5 Tips for Connecting With Audiences via Affiliate Marketing

It’s almost impossible to scroll through Instagram without seeing some form of “Use my code for 10% off!” message. Influencer marketing is on the rise, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. While affiliate and influencer marketing used to be separate entities, the lines between the two continue to blur. Influencers are using their growing followings, earning commissions, and taking over the job once held by affiliate marketing channels.

Just a few years ago, affiliate marketers could earn commissions through external websites, writing articles or blogs to drive traffic and conversions to a business page (think Buzzfeed’s “Top 10 Amazon Items You Need for Your Home” listicles). Influencers had a different payment structure: lump-sum or per rates for posting about a brand or service. Now, both arenas have grown in popularity, and many brands view the two fields as one.

The Growth of Affiliate Marketing Technology

As affiliate marketing channels have taken off, analytic partners have done the same. Affiliate networks, similar to influencer networks, give brands the option to choose whether they want to work with individual influencers or through networks that streamline performance tracking and payment options.

Affiliate marketing technology has become more sophisticated in recent years. Today’s brands can track and understand specific customer actions, coupons, influencer success, and attribution across multiple channels. This is key for brands wondering how to measure digital advertising effectiveness.

The new blended landscape provides a great opportunity for marketers — especially those with sales and educational goals — to implement affiliate campaigns. What brands can especially reap the rewards for these types of campaigns? Verticals that do particularly well include consumer packaged goods (CPG), credit cards, insurance, direct-to-consumer subscription services, and travel. All of these lend themselves nicely to pay-per-click and social advertising, as well as other contextual advertising.

For example, we recently helped a pet CBD brand, use affiliate marketing technology to increase sales by more than $300,000. The program was designed to actively engage with direct websites that work on a performance marketing basis, using tailored banners, offers, and ads.

And while influencer and affiliate channels are a growing and lucrative channel for many brands, there are a few exceptions in which this method of advertising may not be the best fit. Industries that aren’t as well-suited for affiliate campaigns include those that are B2B-targeted or have tight geotargeting because most influencers target consumers directly and have followers around the country.

How to Manage an Affiliate Marketing Campaign

If you’re ready to launch an affiliate campaign for your brand, start with these five steps.

1. Be choosy with channels.

Different affiliate marketing channels are right for different brands and different objectives. Do market research to understand which channels your consumers are spending time on — and then which of those affiliate marketing channels will most likely drive them to perform the desired action.

For example, perhaps your consumers are spending significant time browsing online. While running an SEO affiliate campaign might seem to make sense, customers may actually be using search for only top-of-funnel browsing. In that case, you’d likely be better off promoting an affiliate code on social media, if that’s where your customers are more likely to make a purchase decision.

2. Prioritize personalization.

Consider using single-use promo codes. They strengthen customer relationships with your brand and are also more easily tracked and attributed. Consumers trust influencers because of the personalization their recommendations provide, so a personalized influencer code is much more trustworthy to customers than a general one. Plus, personalized codes make it easier for you to track your digital advertising performance metrics.

3. Leverage landing pages.

Once an influencer or website draws a customer to your website, it’s your job to seal the deal. Your number one priority should be keeping them on the page by providing them with the information they were looking for. If it’s hard to find that information or to navigate your site, they’ll leave. Incorporating relevant content and keywords will also help your Google search rankings.

4. Shore up your tracking.

In preparation for the coming cookieless environment, your brand needs to figure out how to track your affiliate campaigns sooner rather than later. If you’re running on an e-commerce site, check their recommendations to integrate into the software. If you’re using an ad platform, they should offer you tracking tools within their services. If you’re OK running your campaigns manually, you can also offer affiliates their own unique UTM codes, which will give you the ability to pull results from Google Analytics.

5. Keep timing top of mind.

Research when consumers’ habits draw them to your affiliate and influencer platforms, and time your affiliate campaigns accordingly. Be sure to also keep seasonality in mind, as consumers respond well to season-related promotions. Product launches are also a great time to use influencer marketing, as they offer you a chance to demo your product and also lend it brand equity.

When it comes to promoting your brand offerings — and measuring success — affiliate marketing has a lot to offer. To learn more about how to make each a part of your business, get in touch today!

