Emojis are not for every brand. Here's why.

Emojis are taking over e-mail subject lines everywhere. 

A study by Appboy finds that the volume of “active customer messaging campaigns that include emojis” grew by 609 percent in just one year (June 2015-June 2016).

And why not? Most people like emojis, according to the same research. Sixty-four percent said they like or even love emojis. But that doesn’t translate into liking/loving the brands that apply emojis liberally.

Of the 540 participants in the Appboy survey, 39 percent said brands that use emojis are fun; another 13 percent said the brands are relatable. The balance, however, found messages with emojis to be at best “normal” and at worst “childish” or “inappropriate.”

This tracks with research published in Social Psychological and Personality Science that considered how consumers react to a smiling face versus a smiley face.  What they found should give you pause before punctuating your next email campaign with an emoji.

Researchers discovered that people who smile are perceived as more competent than those who wear a neutral face—whether live and in person, or in a photo. But people who use smiley emojis are seen as less competent. 

This is especially true for work-related e-mails.

"The study also found when the participants were asked to respond to e-mails on formal matters, their answers were more detailed and they included more content-related information when the e-mail did not include a smiley,” said lead author Ella Glikson. "We found that the perceptions of low competence if a smiley is included in turn undermined information sharing" (Telegraph.co.uk, Aug. 14, 2017).

So, when is it okay for a brand to use an emoji?

Emojis aren’t made to be taken seriously. The Appboy study said as much (39 percent of respondents said brands that use them are “fun”). So, if you’re a light-hearted brand, say in the food and beverage business, travel and tourism or entertainment industry, an emoji may be just the right amount of cowbell for your campaign.

Some channels are more emoji worthy, according to the Appboy research. Survey participants were most open to receiving brand messages with emojis via text message (37 percent) or social media (28 percent) rather than through messaging apps, email or push notifications. Consider this sweet text from Baskin-Robbins. Now that’s fun.

Skinny websites, snackable content and more from Digital Summit Detroit.

Digital Summit Detroit 2017 delivered. In less than two days, the conference covered all means of email, content, website and mobile trends. Lots for marketers to consider and capitalize upon. A few highlights we just had to share. 

Skinny websites are in season. 

Mobile usage trends prompted responsive design, with websites being crafted to render properly across all screen sizes. It has greatly improved the mobile user experience. Instead of requiring mobile users to scroll across inches of a site from a palm-sized screen, responsive sites scale purposefully, with tools like hamburger menus to facilitate the mobile experience.  

Still, mobile users want more, according to Erik Runyon, Technical Director at the University of Notre Dame. Runyon presented a breakout session called “Improving Web Performance in a Mobile World.”

In short, they want sites to load faster. Streaming delays are stressing them out—literally.

To illustrate his point, Runyon shared a neuroscience study by Ericsson Consumer Lab that measured user reactions to network performance. The study showed that delays in loading web pages and videos lead to increased heart rates and stress levels. On average, heart rates increase 38 percent with mobile delays. Oh, and the related stress? The subjects exhibited stress levels akin to watching a horror flick or solving a math problem.

And who gets the blame? The longer the delay, the more likely it is that some of the blame will be transferred from mobile service provider to content provider. In fact, a significant delay may even drive a user to a competitor content provider.

Performance matters. Take that to your design teams, Runyon suggests. Lead and live with performance. His advice:

  1. Performance has to be part of the culture.
  2. Performance should be part of concept and design.
  3. Give your team time to focus on performance.
  4. Implement a performance budget (think ongoing maintenance and upkeep).
  5. Get competitive.

Runyon pointed to thin.npr.org and cnn.lite as examples of brands adhering to these guidelines. Both use Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) to cut load time and enable mobiles users to get what they need without the wait.

Why your emails aren’t engaging or converting.

Email was a big focus of the conference, and rightly so. Every brand is doing it but only one in five emails is reaching the inbox, according to Casey Swanton of Return Path. Swanton packed a lot into her 30-minute session “Email Reimagined.”

Just like search engines want users to get the best result, mailbox writers want users to get the best mail, Swanton said. That means screening for credibility, interest and security. In-box placement is determined by sending ID (IP address, sending domain, authentication, etc.), and reputation (complaints, list quality, infrastructure, length of sending history, subscriber engagement, etc.).

