up 10% YOY and now making up 63% of trading. Mary Healy from Accenture is Chair of IAB UK’s Display & Data Steering Group. She said:

”Programmatic direct and PMPs will continue to take the lion’s share of the spend as brands realise that context is just as important as it is in other media. 2017 certainly highlighted a number of concerns across the digital media ecosystem, which has forced the industry to re- evaluate many of the practices we had followed in the past”

With GDPR looming, it could be that these deals – essentaillty selling named inventory rather than just finding the audience regardless of the environment, will grow further during 2018. A lack of reliable data combined with brand safety fears could well mean that buyers are increasingly looking for high quality, contextually relevant publisher environments rather than open RTB.

Digital is the big winner

Finally, gazing into the crystal ball, GroupM predict that digital will outperform the UK ad market again in 2018 – a 10% increase versus 4.8% generally. One thing is clear – as we continue to look downwards on our smartphones, spend on digital continues to head upwards.

 

How to split your ad budget in 2018

By | Uncategorized

3 ways to split your ad budget

With the new financial year comes a new advertising budget – but are you spending yours as wisely as possible? The savviest advertisers are in on the secret that there are three particularly important ways to invest your native ad budget in 2018. Bump these to the top of the priority list to give yourself the best chance of success…

Three is the magic number

It’s that time of year again when advertisers set about the task of allocating the budget for the coming months. While it might be daunting to deviate from the tried and tested plans of old, the most successful marketers set aside a try and test budget for new channels – those who have yet to try native content might want to consider branching out.

But first, as any good multi-tasker understands, you need to work out your top priorities in order to make the wisest decisions for your business.

In an interview with the Native Advertising Institute (NAI), Trine Lundahl, Client Service Director at Aller Media, recommends that advertisers invest in three core areas: production, testing and distribution. It’s on these three pillars that the success of your native advertising campaign is likely to rest.

Let’s take a closer look…

Production. Investment in production is crucial; without the right content resonating with your target audience, the power of native is severely compromised. And without high quality content that offers real value, native is reduced to the same relevancy as the rest of the background noise – i.e. the countless other ads you’re fighting to be heard over.

Testing. Testing is critical to allow you to both scale and convert your content that’s performing best. It’s a smart tactic to try multiple pieces of content to see which perform best. Then you can take the learnings from this when briefing the next batch. Just remember to clearly define how and at what point during the process you’re going to test format and content, right from the start.

Distribution. There’s no point in having top notch content if nobody gets to see it. Your budget needs to focus on getting that quality content out there and in front of the right eyes. This can be done by investing time and money in distributing the content in credible editorial environments to allow new audiences to discover it.

So, you can see what needs to be done. The real question is: do you try to accomplish it all yourself, or bring in a network that can help with the planning and execution of campaigns to simplify spend and give you a welcome breather?

Collaboration with an agency – is it for you?

DIY is a tempting approach, at least on the surface. By shouldering the burden yourself you can cut down on spend. However, not only will you be limited to the level of expertise you possess and the resources at your disposal, but it may also take much longer to implement your strategy.

The production, testing and distribution stages of a native advertising campaign are increasingly significant and important to success. Anyone looking to invest their budget wisely should be particularly aware of these elements and how they should feed into campaign planning and strategy, or else look to partner with an agency that can demonstrate this understanding.

At TAN Media, we combine all three for end-to-end campaign management and in-depth analysis, allowing our customers to simplify their budget, reduce production time and enjoy access to premium publishers.

To find out more about true native for advertisers, contact us today.

Confused man

Why native advertising is having an identity crisis

By | Uncategorized

I’ve just read an extremely thought provoking article on what I believe to be the biggest challenge to both the native advertising industry (publishers and networks) and media agencies looking to sell native in to clients.

I didn’t just read Chad Pollitt’s piece ‘Native Advertising has a Terminology Problem. And It’s Not Pretty.’ once through – I read it three times. Not because Chad didn’t make sense, but because we’ve got to the stage where even for someone in the thick of this industry, I was still briefly confused.

If someone who works day in, day out in native advertising is having to re-read definitions, then what hope do media buyers (working across multiple platforms, media and formats) have? If one person’s native is Outbrain, and another’s long-form content on a premium publisher, then we have a problem. And that’s before we even look at the myriad of hybrids in the UK market.

Back to basics

Perhaps, it’s best to start with what most people agree is the definition of native advertising:

“Native advertising is paid advertising (media) where the ad matches the form, feel and function of the content of the media on which it appears.” (Native Advertising Institute)

This snappy description seems bulletproof, but it only tells half the story. It accurately describes the sponsored headline unit, the social media sponsored post – the shop window if you like. It’s what happens next which really defines the native format. What happens once the user has read the headline and clicked?

It’s all about the content

This brings us to the content. There’s long been confusion in the market between content marketing and native advertising.

This is one of the easier definitions to solve: Content marketing = your brand content. Native = the distribution channel. I could get into content marketing vs advertorial here (not overtly mentioning your product vs it being all about your product) but that will have to wait for another day.