Preparing for the Cookieless Future – Future-Proof Tactic 4: OTT and Digital Audio Ads

Consumer privacy became top of mind with the introduction of the Global Data Protection Regulation in 2018 and the California Consumer Privacy Act in 2020. Both brought greater attention to consumer privacy and personal data collection practices — so much so that the likes of Safari and Firefox began enforcing more stringent tracking prevention. All of this has continued to move the industry toward a cookieless future, which will reach its apex when Google removes third-party cookies, which is set for late 2023.

Consumers were quick to voice their concerns, demanding more control over their personal data and greater transparency around the information collected, used, and shared by businesses. Soon after, consumers were seeing cookie disclaimers on nearly all websites. Admittedly, these have been disclaimers only, not changing cookie practices, but it was a step toward transparency.

Interested in learning more about preparing for the depreciation of third-party cookies? Download our guide “How to Prepare for the Cookieless Future” here.

Now, however, real change is on its way — a change that goes beyond a disclaimer on company websites. Google and Apple have promised to eliminate third-party cookies, leaving advertisers to find viable third-party cookie alternatives if they want to keep offering high-quality personalized experiences. Many are finding real promise in cookie-free solutions like connected TV (CTV) and over-the-top (OTT) advertising, as well as digital audio and podcast ads.

CTV and OTT Advertising

CTV and OTT advertising is a great third-party cookie alternative, as it enables you to place pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll advertisements on streaming media platforms like Hulu, Roku, and Peacock and devices like smart TVs, smartphones, laptops, etc. While some of these ads are skippable or limited with premium subscriptions, they’re highly targeted and engaging. You’re getting your message in front of the most relevant consumers, and with countless streaming services now available, you can target niche audiences.

Streaming has seen a huge spike in popularity. As of the beginning of last year, 34% of people were using ad-supported streaming services, and that share of the population continues to grow. These platforms make it possible for advertisers to identify how inventory is performing by services, devices, networks, content categories, and demographics and then get their ads in front of the right audience based on this information — something that never would have been possible with traditional TV.

CTV/OTT and digital audio platforms offer unparalleled targeting and audience segmentation information, including device/platform, purchase affinity, broadcast type, weather, content category, app store, and more. And reporting on these platforms only continues to improve. In our partnership with Peer39, we can now offer channel, show, and content categories alongside the typical CTV/OTT metrics we use, such as impressions and completion rates.

Digital Audio Advertising

Digital audio is another third-party cooking alternative that places pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll ads on audio platforms. Think podcasts, music streaming services, and so on. Much like CTV and OTT advertising, digital audio offers precision in targeting. Choose a topic, interest, or podcast host that aligns with your brand, product, or service, and you’ll likely find a podcast with a devoted fanbase on which to place your ad. And because the medium is growing: At the end of last year, the number of paid audio subscribers in the U.S. alone surpassed 121 million — it’s a lucrative place to reach engaged and diverse consumers.

Where to Go From Here

Venturing early into either of these spaces offers a competitive edge. With the risk being relatively low, they give you an opportunity to experiment and test different CTV/OTT and audio mediums to find best practices that deliver returns. This puts you in a position to not only make the most out of your media spend but keep ahead of the competition.

Time being of the essence, you need to start exploring what your marketing will look like in a cookieless world. Strategies might change, new technologies will come on the scene, and partnerships will evolve. Regardless, let the following tactics serve as your foundation going forward:

1. Stay informed.

With so much change, it’s important to stay curious and test out new CTV/OTT channels and solutions. Experimenting can help you learn and make more informed decisions about where to direct your marketing efforts. More importantly, it helps you remain open to new ideas. You never know where the next opportunity will be found.

2. Align ads with contextual targeting.

CTV/OTT and digital audio advertising offer incredible contextual targeting ability. Because consumers are already engaging with the platform, you have an opportunity to captivate them with relevant ads that align with the environment they’re in and the content they’re engaging with. Not only does contextual targeting allow you to reach users in a hyper-relevant way, but it also offers your brand security. You choose the environment your ad is played in, limiting the risk that it’s placed in an environment that doesn’t align with your values or story.

3. Unify your tech stack.

While you can still work with different vendors and technologies, the time has come to centralize your marketing tech stack and take a unified approach. Doing so ensures that all that marketing data, CRM data, and other customer information can come together to provide a clearer picture of your target audience — and then work with your technology to move people along the path to purchase.

