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Posted by Sonne Taylor on

The rise of durable advertisements.

There has existed a loose understanding between publishers, advertisers, and consumers. Consumers get content from publishers in exchange for viewing ads. Publisher’s get their work financed by advertisers in exchange for renting advertising space. Advertisers get access to publishers audiences in exchange for financing their production. Television, display advertising, billboards, radio ads, etc. all work like this. However, we’re seeing a dramatic increase in value to advertisers as the rise of independent content creators continues. I call the phenomenon “Durable Advertisements”.

First, we need to define what I mean by durable advertisements. In a typical advertising scenario you’re renting space from a media company. An advertisement does not live forever, but rather expires when the purchased media is used up. It’s finite. A durable advertisement is one, that because of the nature of the media, doesn’t ever disappear. It’s integrated into the content medium in such a way that if someone views it in the future.

Secondly, it’s distinct from native advertising in that the advertisement is separate from the actual content and doesn’t dictate or attempt to mimic the content.

So what’s an example of a durable advertisement in action?

Gimlet Media is a fantastic example of a company that’s selling durable advertisements. (Full disclosure I have no relationship with Gimlet Media outside requesting a media sheet. Alex won’t even return my unsolicited emails). Their startup podcast has fantastic replay value. I frequently go back and listen to season 1. Every time I re-listen to it, I hear the same advertisement from companies that bought that space.

The reason I replay it, and I suspect that others replay it, is that the content itself has enduring value outside of the moment. It’s not the weather, it’s not a daily stock report, it isn’t the news. It creates and inherent value that endures.”In the same way that “Confessions of an Ad Man” by David Ogilvy is still considered mandatory reading in the advertising industry, the ideas and content are to some degree timeless. It’s evergreen content. When many of the most popular content creators of our day become popular, it’s because they’re building something new. Something that resonates. Not simply riding a wave.

From a formatting standpoint, they do a good job separating the ad from the content. From a technical standpoint though, there is no ad slot like we would think of when it comes to say display advertising. As an end user, It’s all the same audio recording. This is what I mean. Where a display ad is served from an ad server based on impressions in real time. Gimlet ads persist regardless of if 1 person listens of 1 billion. This is beautiful because if you believe they’re a growing brand (Which I do) you can piggy back off 3 phenomenons to deliver a lot more bang for your clients media dollars.

1. As their brand keeps growing and people view old episodes you’re getting free media.

2. Binge Watching.

3. A desire for authenticity.

Millennials absolutely love binge watching. As a millennial myself I can vouch for this. (I watched an entire season of House of Cards in a day. No judgement.) The question of course though is why does this matter? One word. Repetition. I’m not going to get into the details as to why repetition is so valuable, but when building top of mind awareness, repetition is a big deal.

This extends far beyond Gimlet Media. Podcasters, Youtubers, etc. are all selling durable advertisements without even realizing it. As independent content creators continue to grow in number they’re going to realize how much more valuable their media is than a typical broadcast.

The opportunity to build authenticity with an audience is unprecedented. Many times, things like ad sense make little or no sense to a content creator. It’s disruptive (In a bad way) to the experience they’re crafting for their audience, and doesn’t provide enough revenue to justify the interruption of the story they’re trying to tell. With these durable ads, media companies, brands, agencies, etc. can work with the content creator to build the kind of advertising experience that their audience will not only respond to, but be thankful for. They know how hard it is for small publishers to make enough money to do what they do all the time. If brand support of independent lets creators produce more or create higher quality content the audience will recognize that. This creates a situation where consumers are not only tolerating the advertisements, but are actually happy that big brand support is giving them more of the content they crave. I can’t think of a more real way to build a positive and authentic relationship for a brand than supporting the things their consumers care about.

From an advertiser stand point, I have an opportunity to not only get my clients more value but also support independent content creators? Sign me up yesterday.

Durable advertisements are on the rise, and every single stakeholder wins because of it. If you’re an advertiser I would suggest you take advantage of this phenomenon before content creators wake up and realize exactly how valuable the space they’re selling is.

