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Posted by Sonne Taylor on

The Dirty Secret About How Long It Takes To Write Something.

I still think back fondly on some of my the early days of my career spent putting words on paper. I remember being annoyed that it didn’t ever seem like there was enough time to read all of the things that needed to be read and to write all the things that needed to be written.

When I thought about it, I figured that if I could just learn to write faster, I could spend all the extra time I wanted reading.

I started by counting out how fast I could type.

To my great surprise, I could type over 100 wpm on my bluetooth keyboard.

I thought about how the average article was really only 500–800 words. That meant that if you were really working at it, if you knew what you were doing and could just write great sentences off the top of your head, you could have your draft finished in about 5–8 minutes.

That’s a pretty aggressive clip, and I doubt anyone could keep that much in their head at once…but if you could keep it up?

You could knock out 7–8+articles an hour!

Thinking about it this way, you can quickly see why breaking apart your tasks into their parts can have dramatic impacts on productivity.

The very first time I had to split up a project amongst a bunch of people I knew I could count on to perform the work, I think I discovered something.

I think most people have a hard time figuring out how long it actually takes to accomplish a task.

Your business is probably blogging seriously if it posts twice a week. At the time, I’d gotten so used to doing things myself, that I didn’t have a very good idea of how long each part of a task might take. Before too long, it was taking on average 11 hours to produce a blog post.

That is entirely too long.

I didn’t sit with this problem for very long, because it really bothered me.

When I stopped to look at where the time was going, I realized that actually writing the blog was the smallest part of the task of writing a blog.

That’s not writing; that’s just typewriting.”

Bless you.

The truth is, there are lots of parts to a good post. Those parts ARE important.

They’re the difference between creating noise and authoring something that really ads value to someone’s life.

But those tasks benefit from this sort of planning, too.

The very first step in creating a good post, is a good idea for a post. That means generating an outline.

You often don’t need to perform very much research at all to put together an outline of an article. In fact, doing so can make researching the things you still have questions about much more efficient.

I won’t go through each step in the process, because the truth is there’s too much variability to write a one-size-fits-all post.

But for the sake of argument, here’s just one more example.

Many people find it much easier to write opening and closing paragraphs after they’ve finished figuring out what they want to say. For some people that means they may not know what the opening and closing of their article should be until they’ve pretty much written the rest of it.

There’s nothing wrong with that.

In fact, if it works better for you — do it on purpose!

When you beat yourself up about the way you know how to do something because the results aren’t what you expect, you end up wasting more time than it takes to just do the thing and find a work around for your problem later on. Sometimes that worry can become so powerful it stops us from doing what we need to do.

I think that’s why sometimes writing can expand to take the amount of time you give it.

From accessing data to crafting image pulls and even writing the copy itself, there’s bound to be one or two areas where a better process can improve your output rate.

You don’t have to sacrifice your integrity to get that done, you just have to start being realistic about how long it takes.

The Dirty Secret About How Long It Takes To Write Something. was originally published in Thoughts On Best Practices.

Posted by Sonne Taylor on

Gorsuch’s Twitter is a Ghost Town, or Why Donald Trump Has a Messaging Problem.

Humpty Dumpty Indeed

The Trump administration has been no stranger to a large amount of media scrutiny. It seems that every other day there’s some new scandal that is “breaking news”. Good or bad many people would, and do, argue President Trump and his administration are master at manipulating the media for attention.

I would argue they’re incredibly wrong.

Case in point, the strange and largely unnoticed Twitter account of Gorsuch Facts. This thing smacks of Donald Trumpisms right down to the fascinating way of speaking that even Kanye West has an admiration for. The profile description of “ Judge Gorsuch will be fair to all regardless of their background or beliefs. This is exactly the kind of #SCOTUS Justice @POTUS promised. #JusticeGorsuch” reads like a typical Trump speech. Yet, there’s something that’s just below the surface that highlights Trump’s communications problem. The reason that this official account about one of his biggest appointments has gone relatively unnoticed.

It references the man himself.