“Mailbox writers care about the user experience within their space,” Swanton said. So they look for things like whether the message has been read, forwarded or replied to, marked as SPAM or deleted before reading.  Gmail is leading the industry toward better performance, Swanton said.  So, if you’re having problems with Gmail deliveries, it’s probably because that audience isn’t opening your mail.

“Relative engagement is key,” Swanton said. “Subscribers that are highly engaged with the sender are going to see that sender in their inbox at a much higher rate.  Less than 50 percent of messages are placed in email if the recipient isn’t engaged.”

She suggests these three tips to improve your Gmail results:

  1. Focus on sending to the most active subscribers first to establish a pattern of engagement to boost performance.
  2. Suppress known dead addresses. Pushing email to known inactive addresses will only hurt your engagement rate, and therefore your credibility and ultimate inbox deliverability.
  3. Don’t measure success on the size of your list. Between 50-80 percent of email is based on the quality of your list.

Work content harder.

Great content is a great brand asset. It attracts, engages and provokes action. So, work it hard, says Ursula Ringham of SAP, Inc., in a session called “Capture Your Buyer’s Attention with Innovative Content on a Community Platform.”

A video is more than a video, Ingham illustrated. It can be recast in blog, social and podcast formats. It can be worked internally to elevate employees to brand evangelists. Together, this content can be the beginning of a beautiful community platform.

Snackable assets are the new content.

Nearly every presenter talked about snackable assets. As in, “You do know what snackable assets are, right?” asked a marketer presenting on the topic of email hacks.  “Snackable assets can be used to fuel the consumer journey,” said a presenter on the subject of content marketing. “These snackable assets can also convert,” promised another expert on lead nurturing.

So if you’re tired of using the term content, use snackable asset. It’s applicable to everything from infographics to video, charts to listicles. Maybe even whitepapers, in so long as they’re not terribly filling. Think bite-sized for peckish consumers.

Weekly Recap - September 8, 2017

Got data? Here’s how LinkedIn has become THE place for business-to-business digital marketing. Gens X, Y and Z all agree on this. Check out these stats from Influenster to see how women of all ages feel about branded content. Don’t mess with Texas. Matthew McConaughey uses the classic tagline to bring attention to hurricane relief. Price cuts aren’t always enough. Here’s how brands are attempting to build loyalty and compete with Amazon.

DETAILS, Please

Here’s how LinkedIn changed to become a hot social network. It’s not just somewhere to put your digital resume. Over the last two years, LinkedIn has evolved to become an essential marketing tool for reaching an executive audience.

How and where women prefer interacting with branded content. No surprise here - women of all ages tend to dislike branded content that is political. They prefer authenticity and entertainment.

The Ad Council and Matthew McConaughey join Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. The storm may be over, but the clean-up has only just begun. Here’s how the ad industry made a formal effort to aid hurricane victims.

Amazon cuts Whole Foods prices by as much as 43 percent. On its first day owning the grocery chain, Amazon marked down many items and suggested there’s more to come. To survive, other brands need to create human connection and build loyalty.

Meanwhile, back at the RANCH

Why longer sales cycles make for happier consumers.  Impulsive buyers may seem like a marketer’s dream. Theirs is more of a buyer’s jaunt than a journey. But as tempting as carpe diem consumers may be, they come with a lot more buyer’s remorse, according to CEB Iconoculture research.

THE Topic of conversation

Authenticity - Authenticity. Discover which brands are getting real and how to market authenticity across genders, generations and ethnic groups. Download our free whitepaper “3 Rules to Creating an Authentic Brand.”

SHARING is CARING

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Why longer sales cycles make for happier consumers.

Why longer sales cycles make for happier consumers.

Impulsive buyers may seem like a marketer’s dream. They see. They want. They buy.

Forget research. Skip the comparison shopping. No need to entice them with remarketing content. Theirs is more of a buyer’s jaunt than a journey.  

But as tempting as carpe diem consumers may be, they come with a lot more buyer’s remorse, according to CEB Iconoculture research. The market trends company studied discrete consumer groups from its IconoCommunities that represent instant and delayed gratification mindsets. 

Impulsive consumers report more guilt, anxiety and fear of missing out (FOMO) when making everyday decisions than those who delay gratification. And whatever immediate pleasure they may enjoy with purchase can be overshadowed by mounting debts, late bills and concerns about making it paycheck to paycheck.

