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 (Controls)

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.

Artificial Intelligence

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

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.

‘til 2018…

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.

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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.

View our portfolio here.

Persuadable Voters

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.

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Richard Nixon Campaign Sign

The principles of campaigning don’t change. The means do. Adding digital to a campaign’s arsenal—or beefing up an outdated system—can make candidates more visible and more responsive to the people they want to represent.

Be More Places at the Same Time with Smart Targeting

Candidates will still need to press the flesh at the grocery store. When it comes to politics, people truly feel the need to “know” a potential representative, and consider them genuine. Digital campaigning can provide a complimentary addition to both getting to know a candidate as well as increasing “touches” with voters.

Now, to reach voters, candidates can be at several grocery stores instead of just one. In fact, candidates don’t even have to be at the grocery store. They can be at the manufacturer. Or the union hall. Or the transportation company. To put it another way, candidates can be almost anywhere voters are: online. And they need to be.

Consider that Americans spend 11 hours per day with digital media. You have a lot more time and more opportunities to reach voters digitally than you do running into the right people at the grocery store.

Think about this: in an increasingly mobile age, candidates won’t have to fly around the state, rushing through the meager 20 minutes they get at each county fair. Now they can be at every county fair, spreading the word about their agriculture policies.

Creating and deploying cost-efficient, effective digital ads is the new retail politics. Candidates can give their specific, relevant message to voters who are engaging in a digital version of the real-world, retail situation of days gone past.

That’s how you press the flesh in 2014.

The Personal Connection

Candidates can run video ads that provide the same eye-contact, sincerity, and emotional appeal of a TV ad for a fraction of the cost. Better yet—they can associate their message with content the voter is already consuming.

Of course, interaction is diminished in any virtual situation. But there’s no reason a creative campaign team can’t come up with engaging ways to educate voters about a candidate or her opponent.

A smart trigger campaign combined with a volunteer rewards system could actually increase the amount of “face-time” a voter gets with a campaign, and by proxy, the candidate. The Internet doesn’t have office hours, and it doesn’t get tired.

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Keyboard control button

Effectively Control Your Message

You already know digital ad spending will continue to grow. You know it’s important. In politics, control of your message and your image is crucial, to say the least.

In the digital space, you can tailor your communication to do both, with more control than ever before.

The advantages of digital media over traditional and mass-media are legion. Whereas most people consider TV ads intrusive breaks in their desired content, a well-placed banner ad can be a welcome source of additional information. Instead of subtracting from the consumer’s experience, well-placed digital ads can be complimentary.

The same goes for phone calls. Or that direct mail piece that gets thrown in the trash without a sideways glance. But let’s say you’re a political candidate running in Wisconsin. Digital advertising allows you to show an ad about your opposition to ObamaCare to young doctors checking out medical websites in Ozaukee County, Wisconsin. You could direct them to your policy page outlining your solutions.

Or maybe you want to remind voters that food prices are rising faster than inflation. You can put your message on mobile, and target young women trying to beat the rising cost of beef.

Efficiently Control Your Message

Let’s say your opponent drops $200,000 on a TV ad attacking you. Maybe they’re only reaching a small segment of people whose opinion can be swayed, and a large segment of people who weren’t going to be vulnerable to that message.

You don’t have to spend your own $200,000 to respond, with the same possibility that your message won’t move the needle. You can get together with your pollster and spend $5,000 reaching out to demographics you need to sway. You can respond smarter, as well as cheaper. And unlike TV, you know instantly how many people engaged with your ad, and what kind of ROI it garnered.

Winning a political campaign, especially in big races, is about bringing together a coalition of voters, influencers, and communities who may disagree with one another on big policy issues. Instead of beating everyone over the head with huge TV buys that may offend some of your supporters, target your ads online.

All the targeting advantages of traditional snail-mail campaigns are combined with near-instant, real-time efficiency online. This is a new era of messaging.

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Hundreds of millions of dollars will be spent by “outside” groups this political cycle.

When you add in candidates and committees, we’re talking billions. Learn more about how online ads surpass broadcast TV here.

And just like everything else, political campaigns are won and lost at the margins. Increasingly, those margins will come in the digital space. InTheCapital relays research showing a major increase in digital spending by candidates and other electioneers.

While TV spending will also increase, traditional viewership is down. Spending on robo-calls and direct mail is not expected to grow. That means the battleground for eyes and ears will take place somewhere else – banners, social, pre-roll, video ads, email, and other places we haven’t even thought of yet.

Digital Media is Not Mass-Media

Everyone knows Team Obama crushed digital in 2008 and 2012. Particularly their ability to get promoters to do their work for them. Think about it: instead of talking to one voter at a time over the phone, a campaign could get 10 supporters to share their ad or materials with 10 of their friends each on social media. Talk about ROI. It’s a process the libertarian group FreedomWorks calls “digital door-knocking.”

