How to Use Pop Culture in Advertising Within Your Brand Messaging Strategy

According to Bloomberg, Netflix’s popular show “Squid Game“ reached 142 million houses worldwide, making it the most-watched new show in Netflix history. Not only that, but the show generated $891.1 million in impact value — approximately 41.7 times the budget allotted for its creation.

The success of “Squid Game” demonstrates how quickly pop culture trends pop up. When new cultural phenomena come on the scene, they take over rapidly. But they sometimes fade just as fast. That said, marketers have to be mindful of using pop culture in advertising. Add to that just how fast-paced conversations about these trends are, and brands must be extra vigilant.

Ultimately, the question isn’t, “Everyone is talking about this, so what do we say?” Rather it’s, “Should we talk about this just because everyone else is talking about it?” Advertisers have to think, first and foremost, about what actually fits in their brand messaging strategy and make decisions from there.

Turning Moments of Pop Culture Phenomena Into Branding Opportunities

Culture has the power to enhance your brand’s advertising efforts, just as long as your brand messaging strategy keeps up with pop culture trends and the sentiments surrounding them. We’ve created a few questions to ask yourself to help determine whether you are prepared to incorporate rapid-fire response into your media mix.

Evaluate your brand messaging and tone.

Before you start creating ads or responses about pop culture trends, you first need to have an established, foundational brand message. Responses to trends should enhance your brand, but they aren’t the backbone of it. Do consumers see your brand the way you want them to? If the answer is yes, you have room to layer in trends and other elements that bolster your established branding. Consider taking a pulse on your current strategy with the following questions:

  • How do you want consumers to see your brand? What are the core values you want to communicate?
  • Alternately, how do consumers currently view your brand? Do your vision and reality align?
  • What tactics and solutions are you using to ensure that consumers understand the integral attributes and offerings of your brand?
  • What tactics do you need to implement to ensure the right audience is being reached with this messaging?
  • What tactics could you implement to take your messaging a step further?
  • At what point in the next 12 months could you start implementing more rapid-fire responses into your brand messaging?

How Advertisers Can Capitalize on Pop Culture Trends Strategically

Here’s how you can utilize current trends and pop culture in advertising while staying on brand strategy:

1. Understand your competition.

One of the best tools you can use to evaluate whether you should create pop culture-oriented ads and brand messages is knowing how your competitors are doing it. What do they do well? How could you take your outreach a step further? Having a blueprint for what is and isn’t working well outside of your own brand is an incredibly valuable tool if you’re hoping to make cultural moments part of your advertising.

2. Have a crisis management process prepared.

When commenting on pop culture in real time, there is always the chance you will miss the mark. Someone on social media might not take to your response or advertisement well, stirring backlash among other consumers. Have a process in place detailing how you will deal with problems if they arise.

3. Pick a brand messaging strategy that makes sense for you.

Identify general topics or areas of interest that align with your brand and key stakeholders. Having this list to reference when an opportunity arises will make deciding to join the conversation much easier. It will also help ensure that your brand continues to meet consumer expectations. Granted, there will be opportunities that arise that you hadn’t discussed when making this list, but it is a good starting point.

4. Consider which tools and channels will further your messaging.

In advertising, certain channels work best for different steps in the sales funnel. You have to determine where in this process you will incorporate direct-response opportunities. Ask yourself where in your current media mix you feel most confident: Where can you switch the budget toward direct-response messages? Which channels are you using for awareness, consideration, and sales? Answering these questions will help you boldly commit to your budget in times of change.

5. Continue moving your marketing forward.

Creating a marketing strategy that incorporates pop culture trends isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it process. It has to be reiterated every few months to ensure that any changes have been addressed, new opportunities are being met, and your baseline strategy is still successful.

Pop culture trends change rapidly, so it’s important to remain flexible but on-brand if you incorporate them into your brand messaging. Remember: You don’t have to enter every conversation — only those that align with your goals and really enable you to connect with your audience. To learn more about this and other ways to make your advertising effective and strategic, get in touch today.

