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Listen up!: Finding the right digital audio ad

Adi Pinco, July 11, 2022

Takeaways:

  • There are three main ways digital ad space can be purchased: manual ad insertion, dynamic ad insertion, and programmatic ad insertion.
  • Manual insertion is the traditional way to purchase ad space and, until recently, has been used for the majority of ad placements.
  • Dynamic ad insertion is the most popular way digital audio ads are placed and offer greater targeting options.
  • Programmatic insertion is in its infancy but offers more personalized messaging thanks to better targeting.
digital audio ads
Photo by ConvertKit on Unsplash

Like a lot of people, we feel lost these days if left commuting without our favorite podcast, or winding down at the end of the day without Alexa playing the radio in the background, or if on the treadmill without our well-curated gym playlist. Digital audio has become a staple of our daily lives.

Brands have taken note of our growing love of digital audio, with increased spending over the last few years on all areas. Highly effective due to its personal nature, and with endless creative possibilities, the growth of these formats has been music to many advertisers’ ears.

But like any other advertising channel, brands diving into digital audio need to buy their advertising slots in an effective, scalable, and context-appropriate manner if their campaigns are going to grab the ears of consumers.

For those still struggling to get their heads around the world of digital audio ads, let’s look into the three main ways that space can be purchased.

1. Manual ad insertion 

This is the traditional way to purchase ad space, especially for podcasts. Usually, brands will negotiate directly with publishers or podcasters. Ads are then ‘baked’ into the audio, meaning they are part of a single audio file that cannot change. Hosts or artists can read these ads out, blending seamlessly into the content.

Until recently, a majority of ad placements were run using this method – in 2019 52% of podcast ads were purchased manually. The method also chimes with consumers, with the often personalized tone, familiarity of a host’s voice, and naturalistic insertion leading to a 71% brand recall.

The downside is that these kinds of placements can be taxing to implement and lack true scalability. As the market for digital audio continues to expand, these individual insertions will be time-consuming for advertisers and may cause brands to miss out on potential audiences. 

2. Dynamic ad insertion 

Dynamic ad insertion (DAI) is currently the most popular way that digital audio ads are placed, seeing explosive growth during the pandemic. Second best to manual podcast insertion in 2019 with around 48% of placements, it now accounts for 84% of podcast ads.

In short, DAI differs from manual insertion in that publishers mark spots within an audio file where ads can be inserted. Advertisers are then able to serve ads the moment audio is downloaded. It’s basically a win-win for brands and creators – ad messaging can be kept up-to-date while back catalogue can continue to be monetized.

DAI gives advertisers greater targeting options, meaning audiences to be found via genre, geotargeting, and even specific episode titles. Data signals can also be harnessed with DAI to serve ad messaging dependent on variables such as time, or even weather data. The use of audience data overlays from third- or first-party data is also possible.

Despite this, murkiness about the true measurability of DAI hampers its effectiveness. While advertisers can see downloads of a podcast, whether an advert was actually listened to remains somewhat a mystery.

3. Programmatic insertion

Programmatic is still very much in its infancy within the digital audio space. Though effectively used on many music streaming platforms – Spotify has Private Marketplaces (PMPs) and Programmatic Guaranteed (PG) buys available to advertisers – the podcast space is slower on the uptake. Only 1.7% of podcast revenue was generated through this buying method in 2021 (compared to 67% for display advertising back in 2019).

Its growth in the space could lower the barrier for entry for smaller brands and creators alike. More personalized messaging can also be served into the ears of listeners thanks to better targeting abilities.

There are however currently big question-marks over the brand safety solution in the audio space. While targeting via show type or description is possible, the ability to screen on an episodic level is not yet effective enough – the recent Joe Rogan vaccine denial scandal would give any advertiser cold sweats. As the technology develops and industry-wide safety standards are implemented, programmatic will start becoming a real contender in the digital audio space.

Any further questions on audio ads? Want to get further into the details on programmatic? Or do you have any other publisher-related questions? Get in touch with our team.

Building an ad tech strategy: 3 elements publishers must master

Adi Pinco, April 28, 2022

Takeaways:

  • Publishers should explore different inventory allocation opportunities to determine which mix best aligns with their business model.
  • Yield management strategies need to be employed to maximize revenues.
  • Publishers are responsible for complying with policies and data protection regulations.
ad strategy, ad tech

Building an ad-tech strategy is perhaps the most challenging aspect of being a publisher. A simple Google search will reveal thousands of ad tech companies, each claiming to offer the best monetization methods and strategies. It’s easy for publishers to quickly become overwhelmed and get lost in a sea of advice and recommendations. 

The result is publishers with overly complicated or underperforming tech stacks, misconfigurations, policy compliance issues, and many other problems, all of which amount to lost revenues and other consequences. 

Creating the right ad-tech strategy is a lot like cooking. Just as you balance flavors to suit your tastebuds, you need to find the right ad-tech mix to achieve your business goals.

In this post, we’ll cover the ingredients you need to make your ad-tech stack sizzle. With the right in-house expertise, you can follow it and create a workable, revenue-generating machine. 

1. Supply allocation 

When it comes to allocating inventory, publishers have several options. How inventory is divided among demand sources can significantly impact revenue, so publishers must do this with great care. Since publishers have different business models and strategies, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Publishers should evaluate various opportunities and determine which types of deals are most beneficial.

Let’s look at some of the most common types of deals.

Private marketplace 

Private marketplace deals (PMP) are invite-only auctions in which a selected group of advertisers get bidding priorities before inventory is made available to all other advertisers. Publishers determine minimum costs, and the advertiser with the highest offer wins.  

Direct deals

Direct deals are struck between sellers and buyers without ad exchanges or intermediaries. CPMs are pre-negotiated and higher than open market rates because deals are for premium inventory.