But it’s not just that, it’s the ability to micro-target. It’s the ability to get a tailored message that will move specific people on a specific issue at a specific time through a specific medium. Everything can be customized. Effectiveness can be tracked down to the penny. It’s not just more effective, it’s more accountable.

Has your opponent slammed you on TV? You can respond to their buckshot tactic with laser-focused responses in key demographics. Is your opponent already targeting you in specific subsets? Follow them and target these viewers with your defense or counter.

And don’t think the Obama campaigns were a fluke because of their youth support. 71% of online adults use Facebook. 49% of adults over 65 use social media. These numbers will continue to grow as more retailers and services expand their online reach.

Campaigns need to follow suit.

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Last week, Intermarkets’ new creative copywriter attended the Digital East conference in Tysons, Virginia. He compiled these top 5 marketing insights from the digital east conference for marketers.

Have you been using these strategies and ideas? Do you have anything to add? Let us know!

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  1. Be Media Agnostic

For most marketers, the platforms you utilize to publish or advertise are means, not ends. While your tactics need to reflect each specific platform, your strategy doesn’t really change. At the end of the day, B2C marketers use platforms to drive conversions, and B2B marketers generate leads.

It’s vitally important to take advantage of the strengths and weaknesses of the platforms you are using, whether it’s Facebook, AdWords, or WordPress. But all of these platforms have one thing in common: you use them to spread your message. You need to go where your consumers are, and that means using the mediums that work for your audience, not the ones you like best.

  1. Is There a Knowledge Problem?

Marketers know they need to speak to the level of their audience, but this is easier said than done. We deal with our areas of expertise all day, every day. But do our customers? Is there a simple, yet crucial piece of information we’re leaving out, simply because to us, it’s elementary?

Take a look at your communications with your clients and leads. You may be missing just one small piece that can really improve your business.

  1. Consumers Can be Creators and Brands, Too

In the past, creators, consumers, and brands were all more or less distinct. Today, that line is blurring like never before. Social media allows consumers to become creators. Creators can become popular enough to become a recognized brand identity. Heck, people and companies can be all three.

To know your audience, it’s important to understand the different roles they play as well as how they see themselves. This also makes sense for B2B firms. After all, businesses that are customers are also creators.

  1. Don’t Talk To. Converse With.

“New” media, (read: social) allows for a two-way conversation between producers and consumers in real-time and in public. It’s both a major challenge as well as a golden opportunity to grow your business and connect with your customers in new ways.

As Robin Wheeler of Twitter pointed out, 63% of customers reported more positive attitudes towards brands that simply engaged with them on social media. Companies are just groups of people. Don’t present yourself as a faceless monolith. You understand your audience, you engage in voluntary exchanges with your customers, so talk to them! Which leads us to the final insight:

  1. H2H

You may have heard this already, but human-to-human is the new buzzword. But it’s more than just a buzzword. It’s a way of thinking about your business and your customers, and it’s the way you want your customers to think about you. It’s the basic premise that, at the end of the day, all interactions take place between individuals.

When John Doe buys a widget from the Widget Company, he’s buying a product that was designed by people, marketed by people, and sold by people. Obvious, right? But the Widget Company is after more than John’s dollars. WC, whether they want to or not, needs to please John. They need to please John to keep him as a customer, to protect their reputation, and to promote their product.

What’s more, is that the people who comprise WC want to please John. They want to because he’s a person, and they are people. They expect the same when they act as consumers. Nobody wants to deal with a brand logo.

We’ll have more on this, but the bottom line is your customers want to know there’s a person on the other end, not a robot.

In 1963, David Ogilvy wrote Confessions of an Advertising Man. No doubt you’ve heard of it. More than likely, you have a well-worn copy on your desk right now.

Ogilvy would have been the first to tell you that he wasn’t a particularly talented copywriter. His genius shone through his strategy—his strategy was to find out what worked and use it. Much of what he wrote in 1963 still applies today.

Native Ads > Banner Ads

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Credit to David Ogilvy, Ogilvy & Mather

This infographic from Sharethrough showcases the power of native ads. In fact, native ads outperform banner ads in nearly every category: 52% more views, 18% higher purchase intent, a 13% increase in word-of-mouth sharing, and so on.

Of course, David Ogilvy said the same thing in 1963: “There is no need for advertisements to look like advertisements. If you make them look like editorial pages, you will attract about 50 per cent more readers.”

Today the principle remains the same, even if the statistics have evolved.

Generally speaking, prospective consumers don’t like ads. But if you can make your ads look like editorials, you’re going to see a much higher success rate. Back in 2013, native ads led banner ads in viewer frequency, views overall, and brand favorability to name a few.