Republicans, Democrats, Berniecrats, High Energy Nimble Navigators, and everyone in between have made the claim that Trump is a master of manipulating journalists into giving him “billions of free advertising”. Even the CEO of CBS said “For Us, Economically, Donald’s Place in This Election Is a Good Thing”. This however doesn’t make him an effective communicator. It makes him effective at building a cult of personality, not of being a great marketer. Great marketers build brands that go beyond themselves. Among the world’s most recognized brands include McDonald’s, Walmart, Ford, Coca-Cola, and more.

Name one of these companies CEOs. Name one of their CMOs.

You don’t have to. They have incredibly effective communications specialists supporting them from both the inside and out that don’t rely on outrage and a cult of personality. They communicate their value through showing you, through consistency, through discipline.

I want to be clear, I have no specific axe to grind against Donald Trump. Surely we all have seen the “marketing gurus” who want you to take their class on how to get rich online. Yet you can’t name their companies, just the person. They can’t promote a product, just a cynical brand of narcissism that preys on the hopes and dreams of the naive. While they may read this and rightly criticize me that I have no Lamborghinis in my Lamborghini account, the truth is that I, and the people like me, have hundreds of wins that we will never be known for. We work for things bigger than ourselves. We build systems instead of a reliance on people. The true test of your ability to build a competent communications organization is how well it functions after you’re gone.

So for all the aspiring advertisers, and marketers, and entrepreneurs out there, don’t emulate these people. These 1 quick secret to building the startup of your dreams. These hollow dream peddlers. If you want to get shit done, if you really want to market your startup, if you want to grow your brand, start emulating people that do it without wallowing in their own crapulence. The people that get paid, the people that build empires, are the ones that do so silently and with discipline far from the spotlight.

Gorsuch’s Twitter is a Ghost Town, or Why Donald Trump Has a Messaging Problem. was originally published in Notes On Digital Marketing.

Posted by Sonne Taylor on

The Spectrum Of User Surveys

Most advice about user surveys is really bad.

I know, because I’ve been part of the problem on this one.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a video I found and reuploaded from a few years ago. It’s in a folder with a very strongly worded readme all about what was going on at the time.

The trouble with advice like this, is that user surveys happen in one of two ways.

You’ve either got a highly mechanized feedback system (think coupon codes on the bottom of Fast Food receipts) or you’ve got an incredibly laid-back “user-interview.”

I don’t think it will be very controversial to assert that contemporary thinking has largely evolved to consider this a waste of time. (That is ‘coupin interviews,’) The process is too impersonal. The feedback is too inconsistent. If you’re still relying on this method, it might be well past time to start considering an alternative.

Still, the fundamentals are sound. The fine folks at ChartMogul put together a handy runthrough of NPS, I find myself passing along rather frequently.

There’s been a lot of great work generated on the topic of user interviews however. Eleonora Zucconi put together a fantastic collection of “46 Interview Questions For User Experience Researchers…” Teo Yu Sheng breaks out how you should think about asking questions in “5 Steps To Create Good User Interview Questions…” and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the vibrant discussion on Charles Liu’s “Never Ask What They Want

Learning to write in this way is a good skill to pick up, but it won’t keep you from making one of the biggest mistakes I see teams run into during the interview process.

Formulating your questions to get real feedback takes practice, but once you’ve figured it out it can be tempting to use a slightly different framing with each person you interview.

The trouble is, inconsistent surveying tends to generate inconsistent data.

That’s why it’s so important that you set your goals with the understanding that feedback happens on a spectrum.

In some circumstances, automated feedback may actually have some utility. For example, it’s probably ideal for “transactional” uses. In other cases (like say exploring a new feature roadmap) you might want to conduct something far less formal than a regimented user interview.

Trying to force each application into one predetermined feedback rail is a mistake. You won’t have the same answer every time, and that’s the point. Instead, try to focus on picking the right feedback mechanism for the task at hand.

The Spectrum Of User Surveys was originally published in Marketing Experimentation.

Posted by Karl Taylor on

“But Ads Don’t Work On Me.”