Programmatic guaranteed and preferred deals

With preferred deals, publishers sell premium inventory to a preselected group of advertisers at fixed prices. Advertisers bid in real-time, and the winner is determined by the highest bid or the advertiser that offers the pre-negotiated price. Guaranteed deals are similar but come with a fixed number of impressions. 

Remnant inventories

Remnant inventories are suitable for open auctions as real-time bidding is open to many advertisers. Demand will vary, but publishers can still get an acceptable price for unsold ad inventory. 

2. Yield management 

Yield management is a variable pricing strategy that enables publishers to sell inventory for the best price. Publishers usually alter prices based on demand, demand sources, seasonality, or user behavior. Yield management allows publishers to maximize fill rates and earn the highest CPMs possible. 

Here are a few ways publishers optimize their yield management strategies. 

Demand partners 

Publishers need to think carefully about the demand partners they work with, adding them to tech stacks to test their value. Some supply-side platforms (SSPs) and demand-side platforms (DSPs) have commitments or relationships with agencies to provide certain opportunities for buyers. Other demand partners might specialize in specific geo-locations or verticals, which can benefit publishers.

Header bidding 

Header bidding, which occurs outside of ad server auctions, gives advertisers a ‘first look’ at a publisher’s inventory, allowing them to choose high-priority impressions. Impressions are auctioned to all partners simultaneously, and the highest offered price determines the winner.

Varied ad formats

Some ad formats are more valuable to advertisers than others. To maximize profits, publishers should offer a variety of traditional and non-traditional ad formats, including video, application, interstitial, native, and anchor or sticky ads. Advertisers will pay a premium for ads that provide a better return on investment (ROI), resulting in more revenue for the publisher. 

A/B testing 

Every yield management strategy should include an A/B testing component. Publishers can test new technology, ad formats, header bidding solutions, and more against what they already use to determine which mix provides the best yields. 

3. Stay on top of everything!

The ad tech industry is no longer the wild west it once was. Today, organizations such as the IAB have been working to clean up the ad supply chain and restore confidence for both publishers and advertisers. Publishers that follow the rules, implement privacy policies, cookie compliance, and data protection measures can capture the revenue that would otherwise be headed toward non-compliant publishers.  

Traffic monitoring (trust & safety)

To instill a sense of trust and safety for advertisers, publishers need to monitor their traffic and understand their traffic sources. Publishers that don’t do this consistently will undoubtedly suffer from invalid traffic (IVT). Those with high IVT rates will see revenues and reputation diminish, and persistent IVT can cause publishers to lose access to Google products and other third-party partners. 

Policy compliance 

The ad tech industry and supply chain have suffered due to poor business practices and malicious actors. Nowadays, reputable programmatic platforms require publishers to meet standard compliance terms. For example, many platforms, including Google, won’t monetize publisher content that promotes illegal activity, including harmful or derogatory content, sexually explicit content, and much more. 

Data protection 

Data protection regulations vary by region and country. They include laws such as the EU’s GDPR, California’s CCPA, and Brazil’s LGPD. It is a publisher’s responsibility to make sure they comply with local laws and properly obtain user consent to collect data. 

Should you whip up your own ad tech stack?

As we mentioned earlier, it depends. Does your team have the right ingredients – the required knowledge, experience, and development skills?

While we encourage you to explore your options, we also know that sometimes publishers can be the most successful by focusing on the business activities they do best and allowing an expert like Total Media Solutions to do what it does best – provide publisher revenue management services.  

If you don’t want to waste more time or miss out on monetization opportunities, reach out to us. We’ll get you cooking in no time!

Total Media Solutions: A look at the onboarding process for agencies and brands

Vera Yanovskaya, April 6, 2022

onboarding process, strategy, automation, buy side, training, creative services

At Total Media Solutions, we use our vast experience and in-depth knowledge of marketing and advertising best practices to help our clients achieve their marketing goals through Google Marketing Platforms. 

We strive to make your onboarding process quick, efficient, and smooth, prioritizing initial training sessions and technical support. Our structure encompasses education, preparation, and ongoing support to ensure your best foot forward from the start, knowing that our Buy Side team is with you every step of the way.

Clients often ask us for more details regarding our onboarding process so they know what to expect when they partner with us. With that in mind, we’re going to share more about who we are, the types of clients we work with, and the services we offer.

Total Media Solutions in a nutshell

Total Media Solutions is an established global digital and mobile advertising technology and solutions provider specializing in buy and sell-side ad technologies. We are proud to be one of only nine global companies that has earned the status of being both a Google Certified Publishing Partner (GCPP) and Google Marketing Platform Sales Partner. 

On the buy-side, we offer our clients access to the Google Marketing Platform (GMP), which includes Display and Video 360 (DV360), Campaign Manager 360 (CM360), and Search Ads 360 (SA360).

It’s important to note that we are not an advertising agency. What we do is provide marketers with best-in-class onboarding, training, consulting, and support for the Google Marketing Platform. The advanced knowledge, strategies, and advice we share help our clients achieve the best possible advertising results for their company. 

The clients we work with

Our Buy-Side team works with advertising and marketing agencies and brands. Our team has extensive experience working with companies across various industries, some of which include tourism and hotels, retail, gaming, Fintech, beauty, consumer goods, and entertainment. We work with small and medium-size brands, from one-person marketing teams to entire departments, and can provide expert advice for those new to advertising or share advanced knowledge with more experienced teams. 

Services for agencies and brand advertisers

We offer six core services that you can utilize depending on your needs. We know that every company is unique and has different levels of expertise, so we’re here to supplement your knowledge, whether that entails getting you set up with the first stages of Google tools or filling in the gaps for more advanced teams.

Onboarding

Onboarding clients is the first step. During this phase, we review your business strategy, provide advice as to which Google marketing products will be the right fit, and deliver a marketing strategy designed to meet your KPIs.