In short, native ads will get you more eyes and more conversions more often.

This Section is About Descriptive Headlines

Recently, Facebook declared war on click-bait headlines. It turns out, 80% of Facebook users want a descriptive headline. They want to know what they’re actually clicking on.

Back in 1963, Ogilvy told us a few things about headlines. First, “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” According to Copyblogger, this statistic is still true. The reason for Facebook’s change is simple: click-bait headlines take readers away from substantive content. Sure, you might get a million eyes on your “Guess What Happened Next” headline, but you won’t get conversions or subscribers.

Descriptive headlines, on the other hand, tell the reader exactly what they’re in for. If you make readers guess what the ad is about, you’re wasting time and money.

Second, “Never use tricky or irrelevant headlines… People read too fast to figure out what you are trying to say.” This style works for outlets like The Onion, but most of the time it won’t work for your Senate election or your product promotion. Your headline should draw people to your content because they want to go there. This consumer intent is key to strong conversions and loyal subscribers.

 “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” — David Ogilvy

Make your headline about something. Don’t alienate or upset customers you haven’t even won over yet.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
The Ice Bucket Challenge will face its own challenges.

Is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge a monster success? Yes, and maybe. If you use the Internet, you’ve seen the Ice Bucket Challenge. Participants record themselves pouring ice water over their heads, donate to an ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) charity, and pass it on by challenging others publicly, by name.

On its face, the challenge is a huge success in terms of engagement and short-term fundraising, as Emily Alford relates over at ClickZ. In less than a month, the ALS Association increased fundraising 10-fold over last year during the same time period.

It’s not hard to understand why. The challenge is everywhere. It’s fun. It’s fresh. It’s on your social media, your email inbox, and on TV news. The amount of money donated so far is simply put, staggering.

But there could be a serious drawback to the, perhaps first (or at least biggest) decentralized viral fundraising drive. While the Ice Bucket Challenge is totally individual-driven and doesn’t require direction from some central source, it also doesn’t seem to have the attributes we normally see in campaigns with staying power.

Challenges ahead

The Ice Bucket Challenge is built around the challenge, not the problem its being used to solve. The challenge itself makes only brief, if any, reference to ALS. Participants may learn more about ALS and current research if they read up on it while donating, but where is the emotional buy-in?

Such sudden success will need aggressive, relevant remarketing campaigns for first-time donors—ones that focus donors on ALS itself. Long-term projects like scientific research require long-term, steady funds more than short mega-bursts of cash. That means a plan to retain and cultivate as many first-time donors as possible.

What it means is stewardship, and a marketing strategy to make it happen.

The Ice Bucket Challenge is brilliant. But for the sake of ALS victims, fundraising should not dry up next year. Expect to read much more about remarketing and branding strategies for ALS research when the Ice Bucket Challenge runs out of steam.

Like we’ve said before, the 2014 election is a prettttty big deal. It will decide which party controls Congress, and significantly set the stage for the 2016 Presidential Election. That’s why it’s more important now than ever to break the mold and use today’s innovative digital tools to give your campaign the edge it needs to win.

Social media will prove to be an even more crucial tool for political campaigns in 2014 than for campaigns back in 2008 and 2012. Social media is a key source of voter information. Social media is one of the major activities on mobile devices. And social media is a great way to connect with voters on a personal level.

If you’re just getting started (or you’re in over your head!), we’ve put together this list of 7 best practices for social media and political campaigns to get you started. We hope you enjoy!

Consistency is key.

The number one rule of social media is to be consistent. By this, we don’t mean “keep doing the same thing”—you should always be experimenting with new trends, features, and strategies. Consistency is most important when talking about frequency. Your social media followers will expect you to tweet, blog, or post on a consistent basis—and if you don’t, they’ll go listen to someone who does.

No Ghost Towns

If you join a network, be prepared to be active on it. This is the corollary to consistency being key. It’s important, when choosing social media platforms (and there as SO MANY to choose from), to be picky about where you put your efforts. You don’t want to overextend yourself, or start using a platform only to drop it a few weeks later. That’s wasted effort, and social media is all about the long game—you’re building a relationship with your audience, and a relationship takes time.

Each Platform Has a Distinct Language—Learn to Speak It!

One of the most common social media mistakes people make it sharing the same message in the same way across all the social media platforms. The platforms are different—from the reasons people use them to the way they use them. Understanding each platform’s subtleties is the first step to creating messages that will resonate with your audience. You can find a good breakdown of the “Big Four” (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr) here, although some would argue that Instagram has overtaken Flickr in relevancy. Other important networks to consider are LinkedIn (especially for campaigns that focus on business issues), Pinterest (especially good for reaching women and people in the education space), and Google + (for reaching people in the tech space and for SEO purposes).