How to Achieve Scale and Authenticity in Podcast Network Advertising

As an advertiser, one of the most important decisions you make is which channels to leverage for digital ads. Podcast advertising has recently become popular with marketers of all industries. In its advent, advertisers or brands would team up within a podcast host to have their ad played during one show or throughout the “season.”As the medium has evolved, now advertisers have access to podcast networks which give them the chance to have content played across various podcasts — all hypertargeted to your target audience — within that network.

Podcast listeners tune into eight different podcasts a week on average, making it a lucrative advertising channel. Podcast networks are a great way to ensure that you aren’t putting all your eggs in one basket, and they let you engage with listeners as they tune into podcasts you might not have been advertising on before.

The Benefits of Podcast Programmatic Advertising

Rather than investing all your podcast advertising dollars in one show, podcast networks let you reach more listeners across various shows. For example, using Pandora alone gives advertisers access to reach 1 in 3 Americans online.

Why advertise on podcasts? Not only do podcast networks cover a variety of shows and genres, but they also have great data and information about their audiences, overlaps, and areas of opportunity. With insights and data from podcast networks, you can better track conversions across multiple devices, gain insights into your campaigns’ performance, measure impact across devices, and gain a holistic view of your customers’ journey to inform future campaigns.

Finally, some podcast networks allow for unique creative ad formats, such as AdsWizz’s Shake Me Ads. These audio ads enable listeners to shake their phones or smartwatches and trigger an action like downloading a coupon or app, opening a link, or placing a call. All of these can help you find new disruptive ways to reach your audience.The

Future of Podcast Programmatic Advertising

Still, as in all advertising decisions, there are pros and cons. For example, advertising on a podcast network versus a specific podcast does require you to give up the personal aspect of host-read audio ads (which have value in making listeners feel they’re engaging with a trusted source). You may also lose access to certain shows, depending on what the podcast network has access to.

All things considered, though, podcast network advertising is still one of the most promising digital advertising channels for the coming years. Monthly listeners in 12- to 34-year-olds grew 22% in three years. Plus, podcast listeners have a median age of 34, younger than the broadcast ratio at 47 and network television at 57.

Below are some tips for using a podcast network in such a way that you’re able to achieve scale and authenticity.

1.Never compromise creative best practices for the sake of scale.

It’s tempting to come in guns blazing to the podcast network advertising game as you create your ad campaign, but don’t forget about basic creative best practices. For example, keep audio ads as short as possible to be effective — as brief as 10–15 seconds if you can. Test out both lengths to see what performs best based on your goals.

Be sure to also include a clear CTA every time. When targeting a specific channel, such as smartphones, consider a mobile-specific CTA like “Text for a coupon.” Remember, listeners aren’t always looking at a screen, so avoid words like “tap” or “click.” And always tailor your tone to your audience.

2. Keep your message fresh.

If your audience hears the same ad from you too many times, they’ll start tuning you out. Try testing at least two different audio spots and leveraging dynamic audio for more engaging audio ads tailored to the audience. This offers a better listening experience and gives you insight into what messages work best.

Then, for longer campaigns, swap in new audio spots every few months and feature seasonal promotions if applicable. As always, your goal should be to use creative that is memorable and entertaining. If your brand has proprietary jingles or sonic identifiers, be sure to include those as well.

3. Be mindful of frequency.

Audio advertising offers the tremendous opportunity of one-on-one connection, but that makes it all the more important that you’re mindful of frequency. There’s a fine line between being memorable and being annoying.

New brand promotions and time-sensitive offers do warrant higher frequencies, but longer campaigns should be lower-frequency. A good middle ground is three to five times per week.

