The Outline Is Making Visual, Interactive Content and Ads for a ‘Post-Text’ Internet, from Adweek

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The Outline Is Making Visual, Interactive Content and Ads for a ‘Post-Text’ Internet (excerpt from story that originally ran on Adweek)

“We’re creating content for a psychographic, not a demographic,” said Amanda Hale, CRO of The Outline, a 2-month-old news site meant to serve an “underfed” online audience.

That target psychographic is more than just what the media tends to brush off as “millennials,” said Hale.

According to founder Josh Topolsky, instead of creating content with the idea of a broad, millennial audience in mind, they try to create pieces for people who “start conversations more than they just sit back and add to them.”  The goal is to discover “what matters, by building a meaningful voice with honest storytelling,” said Topolsky, whose previous online success stories include co-founding The Verge and Vox Media.

The Outline’s overall design aesthetic and philosophy is about “not getting stuck in the grooves in the industry,” he said.

“Online storytelling has evolved, but it might be worse from a brand perspective right now,” said Hale.

The Outline, according to Hale, is focused on making “more visual, post-text, bite-sized content,” and wants to extend that same feeling to their ad partners.

“Our current campaigns feel similar to what The Outline was already looking like,” said Eric Perko, the head of media for MUH-TAY-ZIK|HOF-FER, the agency that represented Method. “They’re poppy and playful, and we could see that our material would make a good match with The Outline.”

Perko and his team paid attention to Topolsky’s career trajectory, especially when his next career move became somewhat of a mystery ahead of The Outline’s December debut.

“We were confident he’d be able to launch this successfully, thanks to his track record,” said Perko. “But there’s always an inherent risk when you go with something unproven.”

To Perko, it’s important for brands to support new media companies that try something new, different and innovative because “you have to have the diligence to figure out what will be successful.”

According to The Outline, ads on its site receive a click-through rate, on average, of 25 times the industry average; the site also sees around 13 times the industry average of engagement rates on its ads. Readers of the site have even expressed their appreciation for the ad designs on Twitter.

Read the full story here.

 

 

 


Advertisers need to take a stronger stance against fake news

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This originally appeared in Campaign.

Brands too often play a passive role in the placement of their digital advertising, relying on media agencies, programmatic buying and ad tech vendors to sort out the details.

Since the election, fake news has become one of the most talked about subjects in media. Some of the biggest players in advertising, including Facebook and Google, have said they are banning fake news sites that spread misinformation from their ad networks. Ad tech firm AppNexus, along with brands like Allstate, Kellogg’s, SoFi and ModCloth, have said they won’t advertise on Breitbart, which has come under wide criticism as a hyperpartisan and misleading site after Trump’s appointment of its chairman, Steve Bannon, as chief strategist.

While these are admirable first steps, advertisers should take greater responsibility for their digital advertising and the sites they support to make sure their ads aren’t funding the worst offenders. Taking such a stand isn’t necessarily easy, and the move, depending on the site, can be a political one. Kellogg’s faced a backlash when Breitbart and its supporters “declared war” against the company and called for a boycott of its products. The fear of such retaliation may keep some marketers from entering the fray, but it shouldn’t. Their role in the digital ecosystem is too important.

Brands need to recognize that they are participating in the erosion of quality content online with their ad dollars. Some fake news creators have claimed they’ve made between $10,000 and $30,000 a month. That’s ad revenue that other, more legitimate publishers desperately need. For every dollar going to shady sites, that’s one dollar not going to credible outlets. Brands should get more involved in their media plans and know where their ads are being placed.

Marketers often play a passive role in the placement of their digital advertising, relying on media agencies, programmatic buying and ad tech vendors to sort out the details. It’s understandable. After all, it’s nearly impossible to monitor where all digital ads are placed, and the supply chain is complicated. But as we well know, the devil is in the details. Instances of fraud and viewability can evade even the best media agencies, as fraudsters stay one step ahead of brand safety tools and other safeguards.

Advertisers can be proactive by creating blacklists of sites they don’t want to support, but it’s not always a guarantee that their ads won’t run on them. The problem, according to Digiday, stems in part from the fact that “agencies and performance marketing vendors aren’t always incentivized to use them, since much of digital media buying is still premised on cheap reach.”