Training

To ensure clients will be successful, we host two tailor-made training sessions for agency teams, partners, or end marketers so they can meet business goals such as building brand awareness, generating new leads, and acquiring new customers.

In the first session, we cover the basics, including how to open an advertiser account, implement the GMP platform, create a campaign, define targeting, and set up Floodlight. We’ll also review all the DV360 tools that help you launch campaigns. If you’re already using Google Ads and DSPs but are interested in expanding your traffic sources, we’ll assist with the proper setup.

In the next session, we share more advanced knowledge of the platform, campaign optimization tactics, and analysis tools, such as a standard report, IAR report (inventory availability report), Floodlight report, YouTube report, and more.

Experienced clients can gain immediate access to GMP and get things rolling independently without training, although we’re always ready to assist if any issue arises.

Strategy and Operations

Our Buy-Side team thoroughly examines and audits your campaign structure and performance, identifying aspects that can be improved and optimized further. We provide an actionable strategy that gives a holistic view of the overall customer experience with recommendations for generally improving that experience across specific channels and touchpoints.

Creative Services

Our creative services offering covers two fundamental marketing aspects. We can put together a strategy or go ahead and create high-value, high-performing audiences tailored to your needs. We’re happy to consult with your creative team if you have one, or we can produce campaign creatives and data-driven dynamic creatives for you.

Managed Services

If you’re short on team members or time, take advantage of our in-house experts with our fully managed service options. Our team can take on and deliver a range of marketing-related services, including creative development, media management, digital analytics, and more.

Automation

Automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks can be a productivity game-changer. We can design and deliver reporting frameworks and easy-to-use dashboards to help your marketing team identify patterns, optimize campaigns and budgets, and make smarter data-driven business decisions.

Ongoing Support and Education

Google algorithms, products, requirements, and rules constantly change. As a certified Google Partner, we are often the first to know about those upcoming changes. We share that information with you and help you prepare, update or change course as needed, keeping you ahead of the curve. We are a click or a call away if you ever need additional training, technical support, or advice.

Take the next step

Google Marketing Platform helps advertising agencies, brands, and media buyers plan, buy, measure, and optimize their digital media and customer experiences in one place. We’re here to make every stage of that process easier and provide all the guidance and assistance necessary to help you make the most of your ad spend. Your success is our priority!

Curious and want to learn more? Ready to get on board? Get in touch with our team, and we’ll be happy to help you reach your business goals.


About the author Vera Yanovskaya is a Senior Client Success Manager at Total Media.  You can contact Vera by email or on LinkedIn

Gated online community: How publishers can build a wall that works for all

Ryan Rakover, March 22, 2022

Key takeaways

  • Login requires authentication which requires a publisher to be secure 
  • Logged in users allow you to build your first party data *always with user consent
  • Login helps grow a publisher’s offering into a community 
Image courtesy of William White on Unsplash

Are your users ready to be authenticated? 

As publishers grow their knowledge on first-party data, they are in turn learning a lot about their users for the first time. Publishers are seeing how to build back the bridges to their communities. Not just capturing data points to pass on or as an answer to the deprecation of cookies but in the roadmap of building the experience their users want.

Publishers have begun to become more engaged with their users and open to new methods. Having users log in is a great way to gain greater insight from their users and widen a publisher’s offerings. However, is it that easy to do? What kind of additional responsibilities does a publisher take on? In turning their domain into a walled garden is there additional consent required from casual users turned logged-in users? 

How a publisher separates content impacts the user experience on the domain. A publisher can choose to lock content, differentiating the casual user from the logged-in user. It is crucial that a publisher understand and test how this change impacts user engagement. The underlying goal for a publisher looking to identify their users through login is to establish a unique community.

Through clearer audience identification, publishers can develop their domain in a responsive tone to their users. The amount of experiences publishers are able to offer is expanding all the time. Looking at how traditional content can be supplemented with video, audio, and the like it has never been more important for a publisher to know what content is in fact speaking to their audience.    

Why users and publishers benefit from having a login community  

A publisher’s understanding of their unique community will connect the dots of their users’ interests and behaviors. This greater insight into a publisher’s authenticated users will be under the publisher’s umbrella instead of third party vendors. This will allow for a publisher to be at the forefront of the experience their users are having. 

With a user account, a visitor creates a personalized profile on a website in order to tailor their experience with the web content. Accounts empower users to access exclusive offers, contribute to a community of fellow users, offer accessibility to support, and receive content recommendations relevant to them.

Publishers should not be afraid to experiment with new offerings. Using the login community of users, a publisher can try out areas of interest for their brand that they may not have thought appealed to larger audiences. For example, publishers could test hosting a podcast or selling products via affiliation campaigns to test the waters of new offerings. This added space of focused users can unlock new directions that a publisher’s original content may have sparked without them knowing.   

Publisher responsibilities

When a publisher decides to build a login it is important that there is clear user consent and the ability to change user choices in an accessible way. When the user has logged in, the experience should be safe and secure. A user has trusted a publisher with their personal information and how that information will be used will determine the future between the user and domain. Showing that the domain is responsive to user choices and selections will build user confidence and trust. In addition, it is important that the user has access to the data that is being collected and clear choices that are editable. 

Offering users a safe way to connect through personalization and community brings greater insight for publishers into what is working for users and what might be missing. With each step of added connectivity with users, publishers must use it and demonstrate added value with this personalization. Through an engaged user community, insights into what’s working and what’s not can help shift thinking to where it needs to be.

As privacy has taken a front seat, publishers are learning fast that it is easier to protect the users they have than to start finding a new audience. For the last several years the power of understanding a publisher’s audience was often at arm’s length from the publishers and siloed by third party vendors. Publishers are now back in control and each choice is valued and weighed by the user community. It is important for publishers to make sure the processes of data collection are clear and accessible.  