Meanwhile, consumers who delay gratification take great pride in their patience. Instead of immediacy, they revel in anticipation and control. The reward, they say, is often something bigger, better and more desirable in the end, according to CEB Iconoculture research.

“I saved money every month, and two months ago I officially bought my dream car in cash,” said IconCommunities participant Bryan, a Latino Millennial male from Colorado. “I own it outright, no bank owns me, and I paid way less than I would have with interest.”

Hudson, an African American Boomer male from urban Pennsylvania, put it this way: “I feel like a king with my choices.”

Changes in lifestage prompt changes in consumer behavior.

Impulse buyers are more likely to be single, less wealthy and younger than careful consumers. As they age and assume greater responsibilities, their spending habits tend to mature.  Major milestones like marriage, parenthood, home ownership and retirement can curb impetuous consumerism, according to CEB Iconoculture research.  

Gale, a Caucasian Gen Xer, said it all in a letter to his younger self: “Then you got married and had kids and that all changed. You were forced to change” (IconoCommunities, March 2017).

So it’s not surprising that the delayed gratification cohort shares differentiated values with older consumers.  These include thrift, wisdom, reliability and practicality.

How to tap into consumer mindsets, both impulsive and patient.

Consumer behavior is dynamic, driven by lifestage, context, emotions and other factors. So brands need to think long-term to build satisfaction and referral. Buyer’s remorse has a long tail, especially today with social media. Make sure the stories consumers share about you are good ones. Consider the following three tips from CEB Iconoculture to better manage consumer impulses.

  1. Give Seize the Moment consumers greater control and perks. Young, impulsive shoppers are wracked with anxiety and distrust. Help them grow into more considerate shoppers with products and services that satiate their impulses and teach them to be more responsible as they grow. For example, a bank may give young savers a higher interest on deposits to encourage positive personal finance behavior.

    Discover it Student Chrome card offers college kids perks like cash back for good grades. The card gives students instant gratification by making rewards instantly redeemable at Amazon.com.

  2. Feed them along their long journey. Delay the Delight consumers spend a lot of time buried in research, comparison shopping and poking around for reviews and insights. Enrich their experience with content—blogs, infographics, videos, testimonials, reviews—and trial offers to nurture them throughout their journey.  This will help build confidence and improve the likelihood that you’ll be ever in their consideration set.
  3. Appeal to both spontaneous and calculated consumers.  Sometimes even the most rigorous planner has to make a quick call, like booking a hotel on the fly. Klimpton Hotels & Restaurants helps ease some of the sting out of paying a last minute rate by offering immediate benefits and conveniences like free WiFi and a bar credit.

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Weekly Recap - September 1, 2017

Faith in humanity restored. Here’s what brands are doing to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Sick of seeing fake news on social media? Facebook is, too. Are you guilty of email overload? Check out these stats from Adobe to see what consumers think of email promotions. Thumbnails are more important than you think. Follow this advice to help your videos get the attention they deserve.

DETAILS, Please

Here’s how brands are helping the Texas communities affected by Hurricane Harvey. Hurricane Harvey hit Texas last weekend, leaving thousands without food and shelter. Airbnb, AT&T, Chobani and many others stepped up to show support in different ways.

Facebook blocks pages that spread fake news from advertising. After the 2016 election, Facebook faced criticism for its part in allowing misinformation to spread. Now, pages that repeatedly share false stories will be banned from buying ads.                   

Consumers want emails from brands to be more informative and less promotional. Is your brand sending too many emails? 50% of consumers find excessive email offers annoying.

Video influencers share their best tips for creating viral content. This couple used their channel as an experiment to see what works with and against YouTube’s algorithms. Here’s their advice on video lengths, promoting content and choosing thumbnails.

Meanwhile, back at the RANCH

Why the worst disasters can bring out the best in brands. When tragedy strikes, many brands are quick to respond. And it’s paying off big time.

5 doc training tips on patient-centered care. In the world of healthcare marketing, doctors are a central part of the market mix. But while your Patient Experience Department is all abuzz about patient-centered care and improved patient experience, are your doctors on board with that?

THE Topic of conversation

Communicating with Visuals - Visual communication. Did you know that 93 percent of communication is visual? Amplify your marketing and discover how your brand can communicate visually. Download our latest free guide, "Communicating with Visuals."

