Advertiser Q&A: Snapchat Context Cards

Advertiser Q&A: Snapchat Context Cards

Social media

Snap Inc. is finding allies in its ongoing war with Facebook. The latest battlefield is location-based marketing.

Last week, Snap announced the launch of Snapchat Context Cards, a new feature that injects more information into the content that Snapchatters share on the app. The launch has raised questions from businesses, ranging from “What do Context Cards mean to advertisers?” to “What the heck are Context Cards?” Here are some answers to popular questions:

What are Context Cards?

Context Cards consist of optional “more” buttons that Snapchat has embedded into the Snaps that Snapchat users post on their accounts. When you click on the “more” button, the Snap reveals location-based information about a user’s Snap.

For example, let’s say Snapchatter Marcia posts a photo of herself enjoying a breakfast burrito at her favorite café. Her photo, of course, is the Snap, or content that she posts on Snapchat. A Context Card, or “more” button, which appears on Marcia’s Snap, reveals a treasure trove of information about the café, such as its address, map location, and user reviews. In addition, Marcia’s Snapchat friends who receive the Snap can click on ride-sharing services embedded in the Context Card if they want to visit her at the café.

This video gives you more insight into how Context Cards work:

Context Cards have generated a lot of curiosity because Snaps are the language of Snapchat. Context Cards enrich that language with information about the places where Snapchatters share information with each other – sort of like turning Snaps into Swarm check-ins loaded with information about where Snapchatters are and what they’re doing.

The term “context card” is not unique to Snapchat. Facebook uses them, too. As Facebook explained in 2016: “A context card is an added (and optional) tile that pops up after someone clicks on a lead ad but before they get to the form, giving businesses a place to offer more details on the information people are signing up for. So, if a business is using lead ads to find new email subscribers, they may use a context card to explain what type of content they offer in their emails. Context cards help businesses ensure that the leads they receive are high-quality.”

But Snapchat has branded the term within a specific context of location-based information.

Does every Snap now contain a Context Card?

No. According to TechCrunch, “[Context Cards won’t appear in every Snap, however, lest you were worried that Snapchat was turning every single post on its platform into a marketing tool. Instead, it’ll include those that have been tagged with the company’s venue-specific Geofilters, or with any Snap that’s been submitted to the public ‘Our Story’ feed and that appears in Snap Map or Search.”

Where does Snapchat get all location information needed to create Context Cards?

Snapchat is not mining all the data on its own. To retrieve and publish location-based information, Snapchat is partnering with companies that collect this kind of information already. As reported in Adweek: “The messaging application teamed up with launch partners TripAdvisorFoursquareMichelinGoopUberLyftOpenTableResy and BookTable to supply information including reviews (from critics and customers), tips, reservations, booking rides, directions, hours of operation, phone numbers, websites and other Snaps from around the area.”

Foursquare provided more insight into how Foursquare partners with Snapchat on Context Cards here.

What does Snapchat get out of Context Cards?

Context Cards could make Snapchat more attractive to businesses, which it must do in order to compete as a revenue-generating advertising platform. Just how Snapchat will benefit remains to be seen, but here are a few ways the company may become more valuable to advertisers:

  • User engagement: If Context Cards cause Snapchat users to spend more time on the app by digging deeper into each other’s Snaps and interacting with the location-based data, Snapchat will be able to report stronger user engagement numbers to advertisers. For instance, conceivably a user could tap into a Context Card, check out customer reviews of a restaurant pictured in a Snap, and use Uber to visit the restaurant all within Snapchat. More time spent on Snapchat means more opportunities for advertisers to interact with users.
  • Data: Snapchat can collect more data about user activity, such as what they are searching for and where they are spending their time, which would make Snapchat a source of more targeted advertising. And targeted ads mean more relevant interactions with users, which is Facebook’s stated competitive advantage.
  • Revenue generation: the Context Cards could create ways for Snapchat to collect more revenue from transactions and advertising. As discussed in Forbes, “The feature could also open up a new revenue stream for Snap, as it could charge its partners a commission for each booking or transaction carried out via its platform. If Snap is able to scale up this opportunity, it could be quite lucrative given the company’s relatively young and affluent user base, which is located primarily in developed markets.”