Some brands have been asking agencies and ad tech specialists for help in battling this fake news problem, but if the vendors and agencies aren’t incentivized to enforce them, then marketers need to do so themselves. They need to arm themselves with internal expertise, with execs and employees that not only know the intricacies of the digital ecosystem, but can also hold themselves and their vendors accountable.

Marketers could also ask for monthly reports of where media has been placed. They could still buy programmatically and also use a private marketplace to help ensure better buys. Or they could do more direct buys, though that might require more effort. Many brands are doing these things now, but not enough of them. Some would rather not get involved and deflect blame to agencies and vendors.

Of course, there’s no real way to stop the creation of fake news sites. Even if they are thwarted, their creators could rapidly launch dozens of new sites that pop back up on exchanges. Instead of blacklisting sites, brands could instead create whitelists to ensure their ads are placed only on sites of their choosing.

This fake news crisis is all happening as traditional news organizations and media companies still grapple with the viability of their businesses in the digital and social age; even the digital-native ones are not exempt from this existential crisis. Old media companies have looming layoffs. And investors of newer ventures anxiously await return on their investments.

Advertisers have a responsibility in the digital ad ecosystem, and that should include ensuring their brands don’t support fraudulent news sites. Funnel that money instead to more legitimate places, with more acceptable ad formats. Educate the marketing department and recruit media experts to hold vendors accountable. Put pressure on agencies to demand that their vendors are acting in the best interests of their clients. Hire people who can find the holes in the digital ad supply chain and make sure they’re not exploited. It’s not easy, but the effort could go a long way.

—Maureen Morrison is senior editor at San Francisco-based Muhtayzik Hoffer. She was previously a reporter at Ad Age, covering everything from the agency business to digital and mobile advertising to marketing in the food industry.


Read more at http://www.campaignlive.com/article/advertisers-need-stronger-stance-against-fake-news/1418389#j5ytebUbLUR6MRcD.99

 

 

 

 

 


2 Million People Watch NFL Streaming on Twitter

 

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Two weeks in a row, Twitter has delivered on Thursday Night Football streaming hopes. The first week, more than 2 million people watched the live stream between the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets

The stream was 100% free. No authentication required. 

On the surface, the Twitter numbers are far short of what Yahoo reported when streaming the game from London last year. They reported 15M, but the game was autoplayed from the Yahoo homepage among other properties like Yahoo Mail, so their figures are far less credible and not comparable to Twitter where all users were opting into the stream.

According to Nielsen, 25 million people watched the game on TV and the NFL reported that in total 48 million people watched at least one minute of the game. So while still a small fraction of TV, the Twitter numbers are a sign that if given the option for a high-quality stream, significant numbers will watch via mobile, connected TVs, desktop, etc. 

Twitter paid $10 million for rights to the 10 Thursday night games this season. From an ad perspective, they are able to sell the local ad slots in the game stream as well as surrounding Twitter media. The national ad slots run as they would on broadcast. Early results show that Bank of America’s Twitter ads during the game had a 98% completion rate on the platform.

 

 


Snark (noun): 1. snide and sharply critical comments.

unnamed-1 I can’t speak for every Social Media Community Manager, but many dream of working on an account where replies can be honest and real. A place where one is free to leave behind the apologies and niceties of the standard, “We are so sorry to hear that. Can you DM us details…” and roll with the blunt, “Look, you idiot.” 

Once in a while, a brand’s Twitter account will take the Real World approach to community responses. They’ll stop being nice and start getting real. The most recent brand to adopt a brash, devil-may-care attitude to consumer replies was delightfully unexpected: Merriam-Webster Dictionary. 

Last week, the snark got turned up to eleven when a user, who happens to be an editor at Slate, replied to one of their Twitter posts making light of their lax stance on grammar rules by calling them “the ‘chill’ parent who lets your friends come over and get high.” He continued on for several tweets and was winding down with: “if no one’s making rules for us, it means we’re responsible for our own decisions, and we feel kind of ambivalent about that tbqh.

Then in an epic and bold, the-customer-is-not-always-right move, Merriam-Webster fired back with: “No one cares what you think.” 

Twitter erupted with praise for Merriam-Webster calling that response an “iconic drag.” Totally should have expected a great response. They really have a way with words.


