mobile content

Top tips on writing engaging mobile content

By | Content, Content Marketing

Today’s constantly-connected consumers crave content that’s simple to digest and can be accessed from anywhere, and from any device. Hence why mobile is booming.

Rather than me try to put forward a convincing argument, I’ll let the figures speak for themselves. The latest IAB and PwC Digital Adspend report, which we contribute to each year, unveiled that half of UK internet time is now spent on smartphones. This has caused mobile’s share of digital ad spend to rocket from 35% to 43% in just one year, or £2.37bn.

Mobile’s growth means that it now accounts for 57% of all display ad spend and a whopping 77% of all content and native ad spend.

If you’re yet to optimise your content for the small screen, you’re already missing out on an unprecedented opportunity to win over your target audience.

So, if you want to perfect your penmanship skills and fine-tune your mobile copy, here are some top tips for writing compelling content to engage your readers:

mobile content

Short ‘n’ snappy

Did you know that humans have shorter attention spans than goldfish? Which, coincidentally, has been blamed on our use of digital devices. Mobile readers don’t want the arduous task of scrolling through lengthy paragraphs – they’ll switch off in seconds. So, break up the text into short, digestible chunks whenever there’s a natural break. Just remember the golden rule: say what needs to be said, using as few words as possible.

Hook ‘em with headlines and subheads

Continuing the short-and-sweet theme, your headlines need to be to the point, pack a punch, and have a pinch of mystery to them that’ll encourage readers to click through. I know, it’s a lot to ask. The best piece of advice I can give is to think like you’re tweeting (even though you’re not). You want your headlines to be worthy of a re-tweet – scan the social site when you next have five minutes for some inspiration.

Now you’ve got your readers’ interest, you need to keep hold of it with equally engaging subheads. The most effective ones guide readers through the article; they’re snappy, yet provide new and insightful information. Tie-in your subheads with the title, make the font bold and you’ve got yourself a seriously scannable piece of content.

mobile content

Frontload fantastic copy

In the same way, a film trailer entices us to watch the full-length flick, the first few sentences of your article are absolutely crucial for drawing readers in. And so, it must be your very best, attention-grabbing writing. You need to tee-up your article in an original and exciting way. Potential readers will be asking, ‘How will this article benefit me?’ and it’s your job to answer them.

Break it up with bullet points and visuals

Subheads make for scannable content, but you can break up the text even further with bullet points and images. Bullet points, for their part, allow you to convey the article’s key messages in a more digestible manner. They can be used to summarise the content, explain product features and/or benefits, or as a checklist in an advice piece.

Readers can’t get enough of visual content. When people hear information, they’re likely to remember 10% of it three days later. But add a relevant picture and they’ll remember 65% of that information. And, get this: articles with an image every 75-100 words receive double the social media shares as articles with fewer images.

mobile content

As consumers are so stimulated by visual content, you should strive to embed engaging, relevant images and videos within your articles whenever possible.

Writing marvellous mobile copy doesn’t mean writing fewer words. Instead, it’s about making every single word on that digital page count. It’s about formatting articles in an eye-catching way, whilst communicating original ideas that’ll resonate with your audience long after they’ve closed the page.

 

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Why native advertising is having an identity crisis

By | Banner - Advertisers, Banner - Content Creation, Banner - Native Video, Banner - Publishers, Banner - Reporting, Banner - True Native, Native advertising

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!

programmatic

Has programmatic become problematic?

By | Brand Safety, Content Marketing, Marketing, Native advertising

The rise of programmatic advertising has been nothing short of spectacular, with the IAB predicting that programmatic will account for 80-90% of display ad sales by 2019.

Its rapid growth is unsurprising given the problems it has solved, namely audience targeting and unsold inventory. By introducing real-time bidding (RTB) on every ad impression, advertisers can bid for the eyeballs of each individual user based on their browsing history and other data sources. Want to reach a 47 year old female, earning a fair whack who likes sports cars? No problem…

Brand safety becomes the hot topic

Except there was a problem. In March, The Times ran the headline: Big brands fund terror through online adverts. Their investigation focused on sites including YouTube where programmatic ads for major global brands were found to be alongside extremist content.