4. Measure everything.

Podcast networks offer a variety of measurement solutions to evaluate podcast advertising effectiveness. Make sure you know what’s available to you to ensure that you’re receiving the best analytics for your investment. Consider in advance what insights you want to gain so that you can make data-informed decisions to inform your future campaigns.

For example, some valuable actions to measure, which may not be offered by every partner, include tracking conversions from listeners that switch devices before taking the action on a landing page or website and tracking foot traffic attribution. Both require a complex tracking system that not all networks can offer.

5. Align your brand with your podcasting network.

Don’t be sucked in by big-name podcasts and networks. The last thing you want to do is pay a high price for a network that’s not even relevant to your audience.

Instead, evaluate the network on its ability to reach your target audience. What are their listenership metrics? Additionally, how do they measure their audiences? What data do they use to understand who their audience is? How often is that data refreshed?

Podcast network advertising is gaining popularity for a reason. This channel allows you to strategically select the best podcasts for your specific target audience, all while achieving scale and authenticity.

The more you take time to evaluate the whole picture of the podcast network — from who listens to their podcasts to how they know who listens to their podcasts — the better you’ll be able to ensure you’ll reach your audience and find success across your campaigns.

To learn more about effective podcast advertising, get in touch with the Digilant team today.

The ‘Skip Ad’ Button: 4 Strategies to Keep Consumers Watching

Current content consumption trends have made advertisers’ jobs more complicated; Whether consumers are presented with an actual “skip ad” button or they are quick to grab their phones, open a new tab, or move to a different platform to avoid ever watching an ad, advertisers now have about five to seven seconds to make a good first impression on consumers. And while consumers engage with ads on certain channels without hitting “skip” as often (completion rates for CTV and OTT come in at about 94%), they don’t on others. Pre-roll and in-stream ads (i.e., on desktop and mobile), for example, come in at only 62%.

Consumers are choosing what to view. When presented with a skip ad button, chances are good that they take you up on the offer. But the fact that they know what they want from their media consumption isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it can be a benefit.

Addressing ‘Skip Button’ Challenges in Advertising Today

If you can make consumers forget the skip button, your ads are more likely to drive conversions. Although today’s content consumption trends do make this challenging, they don’t make it impossible. Here’s how to find success:

1. Address the creative element.

Skipping ads has become habitual. An IPG survey found 76% of people who hit the skip ad button do so out of ingrained behavior. Brands, then, should focus on telling a story that compels them to behave differently. Showcase your key message within the first 10 seconds of a clip. Keep it creative, captivating, and informative, using a combination of graphics, people, and text. Making it more dynamic helps you capture viewers’ attention.

Beyond that, don’t forget to mention your brand early on. You can expect people to watch only 5.5 seconds of a 15-second spot. Thirty-second ads enjoy longer viewing, but still only 7.4 seconds on average. Also, consider enabling subtitles, which accounts for a major content consumption trend: viewing content with the sound off.

2. Prioritize relevancy.

According to one Twilio Segment study, 44% of consumers would likely take their business elsewhere should a brand fail to deliver personalized experiences. The most creative, informative ad will do nothing to move products if it’s not relevant to the consumer. That skip ad button is just a click away.

Ask yourself, what kind of targeting tactics will best ensure our ads are seen by the ideal customer? What sorts of behavioral data in digital advertising can we use to serve ads at the right time along the consumer journey? What channels do our ideal customers use when consuming content? Is it social media? YouTube? Video game apps?

3. Define your goals.

Digital marketing objectives can do more than make personalized advertising efforts measurable — though this is important. They can help you clarify your ideas, provide direction, and make better use of your resources. So it all comes down to one question: Do you want to improve click or completion rates? A person who clicks isn’t watching the ad until the end, while a person who watches the full ad won’t likely be able to click through.

