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The 10-year challenge: Video game edition

NintendoTop product in 2009: WiiTop product in 2019: Switch LiteProgress report: In 2009, the Wii dominated the console market and changed the way people across the world interacted with video games. Today, the Switch and Switch Lite are on the same path, bridging the divide between living-room and mobile gaming. The House of Mario traditionally…

Nintendo

Top product in 2009: Wii

Top product in 2019: Switch Lite

Progress report: In 2009, the Wii dominated the console market and changed the way people across the world interacted with video games. Today, the Switch and Switch Lite are on the same path, bridging the divide between living-room and mobile gaming. The House of Mario traditionally operates in its own universe, but that’s changing just a little. Nintendo launched its first service for online gaming in late 2018, and it’s been an early advocate of cross-console play, alongside Microsoft. Nintendo is still the home for strange and heartwarming gaming experiences with oddly restrictive policies, and it’s heading into 2020 with a strong console release at its back.

The last time it was in this position, Nintendo launched the Wii U. I’ll just leave it at that.

Activision Publishing

Top product in 2009: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Top product in 2019: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

Progress report: No, that’s not a typo. Activision may publish other games, but Call of Duty is the company’s main money maker, and the franchise keeps on delivering, even when the naming structure gets confusing. Call of Duty consistently outsells the competition, and Activision has established a multi-studio development structure that keeps the games coming annually. Activision remains a major name in AAA gaming, but in the future, it’s going mobile — the smartphone version of Call of Duty came out in October and saw more than 100 million downloads in its first month.

Call of Duty: Mobile also represents Tencent’s growing influence over the video game industry. Massive Chinese technology conglomerate Tencent has a 4.9 percent stake in Activision Blizzard, following the company’s split from its former owner, Vivendi, in 2013. Tencent owns or has a stake in Epic Games, Riot Games, Ubisoft, Bluehole, Supercell, Grinding Gear Games and Paradox Interactive. China’s video game market is nearly four times the size of the US audience, and partially due to a lack of Western consoles in the country, Chinese players are really into mobile gaming. Meanwhile, the Chinese government is really into censorship, and these partnerships have already resulted in a few troubling situations for Western studios.

Blizzard Entertainment

Top product in 2009: World of Warcraft

Top product in 2019: Overwatch

Progress report: Activision’s partner in profit is Blizzard. World of Warcraft was Blizzard Entertainment’s main concern in 2009, and 10 years later, it’s Overwatch. Blizzard has been running PC-focused franchises, such as StarCraft and Diablo, for well over a decade, and it’s now a hub for popular esports titles including Overwatch and Hearthstone. While World of Warcraft has lost a significant portion of its audience since 2009, Blizzard has picked up new players with friendly looking competitive games and flashy, story-driven YouTube animations. When all else fails, use the Pixar method.

Ubisoft

Top product in 2009: Assassin’s Creed II

Top product in 2019: Far Cry: New Dawn

Progress report: Ubisoft’s publishing business has shrunk significantly since the early 2010s, and instead of churning out Rabbids titles, licensed games and experiments like ZombiU, it’s focusing on just a handful of important IPs. Even then, it’s struggling — Ubisoft just delayed basically every game on its 2020 roster after the poor reception of The Division 2 and Ghost Recon Breakpoint, this year. Personally, I miss weird, free-wheeling Ubisoft, though I’m happy to leave The Expendables 2: The Video Game in the past.

Electronic Arts

Top product in 2009: FIFA 09

Top product in 2019: FIFA 2019

Progress report: You know when someone posts a 10-year challenge and you can’t tell which photo is supposed to be the new one? Yeah, that’s EA. In late 2008, EA launched FIFA 09, and in 2019, it’s all about FIFA 19 and FIFA 20. Or, replace “FIFA” with “Madden NFL,” or “NHL” or basically any other athletic organization. EA Sports remains a crucial brand for EA, and the company’s catalog hasn’t changed much overall in the past decade. It still handles The Sims, Battlefield and the sprawling RPG franchises that spawn out of BioWare. Apex Legends, an online competitive shooter, represents EA’s ability to adapt with the times. EA is publishing new, familiar titles while slowly evolving its online services. This business model isn’t necessarily sexy, but it just might be sustainable.

Ranking the Top NFL Coaches Available to Hire for 2020 – CBS Sports Radio 910

It’s funny how a few years away can cure all (or enough) ills. In December of 2014, the San Francisco 49ers parted ways with head coach Jim Harbaugh after four seasons. Harbaugh, from a wins and losses perspective, had been wildly successful as the 49ers’ head coach. He had a 44-19-1 record as the team’s…

It’s funny how a few years away can cure all (or enough) ills.

In December of 2014, the San Francisco 49ers parted ways with head coach Jim Harbaugh after four seasons. Harbaugh, from a wins and losses perspective, had been wildly successful as the 49ers’ head coach. He had a 44-19-1 record as the team’s head coach in the regular season, and led them to an appearance in Super Bowl XLVII. And yet, Harbaugh later admitted that his exit from San Francisco wasn’t mutual – he was fired.

Prior to coming to the NFL, Harbaugh spent six seasons as a college head coach, four of which came at Stanford. In college, the head coach is the superstar. You can wear players down because they’ll either graduate or leave for the NFL in five years or less and a new crop of 18 year olds will come in. From that sense, his intensity is perhaps best suited in the college game.

Still, Harbaugh had a .695 winning percentage in four seasons as an NFL head coach. He was perhaps a pass interference call away from winning a Super Bowl. Maybe he isn’t geared to stay in one place for 12 years and counting like his brother, John, has in Baltimore. But, wouldn’t a team like the Cleveland Browns – who have a roster littered with skill-position talent but seem to lack structure – sign up for a half decade of success? Whether Jim would be interested in coaching in the same division as his brother is a fair question, but after five seasons – and zero wins over Ohio State – at Michigan, his honeymoon there seems up. For the first time in some time, Harbaugh could potentially be intrigued by a second chance in the NFL.

It’s just something to ponder now that the Browns have dismissed Freddie Kitchens. Remember, once upon a time, the Browns did try to trade for Harbaugh, according to RADIO.COM NFL Insider Jason La Canfora.

While Harbaugh is an outside-the-box candidate, here are the best candidates for NFL head coaching vacancies:

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Mike McCarthy won a Super Bowl as the Green Bay Packers’ head coach.

Photo credit (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

6. Mike McCarthy

As hard as it may be to erase the scathing story Tyler Dunne of Bleacher Report wrote about the end of McCarthy’s tenure in Green Bay, it’s hard not to include him on this list.

The 56-year-old was the Packers’ head coach from 2006-2018, posting a 125-77-2 record in the regular season. In the postseason, he led the Packers to a 10-8 record, including a victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV.

That said, one Super Bowl appearance in 13 seasons with either Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers at quarterback doesn’t reflect especially well on McCarthy. Neither does how much success the Packers have had in the first year of the Matt LaFleur era, following the team posting an 11-16-1 record in his final two seasons.

McCarthy will likely be a head coach in the NFL again. Whether he’ll be a head coach in 2020 or not is less clear. It is worth noting that ESPN’s Adam Scheter has reported that the Carolina Panthers have interviewed McCarthy for their head coaching vacancy. Additionally, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network says that McCarthy is a candidate in Cleveland.

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Matt Rhule has had tremendous success as the collegiate level.

Photo credit (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

5. Matt Rhule

Rhule, according to the Dallas Morning News, was honest with his players at Baylor in a team meeting Sunday, essentially telling them that it would behoove him from a career sense to listen to what NFL teams have to say.

It would probably behoove those NFL teams to hear what the 44-year-old has to say as well.

In three seasons as Baylor’s head coach, Rhule has helped to clean up the mess left by Art Briles’ failure to disclose a sexual assault that he had become aware of. Amid sanctions, Baylor went just 1-11 in 2017, Rhules first season. However, they climbed all the way to 11-1 in 2019, allowing him to be named Big 12 Coach of the Year. Baylor, now the No. 7 ranked team in the country, will face No. 5 Georgia in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1.

Rhule’s success at Baylor is on top of a pretty remarkable four-season stint as the head coach of Temple from 2013-2016. Typically thought of as a basketball school, Temple posted the only two 10-win seasons in the history of their program in Rhule’s final two seasons as their head coach. They notably upset in-state rival Penn State 27-10 in 2015, something that would have previously been unthinkable and may never happen again.

It’s easy then to see why Rhule is now on the radar of NFL teams, reportedly including the Carolina Panthers. If he doesn’t get an NFL job this year, he figures to be considered for NFL openings for years to come.

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Josh McDaniels is Bill Belichick’s long-time offensive coordinator.

Photo credit (Elsa/Getty Images)

4. Josh McDaniels

After reneging on his commitment to become the next head coach of the Indianapolis Colts after the 2018 season, it feels like it would take a perfect situation for McDaniels to leave New England, which is why he’s not higher on this list.

It is fair to wonder, though, it the Patriots will continue to be as appealing to work for in the case of McDaniels.

Tom Brady’s status for 2020 and beyond is unclear. There isn’t a clear succession plan at quarterback if Brady retires or leaves in free agency.

Bill Belichick, 67, also suggested in October that he could imagine himself coaching into his 70s, so if McDaniels is the head coach in waiting, he may be waiting longer than initially anticipated. For as beloved as McDaniels is in New England, it’s also fair to wonder if succeeding Belichick as Patriots’ head coach is an attractive job.