A big thanks to Jake Cohen (@jfccohen) and Cory LaNou (@corylanou) for help with this article.

The rise of durable advertisements. was originally published in Multimedia Marketing.

Posted by Sonne Taylor on

Sometimes, it’s nice to let the mouse win.

Sometimes, it’s nice to let the mouse win.

For the record though, they weren’t kidding.

Some Have Said, The Greatest Sign Off Message Of Known Internet History

You could actually probably get away with arguing that Team John Hanke started their anti-botting in full force Monday, but I’ve got to be honest with you, as someone who makes decisions about the value of media properties all day — I think you’ve done mathieu de fayet an incredible service with this project.

Ignoring that I’ve shopped my username into the screenshot (it’s a very natural way of watermarking a photo) by my approximation of the velocity of the queue system in place during the events described in the article, it would appear that a user requeueing throughout the day could run an average of 4.5 sessions a day (depending on the size of the queue in the evening, and how many sessions a player snuck in during overnight hours.)

Correct me if I’m mistaken, Dima Ryazanov, but on Saturday you guys had 121 Facebook Shares: 431 by the time the team pulled it?

When one considers these numbers:

Were all botters running the average of 4.5 sessions/day, this would look like one day of 100,000 DAU. Of course this wasn’t the case — and as is true in any user set, you’d expect to see this number compound over time.

Looking at Saturday where I remember 121 shares, let’s just assume all 100% of those users became 4.5 session a day people. You might expect then to be able to guess a potential number of “fake” users thusly — ->121*4.5=544.5

Looking at this, I could get lost for days. I haven’t gotten this close to a mobile app’s data in a long time. But that’s not what this article is about.

See, something else started popping up this week: rumors of Pokemon Go’s demise. Your data makes a pretty compelling case they too have likely been greatly exaggerated.

It’s a pretty open secret that some known percentage of digital user inventory is bogus. When advertisers like myself engage with a media company, we tend to try to price that in by reallocating media dollars accordingly. The truth is, bogus inventory doesn’t really move the needle for big players all that much. It hurts the small business folks a ton.

Nearly every way I’ve tried to look at it, your data seems to indicate that of the digital advertising platforms used most by small businesses and startups?

Pokemon Go likely well has one of the smallest fake user stats I’ve seen on a new platform.

That’s impressive work. props.

Sometimes, it’s nice to let the mouse win. was originally published in Marketing Experimentation.

Posted by Sonne Taylor on

What Your Business Can Learn From The Kollywood Cafe

I’m going to show you something most marketers would keep to themselves.

S&T Traffic Map Post Redesign

For the last few weeks, I’ve been looking at this map a lot.

Some parts are easy to explain:

Domestic Traffic

Others are surprising:


There’s one part in particular I’ve been trying to figure out and so I’ve been spending a lot of time consuming content from the different regions where people consume my content. I figured that if I found anything interesting, I’d be able to write about it.

Savvy readers may notice, I’m doing that now.

But before I tell you about the Kollywood Cafe, I’ve got to explain one bit of context first. If you just want to read about the Cafe, make sure you skip to the section “Here’s Someone Who Did Something About It.”

An Overly Simplistic Way To Think About How Content Moves Online

If you spend much time online, you’ve probably seen a piece of media come at you from “out of nowhere.”

I’m probably not spoiling any secrets by telling you that this isn’t how it actually works — and if you don’t want to know about it you should just skip this section entirely.

What’s actually happening here is that people share links back and forth. If you build up a reputation online for sharing good links (or content about the content of those links,) you’ll attract a following of people who are interested in seeing those things. As you do more of it, it gets harder and harder to come up with “good content,” but because you’ve built up a reputation for having it, there are plenty of people who come out of the woodwork to help you keep it afloat.

On August third, Lori White published this. A day earlier (August 2nd) a content aggregating account, Top Stories reposted an article I’m sure you’ve seen. You may know it as the FAQ page from the fine folks at Little Free Pantry or as this June 1st article.

