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March 2017

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How to Create ‘Thumb Stopping’ Content

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While brands rush to social media platforms to connect with their consumers, it’s imperative that brands understand how each platform is used in order to effectively deliver engaging content.

Social platforms are personal environments where brands can find themselves sitting snuggly alongside your best friend’s wedding photos. The formats in these spaces tend to be native to the environment, so rather than shoehorning in existing creative, mimicking the natural usage is most effective. These platforms offer the chance to tailor messaging; for both the audience and the given context. Like all good opportunities, brands would be foolish to not make the most of it.

So how can you easily create ’thumb stopping content?’

Understand what brings a user to a platform, and how they use it
It’s these intricate differences that will impact what content works for each environment.
For example, we know that around 80% of Facebook videos are watched with no sound, whereas on Snapchat 70% of videos are watched with the sound on. So why would you serve the same video in both spaces?

On Pinterest people are looking for inspiration – if you use beautiful creative, it will cut through to those you’re targeting, and you’ll also benefit from downstream engagements off the back of user re-pins. Or if you look at Instagram Stories you don’t need glossy brand imagery, you need vertical video that connects the viewer to the brand.
Understand your brand and your strengths

Is it a famous face, engaging mascot, reams of content or a unique sound? Reviewing your assets through the lens of each social platform will allow you to think about small amends that need to be made to ensure engagement. Can Facebook’s GIF format be used to add frequency to a 30” video with its short, but fun content?
 
Understand the data
Social platforms benefit from huge amounts of data to build different audiences. All audiences are not created equally, and it is likely that different aspects of your brand will resonate with different audiences.
As social channels continue to emerge and develop, advertisers should stay updated with emerging channels and what new opportunities they offer. But more importantly, advertisers must explore why and how people are using these platforms. Only when we understand the motivations behind each media moment can we stop the scroll.
 

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Stop the Press… Today’s Top Story

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This month saw Evgeny Lebedev announce that Tory MP, George Osborne, was to become editor of the London Evening Standard. The news was met with a raft of criticism and calls for the MP to step down from his Tatton seat. Whilst the aftermath has been predominantly on Osborne’s political future, what does the appointment mean for the paper?
Newspaper editor is by no means a part time job. Chris Blackhurst, former editor of The Independent, said last week that “there weren’t enough hours in the day to accommodate all the demands”.

So, will Osborne’s responsibilities as editor of a daily newspaper get in the way of his duties to the Tatton constituency? You would think that running the economy whilst holding a seat could be ample preparation for juggling the two jobs. But there also greater repercussions around a prominent figure in politics holding such an influential position in news.

George Osborne is not the first MP to make the move into journalism; Iain MacLeod became editor of The Spectator in 1963, Bill Deedes went from Minister to editor of the Telegraph in 1974, and Michael Gove wrote for the times for nearly 15 years, five of which whilst holding his seat in Surrey Heath. So why the sudden outrage that a back bencher is taking position at a regional newspaper?

It is likely that Osborne’s role will be ceremonial and as a driver for non-newsprint projects, such as building an events arm, and increasing overall commercial growth in lieu of a coverprice. Whilst he might help get the odd scoop and provide the title with more depth in its political and business sections, it is unlikely his position will be used to change the title’s political stance.

The Standard has historically been a centre right leaning publication, and in the run up to the London Mayoral election its reported it ran twice as many Zac Goldsmith pieces as Sadiq Khan, so the influence of a serving Tory MP is unlikely to anger audiences to any notable degree.

What’s clear, is the PR value this appointment has made, with print and digital news sources publishing stories about a newspaper that had seen slower growth than freemium competitor the Metro. In the wake of such vast PR we would expect to see an increase in circulation, potentially from both ends of the political spectrum.

Quality newspapers have seen a resurgence in recent months, following major political movements. Consumers are reverting to quality journalism for a trusted source of content, and whilst we must wait to see the impact Osborne will have, it’s clear the Standard is looking to invest in editorial staff to keep quality content at the heart of London evening news.

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Did Google just fund a London Terror Attack?!

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If you read the Times, you may think that’s the case following their reports after their recent investigations. And, whilst we’re a fan of a sensationalist headline (as you can see), we’d like to bring a little clarity to the situation that we as an industry find ourselves in.

The Times have run a couple of investigations into the misplacement of ads online, with a particular focus on YouTube. They have found numerous examples of household, blue-chip brands with ads delivered alongside content that is deemed extremely inappropriate and unsafe – which the investigators at the Times have screenshotted and used as the base for their articles.

This is shocking for Advertisers to see and very worrying that such situations could have ever occurred without their knowledge. A genuinely serious issue that demands action.

However, despite the investigators suggesting otherwise, there is little evidence of how the publishers of the videos have generated any money from these ads, nor can there be without Google’s own admission. Depicting a terrorist with a swag bag is at best ridiculous, at worst it’s deplorable. It’s hardly worth remembering that terrorists aren’t in the habit of setting up commercial accounts that can disclose their personal details and location, but nonetheless the media’s portrayal of the situation is not helping to build understanding of a complex situation.

The articles have driven many to react quickly and pull advertising spend from Google (M&S, HSBC, McDonald’s, Audi and Domino’s have been reported to have done so), alongside one Media Agency pulling their UK spend with Google in the immediate aftermath of the revelation.

Last week Google finally responded in an attempt to reassure Advertisers and Agencies, with admissions of their failures and recognition of the steps they need to take (and are taking) to protect their Advertisers more.