The guess here is McDaniels, still only 43, will return to Belichick’s staff in 2020. Next season will mark the 10-year anniversary of his second (and final) season during his unsuccessful stint as the Denver Broncos’ head coach. One would think he’s eager to have some success on his own. If an organization like the New York Giants, who have a young quarterback and superstar running back in place, were aggressive in pursuing McDaniels, it would be interesting to see how seriously he would consider them. Tom Pelissero of NFL Network says that McDaniels, who grew up in Ohio, could be intrigued by the Cleveland Browns’ coaching vacancy as well.

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Urban Meyer spent the 2019 season as an analyst for FOX.

Photo credit (Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

3. Urban Meyer

It appears unlikely that Nick Saban will ever take a second stab at being a head coach in the NFL, so the world may be left to settle for Meyer, a three-time National Champion head coach in college that has never coached in any role in the NFL.

Right or wrong, a year away from Ohio State seems to have allowed Meyer to distance himself from the scandal involving his knowledge of former assistant coach Zach Smith’s abuse of his wife. Meyer was suspended for the first three games of the 2018 season, and ultimately retired from coaching, citing health reasons, after the season wrapped up.

Of course, Meyer twice cited health reasons at the end of his tenure as Florida Gators’ head coach, including after the 2010 season, when he did ultimately walk away. That’s not to say he didn’t have legitimate health concerns, but he’s continuously been pulled back to coaching and how much his named has surfaced in speculation for NFL jobs in the recent weeks and months probably isn’t a coincidence.

Meyer is from Ohio, which would make him an interesting fit for the Cleveland Browns. It appears that the Washington Redskins will hire Ron Rivera to be their next head coach, but JP Finlay of NBC Sports Washington wrote over the weekend that Meyer could be considered for an executive role in Washington. The Redskins parted ways with long-time team president Bruce Allen after their season concluded Sunday.

It may make the most sense for Meyer to decline NFL offers and only seriously weigh offers from top universities, but the 55-year-old doesn’t have much to prove at that level. There’s also no recruiting in the NFL. So one could see how a year off has allowed Meyer to feel like the NFL may be his best option if he decides to return to coaching (or football as a whole).

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Eric Bieniemy is the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator.

Photo credit (David Eulitt/Getty Images)

2. Eric Bieniemy

If you become Andy Reid’s offensive coordinator, there’s a pretty good chance it’s your last stop before getting a head coaching job.

Brad Childress was Reid’s offensive coordinator from 2002-2005 in Philadelphia, before being hired as the Minnesota Vikings’ head coach.

Doug Pederson was Reid’s offensive coordinator in Kansas City from 2013-15, before taking over as the Eagles’ head coach in 2016.

Matt Nagy replaced Pederson as Chiefs’ offensive coordinator in 2016, a post he held for two seasons before becoming the head coach of the Chicago Bears in 2018.

Now, it appears like it’s time for Bieniemy, Nagy’s replacement, to get his chance to lead a team. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network says that the Carolina Panthers “have submitted a request” to interview” Bieniemy.

Bieniemy, 50, has been on the Chiefs’ staff since 2013, Reid’s first year in Kansas City. Over the past two seasons, the Chiefs have become one of the most explosive offenses in the sport, led by Patrick Mahomes. However, Mahomes missed two and a half games with a dislocated knee cap and the Chiefs still finished with the No. 4 ranked passing attack in 2019.

Reid, who has been a head coach in the NFL every season since 1999, said earlier this month that he thought Bieniemy was ready to be a head coach after the 2018 season. While he interviewed for four head coaching jobs, he ultimately wasn’t hired for any. The guess here is he will be ahead of the 2020 season.

GettyImages1188090381 7f842d8b e77b 4ed8 b111 4b7f4ff58257 - Ranking the Top NFL Coaches Available to Hire for 2020 - CBS Sports Radio 910

Lincoln Riley has had tremendous success as Oklahoma’s head coach.

Photo credit (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

1. Lincoln Riley

If potential NFL suitors were basing their interest in Riley on how his team did in the College Football Playoff, he was probably crossed off their list of candidates this past weekend. Riley’s Oklahoma Sooners were blown out, 63-28, in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl by the No. 1 LSU Tigers Saturday.

Of course, if you’re basing your interest in a head coaching candidate on how they do in one individual game where they clearly have an inferior team, your organization probably has bigger problems.

The reality is that Riley, 36, has seamlessly replaced Bob Stoops in Oklahoma. In three seasons with Riley as head coach, the Sooners have gone 36-6. While they’ve lost in the College Football Playoffs in each of his three seasons, it’s no small feat to reach the final four in your first three seasons as a head coach.

For NFL teams, the most appealing part about Riley is that he’s developed a reputation as a quarterback whisperer. Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy for Oklahoma in 2017 and was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Kyler Murray won the Heisman Trophy for Oklahoma in 2018 and was the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Jalen Hurts didn’t win the Heisman Trophy in 2019, but he was a finalist. The Alabama transfer was perhaps the most impressive example of Riley’s quarterback prowess. Hurts vastly improved as a passer after transferring to Oklahoma, as he threw for 32 touchdowns and over 3,800 yards in 2019 (in addition to 1,298 rushing yards).

After Freddie Kitchens was unsuccessful in his one season as Browns’ head coach, it seems unlikely the organization would hire another first-time head coach. That said, Riley would be an interesting fit there given his past connection with Mayfield. He would also be an intriguing option in Dallas, where there’s a ton of offensive talent, but a real feeling that the team has underachieved under Jason Garrett (a decision on Garrett’s future hasn’t been made at the time of this publication).

TRENDING on RADIO.COM

SOCIAL VIDEO REPORT: Social media video marketing trends for Youtube, Facebook, Snapchat, Tik Tok & other top social media companies in 2020 (FB, SNAP, GOOGL, AAPL)

This is a preview of The Social Video research report from Business Insider Intelligence.Purchase this report.To check to see if you already have access to Business Insider Intelligence through your company, click here. Revenue growth of top social media video marketing platforms Business Insider Intelligence Social platforms are ramping up on emergent video formats to drive…

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Revenue growth of top social media video marketing platforms
Business Insider Intelligence


Social platforms are ramping up on emergent video formats to drive new and deeper forms of engagement across their sites and apps, yielding new opportunities for brands.  

As platforms experiment beyond in-feed videos, new formats and user behaviors around social video present meaningful opportunities for brands to reach millions of social users. In 2018, social platforms saw explosive growth around innovative video formats like Stories; a rising push around communal video experiences; the launch of new video-centric hubs on social platforms (e.g. IGTV); and the expansion of more premium or longer-form fare. 

In The Social Video Report, Business Insider Intelligence examines how video is evolving on social platforms, and how each platform’s priorities are developing and shifting as social networks seek to scale viewership on this content. Social platforms continue to undergo transitions in a bid to capture user attention, but each represents a significant key to understanding how the social video landscape is expanding and reorganizing around new formats and distribution models. 

The companies mentioned in this report are: ByteDance, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitch, Twitter, WhatsApp, and YouTube.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

  • Social video advertising investment is expected to grow significantly in coming years. Social video ad spend is expected to reach $25.6 billion by 2023, up 128% from $11.2 billion in 2018, per Business Insider Intelligence forecasts.
  • Social video ad spend flows overwhelmingly to the dominant social platforms: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Snapchat. Nearly three-quarters of YouTube ad revenue comes from video content, 60% for Snapchat, and 55% for Twitter, per eMarketer. Video is only 30% of Facebook’s total ad revenue, but the social giant accounts for the largest share of social video ad spend overall. 
  • The Stories format has seen explosive growth over the past year. That growth continues to flow overwhelmingly to Instagram: Instagram Stories hit 500 million daily active users (DAU) as of Q4 2018, up from just 150 million DAU in Q1 2017. Instagram is the leading platform for Stories consumption and sharing: 54% of users say they use Instagram Stories the most, compared with other platforms, per Business Insider Intelligence exclusive data.
  • Instagram launched IGTV, which it intended to be a YouTube competitor on long-form, user-generated video — albeit mobile-first and vertically oriented. If IGTV can convert Instagram’s 1 billion users to consume video there, it could represent a massive, scalable opportunity as soon as the platform starts to monetize the section with advertising.
  • Facebook Watch has pivoted to a communal viewing focus as it looks to scale viewership. But even though half of US adults say they’ve never even heard of Watch, some shows have demonstrated that they can gain loyal followings nevertheless.
  • Snapchat continues to traffic heavily in ephemeral video, but the app is ramping up on premium video through Snapchat Originals. That push has helped drive a surge in video engagement on the app: As of fall 2018, the amount of time users spent watching shows each month nearly tripled since January 2018.
  • TikTok’s rapid growth has suggested that there’s space in the landscape for short-form social video. TikTok has been downloaded more than 1 billion times globally, and was the No. 4 non-game app worldwide in 2018 on both iOS and Android devices, per Sensor Tower data. 

In full, the report:

  • Examines and forecasts the rapid growth of social video ad revenue through 2023 across each major platform.
  • Identifies how video formats are evolving on social platforms as companies seek to drive new types of engagement among users.
  • Presents a platform-by-platform portrait of key social platforms’ emergent video efforts and how they’re each performing on key measures, including audience uptake and monetization. 

Interested in getting the full report? Here’s how to get access:

  1. Purchase & download the full report from our research store. >>  Purchase & Download Now
  2. Join thousands of top companies worldwide who trust Business Insider Intelligence for their competitive research needs. >> Inquire About Our Enterprise Memberships
  3. Current subscribers can read the report here.