Conclusion

As publishers build out their roadmap towards the alternatives to third party cookies, building from within is the necessary first step. Establishing a secure authenticated users will be the foundation for a publisher’s brand’s next pivot. Publishers should remember to make the process simple, safe, and with value. Offering content behind a walled garden is more than an environment free from advertising, it’s an opportunity to offer a rich added level or unique content.

About the author: Ryan Rakover is the head of our Trust and Safety efforts at Total Media Solutions. One of the things Ryan enjoys the most in his role as a publisher’s strategic partner is the challenge of bringing policy from a place of rules and standards to delivering solutions to clients to improve their client’s bottom line. Find Ryan on LinkedIn or reach him by email.


The four most important SEO strategies for publishers in 2022

Naomi Rabbie, March 16, 2022

Key takeaways:

  • Preparing for MUM might not be required today, but it will keep you ahead of the game.
  • Make increasing page speed a priority and evaluate your site speed routinely.
  • Leverage Google’s tools for the best chance of earning a spot in Suggested Clips.
  • Refresh old content to build on the wins you previously had. 
MUM, Google, BERT, algorithm

There’s no denying that Google is the king of the internet. As such, all of its subjects, a.k.a. advertisers and publishers, must abide by the rules to court favor with the king in an attempt to win a coveted spot on the first page of search results. That, of course, is no easy feat. Landing a spot on page two is still a good consolation prize, but any further down is the equivalent of being sent to the Tower of London with a fate similar to Anne Boleyn.

Alas, for you publishers, the way to curry favor with the king and remain in its good graces is to focus on SEO strategies that meet its ever-changing algorithms. So, what does the ruler of the digital land have in store for us as we look at the year ahead? Google is flexing its mighty tech muscle, building on its AI and natural language processing (NLP) capabilities and focusing on how to provide internet users with better, more relevant sources of information. 

In this post, we’ll unpack the treasure chest of what Google has been working on so you can adjust your SEO strategy and prepare for tomorrow and the years to come. 

Google MUM is coming

Last May, Google introduced its new AI algorithm called MUM (Multitask Unified Model), which is built on top of its already in use algorithm BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers). According to Google, MUM is 1000 times more powerful than BERT and takes a radically different approach towards serving users’ implied search intent by understanding context, concepts, and how topics intersect.  

No one knows how MUM will affect search results. Google has been vague about that so far and about when it will be released, only saying “months to years.” At this moment, you can’t truly create a strategy to beat this algorithm, but you can start producing content that reflects the way this future algorithm will prioritize and display results: based on intent questions.

To put this in more concrete terms, Google gave an example of a person who, after hiking one mountain, wants to know how to prepare for a hike on a different mountain. Google posits that the user currently needs to perform several searches to find out about all aspects of their query – elevation levels, trails, temperatures, gear, etc. With MUM, all of those underlying non-verbalized questions would be answered with one result.

The key takeaway here is to think like a user and create content that answers more of their questions. 

Focus on improving page speed

Google cares about your site’s speed – a lot. A significant part of its last update, Core Web Vitals, focused on speed: how long it takes the largest page element to load, how elements shifted on a page while it was loading, and how quickly elements responded to clicks

You can quickly find out your scores with Google’s PageSpeed tool, and if pages are slow, there could be many culprits. Here are a few of the more technical but quick tweaks you should consider:

  • Minimizing HTTP requests 
  • Minifying files
  • Using asynchronous loading for JavaScript and CSS files
  • Deferring JavaScript loading
  • Using a fast DNS provider
  • Compressing files and reducing image sizes
  • Switching hosting providers
  • Using a CDN 

The list goes on and on, but the point is there are lots of ways to address site speed and eliminate the issues slowing your load times. 

Optimize for Suggested Clips

Video consumption is off the charts these days, and Google offers plenty of video results when users search. According to a global survey conducted by Statista, over 27% of people watch more than 10 hours of online video per week, while another 15% watch 7-10 hours, and 18% watch 4-7 hours. Chances are, you already know this and have prioritized creating video content.

So, if your written content isn’t landing you in the top ten results, try optimizing your videos to give them the best chance of appearing in Google’s Suggested Clips. Using the new structured data types, Clip Markup and Seek Markup, you manually tell Google which timestamp and label to use to create key moments and increase your chances of appearing in the results.

Refresh old content

Experts will always encourage you to create evergreen content, but the world moves fast, and things change quickly, meaning what you thought was evergreen has now fallen out of favor with Google. But all is not lost with those pages because refreshing them with updated content can restore them to their former glory. Google loves ‘fresh,’ and this is one of the quickest SEO 

strategies you can implement.

The best way to get that shine (and ranking) back is by refreshing old content. One of the best tactics is to look at the top ten Google results for a topic or keyword, put on your sleuthing cap and uncover what makes those pages rank. It could be the structure, keywords in the headers, optimized images, new data, or other factors. Take what you learn and apply it to your own page. After all, you already invested in producing this content, so giving it a refresh builds on that equity.

SEO is never done

SEO is like a castle’s defenses – there’s always work to be done, and you can always improve your site’s SEO. Thankfully, today we live in the digital age, and there are countless tools at your fingertips to help you.

Remember that these days, SEO is not just about adding keywords to your content, titles, meta descriptions, and alt tags – although all of those will help. Modern SEO is about thinking of the needs of your readers, prioritizing their experience, and answering the questions they are asking. 

If you prioritize those elements in your SEO strategy, you’ll be well on your way to becoming internet royalty – or at least snagging a top spot alongside other royals in Google-land.

If you need advice about SEO, monetization, or any other aspect of your publishing business, reach out to us.

About the author Leah Grantz is the Marketing Manager at Total Media Solutions. You can find Leah on LinkedIn or reach out to her via email to discuss content and SEO strategy!

