Platform Spotlight: Week of January 16, 2017

January 17, 2017

Starting today, we’re going to share a weekly update to give you the latest in platform news and updates, advertising opportunities and other happenings in digital and social.

Facebook Rolling Out Mid-Roll Video Ads

Facebook Video is taking a major step, monetization. Now, videos on Facebook will be able to generate money for publishers with mid-roll advertisements. These mid-roll ads can be inserted 20 seconds into any video that lasts at least 90 seconds, which is a shift from YouTube, which typically runs videos prior to videos, some of which are skippable after five seconds.

The mid-roll ads will be limited to 15 seconds. Facebook will keep 45% of mid-roll ad revenue with publishers taking in the remaining 55%, the same split as YouTube. 

The new mid-roll ads come after Facebook tested the ad format in Facebook Live videos last year.

The introduction of ads into videos makes Facebook Video much more attractive to publishers. Now, they have a monetary reason to invest in creating content for the platform. It also opens up a new way for brands to share their video ads in alignment with content consumers show they care about.  And with ads not showing until at least 20 seconds in, publishers will be pushed to make their content as engaging as possible to keep audiences watching. That, of course, should be closely watched by YouTube, which relies on a similar process with its pre-roll ads.

Instagram Testing Ads Within Stories

Instagram is looking to monetize one of its core features, Instagram Stories. Currently, it is testing video ads which display in between Instagram Stories, as well as live and “formerly live” videos. Advertisers participating in the test have the option to exclude certain content from featuring their brands.

The ads will be sold in an automated system on a CPM basis and targeted by age, gender, location and other factors. Beyond that, brands using Instagram business tools will be able to start viewing data related to their Stories, which will help from an optimization and effectiveness standpoint. Brands will be able to track reach, impressions, replies and exits associated with their Stories.

This announcement comes in tandem with Facebook making a larger effort to monetize its video content with mid-roll ads. It also comes when Instagram revealed that it has 150 million daily users of Instagram Stories, which is a sobering stat for Snapchat, which has 150 million daily active users worldwide of its entire app, not just a single feature.

Instagram’s approach to ads is much like Snapchat’s, which also includes ads in-between Snapchat Stories. But this also gives content creators on Instagram a reason to stay on Instagram versus moving over to Snapchat. For its part, Instagram brings a high degree of targeting, thanks to Facebook’s trove of data.

The big challenge with this rollout, as well as Facebook’s, will be giving brands confidence that their ads won’t show up amongst content they’d rather not be associated with.

Snapchat Introduces New Ad Products

Ahead of an IPO, Snapchat has moved quickly to build a robust ad ecosystem with everything from shoppable ads to an ads API. It’s not stopping there, though.

It now has deep-linking and web auto-fill, both of which will be incredibly helpful for ecommerce brands as well as subscription services. Now, Snap Ads, can be swiped up for a link to be displayed that users can tap to be taken out of Snapchat to a new app, such as a product page for commerce ads as well as songs in music apps. The next update, auto-fill, lets users fill out lead-gen forms with a tap of the screen after seeing an ad. This is a much more streamlined process than filling out personal information manually, which could be particularly helpful for auto brands, membership services and business-to-business companies.

These new ads are a bit of shift for Snapchat, which has been firmly in the build awareness camp in its ad offerings. These are much more about direct response, which will be attractive to a certain and important segment of advertisers. 

The move puts Snapchat more on parity with Facebook in terms of what it can offer and how advertisers can leverage the platform, something that will be critical when it goes public.

Facebook Extends Dynamic Ads to User Web Activity

Facebook’s dynamic ads are getting more… dynamic.  Up until this point, dynamic ads from Facebook were used to retarget users with ads that featured products a user may have looked at on a retailer site or app.

Those dynamic ads are expanding to allow for targeting based on web activity, so a user who has been looking for a product across multiple retailers could be served up an ad by a specific advertiser. Those users don’t have to look for that product on the retailer’s app or website to be targeted as they had to before.