Take CTV, for example. When working within the same unified tech stack, you can run retargeted display ads to audiences who viewed your ad while watching their favorite TV shows, thus homing in on your message and moving these customers down the funnel more quickly. Connecting as many digital touchpoints as possible creates a more seamless and customized customer journey, which is what moves the needle with today’s buyers.

4. Don’t waste media spend.

Determining how to measure omnichannel performancehasn’t always been easy, but CTV/OTT and digital audio advertising make it possible — and in real time. You don’t have to wait to see omnichannel ROI or where to invest more, because these platforms offer real-time categorization, enabling advertisers to scale quickly and effectively.

The cookieless future is upon us, but it doesn’t have to be bad news. Preparation will be key, but you have great options to maintain your marketing and targeting abilities. Consider all of your options, learn what each of them offers, and determine which ones make the most sense for you and your customers.

To learn more, download our whitepaper, “How to Prepare for the Cookieless Future,” here. And learn more about future-proof cookieless solutions in our next blog post covering upcoming changes to measurement solutions.

Why Mobile Consumers Need a Fresh Set of Advertising Strategies

Mobile use has been on the rise for some time, and our pandemic lifestyles have pushed the trend into overdrive. Stuck in their homes, people developed even more ways to interact with the world via their phones — and the habit hasn’t slowed since.

Now that we’re living in a constantly evolving and growing mobile world, our need for strategic direction in mobile advertising has grown, too. If we want to engage mobile consumers, we need to understand how they are currently using their phones to live, work, communicate, and relax.

What Should You Note About Today’s Mobile Consumers?

The first thing we should note is that mobile video viewership is on the rise. More of us are using our phones to watch video content, whether it’s a live stream of a sports event or a spontaneous clip of a grandchild saying something funny. In fact, the average American adult is spending 30 minutes every day watching videos on their mobile device.

Online shopping via mobile has also grown, and App Annie predicts that mobile shopping will increase by 40% by 2025. The more consumers get used to shopping via mobile, the greater their expectations for the experience they have on apps. Personalization is key. According to research by Adweek, a personalized ad can increase spend efficiency by up to 30%.

People are increasingly using their mobiles to play games and create their own content, too. Opportunities to monetize these trends are growing as well, making user-generated content a golden ticket for advertisers looking to create influence with a trustworthy and authentic voice.

On top of these people-driven trends, mobile technology itself is creating more possibilities. 5G will offer richer experiences on mobile, supported by more data and delivered at higher speeds.

How Can You Convert Consumers With Mobile Advertising Strategies?

Considering the new and improved ways people are using mobile to navigate their lives, the advantages of mobile advertising have never been greater. When considering how to do mobile advertising in this climate, advertisers have to stop translating what worked for desktop advertising and instead use mobile-specific analytics to zero in on the best conversion tactics. Start with the following:

1.Understand your consumer.

Today’s consumers are unique. It’s important to understand where they spend time, who they are, and how they behave online if you’re going to have any chance of swaying their attention. Where is your audience engaging with brands, for example? Are social media users browsing the news or shopping for blouses? Understanding their mobile habits will ensure you’re able to build a targeted strategy with captivating mobile-first creative.

2. Ensure your ads are mobile-responsive.

This will sound like an obvious point, but mobile advertising can’t simply follow a desktop advertising template. Mobile ads need their own respective time and attention. How will the consumer zoom in and out of an ad on mobile? How will they interact with the CTA? What kind of font will look best on a mobile screen? The typical user bounces back and forth between apps while on their phone, so keeping your message short, clear, and to the point is essential.

3. Use video and voice search.

Video has become the bread and butter of mobile advertising. The popularity of video will determine what kind of content succeeds on mobile and how advertisers can monetize that content. Consumer spend on livestream content alone reached $3.7 billion in 2021. And voice search is another must-do for mobile advertising, with 71% of consumers preferring to use voice technology than typing.

4. Make everything omnichannel.

While we’re touting the mobile lives of today’s consumers, it’s always worth remembering how omnichannel their lives are, too. Today’s consumers are omnichannel browsers and, in turn, omnichannel shoppers. This is especially true at the actual point of purchase. There’s still a large group of shoppers that prefer making the actual purchase on their desktop. A cross-device retargeting campaign or an automated campaign to double down on cart abandoners will ensure your brand doesn’t lose out.