Why It May Be Time To Rethink Your Skepticism

I still remember the first time I studied ads in school — it helped that it was eighth grade english.

The unit took a few weeks, and in hindsight it had to have been written by advertisers. I say that because one of the key learnings was that the most important part of any advertisement was the “call to action.” My teacher explained that by studying the call to action you could “get behind” the persuasion of any advertisement, and by thinking critically about the world around you blah blah blah blah blah.

If I had known then what I now know, I’d have ruined that class by suggesting that the only thing you’d get out of paying attention to the call to action is a lifetime of disappointment and sucker’s bets.

The truth is, if you think “ads don’t work on you,” I can probably tell you a handful of other things you think about yourself too. You likely prefer to dress in earth tones, you aren’t likely to be reached in a radio audience (unless it’s a campus station or the current,) you strongly identify with statements like “I go my own way,” or “Never Settle For Anyone Who Makes You Feel Like an Option…” I could keep going.

You wouldn’t ever identify with all of the traits I might list, but you’d identify with enough, you might start to wonder how original your rebellion really is.

That’s the trouble with paying attention to the call to action, it’s often the least insightful part of any advertisement.

This is the case for two reasons.

The first is the simplest, if marketers like me had our way, we would never ever run another ad “selling the product,” ever again.

Widget, 5$” used to be everything. When you clearly define what a product is and who it is for, you also define what it is not, and who it is not for.

I have a pretty unique diet, and I’ve got relationships with brands that only my “unique diet friends” know about. You can see this happen all over the place if you have a few friends who are all into different things. Have a friend that’s “really into guitars?” they’ll likely have very identifiable divergences from the “average consumer” pattern.

There’s nothing wrong with this, of course. You can’t sell a product people don’t understand, but carried to an extreme the impulse to make this kind of ad is also responsible for some of the worst examples of advertising.

The truth is, we make “ads” for a wide variety of reasons, and some of the best reasons to do it have nothing to do with convincing you to buy something…at least not right away.

So that’s the first problem, but to be honest, the second is a bit more nuanced.

I’ve noticed that generally, people inside of marketing and people outside of marketing have different definitions for what an “ad” is.

To be honest, that’s likely the fault of how rapidly that definition has changed.

These days, I most frequently encounter “ad” as a description of the smallest discrete purchasable quantity of inventory.

If I buy :30 of airtime, that’s an ad.

Some digital inventory products (say Snapchat Filters) actually work in a fairly similar way.

If you were looking at the world as being made up of only this sort of ad product, only looking at calls to action might make sense.

The truth is modern digital media platforms don’t always work this way.

Some platforms allow you to bid on impressions based on audiences of users. What that means is that while you may only make one “ad,” that “ad” is in reality being shown in a number of places in a number of different ways.

Many times the ability to create ads in this manner proves to be a valuable feature of the publishing platforms that offer the capability.

That means that on a platform like Facebook it’s not uncommon for an advertiser like myself to use the same image and copy to create hundreds and thousands of ads. Each ad is part of a search for just the right balance of customers.

When we find that balance on an audience centric platform, we can use the insights we generate to plan bigger and better marketing.

This is one way large brands can identify exactly which celebrity, figure or performer they ought to approach to promote a product. It’s not the only way, and it doesn’t just work for big businesses.

I started this article by explaining that I didn’t think that class was very good because it must have been written by advertisers. The truth is, that if you only look at the clicks, you’ll miss all of this nuance that I’ve pointed out. If you wanted to start to notice modern ads in the same way, it might be better to ask “why am I seeing this, here, now?”

I added that storm of commas on purpose.

I think when you look at an ad, you should ask yourself three questions.

First, try to figure out what it is you’re seeing. It isn’t often the case, but from time to time motivations aren’t as clear as they appear to be. An article might be paid for by a company. An interview could be conducted by a partial host. You won’t always be able to see between the lines, but with a little creative Googling, you can figure out who is behind most major advertisements.

The second question you need to ask yourself is why is this ad placed where it is.