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Become an elite digital marketer in 2020 with this $39 course bundle

Just to let you know, if you buy something featured here, Mashable might earn an affiliate commission. 12 courses and over 20 hours of training are included. Image: pexels By StackCommerceMashable Shopping2019-12-30 10:00:00 UTC TL;DR: Become a digital marketing whiz with The 2020 Full Stack Digital Marketing Certification Bundle for $39, a 98% savings.  While…

Just to let you know, if you buy something featured here, Mashable might earn an affiliate commission.

uploads%252Fcard%252Fimage%252F1127174%252F56e1ee63 f57d 4d9e 96a1 13e74d2bf9d6.jpeg%252F950x534  filters%253Aquality%252880%2529 - Become an elite digital marketer in 2020 with this $39 course bundle
12 courses and over 20 hours of training are included.

Image: pexels

By StackCommerceMashable Shopping

TL;DR: Become a digital marketing whiz with The 2020 Full Stack Digital Marketing Certification Bundle for $39, a 98% savings. 


While you can always learn to code and build websites, there are definitely other ways to make good money on the internet in 2020 – like digital marketing, for example. Digital marketing professionals are crazy in-demand these days, and you can make a solid starting salary using the digital platforms you’re on every day. You just need to learn all the hidden tricks lying beneath the surface.

Since digital marketing has expanded pretty drastically over the past few years, you’re going to need to know more than just how to set up an Instagram account. And this 2020 Full Stack Digital Marketing Certification Bundle can help you on your way to greatness.

With 12 courses and over 20 hours of training, you’ll dive deep into all the important platforms and skills recruiters are looking for. You’ll start off by tackling Google Analytics and Google Ads – two absolutely essential tools for gaining traction on the web. Both courses are designed specifically for beginners, so don’t fret if you’re new to the game. Next, you’ll take on everything popular social networks like LinkedIn, YouTube, Reddit, and Facebook have to offer – from Facebook advertising campaigns to Reddit product promotion.

Of course, you’ll also learn all about the ever-changing world of SEO, how to perform keyword research, and the importance of high-quality email marketing. And last but not least, you’ll get an introduction to the newer and affordable form of advertising: push notifications. 

If this seems like an overwhelming amount of information, you’ll be happy to know you can access it whenever and wherever you want. No need to complete it in one sitting.

Even better, you can score the entire Full Stack Digital Marketing Certification Bundle for just $39 (usually $2,400 when you buy all the courses individually) and prepare for a new career path in 2020.

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Giphy’s New Video Platform Pounds Another Nail In the Coffin of the GIF

Variety reports that the gif, age 32, is suffering from arterial bleeding after being stabbed in the ears on Wednesday morning by Universal Pictures’s Last Christmas starring Emilia Clarke. Location: giphy.com/videos.Today, GIPHY, the world’s largest library of gifs (or something like them), has released audio-enabled gif lookalike videos (ads) from select media partners including BBC…

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Variety reports that the gif, age 32, is suffering from arterial bleeding after being stabbed in the ears on Wednesday morning by Universal Pictures’s Last Christmas starring Emilia Clarke. Location: giphy.com/videos.

Today, GIPHY, the world’s largest library of gifs (or something like them), has released audio-enabled gif lookalike videos (ads) from select media partners including BBC America’s Wonderstruck network, the Chicago Bulls, Universal Pictures, and Geffen Records. GIPHY allows content to run for 30 seconds, an eternity in gif-time and a ton of free air space for user-shared autoplay ads which you’d normally have to pay Facebook and Twitter to promote.

They’re not phasing out the existing gif library, nor is GIPHY calling the videos gifs, nor are gif-like video marauders new to GIPHY or the wider world. Instead, a two-pronged strategy suggests that we are…pivoting to video…

“While GIFs and Stickers are what we react with, we envision this shareable video format to fuel what we react to (i.e. the conversation starters),” a GIPHY spokesperson tells Gizmodo. “Select partners will be able to upload video clips (30 sec or less, with sound) to their channels on GIPHY.”

Aside from the cold horror of the admission that every gif is a reaction gif, it doesn’t sound so bad, adding banal gif-like things to the already bleak adscape in which we live our lives. But weird assimilated videos have long been encroaching on the file format, iced out by the gatekeepers of Facebook. In 2019, a looping series of images on the internet is more likely to be a video masquerading as a gif and ugly-ass controls are getting between the memetic imagery and our eyeballs.

Just look at this track slider you can’t slide:

gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Giphy’s New Video Platform Pounds Another Nail In the Coffin of the GIF

A clusterfuck of buttons right here:

gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Giphy’s New Video Platform Pounds Another Nail In the Coffin of the GIF

And the sheer magnitude:

gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Giphy’s New Video Platform Pounds Another Nail In the Coffin of the GIF

GIPHY and its media partners seem to consider this behemoth the logical evolution of the gif.

GIPHY CEO Alex Chung tells Variety, unironically:

It took years for GIFs to be popular. After we brought out GIFs and stickers, the culmination of all that is video. We want to be the No. 1 place where people bring video into conversations.

Universal Pictures SVP of digital marketing Justin Pertschuk cackles:

We just want to be part of it — it’s an opportunity to be first to market with cool content.

Variety reports, presumably through tears:

Meanwhile, as part of its bigger focus on entertainment, Giphy earlier this year hired former Marvel Entertainment exec Peter Phillips as COO. Phillips previously been executive VP at Marvel heading up digital media, video games and content distribution.

When GIPHY stops keeping the faith, it’s probably time to start to saying last rites for the gif we’ve come to know and love.

(Update: A GIPHY spokesperson wanted us to clarify that these videos aren’t technically ads, they’re organic content chosen by corporate partners. The key difference between organic content and an ad being that GIPHY claims it wasn’t paid for offering Universal Pictures or the Chicago Bulls an exclusive opportunity to post “user-shared autoplay videos.” We regret the errant language, but not as much as the exec who made that deal probably regrets giving away valuable space to major corporatio

Digital Marketing News: Influencer Brand Marketing Study, Facebook’s OS Plans, Instagram’s Multiple Images, & SEO Effectiveness Survey

Marketers Tout SEO’s Effectiveness As They Look to Drive Leads, Customer Acquisition SEO has continued to be an effective tactic when it comes to driving leads and customer acquisitions, with the majority of digital marketers finding the practice more effective than traditional media, one of several statistics from newly-released survey data. MarketingCharts New Report Looks…

2019December27MarketingChartsChart600w - Digital Marketing News: Influencer Brand Marketing Study, Facebook’s OS Plans, Instagram’s Multiple Images, & SEO Effectiveness Survey

Marketers Tout SEO’s Effectiveness As They Look to Drive Leads, Customer Acquisition

SEO has continued to be an effective tactic when it comes to driving leads and customer acquisitions, with the majority of digital marketers finding the practice more effective than traditional media, one of several statistics from newly-released survey data. MarketingCharts

New Report Looks at Which Tools and Creation Apps are Most Popular Among Instagram Influencers

The software, tools, and online image creation apps most-used by Instagram influencers have been outlined in a new survey of more than 1,200 influencers on the platform, with results showing that just 10 percent use Photoshop, nearly 30 percent use Lightroom, and some 4.8 percent work with Canva, according to the study. Social Media Today

Twitter Replaces URLs With Images When Lists Are Shared

Brands and influencers sharing Twitter lists will no longer see text URLs, instead having auto-generated images created by Twitter displayed, a change the firm recently rolled out to iOS and Android users. Adweek

Facebook Expands Brand Collabs Manager to Include Instagram Creators

Digital marketers got a slew of new collaboration features, as Facebook recently launched an expanded Brand Collabs Manager tool, allowing easier integration for Instagram creators, the social giant announced recently. Social Media Today

DMP Market Entering Period Of Volatility, According To Advertiser Perceptions

While data management platform (DMP) solutions may be as popular as ever, there is increasing volatility as some 44 percent of marketers say that they are somewhat likely to switch DMP providers, and 12 percent are very likely, according to newly-released survey data. Ad Exchanger

YouTube Reveals Top 10 Most-Viewed Ads of 2019

Digital marketers can gain insight from examples of the year’s top YouTube advertisements, all of which the Google-owned video platform has highlighted in a recently-released list of 2019’s most popular ads. Variety

2019December27StatisticsImage600w - Digital Marketing News: Influencer Brand Marketing Study, Facebook’s OS Plans, Instagram’s Multiple Images, & SEO Effectiveness Survey

Instagram now lets you upload multiple photos on one Story post with ‘layout’ feature

Instagram has globally launched its newest Stories feature, allowing digital marketers and brands to add up to six images at once — the firm’s answer to numerous third-party apps that have offered similar functionality for some time. The Verge

Location-Based Advertising Is Becoming More Costly

Fewer users willing to share local information combined with California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) regulations are among several factors driving costs higher for location-based advertising, according to newly-released survey data. eMarketer

How ‘Influencers’ Are Becoming Marketers’ Preferred Way to Sell Brands

Gen Z and Millennial consumers are partially responsible for driving an increase in influencer-sponsored posts, however experience and work ethic are still key success factors, according to a new Entrepreneur interview exploring how some brands are using influencer marketing. Entrepreneur

Facebook is building an operating system so it can ditch Android

Facebook is working on creating its own operating system. While Facebook will still offer an Android app, a new OS is aimed at bringing the platform greater control, especially for its virtual reality (VR) aspirations. TechCrunch

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

2019December27MarketoonistComic600w - Digital Marketing News: Influencer Brand Marketing Study, Facebook’s OS Plans, Instagram’s Multiple Images, & SEO Effectiveness Survey

A lighthearted look at the future of advertising by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

REPORT: Changing Password Every Login Easier Than Remembering Password — The Hard Times

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • Lee Odden — The Pubcon Florida Social Influencer and Neuromarketing Workshop — Pubcon
  • Lane R. Ellis — Top 10 Influencers Profiles (Digital Marketing): Week #015 — TrackMyHashtag

Do you have your own top B2B content marketing or digital advertising stories from the past week? Please let us know in the comments below.