(If You Want Off Medium, That’s Here.)

Lots of people saw it, a lot of different ways.

In addition to looking at the timeline of the spread of a piece of content, you can pay attention to posts that suddenly have a lot more traffic than other posts. By doing that, you can easily identify the spot that you should pay attention to.

That’s how I noticed this.

Here’s Someone Who Did Something About It.

In “Now, Coimbatore has Tamil Nadu’s first sidewalk fridge to feed poor,” Komal Gauthman shares the story of how Kollywood Cafe took an opportunity to find a unique kind of corporate sponsorship.

Working with an NGO partner, Kollywood Cafe found an opportunity to put its leftover food to use.

They posted about it, to share information in their community — but they got something out of it for themselves, too.

Take a look at the number of reactions from that center post, the post about the food ATM. Compare it to the number of views on this article, an earlier bit of PR the company did.

I have just two questions.

Which one is doing more good for the world?

Which one is driving more sales?

When you act quickly on new ideas — new solutions to problems real people have, people notice. It’s not a gimmick, it works because it gives people something they are excited to support. It’ll (likely) work for every cause a person can reasonably believe a business might support — and the only trick is to make sure you present it in the right way.

What Your Business Can Learn From The Kollywood Cafe was originally published in Marketing Experimentation.

Posted by Sonne Taylor on

How I Learned To Stop Hating And Fell In Love With TV

It was the fall of 2007, and I had finished my coursework early. I took the opportunity to walk along the University of Iowa’s campus exacting my vengeance on arrant leaves that had yet to be properly piled. As I walked I inhaled the crisp air. I felt the the change around me. But I felt something more than the renewal of fall. I felt a gnawing pain in my stomach.

I had had some trouble in the past and knew that if I spent a little time resting, I’d probably get right back on my feet. Recognizing this, I made my way across the walkways and cut through fields to return to my room as quickly as possible.

When I got back, I collapsed on the bed. I did what everyone does when they feel cold and alone, I slept.

I didn’t get up for a full two days.

This isn’t that story, and that’s not the important part.

I knew that if I was going to have to spend that much time alone, recovering, I’d need to find a way to occupy my mind. I recognized that if I didn’t, I’d quickly fall behind and would have a much bigger problem on my hands. I knew that I could do better. I knew that I could be better.

So I looked around and took inventory of what I had in front of me. I had a television. I had a really fast internet connection. I had time.

I started obsessively consuming media. In one week, I watched every episode of The Jeffersons. I signed up for Blockbuster Online because they let you exchange DVDs for in-store rentals. I could queue up “deep cuts” online, copy them to my hybrid computer-dvd player and return them for recent movies.

I spent every hour I had, watching for every detail.

Normally I’d BackLink TiVo Here, But Michael Cronan Deserves It More.

I looked at what worked and what didn’t. I looked at online reception to content. When I grew tired of one source, I’d simply queue up another source on my phone and pretty soon, I’d be watching three videos at once. (I do this still today, much to the chagrin of every person I’ve ever shared an office with.)

When it occurred to me that “professional media consumer,” was really only a job if you were willing to play the Academy game (and I was already at a pretty serious disadvantage there,) I started using my TiVo in a way that would likely give Ira Bahr a heart attack. I started using my TiVo to skip programming and watch ads instead.

It wasn’t long before I noticed that smaller and smaller brands were advertising on TV.

I had developed a strange relationship with media during this time, and I think rightly or wrongly I felt that TV was an untouchable. I thought, like many digital marketers, that for a brand to get onto TV it had to have accomplished some herculean feat of business development.

So when I noticed the emergence of small brand advertisers, I dismissed it as a sign of the collapse of the medium.

Time went on, and I got better about knowing my limits and how to apply my insights and developed some vague idea of where I wanted my life to head.

Proof Of Early Adopter In-Door Kid Status.

