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How the Rise of Mobile is Changing Advertising

mobile advertising

This is a guest post by Jessica Oaks

Are desktops dead? Not quite, but they’re certainly making their way into a hospice at a good clip thanks to the mega boost in tablet sales that defined the 2013 holiday season.

It wasn’t just the change in buying habits that was abrupt – consumption habits and devices were changing, too, and fast. Suddenly browsing, shopping, watching movies, checking email and playing games on a device roughly the size of a hardback novel was the norm because tablets were ultra affordable.

And there’s no stopping the trend. Analysts at Gartner, an American information technology research and advisory firm, have predicted that tablets and smartphones will outsell both ultramobiles and traditional laptop and desktops PCs worldwide by 2017.

But to come back to the present, 2014 is predicted to be the year of mobile. In the US, mobile sales are driving more than 20% of total online revenue and mobile traffic accounts for 25% of total traffic to retail sites. Mobile payment apps are poised to make plastic obsolete.

The ‘mobile first’ mentality of development is slowly but surely altering the way we interact with information even when we’re not using a mobile device. And the way we interact with brands is changing, which is driving transformations in how businesses and advertisers market to their online audience.

Here are some examples of ways advertising is changing or needs to change to adapt to an increasingly mobile world.

Advertising or Content?

Mobile banner ads are still around but if Facebook has shown us anything it’s that integrating marketing messages into the content stream is a wise strategy – so expect to see more targeted pitches appearing as part of feeds, Facebook or otherwise.

The Rise of the Short

Thanks to major player like Samsung, Google and Lenovo that produce a myriad of tablets and mobile devices, email marketing is thriving among companies who’ve actively changed how they deliver customer updates. That means not only formatting email newsletters for mobile, but also keeping the message short, punchy and did I mention short? Recipients reading on mobile want marketers to get to the point.

Moving Beyond Push Media

Switching between apps is so easy that if you’re not capturing your mobile demographic’s attention on the first try you’re sunk. Successful mobile advertising means delivering an engaging experience that is as entertaining as it is informative. Think videos, mini games and other super shareable assets.

Optimize or Die

Brands that were slow to optimize for mobile where their advertising was concerned need to get on board the bandwagon now because they’re likely already losing potential customers. The good news is that putting in the effort to give mobile users the best possible experience is worth it – people who use tablets are more easily engaged, according to a report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).

Try, Try Again

Right now consumers are in charge of what they see on tablets and smartphones, making effective advertising tricky. There’s no perfect formula for attracting eyeballs and no proven strategies for keeping them glued… yet.

Until then, marketers targeting mobile will need to do plenty of A/B testing to figure out what’s working and what’s not, then adjust as necessary. End user research is going to be incredibly important moving forward.

Way back in 2012, Tim Elkington, director of research and strategy at IAB, said: “…marketers are becoming more attuned to the ‘always on’ nature of consumers who expect to engage with content wherever they are. Consequently, advertisers are increasingly buying integrated campaigns across online and mobile rather than regarding mobile as an afterthought”. Now, digital marketing analysis firm eMarketer expects ad spending on the channel to nearly double in 2014 to almost £2.26 billion.

If that figure has left you feeling a bit breathless, it’s probably time to go take a good long look at your mobile ad strategy – before it’s too late.

Jessica Oaks is a freelance writer and associate editor at www.freshlytechy.com. You can follow her on Twitter or circle her on Google+.

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Posted by Paul Sutton


Paddy Power’s Shock Tactic Breaks an Unwritten Rule

I’m a huge fan of Paddy Power’s marketing strategy. Its must-follow Facebook and Twitter profiles are packed full of great examples of eye-catching, topical and irreverent humour that give it fantastic reach across social media, and it’s become well-known for attention-grabbing PR stunts.

In the world of Paddy Power, everyone’s fair game for a bit of gentle teasing and, sometimes, not-so-gentle scorn.

But the company’s latest ad has provoked outrage by offering ‘money back if [Oscar Pistorious] walks’ with a not-guilty verdict from his murder trial.

Oscar-744x1024It’s difficult to even know where to start with this one.