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Lyft + Taco Bell: A boozy love story.

Lyft + Taco Bell: A boozy love story.

What do Lyft and Taco Bell have in common? Late-night customers.

The ride-hailing company and fast food chain put passenger and diner together after months of informal research.  Introducing “Taco Mode,” an in -app option for Lyft passengers.

"We realized that for every person who has asked their Lyft driver to make a pit stop at Taco Bell — and we've seen many—there are likely those who weren't sure if this was possible," Taco Bell CMO Marisa Thalberg said in a statement. Late-night eaters are a key audience for the chain.

When Lyft passengers select Taco Mode a pit stop to Taco Bell is added on the way home. Taco Mode also features a custom in-car menu, free Doritos Locos tacos, and a taco-themed car.

While tipsy consumers may celebrate, Lyft drivers are less enthused. Typically, Lyft drivers are paid by the mile not by the watch. That means they aren’t getting paid when lingering in the drive-thru lane.

"That Lyft might go ahead and do this—encourage riders to do something most drivers dislike doing—without offering drivers an incentive or otherwise communicating to us what the plan is pretty bold," one Lyft driver told Business Insider." This is Uber type behavior, and I don't think even Uber does stuff like this anymore.”

Still, Taco Mode is on track to expand services across the U.S. in 2018—but it will be completely optional for drivers (GrubStreet.com, 26 July 2017).

If you like food trends, check out “The Foodie Generation: Millennials force the food industry to face the facts.”

8 signs your website is past its prime.

8 signs your website needs help.

Time is not kind to websites.

In the course of a year or even months, a high performing site can be dealt brutal blows that negatively impact results. Your organization may shift focus, launch new products and services, invest in new markets. Search engines alter algorithms, revamping rules in pursuit of the ultimate results. Designers craft new designs, inspiring the next evolution of content management systems. Browsers update.

Is your website getting a little soft in the middle? Is it time to revamp or simply refresh? Take a hard look at your site for telltale signs of aging.

  1. Does it fail to perform across browsers? Remember, websites are just a set of instructions describing how a site should look and function. It's up to the browser to interpret it. To be standards-compliant, browsers often make changes to software used to read websites. If your site is stuck in an old version of a browser, it will render improperly when users visit from new versions of the browser. In other words, it won't look and function the way it should. So your visitors will get a less than ideal experience. Check your site across multiple browsers here: http://browsershots.org
     
  2. Are you juggling assorted domains or microsites? If you're Unilever with a house of brands that ranges from Hellman's mayonnaise to Axe body spray, you've got a case for independent sites. It's hard to upsell a guy looking to smell nice with a macaroni salad recipe. But if your brands do share the same audiences, then your multiple sites are probably competing against each other at the risk of valuable SEO.
     
  3. Is your website slow? If your answer to everything has been installing a new plug-in, your site may be loading slowly. Users are impatient. They'll bounce to the next search engine result page rather than wait for yours to load.
     
  4. Is it stuck in the skeuomorphic period? This design technique makes digital images look lifelike to illustrate a clear purpose. (Think of the calculator function designed to look like a handheld calculator.) Once a functional design intended to ease consumers from old to new, now it just looks plain old. Today, flat design rules. Microsoft was one of the first big tech companies to apply the minimalist design, facilitating usability.
     
  5. How old is your CMS? The CMS is the backbone of your website. It should support your business objectives and be easy to use. An outdated CMS may make your website look outdated and your brand by association. Older CMS's can also be clunky and difficult to use, preventing marketing from leveraging the website effectively.
     
  6. Is your website responsive? If your site isn't coded to adapt to all screens—mobile, tablet and desktop—not only does it look old, it's missing opportunities. Consumers of all ages expect to traverse seamlessly from device to device. If your site isn't responsive, you risk disappointing them and losing them along the way.
     
  7. Does your HTTP have an "S"? The "s" is for secure, indicating the site is protected with an SSL Certificate. Once reserved to secure credit card transactions, SSL Certificates are quickly becoming the norm for all sites. Because SEO. Google considers SSL Certification among its ranking factors.
     
  8. Is your site broken in places? Maybe it's that snazzy dropdown that leads consumers deeper into your product line. Or maybe a page refuses to load. The problems could be related to software, browser, hardware, user or some combination thereof.  When your site is fractured in multiple places, it may be time to rebuild rather than triage.