Mobile advertising is powerful, giving you the ability to connect with consumers wherever they go. Not only that, but mobile advertising attribution enables you to regularly iterate and optimize to ensure the greatest success. Gone are the days when you can just swap your desktop strategies for mobile versions; mobile requires its own unique approach. If you can dedicate some time to crafting it, engagement and conversion will follow.

To learn more, get in touch with the Digilant team today!

Preparing for the Cookieless Future – Future-Proof Tactic 3: The Resurgence of Contextual Targeting

Reaching consumers once third-party cookies officially phase out could be challenging for advertisers. Though Google has repeatedly delayed this looming reality, cookies that have long been used to track consumers’ online behavior will no longer be useful to ad tech.

This has forced marketers everywhere to find viable third-party cookie alternatives — and some have found that in contextual targeting.

Interested in learning more about preparing for the depreciation of third-party cookies? Download our guide “How to Prepare for the Cookieless Future” here.

What Is Contextual Targeting?

Contextual targeting is just as it sounds. Rather than targeting consumers based on behavioral data, contextual targeting uses the content on a webpage to provide context for ad placement. It’s more about the environment, theme, tone, and voice of a page or website, not what any given consumer has been doing online prior to arrival. The advertised product or service is directly related to the content on that page.

If, for example, your company is selling paint products, placing an ad on a home improvement blog about that particular topic would make sound contextual targeting sense. The same could be said for athletic apparel brands running ads on any number of fitness websites, workout blogs, yoga videos, and so on.

By using the likely intent of a page visitor to inform ads and ad placement, advertisers increase the chances of influencing consumer behavior. Ads are just as relevant (if not more) as they are topical. In fact, a Wishpond study found that contextual retargeting ads garner 10 times the click-through rate as traditional display ads.

How Does Contextual Targeting Work?

Simply put, AI and advertising come together to analyze the context of content beyond just the keywords on a page to find the ideal placement for an ad. Contextual targeting tools scan text, images, videos, and audio to derive true meaning — and filter out potential inappropriate sites to maintain brand safety and integrity.

Then, we’re able to layer in our own first-party data to build “media lookalikes.” Think of them as your customer personas, helping to ensure that you’re reaching the target audience. And much like other marketing campaigns, we test and optimize different messaging to improve its relevance to the ideal customer and content on the page.

How Do You Implement Contextual Targeting?

The success of a contextual advertising campaign hangs on your choice in ad tech. You need to leverage contextual targeting tools that can understand the sentiment, text, imagery, video, and audio found on a website. Otherwise, you risk placing ads on pages frequented by consumers with no intention of ever purchasing your products or using your services.

At Digilant, our contextual targeting solutions employ artificial intelligence and machine learning to capture the meaning of page content in relation to all aspects of the consumer journey. Contextual segments based on an audience’s content consumption habits allow for more precise targeting — without the use of third-party cookies.

Social monitoring technology also lends a hand, capturing discussions across 50,000 digital channels to gauge sentiment, inform messaging, and add further context for where to best place ads. You can then tap into our curated marketplace, which provides access to premium websites for ad placement at competitive pricing due to our direct publisher relationships.

Though keywords don’t drive the final decision for ad placement, we do also utilize Google’s API keyword data to add another layer of precision. We always want to make sure the ad runs alongside keyword-relevant content, as these keywords direct people to specific pages on a website.

The appeal of contextual targeting lies in its relevance. You’re still able to deliver relevant ads to target consumers, just based on the content on a page as opposed to the past behavior of the consumer. The net you cast may be a bit smaller than before, but the quality of what you catch can make the cookieless future less of a problem and more of an opportunity.

Get in touch with Digilant today to learn more about our contextual targeting solutions and how they could benefit your business.

To learn more, download our whitepaper “How to Prepare for the Cookieless Future” today, and don’t miss our blog post covering the cookie-proof advantages of using channels like CTV/OTT and digital audio. Learn more here. 

Preparing for the Cookieless Future – Future-Proof Tactic 2: Navigate Walled Gardens

The cookieless future is on its way, and brands are being forced to rethink how they gather data to build their advertising strategies.