Social media is somewhat ‘ronseal’ – a sponsored tweet looks like any other tweet, the same for Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook. These usually contain heightened CTAs such as the ‘Learn more’ or ‘Shop now’ banner on Instagram, before clicking to brand sites. Often, the post is simply re-targeting.

There is content, right?

So, what about the traditional publisher’s site? This is where it gets confusing for media buyers. I’d argue it’s all about what happens post-click. This is where the definition of native advertising seems to be far too broad. Any of the following could happen – the headline unit:

  • leads to content on the same publisher’s site
  • leads to content hosted on the brand site
  • opens up a lightbox containing brand content
  • plays video
  • doesn’t actually lead to any content at all. It’s a headline unit that simply clicks to a product page!

Essentially, your headline unit could behave in several different ways and in some instances, is no more than a re-badged direct response banner ad.

Here’s my attempt to clarify the main (non-video) formats on publisher’s sites:

Native advertising (sponsored content)

Non-programmatic, publisher direct sold headline units that lead to article pages in the same premium environment.

True Native (sponsored content)

Non-programmatic, ad served headline units that lead to article pages in the same premium environment.

Native display

An in-feed headline unit on a publisher site that clicks to a brand site which may or may not contain content marketing. Usually programmatic demand from exchanges and often re-targeting.

Content recommendation

The likes of Outbrain, Taboola and Rev. Self-serve headline units which click out, usually in blocks of 6 or 12 at the bottom of article pages. Usually DR campaigns or arbitrage.

Should ‘native advertising’ be redefined?

Chad argues that the confusion in the market is all about the definitions of types of content, I’d argue that there’s far more confusion over what a headline unit does.

Perhaps now is the time to separate premium sponsored content (in editorial environments) from what recent IAB UK native conference called ‘next generation display advertising’. Perhaps, the term ‘native advertising’ has had its day!

fake news

Why ‘fake news’ is good news for real publishers

By | Native advertising, Uncategorized

Probably already a frontrunner for phrase of the year, ‘fake news’ is the phenomenon everyone from politicians to publishers; tech companies to the man on the street, is talking about.

Whilst the blame for fake news has been laid squarely at the door of Facebook, indeed it’s forced the world’s biggest social media platform to fact check some of the content on its site, it has caused publishers to take stock and consider the quality of third party content on their own websites.

That content is invariably ad tech, from standard display units, to native advertising, video providers, and content recommendation. Are the ads being run trustworthy? This is particularly important in the programmatic age where they could have been served through a myriad of exchanges.

If not knowing where an advert has come from is a problem for publishers, the reverse is now true for advertisers – not knowing where your ad will actually be served has become a real issue. A recent Times investigation led to some of the world’s biggest brands pausing all programmatic advertising as their ads were found on websites apparently funding extremist groups.

Finding audience at the expense of losing control of the environment, suddenly doesn’t seem quite as smart.

Native: One size fits all?

Native advertising as a term encompasses everything that ‘mirrors the form and function’ of the property it sits on – from a promoted Facebook post or tweet to a sponsored article within the editorial feed, right through to content recommendation.

Because of this execution, trust has never been more important. And there lies the problem – how can a user uploaded misleading ‘get rich quick’ headline, clicking out to a dubious website be lumped into the same category as the lauded New York Times content for Netflix’s Orange is New Black?

Time to grasp the opportunity     

So where does this leave native advertising? There’s no denying how important it’s become for publishers – The Atlantic makes 75% of its ad revenue from sponsored content, Condé Nast Britain, over half of its digital earnings. But this is from high quality, clearly labelled articles – a world away from some of the clickbait washing around the web.

BI Intelligence estimates that Native ads will drive 74% of all ad revenue by 2021. Whilst this will be led by the dominant social platforms, one interesting nugget is that:

“Sponsored content, which is categorised separately from native-display due to the direct relationship between publishers and brands in creating the format, will be the fastest-growing native format over the next five years.”

The renaissance of traditional publishers    

Traditional publishers have a challenge to adapt to the digital world, but the one good thing to come out of the past few months is that, in the words of Luis Hernandez, ‘…fake news is making real publishers look good’. Sites with paywalls like the NYT have seen a surge in subscriptions and UK national newspaper sites a 16% year-on-year uplift to 31.5m daily uniques (Dec 2016).

Why premium sites need premium ad tech     

So here’s the question for publishers: You’ve worked hard to build the trust of your audience. Why would you do anything to diminish that by running poor quality ads, clicking out to some questionable places?

The real value for premium publishers is in running high quality, clearly labelled, stay-on-site sponsored content which maintains trust and delivers value to both the reader and the media owner.

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Native advertising Smartphone

How we helped visualise the native landscape

By | Company News, Native advertising, Uncategorized

I recently wrote a piece entitled ‘Help! Which type of native advertising should I choose?’. Its purpose? To cut through some of the jargon bandied around in the industry when it comes to describing different forms of native.

Given the growing importance of native within the digital ad landscape, it’s no surprise that it’s also something the IAB have been wrestling with. As members of the IAB’s Content & Native Council, we’ve been helping the industry define the various executions of native in the UK.

