DrudgeReport.com is an established publication, recognized by an audience of 30+ million monthly readers for a drastically simple page design that delivers top stories on news and information, commentary, opinion and analysis. In addition to covering breaking headlines, The Drudge Report is a mega-traffic driver to top-tier entertainment sites. Sites like hollywoodreporter.com, variety.com, observer.com, and others received up to 28+ million visits from drudgereport.com readers. Check out this slick infographic illustrating referral power and top DMAs.
The Consumer Electronics Show — commonly referred to as CES — was a sight to see. For a first-timer like myself, it was a bit overwhelming. For the 50th anniversary of the show, nearly 200,000 visitors descended upon Las Vegas to take in the sights and sounds of everything tech. CES covered nearly 2.47 million net square feet of space and spans the entire city.
I noticed five key themes that kept up popping up throughout the show:
Voice and voice control is taking over the way we live in ways we can’t even imagine. Many folks are familiar with Amazon Alexa – an intelligent personal assistant that can set up calendar appointments, play music, provide weather and more. Various reports estimated that there were 700–1,100 Alexa-controllable products at the show. Product were either being controlled by Alexa or they were creating Alexa like products.
Lots of products are moving to voice-activation – including this voice-activated garbage can from Simple Human. For a mere $180, your garbage can will respond to the command: “open sesame.”
The reason so many products are now voice activated is that Microsoft created software that recognizes speech on the same level as humans. Voice recognition has scaled in leaps in bounds over the last few years alone.
AI is another hot topic and coincides with voice recognition. There have been significant advancements in technology; previously, a computer was able to take in information, understand it and provide an answer. If you asked, “What steak restaurant do you recommend locally?” the computer could provide you with a list of steak restaurants nearby. Presently, the systems are smart enough to point out specifics, like the fact that Morton’s is the best rated restaurant, it’s only 3.5 miles away, you can make a reservation at 7:00 and they recommend you have the filet instead of the strip steak based upon reviews. AI is truly allowing computers to act as humans in these scenarios.
Internet of Things (IoT)
Experts estimate that by 2020, IoT will consist of 50 Billion objects. IoT commonly comes in the form of connected devices or smart devices. Sensors are collecting hundreds of points of data to make “smart” decisions. At CES, I saw companies like Whirlpool monitoring and adjusting the temperature of a refrigerator, making sure the strawberries didn’t spoil. In addition, wearable companies are measuring every step you take, every change in blood pressure, and providing recommendations as to what exercises to do and what specific foods to eat. Companies are using these sensors to collect every single point of data.
Data is ubiquitous and everywhere. It is growing exponentially and all these new devices are collecting millions upon millions of data points every second. Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much so that 90 percent of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. Much of the tech created (and being worked on) requires sifting through massive amounts of data. It will be our job to process and understand the data.
Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality
You couldn’t go more than 100 ft. at CES without seeing someone wearing crazy headsets. These VR headsets allow you to immerse yourself in any environment. They give users a full 360 degree view. The headsets can make you feel like you are riding a roller coaster or swimming underwater with a school of fish. Augmented reality is the blending of virtual reality with real life. Virtual reality is more prevalent in gaming, however there are more avenues being created, like journalism. Instead of writing about a battle in Iraq, how about creating an immersive environment where it feels like you are part of the battle – feeling and understanding what it takes to survive.
I also noticed the insane amount of marketing and advertising that is committed to the show. Brands spend countless dollars and resources to market their products and make their presence known. Panasonic, the 100-year Japanese organization, had a nearly 17,000 sq. ft. booth broken down into three zones. Behemoths like Samsung, Sony and Intel also had equally impressive booths with hundreds of folks explaining and talking about their products. Auto manufacturers were showcasing their latest, fastest and smartest cars. Overall, CES is a marketer’s dream.
In lock-step with the brands are the agencies that represent them. They’re trying to understand all the latest technology offerings as well as what each of their competitors is doing. They need to be fully immersed in how to best market these products. Beyond tech – there is an abundance of digital media folks that fully represent the numerous participants of the LUMAscape ecosystem.
All the major themes discussed above are important because they dovetail within the marketing and advertising industries. For Intermarkets, CES was a chance to understand what brands and marketers are doing and how we as an organization can facilitate the conversation further. In addition to checking out some of the futuristic gadgets, we were endlessly networking and meeting with many of our current partners including OpenX, Index Exchange, Rubicon, Inform, Outbrain, Criteo, Cadreon, Google, Facebook and more.
I recently had the opportunity to attend the ClickZ conference in New York. The conference was held in the Marriott Marquis in the heart of Times Square. It was a great opportunity to hear what fellow digital marketers were working on; network and better understand how these marketers were pushing the digital economy forward. In total, there were probably close to 1,000 attendees across all walks of marketing, as the conference focused on these four broad tracks: Search & Acquire, Engage & Convert, Retain & Grow, and Digital Transformation.