If clicks are your priority, include a call to action early on. Consider a “click now” bubble at the bottom of the ad throughout the spot and go long — from 30 to 60 seconds — as the click-through rate is often better at an average of 0.15% or more. If you’re looking for higher completion rates, no CTA is needed, but you’ll still want a hook. Start off spots with something that pulls the viewer in. Just make sure to avoid loud music as it may result in the viewer clicking away. Also, keep it short and sweet, as 15-second ads see a 70% higher video completion rate.

4. Tie digital advertising to overall marketing strategy.

A digital ad will rarely seal the deal on its own. Omnichannel strategies are often necessary to keep brands top of mind — and to continue moving consumers down the sales funnel. After all, the more consumers interact with your brand, the more familiar they’ll become with your messaging. With time, they’ll recognize how your product or service can solve whatever needs solving.

Consider a retargeting tactic to support digital advertising. Dynamic segmentation, for example, evaluates 70+ attributes to customize retargeting bids based on real-time buying indications. Let’s say a consumer watches your ad to completion on CTV. Dynamic segmentation would later serve them a follow-up message on another channel to move them closer to a sale.

At the end of the day, today’s consumers want authentic, personalized experiences. Personalized advertising needs to be targeted and compelling to have a chance of breaking the skip ad cycle. Test new ad formats. Try new marketing channels. Once you make an impression, it can be everlasting.

To learn more about how to beat the “skip” problem, get in touch today.

Video Reward Ads: A Game Changer for Digital Marketing

When searching for a recipe or an answer to a random question on Google, consumers are accustomed to skimming over digital display ads. They have a mission: to find whatever information they’re seeking.

But there’s one audience that exhibits different behavior: gamers. This group continues to grow exponentially, both in volume and in the depth of their investment in their craft. In fact, mobile gaming app downloads increased 45% in 2020, compared with 35% in 2019. With that growth curve and the unique ad formats available for in-game advertisements, you can imagine why games are such an opportunity for advertisers.

What Are In-Game Interstitial Ads?

Interstitial ads are interactive, full-screen ads that cover the content of the host app. They might be static images, videos, or even gamified ads. Typically, interstitial ads appear at natural breaks in the game, meaning they feel much less disruptive and more organic.

Interstitial ads generally follow a “prompt, opt-in, reward” structure, so these video game advertisements work best in action, arcade-style, puzzle, and sports games that easily provide users benefits for watching an ad.

When the mobile game ad is displayed, a user can tap the content and be directed to a landing page or close the ad to continue the game. If the mobile game ad includes rich media, such as video, the user usually has to watch the ad for a specific length of time, typically five seconds, before they can close out of it.

This ad format doesn’t just benefit advertisers, but also users. Thanks to the nature of the medium, gamers are twice as likely to pay attention to in-game display ads than other internet display ads. That’s because more than 70% prefer to “pay” for in-game content (such as game points, currency, or other related benefits) by watching video “reward” ads rather than spending actual money.

As an example, in many games, gamers have a set number of lives. If they’ve reached a certain level and lose, users have to start from the beginning once they’re out of these lives. Video reward ads could prompt them to view or interact with the ad in exchange for additional life so that they no longer have to start the game from scratch.

This structure is a win-win for everyone; the advertiser gets the gamer’s attention, the gamer saves money, and the game producer still gets revenue by selling the interstitial ad space.

The Value of Video Reward Ads

Video reward ads offer many benefits. Here are a few of the most important:

  • User engagement. The bigger the ad, the bigger the impact. Interstitials are more memorable than other mobile game ads. They engage users better because they’re less disruptive and more “helpful.” In fact, 50% of userssay they would be less satisfied with their app experiences if reward ads were removed.
  • Audience diversity. The volume of this industry makes it ripe with opportunity. There are more than 5 billion gamersin the world, and they aren’t just young men. Forty-six percent of gamers are women, and 40% are between 25- and 44-years-old. That offers potential for advertisers in various industries seeking different demographics’ attention.
  • Brand safety. Finally,in-game mobile marketing is a highly brand-safe environment. The content is not user-generated (as with social media or YouTube, for example), so brands have more control over their image and messaging. The content is also usually lighter and lower-risk. That said, advertisers should still use only trusted partners that monitor and make brand safety measures a top priority.