To find advertising success in the future, advertisers will have to find new ways to gather consumer data, reimagine their targeting techniques, and rely on marketing solutions that don’t rely on third-party cookies. The good news is that, once they do, the opportunities for reaching their target audiences will be endless and are poised to offer even better customer experiences than before.

But this shift won’t be easy. The fact that we’ve seen multiple delays to the end of third-party cookies hasn’t helped the matter, either. If the potential of yet another reprieve is possible, it’s easy to put alternatives on the back burner. It has caused a false sense of security that maintaining the status quo is OK for now and that moving away from cookies doesn’t need to be a priority. But eventually, the time will come, and third-party targeting capabilities will be a thing of the past.

Interested in learning more about preparing for the depreciation of third-party cookies? Download our guide “How to Prepare for the Cookieless Future” here.

Preparing for the challenges that we’re up against now will only put brands in a position to succeed moving forward, giving them a leg up against the competition. One of the biggest areas of opportunity is positioning your brand strategically within walled gardens.

Overcoming Walled Gardens

A walled garden is a closed platform or ecosystem where all operations are controlled by the platform operator. This operator doesn’t openly share information or technology with third parties — not currently, at least — creating a “wall” around its network and data. Where do these most often exist? Major publishers like Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon.

These publishers hold a lot of power in the advertising industry. In fact, they get almost 70% of ad revenue. That said, walled gardens put advertisers in a tricky position. Because these sites are rich with consumer activity, they lend themselves to great targeting and advertising benefits. However, with this convenience, there also comes a lack of control. In these environments, advertisers give up their own data and enter into a system that you hardly get any back from in return. They have to rely on campaign performance based on a database they don’t have full insight into.

That’s not to say advertisers shouldn’t take advantage of them. Consumers spend countless hours within these systems. Pile on the advantage of not being tied down to third-party cookies, and walled gardens create a great opportunity. It’s just important to keep in the back of your mind that with this convenience comes a lack of control, so it’s important not to put all your eggs in one basket.

The advantages of walled gardens are many, but access to consumer insights tops the list. Should owners keep these insights to themselves, the competitive advantage would be astronomical. But money can be made selling data, and consolidating digital spend on these major platforms could help advertisers gain access to their consumer insights — that is, if they take the right steps. This starts with:

1. Making good use of behavioral data

Walled gardens are “walled” for a reason: to protect information. Once you gain access, you can gather insights on everything from what links consumers click to actions they complete. You can even learn how long consumers “dwell” on a given page. If these platform operators are willing to share this rich behavioral data, advertisers can better understand the habits and whims of their target customers.

2. Leveraging cross-device attribution and tracking capabilities

One of the biggest benefits of working within walled gardens is that they require a form of sign-on or log-on from the consumer. This makes it easier for brands to track and engage consumers across devices. For example, consumers use the same login information for their Facebook account on their iPhone as their desktop or the same Amazon account across their tablet, mobile, and in-home smart speaker.

In a world in which today’s consumers use multiple platforms, this is a major benefit for tracking attributable action cross-device. Basically, advertisers can attribute a specific conversion to engagements across devices by looking at the relevant omnichannel analytics. This cross-device attribution not only enhances tracking capabilities but gives you a more in-depth view of the twists and turns on the path to purchase. Though no two people are alike, the insights are still incredibly valuable and granular, as they allow you to see your advertising ROI by medium.

3. Reviewing the platform’s security measures

Walled gardens are only as secure as the operators allow. When deciding to invest within a walled-garden publisher, ensure that security is a priority. Working with an agnostic partner like Digilant enables advertisers to get an unbiased analysis of the privacy, security, and other features of operators and their walled gardens.

4. Recognizing that walled gardens aren’t created equal

No two walled gardens are alike. They have different audience sizes, different functionalities, and different user experiences. In turn, they capture insights about different audiences, employ different machine learning algorithms, and offer different benefits and conversion metrics. They also have different sets and quantities of data. As mentioned already, advertisers will lose a certain degree of control when deciding to work within a walled garden, so ensure that you do proper research to understand whether a given operator is right for your brand.

Advertisers everywhere are navigating how to best work with walled garden publishers as they look for alternatives to third-party cookies. Get in touch with the Digilant team today to learn more about navigating the cookieless future and reshaping your advertising strategies to do it well.

