Will Ad blocking nurture greater creativity?

In November 2016, Eyeo GmbH, the German creators behind ad blocking software Adblock Plus, fended off a sixth legal challenge against itself, from media publishers over the legality of its software. In each case brought against Eyeo GmbH and Adblock Plus, the judge has ruled in favour that adblocking is 100% legal.

Media publishers have been the biggest critics of adblocking, publishers such as Germany’s Der Spiegel and America’s Forbes believe that adblocking causes a significant loss of revenue for the websites concerned, meaning that such sites may struggle to produce content that users freely enjoy.

On the other side, consumers are saying they find the distraction of uninvited adverts to be both annoying and disrupting. They say that ad blocking is a legitimate and recognised tool for enhancing the user’s internet experience.

Spiegel Online (the plaintiff in the sixth case brought against Eyeo GmbH) presented their view, that consumers instead should submit to the media and ‘read their news content for free and view some ads’. Now, this opinion seems completely flawed as an advertising strategy to me. What is the point in adverts if they are to be forced onto an audience who have no interest in looking at them? It will only succed in frustrating them.

I think the blanketed advertising approach is a dated strategy, modern consumers are not a passive audience and the huge uptake of ad blocking software indicates that they do not want to be force-fed adverts. I believe that the rise of ad blocking is a backlash in protest of tired and backward marketing conventions.

Digital marketing is moving towards an avenue where content is personalised and made-to-fit the audience rather than the aforementioned blanketed targeting strategies. Content needs to be valuable to the end user and therefore firms need to be more inventive with the content they target the consumer with. This is the reason why I think ad blocking is a positive thing, and why it should help to nurture greater creativity.

For example, you may have noticed that Netflix changes its home screen depending on the shows that you watch and offers suggestions to you for related content that you may also enjoy. This is a useful application of personalised content that encourages the user to stay on the website for longer. I know Netflix definitely do not have a problem with retaining their audience – rather we as the audience have a problem with knowing when to call it a night! This is really an example of how online marketing can now work for us rather than the other way around. If Netflix’s program recommendations were not based upon personalised algorithims who would stick around?

Web users are using ad blocking when advertising becomes a nuisance or disrupts their online experience, but if online marketing can aid the users online experience like in this example then that removes the need for ad blocking.

I do partially agree with Spiegel Online in that media publishers need a source of revenue to fund their content and advertising is the most obvious solution to this problem. However, their advertising needs to be of use to the consumer, and not disrupt their experience.

By doing this firms can then begin to build trust in the consumer and then consumers will feel more obligated to scale back their ad blocking. This process is crucial if the online advertising medium is to still to have impact.


Email Marketing: Tools and Relevancy

In order for email content to be engaging, it must be to the point and relevant. It must be also be highly personalised and add value. By monitoring the behaviour of the consumer brands can then move the user to take an important action, for instance by using the “Foot in the door” on-boarding technique.

The “Foot in the door” email technique, refers to establishing a bond with the consumer by initially calling upon them to perform a small seemingly trivial task, then once a relationship is formed asking them to do the previously-intended “bigger” task. An example of this technique would be to ask your audience to attend an event related to your brand, and then secondly, refer your brand on to five people.

Once the consumer completes the first task, they will feel obliged to comply with the second task, thus forming a bond. The aim of such email marketing is to provide a warm welcome, guidance and motivation to new email subscribers.  This technique will help to convert new email subscribers into eventual brand advocates.

Brands could also make use of mobile phone push notifications and app notifications, when used correctly (and sparingly!) these can be used to provide helpful content to the consumer such as reminders to complete their transaction with your brand, or a reminder to leave feedback after purchase. These can be tailored to appear at a time suitable to the user.

Ultimately, brands need to be aware of the context of their marketing, emails and notifications need to be highly-targeted and only delivered in situations where they will definitely deliver value. Customers are likely to find content personally tailored to them to be highly engaging, however mass irrelevant spamming will lead brands to a quick dead end.



Email Marketing: Untapped Potential

Email marketing offers great potential for return on investment, more so even than SEO according to the latest Email Marketing Industry Census report, the report showed that 73% of those surveyed said that email marketing offered excellent to good ROI.

There is room for growth in the use of this channel, the report showed marketing expenditure on email and proportions of sales attributed to email had both grown. The report also declared that firms can see a direct link between spending a larger share of their budget on email marketing and seeing their sales attributed to it grow exponentially.