5 marketing trends in adtech for 2022

Nadia Ozeri, March 3, 2022

marketing trends 2022, VR, AR, 2022, digital marketing,
Image courtesy: Pixabay

2022 is a year of big changes. Covid changed our lives, not only in the way we communicate with one another but also in how we use technology. Marketers face a challenging year, juggling emerging technologies and changes to online tracking while trying to meet the shifting moods of pandemic-weary consumers. The metaverse has been a hot topic of conversation recently with Microsoft and Facebook both making claims. The metaverse doesn’t quite exist yet. However, the hype still matters, and soon will likely change how we consume content, audio, video, mobile, and gaming. 

1. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)

AR and VR are exciting technologies for marketers to tap into because they focus on imaginative and interactive experiences. In the future, these technologies will be used to market products and services, and change marketing forever. Several verticals have major potential: from virtual real estate, with virtual property showcases, staging, and more, to the travel industry where you can receive a virtual tour of a hotel before you book your vacation, to the beauty industry, enabling you to try out lipstick colors and clothes before you buy. Although the metaverse is still in its infancy, there increasingly will be tools that allow marketers to connect with consumers in these emerging digital spaces.

Brands like TOMS Shoes, TopShop, Oreo, Sephora, and IKEA have already successfully used these technologies for marketing purposes. IKEA uses AR to help customers design their own space, Say Hej to IKEA Place. 

2. Increasing mobile gaming advertising 

Globally, there were an estimated 3.24 billion gamers in 2021 – no surprise there. Furthermore, according to Adjust data insights, gaming accounts for 50% of total industry ad spend. These spaces have been transformed into effective advertising platforms due to the success of the gaming industry as a whole.

But what about mobile gaming as its own entity? There were approximately 477,877 mobile gaming apps available on Google Play in the first quarter of 2021 – an increase of almost 12% from the previous quarter. Moreover, a report from GlobalData found that after reaching $98 billion in 2020, mobile gaming is expected to reach $272 billion by 2030.

As mobile gaming advertising becomes more competitive, your creative campaigns need to reach the right audience, at the right time, and in the right place. By leveraging the power of programmatic marketing, you can scale appropriate ads to the users that you want to reach. A successful campaign will rely on this and can help achieve impressive ROI in 2022.

Example: Mobile advertising in action 

Anzu designed its in-game ads to appear more organic to users. In Trackmania, for example, they appear as billboards around the titular tracks. Anzu partnered with brands like Samsung, Microsoft, and Vodafone on these ads. Example: Vodafone appearing in Anzu video games: 

Trackmania Multiplayer Session World Premiere @Gamevention #DIGI1 2020

vodafone, anzu, gaming, advertisement,  billboard,

3. Alternative targeting solutions  

After Google postponed the phase-out of third-party cookies to 2023, advertisers, adtech companies, and publishers are expected to implement new ways of tracking consumers and targeting ads in the next 12 months. However, even if Google sticks to its current plan, the future of cookieless browsing is likely to emerge slowly and incrementally.

As third-party cookies will no longer be supported in 2023, marketers will be testing alternative targeting solutions, such as people-based targeting, throughout 2022. Prior to cookies being banned, companies that can leverage and expand upon your first-party information should be vetted

Let’s have a look at Contextual targeting for example. Internet marketing started basically with contextual targeting until third party data was the shiny new revenue toy. Now, with the phasing out of the cookie, contextual targeting is likely to rise again and be the popular strategy for publishers, advertisers, and consumers. This is a great opportunity for you as a publisher to implement and integrate contextual advertising into your marketing strategy.

At the moment, the advertising industry is at a turning point, where organizations must take advantage of the opportunity to be more transparent with their audiences. We must ensure that new identity solutions put consumers in the driver’s seat so they can decide when, where, and how their data is used. 

Example: Contextual targeting used 

Kitchn is already doing it. This online daily food magazine started implementing contextual targeting. I saw an ad for a pizza cutter while reading, “How To Make Awesome Pizza at Home.” This is an excellent example of contextual advertising in action:

4. Video marketing 

The data backs up my claims, even though they sound exaggerated. Search engine giant Google has announced that YouTube reaches more 18-34 and 18-49 year-olds than any cable network in the United States. Facebook reports that video posts receive six times more engagement than photo or link posts on average while Twitter has seen an increase in video views by over 160%. 

In other words, if you don’t incorporate video into your marketing strategy, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to connect with your audience and build trust. Video is vital for creating customer relationships since it puts a human face on the brand, which builds trust and loyalty.

It appears that short-form content is on the rise and won’t slow down anytime soon. Instagram Reels, TikTok, and YouTube Shorts are among the most popular channels for video content today. With their ability to capture attention and lead to stronger engagement than other content, you can use video marketing to take center stage in your marketing strategy for  2022. 

Example: Make TikToks not ads 

#TikTokmademebuyit is influencer marketing at its best!  In August of 2021, TikTok’s #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt hashtag, used by influencers to show off Amazon purchases they found on TikTok, had more than 4.1 billion views—check out this video (don’t mind the spelling mistake in the title though 😉…). 

@heartdefensor

amazon keeps taking my money 🥲 levitating bulb lamp with wireless charger link in bio #amazonfinds #amazonmusthaves #tiktokmademebuyit

♬ Spongebob Tomfoolery – Dante9k Remix – David Snell

Amazon even started a page called “TikTok Amazon Finds”

5. Programmatic audio is about to get big

As a brand’s primary outlet after being dominated by visual media for the past decade, audio advertising has emerged as a significant medium. Through its capability to reach highly targetable and mobile audiences in brand-safe environments without the presence of screens, it enables marketers to evolve their omnichannel strategies naturally.

eMarketer predicts that listeners will spend an average of 97 minutes with digital audio per day -nearly a half-hour more than the average user will spend on social media (70 minutes). As opposed to their visual equivalents, audio ads are delivered one by one to consumers while they are not typically connected to a screen, such as when listening to a podcast or a playlist during a workout. Audio ads provide premium environments and are an effective way to fill otherwise unfilled gaps in the user’s buying journey.