To learn more, download our whitepaper, “How to Prepare for the Cookieless Future,” here. And learn more about future-proof cookieless solutions in our next blog post covering the resurgence of contextual targeting.  


Preparing for the Cookieless Future – Future-Proof Tactic 1: Prioritize First-Party Data

Given Apple’s changes to Identifier for Advertisers and Google’s announcement that it plans to remove third-party cookies in the near future, marketers now face cookie deprecation and a virtually third-party cookieless future. The announcements have thrown many for a loop, as cookies have long been the go-to method for harvesting data in digital advertising, tracking user activity and engagement, and informing future advertising strategies.

Clearly, the cookie crisis demands clear data solutions. If marketers want to continue to use sophisticated strategies for targeting customers, they’ll have to actively embrace third-party cookie alternatives and new advertising tools, primarily by better using and growing first-party data. Only by doing this can marketers effectively use customer data in digital advertising.

Interested in learning more about preparing for the depreciation of third-party cookies? Download our guide “How to Prepare for the Cookieless Future” here. 

Below are our best practices for improving your first-party data practices and gathering info across multiple platforms without cookies:

1. Reprioritize first-party cookies.

Third-party cookies may be going away, but you can still leverage first-party cookies (anonymous code dropped directly by the website customers visit, rather than by a separate vendor or domain). First-party data collection is consent-driven and inherently more transparent than other methods, so leveraging it gives you a leg up against other advertising competition. Customers these days can smell inauthentic, irrelevant advertising from a mile away, so providing a transparent yet relevant and helpful experience will foster invaluable brand equity and rapport.

2. Be transparent about your data practices.

Tell your customers exactly how and where you’ll be using their data — and let them choose how much they share with you. Be sure to also clearly demonstrate the value they get from sharing their data in different ways, such as by outlining the benefits of joining loyalty programs to receive exclusive offers. First-party data is only as good as the actionable insights it provides. Because customers must trust your brand before they’ll share their information, focus on building that trust through transparency.

3. Keep a single view of the customer with tech tools

Customers use different devices and channels, meaning every person has multiple cookies attached to themselves (generally, you can expect one cookie per user per browser per device). By establishing advertising tools and technologies to merge these profiles into a single customer view, you’ll better understand which ads and interactions are most effective in spurring action. The best advertising tools and measurement solutions that marketers can invest in for first-party data are centralized and organized.

In keeping a single view of the customer, you’re better able to measure the effectiveness of campaigns and data-driven strategies. Simply building your first-party data will only result in more leads. As this data becomes more important, you’ll need to understand whether these leads are valuable and moving down the funnel. Measurement solutions, specifically, will ensure that you are targeting consumers with the right messaging that speaks to their needs and wants rather than simply having a large pool of contacts.

4. Prioritize relevancy

Consumers continue to demand relevant and personal experiences. First-party data delivers the most accurate consumer intelligence, allowing you as an advertiser to serve up the timeliest content. Based on the data you have about consumers, use strategic touchpoints to create unique experiences customized to their specific interests, preferences, locations, and purchases. For example, if a customer leaves three dresses in their shopping cart at your online boutique, you might send them a targeted advertisement about dresses, a coupon code to prompt them to complete their purchase, or a reminder not to let the deal pass them by.

5. Make a mindset shift to first-party data

As with adapting to most changes in life, adjusting to a cookieless future requires a “mind over matter” mentality. While marketers have long leaned on third-party cookies for their primary data sources, these cookies aren’t the end-all, be-all of metrics tracking. By staying curious and open-minded to new methodologies, including third-party cookie alternatives, you may just find even more innovative and personalized tracking techniques because of the change.

The notion of having to find third-party cookie alternatives in a cookieless future is daunting to many advertisers — but it’s all about your mindset. If you view this shift as an opportunity to think creatively and innovate new ways of harnessing customer data to develop future campaigns, you will have a major advantage over other marketers. Plus, the better you figure out how to use first-party data versus third-party cookies, the more personalized your messaging will be to customers, which is exactly what they’re demanding.

To learn more, download our whitepaper “How to Prepare for the Cookieless Future“ today.

And don’t miss our next blog post covering the benefits and growth of walled gardens in the wake of third-party cookie changes. Check out the full post here

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