Getting Started With In-Game Advertising

Keep the following best practices in mind as you determine how to best advertise in mobile games.

1. Define your audience upfront.

This industry has long outgrown the niche “gamer” stereotype, so knowing your target audience and how to reach it is more important than ever. The last thing you want to do is waste valuable impressions. Consider different targeting (or anti-targeting) metrics, such as age, gender, geo, device, language, and interest segments. Then, layer on contextual segments targeting gaming content. If you have specific gaming apps you wish to run on, create and target a site list for those apps specifically.

2. Be mindful of where you send the user.

The offer you showcase in your ad should directly tie to where the user lands upon post-click. We recommend creating a specific post-click landing page (rather than just sending users to your website). This is more respectful to the user, so you’re actually providing value and not coming across as salesy.

3. Keep your audience in mind when designing creative.

It might be tempting to use this space to show off your team’s graphic design skills, but it’s better to create a clear UX for gamers, including a clear exit button and captivating, memorable content. To capture gamers’ attention, your ad must first be useful and entertaining.

4. Implement advertising measurement tools.

The data available to advertisers is one of the key benefits of the gaming format. Many developers allow advertisers to integrate third-party measurement tools, such as Frameplay and Kochava, that use a new impression-to-conversion attribution model. Through this partnership, advertisers can track conversions based on in-game mobile marketing to see how effective their marketing dollars are in terms of video game advertisements.

5. Stay up-to-date with industry trends.

The gaming space moves quickly, so it’s key to keep yourself educated and updated from a compliance and privacy standpoint. The Media Rating Council is working with the Interactive Advertising Bureau and industry to update the 2009 In-Game Advertising Measurement Guidelines, as in-game advertising has evolved significantly over the past 13 years.

In-game mobile marketing offers a growing market of opportunity — not to mention invested audience — to advertisers willing to make the leap. Interstitial and “reward” ads, in particular, drive value for the customer, make brands memorable, and allow you to get your audience’s undivided attention and hopefully direct consumers to a specially-designed landing page.

To learn more about developing a strong mobile game advertising strategy, get in touch today.

2022: THE Year of Contextual Advertising

You may be tired of hearing it, but the countdown to the cookieless future is nearing closer. With the upcoming changes on the horizon, advertisers hunt for new or alternative solutions to the historically beloved third-party cookie. As companies work to create or improve their replacement solutions, like universal IDs, it’s important to keep in mind that advertisers can already use tangible and successful tactics to reach their target audience with the same, if not better, relevancy targeting that cookies provide. 

Contextual advertising is one of those solutions. 

Contextual advertising is not new or “up and coming”; rather, some industry experts have coined it “retro.” This solution was once a fan favorite. Take mobile, for example – prior to third party cookies being readily available, advertisers leaned on contextual placements. However, once those audience targeting solutions arrived in the mobile space, it was quickly overlooked and replaced by the powers of these targeting capabilities. 

But, in keeping with the fashion metaphor, it looks like everything does come back in style. Advertisers steering away from behavioral or audience targeting combined with the recognition of technological improvements made in the contextual space is poised for a significant comeback. In fact, according to Yahoo News, 86% of media owners expect contextual solutions to grow by 2023. 

What is contextual advertising?

Contextual targeting gives advertisers the ability to reach audiences by targeting ads based on the context of the content they are consuming. Keyword, topic targeting, and AI tools are used to scan the page’s content the visitor is on and place relevant ads that match the environment of the page. 

How does it work?

To set up a successful contextual targeting campaign, advertisers need to establish what the campaign is about to align their ad with relevant content successfully. This has historically been done via keyword and topic targeting. However, as mentioned previously, contextual advertising has made leaps in bounds in advancing the technology to improve the way in which pages are analyzed. 