That allows retailers to reach new customers who may be interested in a particular product but don’t have familiarity with the retailer. The retailer can introduce themselves to the consumer through the product they’ve shown interest in.

To participate, advertisers must upload a catalog of products they plan to promote and then select an audience. Facebook then looks at traffic patterns and matches users up to the ads.

Facebook Launches Journalism Project 

Facebook has a new initiative that focuses on local news, new ways to tell stories and methods of combating hoaxes and fake news called the Facebook Journalism Project

According to Facebook, the project includes collaborating with news organizations to learn how to be a better partners and collaborate on product development. In the process, it hopes to educate Facebook users on “news literacy” by working with the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and others. Facebook will launch “certificate curriculum” with the Poynter Institute for Media Studies that journalists will be able to complete in an effort to give them a better understanding of how to use Facebook.

This tone of collaboration comes after Facebook was highly criticized for its role in spreading fake news, which Facebook initially pushed back against but later acknowledged. Now, it’s taken steps to allow users to report fake news as well as hired a head of news partnerships. 

Beyond greater collaboration, Facebook has a new way for publishers to share news with a magazine-like layout. It lets publishers select several Instant Articles and package them together with a cover image or video. Users can then swipe through the articles and like them, comment or share individual articles. In addition, they can subscribe to receive notifications when new ones are released. 

The layout is much like that offered by Snapchat Discover and is in testing with ten partners, including USA Today, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed and Fox News.

Facebook definitely went from taking a hands-off approach to news to taking one that is very hands-on. At the moment this is public relations, but if Facebook can implement some of these changes, it could have a powerful effect being as its one of the primary places people get their news today. The key for Facebook will be creating a mutually beneficial relationship between publishers and itself, and it appears to be doing that through these new partnerships and tools.

- Taylor Wiegert, Planning Director, UX Strategy

Posted By: The Martin Agency

Donate Life "World's Biggest Asshole" Wins Adweek Arc Award

January 17, 2017

This Daring PSA for Organ Donation Introduced the Jerk Everyone Came to Love

The Martin Agency earns Adweek Arc Award 

By Tony Case

We come from different places, have our individual jobs, families, hobbies, charms, quirks and beliefs. But among the things we all have in common: everybody everywhere knows somebody who's a giant asshole.

That indelicate little fact of life made a PSA promoting organ donation one of the most successful ads of the past year, and probably one of the most daring pieces of marketing ever—beginning with its very racy title.

"The World's Biggest Asshole"—a nearly three-minute film created by The Martin Agency for client Donate Life, an organ donation advocacy group—tells the story of Coleman F. Sweeney, an unseemly character who, among other things, pees in a beer bottle while speeding along in his pickup, then tosses it out the window; shoots his paint gun at a neighbor's dog; steals women's underwear from a laundromat, and children's Halloween candy; and haggles with a waitress over the skimpy portion of fries that comes with a $1.99 lunch special. But when he kicks the bucket, we discover that Sweeney (played to irritating perfection by Thomas Jane) had, against anyone's expectation, signed up to be an organ donor. We are then taken through the stories of individuals Sweeney's selfless act saved—and see how the jerk ultimately ended up doing good in the world.

Link to full article.

Posted By: The Martin Agency

Martin UX Team On Instagram Story Ads

January 12, 2017

We asked our UX team to give us their thoughts on Instagram's big announcement yesterday on adding ads to Stories.

"Instagram is looking to monetize one of its core features, Instagram Stories. Currently, it is testing video ads which display in between Instagram Stories, as well as live and “formerly live” videos. Advertisers participating in the test have the option to exclude certain content from featuring their brands.

This announcement comes in tandem with Facebook making a larger effort to monetize its video content with mid-roll ads. 

Instagram’s approach to ads is much like Snapchat’s, which also includes ads in-between Snapchat Stories. But this also gives content creators on Instagram a reason to stay on Instagram versus moving over to Snapchat. For its part, Instagram brings a high degree of targeting, thanks to Facebook’s trove of data.