Thank you for joining us, and please come back again next week for the latest top digital marketing industry news. In the meantime, you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news. Also, don’t miss the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

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Spotify: Your Political Ads Are No Good Here

Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP (Getty Images)Streaming giant Spotify will ban all political advertising in early 2020, Ad Age reported on Friday, saying in a statement to the site that it does “not yet have the necessary level of robustness in our process, systems and tools to responsibly validate and review this content.”The suspension of paid political…

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Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP (Getty Images)

Streaming giant Spotify will ban all political advertising in early 2020, Ad Age reported on Friday, saying in a statement to the site that it does “not yet have the necessary level of robustness in our process, systems and tools to responsibly validate and review this content.”

The suspension of paid political ads on Spotify’s streaming platform will apply to all ad-supported content, including its original podcasts, Ad Age wrote. That tier has around 141 million users. The company added in the statement that it would “reassess this decision as we continue to evolve our capabilities.”

By banning political ads, Spotify is following the same path as Google and Twitter, the former of which suspended microtargeting for political ads and the latter shut them down entirely. It’s the opposite strategy as the one pursued by Facebook, which has not only embraced political ads but allowed politicians to openly lie in them.

Facebook has faced relentless criticism for months over its stance, which primarily benefits politicians eager to lie as much as possible and appears to be partially the result of a pressure campaign by conservatives. However, some progressive groups have also opposed restrictions on Facebook ads, and there’s also the question of whether setting up for-profit companies as the arbiters of political discourse will have negative consequences for groups opposing the status quo (essentially a no-win scenario created by tech firms holding too much power in the first place).

Google’s approach stakes a middle ground, allowing political ads but restricting microtargeting tools that could enable candidates to tailor messages—or lies—to extremely specific constituencies. Its policy applies worldwide and limits advertisers to targeting based on age, gender, and location at the postal code level, as well as “contextual” data like what type of news they consume.

Political ads are not huge money-makers for any of the aforementioned platforms, but they generate other benefits such as influence on the political process for the larger players with troves of useful data. Ad Age reported that a person familiar with Spotify’s ad business characterized political ads as negligible financially; buyers included Democratic candidate Senator Bernie Sanders and the Republican National Committee.

“Spotify wasn’t a widely used online advertising platform for campaigns before,” GOP digital strategist Eric Wilson told Reuters. “But as other online platforms restricted their political ad inventory, advertisers were on the hunt for new options.”

According to Ad Age, Spotify will prohibit ads placed by “political organizations such as candidates for office, elected and appointed officials, Super PACs, nonprofits and political parties,” as well as ads lobbying for or against political groups, legislation, or judicial decisions. It will not affect content embedded in podcasts themselves, the site wrote, and the decision will only be in effect

Spotify to ‘pause’ running political ads, citing lack of proper review

Ever since the run up to the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election (and, arguably, well before that), political ads have become a major sticking point on social media sites looking to crack down on misinformation. Facebook has grappled with the issue to the satisfaction of virtually no one, while Twitter has shut them down altogether. Ad…

GettyImages 1048258424 - Spotify to ‘pause’ running political ads, citing lack of proper review

Ever since the run up to the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election (and, arguably, well before that), political ads have become a major sticking point on social media sites looking to crack down on misinformation. Facebook has grappled with the issue to the satisfaction of virtually no one, while Twitter has shut them down altogether.

Ad Age noted this week that Spotify is going to follow in the footsteps of the latter — for the time being. The world’s premier music streaming service is pumping the breaks on political ads amid the 2020 presidential race.

The company confirmed the (in)decision in a statement provided to TechCrunch:

Beginning in early 2020, Spotify will pause the selling of political advertising. This will include political advertising content in our ad-supported tier and in Spotify original and exclusive podcasts. At this point in time, we do not yet have the necessary level of robustness in our processes, systems and tools to responsibly validate and review this content. We will reassess this decision as we continue to evolve our capabilities.

There’s certainly something to be said for knowing one’s limitations. And because so much of the company’s revenue derives from ads run on its free offering, Spotify should be commended for opting to pull the plug on a solid revenue stream as the campaign is entering the primary season. Spotify wouldn’t comment on how much money is being left on the table, but as Ad Age notes, political organizations ranging from the Bernie Sanders campaign to the RNC use the platform to get the word out. 

Using Social Media to Connect with Your Most Loyal Customers

PM Images/Getty Images More and more companies have loyalty programs — and for good reason. A recent industry report showed that loyalty program members not only spend more and remain customers longer but they are also more likely to spread positive word of mouth. This helps explain why we’ve seen a proliferation of programs (we’ve seen…

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PM Images/Getty Images

More and more companies have loyalty programs — and for good reason. A recent industry report showed that loyalty program members not only spend more and remain customers longer but they are also more likely to spread positive word of mouth. This helps explain why we’ve seen a proliferation of programs (we’ve seen new programs popping up across sectors like cosmetics, fast foods, and hotels). Target, for example, launched their Target Circle loyalty program ahead of this year’s holiday shopping period, after extensive test marketing showed increased spending for program members compared to those who were not enrolled.

Given that loyalty program members tend to be a brand’s most valuable customers — and are already several steps into their journey with a brand— companies need to consider how they are communicating with them across different channels. Our research (paper is in progress) shows that social media in particular can make loyalty programs more effective in driving sales, but only if done right.

We analyzed social media messages and the impact on loyalty program and non-loyalty program online sales for one company, a European operator of snow tourism resorts. We started by scoring 3,500 of the company’s Facebook posts using the five dimensions of brand experience. Each post was rated by social media experts on each of the dimensions. Relational posts make a connection beyond the recipient, for instance encouraging the use of product together with others, or as part of a tribe of interested consumers. Intellectual posts prod the recipient to engage in conscious mental processing, perhaps through humor, problem solving, or creativity. Posts that are high on the behavioral dimension include activity or interaction with the product or service. Sensory posts stimulate the senses and could involve breathtaking images or shocking multimedia content. Finally, emotional posts attempt to generate moods or feelings in the recipient. Once the posts were scored, we then analyzed the efficacy of each dimension in driving sales to loyalty program and non-loyalty program customers.

Which Dimensions of Social Media Experience Were More Effective?

We found that relational and intellectual posts were most effective in driving sales for loyalty program customers, while behavioral posts drove more sales from non-loyalty program customers. Interestingly, sensory and emotional posts weren’t effective with either group in our study.

Relational messages connect the recipient to a larger community around the product or service, strengthening a feeling of belongingness. Posts rated high on the relational dimension tend to illustrate inclusiveness or the connections between people. Because loyalty program customers have an ongoing relationship with the brand, they appear to be more open to relational themes, whereas non-loyalty program customers may be less drawn to relational messages from brands which they are not already strongly connected. One particularly effective post from the resort we studied promoted family-focused resort activities, with imagery of cross-generational connections. Loyalty program sales associated with this post were 210% more than expected based on the resort’s typical ratio of loyalty program to non-loyalty program sales.

Intellectual posts were also more effective with loyalty program customers. These customers are more invested in the brand and are therefore more likely to put forward the mental effort to engage mindfully with a detailed, intellectual post. One of the resort’s posts rated high on this dimension included a comprehensive list of festival activities with a stylized map, which requires careful consideration and processing from the recipient. This post resulted in an 85% increase in loyalty program sales compared to expectations. Members-only retailers such as REI and BJ’s Wholesale often take advantage of intellectually demanding posts by including detailed product content (and in REI’s case, outdoor lifestyle content). These posts require investments to both produce and consume the content, but brands see the value, knowing that their curious members are looking to deepen their brand relationship.

Behaviorally-themed posts can be effective with both customer groups, but were most effective in driving non-loyalty program sales in our study. These posts typically require less mental energy to process and encourage non-loyalty customers to visualize how they might interact with a product or service. One specific resort post that was rated high on the behavioral dimension mentioned leaving for the weekend and getting out to the slopes, with imagery showing a familiar behavior: getting off the chair lift. This post led to an 82% spike in non-loyalty program sales compared to expectations. One possible implication of this finding is that newer brands, who don’t yet have a large base of loyal customers, could focus on behaviorally themed messages in their social media with easily relatable messaging around physical interaction with the product or service to drive sales from not-yet-loyal customers.

The resort’s posts that were rated high on sensory and emotional content weren’t effective in driving sales from either customer group. This may be because the social media environment is a metaphorical screaming match, with a variety of posts vying for viewer attention. “Turning up the volume” through striking visuals or multimedia in this already over stimulating setting wasn’t an effective way to reach either group of customers. Similarly, emotional content that appealed to customers’ feelings did not effectively drive sales from either group. This may be because browsing social media can be emotionally exhausting, so further taxing customers’ emotions doesn’t work.

Many brands are struggling to capture value from their loyalty programs and trying to figure out how to best use social media to communicate with these customers. Some companies have set up distinct social media accounts for their programs. For example, Marriott’s newly launched Bonvoy program has very active social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, which are run separately from Marriott’s flagship accounts. This allows Bonvoy to focus on content that loyalty program members value.

While our findings are based on the social media activity and financial results from one company (and we haven’t yet proven that they apply to businesses operating in very different domains), they provide digital marketers with some clues on what works and what doesn’t — and gives them a language to consider and communicate desired characteristics for their content. When trying to drive sales from loyalty program customers, think through what might be most effective (relational and intellectually themed content) and what could fall flat (attempting to shock the recipient with sensory or emotional content). And then post accordingly.