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Weekly Recap - August 18, 2017

The FOMO is real. Your vacation photos on Instagram could be influencing others’ booking decisions. It’s not easy to stand out in someone’s inbox. Use these tips to grab your consumers’ attention. Black is the new black. Black packaging is no longer reserved solely for luxury items. Do you consider your pet to be part of your family? Millennials want customization, convenience, and quality for their fur-babies.

DETAILS, Please

These are the images travelers share most on social media. Olapic’s data highlights what factors motivate travelers to create content on behalf of a brand.

29 e-mail subject lines that increase open and response rates. Not sure what to put in your e-mail subject line? The best subject lines are creative, interest-provoking, and informative.    

Why more packaging should be black, and why it’s so easy to get it wrong. If used carefully, black packaging can help products stand out from the competition.

44 percent of Millennials see their pets as starter children, and that’s a big opportunity for brands. Marketers believe the perception of pets has changed with this generation, and they can capitalize on that animals-as-kids perspective.

Meanwhile, back at the RANCH

Marketing vasectomies with bros and beer. Vasectomy is more effective, cheaper and safer than female sterilization. That’s why it’s the preferred choice for birth control in many countries like Canada and the U.K. But not the U.S. But marketing may change that.

Sex may be memorable but does it sell? Consumers remember sexy ads, but they’re fuzzy on the details—like product and brand. What does this mean for brands?

THE Topic of conversation

Millennials. Discover who Millennials are, why it’s important to market to them, and how you can increase brand loyalty and engagement. Download our free whitepaper “8 Rules of Marketing to Millennials.”

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Marketing vasectomies with bros and beer.

Marketing vasectomies with bros and beer

Vasectomy is more effective, cheaper and safer than female sterilization. That’s why it’s the preferred choice for birth control in many countries like Canada and the U.K. But not the U.S.

In fact, female sterilization is twice as popular as vasectomies for couples in the U.S., according to a United Nations report published at brookings.edu. To put it another way, if the U.S. vasectomy rates were the same as Canada’s, there would be about four million more couples opting for vasectomy over female sterilization.

Culture likely plays a big role in the disparity. Fertility and masculinity have a long and complicated relationship. Healthcare coverage is also involved. And then there’s the matter of responsibility.

But things are starting to change, thanks to marketing.

Physicians are repackaging the procedure as a guy’s adventure—a brosectomy—complete with leather sofas, big screen TVs, Wi-Fi and top-shelf liquor. At Obsidian Men’s Health near Washington, D.C., urologists promise “… the best vasectomy experience available. Your time, dignity and privacy are paramount to us, and our Vasectomy Center offers impeccable medical care coupled with amenities usually found only at first-class resorts.”

For a premium, some clinics will even pamper patients before the snip. This rebranding has given the entire operation a sort of "spa day" feel. Some are even banding together in group outings or timing their procedures together. An Indiana clinic broadcasted radio advertisements suggesting planning vasectomies to coincide with March Madness, so that they can convalesce together over basketball and adult snacks.

“Friends who snip together "[take] fewer pain pills, [feel] better faster and [return] to work earlier than the average, go-it-alone-out-on-the-plank, tube-tied patient," said Dr. Paul Turek in a Wall Street Journal article (It’s a Vasectomy Party! Snips, Chips and Dips with Your Closest Friends,” July 23, 2017).

Interested in healthcare marketing trends? Sign up for the Brogan Healthcare Checkup.

Sex may be memorable but does it sell?

Sex may be memorable but does it sell?

Consumers remember sexy ads, but they’re fuzzy on the details—like product and brand.

This according to a study published at ScienceDaily.com. Researchers considered 78 peer-reviewed advertising studies published over three decades, measuring consumer recall among men and women.

"We found that people remember ads with sexual appeals more than those without, but that effect doesn't extend to the brands or products that are featured in the ads," said University of Illinois advertising professor John Wirtz, the lead author of the research. “… Certainly the evidence indicates that the carryover effect to liking the ads doesn't influence whether they're going to make a purchase.”

Ads in the study featured models partially or fully nude, touching suggestively or seemingly anticipating a sexual encounter. Other ads used sexual innuendoes or embeds, which are partially hidden words or pictures that communicate a sexual message.

