CMO audit series, Part 3: Media channels (it’s not what you think)

In part 3 of a series, columnist Scott Rayden takes a look at how ad tech has changed the game for our industry and outlines three core areas that will impact your ability to drive long-term growth from media channels.

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Driving long-term growth through media channels has changed dramatically, and we are seeing a huge shift in media’s role in propelling growth. As someone who has been in this industry for over a decade now, I’ve come to realize that the only constant in our industry is change. Change has been great for agencies who can keep up and clients who can stay ahead of their competition.

There is a big difference, though, in small iterative changes in our industry and giant shifts that completely change the game for companies looking to push growth through media channels. I believe we are going through one of the greatest shifts in performance media of our time.

In this post, we won’t be looking at what channels you’re advertising on and where you should consider optimization or expansion. Instead, we’ll audit your channel philosophy and explain the key to getting ahead.

Let’s start by looking at where media channels have been.

[Read the full article on MarTech Today.]

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Scott Rayden is the Chief Revenue Officer for 3Q Digital, a Harte Hanks company, and is responsible for leading marketing, sales, and the overall revenue growth of 3Q Digital nationwide. Scott spent the past 7.5 years as the Founder and President of iSearch Media, a leading digital marketing agency focused on consumer behavior, search marketing, analytics, and data visualization. iSearch Media was acquired by 3Q Digital in 2014. Scott brings 14 years of experience in digital marketing, management, M&A, and business development to 3Q Digital. Prior to founding iSearch Media in 2006, Scott worked at Quinstreet and LeadClick Media (acquired by First Advantage for $150MM), two of the largest digital marketing agencies in the country

Sharethrough’s latest SSP update aims to dramatically simplify ad ops for publishers

New Unified Auction features give publishers a view of all demand sources and make optimizations possible within the interface.

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Sharethrough, the native advertising SSP, has launched Unified Auction features in its Sharethrough for Publishers platform. The features are designed to reduce workflow friction in reporting and optimization by making mediation, adding multichannel demand sources and rolling up reporting across all demand sources a breeze.

With the Unified Auction update, publishers can see all of their header bidders and direct sources in one place and facilitate a simultaneous auction. The Sharethrough header wrapper supports traditional display and video demand, in addition to native. “You’ll only have one header wrapper, and publishers will want one that’s multichannel, and other wrappers don’t support native,” said Alex White, Sharethrough VP of product marketing, by phone.

While Sharethrough believes growth will come from native executions, “there is still a robust business in display, and that’s where the liquidity still exists in programmatic,” said White. “We’re not restricting to native formats if your monetization strategy still requires display and video.”

With one tag on their sites, publishers can set up the wrapper to accommodate all demand sources. The interface is designed to make adding, removing or changing the order of demand sources in the mediation waterfall simple, without having to tap developer resources.

[Read the full article on MarTech Today.]

About The Author

As Third Door Media’s paid media reporter, Ginny Marvin writes about paid online marketing topics including paid search, paid social, display and retargeting for Search Engine Land and Marketing Land. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions. She provides search marketing and demand generation advice for ecommerce companies and can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

Why notifications deliver great CX

Notifications are crucial for building trust and driving user engagement. Contributor Brent Sleeper explains why apps and services should be thinking about how customers experience notifications from the start.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

How many notifications did you receive on your phone today? More than you realize (or maybe even count), I bet.

Looking at my own lock screen, I see a handful of likes from social networks like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. There are some breaking headlines from The New York Times and The Washington Post. Two colleagues pinged me in Slack. There’s a calendar appointment and a weather forecast. Headspace is inviting me to meditate. A notice that the flowers I sent to my wife were delivered. And an email from her as well.

And I haven’t even yet unlocked my phone.

In another context, all of this might be annoying and verging on spam. After all, attention is an acutely scarce resource. But on the contrary, I not only welcomed these alerts but also interacted with most of them.

Why? Well, part of it is choice. I personally chose which apps have the privilege of alerting me, and I know I can tailor the alerts whenever I wish. At a basic level, that control is thanks to how my phone’s systemwide notifications framework is implemented.

But my engagement with the alerts themselves fundamentally is driven by the apps that push them. I’ve muted more than one app because its notifications were irrelevant, overly promotional or showed poor insight into how I wanted to use the service.

And there’s the rub: When done right, notifications improve the user experience and drive engagement and growth for apps and services. But when done poorly, they can turn off users and even lead them to abandon the app altogether.

So, as product managers, growth marketers and customer experience champions, how do we find the right balance with notifications? That’s a question that might deserve an entire series of discussions about design patterns and business goals. But perhaps the best place to begin is simply by considering how, when and why notifications work to support a great experience and increase user engagement.

The four flavors of notifications (and when to use them)

Mobile notifications have grown to be a core part of the user experience for today’s apps and cloud services. They’re highly functional, actively valued by users and absolutely essential to driving app engagement.

When we talk about “notifications,” I’m referring to four basic mechanisms. They each have strengths and weaknesses — or rather, each is best suited to different use cases — but they all play important and complementary roles for communicating with users.

In-app notifications: Sticky activity

In-app notifications are part of an app’s or service’s own UI. Facebook’s notifications menu is a prototypical example. For many users, it’s become one of the primary ways of interacting with the site. That power is why the social network considers it to be a core feature of its UX and has implemented the notifications menu across all its platforms. Its highly effective red notification counter has become a standard part of how similar menus work on other services as well.

In-app notifications are especially well-suited to presenting highly granular and frequent information, because the alerts are only seen while a user is actively engaged with the app. They also have the most flexibility, because they’re entirely within the control of the app itself.

Push alerts: Consistency and engagement

Push alerts use a mobile (or desktop) platform’s native notification framework. Specifics vary from platform to platform, but the approach to notifications in Apple’s iOS is what most of us think of when we talk about push.