The fallout grew greater each day as more and more media agencies pulled their ads from Google’s ad exchange. As we noted on this blog when ads were pulled from alleged ‘fake news’ sites:

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

But it’s not just user-generated content sites like YouTube, Facebook, Tumblr or Instagram that represent a potential danger for brands. There’s also been an exodus from editorial sites like Breitbart – the controversial Alt-right news organisation – and copyright-infringing sites such as those streaming live sport without owning the rights. Ads have also been found on pornographic sites.

I don’t suppose brand safety concerns were top of the agenda for most programmatic buyers; performance by way of finding the target audience trumped everything, but one thing’s for sure – it’s now their number one priority.

Good news for traditional publishers? 

Ironically, one of the campaigns which first sparked this controversy was for a publisher. The Guardian pulled ads for its membership scheme from Google’s Adx ad exchange when they were discovered next to extremist content.

Ironic, because it’s traditional publishers which stand to benefit the most from the fallout. News UK’s chief executive, Robert Thompson didn’t hold back with his take on the tech giant:

“It is risible, no, beyond risible, that Google/YouTube, which has earned, literally, hundreds of billions of dollars from other peoples’ content, should now be lamenting that it can’t possibly be held responsible for monitoring that content – monetizing yes, monitoring no.” Press Gazette

1XL, which represents local newspaper publisher’s Johnston Press, Newsquest, Archant and DC Thompson issued a statement suggesting that agencies place ads with them rather than:

“blind programmatic ad buying which is placing household brands next to extremist content and fake news”.

What next for advertisers?

Over the past few weeks I’ve had many calls and emails from media agencies asking us to confirm where their client’s ads are running.

As we operate our own network with direct publisher integration, I can easily list every site down to individual sections and placements – in short, we can offer complete transparency and brand safety. I suspect others in the digital space have probably not had such an easy ride.

What many advertisers don’t realise is quite how many exchanges their ads are passing through before being spat out at the other end. Knowing where your ad is being served when bids and ad calls are being made in a fraction of a second on millions of websites is nigh on impossible.

So perhaps it’s time to take another look at the walled garden traditional publishers can offer, after all, could it be that the environment your ad is served in is as important as the targeting?

Essential for native

Thus far, the programmatic problem has only affected display advertising, but

with some display being tweaked to look more like native, it seems obvious that native advertising should be leading by example. After all, when sites are associated with your content, they should be completely brand safe.

As a final thought, I’ll leave you with three things I’d be asking any native provider:

  1. Can you provide me with a full site list?
  2. Can I blacklist any sites I don’t consider right for the brand?
  3. Can you pause campaigns down to individual placements by next impression?

If they can’t answer all three, I’d be looking elsewhere.

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native

5 trends for native advertising in 2017

By | Content Marketing, Marketing, Native advertising, Technology, Videos

Having firmly established its place on media plans over the past year, content & native in-feed advertising accounted for an impressive 29% of display in 2016. So, what does the new year hold for native? Here’s 5 trends we’ll be keeping a close eye on:

Measurement, Measurement, Measurement

When someone as gigantic as Facebook struggles with metrics, the spotlight really falls on if a 3 second video view really is engagement, or simply someone scrolling past to consume more of the thing they were actually there for in the first place? There’s also been plenty of talk about moving away from obsessing over clicks, so perhaps 2017 will be the year when quality of engagement trumps sheer quantity.

Viewability remains a red hot topic

I’m sitting in a coffee shop writing this, having just purchased an Americano. Unsurprisingly it filled the cup. Had it only have been 70% full, I’d have asked why and certainly wouldn’t have paid full price. Remarkably, media agencies are still asking ‘how viewable’ our inventory is so they can price this in. We’ve always delivered native on a vCPM (a 100% viewable CPM) – others are moving towards a CPV or CPE (costs per view or engagement) – one thing is for sure though, the days of charging for unseen impressions must finally be coming to an end.

Trust becomes ever more important

In the new era of ‘fake news’ the credibility of brand content becomes increasingly important. Spammy headlines that lead to unrelated content are bad news for both the sites they appear on and the companies using them. Expect to see big brands becoming more cautious about placements and being seen alongside other campaigns with less credible clickbait creative.

Picture-perfect! The increasing use of visual formats

Video distribution has been one of the fastest growing areas of online advertising so it’s easy to forget the power of great photography. We’ve already worked with some great photo essays for brands. There’s also plenty of hype around 360 VR – our team has been experimenting with this on mobile and it looks fantastic – expect to see more.