Example: Audio ads in Newsweek

According to the 2021 State of audio AI consumption report, the average LTR (= listen-through rate) in programmatic advertising, was a whopping 96% or 105.8 million ads listened to. Programmatic audio offers remarkable granular targeting capabilities. Media buyers can tap into a range of advanced audience segmentation parameters, including location, point of interest, device, weather, user, agent, format, genre, dayparting, mood, and more. Through this channel, the ability to engage a user in the right place, at the right time, and within the right context becomes just that bit more accessible.

Conclusion 

These are some of the trends that I’m following this year. I think the advertisement industry is going through major changes while the primary focus is on the metaverse. It’s the beginning of a new marketing strategy that we will need to get familiar with and used to.

About the author Nadia Ozeri is the Director of Buy Side at Total Media Solutions. She is an expert in connecting advertisers to ad technologies. You can find Nadia on LinkedIn or reach out to her via email if you’ like to pick your brain about ads.

How publishers can take advantage of first-party data

Ben Erdos, February 10, 2022

This article was originally published on New Digital Age on January 12, 2022.

Written by Ben Erdos, Chief Services Officer at Total Media Solutions.

Ben Erdos, New Digital Age, Chief Services Officer

The past year has been eventful in digital media; particularly around privacy as regulation tightens and Google reiterates its intention to phase out third-party cookies. 

The good news is that publishers can position themselves in a way to make the most of these changes. With no single scalable identity solution yet available, first-party data has come to the fore. But, what makes it so valuable? 

Getting closer to audiences 

Publishers are increasingly seeing opportunities from deeper, more holistic relationships with their audiences. A greater understanding of what current users respond well to can help  publishers adapt experiences accordingly and even reinvent themselves in line with those preferences. Not only that, but more detailed information can highlight demographic gaps, provide more insights for user acquisition strategies, and help publishers expand their offerings in a way that caters to untapped audiences.

Critically, first-party data will also act as a life-line for publishers who need to maintain their advertising revenues going forward. In a world where third-party data is unavailable to marketers looking to reach their audiences, they are increasingly reliant on data publishers themselves can provide to compare with target profiles. 

However, success in this depends on publishers creating the conditions for a reciprocal situation where their audiences are comfortable trading data for better experiences. Not only that, consumers need to clearly understand what information they will be sharing and what they get in return. 

How to make it meaningful

With the introduction of GDPR in the EU in 2018, the publishing industry had to adjust to creating frameworks to gain not just consent from its users, but meaningful consent – that is, consent in which a user actively opts into the collection of their data.

As we move to the post-cookie world, meaningful consent will only become more important. By collecting data in a way that is clearly defined, publishers not only stay on the right side of regulations but also gain user trust. Audiences don’t want to feel pressured into giving their data and want to know how exactly their data is used – a clear on-page design can assist this.

Take, for example, the current cookie consent forms that are required on every site currently operating in regions that adhere to GDPR. Though the temptation may be to add logos, push users towards certain choices and obscure the finer print, having a clear, simple form ensures meaningful consent and establishes trust. As a result of these efforts, users will feel secure to share more data with publishers and a more mutually beneficial relationship can exist.

Third-party data is on its way out and has already been phased out in many cases, which means publishers should start reaping the rewards from first-party data strategy now. It will mean they are in a strong position to secure advertising revenues when the transition away from third-party cookies takes place fully. And a renewed prioritisation of meaningful consent for data exchange can redefine the relationship with audiences in a way that opens up greater opportunities for both parties. 


Curious to learn more and see what strategy suits your site best? Reach out to us here:

5 creative techniques for creating effective ads for HPC products

Yosi Cemel, January 31, 2022

HPC products, home & personal care, HPC industry, best creatives

The home & personal care (HPC) industry is very lucrative. In 2020 it was a $483B industry, in 2021 it jumped to $511B — and with an annual compounded growth rate of 4.75% worldwide — it’s predicted to exceed $716B by 2025, and $784.6B by 2027. With this huge business opportunity, it’s no wonder that there are so many players in this industry, and the challenge is to differentiate oneself from the competitors. 

Part of this challenge is in finding new ways to advertise these products because they are so widely used. But we’re here to help. We have studied the latest advertisement industry trends and tactics of top-performing home and personal care advertisers and would like to share with you our insights so your creativity can stand out! 

Avoid complexity!

Product quality is one of the main criteria consumers use to judge products, yet the need for a creative message is also crucial. Regardless of the content of your ad, it always helps users to simplify the language or concept with easily understandable words instead of complex terms. Rather than explaining the technical aspects of a product, starting from a universal experience that everyone can relate to, will lead you down the right path.

For example, rather than explaining the technical aspects of their product, Liquid Plumr, explains it in a direct test based on a universal experience. In place of explaining the product to the viewers, this advertisement shows what the product can do.

Make sure you understand what matters

Instead of trying to address the entire marketing funnel with a single ad, you can use ad options that will get you to a specific goal. If your goal is short-term sales and performance, the most effective ads are those that focus on products. If, however, you’re looking to do brand building, ads that use a longer, more creative story tend to be more effective. Consumers want to see that the product suits them and their lifestyle.

Launching a new vacuum cleaner model, Bosch has created a 20-second ad that shows the product in action and focuses on one key feature. This was an approach that proved effective in increasing sales in the short term.

The ‘me’ inside of us

Personal care products are personal, consumers want to see that the product suits them and their lifestyle. Think about the characters you will include in your campaigns to reach all of your consumers. Incorporating more ethnicity, age, and gender will create more interest and help consumers identify with your brand’s products.