You may find that you’re seeing a banner ad on multiple websites. If you only look at “calls to action,” you might be inclined to think an ad is following you — and sometimes it is. Other times however, an ad can be running to all of the media properties across a family of brands. Unless you know who owns the property you’re looking at, it’s hard to know what’s going on.

In addition, the choice of “Facebook vs Twitter” (or “Facebook vs A Billboard” for that matter) has real consequences. You should consider them.

The third and final question you need to ask yourself to understand a modern ad is why am I seeing this ad right now.

We spend a lot of time thinking about the different ways we can reach potential customers at exactly the right moment — but I don’t encounter many people who think about the fact that the news they get at 12:00 is different than the news they get at 5:00. Every advertiser I’ve ever met has an opinion on dayparting.

It might still make sense to think about the “call to action,” but if you can try and remember those three questions, I think you’ll keep yourself from falling prey to most of our dirty tricks.

“But Ads Don’t Work On Me.” was originally published in Notes On Digital Marketing.

Posted by Sonne Taylor on

Why It’s Worth The Long Hours

I still remember one of the first nights it occurred to me that I’d need to stay up and watch how an ad served.

We had been experimenting with a few different global audiences for an App.

One particular audience segment was performing particularly well throughout what would for me, have been the overnight hours.

I needed to measure comments at the same time that I was making changes. There wasn’t any way around it but to power through.

I got together some supplies, queued up some music and movies to play in the background and started combing through data.

As my ads served I thought about what I had always been told about advertising internationally.

There’s a really unfair bit of bias against it, and while I hadn’t thought about it at the time, some of it may have been born out of reaction to the difficulties in tracking verified views.

To be honest, that’s still a challenge, but it isn’t an insurmountable one. Not anymore.

As the results trickled in, I allowed myself a slight indulgence and spent a little longer examining the profiles of the potential users we were reaching.

I watched as users would engage with an ad. Some would have a positive comment, others would tap like, still others would download the widget.

When I could, I spent a little time looking at profiles.

I saw people with lives that were worth knowing about.

I saw people with lives I’d rather not have known about.

They stay a story should have some conflict to it, and this is about the part where I would throw some in. But the truth is, there wasn’t anything conflicting about watching this.

Whenever we start working on a new project, I try to spend some time watching profiles.

I take flack from our team for it all the time and the truth is they aren’t wrong: it’s wildly inefficient.

But every time I find it hard to get through a day advertising, I come back to those streams of profiles. Every time I can’t figure out why one adset is working great and another is falling or need to pin down just which element of a program is driving results, I go back to those profiles.

Because the truth is some of us didn’t get into this to shill, and sometimes watching the people is the best way to remember that.

Why It’s Worth The Long Hours was originally published in Notes On Digital Marketing.

Posted by Karl Taylor on

What Is A Culture Of Learning, Anyway?

I didn’t always work in communications.

Before finding my way into the world of Advertising, I dabbled in a handful of different worlds. What I’ve found is that while it’s tempting to fall for the allure of the old idea that everything could better somewhere else, the truth is each industry has its own ups and downs.

One of the most curious I’ve started to notice is that it seems as though many times the qualities that make something “good,” when carried to their extremes can also make something “bad.”

I want to talk about one of those “downs,” in particular.

To be more specific, I want to talk about the idea of striving to always learn something new.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the goal of learning more. I also don’t think it’s particularly dangerous to want to get better at your chosen craft.

When I wasn’t feeling confident in the way I managed multi-stage projects, I started obsessing about it. I read everything I could about people who had experienced the same sort of challenges. I studied different ways of organizing work. I experimented with different schemas. I found one that worked for me and I went to work trying to make it perfect.

I think many times, people start trying to get better at something with the best of intentions. But sometimes, the rush of that quest for perfection can lead to negative consequences.

If you’re reading this article and happen to have a familiarity with the flora and fauna of the Southwestern United States, you may have noticed I started this blog off with a graphic including a drawing of a familiar variety of cactus. (Cylindropuntia for the curious,) and the truth is it isn’t an accident.

You’ll quickly understand why some varieties are known for their jump, if you spread a stack of pennies across a solid wood surface like a desk. Tap your finger underneath the pennies.