Not surprisingly, the study found that men and women react differently to sexy ads. Men, on average, like ads with sexual appeals. Women, not so much. For the latter, promiscuity in advertising was met with outright negativity.

The fear of alienating an entire gender may be prompting some brands to reconsider their advertising strategy. Remember when Carl’s Jr. hired Paris Hilton to bite down into a messy burger after handwashing a car in a bathing suit? The fast food chain followed up the 2005 campaign with similar model burger capades for more than a decade. Carl’s is now leading with product, cheekily dismissing the sexy burger bit as the story of an heir gone wild. 

Of course there’s a place for sex in advertising. 

Advertising is about meeting consumer needs and wants. (Consumer: I’m hungry and I don’t have a lot of time. I’ll grab a burger on the road.)

Stray outside your wheelhouse and you may generate some buzz. (Paris Hilton is eating a burger is sexy. I need to share this. …) But if it fails to meet that sweet spot where your brand and product should meet, your clever advertising will unlikely produce sales. (Oh, look! McDonald’s. …)

Sex is most appropriately used when your brand is naturally linked to desire and allure of the romantic variety. If your brand can honestly stake a claim in that arena, then apply sex judiciously. Think jewelry, fragrance, apparel, luxury. But show some restraint. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind.

Don’t use sex for sex’s sake.

In addition to Carl’s Jr., other notable brand offenders include GoDaddy, Hardee’s and Mr. Clean. (A man of few words, but many muscles?  What does that have to do with my messy house?)

Don’t be afraid to use humor.

Humans are hard-wired to react to sex. The limbic system of the brain is in charge of fight, flight, feeding, fear, freezing-up and fornication (“Your Lizard Brain,” Psychology Today, April 22, 2014). Sex gets attention. It can break through, which is why it’s often used in advertising. But it can be off-putting when a brand shows a lot of skin just to get attention. (Skin! Skin! Skin!) There needs to be a point or at least a payoff.

That’s why the Terry Crews and Isaiah Mustafa Old Spice commercials were so effective. They were overtly sexual and hilariously self-deprecating. They take liberties with the connection between scent and attraction to comical heights. It works because the strategy is grounded in consumer wants and brand truth.

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Weekly Recap - August 11, 2017

Self-promotion is tough, but these artists are using Patreon to make it easier. You’ve heard of ad block, but it may soon find a permanent spot on the internet. Gulp, said marketers everywhere. That’s a story for later. Google is planting its own stories on the internet. Is it working? Apple has officially joined Instagram, and its “shot on an iPhone” campaign definitely is.

DETAILS, Please

Inside Patreon, the economic engine of internet culture. It’s the latest turn in the never-ending cycle of ways people have funded “free” art, from federal grants to corporate sponsorships to, most recently, impression-based advertising.

Google stars testing Chrome’s built-in ad blocker. Google is planning to introduce a built-in ad blocker for its Chrome browser next year.

Short stories are popping up in Google ads all over the internet. Each year, Matchbook asks for short story submissions and then circulates them online through Google’s Ad words program.

The flagship Apple brand has finally joined Instagram. Apple extends the “Shot on iPhone” campaign to the social media giant.

Meanwhile, back at the RANCH

6 healthcare social media insights, with tips. That’s why it’s important to keep a pulse on what’s happening now, and what’s expected to happen next.

Ad Block isn’t as scary as you think. Truth is, it’s manageable and even beneficial for marketers and consumers alike.

THE Topic of conversation

Instagram - Instagram. Learn how your business can use Instagram to build brand awareness and increase engagement. Download our free whitepaper "Why your business should be marketing on Instagram."

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Ad Block isn't as scary as you think.

Ad-Block isn't as scary as you think.

Marketers make ads. Ad blocking software blocks ads. There’s a reasonable assumption that we wouldn’t like each other.

Thankfully, there’s hope. While ad blocking is becoming more popular, the facts of the software are often overshadowed by the fear that we’re all doomed. Truth is, it’s manageable and even beneficial for marketers and consumers alike.

It’s not universally popular.

In October 2016, eMarketer posted an article saying that most Millennials have used ad blocking. But in February 2017, the site dialed its estimate back to less than half of Millennials and a quarter of all U.S. internet users. Now eMarketer says 41.1 percent of Millennials are ad blockers. The number drops to 26.9 percent for Gen X, and to 13.9 percent for Boomers. And that’s just via desktop/laptop.