During my two days, I had a chance to listen to a number of speakers – here are two of my favorites.
An astro-physicist by trade, John heads up About.com’s data science and audience development teams. His team focuses on providing insights and revealing interesting information about About.com visitors, their usage and their interactions with the site. Not only do they track day-to-day performance, but they also look at trends across months and years. They have a systematic approach of using (visual) data and information to help guide decision making. They have reduced the cost of asking questions. This sounds weird – but now that things are more open – it’s easier to ask questions, get answers to help chart decision making. Additionally, there are a lot more people asking thoughtful questions and really digging into the metrics.
Here at Intermarkets, we’ve been working on creating different visual dashboards to look at trends across our publishers and properties. We’ve also allowed our employees greater access to data and data analytics. People are genuinely interested in tracking metrics and want to know how certain decisions impact pageviews, uniques, or revenues.
Greek yogurt maker Chobani, was founded 10 years ago and has had a meteoric rise since first launching in 2007. Back in 2007, Greek Yogurt accounted for less than 1% of all yogurt sales, today Greek yogurt accounts for more than 50% of all yogurt consumption in the US. Much of the category growth can be attributed to Chobani.
The focus of the speech wasn’t about Greek Yogurt – but how Chobani continues to be genuine, but bold in everything they do. The company challenged conventional wisdom when it was formed – investing and believing in a product that was different, but authentic in its DNA.
Much like the CEO’s initial approach in starting the business, Peter McGuiness went on to say this about Chobani’s marketing strategy. “If you have something to say, say it. Don’t mince words. Don’t market in the middle; the middle is lame. Consumers don’t appreciate it. It’s not going to cut through, it’s not going to be relevant and it’s not going to resonant.”
For us here at Intermarkets, the company continues to be authentic in our approach in dealing with advertisers, key partners, and vendors. Back in 2012, Intermarkets made a bold bet on programmatic advertising and haven’t looked back. The company had to make a number of tough strategic decisions, looking at personnel, investments and which partners to work with. Just in a few years, the marketplace has completely flipped on its head and now Intermarkets is seen as one of the leaders in the programmatic space. This strategic bet has enabled Intermarkets to have some of its most successful quarters as advertisers and buyers are getting better access to our premium audiences.
Overall, the conference was a success – a chance to hear from a number of great speakers, network with industry peers, and finally get a chance to test out a pair of virtual reality headsets!
Instant Articles present new opportunities and challenges for publishers
Debuting in May of 2015, Facebook Instant Articles are nearing their first birthday, and in that time marketers and large publishers have had a chance to experiment with publishing full articles directly to the newsfeed without redirecting users to an external site.
When the project was first proposed to publishers, one of the major advantages was that hosting the content on Facebook’s servers dramatically reduced load times. As the name implies, Instant Articles found articles loading nearly instantly within the app. External links took 5-10 seconds by the time the browser would launch and the page could load. The purported benefit was that users would click on an article more readily as they could more immediately determine if the content was of interest. The goal for many publishers is for pages to launch in under two seconds.
In a move that surprised many, the terms of these partnerships were surprisingly favorable for publishers, allowing them to sell and embed their own ads and receive 100% of the revenue, or use Facebook’s in-house advertising services, surrendering 30% of the profits in the revenue sharing deal. Facebook also provides advanced reporting metric courtesy of Google Analytics and Adobe Omniture to ensure publishers could continue to monitor performance.
But while the initial impressions seemed mutually beneficial, there are areas where publishers have cause for concern both in the near-term and in the big picture when considering the service’s viability.
Allowing Facebook to become the new “gate keeper”
With great power comes great responsibility and Facebook is increasingly becoming the primary traffic source for many publishers. As this dynamic and the percentage of readers continues to increase, it’s possible that publishers will stand to lose leverage in the relationship if they’re beholden to a channel providing such a large percentage of viewers.
At present, Facebook limits the number of advertisements (two) that publishers can run within an Instant Article, and currently doesn’t allow native ads to run. While the rationale is to boost of the value of the content in the eyes of the reader by preventing content from being over-stuffed with promotional material, it’s an element of control that many publishers and advertisers are finding themselves reluctant to give up.
Since Instant Article content is hosted on Facebook’s servers rather than the publisher’s, it stands to reason that traffic volume may shift from one source to the next when implementing the strategy. But while a reader going from column A to column B is fine, publishers are concerned with the ability for the reader to continue their journey. Since the reader never leaves the app they’re unable to fully explore the publisher’s site without a navigation bar or quality calls to action, no matter how helpful your hyperlinks, effectively limiting the time spent consuming conduct or finding other material.