All Good, a diaper brand, managed to attract parents with this campaign. In the campaign, they show all kinds of families from different races, ages, and family structures, emphasizing that many difficulties parents face are universal. The audience can establish a real connection with the brand because they have been recognized and acknowledged.

Create a story

Users do not always form strong emotional bonds with products. This is especially true for everyday products used in household and personal care. Building those bonds is important and can help the brand stand out. A story created with creatives that go beyond the product can be very successful in capturing consumers’ attention.

Veet France‘s campaign features compelling short stories of various women lying in bed with their friends, attending a summer evening party, laying on the lawn, and admiring their body hair. Showcasing a variety of body types and body hair, the ad tells a story of the many different ways one can express one’s femininity.

Try using the sound of the product to promote your ad

Using your product’s audio in your ads can bring back memories to customers, help you put things in context, or increase the impact of your message. While audio is one of the most effective ways to increase brand awareness, it’s not a very well-known resource in video ads. Using audio increases the impact of brand names and your messages. A sound can also give clues about how a product is used – for example, when spraying a bottle of aerosol or pouring the product. Creating that aural connection is helpful to catch users’ attention because users don’t always have a strong attachment to a specific product.

Look at Nokia for instance. Nokia used the jingle as the default ringtone for its mobile phones right from the start of the brand. There’s hardly a person who doesn’t recognize it, even if they don’t quite remember where it’s from.

HPC products: Conclusion

These five techniques will maximize the creativity in your ads and help you get more effective results. These techniques will serve as a starting point for you to build a solid foundation as you implement your creative ideas for your brand. By experimenting frequently with your ads and trying different techniques, you’ll maximize the impact of your ads and achieve the best results.

This article was written by Yosi Cemel, Programmatic Media Specialist, at Total Media Solutions.

Want to learn more about Google’s policies and how to keep your ad inventory up to speed with the latest? 

Contact us today to find out how we make ad ops easier for publishers.

6 publisher trends that will dominate 2022

Steve Myslinski, January 19, 2022

Key takeaways:

  • Publishers will look to diversify revenue streams further with commerce and interest-based newsletters.
  • A first-party data strategy is no longer nice to have but a necessity.
  • Demand for audio content will continue to grow.
2022, publisher trends

Life and business are in flux as we enter a third year of pandemic existence. While the Omicron strain threatens the routines we were just getting back to, 2022 doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom, especially for digital publishers who are used to adapting and evolving.

This year will see the continuation of several trends that have been building steam; some were spurred into action because of the pandemic and others because of technology and consumer demands (we’re looking at you, cookie deprecation!). If necessity is the mother of invention, this is a prime time for publishers to reinvent themselves.

Below are the six trends that we predict will lead the publishing industry this year.

1. Content-commerce collaborations increase 

Even before digital consumption dominated daily life, publishers used multiple revenue streams to support their business, including ads, advertorials, and subscriptions. Although advertising still generates the most revenue, publishers are embracing new revenue streams. According to Digiday, 64% of publishers rely on direct product sales as a revenue stream, and 72% say that affiliate marketing generates a part of their earnings.

Public trust in social media is at an all-time low. Consumers are spending more time on the open web, opening the door for publishers to leverage the trust they already have with audiences to sell them products. Although reports indicate 94% of publishers use affiliate marketing, we expect to see publishers produce more content that includes product recommendations from affiliate programs they are a part of and more direct sales deals with brands.

2. Diversified monetization strategy

According to eMarketer, digital advertising will continue to grow but not at the crazy record-setting pace of 2021. The pandemic taught us that no business, publishers included, should have all their revenue-generating eggs in one basket (or two when we consider commerce trends).

For publishers that haven’t yet jumped on the newsletter train, now is the time. Newsletters can help publishers develop deeper, direct relationships with readers. While that doesn’t offer an immediate financial payoff, a dedicated readership is attractive to brands that can advertise in it or sponsor it. In fact, the Washington Post was able to amass such consistent readership and a 40% open rate with their coronavirus newsletter, Slack, Salesforce, and Goldman Sachs all became sponsors.

Subscription models will continue to make a strong showing, but some consumers report feeling fatigued will all the content available on the open web, further noting that they prefer content-specific newsletters instead.

3. Consumers want to listen, not just read

Between audiobooks and podcasts, audio has captured consumers’ attention, or ears as the case may be. Edison Research found that some 80 million Americans listened to podcasts weekly in 2021, a 20% increase from 2020. Publishers can use audio to connect with audiences at times when users want to consume content but can’t read, like when they are driving.  

Top publishers including The New Yorker, The Economist, and The Atlantic all offer readers narrated articles, not in place of written content but in addition to it. Publishers interested in this booming trend can partner with a service to create narrated content versions (like we do) or monetize their audio content through revenue-sharing agreements with audio apps such as Audm.  

4. Capitalizing on a first-party data strategy

With the demise of the cookie looming on the horizon, current privacy regulations, and consumer-initiated tracking prevention, publishers need to reassess their data collection strategies. This isn’t news, but smaller publishers have been slower to implement strategies. We expect more of these publishers to adopt a few tried and tested collection methods this year, mainly because they are quick and easy to implement.  

People are motivated by value and trade-offs. Publishers can use premium content or exclusive promotions to incentivize audiences to share at least some data like an email address. Piggybacking on that, as logins will become more commonplace, so will simplified registrations and logins. Giving users the ability to sign in quickly with a social media or Google ID will cut friction and give publishers access to more data.

5. Readers influence content production 

Competition is becoming stiffer across every industry. To create brand loyalists, businesses are becoming more customer-centric, offering products, services, and solutions that speak to customer needs. Digital publishers are also taking this approach, analyzing traffic and data to see which stories get the most clicks and using that to inform their content strategy and production. With publishers now accumulating more first-party data, making those content decisions is even easier.