It might take a few tries, but you’ll notice they come towards the source of the vibration.

Alternatively, you can give this video a look. Try to avoid watching with sound if you’re sensitive to language. (I spent fifteen minutes trying to find an alternative, consider it a testament to the pain.)

The arrow-headed shape of the barbs on some varieties contribute to the pain.

Some varieties even leave a salt behind.

Sometimes when I think I about working in advertising, I’m reminded of walking through a garden of cacti.

I know that on more than one occasion, I’ve been guilty of saying something pointed that added at best a nominal amount of value to tense situations. But I also know that I’m not the only one to have been on both sides of the phenomena.

Some of my favorite copywriters and designers have life stories that are impossible to hear without feeling a sense of awe. I think part of the reason this experience stands out so strongly in the advertising industry in particular, is that many of us come to this space after experiencing intense rejections.

I think that beyond that, nearly every client has had an unsatisfactory advertising experience. Sometimes it’s malicious, sometimes it’s an indicator of a deeper problem, sometimes it’s just how it goes. But how often do we let those experiences color the way we look at what happens next?

When you have an unfortunate encounter with a cactus, you pick the barbs out.

What happens when those barbs are pointed ‘critiques,’ that weren’t ever meant to add value?

I think we carry them around with us, and I’m not sure if that’s the most healthy thing we could be doing.

Growth requires us to learn from our shortcomings, but if we aren’t honest about the environment in which they occur, we aren’t ever going to be able to sort out the pieces and make the changes that have to be made to improve things.

The truth is, it’s a lot easier to point out where a problem is than it is to come up with an idea to do something about it. It’s even easier to fall into the trap of expecting that we can venture closer to an edge without occasionally running the risk of encountering a barb or two.

What matters isn’t the barb. It’s what happens next.

You can learn a lot more from your strong negative reactions than you can from your strong positives.

If you’re really committed to building the kind of culture where everyone’s working towards the goal of getting better, you’re not going to see the progress you’re hoping for until the way you think about problems changes.

That’s what I try to remember whenever “growth,” doesn’t feel as easy as it should. Sometimes, the right answer just jumps out at you.

What Is A Culture Of Learning, Anyway? was originally published in Thoughts On Best Practices.

Posted by Sonne Taylor on

A Glimpse At Two Ways To Think About “How Much Should I Post” and “When Should I Post”

I probably spend more time than I should these days working with in rooms that have TVs on in the background.

Which…is why when I noticed this.

I figured it was as good a time as any to talk about the two different ways I’ve seen people talk about how frequently they post and how much content they need to create in order to maximize distribution.

While much has been written about how decentralization works (Vitalik Buterin’s “The Meaning Of Decentralization”) and what it might mean for content distribution (I’m a fan of Meghan Keaney Anderson’s “Decentralized Content”) I’m starting to suspect that for many teams, the question of what these changes might mean for post volume are just beginning to come up.

There are probably more ways to think about this than just these two, and I’ve not really picked them for any reason other than being the two I notice teams discussing the most frequently.

I didn’t have a clip-maker handy at the time of writing, so I’ve linked directly to the relevant video clip. We’re interested in the spot between :05 and :25 or so, and we’re really only interested in a few seconds between :05 and :09ish.

There really isn’t any situation where you should see your organic reach fall to zero — on any platform.

Sometimes this gets a quizzical reaction.

I can understand why, it seems counterintuitive — especially when it seems like every other post you read about marketing is about an algorithm change that promises to destroy everything.

But say you wanted to do as Joe Scarborough says and find out if it’s true that when “you go back and look, Saturday mornings are usually the most chaotic times,” how might you do that?

It’d be pretty straight forward. You’d run the tweets and look at the timestamps and if the pattern was there, you’d spot it.

If you were following in real time, you’d have experienced it.

The truth is, there are always going to be people willing to go out of their way to find your content. In some cases these will be the people you know, in others it may be people you’ve engaged with in the past or your most loyal customers.