Book of the Week: ‘The Direct Mail Revolution’

Create direct-mail marketing campaigns that can earn you an ROI as high as 1,300 percent. December 6, 2019 2 min read This book has been selected for the Entrepreneur Press® Book of the Week, a weekly email newsletter that delivers heaping discounts to the books you love. Our team features a different book each week and shares…

Create direct-mail marketing campaigns that can earn you an ROI as high as 1,300 percent.


2 min read

This book has been selected for the Entrepreneur Press® Book of the Week, a weekly email newsletter that delivers heaping discounts to the books you love. Our team features a different book each week and shares exclusive deals with Book of the Week subscribers you won’t find anywhere else. Sign up at http://entm.ag/botw.

In The Direct Mail Revolution, legendary copywriting pioneer and marketing expert Robert W. Bly shares the strategies that can transform your business, win you more customers and earn more profits. Whether you’re new to direct mail or you’ve had no luck earning sales from a mailbox, this book is your clear, comprehensive blueprint to winning new and ongoing sales with direct mail. You’ll learn how to:

  • Increase your response rates with the six characteristics of irresistible offers.
  • Track and test key ingredients of your direct -mail campaign.
  • Gain leads and sales with the “magic words” of direct-response copy.
  • Avoid the most common snail-mail mistakes that will get your marketing ignored.

Subscribe to the Entrepreneur Press® Book of the Week newsletter to receive discounts to more books like this at http://entm.ag/botw.

Hyperproof wants to make it easier to comply with GDPR and other regulations

As companies try to figure out how to comply with regulations like GDPR, ISO or Sarbanes Oxley, they face a huge challenge just getting started. Hyperproof, a Bellevue, Wash. startup, is launching a new product to help companies build a workflow to get them in compliance in a more organized way. Company co-founder and CEO…

GettyImages 946845620 - Hyperproof wants to make it easier to comply with GDPR and other regulations

As companies try to figure out how to comply with regulations like GDPR, ISO or Sarbanes Oxley, they face a huge challenge just getting started. Hyperproof, a Bellevue, Wash. startup, is launching a new product to help companies build a workflow to get them in compliance in a more organized way.

Company co-founder and CEO Craig Unger says most companies struggle with the complexity of compliance. It involves a lot of different activities and often requires the cooperation of employees, who typically aren’t involved in compliance.

Hyperproof wants to provide a single place where companies can undertake their compliance activities. “In reality, there’s no single place where if you’re a compliance officer, you can say, ‘here is where I do my work.’ Here is the equivalent of my SAP system for a CFO or my CRM system for a head of sales or head of marketing — and Hyperproof is just that,” Unger explained.

He says most companies do compliance today in a fairly ad hoc way, relying on technology like spreadsheets to track tasks, and email to make requests for needed information. What Hyperproof does is package all of that into a single program. You indicate which compliance regimen you want to work with, and Hyperproof builds a workspace for you with all of the requirements you need for that compliance framework.

Unger says at this point, the company is simply putting all of the tasks in a single workflow to simplify and organize your activities around this compliance framework.You can also import a spreadsheet to get that information inside Hyperproof, or outline the requirements in your own language in the program.

“Once you have a defined program in place, you can start working with the rest of the organization in a collaborative way by sending emails. The evidence that comes back gets put inside Hyperproof as an immutable record with an audit trail around this data collection,” Unger explained. Should you get audited, you have a central place to show the auditor your work.

The company has concentrated on building the workflow part of this, but in the future wants to add automation and APIs to connect directly to other systems to automate many of the activities. The goal with the initial release was to get companies a compliance framework workflow, and then build on that in the future.

The company was founded last year and has raised $3 million from 23 angel investors in the Seattle area where they are based. In fact, Unger is a former Microsoft employee and also helped found Azuqua, a workflow startup he sold to Okta this year for $52.5 million.

Lessons From Our Top 10 Influencer Marketing Posts of 2019

2019 saw the continued rise in influencer marketing’s power and scope in both B2C and B2B industries. This continued the explosion of interest in the practice over the past two years, and with more practitioners than ever going all-in, influencer marketing has been a primary focus of what we have explored on our blog throughout…

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2019 saw the continued rise in influencer marketing’s power and scope in both B2C and B2B industries. This continued the explosion of interest in the practice over the past two years, and with more practitioners than ever going all-in, influencer marketing has been a primary focus of what we have explored on our blog throughout the year.

We’re lucky to have some of the strongest B2B influencer marketing professionals contributing to the TopRank Marketing blog, including our CEO Lee Odden, Ashley Zeckman, Joshua Nite, Caitlin Burgess, Anne Leuman, Nick Nelson, Tiffani Allen, Debbie Friez, the author of this post, and Alexis Hall, among others.

As an industry approaching $20 billion annually, influencer marketing is now far from a shiny new object to savvy marketers. The insight and expertise our team has acquired helping some of the top brands in the world including 3M, Adobe, SAP, LinkedIn, and Oracle plan, implement and measure influencer marketing programs has often made it here to our blog. To help our blog community grow their influencer marketing knowledge, we’re delighted to offer this list of our most popular influencer marketing posts of 2019.

Of course, collaborating with influencers is something we do daily for clients and ourselves, and influencer engagement has become even more central to our B2B content marketing solutions, alongside social media marketing, SEO, and online advertising.

The influencer marketing posts that proved to be our most popular of 2019 based on web analytics and social media data are listed below. We hope that they will help you ask the right questions and provide truly best-answer solutions to some of the most important challenges we’ll all be facing in 2020.

We give a giant thank you to Lee Odden, Ashley Zeckman, Josh Nite, Anne Leuman, and Caitlin Burgess for their work in advocating influencer marketing best practices.

In addition to the list below, we’ve published several popular influencer lists this year, and while we won’t place them on this list, we wanted to share them here as they’re a great way to find and follow some of the leading digital marketing influencers.

Our Most Popular Influencer Marketing Posts in 2019:

1. 7 Top B2B Influencer Marketing Trends for 2020 — Lee Odden

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Our CEO Lee wrote the most popular influencer marketing post of 2019 on our blog, exploring some of the most important and relevant trends to recognize for 2020.

Highlighting trends including influence artificial intelligence (AI), democratized influence, brandividual media, more engaging content, integration with martech, the consumerization of B2B influence and more, Lee took a powerful look at many of the influencer marketing trends that are likely to rise in 2020. Check out all of Lee’s 2,600+ posts here, and follow him on Twitter.

“Not staying on top of how the world of influencer marketing is evolving is simply leaving your customers open to the influence of your competition..” @LeeOdden Click To Tweet

2. Inspiring Examples of B2B Influencer Marketing in Action — Lee Odden

inspiring b2b influencer marketing examples - Lessons From Our Top 10 Influencer Marketing Posts of 2019

Lee also wrote our second most popular influencer marketing post of the year, offering up 10 inspiring examples of B2B influencer marketing in action, showing how B2B influencer marketing can help increase credibility by promoting to buyers using people they trust. Lee looked at how more B2B brands are realizing that while different than B2C, working with influencers in a business to business context represents a significant opportunity to create more credible content.

“Trends come and go, but the value of trusted sources of information to customers looking for solutions couldn’t be any more timeless..” @LeeOdden Click To Tweet

3. 5 Key Trends in B2B Influencer Marketing Plus Critical Do’s and Don’ts — Lee Odden

b2b influencer marketing trends 2019 - Lessons From Our Top 10 Influencer Marketing Posts of 2019

Offering an exploration of critical do’s and don’ts for B2B marketers, Lee also penned our third most popular influencer marketing article of the year, digging in to the world of micro and macro influencers, centralized influencer operations, always-on influencer engagement, a focus shift to both quality and quantity metrics, and the rise of influencer marketing software investment. Combined with five key trends to be aware of, this is an insightful look at the power of B2B influencer marketing when done right.

4. The Next Level of Influence: 30 Essential Influencer Marketing Statistics — Joshua Nite

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In the fourth most popular influencer marketing post of 2019, our Senior Content Marketing Manager Josh shared 30 statistics to help take your influencer marketing to the next level — what we call Influence 2.0. Josh’s post is a great way to upgrade your influencer marketing and get ready for what comes next.  Check out all of Josh’s posts here, and follow him on Twitter.

While financial compensation can be part of your #influencermarketing strategy, it shouldn’t be the whole strategy. Money can’t buy genuine enthusiasm and emotional investment. @NiteWrites Click To Tweet

5. Why Always-On Is Always Better for Driving B2B Influencer Marketing Success — Caitlin Burgess

always on influencer marketing - Lessons From Our Top 10 Influencer Marketing Posts of 2019

When it comes to B2B influencer marketing, always-on is always better, and in our fifth most popular influencer marketing post of the year, our Senior Content Marketing Manager Caitlin shares why strong relationships and always-on commitment to influencer marketing combine to help you refine, evolve, and scale your marketing efforts. Featuring seasoned influencer marketing leaders at B2B brands, Caitlin’s post reveals how at its core, influencer marketing is all about brands engaging and developing relationships with individuals — individuals who have relevant topical expertise, reach, and resonance that aligns with the goals of the brand. Check out all of Caitlin’s posts here, and follow her on Twitter.

Companies should approach influencers as partners, not just as people that they can use for their marketing efforts and launches. – @AmishaGandhi #B2BInfluencerMarketing Click To Tweet

6. 5 Essential Questions to Guide Your B2B Influencer Marketing Strategy — Ashley Zeckman

common influencer marketing questions - Lessons From Our Top 10 Influencer Marketing Posts of 2019

Our Senior Director of Digital Strategy Ashley Zeckman answered five common questions about influencer marketing in our sixth most popular post of the year, with answers and insight including:

• What is B2B influencer marketing?