A number of publishers have been using questionnaires to gather information about what piques their audience’s interest, and we expect to see more publishers implement this tactic along with other engaging formats such as quizzes and polls. As a small example, a publisher could poll readers to determine how interested they would be in audio content before allocating a portion of their budget to creating it.

6. Continued focus on UX 

We mentioned that businesses are becoming customer-centric, and Google is no different. However, for Google, customer-centric, at least partially, equates to serving users content that delivers a great user experience (UX). 

Google will continue to ramp up its Web Vitals program, which means publishers will need to find ways to improve their sites, and those that have been slow to change will need to kick change into high gear. We expect to see some major site redesigns that improve page load times, stability, navigation, and the ad experience consumers see. We don’t know if Google will add new signals to its algorithm, but it’s best to optimize for the current signals, so should new ones be introduced, the workload is achievable. 

Looking at the year ahead

The reality is that no one can predict the future, which is both daunting and exciting. What publishers should do is prepare for knowable situations like the need for first-party data and the eventual loss of cookies. Beyond that, diversifying revenue streams with audio, newsletters, advertising and commerce can future-proof a company as much as possible. In the end, the advice is the same: test new strategies, evaluate what works, and optimize along the way.

If you have questions about how to implement any of these trends, get in touch with us.

About the author Steve Myslinski is the Senior Director of Sales for EMEA at Total Media Solutions and brings years of experience helping publishers realize their true potential for monetizing their inventory.

Starting out as an engineer in the automotive industry, before getting his MBA and joining the adtech industry, he provides a unique approach to sales with an analytical and problem solving style to addressing a publishers needs.

Find Steve on LinkedIn or reach him ">by email.

Contextual targeting’s return could put publishers in the driver’s seat

Ryan Rakover, January 5, 2022

Key takeaways:

  • The deprecation of third-party cookies and more privacy-focused regulations are the catalysts for changing advertising on the open web.
  • Contextual targeting is likely to become the newest strategy, offering significant benefits for publishers, advertisers, and consumers.
  • Publishers should take the lead and encourage advertisers to adopt contextual targeting.   
contextual targeting, people, advertisement, marketing

Publishers are busy testing solutions for the day that will come when third party cookies will be deprecated. With Google’s  adjustment of the timeline giving publishers until 2023, time has moved over onto the publishers side for the advantage. Publishers can use this time to test new ways that are measurable, scaleable and privacy centric. Before personalized ad targeting and retargeting and programmatic marketplaces, publishers and advertisers used a different word to find a common ground: Context. Now context can be misleading and we can all remember the feeling of holding a flashlight in a dark room before the light comes on.   

In its most basic form, contextual targeting matches the content of a web page or article with that of an advertisement. In its younger non-digital days, contextual targeting existed and proved valuable. Advertisers would buy ad space in a specific section of a newspaper based on the context of that section. There was no need for a local car dealer to place an ad in the international news section when they could reach the right audience in the local or neighborhood section.

Contextual targeting allowed for both the advertiser and the publisher to ensure the best they could that a user would be seeing complementary messages rather than shocking or off brand ones. However, at that time, publisher awareness into the user’s context was missing. Now, with first party data sets, a reimagined user journey can be seen without infringing on the privacy of a user.  

Why is contextual targeting returning?

With the deprecation of the third party cookies and the advances in machine learning and AI contextual targeting is set to rise again. As a publisher, you are the architect of your site and the curation process has only been getting harder. In order to enrich your user’s journey, exploring the option of adding additional elements (video, audio, content recommendation) is essential but all have their impact. Balancing the use of these elements is important to maximize your unique moment with the user.

Understanding your users’ journey will allow you to have access to a wealth of first-party data, and you are able to see when content has successfully found true engagement. You can create more content in the right direction to meet the audience’s true interests rather than perceived interests. Through publishers harnessing the power of first party data, contextual targeting can go one big step forward with additional data points rounding out a user profile that teaches both the publisher and advertiser more about what the user wants to see and will expect to see from their experience. 

Although media spend on walled gardens still outpaces that of the open web, consumer attitudes and behaviors are changing, making it an ideal time for publishers to reclaim lost ad dollars. A recent report found that 26% of consumers plan to decrease their time on social media, and 30% report they zone out while scrolling on these platforms. On the flip side, 56% state they are curious and ready to learn when browsing the open web, and 77% trust articles on the open web – trust that filters to the advertisers.

In what the IAB considers a halo effect, it found that when consumers see a brand ad on their favorite news outlets, 45% are more likely to visit the brand and 43% consider buying from the brand. At a time when consumer trust is at an all-time low, publishers on the open web may be the only ones who can help advertisers rebuild what was lost.

How can publishers leverage the rise of contextual targeting?

As publishers navigate these waters it is an opportunity to build better sites. With today’s knowledge of first party data, along with the tools to learn from your audience, context can be redefined. The amount of insights a publisher can deliver to an advertiser in a safe, privacy-centric manner is opening up. However, user trust needs to be nurtured and renewed. 

As publishers grow their understanding and help shape the new safer user experience we will see how context impacts the next wave of identity solutions. Solutions presenting users in cohorts or bundles will have to be mapped back to the user for the publisher to be able to measure performance and scale.

Publishers, it’s time to push these messages forward. In doing so, you will create better monetization opportunities for yourselves and establish better opportunities for brands your users love and support.

About the author: Ryan Rakover is the head of our Trust and Safety efforts at Total Media Solutions. One of the things Ryan enjoys the most in his role as a publisher’s strategic partner is the challenge of bringing policy from a place of rules and standards to delivering solutions to clients to improve their client’s bottom line. Find Ryan on LinkedIn or reach him by email.


References

The new rise of contextual advertising, Forbes.com

The crawl, walk, run guide to contextual targeting, AdExchanger.com

What’s old is new again: The return of contextual targeting, ExchangeWire.com