Instagram (Finally) Letting Users Hide Inappropriate Comments

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Instagram recently announced a new feature that will allow users to filter inappropriate comments as determined by the broader community and the user.

A user will now be able to ‘Hide Inappropriate Comments’ which will remove comments containing words or phrases frequently reported as well as add custom keywords to be filtered out of the comment stream.

Instagram Co-Founder & CEO Kevin Systrom announced the new feature in a blog post titled Keeping Comments Safe on Instagram.

It’s hard out there for a troll.


Apple Offering Free App To Teach Kiddos How to Code

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Apple announced plans to release a free app focused on middle-school students that will help them learn how to code.

The app, called Swift Playgrounds, will teach youngsters basic computer coding language like sequencing logic by having them use word commands to move cartoon avatars through an animated world.

Some other children’s coding education apps use drag-and-drop. Apple instead is using Swift, the professional programming language Apple introduced in 2014.

“When you learn to code with Swift Playgrounds, you are learning the same language used by professional developers,” Brian Croll, Apple’s vice president of product marketing, said in a telephone interview. “It’s easy to take the next step and learn to write a real app.”

The app announcement is coordinated with a larger Silicon Valley campaign to teach coding in public schools, an initiative which could help address socio-economic issues while training the next crop of SV coders.

The app is free but it does require an iPad, which could be challenging for the less fortunate to buy given the $599 starting price.


The Blackest Black Of Any Phone Ever. Like, It’s Really Black.

Apple’s main Twitter account had some strange activity leading up to their big biannual Keynote event. Most folks who work in social media marketing are familiar with a dark tweet. For those who are not, a “dark tweet” is essentially a paid ghost tweet. The post will be shown to a select audience on Twitter typically including users who do not follow the account. That Tweet is considered “dark” because it won’t show up on the account’s Twitter timeline, or feed and will say that it is promoted material. 

Last week, promoted Tweets from Apple were showing up for users. Not entirely surprising after the second quarter with low earnings this year, they’d want to promote their new slate of products and their much-hyped Keynote presentation. Also interesting is that these tweets have somehow gotten around the text indicator that usually appears at the bottom of a paid Twitter post saying that they are promoted, or paid content. If you Retweet Apple’s tweet, they even offered to send you a reminder tweet when the event begins.

Of more interest is some sort of API or feature hack on Twitter’s part. If a Twitter user retweets an Apple dark post, in addition to the tweet showing up in their timeline, they also get a personalized thank you reply, which also cannot be seen on the Twitter account. Retweeters also got an offer for Apple to send you a reminder tweet when the event begins. According to a tech writer, this functionality is not typical open API Twitter response-bot functionality.

On Keynote day, Apple sent out reminder Tweets before their main event. While there was some speculation that they might finally live-tweet their own event, it did not happen. Keynotes are typically live-tweeted by hordes of tech-writers and Apple enthusiasts and this one was no exception.

In case you missed the Keynote and witty Twitter recaps, here are a few highlights: new colors black and black, it will be water resistant, and as suspected no headphone jack.

 


Launching the Anti-Bank in a Sea of Powerful Anti-(Actual) Banks

CHALLENGE
SoFi is a modern finance company, not a bank. They have members not customers and they operate in a fashion that is fundamentally unique to the finance category – a category that is dominated by large, traditional banks. Starting with limited awareness, we were up against some of the biggest media spenders in the world and many of these organizations already claim to be “anti-bank.” We needed to achieve mass awareness and understanding for an unknown brand’s products and unique positioning.
APPROACH
Our media plan was built around reaching scaled awareness and challenging mega banks through mass media while educating the target throughout their daily life.
SoFi’s “The Beginning of a Bankless World” phase started 2 weeks prior to the Super Bowl to generate buzz and anticipation of something larger to come.
We seeded the message in Broadcast TV, a #DontBank Promoted Trend on Twitter, digital & mobile high impact executions through Pandora, New York Times, CBS Sports and others on key dates, leveraged digital video with YouTube. We reached light TV viewers via Connected TV with YuMe and promoted content on social properties such as Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. We also took the message into the physical world by purchasing large format Outdoor in the Top 10 DMAs while projecting “The Beginning on a Bankless World” messaging onto building that were formerly banks. The message was even brought inside the banks by leveraging in-elevator placements targeting building of large Mega Banks. And finally, the messaging ran in Cinema prior to the movie “The Big Short” among others in select cities.
We then launched the brand campaign in earnest with Super Bowl 50. First ad break, C position. Forbes ranked SoFi as #1 for most viewers reached of any advertiser in the game. Comprehensive efforts surrounded the game in social with live content creation and consumer engagement.
The day following Super Bowl 50, fully integrated campaign launched. Notable elements included heavy Outdoor in the Top 10 DMAs, multiple mobile masthead takeovers on YouTube, a custom content series on Medium titled “The Future of Money”, integrations with popular sports properties such as ESPN & CBS Sports, streaming audio buys with Pandora & Spotify and integrations with podcasts such as Freakonomics, This American Life, Re/Code Decode and Bill Simmons.
The final peak of the campaign focused on Men’s NCAA Basketball with a sponsorship of the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament as well large-scale efforts in March Madness. SoFi had a presence in almost every broadcast March Madness game and a spot in all March Madness Live Streaming games.
IMPACT
Early results are strong. In total the campaign has tallied over 1.6B impressions to date. We’ve seen sharp increase in brand awareness and favorability metrics and well as a significant uptick in SoFi business metrics such as registrations and loan starts.