Unlike in-app notifications, which can be highly idiosyncratic, push messages must adhere to guidelines established by the platform. That consistency makes them easy for users to parse (and to control).

Push notifications are effective for both presenting essential alerts and for encouraging return engagement when a user’s not actively in an app. But there’s a balance that needs to be struck: If messages are pushed too frequently or seem irrelevant, they’re going to be silenced. And, like tweets, they require skillful copywriting and timeliness to remain effective; dully repetitive alerts quickly get tuned out (or even silenced).

Text alerts: Limited, real-time interruptions

Text alerts are delivered using the SMS infrastructure of mobile telephone networks. That means they’re subject to a number of technical and functional limitations to message length, interactivity and more. (Fun fact: The 140-character limit on tweets — an attribute that’s come to define Twitter’s core identity — has its roots in the service’s initial idea to operate as an SMS-based application.)

Text messaging also is a relatively “low-permission” zone — users don’t want to receive texts they don’t expect.

But text alerts do have one essential quality that makes them an important part of the notifications toolkit: Users open SMS messages within three seconds of receipt 90 percent of the time. That’s why SMS is frequently used for important real-time security alerts and verification codes for two-factor authentication.

Email notifications: Notifications of record

Email needs no introduction. It’s a communications workhorse for conveying all manner of information, from personal notes to marketing offers and everything in between. But notifications and other forms of transactional email have become one of the most important ways for apps and services to build trust and drive user engagement. (Twitter, for example, drives a serious amount of traffic back to its service with notification emails.)

Email’s status as a universal, ubiquitous medium is part of that. And it’s deeply entrenched in how we use our devices and communicate. (After all, we use our phones for email far more than we do for calls!)

Finally, unlike other ephemeral notifications, email has permanence — think about how often you’ve saved a shipping notice, purchase receipt or signup confirmation for later reference.

For great CX, think holistically about notifications

Unfortunately, when one type of notification — push, for example — is implemented, it’s not unusual to find that notifications as a whole haven’t been considered in a consistent, purposeful way. There are different reasons for that: a lack of time or resources, technical difficulty and, like so much else, narrow definitions and the siloing that comes from different teams within a business owning different parts of the app.

But that kind of disjointedness is a kiss of death for the user experience. Instead, like so much else in good CX, product teams should approach notifications from the user’s perspective.

So approaching notifications in our apps and services for CX means thinking about the goal, not the means, and starting with questions, not implementations. And by that, I mean some really fundamental questions, like:

  • What information do your users want or need to know?
  • What do they need to know right now?
  • What information do they want to save?
  • What are the actions you want them to take?
  • What are their references for notification frequency? For channel?

Then, and only then, should we start thinking about which types of notifications are most appropriate to the need. In some cases, it’s likely to be “whichever the user prefers.” But in others (security alerts, for example), we might want to limit the choices to ensure information critical to safety doesn’t slip through the cracks.

“Customer experience” is a term that’s easily overloaded with meaning. But no matter how you define it, trust is a big part of it — trust that a company understands my goals and needs, trust that an app will work the way I need it to, trust that my experience will be emotionally satisfying. And sometimes, trust comes from simply knowing what’s going on and feeling in control.

You know what? That sort of trust-building and engagement is what notifications are all about. And it’s why thinking about notifications should be a key part of any CX plan.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

An inveterate storyteller and fierce customer advocate, Brent Sleeper leads content marketing at SparkPost, a cloud email delivery service. Previously, he helped companies like Salesforce, Oracle, and other cloud and technology providers develop marketing strategies that reflect core principles of authentic communication and empathy for the customer experience. He is a graduate of Carleton College.

Report: Facebook’s Instant Articles faster than AMP, both formats boost user engagement

Users spend 35 percent more time with AMP content than mobile web pages.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

Chartbeat released a report this week that quantifies the benefits of faster mobile page-load times, and specifically of publisher usage of Google AMP and Facebook Instant Articles (FIA). Called “The New Speed of Mobile Engagement,” the report seeks to answer some basic questions about the formats:

  • Does improving page load time positively impact readership and revenue?
  • Does it deliver on the promise of a quicker, cleaner mobile user experience?
  • How does AMP compare to Facebook’s Instant Articles format?
  • What is the impact on consumer engagement?

The report concludes that page speed matters to mobile readers and faster pages equal more engagement. The findings are based on Chartbeat’s analysis of user interactions with “360 sites using AMP and FIA from June 2016 to May 2017.”

Chartbeat found that on AMP the median page-load time was 1.4 seconds. By comparison, Facebook’s Instant Articles loaded in a fraction of a second, while the standard mobile web page-load time was over five seconds. However, AMP is driving considerably more traffic from search than Instant Articles, according to Chartbeat: “The number of AMP articles receiving traffic each day is 3x the number of active FIA pages.”

The report also finds that users reward these faster pages with higher engagement: “48 seconds with AMP content vs. 36 seconds with mobile web content when coming from search.” Chartbeat also found that the faster formats were growing their overall share of publisher traffic.

In a parallel finding, website builder Duda validates the Chartbeat conclusion that page speed really matters to users. Sites that load more quickly receive almost 50 percent more “engagement actions” than slow-loading sites. Here “engagement actions” comprises a variety of behaviors, including calls, emails, SMS clicks and form fills.

Faster load times increase mobile engagement

The company’s CEO Itai Sadan observed, “There is roughly a 10 percent decrease in conversion rate for every additional second it takes a site to load.”

About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog, Screenwerk, about connecting the dots between digital media and real-world consumer behavior. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+.

AdColony launches a new interactive mobile video format

Called Aurora, it offers in-video interactivity, 360-degree video, haptic rumbles, no buffering HD and high-end graphics.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

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