But Snapchat will have to tread carefully. People won’t use Context Cards that create unwanted advertising popping up on their screens.

What do Context Cards mean to advertisers?

  • If you operate brick-and-mortar storefronts, make sure your location-based data and content are accurately reported to Snapchat’s partners such as Foursquare. A Context Card isn’t going to be very valuable if it sends users to the wrong address of that café where Snapchatter Marcia is enjoying her breakfast burrito. Now, more than ever, you need to manage your data and content closely.
  • Keep your eyes on Snapchat especially if you advertise to a millennial audience. Watch how Context Cards evolve and be ready to capitalize on advertising opportunities as they arise.
  • If you advertise on Facebook, keep an eye on how Facebook responds. Facebook has not capitalized on location-based marketing beyond giving brands real estate to create their own pages. Look for Facebook to answer Snapchat with more effective ways for businesses to embed location-based information into the world’s largest social media platform.

Bottom line: Context Cards give Snapchat a way to combat Facebook in location-based marketing. Facebook offers something akin to Context Cards when users check into places on Facebook and reveal information about the location of the check-in. But they are not very and interesting and useful. Context Cards embed a lot more information. Snapchat has an advantage – for now.

To make your marketing more effective across the digital world, contact KeywordFirst. We’re here to help.

Keep Advertising on Facebook — Carefully

Keep Advertising on Facebook — Carefully

Social media

How concerned should advertisers be about Facebook in light of the credibility problems that the world’s largest social network has been facing lately? The answer depends on how you use Facebook to advertise.

If you rely on Facebook solely to achieve visibility, you should be especially concerned about the recent news concerning Facebook being manipulated with political advertising through the creation of phony accounts. Even if you don’t do political advertising, you have good reason to ask, “How can I be sure I’m not paying for phony accounts to view my advertisement?”

But for businesses that employ Facebook advertising with a cost-per-click (CPC) model, the existence of phony accounts is less concerning because fake accounts are not going to click on your ad.

But however you advertise on Facebook or any other social media, Facebook’s recent woes are a reminder that you should not take a set-it-and-forget-it approach to advertising on social. At a minimum, monitor the performance of your advertising and the integrity of the engagement you are getting from your ads, an example being the inevitability that people will troll your ads with inappropriate comments on social.

Mark Zuckerberg in the Hot Seat

The ongoing news about Facebook being used to spread bogus news during the 2016 presidential race has caused Mark Zuckerberg to vow to improve the integrity of Facebook as an advertising platform, but his actions have been met with skepticism. Big brands have been expressing their concerns about Facebook’s reliability.

The concerns are understandable. At the same time, I think it’s useful to take a step back and look at the big picture:

  • Facebook has 2 billion members. Its ability to create engagement and brand activation remains strong. In a sense, the platform is too big for brands to ignore. For all its problems, Facebook brings incredible scale and shareabilty to any advertising roll-out. For example, with Facebook’s targeting tools, media/entertainment companies can create effective 15-second video spots to promote upcoming events in order to boost awareness. Put another way, it would be foolish for Warner Brothers to react to Facebook’s problems by dropping the platform from its media mix for promoting Justice League with clickable trailers.
  • As noted, a CPC model, while not perfect, helps a brand hold a platform like Facebook more accountable for performance, as click-throughs separate the real people from fake accounts. Yes, click fraud happens. And yes, Facebook has been stung by periodic criticism about click fraud in the past, but Facebook has a way of learning and improving in response. (At KeywordFirst, we’ve not received any complaints about click fraud on Facebook recently.)

The bigger problem is trolls commenting on your ad. You have to brace yourself for the reality that the more you advertise on a social site, the greater the risk you run of attracting trolls who disrupt the conversation occurring about ad after you post it on Facebook. This risk is especially great on Facebook.