Rejection of interruptive formats

Ad blocking continued to be the hot topic during the past year. It was hard to find anyone to disagree with the fact that the industry had brought this upon themselves by annoying the hell out of people – obscuring the content that audiences were there to consume. Many publishers are turning their backs on these formats realising that it creates massive UX issues.

Stay-on-site True Native is just one way to create a non-interruptive user experience whist maintaining revenues. If 2016 was the year of interruption, 2017 is definitely shaping up to be the year of usability and engagement. The two really do go hand in hand.

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create or to curate content

To create, or to curate, that is the question

By | Content Marketing, Native advertising

With native advertising and sponsored content now being the tool of choice for so many leading brands, the debate is now moving to an advanced discussion of the choice of strategy.

One of the first decisions will be whether to create, or to curate your content. Are you going to write brand new material, never before seen or read, that takes a fresh approach? Or do you curate your content, making use of your own assets and changing the way you share them; the product guide from last year, that video from the YouTube channel or the images from your social media channels.

In the beginning there was creation

One of the plus points of creating content is the chance to take a new direction; perhaps you want to capture a different audience or talk about a new topic. Good quality, fresh content will always attract followers who are searching for answers or to be entertained with new ideas. As you own it you can share it as you like, potentially increasing the opportunity to convert passing visitors to genuine leads.

As always success will be down to the quality of the content, there’s no room for vanity publishing here. If the work is up to scratch and offers genuine value to readers and rewards them for their efforts, then content creation is a great way to build your own credibility as a source of expertise.

Curating the existing collection

Curating existing content works to a different set of rules; in this approach you are driving more value from those existing brand assets. It’s a skill that develops from not only knowing your market extremely well but also being able to predict how that market will evolve; in effect the brand itself is becoming a publisher.

For some sectors curating will be the most appealing, particularly in areas such as fashion, motor and travel, where there is already so much content out there. Why invent the wheel, right? But it’s important to make it your own and develop a consistent brand voice that you can use throughout all your materials.

Room for both

Your content strategy should of course always be linked to your business objectives. It’s important for advertisers to create new content so you can stay ahead as the source of expertise and continue to deliver more value and better solutions. Nevertheless curating content has its place too! Your success here will depend on the editorial skills you bring to selecting the right material and then how you present the whole.

Over the longer period, think of your complete content strategy like a loaf of bread, sharing slices of interest specific stories to the market whose interest you share.

So, the answer is definitely to use both. It may be creating, it may be curating, they are both very powerful strategies when applied in the right context.

At TAN Media, we create and curate content for a range of brands across almost every vertical. We want to share our expertise and data insights, so you can make the most of content and engage with your target market. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss your content needs to compliment your current brand strategy.

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Great content – that’s what women really, really want

By | Content Marketing, Native advertising

Marketers are at long last waking up to the fact that there is no such being as ‘woman’ and that taking a homogenous approach to the female of the species is not just plain insulting but extremely poor marketing as well.

Here are a few facts that might make some of our leading brands have another look at their marketing strategy sooner rather than later.

Wealth and market disruption

In the UK women are directly responsible for around 60% of all spending but are actually the decision maker in an estimated 85% of purchase decisions.

Even in the notoriously male automobile market women are recognised as being the decision maker in 60-80% of car purchases, according to Aston Martin, who are rethinking their models to better meet the preferences such a powerful lobby. Porsche quote similar research and back it up with incredible statistics; over half of total sales for this iconic sports car manufacturer come not from the iconic sports cars but their SUV, the Cayenne, with the growth being accounted for disproportionately by women buyers.

Even in the middle of the market Nissan put the figure at around 70% globally and, of particular interest, say that the percentage of women making the buying decision is higher in the developing and new emerging markets.

Only the beginning

We know that some of this is due to the changing face of work; 67% of women now work either part-time or full-time (for men that figure is 77%) up from 62% twenty years ago and with pay inequality gradually declining with women forecast to earn 82% of a male equivalent by 2017, up from 79% now; suggesting total equality is actually in sight.

So, increasing financial independence is part of the explanation for the huge purchase influence but, according to Marketing magazine (6.3.2015), the real explanation is far more complex and challenging than simple economics.

This, they say, is the tangible result of the growth in confidence of women globally, no longer prepared to accept a stereotypic role as a male accessory, a mother figure and homemaker as so many religions and cultures have traditionally portrayed women.

A technical marketing challenge

For the marketer this requires a fairly fundamental rethink on a number of levels. Firstly many women do not think that products and services are designed for them; even in a market as asexual as financial services 75% of women respondents complained about product relevance and targeting.