I had always been an early adopter. (I think my mom might still have my old AskJeeves Kids T-Shirt and to this day one of my favorite childhood accomplishments was getting a joke on PBS’s proto PBS Digital Studios kid’s show Zoom)

That’s come at a cost. One of the more dramatic tolls, was that I was very quick to dismiss things that felt like the “old world.” I had to be. The old world didn’t have a use for people like me, and on the horizon, I could see a world where everyone valued the voice of an individual more than “conforming,” to the status quo. I jumped in with both feet.

I had a lot of early successes as a digital marketer. The platforms were new enough that the only people who had consumed as much media as I had were hidden away making TV happen. I knew what worked because I knew what had worked before.

I knew that brands couldn’t run ads that said “Widget 5$” anymore, because they had run those ads since the 1980s, and there’s only so much you can yell at a person before the abhor the idea of becoming a customer.

I was a rising professional. Digital Marketing was my canvas — but I wasn’t doing anything new. I had stumbled into one good bit of luck by figuring out that combining old world data and new world distribution channels was the way to help brands stand out and fight against entrenched competitors.

I carried on. One success lead to another and by the time I had built a playbook that got a team a lot more success than they’d have otherwise found, I had enough experience to hang up own shingle and start my own venture.

One of the first clients we worked with wanted help launching a local restaurant. My business partner, Jeromy Sonne had fallen in love with the product (a good sign) and I was impressed by the founder’s dedication to bringing an authentic experience to the members of the community.

We put together a digital playbook that ran ads across channels in three episodic bursts. Each burst targeted a progressively wider audience (which any good digital ads guy will tell you, is a great way to build momentum,) but the client wanted more. The client wanted a billboard. Hats. The works.

I had worked in those genres before, but I needed a way to combine a new world strategy with old world tactics. I needed a way to do something that would break through the noise.

I decided we should troll the competition.

Jeromy Sonne pulled a map of all of the different places that our client’s competitors had a storefront. We cross-checked the storefronts and the availability of local billboards. I went to work designing an image that ostensibly suggested that if customers were unsatisfied with their food, they ought to bring their receipt from the competitor and our client would make it right.

That mix, the client’s vision the buy in, they all conspired to achieve success. But I’ve believed it was that brash display of confidence that worked — and throughout the launch, there were lines out the door and around the corner.

The lesson I learned from that success was more valuable though. I learned that I had to change the way I thought about old world media.

If you keep an eye out for media trends, you’ve likely noticed an increasing number of startups making ad buys on television.

I can’t speak to specific cases because I don’t have the customer data to evaluate the performance of the work of the marketers who have decided to take this leap.

What I can tell you is that over the years, an increasing number of digital marketers are softening on the digital part. As we age and mature, we start to look at digital like it’s just another marketing channel — a valued part of the promotional mix.

Coming up as a digital (or I guess direct response) kind of person puts you at a serious advantage for tackling a question advertisers and marketers alike have wrestled with for quite some time.

Don’t believe me? Give Rob Moffat’s “The Impact Of TV Advertising” a read.

You’ve likely heard about “addressable tv.”

If you haven’t, I (highly) suggest you check out Jordan Weil’s fantastic “Addressable TV: A Primer Written In Plain English

Saavy marketers like the fine folks at Making Lost My Name demonstrate this agility beautifully. In “How We Made A TV Ad For Our Seed Stage Startup,” you can read about how the team applied the principles of cross-platform attribution to find an ROI for spot TV buys.

So now when we meet with a prospective client, that’s the first thing I look at once we’ve sized up the market. Who is this business trying to communicate with, where are those people, what media do they consume and what do they value.

More often than not, when I ask myself those questions these days? I have to consider spot TV.

And that’s how I learned to stop hating and love TV.

How I Learned To Stop Hating And Fell In Love With TV was originally published in Multimedia Marketing.

Posted by Sonne Taylor on

What To Do When The Digital Audience Information Doesn’t Make Any Sense

Even This Looks Better Than My Versioning Flow.

I really need a better versioning best practice.