Are victims of tragic violence, like Pistorious’ former girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, fair game for unashamed publicity stunts? Is it out of order to use a pun like ‘if he walks’ when applied to a double amputee?

After the new ad appeared yesterday morning, promoted on Paddy Power’s blog and spuriously timed to coincide with the Oscars, it caused an immediate storm of contempt and anger on Twitter. The Advertising Standards Authority has reportedly received numerous complaints from both anti-domestic violence campaigners and from disabled people’s rights groups demanding the ad be withdrawn.

And while I’m not easily offended, even I drew breath when I saw this on Twitter. To the point where I thought it was probably a wind up. There’s a line irreverent brands should not cross, but Paddy Power’s flown a long way past it with this. As Mark Perkins said on Twitter of the stunt: “A PR low. Paddy Power is scraping a barrel no one else would touch.” Quite.

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Posted by Paul Sutton


If You’re Going to Feed the Troll, Ensure You Own the Troll!

internet trollsPizza chain Domino’s has been all over the blogs and the news sites in the last few days for the way it handled a particularly insistent Twitter troll. And much of the commentary has pronounced how playing the troll with a very straight bat was a great strategy.

I completely disagree. For me, this was both naïve and a missed opportunity.

Domino’s responses to what was obviously someone have a bit of fun fell in the chasm between two camps; not responding at all, and responding playfully with wit and intelligence. They made what is a fun, consumer-facing fast food brand appear starchy and corporate.

As you can see, @Dominos_UK responded to the troll no less than four times simply stating that he should contact the chain’s customer services. One question: why?!

Dominos Twitter Troll

‘Don’t feed the troll’ is a common and widely understood refrain, and looking at the way the guy in question continually baits brands and celebrities, the best course of action for most brands would simply be to ignore him.

But there are some brands who can legitimately engage in this sort of humorous stuff and get away with it. For me, if you are going to respond to trolls, then do it with personality, humour and style. Singer James Blunt is perhaps the (unexpected) master at doing this, actively searching out people slating him on Twitter and firing off quick-witted put downs in the manner of Jimmy Carr destroying hecklers on stage (see video below).

If you’re doing that, don’t starve the troll. OWN the troll.

The initial tweet in this instance was obviously a joke (I’m just guessing here, but I don’t think the guy REALLY burned his penis while screwing a pizza…). And so Domino’s could and, to my mind, should have taken the James Blunt approach. Having decided to feed the troll (Domino’s is, after all, in the fast food business), it could have struck up some great banter. It could have taken the Sainsbury’s tack, as highlighted in this great Storify from Gabrielle Laine-Peters.

But instead, it responded to something in customer service mode that was not even a genuine customer service issue. No humour, no personality. Pointless.

To be clear, hundreds of users chimed in on Twitter either to comment on how professional Domino’s had remained, or to abuse @ITK_AGENT_VIGO. So I guess you could say that, between that and the ensuing blog coverage, Domino’s came out with a fantastic PR result.

I’m a big fan of what Domino’s did with #DominosMeltdown just a couple of weeks ago, which I thought was a spot of genius. But if one of my social media team responded in this manner to this tweet, I’d have hauled them over the coals for it. Do it properly or don’t do it at all.

Taking on a troll effectively takes confidence, personality and bravado, and the vast majority of brands should steer well clear and ignore troll-like behaviour. But if you’ve got the right tone of voice and attitude, it can work superbly well.

What do you make of Domino’s response?

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Posted by Paul Sutton

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Facebook, Maslow & the Psychology of Social Media

Facebook, Maslow & the Psychology of Social Media

A couple of years ago, Boston University released the results of a study into the psychological aspects of why people use Facebook. It looked at how Facebook specifically, but in a wider sense social media in general, fits into the context of human needs.

The research concluded that, in line with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Facebook meets two human desires; those of belonging and self-presentation, both linked closely to self-esteem and self-worth. It hypothesised that there are differences in the way people use and share on Facebook according to cultural factors, and that there is an aspirational element to how we portray ourselves online.

Now, flip your mind from user to marketer if you’d be so kind.

What do you think, given what I’ve just described, should be the key characteristic of social communications professionals in 2014?