While you should always be looking to grow the size of the universe of people who check your page in this fashion, there isn’t much to be said about it. Consistently following best practices gets you there given time.

I think this sort of thinking is generally the right way to operate in today’s environment. One of my favorite articulations of the idea is Mike Sall’s “When Is The Best Time To Publish? Wrong Question.”

In some situations, you might be responsible for content that a larger percentage of people are willing to go out of their way for. You may encounter a situation where you need to coordinate impressions across platforms. A common example might be coordinating a post to go live at the same time a TV or radio ad airs.

In these sorts of situations, it isn’t uncommon to use a similar technique to make sure your impressions are translating into real views.

Collecting information about simple things (like when your audience is online) can make it possible for teams to measure the optimal window of time to post in. I’ve even seen teams that capture detailed information on commenters. The point here isn’t what you’re measuring as much as it’s striving to get an accurate read of who you’re communicating with.

Thinking this way, you post whenever you find the optimal window.

Thinking about what your users are doing when they are seeing your message is one really great example of using this sort of thinking in practice (figures prominently in WalktheChat’s “WeChat Posting Time.”) You can see a similar technique based on interactions in Chris Tweten’s “How To Calculate When To Post On Instagram.” The truth is, you could probably come up with an approach like this for just about any metric you could isolate.

I mentioned earlier that I’d only explore those two schools of thought, but I wanted to briefly note the existence of one more, because the truth is that in some circumstances, this level of scrutiny really is overkill.

If, for example, you only post about or around events, this is likely something that you aren’t ever going to need to worry about. By only posting about specific events, you’re already performing this sort of curation — you can post whenever there’s an event you should post about, in whatever format gets the best engagement for the effort required.

But it’s important to recognize that the only reason that exception exists is because there are people who will go out of their way to find content about an event. Were it to not be the case, you would simply alter your thinking accordingly.

A Glimpse At Two Ways To Think About “How Much Should I Post” and “When Should I Post” was originally published in Notes On Digital Marketing.

Posted by Sonne Taylor on

Why Isn’t Anyone Clicking My Ad?

The Problem With Performance Based Pricing Models

Over the past few weeks, I’ve grown increasingly uncomfortable with client deals structured around metrics like cost per click. It’s probably a little out of character, but as these alternative arrangements gain popularity, it feels worth pointing out that we may still have a few things left to work out.

Metric based pricing is one of the more promising precursors to performance based pricing. Structuring a deal around a metric (in theory) makes for better alignment between in-house teams and out-of-house talent. When everyone can agree who is responsible for what (the argument goes) it’s easier to hold individual players accountable for their performance.

The appeal of results-driven evaluation is kind of hard for a perfectionist to learn to ignore. As such, we’ve used variations of performance based pricing over the past few years to varying degrees of success.

I want to love this pricing model. It makes so much more sense. It spares my production team from having to explain the rules of one genre or another to an uninterested client. It spares my accounts team from hours spent churning out reports no one will ever read (we check.) It spares my clients from the ambiguity that comes when picking between poorly differentiated service providers. It has so much potential.

The truth is, in its current form, click based pricing can’t work.

For the sake of example, I’d like to paint an exceedingly simple picture.

Let’s say you’ve been managing a Facebook page that has 1,000 likes. Organic posts are seen by about 100 people. Each post generates 1–2 clicks.

Those are actually pretty decent numbers. A 10% organic reach is a feat, and 1–2 clicks for 100 reach would be 1–2% CTR. Could always be better, but you’d be right to be satisfied.

Let’s say for the sake of example that you aren’t and you draw up a post promotion ad. You target 100,000 people near your business who are interested in one of your larger competitors.

Your promoted post reaches 5,000 additional people and generates 50 clicks.

How do you feel?

If you’re a small business owner, you’re probably angry you didn’t get the number of clicks you were expecting.

If you’re an advertiser you’re probably excited that your ad scaled perfectly.

The trouble with a click-based pricing model is that in this situation, neither the advertiser nor the client are having the wrong reaction.