Ad blocking has yet to breach the mobile space. According to eMarketer, less than eight percent of phones use it. This is great news for marketers since Americans spend more time online on their phones vs. a laptop.

Globally speaking, Americans have been slow to adopt ad blocking. According to PageFair, the U.S. ranks ninth out of 21 countries for ad blockers. It remains to be seen whether this is due to indifference or awareness.

Your ads still make break through.

Quite a few popular ad-blocking software brands, AdBlocker Plus and Fair Ad included, only focus on blocking “disruptive ads.” Many sites, as we know, depend on selling ad space for their revenue. Taking that away would be bad for the business. So Adblocker Plus came up with a set of standards that determine if an ad stays or not.

The majority of “disruptive ads” upstage the content. So, as counterintuitive as it may be for your team, try to blend in. More native advertising, less flash.

Your ads still make break through.

Figure 1 Sample of Acceptable Ads from Adblocker Plus

What’s a “disruptive” ad?

  • Blocks content
  • Loads new ads if the primary content does not change
  • Excessive or non-user-initiated hover effects
  • Animated ads
  • Autoplay-sound or video ads
  • Expanding ads
  • Oversized image ads
  • Interstitial page ads
  • Overlay an in-video ads
  • Pre-roll video ads
  • Rich media ads (e.g. Flash ads, Shockwave ads, etc.)

What’s an “acceptable” ad?

  • On the side, top or bottom of content
  • Recognizable as an ad
  • A reasonable size (no bigger than 200-400 px)
  • Without excessive colors
  • Without inappropriate imagery

So that flashy, spinning ad that dances across the screen might not be the best for consumers. But aren’t flashy, spinning ads what consumers want to engage with? Yes and no.

It can be disabled for certain sites.

As a company, you want to create rich content to up engagement. Gen X, Millennials and Gen We all view ads with humor, music, or an interesting story as positive, according to Marketing Land. Yet according to Adblocker Plus, those ads aren’t “acceptable.”

Thankfully, some people turn off ad blocking for certain sites. Out of those who don’t block ads, 20 percent had tried the software on for size in the past. Why’d they stop? A number of sites ask users to turn off ad block in order to access their site. Others are prohibited from seeing content unless ad block is disabled, and a surprising number of users do. Besides wanting to skip ads, a number of internet users fear those ads might be spam or malware. Reassuring them that your site is safe would be a big help for them.

Find the workaround.

Marketers can work around ad blocking software. By following the standards or using mobile ads, we still have the power to reach young and old audiences alike. Follow the rules and focus on substance over sparkle. Build a better user experience.

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Client Hurrahs

  • Brogan & Partners has worked on a wide variety of health issues for us over the years. They have not only consistently provided innovative ideas and award winning campaigns, but they continue to help us work towards our overall goal of improving the health of Michigan residents.  Their creativity, expertise, and enthusiasm makes them an invaluable partner in our... More

  • Hiring Brogan & Partners to help Michigan Women’s Foundation create the brand and messaging around the campaign to raise millions of dollars to solve the backlog of untested rape kits in Detroit was a slam dunk!  With a well-deserved reputation for getting to the heart of complex and highly-charged issues with clear, action-driven communications, the Brogan team... More

  • A well-oiled machine operates at full performance, fluid and unyielding. At Frankenmuth Insurance we have often referred to Brogan & Partners as a well-oiled machine. Our experience with Brogan has been very strong and successful from the start. We view our partners at Brogan as an extension of our own staff. They are readily available to us at any time and deliver... More

  • When launching a startup, resources are very constrained and a startup has to pick its partners very carefully and with deliberation. There were many services that we have had to forego in the early stages of our company, Memloom. One crucial need, however, was identifying and aligning with a strong marketing partner who could help us with our brand, positioning and... More

  • We have been working with the Brogan team for the past 18 months. The Brogan team has truly been our marketing partner. They guided us through development our brand and messaging. They lead our our website redesign and deployment. And they provide excellent counsel on business development and market entry strategies. More

  • From the very first meeting we had with Brogan & Partners, it was clear that they had done their research on PREZIO Health, our competitors and the industry.  It has been  a very positive experience working with the Brogan & Partners team to re-design all of our service and product sheets as well as the total re-design of our website.  Their creativity is top-... More

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