I suggest Facebook advertisers:

  • Keep your Facebook advertising focused on a CPC model.
  • Manage your account closely. Don’t go on autopilot. If your ad is getting trolled, you want to be the first to learn about it on your own.
  • Avoid clickbait or ads, which will act as troll magnets.
  • Keep advertising on Facebook, but be smart about it. Use tools at your disposal such as retargeting and audience segmentation.

You should definitely advertise on Facebook depending on your objectives. But if recent news has taught us anything, it’s this: manage your presence on Facebook. Closely.

Contact KeywordFirst to maximize the effectiveness of your digital advertising. We’re here to help.

More Brands Are Loving Facebook Live

More Brands Are Loving Facebook Live

Social media

Facebook Live is picking up steam. According to a recent report from think tank L2, Facebook livestreams are accounting for a larger percentage of brands’ total Facebook video content creation. In August 2016, Facebook Live comprised 1.09 percent of total Facebook videos. That number climbed to 4.4 percent in June 2017.

 

As L2 notes, “[T]he more interesting story here is that brands are adopting a traditional spend strategy for live video, a sign that the relatively new format is maturing.” According to L2,

In June, the promotion rate of live videos surpassed that of overall video posts on Facebook—78% versus 72%—for the first time in the study period of L2’s Video: Live report. Live videos appear to be effective: the live video engagement rate in June was 25% higher than the overall Facebook video engagement rate, according to L2’s study. If live videos continue to generate more engagement than traditional Facebook video posts, brands could find reason to increase their investments in Facebook Live.

Why are brands investing more in Facebook Live? One reason is that Facebook Live gives businesses a way to be more authentic. For brands, one of the promises of social media all along was that businesses and people could have more authentic, organic conversations with each other. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and platforms like them create channels for a more real-time, less perfectly packaged interaction. But many brands have treated social as another channel to promote prepackaged content such as movie trailers, commercials, and music videos. There’s nothing wrong with sharing such content on social so long as it is engaging. But the rising popularity of Facebook Live shows that people want authentic, more organic content, too. For more insight into how to be authentic on Facebook Live, check out my recently published post. Contact us to learn how we can help you build your brand on social.

Why TV News Programs Are Going Social

Why TV News Programs Are Going Social

Social media

Television news programs are not dying. They’re just changing. Case in point: on July 26, ABC News announced that it will team with digital media company ATTN to develop and distribute news videos across social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The two companies will create video content such as guest interviews and features, customized for social viewing and sharing.

Commenting on the relationship, both ABC and ATTN both acknowledged the changing video consumption habits of audiences in the digital age.

Colby Smith, vice president, ABC News Digital, said, “Great journalism resonates with audiences across all platforms. Partnering with ATTN: allows us to experiment even further with new formats. We will take compelling stories and interviews and craft them in a way that feels organic to our digital platforms.”

Matthew Segal, ATTN’s cofounder and editor in chief, said, “To reach audiences today, you have to meet them where they live on social platforms. We’re thrilled to leverage the resources of ABC to provide social audiences with great storytelling that focuses on the issues important to them.”

ABC News is certainly not the only bastion of the old-world news networks to react to changing times. Also in July, NBC News launched “Stay Tuned,” a twice-daily Snapchat broadcast that joins other Snapchat-based NBC programs such as “The Voice.” Meanwhile, Twitter and Bloomberg offer 24/7 streaming news, and CNN is turning to YouTube for a forthcoming news broadcast. And earlier in 2017, the BBC and Snap announced a relationship to distribute a new Snapchat-based show that draws upon the BBC’s popular Planet Earth II documentary series.

These announcements occur at a time when TV-based content in general continues to expand into digital. We’ve already seen longstanding entertainment shows such as The Academy Awards and The Walking Dead embrace digital with second-screen experiences, and the NFL streams games on Twitter, just to cite a few examples. These programs have good motivation to increase their online video content. With TV viewers cutting their cable subscriptions and becoming more comfortable watching TV on desktops, laptops and mobile devices, TV broadcasters and their advertising partners are being forced to transition to an increasingly digital-only experience.