• How effective is it?

• How can I get leadership to buy in?

• Short-term gain or long-term reward?

• Who are the right influencers for your brand?

Ashley explored how each influencer type holds a different value for your audience and your brand, and how finding your right influencer mix means the right tactics, the right topics and the right experts. Check out all of Ashley’s posts here, and follow her on Twitter.

Influencer marketing activates internal and industry experts with engaged networks to co-create content of mutual value and achieve measurable business goals. – @leeodden Click To Tweet

7. How Can B2B Brands Benefit from Collaborating with Influencers? Let’s Get the Scoop from the Experts — Caitlin Burgess

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How can B2B brands benefit from collaborating with influencers? In this post Caitlin holds another spot on our top ten list for the year, sharing actionable insight from experts including Whitney Magnuson, Rani Mani, Lucy Zarlengo Moran, Martin Jones, Konstanze Alex, and others.

Working with B2B influencers allows our brand to have a constant pulse check with purchase decision-makers. @konstanze @dell Click To Tweet

8. Examples of B2B Influencer Marketing to Inspire You in 2019 — Lee Odden

5 b2b influencer marketing examples - Lessons From Our Top 10 Influencer Marketing Posts of 2019

Another top influencer marketing post of the years comes from Lee, sharing B2B influencer marketing inspiration with powerful examples of success from our clients at 3M, Dell, Oracle Dyn, Prophix, and SAP to help you visualize ways to make your influencer marketing efforts more impactful and meaningful. Lee’s article makes it clear that an influencer content program can be a powerful force in your B2B marketing mix.

9. Sowing the Seeds of Success: 3 Elements of Strong B2B Influencer Relationships — Caitlin Burgess

B2B Influencer Marketing Characteristics - Lessons From Our Top 10 Influencer Marketing Posts of 2019

What characteristics do the best influencer/brand relationships share? In another top post of the year, Caitlin shows how to sow the seeds of success using elements that form stronger B2B influencer relationships, including:

• The Fit Factor

• A Foundation of Trust

• Commitment to Co-Creation

• Greater Long-Term Interaction

In order to be successful, the work has to be mutually beneficial to both parties. @lucymoran on #B2BInfluencerMarketing Click To Tweet

10. Hitting Your Target: Why Account-Based Marketing and Influencers Are the Perfect Match — Nick Nelson

abm influencer marketing - Lessons From Our Top 10 Influencer Marketing Posts of 2019

In the tenth most popular influencer marketing article of the year, our Senior Content Strategist Nick digs into the essentials of account based marketing (ABM) and its intersection with influencer marketing. Nick shows how ABM can bring a clearer focus to your B2B influencer marketing strategy and how it helps hit your influencer marketing targets and gain ideal customers. Check out all of Nick’s posts here, and follow him on Twitter.

Thanks TopRank Marketing Writers & Readers

There you have it — a strong group of 10 of our top influencer marketing posts for 2019.

We published dozens of posts this year specifically about influencer marketing, and we plan to bring you even more in 2020, so stay tuned.

Please let us know which influencer marketing topics and ideas you’d like to see us focus on for 2020 — we’d love to hear your suggestions. If you’d like to get a handle on influencer marketing trends, be sure to also check out Ashley Zeckman’s post.

Many thanks to each of you who read our blog regularly, and to all of you who comment on and share our posts on the TopRank Marketing social media channels at Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

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MLB Rumors: Josh Donaldson price exceeds Texas Rangers comfort level – Lone Star Ball

MLB Rumors: The Texas Rangers are “likely out” on Josh Donaldson, according to Levi Weaver on Twitter, who says that Donaldson’s price has exceeded the Rangers’ comfort level. Donaldson, 34, had a great bounce-back season for Atlanta in 2019, and was generally seen as getting a deal in the 3 year, $75 million range. With…

MLB Rumors: The Texas Rangers are “likely out” on Josh Donaldson, according to Levi Weaver on Twitter, who says that Donaldson’s price has exceeded the Rangers’ comfort level.

Donaldson, 34, had a great bounce-back season for Atlanta in 2019, and was generally seen as getting a deal in the 3 year, $75 million range. With Anthony Rendon off the board, however, Donaldson’s market has apparently increased to the point he is asking for — and, it sounds like, is likely to get — a four year deal.

If the Rangers miss out on both Rendon and Donaldson, that would be a pretty major miss for a team that has a gaping hole at third base and whose top positional priority was getting a top notch third baseman who could hit righty in the middle of the order — a role either Rendon or Donaldson would fill quite well.

The other two big time third basemen who have been talked about as being available are Kris Bryant, who has either one or two years before he hits free agency (depending on how the arbitrator rules on his pending grievance), and who will cost a significant amount in talent given up, and Nolan Arenado, who signed a big extension with Colorado a year ago, has an opt out, and who the Rockies will likely want a lot for. Neither of them seems like legitimate options for the Rangers.

Other external third base solutions include 2019 New York Mets Todd Frazier, who is a free agent, and Jed Lowrie, who missed just about all of 2019 due to injury, and whose contract, which has $10 million remaining for 2020, the Mets are wanting to move.

That being said…if the Rangers are out on Donaldson after missing on Rendon, and after missing on Zack Wheeler, that means the Rangers are moving on to Plan…E? Plan F? for the offseason.

Instreamatic signs deals to allow people to talk to adverts on streaming services like an Alexa

Most in tech would agree that following the launch of Alexa and Google Home devices, the “Voice Era” is here. Voice assistant usage is at 3.3 billion right now; by 2020, half of all searches are expected to be done via voice. And with younger generations growing up on voice (55% of teens use voice…

Most in tech would agree that following the launch of Alexa and Google Home devices, the “Voice Era” is here. Voice assistant usage is at 3.3 billion right now; by 2020, half of all searches are expected to be done via voice. And with younger generations growing up on voice (55% of teens use voice search daily now), there’s no turning back.

As we’ve reported, the voice-based ad market will grow to $19 billion in the U.S. by 2022, growing the market share from the $17 billion audio ad market and the $57 billion programmatic ad market.

That means that voice shopping is also set to explode, with the volume of voice-based spending growing twenty-fold over the next few years due to voice-based virtual assistant penetration, as well as the rapid consumer adoption of home-based smart speakers, the expansion of smart homes and the growing integration of virtual assistants into cars.

That, combined with the popularity of digital media — streaming music, podcasts, etc. — has created greenfield opportunities for better brand engagement through audio. But brands have struggled to catch up, and there have not been many ways to capitalise on this.

So a team of people who co-founded and worked at Zvuk, a leading music streaming service in Eastern Europe, quickly understood why there is not a single profitable music streaming company in the world: subscription rates are low and advertisers are not excited about audio ads, due to the measurement challenges and intrusive ad experience.

So, they decided to create SF-based company Instreamatic, a startup which allows people to talk at adverts they see and get an AI-driven voice response, just as you might talk to an Alexa device.

Thus, the AI powering Instreamatic’s voice-driven ads can interpret and anticipate the intent of a user’s words (and do so in the user’s natural language, so robotic “yes” and “no” responses aren’t needed). That means Instreamatic enables brands which advertise through digital audio channels (streaming music apps, podcasts, etc.) to now have interactive (and continuous) voice dialogues with consumers.

Yes, it means you can talk to an advert like it was an Alexa.

Instead of an audio ad playing to a listener as a one-way communication (like every TV and radio ad before it), brands can now reach and engage with consumers by having voice-interactive conversations. Brands using Instreamatic can also continue conversations with consumers across channels and audio publishers — so fresh ad content is tailored to the full history of each listener’s past engagements and responses.

An advantage of the platform is that people can use their voice to set their advertising preferences. So, when a person says “I don’t want to hear about it ever again,” brands can optimize their marketing strategy either by stopping all remarketing campaigns across all digital media channels targeted to that person, or by optimizing the communication strategy to offer something else instead of the product that was rejected. If the listener expressed interest or no interest, Instreamatic would know that and tailor future ads to match past engagement — providing a continuous dialogue with the user.

Its competitor is AdsWizz, which allows users to shake their phones when they are interested in an ad. This effectively allows users to “click” when the audio ad is playing in the background. One of their recent case studies reported that shaking provided 3.95% interaction rates.

By contrast, Instreamatic’s voice dialogue marketing platform allows people to talk to audio advertising, skipping irrelevant ads and engaging in interesting ones. Their recent case study claimed a much higher 13.2% voice engagement rate this way.

The business model is thus: when advertisers buy voice dialogue ads on its ad exchange, it takes a commission from that ad spend. Publishers, brands and ad tech companies can license the technology and Instreamatic charges them a licensing fee based on usage.

Instreamatic has now partnered with Gaana, India’s largest music and content streaming service, to integrate Instreamatic into Gaana’s platform. It has also partnered with Triton Digital, a service provider to the audio streaming and podcast industry.

This follows similar deals with Pandora, Jacapps, Airkast and SurferNETWORK.

All these partnerships means the company can now reach 120 million monthly active users in the United States, 30 million in Europe and 150 million in Asia.

The company is headquartered in San Francisco and London, with a development team in Moscow, and features Stas Tushinskiy as CEO and co-founder. Tushinskiy created the digital audio advertising market in Russia prior to relocating to the U.S. with Instreamatic. International Business Development head and co-founder Simon Dunlop previously founded Bookmate, a subscription-based reading and audiobook platform, DITelegraph Moscow Tech Hub and Zvuk.