I’d like to suggest ‘empathy’. The capacity to understand why people follow your brand on Facebook or have tweeted you.

But when we talk about social media marketing we tend to talk in phrases like ‘reaching out’, ‘building relationships’ and ‘engaging in conversation’. Huh?! When was the last time, talking to friends on Facebook or Twitter you ‘reached out to build relationships by engaging them in conversation’?

At the end of the day, I’m ‘me’ and you’re ‘you’. If you believe Boston University, we all just want some recognition from that fact. People respond to people. And we respond to innate human characteristics like understanding, humour and compassion. We respond to others’ ability to put themselves in our shoes, to appreciate how we feel and to make us feel great about ourselves.

So, as social marketers, should we not drop the bullshit and just ‘be human’?

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Posted by Paul Sutton


If They Say Jump, Do You Say ‘How High’?

skateboarderThe PR industry has a problem. It’s in the business of building and maintaining beneficial relationships for clients, whether that be with journalists, bloggers or, increasingly, direct with the public. It’s a people business.

So you’d think we’d be on top of our game when it comes to client relationships, right? Wrong.

What the PR industry is very good at is saying ‘yes’. And as an industry, it costs us.

PR companies are great when it comes to account management. There are lots of very talented account managers and directors out there who understand how to relate to clients and work with them for mutually beneficial results. Far better, in my experience, than those in similar positions in other types of agency.

As a general rule, they’ll bend over backwards to help and advise clients, to ensure that clients are happy, and to facilitate a client/agency relationship that runs very, very smoothly. Which is brilliant if you’re client side.

But from an agency perspective, PR people are generally awful when it comes to saying ‘no’.

In their desire to please clients, it’s my opinion that far too often PR people fail to challenge client directions even if those directions are at odds with overall strategy or will be very hard to implement successfully. The result is the industry standard 20% over-service levels that significantly affect profitability, or PR people desperately scrabbling around to gain some kind of traction or result from a weak initiative.

We need to get much, much better at saying ‘no’.

We need to get much, much better at valuing ourselves and our opinions. We need to stop saying ‘yes’ to things that undermine the profession and our reputation. After all, who wants to be called a PR anymore?!

If we seriously want a seat at the strategy table, we need to earn it. And the only way we’ll earn it is to gain the respect of our clients. Respect not for how much we can do or how lovely we are to work with or how compliant we are. Respect for the experience, knowledge and value that we can bring to the table. Respect for our honesty.

Start saying no. Now.

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Posted by Paul Sutton


SEO, PR or Advertising Agency: Which is Best for Social Media?

confusedIf you’re a brand with a social media requirement and you’re looking to hire agency support, you have several options open to you. Pretty much every marketing agency now offers social communications as a service: you could go down the PR route, the advertising route or the SEO route.

But what’s the difference? What can you expect from each of these agency types? And how will the type of agency you select influence the type of social media programme you will implement?

Over the last couple of years I’ve had exposure to the approaches of all three. And they differ significantly not only in their goals and what they deliver, but also in terms of how they bill clients. Here’s what I’ve learned to expect.

SEO Agencies

SEO agencies’ mindset is ultimately to increase a client’s position in Google with the aim of delivering increases in website traffic. They know that Google is trying its best to produce natural search results and bypass the effects of SEO completely, and that with the likes of Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird, it’s making significant inroads into this. So they are naturally turning to more creative digital executions delivered via social networks to create the natural backlinks and social share signals that Google is placing ever increasing emphasis on.

However, in my experience SEO agencies may struggle with the concept of any social media activity that doesn’t positively affect search engine rankings. They view social communications as one or a series of discrete initiatives in owned media, each of which requires a separate approach, a separate creative execution and a separate budget. They tend to bill clients with a small monthly fee topped up by separate projects. So while creative ideas are often good as each project needs to be ‘sold in’ to the client, the executions may be costly or not always quite live up to what is pitched. Blogger relations, for example, can be somewhat clumsy.