That data paired with the high-impact visuals featured in the Instagram Stories ads will be a powerful combination for brands looking to make an impact, and that’s a combination Snapchat will have to work to catch up to provide.

The big challenge with this rollout, as well as Facebook’s, will be giving brands confidence that their ads won’t show up amongst content they’d rather not be associated with.

Facebook Video is taking a major step, monetization. Now, videos on Facebook will be able to generate money for publishers with mid-roll advertisements. These mid-roll ads can be inserted 20 seconds into any video that lasts at least 90 seconds, which is a shift from YouTube, which typically runs videos prior to videos, some of which are skippable after five seconds.

The mid-roll ads will be limited to 15 seconds. Facebook will keep 45% of mid-roll ad revenue with publishers taking in the remaining 55%, the same split as YouTube. 

The new mid-roll ads come after Facebook tested the ad format in Facebook Live videos last year.

The introduction of ads into videos makes Facebook Video much more attractive to publishers. Now, they have a monetary reason to invest in creating content for the platform. It also opens up a new way for brands to share their video ads in alignment with content consumers show they care about.  And with ads not showing until at least 20 seconds in, publishers will be pushed to make their content as engaging as possible to keep audiences watching. That, of course, should be closely watched by YouTube, which relies on a similar process with its pre-roll ads. "

- Taylor Wiegert, Planning Director, UX Strategy

"It was bound to happen, with the success Instagram has seen with Stories in general (nearly half of their user base is using stories) - and we’ll see how the consumers feel once the initial complaints stop. 

But from an advertising/positive perspective, it’s a great way to re–use vertical video ads that are being produced for platforms like Snapchat, that have had historically limited places to run.  It also helps force a new conversation and perspective in producing video content for mobile platforms – we’ve seen on Snapchat that the more organic those video ads to the platform, the better they perform, so I’m assuming the same will hold for Instagram.  

It’s a great point of discussion internally and with clients when going into production, or even briefing for video content and TV – that the idea has to also be able to live vertically, and in a more “organic” and mobile way for platforms like Snapchat and Instagram.  You can’t just slap up the TV spot to these platforms like  you’ve been able to do with traditional pre-roll."

- Meg Riley, VP/Planning Director, UX Strategy

Posted By: The Martin Agency

Thoughts From Day 366: Sr. Copywriter Talks Resolutions

January 12, 2017

Thoughts From Day 366

One year ago, on January 1st, 2016, I made a crazy resolution to run every day. Ok, for a self-proclaimed non-runner, that was borderline insane. In truth, I expected to fizzle out after a month or two, as I’ve done with previous resolutions (oh coffee, I can never quit you!). But this time, I kept going. And going. And 366 days later I had run at least a mile, outdoors, every single day in 2016. In snow, rain, heat and cold. In four states, and two countries. What? Who does that? Well, I did. And it turns out that I learned a lot during those runs. About myself, about running, but even more than that. I found I could apply a lot of my running tips to how I work as well. So, here are 7 things I learned during this crazy, tough, but ultimately inspiring, year.   

There’s always an excuse. But you don’t have to take it.

It’s raining. Snowing. I’m too busy. Too tired (ok, hungover.) None of those excuses worked for me this year. After a 12-hour shoot day, when everyone else was headed out to dinner and drinks, I had to get a run in. I had plenty of excuses not to. But I did it anyway. (And then caught up with everyone and had that drink!) There are always excuses why a project isn’t turning out the way I want it to. The client, the brief, that Law & Order SVU marathon I got sucked into. I can choose not to accept those excuses. And once they’re off the table, the only option is to move forward.

Learn as much as possible—then do what works best for you.

Early in the year, I did a lot of research about running. What to eat, when to stretch, how to breathe, how to hold my arms (yeah, that’s a thing). Some was useful. But some just made running harder and less enjoyable. How I work is a lot like that. Everyone has tips and tricks and it’s great to learn how others snatch that great idea out of the ether. But in the end, I have to do what works for me. There’s no reason to build more obstacles for my brain.