Many publishers view the service with cautious optimism, but Facebook’s terms of service will be the pivotal point in the success of the program and its publishers. As we’ve seen with video, and then again with live video, Facebook’s newsfeed algorithms are subject to constant changes, so while the current environment is favorable, the company’s history of rapid change is worries some as the next algorithmic iteration may devalue a publisher’s heavy investment in instant articles.
Retaliation from Google or Twitter
To ignore the other titans of the internet is to turn a blind eye to competition. Facebook’s Instant Articles have seen momentum in partner acquisition, but the rollout to users was relatively slow, giving competitors ample time to respond. Google’s own “Accelerated Mobile Pages” (AMP) also dramatically reduces load times on mobile by leveraging simplified HTML code and the search engine’s page caching technique. Twitter seems to be aligning with the search giant and collaborated in the development of AMP, making an attractive alternative for publishers who want viewers to remain within their site’s ecosystem while maintaining total control over advertising.
Instant Articles: Still a fledgling offering
The potential red flags were evident this past March, when some publishers saw traffic decrease 20-25%, with no obvious explanations offered by either party. Like all innovation, Instant Articles are a work in progress. Facebook will continue to refine the offering, but emerging technology is often rough around the edges or even prone to unforeseen threats in the form of bugs, or shifting behavioral changes. The abnormality in March’s traffic might just be a blip on the radar, but some are concerned that it may be indicative of potential broader instability that needs attention.
Ultimately, this battle for viewer attention is far from over, and publishers would always be wise to continue monitoring their individual performance but keep tabs on the industry as a whole to take the market’s pulse and identify trends signaling an opportunity to employ new techniques rather than go with the flow.
Here at Intermarkets, we will be testing out Facebook Instant Articles in the upcoming weeks. We will be monitoring performance results closely to ensure that our users are getting the best user experience, distribution is consistent, and monetization remains strong.
Wednesday, a number of Intermarketers attended the Advanced Programmatic Buyers & Sellers training in Washington DC. The all-day event was hosted by the IAB, the Interactive Advertising Bureau, who along with its 650+ member companies develops technical standards and best practices for the digital advertising industry.
The class, led by Matt Prohaska of Prohaska Consulting, provided participants with a better understanding of the programmatic media ecosystem, working knowledge of the key technologies and programmatic ad stack across platforms. It also touched upon “Programmatic Guaranteed” and provided live demonstrations from vendors from both the ad tech side as well as from the buyer perspective.
For Intermarkets it was a chance to really hone in on intricacies of Programmatic and learn the nuances of this ever growing digital buying mechanism. Recently eMarketer stated that programmatic digital display ad spending will reach over $22Bn in 2016, a jump of 39.7% over last year, which represents 67% of total digital display ad spending in the US. With such a large percentage, Intermarkets is committed to offering products and services in the way that people want to buy.
The highlight of the night was a panel hosted by OpenX with Martin Calhoun, Director, Digital Advertising Operations and Yield Management at Philly.com and Jason Tollestrup – Director, Programmatic Advertising and Business Intelligence at the Washington Post. The discussion focused on programmatic and more specifically how each of the companies has spent the last year or two implementing header bidding solutions. Philly.com took a very cautious approach, making sure that they focused on the right partners and right solutions – as well as making sure they made changes that were in line with the entire sales strategy. Similarly at the Post, much of their time is evaluating the right partners and making sure that each new partner provides a unique quality about their demand.
Our own Erik Requidan, VP of Sales and Programmatic, asked an interesting question about how buyers keep to date with everything that publishers and technology vendors are working on behind the scenes. Since each ad stack and publisher implementation is different, both panelists agreed that publishers need to spend more time with media buyers, to explain, uncover, and inform the best ways to interact with publishers.
Digital ads have evolved but the formula for a successful ad creative still stems from 5 core principles
Know your audience
Craft a simple message
Get right to the point
Come clean (transparent messaging)
Banner ads have gone from simple images to a variety of advanced audio-visual formats delivered across channels to reach consumers wherever they are. Considering how to create an effective ad that will draw attention and generate clicks can be boiled down to these five points. Applying them to your ad concept will ensure that your creative speaks directly to your intended audience, driving conversions and making you money.
Know your audience
This is the universal KEYSTONE. While I was writing this post, I thought to myself, “How do I craft my message?” Digging down I realized that I was outlining my thoughts based on who I was writing to—you!
Make sure you have a clearly defined audience, that you understand who they are, what they’re looking for, and how they want to find it. Without this piece, you’re going to find the other four difficult to execute. Without knowing whom you’re trying to reach, you’re casting a wide net, which brings down the quality of your clicks.
Craft a simple message
Are you selling a product, idea, or a cause? Make sure the audience knows what it is at first glance. With banner ads, you usually have a very slim window to earn attention from consumers online. Make sure that when they do spot your ad in the side bar of their favorite web page, it’s absolutely clear what you’re showing them.