Today’s contextual analysis artificial intelligence goes above and beyond topics and keywords to truly understand the entire content and tone of the page through semantic targeting. With this technology, all aspects of the page are taken into account, including:

  • The sentiment of the page
  • Potential brand safety concerns
  • The overall quality of the page 
  • Viral and trending content
  • Videos on the page
  • Images on the page
  • Ad fraud possibility 
  • Multilingual content

This improved technology analyzes every page’s content holistically to understand the meaning and ensure the best possible ad placement for a brand creating a curated experience for consumers and advertisers.

With this new technology, advertisers can still decide how strict they want to be with their ads. Ranging from only placing ads on specific pages to extending the reach of our content, advertisers can also opt for different styles of contextual buys, including:

  • Board Reach: Historically, this type of ad buy didn’t require your keyword to be used on the page but simply fell within your topic list. This is a more lenient method for contextual advertising, so there is some inherent risk.
  • Specific Reach: Historically, this would entail only placing ads on pages where your keyword list was used. Think of this as a strict but not restrictive option.
  • Site lists: You provide a list of sites that you would like your ad to run on when the context is applicable. 

Improved technology in action: An example

The image above perfectly showcases how contextual targeting has improved. When looking at the content from a keyword or topic viewpoint (the traditional method for contextual buys), the word “engaged” would fall within a ring company’s keyword buy, misplacing the ad on non-relevant content. However, with semantic targeting focused on the true content of the page, it’s clear that this is a prime opportunity for a financial or investment company to get their brand in front of interested consumers. 

Benefits of Contextual advertising

1.Not dependent on cookies, making it future proof

Unlike audience targeting, which depends on a cookie to track consumers’ behavior, contextual targeting doesn’t require any cookie or third-party data to implement or run. However, it still has the effectiveness and power to get relevant ads before consumers.  

2. User privacy is top of mind

Similar to what’s mentioned above, using contextual targeting does not require any data or consumer tracking. This makes it an excellent tool for advertisers as we move away from third-party cookies but also to stay compliant with privacy protection laws like CCPA and GDPR. 

3. Brand safe environment

Because advertisers are choosing the environment their brand is showcased, there is limited risk in the context their ad will appear alongside. 

Taking this a step further, when selecting a contextual advertising partner, inquire about the brand safety measures they automatically have in their technology. Be sure to ask questions about how they identify at-risk pages and how often is their block list updated. Good data partners, like DoubleVerify, Integral Ad Science, Moat and Peer39 (all partners of Digilant) use machine learning technology to continually improve how they identify patterns, expected trends, and keywords that are unsuitable need to be blocked.

4. Great user experience

Consumers have made it clear that they prefer ad experiences that align with their interests and personal experience. Contextual targeting perfectly solves these requests as your brand is showcased next to relevant content that they are already consuming. 

When cookware companies can target consumer browsing recipes, eyewear companies can target consumer reading book reviews, and furniture companies target people watching HGTV, the consumer feels as though the brand naturally fits into the setting of the content they’re consuming and therefore, it doesn’t distract. 

Contextual advertising not only improves your metrics because of its accuracy, but it improves the user experience as well. A win-win for all!

Digilant’s Advanced Contextual Solutions

According to OpenSlate, brands plan to spend about 20% of the media budget on contextual advertising in 2022. At Digilant, we understand the value of this solution for brands looking to move away from third-party cookies and simply make better connections with consumers. 

Our Advanced Contextual Solutions uses the industry’s best data providers, including Peer39, Oracle, Comscore, and MOAT, to ensure our clients receive the best and safest contextual targeting available. Solutions across display, mobile, social, search, alongside trending channels like digital audio and OTT/CTV, give advertisers a full suite of capabilities to target consumers contextually. 

Are you interested in learning more about implementing contextual advertising into your media mix? We’re eager to talk! Contact us here. 

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