Listen to Your Audience

Have you ever heard the old adage, “Listen twice as much as you speak”? This is still true in social media! Social media shouldn’t be a bullhorn you use to blare your message out at the world—it’s more like a ticket to an event where you have the chance to connect with your voters, donors, and supporters on a one-on-one basis. Setting up a social listening strategy can help you to keep abreast of what’s already being said about you, participate in the conversations that matter, and gauge the temperature of your audience to better direct your publishing strategy.

Use Social Advertising to Expand Your Reach

Another title of this section could have been, “Social advertising isn’t cheating! It’s using your resources wisely.” As forces like the Facebook algorithm change and increased competition have made it harder to connect with an audience organically, social advertising has become a viable way of drawing in audiences when you want them to take a specific action. And that’s the main “best practice” with social advertising—only employ it when there’s a specific action you’re prompting users to take (i.e. “Donate now!” or “Tell your friends to go vote today!”). Social ads have actually been proven to make or break an election—learn how to use them in your favor!

A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words

Social media platforms are becoming increasingly visual, and your posts should follow suit. Social media is a war of attention, and a beautiful photograph or an informative graphic is a great way of winning the battle for your audience. Even on Twitter, the wordiest of the platforms, tweets with images see a significant improvement in clicks, retweets, and conversions. And you don’t have to have an in-house designer to participate (thought it doesn’t hurt!). There are lots of online tools, many of them free, to easily create engaging graphics—check out 14 of them here.

Keep Learning!

The most important guideline of all! Social media changes fast, and what’s in this week could be out next week. There are always new platforms popping up, and old platforms are constantly evolving. One of the best ways to keep on top of this is to follow leaders in the space—you can find many of them on Twitter, or by searching for social media best practices and seeing which names keep popping up. Also make sure to keep and monitor a list of other campaigns that are doing social media well—when they change course, you’ll know to reexamine your own approach.

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In 2013, for the first time ever, Internet ad revenues surpassed those of broadcast television. While television as a whole still commands more eyeballs, this milestone marks a decisive shift in the realm of video advertising. The audience for online advertising is skyrocketing, with the amount of the U.S. population streaming their content up 58% from 38% five years ago (IAB/Nielsen).

“Leveraging the large reach of TV in combination with the standalone impact and amplifying effect of online video makes for a successful strategy.”

—Dave Kaplan, Senior Vice President, Product Leadership at Nielsen IAG

Since political campaigns traditionally rely heavily on television advertising, this shift also raises the question: could you be getting more bang for your buck with online video?

TV Costs Soar While Viewership Drops

As reported by Ad Age’s Jack Neff, television advertising’s “cost per gross rating point (GRP) to reach 18-to-49-year-olds has quadrupled in the past two decades, according to Horizon Media,” even as its reach has been “diluted by the proliferation of other media.” Just this past year, broadcast and cable television’s cost per milli (CPMs) were up 5% (AdWeek).

At the same time that TV’s cost has quadrupled, broadcast TV’s audience ratings have been cut in half in the past decade. According to RMG Networks, “The networks are in a viewership free fall, yet they’re charging marketers more than ever.”

Shifting Dollars to Digital Increases Reach, Decreases Spend

In an IAB study conducted by Nielsen, researchers measured what would happen when dollars were reallocated to digital. To benchmark how moving dollars from TV ad budgets would affect reach and costs, the study examined 18 real TV schedules across key
advertiser verticals. They found that a 15% budget shift increased reach by 6.2% while lowering costs by 6.8%.

Video ads tended to reach harder-to-hit verticals like adults age 18-34 and light TV viewers. Additionally, those who saw the ads on both platform were much more likely to respond, because…

People Remember Online Ads

In a joint study, Microsoft and Nielsen IAG conducted research to determine the effectiveness of ads based on four key brand impact metrics: ad recall, brand recall, message recall, and likeability. Astoundingly, the online video ads outperformed the TV ads on every single metric (Tweet this!).

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They concluded that the online video viewers’ engagement could be attributed to their viewing environment; mainly, “the oft-required active mouse-clicking to initiate and continue content,” the “reduced ad clutter,” and the inability to easily skip content altogether (like you can do with a DVR).

Better Together: Online Ads Play Nice with TV Ads

The Microsoft/Nielsen IAG study didn’t end there. They also tested how using a dual-platform strategy affected the metrics—and found that a combined strategy amplified brand lift across every major metric:

The Future of Video

The younger generations continues to grow their digital consumption, pointing to a pattern that may hold for years to come. As a society, the ways we digest content are changing, and it’s important to change advertising tactics to keep up with this shift.

As online streaming grows, we’ll probably continue to see the viewership shift online. We want to know—will your campaign strategy shift with it? Let’s talk it out in the comments section.

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