The perspective of the advertiser is easiest to speak to. When you’re promoting a post, you have a little bit of a leg up. Because you know how the post has performed historically, the only trick is figuring out the extent to which that performance is a function of the page’s audience. If you can correctly identify the larger subset of the population the post needs to be shown to, you just need to make sure that the metrics are in keeping with the reference value. As you do this, you’re able to grow the reach of an ad without compromising the performance.

The perspective of the business owner is slightly more challenging to unpack, but I think at its simplest it’s important to remember that very few people elect to work with a specialist who creates more problems than they solve.

When you’re working with someone to promote your business, it’s hard to hear that the reason your ad didn’t get the number of clicks you were hoping for is that your website isn’t loading fast enough or you need to try a different graphic, but the truth is these aren’t “opinion” statements anymore, any agency that was willing to sign a performance or metric based agreement likely has the data that’s pointing clearly towards whatever problem you’ve got.

Off-hand I can think of six or seven factors that might influence the performance of a clicks campaign. The ask in the ad, the message, the creative, the targeting, the load time on the landing page, and even the popularity of the page promoting the post can all influence performance.

The truth is a complete list would easily push this post into unreadable territory. But I think it’s enough of a list to highlight a problem.

You can’t evaluate someone’s impact on a metric unless they’re empowered to influence the factors that contribute to that metric.

In-house we have the capability to address each of those elements, but accommodating scope creep in performance based agreements is a new kind of problem.

And for that matter, one I’m not sure I’ve seen a good solution for.

Why Isn’t Anyone Clicking My Ad? was originally published in Thoughts On Best Practices.

Posted by Sonne Taylor on

A Primer on Spot TV

I’ve recently begun a quest to learn more about marketing and the way marketing is currently changing due to technological advancement. Part of this is out of interest and love of learning, but it also comes from the hope that I can learn enough about a certain niche within the marketing industry so as to capitalize on the opportunities available.

In the past few weeks, my attention has become focused on spot TV and programmatic advertising.

In case you haven’t heard the term, spot television is specially targeted advertising “spots” on television. In essence, if you have a general idea of who is watching, you can sell a spot to the businesses that would most benefit from reaching that viewership.

The key is just as much in who you don’t reach as who you do reach. Say you were selling female hygiene products, or intense mass-gaining products — you already know what demographics are extremely unlikely to buy your product, so you don’t want to use your advertising budget reaching them. You want to target the viewership that your product was built for. In short, with spot TV it is more important to think about who you’re reaching than what you’re saying.

Shows that had been trapped in late night slots or on smaller channels are starting to have their heyday. In the past, viewership may have came mostly from people flipping through channels and perhaps even watching the ads by accident. That makes it hard to trust specific demographics and meant none of the math could be trusted.

In the last few years innovations in broadcast technology have made it more feasible to reach the audience you would most benefit from.

During the advent of the Internet, one of the biggest opportunities for businesses was the ability to focus on certain demographics. Before then, the only real option was to take a television, radio or newspaper ad, and hope that it reached the right people.

The concept of targeting was out there, but it wasn’t possible to properly do on your own until the companies like Google built a platform with the ability to segment the market and address the target demographics.

This Renaissance of advertising that disrupted almost every industry is finally hitting cable television. For a while it seemed as cable TV ads might just disappear since the innovation hadn’t occurred that would make it possible to go after the right demographics. With DVR’s, online streaming and piracy, the television advertising industry was being threatened with extinction.

This has now changed. Spot TV and programmatic advertising are making it possible to segment out audiences and provide an effective marketing solution once again.

The biggest reason why this is a potential money-maker is that it is underpriced, and drastically so.

Nobody — including you or I — would ever think of going that route, because we would only see it as cheap but garbage TV spots, or extremely expensive mainstream spots. There is a middle-ground, and that’s where the opportunity is. Comcast Spotlight, which is the advertising sales group at Comcast Cable, is making significant moves in the space and taking advantage of the opportunity at hand.

Now that I’ve explained the basics of the industry, I will next go through the major players, advantages and business models.

A Primer on Spot TV was originally published in Multimedia Marketing.