Email marketing represents a relatively cheap channel to both acquire and retain customers through and therefore offers a lot of potential to marketers.

Mobile continues to heavily influence email marketing, email opens on mobile phones are at their highest point ever and are set to increase. However, despite the increase use of mobiles, mobile email conversations are on the decline and (according to the report) only a select few number of firms have optimised their email services to mobile.

This presents a missed opportunity for many marketers and follows the theme of this piece. Digital marketers are failing to tap in to the potential that email marketing offers, whether through lack of mobile optimisation or lack of engaging content. Both of these factors must be contributing to the decline in email conversations.



Online Brand Influencers: Finding the right voice for your brand


Consumers are more likely to turn to influencers who have specific expertise in their areas of interest, rather than say celebrities, today’s consumers are not stupid and will not fall for gimmicks such as paid-for celebrity endorsement.

The web is a busy place, making it difficult for both consumers and brand to know who is credible and trustworthy. Brands therefore need to find a strategy to identify and engage with online influencers who can communicate to the target market effectively.

The first step in identifying these influencers is to define exactly who the customer is and then determine the influencing factors such as their consumer habits, meaning where they live and how they buy their products. Drawing up a pen portrait of the consumer is a useful discipline during this process. Once you know whom your consumer is, inside out, you can then figure out who they trust and listen to.

It’s important to remember that whilst focused experts may not have as many followers as some other online influencers or celebrities, the followers that they do have will be dedicated and interested in the relevant areas of topic, allowing the brand to latch on to this useful following.

The next step is to engage the focused expert that your consumer listens to the most. It’s important to build a credible relationship with this person, one that consumers believe and trust.

It is likely that your influencer will require some kind of payment for their endeavours, but it doesn’t have to just be a cash sum. You you could offer to boost their brand awareness by featuring them across all of your content, or you may offer them non-cash rewards with your brand. Therefore the use of brand influencers is not just limited to those who have money to burn, smaller firms can receive help by lending a hand to assist the influencer by utilising the resources that they have.

For instance, you could provide an experience for your influencer to be the first to try a new product / service offering and in turn allow for them to create content (and buzz) about your products and services. This would create excitement not just from your existing followers but from the influencer’s followers too, lending to your traffic and building a credible brand image in the eye of the consumer.

Using credible, trustworthy influencers who have expertise in your industry to spread the message delivers better Return on Investment than a huge celebrity influencer with little relevance to your chosen industry. This is really a less is more approach, and allows your brands message to cut through the congestion of the internet in an efficient manner, whilst staying relevant to the consumer.

Independence is a powerful asset to look for in an influencer, consumers perceive focused experts to be objective, to state their mind and to be impartial. We are so used to advertising campaigns pulling the wool over our eyes as consumer that we are often now sceptical of brands. Gaining the respect and backing of an independent influencer means product reviews from someone who is not afraid to point out flaws and will do the product / service justice if it up to scratch.

This influencer could be a Youtuber or blog writer, they might be a columnist in a newspaper, or a popular local figure on social media. It doesn’t matter the size of the following or their status, rather just that their opinion is respected and that alone will sell itself.


The importance of looking ahead whilst creating content: SEO

Search engine optimisation allows your firm to stand up and be counted amongst a crowded online marketplace. SEO allows a firm to drive new customers to their site and increase traffic levels with the end goal of increasing revenue.

Now, whilst SEO is essential to attracting new traffic to a website, it is the quality of the website’s content that will attract potential customers and keep the bounce rate (meaning the number of visitors who leave the site without clicking to anywhere else on the website) at a low level.

To do this, the web content must be created with a specific audience in mind. Doing this will build a natural following and will ensure your content is relevant. A site that creates content with a target user in mind will retain visitors and hold a much lower bounce rate than a site that does not.

High quality, targeted content actually also works to create keywords unintentionally, search engines can then use these keywords to bring traffic to the website and allow the site to rank higher amongst less competitive search terms.

Creating unique, creative and – perhaps most importantly – relevant content is essential as part of the bedrock of website search engine optimisation and will assist in both making the site more discoverable and lending to create better targeted content.


How changes in the Digital Marketing Environment are effecting the Marketing activity of SME’s


The complexity of marketing is growing sharply, owing largely to the adoption of new technologies, with a focus on the personalisation of content, video content, mobile device optimisation, social media marketing and content marketing in particular.