Get right to the point
Use clear, concise messaging. If consumers have to interpret your offer, chances are they’ll skip right by it. Short and sweet takes the cake.
Pay attention to what’s going on in the world your audience lives in and what they’re interested in. Leverage relevant trends to supercharge your campaign without lifting any additional fingers or having to shell out more dollars. Again, it all ties back to truly knowing your audience.
Be honest and transparent with your messaging. It builds trust and makes people want to do business with you. Let your customers know exactly what you’ve got to offer without beating around the bush with vaguely worded, fluffy catch phrases. If you have an innovative product or a meaningful cause you want to share, show them! This will increase the quality of your conversions by only bringing folks who are actually ready to be your customer.
To summarize, or “TLDR” as they say nowadays, if you get to know your audience ahead of time, you can put together a simple yet effective ad that will get their attention. It shows that you take time to understand who they are and what they’re looking for, and you are ready to cater to their individual needs. It will build a relationship between you and your audience that fosters loyalty and a strong brand reputation.
Nine months ago, Intermarkets launched a content program to transform The Political Insider from an opt-in email list to a digital news publication and social community. Since then, the site has seen impressive growth, and a cohesive, engaged following on social media.
Here’s a short list of milestones and big news about The Political Insider since its re-launch:
The meteoric rise of digital advertising and the ubiquitous Internet has often caused people to “silo” the digital and “real” world. But more often the case than not, these realms are beginning to merge into a seamless experience. Think about “The Internet of Things.”
InReality just released a new study that shows 75% of in-store shoppers use their mobile device while shopping. That number was approximately 1% a mere 10 or 15 years ago. That’s a huge change. Our instant, constant access to the information superhighway has changed nearly everything.
But we wanted to share this for a different reason. Advertisers can’t silo the digital and real worlds. They are quickly becoming one of the same. So that digital advertising campaign’s ROI can’t be judged solely on online purchases or engagement, or whatever KPI’s are used.
While it’s still pretty difficult to quantify, this study shows that digital advertising can and will have real world, in-store impact as well. This isn’t news, necessarily.
But it’s a totally different way to view the sales funnel.
Earlier this year, Intermarkets teamed up with the data scientists at SimilarWeb to append the Drudge Report’s referral traffic, and its impact on advertising and other publishers. Conclusion: the Drudge Report is a rare, unique premium publisher driving hundreds of millions of external visits each month. (Scroll down for infographic)
The Drudge Report has a profound effect on America’s premier news outlets: it’s the top source for referral traffic to industry powerhouses like Fox News, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, and Reuters among others. That alone is extraordinary. But the Drudge Report also has a disproportionate impact on entertainment outlets as well.
When we look at the advertising side, the importance of knowing your audience is paramount—and The Drudge Report’s traffic is nearly 90% direct. Premium publishers attract, and can be defined in part by, the loyalty of their audience. The Drudge Report’s two million unique daily visits and 700 million monthly visits certainly qualify.
In the Drudge Report, advertisers find content quality, powerful distribution power, and an audience they can rely on, while publishers benefit from the Drudge Report’s referral power.
Take a look at our infographic and let us know what you think about the power of the Drudge Report!
It’s exactly 8 days until Election Day 2014. All the fundraising is done. The battle for positioning is over for the most part. The attacks, counterattacks, and defenses have mostly been launched.
Now there’s only time left for two things: convince persuadable voters that you’re the best candidate for the job, and get your supporters to the polls.
The Intermarkets portfolio is the best place to reach both of these audiences. Our exclusive publishers—like The Drudge Report, CNS News, the Media Research Center, and others—combine for over 28 million unique users every month.
These are the most active, politically astute audiences online. These are the community leaders, influencers, and activists you need on your side to win.
Our exclusive portfolio is a crucial part of winning GOTV plans, but to win, candidates need more than just their base.
Campaigns don’t stop with the base, and the Intermarkets portfolio has very strong reach into right-leaning, independent, and center-left voters. The Drudge Report and our other exclusive publishers, like RefDesk, The Grocery Game, and Creators.com are serious hubs for soft Democrats and independent swing voters.
Our huge audience can be targeted to millions of visitors of all political persuasions.
We are the #1 referrer to the top news and political outlets. The New York Times, The Washington Post, and nearly every other national news outlet. These are the voters you need to convince to win.
Putting Your GOTV in Context
Context is crucial. Your ads are more powerful when they compliment the news or content your audience is already reading. They can be run while voters are reading their political news or searching for info that may sway their vote between now and Election Day.
We can serve your foreign policy ad to users reading about ISIS or Putin, your jobs pitch to families worried about the economy, or your ObamaCare hit to the voters reading the latest healthcare news.
This is it. You can’t afford to leave any votes on the table.