Launching the Anti-Bank in a Sea of Powerful Anti-(Actual) Banks


CHALLENGE

SoFi is a modern finance company, not a bank. They have members not customers and they operate in a fashion that is fundamentally unique to the finance category – a category that is dominated by large, traditional banks. Starting with limited awareness, we were up against some of the biggest media spenders in the world and many of these organizations already claim to be “anti-bank.” We needed to achieve mass awareness and understanding for an unknown brand’s products and unique positioning.

APPROACH

Our media plan was built around reaching scaled awareness and challenging mega banks through mass media while educating the target throughout their daily life.

SoFi’s “The Beginning of a Bankless World” phase started 2 weeks prior to the Super Bowl to generate buzz and anticipation of something larger to come.

We seeded the message in Broadcast TV, a #DontBank Promoted Trend on Twitter, digital & mobile high impact executions through Pandora, New York Times, CBS Sports and others on key dates, leveraged digital video with YouTube. We reached light TV viewers via Connected TV with YuMe and promoted content on social properties such as Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. We also took the message into the physical world by purchasing large format Outdoor in the Top 10 DMAs while  projecting “The Beginning on a Bankless World” messaging onto building. The message was even brought inside the banks by leveraging in-elevator placements targeting building of large Mega Banks. And finally, the messaging ran in Cinema prior to the movie “The Big Short” among others in select cities.

We then launched the brand campaign in earnest with Super Bowl 50. First ad break, C position. Forbes ranked SoFi as #1 for most viewers reached of any advertiser in the game. Comprehensive efforts surrounded the game in social with live content creation and consumer engagement.

The day following Super Bowl 50, fully integrated campaign launched. Notable elements included heavy Outdoor in the Top 10 DMAs, multiple mobile masthead takeovers on YouTube, a custom content series on Medium titled “The Future of Money”, integrations with popular sports properties such as ESPN & CBS Sports, streaming audio buys with Pandora & Spotify and integrations with podcasts such as Freakonomics, This American Life, Re/Code Decode and Bill Simmons.

The final peak of the campaign focused on Men’s NCAA Basketball with a sponsorship of the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament as well large-scale efforts in March Madness. SoFi had a presence in almost every broadcast March Madness game and a spot in all March Madness Live Streaming games.

IMPACT

Early results are strong. In total the campaign has tallied over 1.6B impressions to date. We’ve seen sharp increase in brand awareness and favorability metrics and well as a significant uptick in SoFi business metrics such as registrations and loan starts.


SoFi Debuts

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For the innovative online lender SoFi, we have been busy creating work across virtually all media: TV, OOH, radio, social, and digital.

Rather than using backward-looking scores like FICO, SoFi instead offers loans and increasingly more financial products to people who show promising futures. For these customers, they come alongside them through thick and thin, even offering career counseling.

In the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, “Bankless World” announced their introduction as a major national brand. Offering a new paradigm that doesn’t fit with how the world sees financial institutions, the spot serves up the new positioning line, “Don’t bank. SoFi.”

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Watch for more work throughout March Madness that focuses on some of their diverse, ambitious members.