The most worrying failure from Google has been a lack of truly safe, default settings on campaigns. Of course, it’s extremely difficult to classify every piece of content exactly, however it’s easy to see the distrust and frustration with an Advertising platform that clearly didn’t put its advertisers first. Although the nature of the Times article was biased and sensational, Google should have done much more to educate and support on this issue before it happened.

In a timely response, Google announced the improvement of brand safety controls, in an attempt to make it easier to select where you’re placing your ads. On top of this, the default settings are being changed to meet much higher standards of brand safety, excluding potentially objectionable content.

This may have come too late for a number of their clients – however, this is exactly what was required and the renewed focus on improving control for brand safety is a really positive output from all the negative PR. It will hopefully also push Agencies to be more transparent with their clients, especially in the Digital space where all parties must be educated in the complexities and issues in order to build successful campaigns and partnerships.

At the7stars, we’ll always continue our efforts to keep clients informed and more importantly keep their activity as safe as we possibly can, with a strict set of controls forever in place – and a continual assessment of how to keep our practices as strong as possible. With the support of all media partners, alongside our working relationships with verification vendors who’ve helped us improve our campaign controls for over 3 years now, we will constantly battle to stay ahead of the game with our controls to keep quality, brand safe delivery at the heart of what we do.

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Are the Sliding Doors Closing on Serendipity?

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In our post-truth, algorithm-laden and filter bubble-rich world, we bandy the terms of serendipity, surprise and delight around At the same time, we are chased around the internet by products we may have idly browsed a week ago.
It amazes me that no-one has bothered to even ask: how important is serendipity to the modern consumer?

In a recent Lightbox study, we found that two in three Brits love when they stumble across something useful or interesting. The same proportion feels that learning about something new makes life more exciting, yet only one in 10 believes there is more chance and serendipity in the modern world.

The key to doing serendipity well is in remembering that, by its very definition, it must benefit the subject. A giant Ghostbusters character in the middle of Waterloo Station at rush hour is unexpected, yes, but may irritate and inconvenience more than it delights.

Icelandair showcased the smart use of serendipity in marketing with #MyStopOver, surprising lucky travellers with an unforeseen stopover in Iceland, highlighting the possibilities beyond the planned. Lidl has centred its comms on the concept of the unexpected with #lidlsurprises – with double digit business growth each year.

YPlan is an app which negates the need to make plans, offering a curated list of last minute experiences at a heavy discount. Finally, a reward for being late to the party, so to speak.

This is a nod to the future. Curation and recommendation working together to give consumers the right amount of surprise and delight when they need it.

Advances in AI and health wearables will be key to driving this personalised, accurate recommendation. Virtual personal assistants will be programmed to create these moments at times of physical or mental stress, or even boredom. Less about serendipity, and more about what’s right for right now.

Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, set out the ambition: “One day we hope to get so good at suggestions that we’re able to show you exactly the right film or TV show for your mood when you turn on Netflix.”

Until then, how do you encourage serendipitous discovery of your brand, content or products?

It could simply be about playing in territories they don’t expect you to be in. Changing your channel or title mix. Pushing for stockists that sit outside your comfort zone, or product formats that are innovative or unexpected. Clever media partnerships that associate you with a trend, consumer behaviour or cultural phenomenon with a twist.
Mood marketing is an area barely explored but rich with opportunity. Try it, you might be pleasantly surprised.

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Advertising Week Europe: In Case You Missed It…

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In Advertising Week Europe’s 298-page glossy programme, Global CEO Lord Scheckner presented the advertising bazaar as an optimistic antidote to the stark “turbulence” and “deeply-conflicted” times we are living in.

The five days of talks, workshops and schmoozing are an annual call to arms to celebrate, forecast and steer the future course of our industry. Laden with talented line-ups from an increasingly diverse background of specialisms, there was much to learn, query and be inspired by.

If you weren’t able to attend, you can still find hours of talks available to stream on the website. But here’s a flavour of what went down over the course of the week.

Unilever CMO Keith Weed was optimistic for all marketers at the Building Brands in an Attention Economy: “I genuinely believe this is the best time to be a marketer. There have never been so many ways to engage.”

Google’s EMEA President, Matt Brittin, apologised over ad placements featuring on extremist content. Googlegate was the subject of the week as advertisers continued to pull ads from Google in the wake of The Times scoop.

Criticism wasn’t just reserved for Google as PR guru Matthew Freud said it was clear to consumers that Uber was “at odds with the values of its core customer base” because it had never used its fleet to do something socially minded. Freud said this compared unfavourably with authentic, purpose-led brands built by the likes of Jamie Oliver, Bono and David Beckham.

Equality and diversity were hot topics and the number of men on panels was fiercely debated on Twitter. One stage where this was not up for debate was a panel discussion tackling The Future Face of Marketing to Men. The panel featured the world’s most iconic male model, David Gandy, who left Twitter feeling flustered. Or was it fellow panellist and friend of the7stars Jonathan Durden drawing the crowds? What’s Hot can’t decide.

Our very own Adele Burns joined up with Adapt.ly and TLC to share insights into how audiences consume content, what value they derive from social, and recommendations on the approach advertisers should take.

The importance of branding surfaced across the week with Stacy Martinet, CMO of Mashable, saying: “We’re in an era where brand is everything…if you’re a 200-year-old company, you’re having to reinvent yourself for this new world. And if you’re an app, you’re having to build a brand.” The headlines stressed the importance for brands to have the ability to navigate ever more choice by having a holistic, impartial and accountable approach to advertising solutions.