Good for: short-term social media campaigns that impact search
Bad for: ongoing results and strategic brand building
Most likely to measure: click-through and backlinks

PR Agencies

PR agencies focus on managing reputations. PR people are experts at creating and maintaining beneficial long-term relationships, so when it comes to social media they are naturally drawn to building online communities and serving those communities with content that engages them on an ongoing basis. They want to see their communities, whether bloggers or on Facebook or Twitter or elsewhere, commenting, liking and sharing their content, and their focus is normally on earned media.

PR agencies take a long-term view of social media, and produce lots of content intended to start conversations. They bill using flat monthly fees based upon an agreed number of hours’ work and you normally sign up for a minimum of six months. The long-term view has benefits in that messages and content are usually devised to reinforce brand positioning over time and repeated exposure, but content may lack the ‘wow’ creativity of SEO agencies or the executional quality of advertising agencies.

Good for: building beneficial, personal online communities that gain repeated exposure to key brand messages over time
Bad for: instant wins and one off creative projects
Most likely to measure: engagement metrics

Disclosure: I work for BOTTLE, a PR and social communications agency

Advertising Agencies

Advertising agencies’ background lies in mass media that sells products and services. Accordingly, they tend to view social media as a one-to-many medium through which to broadcast key brand messages. As such, they are naturally drawn to paid media and are used to coming up with the ‘big idea’, and billing against creative commissions and media spend.

This approach can result in highly creative and extremely well-executed campaigns that may grab big short-term attention. However, it may lack the benefit of ongoing relationship building, with bloggers or social networks viewed as transient and a means to an end rather than as opportunities to create lasting, strategic dialogues.

Good for: the big idea and one-off, high impact campaigns
Bad for: long-term brand building, engagement and community advocacy
Most likely to measure: reach, impressions and fan/follower growth

These summaries should not be viewed as a rule for all agencies, but generally speaking each agency type has its own benefits and drawbacks. It’s important to be aware of the variations in implementation and billing structure when considering your options, and matching the agencies you talk to with your specific objectives.

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Posted by Paul Sutton


3 Steps That Will Completely Transform the Way You Use Facebook

d3e68cf1e59a3122b075260a010d612adc1dade0904b9bbef42f5cf80eacab8dOver the Christmas holiday I had something of a social media-related epiphany. With space and time to observe Facebook from a distance, it hit me just how overrun my newsfeed had become with irrelevant nonsense, and how many of the people and Pages I really wanted to hear from simply weren’t showing up at all.

For every intelligent, interesting or useful conversation or genuinely funny status update, there were 50 bits of inane rubbish from friends of friends and people I hardly knew. I started to question what the point is of investing time into a platform where you have little personal control over what appears in your own newsfeed.

A week ago I was so disillusioned that I was seriously, seriously considering ditching Facebook in favour of Google+. The one thing that stopped me switching was that there are some people I’m in touch with through Facebook and nowhere else.

And then I had a thought: what if there was a way of bypassing Facebook’s increasingly annoying algorithm and the newsfeed entirely?

The great news is that, as it turns out, there is. After a bit of lateral thinking I came up with something that’s extremely counter-intuitive as it involves removing pretty much everyone and everything from your newsfeed in order to actually see more of them. And it also takes time and thought to set up initially.

But within a matter of just hours of trying what I did think at the time was a last ditch attempt at making Facebook useful again, I was seeing the value I’d been missing. Facebook is now completely revitalised for me and a new place to spend time. I haven’t looked back since.

With a bit of effort you CAN beat Facebook at its own game. Here’s how…



What we’re going to do here is to strip out your newsfeed so that it ONLY shows you the people and things you highly value. You’ll still be able to see everyone and everything else, but you’ll access it via a click on the menu rather than in your newsfeed.

The first step is to sit down with a pen and paper and spend some time carving up ALL of the people and Pages you follow into lists. (Note: you can do this just with people if you wish.) Keep your lists fairly generic and limit their number to as few as makes sense (I’d suggest no more than half a dozen). This is important due to the way you’re going to use Facebook in future; you don’t want to have to be accessing many lists.

How you organise your other lists is up to you, but there are two that you MUST make.