Take advantage of good days, shake off the bad ones.

There were days that I felt great running. So if I had a short run planned, I would bump it up to a long one. And then there were days that weren’t so great. My knees hurt. Muscles ached. No sense doing a long run those days. And no sense beating myself up about it. I just tried to do better the next day. There are good and bad days in advertising as well. When inspiration hits—I need to take advantage! So what if it’s Saturday. Or 2am. While the idea well is pumping, I keep grabbing buckets. And when it’s dry, I don’t (or try not to) freak out. I just keep digging.

Don’t be afraid to walk.

I know, I know. We’re talking about running here, so walking feels like failure. I thought so too. But I learned to use walking as a tool. When I was trying to increase distance, occasionally I would have to walk in order to get there. It helped me stretch to reach my next goal, and soon I was able to run the whole distance without walking. Sometimes I need to let my brain walk a little too. Maybe take a smaller project or a lighter load. Heck, maybe even take a vacation. My brain and I will come back stronger.

Sometimes, let your mind wander.

On a tough day, I often found myself paying way too much attention to each step. To how far I still had to go, and how tired my legs felt. That just makes the run tougher. It was far better to think about a project, conversation, or even an idea for an article (oh hey!) and then suddenly I’m at the end of the run and I hardly noticed. When I sit in front of a computer staring at that blinking cursor, or in a room staring at my blinking partner, there’s nothing but concrete in my brain. But if I do laundry, or take a drive (or a run), or just do something else with half my brain, suddenly the ideas start clamoring for my attention. 

Don’t be afraid to brag (occasionally).

There’s a reason why they are called bragger’s rights. I earned the right to be proud this year. I may still be talking about it in 2020! But I sometimes worried that I was posting my progress too often and annoying people. At some point I realized that if that were the case, let them be annoyed! I got so much motivation out of the positive feedback from my posts that there was no room for negativity. Friends and coworkers weighing in, or just hitting the “like” button, it all felt like one more person joining “Team Sara.” At times, we all need adult cheerleaders. Whether it’s out on the road, or in the office.

Stop comparing.

This year I must have said “I’m not a real runner” hundreds of times. I felt embarrassed and apologetic because I’m slow. Because I don’t run long distances. Because other people have had running streaks for much longer than my measly year. But you know what? There will always be someone better than me. I won’t let that diminish what I do. How hard I work. Because I can’t worry about being the best. That’s a very, very small target to hit, not to mention a fleeting one. Instead I am focused on doing my best. Pushing myself to be better and better. Because those people winning Gold Lions this year, were once sitting right where I am.

After this year I’m not some sort of running expert, just as I’m not an advertising expert after twelve years at The Martin Agency. I’m just someone who set a goal, plodded away day after day, and eventually reached it. And I learned a few things along the way. As of now, my run streak is still intact. And I’m sure running will sometimes be a struggle, just as my work is sometimes a struggle. But all I can do is keep pushing. Keep believing. And above all, just keep going.

Posted By: Sara Kuhs

Land O'Lakes New Spot "The Farmer" Featured on Adweek

January 03, 2017

Ad of the Day: Land O'Lakes Makes Lovely Use of Amelia E. Barr's Poem 'The Farmer'

 A poignant love letter to our social sustainers

By Angela Natividad

God bless the seeds his hands let fall ... for the farmer, he must feed us all.

This is the closing line from Amelia E. Barr's poem "The Farmer," written by the British immigrant and prolific writer after observing farm life in Texas in the late 1800s. It's a galvanizing piece of work, a reminder to a rapidly changing America that whoever you are—king or poet, doctor or soldier, lord or merchant, craftsman or beggar—you'll need to eat, and this responsibility rests on the shoulders of farmers. 

Now it's the anchor for an ad from Land O'Lakes.

Created by The Martin Agency, "The Farmer" recites Barr's poem as picturesque scenes of American agriculture, shot by a National Geographic team, flick across the screen. 

Click here for full article.

Posted By: The Martin Agency