Social media is especially attractive for distributing content for three reasons:

  • Targeting shareable content. As we have noted on our blog, social sites such as YouTube make it possible for content creators to offer advertisers far more targeted audiences than TV can. Facebook alone offers increasingly sophisticated tools (including building lookalike audiences) for targeting different segments of its 2 billion audience based on who they are and what they do on social. And social platforms, are, of course, imminently shareable, which is why Twitter, despite its operational woes, remains a popular platform to distribute movie trailers and music videos – when they resonate, they get shared.
  • The power of livestreaming. Livestreaming in its various formats has become a powerful method for sharing real-time content, especially after Facebook expanded its livestreaming platform. Livestreaming has given everyday people a chance to act as citizen journalists by broadcasting you-are-there raw footage of breaking news and events. But networks can livestream as well by empowering journalists to act with the same real-time insight on the ground in a nimble fashion with nothing more than a mobile phone. Journalists can report news with the professional discernment and interviewing skills that they possess. And on social media, they can more easily amplify their coverage of real-time news. In fact, according to WGN-TV reporter Nancy Loo, livestreaming on Facebook is the best way to interact with your audience. (She provided this insight to us directly at the Social Media Day conference in Chicago June 30.)
  • Reaching the cool kids. In 2016, millennials overtook baby boomers as the largest U.S. population segment. And in 2017, Gen-Z – people born between 1997 and 2015 – overtook For Gen-Z and millennials, digital defines their world. Snapchat especially has famously become the go-to content consumption source for millennials – and where this large population segment goes, advertisers and their content partners are sure to follow.

But moving to social networks does not guarantee an audience. Audiences on social are not necessarily engaged with brands. They lack the intent that people searching for content on Google possess. They’re probably distracted by consuming and creating information on multiple screens and devices even while they are watching yours. Whether producing organic content or advertising, broadcasters need to engage audiences with small, bite-sized morsels that earn attention. To learn how to transition to the digital world with your advertising, contact KeywordFirst. We’d love to help.

Digital Video Advertising Outshines TV

Digital Video Advertising Outshines TV

Video

Digital video is hotter than ever for brands. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau Video Ad Spending Study, advertisers are spending on average more than $9 million annually on digital video advertising (a 67-percent increase from two years ago), and video represents more than 50 percent of their digital/mobile ad spending.

The IAB report is based on a survey of brands and agencies across a wide spectrum of industries ranging from automotive to telecom. Most of the respondents plan to invest more into both digital and mobile video over the next 12 months. Many will fund their investments into video by reallocating their television budgets, and most respondents believe that original digital video content reaches an audience that TV cannot reach. They also prefer video because of the quality of the environment and overall effectiveness of reaching an audience.

These findings don’t surprise me. My own client experiences suggest that advertisers are also drawn to the measurability and audience segmentation possible with digital video compared to TV advertising. As I wrote on the KeywordFirst blog, not only can you target customer segments with online video, but you can see how many of them interacted with your site, subscribed to your YouTube channel, made a purchase, or watched another of your YouTube videos (other than the ad you just showed them). Not only can advertisers see the different interactions of an audience, but they can also see how much of the video ad that they watched.

To maximize the value of online video, I suggest that advertisers:

  • Develop an interactive video strategy tied to your branding goals and aligned with the behavior of your customers. Map out your customers’ journeys throughout the digital world and figure out how interactive video will best move your customers from the awareness to consideration to purchase and retention. In the healthcare profession, for instance, medical providers use interactive video to educate potential patients on topics such as wellness care, which raises awareness for providers when customers are researching topics such as proper dieting or exercising.
  • Understand the nuances of using video — both paid and organic — across different platforms. “Video” can mean many things to different brands, ranging from a bumper ad on YouTube to a Facebook Livestream. According to a recently released report from think tank L2, video formats provide different advantages depending on what platform you use. Instagram content provides higher levels of engagement compared to other platforms, Facebook provides incredible reach, and YouTube is better for longer-form video content that lends itself to episodic storytelling.