The first is your ‘Value List’: the people you really, truly value for their insight or humour; the people whose status updates you look forward to; the people you’d really miss if you left Facebook. It’s important to be candid: no-one’s going to see this, so if your best friend posts too much nonsense and doesn’t make the cut, then don’t include them. Remember, you will still be able to see everyone’s updates, just not in the main newsfeed. Add to this list the Pages you follow that you definitely want to see a lot from.

If you’re honest, this list will probably be pretty short. And that’s a good thing as you’re trying to extract value from your Facebook connections. Mine, for example, contains only 17 of my 200 Facebook friends.

The second is your ‘Meh List’: people whose status updates you’re not bothered about seeing but don’t want to unfriend. Maybe they post too much. Maybe they post dross. Maybe they’re not that interesting. Maybe you’re just not that close (think ‘old school friends’). You’ll probably find that, if you’re truthful, this list is fairly long.

After trial and error, I opted for five lists in total:

  1. My Value List
  2. People I see often in real life (hence not necessarily needing to see their status updates)
  3. People I know professionally who I want to maintain friendly relationships with
  4. Pages not on my Value List that I’d like to see sometimes
  5. My Meh List



You’re now going to transfer your paper plan into Facebook.

First, create and name the lists you’ve identified. Note that you do NOT need to create and name your Value and Meh Lists. This is because you’ll still view your Value List in the newsfeed and you won’t see the Meh List at all unless you actually visit those people’s profiles.

The quickest way to do this is to choose someone from each of those lists, visit their profile and click on ‘Add to another list’ in the Friends dropdown. You can then click on ‘+New List’.

new list

Having done this, complete your created lists in Facebook. Visit each person on those lists and on their profile do two things. First, add them to the appropriate list within the Friends dropdown as above, and second, Unfollow them by unclicking the ‘Following’ button. This second action is very important as it cleans up your newsfeed to just the people and Pages you really value (identified in your Value List).


Next, visit each of the people in your Value List and add them as ‘Close Friends’, a pre-determined list in the dropdowns. Unless you want a Facebook notification every time they post something, make sure you unclick Get Notifications. DO NOT Unfollow them.


Now visit each of the people in your Meh List and simply Unfollow them. And finally, visit any Pages that aren’t in your Value List and Unfollow them too (you can add them to an Interest List of your choosing so that you can easily find them again).



You’ve now done all the hard work. The final step is to edit your Facebook ‘Favourites’ menu on the left hand side of your newsfeed.

Under the Friends section of the menu, click on the edit button of each of your created lists in turn and ‘Add to favourites’. Do the same under the Interests section if you created a list of Pages.

Once you’ve done this, click on the edit button on one of your lists under the Favourites menu and on ‘Rearrange’. Then just drag lists into the order you want (I recommend putting your lists directly under the newsfeed as they’re easy to find, especially on a mobile).


That’s it. You’ll probably want to tweak people over the next few days as you may have missed some or want to move them, and you need to remember to add new people and Pages to lists as you go, but essentially, you’re done.



When you use Facebook now, all that will appear in your newsfeed is updates from the people and Pages you have identified as truly valuable. So the newsfeed is still your first port of call. If you’ve been strict, you’ll be amazed how much more you see of these people and Pages as they’re no longer competing with all of the other stuff that was clogging your newsfeed.

What you’ll also do now though when you use Facebook is visit the lists you created to check in on others. And here’s the kicker: EVERYTHING from those people will appear in your lists as Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm doesn’t filter these. You can adjust the level of detail you see using the ‘Manage list/Choose update types’ function, which you can’t do in the newsfeed. But you’ll probably find, as I have, that after a week or so you visit these lists less as, if you’ve done your filtering well, all the valuable stuff should be in your newsfeed.

Using this method, you’re by and large side-stepping Edgerank and taking back control of your own profile from Facebook. You’re telling it what you want to see, rather than letting it show you what it guesses you want to see.

It’s early days for me using this method, and it will undoubtedly necessitate honing as I go, but I can honestly say that mass Unfollowing and using Lists instead has saved Facebook for me. It’s like an entirely new platform that I have complete control over, and I’d thoroughly recommend investing a couple of hours of your life to make this work for you.

Let me know what you think below. Will you be trying this? Any questions on the process? 

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Posted by Paul Sutton


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