It all started with a framework back in May. Here you’ll find the three types of native the council decided to define based on how content-based media spends are invested:

Native distribution ad formats:

These are ad units that mirror a publisher’s overall style and layout. This encompasses in-feed click-out and content recommendation units. These are usually a click-out from the headline unit to the brand’s site or landing page. Sometimes called programmatic native display.

Publisher hosted and / or made:

This is for on-site editorial-based content and falls into three categories:

1. Publisher controlled content. Essentially content that the advertiser has no control over. Often this content won’t be directly related to the brand. They are simply sponsoring its production.

2. Publisher hosted and / or made. This is where advertisers partner with publishers or networks such as TAN Media to provide or support editorial-based content. Content sign-off is from the brand.

3. Joint publisher/advertiser controlled commercial content. This is defined as ‘made by publisher and/or brand, enabled by brand but may have been produced even without brand funding’. It’s publisher controlled but with brand input.

Brand-owned:

This defined as ‘any form of content which is conceived, owned and managed by an advertiser.’ This can include social media channels or brand websites for example – essentially anything that’s not on a publisher’s website.

You can find the exact definitions on the IAB Website here. And whilst frameworks and charts are all very helpful as a starting point, actually seeing the various executions in situ is what really brings this project to life.

With that in mind, the IAB tasked suppliers with helping create a Content and Native Gallery. The 50-page PDF is now available for download on the IAB site.

You’ll find our contribution (including case studies) in section 2 – Advertiser-controlled commercial content, following the Guardian and Telegraph, so please take a look.

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How native advertising is set to dominate digital media

By | Native advertising, Technology, Uncategorized

Native advertising is predicted to make up over 50% the display media bought across Europe by 2020.

We may only be a few months in to 2016 but it’s already shaping up to be a breakthrough year for native advertising. A new report forecasts a massive €13.2 billion native ad spend around Europe by 2020 – spectacular growth of 156% compared to the €5.2 billion companies spent on native ads in 2015.

In Britain alone, the market was worth £1.2 billion last year. That figure is set to more than double to £2.8 billion by 2020, according to the study, carried out by Yahoo and Enders Analysis and unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The move to mobile

That’s sweet music to the ears of online publishers who are currently struggling against a number of advertising headwinds, most notably the marked trend among consumers away from the larger screens of laptops and PCs to the much smaller screens of mobile devices.

Display advertising is challenged on smaller screens, so native in-feed advertising makes far more sense from both viewabilty and user experience perspectives.

Opt-in advertising

Additionally, surveys are finding that consumers actually appreciate native as adding value, compared to blaring and brash display ads they’re not overly fond of – one reason fewer people are clicking them.

A true native execution is the ultimate ‘opt-in’ advertising and a world away from the intrusive splurges which shield entire homepages or launch a video that’s impossible to switch off. If the reader choses to engage with on-site, clearly labelled sponsored content, that’s exactly what they get.

The future is native

The new study found that native advertising will amount to 52% of all display advertising in European markets by 2020, and – reflecting the swing to mobile – native ads for mobile will soar from €1.5 billion last year to €8.8 billion in less than four years’ time.

So, it’s increasingly looking like publishers and advertisers are embracing a native future together, with everyone benefiting – even consumers!

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The rules of native engagement

By | Uncategorized

It’s always a sign of acceptance and maturity in any activity when someone comes up with a rule book; and that’s just as true for the phenomenon of native advertising.

In this case, the guardian of all that is good is the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), who have been watching the growth of native for some time. Perhaps waiting in case it just fizzled out like another fad or was destined to be a long-term part of the marketing and publishing landscape. In any case, they have now published the first native ads guidelines.

The latest UK numbers are, according to IAB and professional services consultants PwC, that native accounted for a spend of £216 million in the first two quarters of 2014; that’s over 20% of the total display ad spend – hardly fizzling out! In fact, a number of players on both sides of the advertiser/publisher border have dropped display ads altogether and have thrown their hats very decisively into the native ring – even one of the internet’s opinion-formers, BuzzFeed.

Given that extraordinary level of growth and market share, it was inevitable that native sponsored content would attract the attention of the authorities. The good news for the industry is that the rules in this first part of the guidelines are actually based on customer research and effective good practice.

The danger with native content has always been that if a reader doesn’t know that the content they’re reading is commercially targeted, there is the danger of resentment against the publication and against the advertiser for a perceived deception. So guideline number one is unequivocal: publishers must “Provide prominently visual clues to show that pieces are native ads and not editorial”. They suggest a mix of logos and typographical design tools, such as fonts and shading, to differentiate between editorial and native content.

Well, there’s no argument with that, nor the requirement that publishers must add labels to indicate the commercial relationship, along the lines of “Brought to you by…” or “Paid promotion”. Research carried out for the IAB shows that trust increases with the transparency of the origin of the content and, as trust and engagement are the goals of native advertising, these guidelines really are just good practice.

Those who have been carrying the native advertising torch for many years know that when native content is good, i.e. of value to the reader, labelling and transparency of origin are not bureaucratic annoyances but signs of respect.

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