Digital Marketing CEO Guy Sheetrit on Transforming Your Limitations Into Leverage

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How to Use Instagram Stories in Your Sales Funnel

Want to turn Instagram followers into clients? Wondering how to use Instagram stories to nurture warm leads? In this article, you’ll learn how to use Instagram stories to engage and guide people through your sales funnel. #1: Nurture Warm Instagram Leads in the Middle of the Funnel Instagram stories are best used to target followers…

Want to turn Instagram followers into clients? Wondering how to use Instagram stories to nurture warm leads?

In this article, you’ll learn how to use Instagram stories to engage and guide people through your sales funnel.

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#1: Nurture Warm Instagram Leads in the Middle of the Funnel

Instagram stories are best used to target followers who are in the middle of your sales funnel, rather than new users who are unfamiliar with your brand. Stories invite users who already follow you to view and engage with your content more consistently. Those who are already interested in your brand can be carried from the middle all the way to the bottom of your funnel through consistent and compelling story content.

You can post new stories daily or even multiple times per day. Because they disappear in 24 hours, stories don’t gum up your followers’ feeds the way that multiple standard social media posts shared in the same day would. It’s generally an acceptable marketing strategy for brands to post consistent and frequent stories for their followers to see throughout the day, increasing their exposure to your brand and encouraging interested prospects to swipe up and learn more.

When creating your social media stories, your content needs to be compelling enough that followers will watch to the end. Your audience will remember stories that evoke emotion or share important, easily digestible information.

You should also consider tactics that will make brief story segments valuable and memorable for your followers. Here are a few concrete ways to accomplish this.

Tips and Tricks Stories

Quick, easy-to-follow tips and tricks make great Instagram story content because they provide value to your followers. They’re also a seamless, natural opportunity for product placement, and they appeal to followers who are between the middle and bottom of your sales funnel. Customers can discover new ways to use your products or services, while prospects are presented with additional or more specific reasons to take the next step or make the purchase.

These types of stories are most effective when you use clear, simple messages and examples. Your followers are more likely to stay for quick and easy-to-digest information as opposed to text-heavy or overly detailed story content. Understanding the concepts shared in the story shouldn’t require followers to take notes or bring in a lot of outside knowledge.

Lowe’s Home Improvement offers handy tips for their Instagram followers on many home and gardening topics. The story below introduces a new tool that people can use to help avoid under- or overwatering houseplants. Rather than focus too heavily on technical information, the story keys in on the visuals and keeps the message short and sweet. It’s not about explaining everything at this point, but rather just giving users a taste of information, letting them ultimately decide if they want to learn more.

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Stories like this offer an opportunity to nurture a relationship and build trust with your followers because when executed correctly, they come across as honest and helpful.

Educational Stories

Sharing educational Instagram stories allows you to keep rewarding consumers with great content, while also providing an opportunity to keep them moving down the funnel.

With an educational story, you can teach something basic and broad about your industry or one that your clients or customers work in. To illustrate, you might create a 15-second story that shows people new industry-specific software that can make their job or an everyday task easier. An educational story can also offer a surprising statistic about your industry, followed by a brief explanation or call to action.

Educational stories also give you space to share how-to’s that feature your products or demonstrate your brand’s knowledge or mastery of your industry. Introducing a new concept or discussing a new trend in the industry can educate followers and bolster your credibility.

As with stories that share tips and tricks, educational story content should be quick, clear, and helpful. Remember, people don’t want to sit through a lecture! Keep your educational content interesting, applicable, and on-brand, as Drybar does in this story about styling holiday hair.

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Pet food company Royal Canin took advantage of National Take Your Dog to Work Day to provide educational and fun content about dogs in the workplace.

In the story below, they don’t shove their product in people’s faces, but rather talk about related content that’s of interest to their target audience.

Royal Canin’s marketing is typically fine-tuned with a whited-out background and use of bold red. However, in this story, they offer a much more authentic experience with their brand (though they do use red and white throughout).

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Lifestyle or Brand Stories

Instagram stories are also a great place to share more general lifestyle and brand content for your followers. You could post stories that show behind-the-scenes footage from your business or photo shoots, or content that features lifestyle models or influencers using your products in their daily lives.

The key to effective lifestyle or branded story content is entertaining viewers. While tips and tricks and educational videos offer valuable information, lifestyle content can offer entertainment value. You don’t always have to feel compelled to teach. Lifestyle content provides this alternative.

Consider using techniques like humor, aspirational appeal, fictional characters, or personal stories. You can surprise your followers with relevant memes or jokes that they’ll want to tell their friends about. Give viewers a sneak peek at what your team is doing to prepare for an upcoming holiday season, sale, or launch. Depending on your brand’s journey, your followers may even like to see a story about your founder or the company’s growth and development.

Creating lifestyle stories that make your followers laugh, feel nostalgic, or connect with your brand and its values will help guide them to the bottom of your sales funnel.

Footwear company Allbirds has always maintained a strong brand image. They share stories content that simply reinforces the look, feel, and connection of the brand with their consumers.

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Specs and Dimensions for Instagram Stories

Instagram allows you to post stories content in 15-second chunks that disappear after 24 hours. Users tap through the queue of stories from accounts they follow rather than scrolling through typical analog-style posts. This difference in format is often advantageous to brands because users will see a series of only your stories as opposed to a singular post as they quickly scroll through their timeline.

The dimensions of Instagram stories are different from traditional posts or ads. Instead of the classic Instagram square, stories usually take up the entire smartphone screen. This means your stories content should be 1080 pixels wide by 1920 pixels high, an aspect ratio of 9:16. Keep these dimensions in mind when creating your content so your stories blend seamlessly into your audience’s story feed.

Stories serve a different purpose than traditional Instagram posts do, so you can’t simply recycle your standard Instagram posts as stories. Because of the temporary, casual nature of stories, followers generally expect to see story content that feels unedited, spontaneous, or intimate. When producing your stories, focus on capturing videos with a more natural aesthetic, as opposed to videos that appear heavily edited and highly styled. Save that content for your posts!

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This example from natural home goods company Buffy isn’t overly edited or produced. It’s just a fun, off-the-cuff story that viewers might receive from one of their friends.

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#2: Convert Your Hot Instagram Leads via Stories

While you’re creating your awesome stories and tracking your followers’ engagement with your content, keep the big picture in mind. Every so often, check to make sure you’re driving those who watch your stories down the sales funnel. There are a few ways to accomplish this.

If you have the means, consider hosting a live webinar to kick off the launch of a new product or service. Advertise this webinar in your stories, and track how many followers and viewers take the extra step and attend the webinar.

You can also create a designated landing page or video that your followers are taken to if they swipe up on your stories to learn more. You can design this web content with that audience in mind, using language and features that have been proven to appeal to viewers.

Going back to the Royal Canin example, if you were to continue watching the story, you would eventually be led to the graphic below that invites you to read more about bringing dogs to the workplace.

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#3: Warm Up New Instagram Followers or Cold Instagram Leads via Stories Highlights Albums

So you’ve created and shared a variety of engaging stories with your followers across your social media platforms. But once your story’s 24 hours are up, what do you do? How can stories offer long-term marketing value to your brand?

While stories disappear from your followers’ feeds after 24 hours, you can save stories to highlights albums that users can access anytime from your Instagram profile. This allows you to preserve and organize your best story content for current followers to go back to and for future followers to discover later on.

Group Your Instagram Highlights Into Topics of Interest

While earlier I mentioned that Instagram stories are best for viewers in the middle of the funnel, story highlights allow you to spotlight content that appeals to those at the top and bottom of the funnel.

For consumers who are unfamiliar with Buffy, there’s an interesting story about the brand in the Meet Buffy highlight album. And consumers who are in the middle of the funnel can get more nuanced information from the other story highlights albums. The Buffy IRL highlight album spotlights content from customers who have posted about Buffy comforters on Instagram. It helps influence people who are on the fence about making a purchase.

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Of course, before you name your highlights albums, you need to develop an organizational system that makes sense for your content and followers. A real estate agent may organize their highlights by client needs, such as Buying and Selling, or by interests, such as Down Payment Saving Tips or Home Design Inspo.

Pro Tip: When grouping your highlights, plan for the future. Ask yourself what kind of stories you’ll want to save to your profile and what kind of content your followers will come back for.

HubSpot segments their stories in logical highlights that correspond with what the users may want to know about. The highlights are organized into Tips, Growth, Marketing, Tech, Sales, and so on. This approach helps HubSpot create a better marketing communication channel for all of their users.

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You can also use stories highlights to help your followers self-identify where they are in your funnel and find the information that’s most relevant to them on your profile.

A family photographer might create a highlights album for potential clients that offers information about scheduling, pricing, and other general information that prospects may be gathering. The same photographer could also create a highlights album for customers who are waiting to receive their photos, including information about timelines, editing, and sneak peeks.

Alternatively, the photographer could create highlights albums organized by category such as Newborns or Family Christmas Cards, and include pricing, scheduling information, and samples of their work in those specific categories.

When choosing names for your highlights albums, go with short, easily understandable titles that coordinate with one another. Make sure that the titles are short enough to be fully displayed on your profile. Also consider using emojis or single keywords in your highlights album titles for clarity and brevity.

However you decide to organize your stories highlights, be sure to consider clear organization, future content, and the chronology of your clients’ journeys and sales funnel.

Design Custom Covers for Instagram Highlights

When creating your highlights albums, be sure to design custom highlights covers. Your cover images should be clean and simple, while either clearly indicating the purpose of the highlight or matching the branding of the rest of your Instagram presence. You can accomplish this through simple icons or intentional color palettes, or by coordinating with the other story albums.

To visualize this, you may choose a solid color background that maintains your branding or a simple, easily recognizable icon that relates to the album content such as a house, a hammer, a dollar sign, or a cat.