In addition, it’s important to stay on top of this fast-changing format. The different platforms are constantly introducing new features as they attempt to gain an advantage on each other, and advertisers that stay in the know will seize a first-mover advantage. On the KeywordFirst blog, we regularly discuss how to succeed with video (as shown by this example about livestreaming). Other useful resources include the blogs from platforms such as YouTube and third-party content from institutes such as the IAB. How are you capitalizing on interactive video?

Image source: Marketing Land

How to Apply a March Madness Approach to Paid Search

How to Apply a March Madness Approach to Paid Search

Search

I look forward to NCAA March Madness every year. What I do like about March Madness is picking random teams based off either the state, the colors, or just rankings and odds. I love the camaraderie of being in a pool and heckling the other losers, and typically losing my $10 buy-in. Now that I’ve gotten the hang of creating a March Madness bracket year over year, I thought I’d apply the approach of choosing brackets to selecting a winning paid search strategy for 2017, based on my knowledge of search engine marketing.

Getting Started with a Paid Search Bracket

What makes March Madness so fun and exciting is that each tournament is different. The Connecticut Huskies won the championship in 2011 and 2014, yet they aren’t even in the bracket this year. Well, paid search is like March Madness in that regard — you cannot predict the “winning” tactic every year. What worked years ago might not be relevant in 2017. For example, targeting long-tail keywords used to be a best practice. Now the long-tail keyword approach has become obsolete due to the addition of close keyword variation. Now, let’s take a look at 16 important paid search tactics/practices for 2017 and put them in a bracket for consideration. How would you fill out the following bracket?

All of these tactics are important, and, depending on your needs, the results could be different. For example, is your key performance indicator lead generation? Then shopping campaigns wouldn’t apply. Do you have a small budget? I wouldn’t recommend YouTube if you have a small budget and your main goals are return on ad spend or cost per order. But if you are interested in increasing brand awareness, YouTube could be beneficial. The fun part about paid search is that there isn’t a “one size fits all” mentality. The important thing is to learn what works for you each year.

Selecting the Final Four Paid Search Tactics for 2017

Below is my paid search bracket for 2017. I’ve given a brief description about my Final Four and why I think my candidates are pivotal in 2017.

  • Adwords IF Function Ads – We now can modify our ad copy based on device or audience. Doing allows us to change our call to action for those on mobile from “Learn More” to “Call Now” or maybe “Easy Mobile Booking.”
  • Demographic Targeting – We can optimize and gather data based on income, age, gender, and so forth. Do we see that 18-24 year olds aren’t performing as well as 35-44 year olds? Let’s exclude or add a negative bid multiplier on the 18-24 year olds so that we can increase of traffic volume for those demographics that perform well.
  • Attribution – What campaigns help the “last click conversion” with “assisted conversions”? We all know that the brand campaigns have a much higher conversion rate and conversion amount. How much of that outcome comes from assisted conversions? Did our non-branded, dynamic search campaign or display campaigns contribute to the branded conversions?
  • Facebook Lookalike Targeting – Using Facebook’s algorithm to create a new audience based off of a list of past customers. You might find success when using this targeting if you have a smaller budget and target a focused audience size.

The Winner: Demographic targeting! Instead of relying on keyword data for all of our optimizations, we can now optimize off of age, gender, income targeting, and so on. We are now able to add bid modifiers or exclude demographics that don’t fit our target audience. This capability, in turn, can increase our order volume, or improve efficiencies by reducing traffic that isn’t a fit for our clients. Demographic targeting is just in the beginning stages for paid search campaigns and will only improve as Google gains more information.

Lead image source: Fredrick Kearney Jr. (https://stocksnap.io/author/37926)