The system we use now can be best characterized as an artistic interpretation of Google Drive. It’s a mess of columns, files and rows. It’s held together with bailing wire. It’s held together with willpower.

In short, it’s a mess.

But it’s my mess, and I daresay I’ve even grown fond of the time I’ve spent revisiting old work and cleaning up headers.

I was doing just that a few nights ago and stumbled into something that reminded me of a story I haven’t told many people before.

It was 2013 and I was working with an enthusiastic small team to validate a market opportunity many well-reasoned investors would have considered “overly niche.”

They were looking for a cross section of student that didn’t really have any unique media consumption habits.

Like any good marketer, I took a step back and looked at what information I knew that I did have.

I knew a lot about the types of people who bought their product. I knew their favorite TV show (Grey’s Anatomy,) I knew their favorite shoe (those foam flip-flops you get at the dollar store.) I even knew their favorite cookie (chocolate chip, obviously.)

What I didn’t know, was how I could help this team reach their audience. There just weren’t the resources to target their ads to every person who liked those three things. Lots of people like those three things! I like those three things!

Competitors in their space had resorted to an all-out ground based strategy.

Each competitor would set up a booth at each campus at each school each semester. Their field representatives would speak not only to the students, but the parents. It didn’t matter that we had better content. It didn’t matter that our option was cheaper and easier to use.

Once they had succeeded in convincing the parents of a new college student to buy something, that college student was getting that thing.

In the face of those kinds of odds, mounting the resources necessary to compete 1:1 seemed very unlikely — but targeting each person who could possibly be in the universe wasn’t going to get the job done, either.

I decided that if I could find a way to narrow the number of people we were looking at online in the first place, I’d have a much easier time measuring what I needed to get the team’s message in front of the right people.

At the time Facebook had just launched location based targeting. You could target by city, country or zip code.

Targeting each city wouldn’t work because I’d have the same problem I had before. I didn’t know enough about the people who might find the product valuable to figure out how to reach them.

Something occurred to me.

Facebook wasn’t offering a bulk import feature at the time, so if you wanted to do anything except for target cities, you were going to have to manually identify and upload zip codes one a time.

That’s just the kind of crazy scrappy super inefficient thing a small team can do that a big entrenched player won’t even dream about doing. It was exactly what I was looking for.

So I and a fellow contractor pitched a special project. We started assembling a list of the zip codes of campus housing around schools where we might find the students we were looking for.

The Real Winner? Publically Available Data That’s Collected By Experts

I could tell you the story of the time I spent out of my own pocket putting each one of these codes in — a job I really should have subcontracted — but that’s not what this post is about.

When I added in a bit of real world data — data I knew was better than the data the media platform I was buying on was giving me, I didn’t have to worry about an overly niche market anymore.

I didn’t have to worry, because by combining these two sources of information I had a better definition of what the market really was.

It’s easy to think that because information that has historically been used to put people into boxes exists, the question is about whether or not you should use it. I think that because of this, many young teams try to avoid using the information they have at their fingertips because they’re worried about becoming out of touch — just like their competition.

Metrics like these aren’t why your competitors are out of touch. Metrics like these are why your competitors can still do business despite being so out of touch.

Having a better understanding of who your ideal customer is than your competitors do changes the way you think about the people who buy your product. Paying attention to these indicators gives you a language to plan around what your customers tell you they need — not what you think they want.

That’s why it’s so important that you learn not to be overwhelmed when you stumble into some information that makes you rethink your marketing strategy. When you see that only 2/100 of your email list sign ups follow on you on Twitter, when you learn that your Snapchat universe is reaching 2,000 people you don’t have any information on, when you wonder if buying an ad on a new podcast is the right idea…these are the times when you should be excited.

These are times when you should look for answers from unconventional sources. These are the times when you should consider unconventional applications of conventional sources. These are the times where it matters that you try your best — because you only stumble into these problems when you’re actually doing something that no one has ever done before.

What To Do When The Digital Audience Information Doesn’t Make Any Sense was originally published in Observed Reflections.