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Like any other Instagram content, you can archive or delete highlights when necessary. Consider using this feature when it’s time to give your online branding a refresh, or when a short-term sale or program has ended or changed. Your highlights should always be relevant and up to date.

#4: Use Analytics to Optimize Your Instagram Stories Content for Views

Are your Instagram stories too long? Are you posting static photos to your stories instead of dynamic videos? Do followers seem more interested in your educational content than your humorous lifestyle content? Trends in follower retention and viewership will help you determine how best to harness your stories as powerful social media marketing tools.

Instagram provides insights for business profiles to help you track engagement. While the metrics can be ambiguous, they are an avenue of measuring engagement. At the end of the day, they’re the only way to determine which kinds of stories are doing well or poorly with your audience.

When reviewing your Instagram Insights for stories, pay close attention to when and where viewers drop off. And remember, engagement on stories shouldn’t be interpreted the same way as other web marketing analytics.

For instance, taps back are not negative metrics; they mean users are intrigued and want to see the content again. And taps forward can be viewed as content that’s not resonating. This is the reverse of website analytics where the faster and farther a user goes down web pages, the better.

Conclusion

When executed properly, Instagram stories can be an excellent tool for keeping your brand top of mind with your followers. Think of your stories as micro-conversations that help you maintain a constantly visible presence in your followers’ daily lives.

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Stories give you the opportunity to get creative and craft entertaining, engaging content to share with your followers. Taking full advantage of stories will help you grow your brand and guide your followers from the middle to the bottom of the sales funnel.

More articles on Instagram stories:

Delete the Scammy ‘ToTok’ App, and Use It As a Lesson in Avoiding Spyware

First off, it’s “ToTok,” not “TikTok.” One is a messaging app that turned out to be spyware for the United Arab Emirates; the other is that quirky video app that people use to lipsync with their cats to make funny memes. Keep doing that, but definitely remove ToTok from your device if you’re one of…

First off, it’s “ToTok,” not “TikTok.” One is a messaging app that turned out to be spyware for the United Arab Emirates; the other is that quirky video app that people use to lipsync with their cats to make funny memes. Keep doing that, but definitely remove ToTok from your device if you’re one of the millions of people who installed it, because it’s totally bogus.

The news on ToTok comes from a weekend report by The New York Times, which indicates that ToTok—recently among the most-downloaded apps in the United States—is actually “used by the government of the United Arab Emirates to try to track every conversation, movement, relationship, appointment, sound and image of those who install it on their phones.”

While you’re uninstalling the offending app, and having a slight panic attack about who and what has this data about your whereabouts and discussions, let’s talk prevention. Specifically, is there any way to prevent a scammy app like this—one that’s presumably “vetted by popularity,” as I like to describe it—from infiltrating your life again?

First off, there’s nothing about the app’s description that would typically raise a warning flag. It’s full of marketing-speak, sure, but it’s not full of grammar and spelling mistakes, nor does it read as if it was run through Google Translate six times back-to-back. From a screenshot of the app’s product page on the App Store, we get:

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Screenshot: David Murphy

The app also enjoyed a lot of great reviews and hgh ratings—again, all appearing to be written by real people. At least, they didn’t sound as if the app’s developer hired 30 scammers to post random positive junk about the app.

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Screenshot: David Murphy

Finally, there’s the trust element. I think a lot of people assume that whenever an app makes it onto Apple’s App Store (for example), it has been thoroughly and properly vetted by Apple’s internal app review teams. While that’s true, to an extent, there’s only so much these teams can check. They would have no way of knowing that the servers used by a messaging app are logging and recording everything you say—not really functionality they have the power to test.

The same is true for location tracking. As long as an app’s use of location services is “directly relevant to the features and services provided by the app,” as Apple says, Apple has no control over how this data is stored, kept, or shared by an app’s developer. An app can “notify and obtain consent before collecting, transmitting, or using location data,” but it can also lie. Apple can’t check for liars.

It’s also unclear whether permissions the app requested—on Android or iOS—would have given away its intent. I suspect that which the app wanted to do probably seemed reasonable, given it’s a messaging app. It would probably want to access your contacts or SMS messages, as well as your camera, your microphone, et cetera. Normally, an app asking for all those permissions en masse would raise a flag, but not when that app, like others, uses those as part of its core functionality.

Is there anything you can do to avoid shitty apps that appear great?

The only advice I have, which isn’t much advice at all, is to really, really think about the kinds of apps you install on your device. Most app categories have frontrunners that have been around for years, used by millions, and probably analyzed by security experts and journalists alike. Before you install the next great app to replace some critical component of your device—like a new phone app, a messaging app, or even a camera app—take some time to research it.

Even if you did this, you still wouldn’t have found out about ToTok’s mischief until it was too late, but you also might have not installed the app—given its newness—until more people had more to say about it. You might have paused, wondering why a messaging app you’ve never heard of and none of your friends are using is now insanely popular. Maybe you would have stuck with Signal or WhatsApp instead of jumping ship to a “new” app that offers similar functionality. Is the risk worth an extra feature or two, or a more interesting user interface?

There’s no hard and fast rule you can use to determine whether an app is legitimate or not, just a number of data points you have to weigh before installing something new. Sometimes, these clues tilt the balance toward “obvious”—not a full confirmation, but a strong suggestion that you probably don’t need or want the app you’re about to install. Other times, like in the case of ToTok, it’s hard to figure out what you should do. I tend to ask myself, “Do I really need it,” before I install something new, because I like to not have 1,000 apps on my smartphone. That, and I like to be pretty sure about apps that request a ton of permissions. (I’m less worried about apps I’ve never heard of that don’t need access to, say, my contacts.)

I’m hoping you didn’t get bit by ToTok, but if you did, it’s a helpful reminder that even the best-looking apps that live in the top charts on the world’s biggest app playgrounds can still act in bad faith. And, sometimes, there’s very little you can do about it. Stay on top of the news for the popular apps you download just in case that new and sweet-looking app is actually a complete and total scam (or worse

Effective influencer marketing in 2020 will hinge on ‘creator’ direction

Almost half of marketers want total control over sponsored influencer posts, according to a recent study. Old habits die hard. For marketers used to masterminding a brand message and ensuring its implemented consistently, allowing influencers freedom to represent your brand, without strict guidelines, can feel like a new and daunting experience.  In the early days…

Almost half of marketers want total control over sponsored influencer posts, according to a recent study. Old habits die hard. For marketers used to masterminding a brand message and ensuring its implemented consistently, allowing influencers freedom to represent your brand, without strict guidelines, can feel like a new and daunting experience. 

In the early days of influencer marketing, brands had little choice but to leave social ambassadors to interpret messages in their own voice. The ‘freebie in exchange for a post’ model was commonplace and marketers were left watching and waiting for a mention. But, as the industry has evolved into more formal paid partnerships, brands have felt entitled to more creative control over the work. In a sense, it’s understandable. After all, who knows the brand better than the brand itself?

But this control has an impact. Both on the quality of the work and the performance of the campaign. The beauty of social creators is they know how to convert, without the hard sell. At their best, collaborations feel like a recommendation from an expert you admire, or a style suggestion from the person you wished you dressed like. At their worst, shoehorned marketing jargon and unnatural references make them instantly recognizable as an ad and you lose the magic of authentic influencer marketing.

Chris Johnston, Director of Content & Operations at MediaCom Beyond Advertising told me: “We have consistently found that when you give influencers the freedom to apply their creativity to a brand brief, the results lift across the board. Good creative helps brands win in the (lack of) attention economy and influencers are best placed to deliver relevant and authentic content to their audience, helping brands capture it.”

What you need to do in 2020

To succeed in effective influencer marketing campaigns, that feel genuine and authentic, the industry needs to move away from creative direction and back to creator direction. Influencer marketing does not work in the same way as traditional advertising and that is its power. Marketers need to acknowledge that while it may be your brand, it is their audience and no-one knows how to connect with them better than the influencer themselves.

Loosening the creative reigns can be liberating. Influencers can do unexpected things and take risks on behalf of your brand. You could end up with more innovative content ideas than you could have imagined in-house. 

Of course trust is essential and as the industry matures, we are seeing brands forming longer term partnerships with ambassadors, giving relationships an opportunity to build. Choosing the right influencers is also crucial. Creators that understand your brand and your target market are in a position to provide that insight. It’s chemistry that goes deeper than reach metrics. Selecting an influencer with a wide reach but little understanding of your brand values is a recipe for crippling creative control.

Issuing open briefs will also make creators a lot more excited and willing to go above and beyond for your brand. An influencer that I’ve worked with said: “Let them have as much creative autonomy as you can allow. I’ve had some brands who really try and push me in a certain direction and it hasn’t been ‘me’; an influencer’s audience follow them for their unique style, so trying and mold it into something else just isn’t going to convert.”

My biggest piece of advice would be to do your due diligence up front, so you feel confident enough to empower an influencer with creative control. Working with collaborators whose content output and authenticity you can trust will minimize the need for clunky pre-approvals and restrictive briefs. You won’t need to monitor so closely and the campaign content will thrive as a result.

Of course setting clear boundaries and campaign essentials, like hashtags are necessary, but when that is done, sit back, be brave and be blown away by the creative storytelling that comes back to you. 

Published December 24, 2019 — 00:00 UTC

duotone?fit=240%2C240&gradient=%23660099 %23FF6666&url=https%3A%2F%2Fsecure.gravatar - Effective influencer marketing in 2020 will hinge on ‘creator’ direction

Aaron Brooks

December 24, 2019 — 00:00 UTC