A report by the Economist Intelligence Unit supports the opinion “that marketing will own the customer experience by 2020”, marketers are now snubbing the blanketed, mass market approach, in favour of personalising the customer marketing experience to each individual user.

The adoption of new technologies supports this notion, social media, the internet, mobile internet and mobile apps are set to be the top marketing channels by 2020. And these channels allow for greater personalisation over the customer experience as opposed to traditional channels such as tv and radio, which both lack two way interaction with the end user. Personalisation creates a more positive customer experience and is said to better customer loyalty and improve brand perception.

However, returning to my first point, tailoring services to each individual user makes marketing complex and this could be why many SME’s (Small to Medium Enterprises) don’t use digital marketing to drive their business, despite more than three quarters of them believing that digital marketing is critical to their success.

Small businesses are often intimidated by digital marketing, citing the expense and difficulty of use as barriers to use the technology. The digital landscape is fast paced and driven by trends, which also makes it complicated to invest in.

There are also new challenges such as the rise in user ad blocking, which is set to cost content publishers $27bn in lost revenues by 2020. Adoption of ad blocking software is strongest amongst young people, who are the primary users of such technology and with in-app ad blocking set to appear soon, this presents a large problem for digital advertisers.

This supports my view that digital marketing is becoming more focused on tailor-fitted, personalised content that is individual and valuable to the end user, the huge uptake of ad blocking software is a backlash in protest of  the traditional blanketed marketing approach which offers little value to many users and may be seen as a nuisance. It is essential for firms to build up consumer’s trust in digital adverts discourage the use of ad blocking if this medium is to still have impact. Google’s Accelerated Mobile Page and Acceptable Ad Initiatives are attempting to do so this but my gut feeling is that they will see little success. Digital marketers must provide users with useful, engaging content, not pester and frustrate them with mass marketed advertising.


I found these articles useful whilst writing this piece:






Opportunities for Digital Marketers: How to use Social Media

In this digital age, it has become essential for brands to keep up with their consumers through the use of technology like Social Media. But how do you use it effectively, to engage, rather than to bore? The trick is to be interactive with your user base and build real relationships. That’s the direct route toward brand advocacy, brand loyalty and repeat purchase.

Social media is a great way of gaining feedback on your products and services and seeing what ideas are popular and trending, think of it like a huge focus group. Brands can use the feedback they receive – good or bad – to help them make improvements. And although hard to measure this “big data” that social media produces, it does give brands useful insight into the behaviour of its customers, which is very helpful when creating digital content.

The most successful brands on social media are those who can form lasting relationships with their consumer, and treat each individual as an individual – it is very easy to read like your social media account is actually an automated robot! Engagement with your followers encourages the formation of relationships, which leads to brand loyalty and brand advocacy. Loyal consumers will likely do lots of leg work for you, including sharing your content which raises your brand’s awareness on a very large scale in a minimal amount of time. Of course your content still needs to have some substance and be relevant and of use to your followers!

Successful use of social media allows you to fix your reputation in the event of a mishap. Tackling the issue head on, without trying to shy away from it or argue with the consumer will again bolster relationship, gaining the respect and trust of the consumer, as they will judge you more upon how you deal with the problem, rather than the problem itself! Interacting with the customer when they have an issue shows you that the brand cares.

Another very useful advantage and opportunity of using Social Media is that your followers are following you for a reason! They are your loyal customers and your target market, which makes your social media account an essential tool for aiming marketing promotions at the right audience. They know if they post or share content their audience will be interested and will view and engage with the content.

Twitter through its use of hastags allows content to trend, go viral and reach an unimaginably-big audience with ease. Starting up a successful hashtag and getting it shared and retweeted is an incomparable way of getting media viral.

I found the following article useful whilst researching this topic: https://econsultancy.com/blog/8995-social-media-engagement-is-the-top-priority-for-digital-marketers/

This article discusses the link between good original digital content, brand satisfaction and brand engagement.

I also found this article interesting: http://www.theguardian.com/media-network/2014/dec/02/tips-marketers-social-media-increase-engagement

It discusses the tendencies of some brands to merely continue broadcasting traditional-type media through their social media accounts which involves no interaction. It also tell us to focus on our audience not our platform ultimately, if you can form relationships the medium should not matter.