According to She-conomy, US specialists in marketing to women, “Women don’t want to see a lot of “cutesy” pink floral imagery in advertising. Instead, marketing that features a strong and confident woman is much more appealing to this demographic”.

And that takes us back to the title; what women really, really want is great content that designed to appeal to and respect the incredible range of differences to be found within the female gender itself. According to She-conomy and Marketing magazine this means that future marketing efforts must be relevant to them as individuals, as people, and woe betide the marketer who does not pursue a less historically based understanding of their female customers.

However, there is one issue of relevance, although a slight anomaly as it once again homogenises women, but according to She-conomy, women think about purchases differently to men. Men, they say, have technical needs and want instant gratification; women, on the other hand want endorsement and ‘confidence through conversation’.

Which is why native content is so suited to the challenge. Content that speaks the language of the reader, content that is designed to complement the editorial, content that is crafted, and always has been, to create a conversation and build confidence.

Native Content Best Practices

By | Content Marketing, Native advertising

There are some who see native content as simply advertorial with a new name for a new generation. But for those who are prepared to dig a little deeper will be the reward; a treasure chest of thinking and understanding about how we new centurions communicate with each other.

Making comparisons with even the recent past is always, if not dangerous, then certainly unwise for planning purposes. Technology moves so far in such a short time that even basic terminology such as ‘marketing’ or ‘communication’ mean subtly different things than they did thirty or so years ago. In the latter half of the twentieth century marketing pretty much meant ‘selling’ and communication meant ‘telling’. Advertorials were still fairly blunt weapons, using brand names and images as often as possible between steps on a bland path to appearing witty and on the consumers’ side. Half-way along the first quarter of the twenty-first century and marketing is rather more about creating brands that reflect the lives’ of their target markets and communication is certainly more about listening than it is about talking. New methodologies need a reappraisal of the tools we use. Our approach and our introduction, especially in headlines, has to reflect the lightning fast filter of those whose attention we crave. Here are some native content best practices…

Headlines that work

No more than 60 characters, or about seven words, with sub-heads where the context takes a different angle. Make sure they’re relevant and current and use the under-rated colon to avoid a filler of joining words. Using multiple headlines for one article can really help drive engagementThe current data shows that content with between 1 to 5 headings drives a CTR (click through rate) of 0.83%; but that escalates to 1.3% with 11+ headlines. That means a benefit for tactical diversity when structuring your content.

Imagery

Don’t be shy in testing a number of  images for your previews (as long as they are relevant!); again the research supports the power of imagery. One preview image is linked to a CTR of 0.79% but two or more alternatives push that to 0.98%; it needs more response analysis but that could well reflect the depth of relevance perceived by the audience.

Don’t be afraid to pose emotive questions in your headlines

Questions are important, it’s the way you show you’re listening; and the emotion you invoke, it’s the way you show you actually care.

Always call for action

Having made the investment in engaging your audience, any seasoned marketer knows that the next step has to be really simple. The call to action (CTA) has to be direct but not in a ‘buy it now’ sort of way; instead a ‘we’d love to chat longer’ contact or hyperlink keeps the customer in control. Thinks about adding additional CTAs in the body of the piece; if you’ve already hooked the fish why wait to reel them in?

If you’d like to discuss your native content or native advertising strategy, why not get in touch?

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mobile content

Follow the leader; a game for thoughtful natives

By | Content Marketing, Native advertising

Like most imports from the United States, ideas tend to arrive on a tsunami of garish promotion liberally smothered with a dressing of wild enthusiasm. Sometimes though, just to mix a few metaphors, the present inside is actually more interesting than the wrapping.

One such import is the idea of ‘thought leaders’; not, as you may fear, a band of fiendish aliens controlling our minds and stealing our souls, but quite simply a bunch of folk who actually know what they’re talking about – and enjoy talking about it.

Call them thought leaders, call them icons, call them experts, whatever you want to call them we all have people in our mental contact list who we would turn to for advice. What’s more, we are ourselves probably the thought leaders, in our small way, for a number of stakeholder groups, such as our kids, our colleagues or our neighbours.

The point of all this is that, if we work on being thought leaders, we might just find that our community of thought followers starts to grow; and if we really know our stuff and put it out there in an easy to digest and easy to find fashion, our following could start to grow very quickly indeed. Read More