For Your Consideration or: How Netflix is Changing the Game Again

February is finally upon us, which means we are just weeks away from the Oscars. All nominees have been announced, and movie marketing goes into overdrive as studios attempt to convince Academy voters why their film should be walking away with one (or maybe 10) of the 24 statuettes, standing at 13.5 inches tall, weighing 8.5 lbs, and going by the name of Oscar. Studios spend huge amounts of money to promote their films, firstly to gain the nomination, and then for the final drive to persuade the voters to give their film the nod. Current estimates have studios spending upwards of $20 million on their Oscar promotional budget, but where is the money spent, who benefits from an Oscar win, and is the budget ultimately a worthy investment?

Swaying The Voters

With a promotional budget often higher than the cost of making the film in the first place, the studios attempt to swing voters in a number of ways

  • screening the film – clearly an important step, this currently takes the form of private screenings, mailing “for your consideration” preview DVDs, and VOD streaming links
  • direct marketing – studios will mail promotional materials, gifts, and anything that introduces some form of originality, directly to the voters’ residences. Cynics may call this bribing the voters. Cynics would be correct…
  • industry advertising – everything from billboards to magazines, industry websites to TV spots – anything to make the film visible wherever the voters go
  • PR – this is where things get juicy – not only do studios ensure that actors and directors involved in their film attend various galas, ceremonies, and award shows, but a large amount of money is paid to lobbyists to hound the press, and at times to cast negative assertions about other contending films

Who Benefits?

The Talent

One of the main beneficiaries of a film picking up Oscars is the talent being honored. Those nominated in the acting categories, directors, cinematographers etc all benefit enormously from winning an award, and all without lifting much of a finger when it comes to a budget spend. After already being paid, modestly or handsomely, to appear in a film, the studios’ push for Oscar nominations includes pushing for the talent involved to be considered. Winning an acting Oscar can mean a huge boost in the actor’s salary demands, especially for younger actors at the beginning of their careers who could see a large increase in what they are paid for future films – consider Jennifer Lawrence, with just an Oscar nomination for “Winter’s Bone” in 2010 where she was paid scale rate of $3000/week – she jumped to $250,000 for “X: First Class” (2011) the following year, $1 million for “The Hunger Games” (2012), and $10 million for “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” (2013).

The Studio

Studios crave Oscars, probably second only to them craving money. Part of their craving Oscars is of course because it leads to more money. Oscar-winning movies that have limited releases in the November/December timeframe see a big upswing in ticket sales once they have those statuettes in hand, and even films that had a general release see spikes in their ticket sales, although maybe only to the tune of $2 million or so. One of the more unknown factors is how much winning the Oscar means to a studio moving forward with other productions. For smaller studios, taking home wins can be massively important, and push the studio to bigger and better futures, with bigger and better budgets. The likes of A24 and Blumhouse Productions have seen enormous growth in recent years as their films pique the interest of the major film festivals (Blumhouse’s “Get Out” won one of its 4 Oscar nominations last year, when Jordan Peele became the first African American to win the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.) But for bigger studios, the Oscar effect can be hidden beneath their behemoth stature, so this certainly becomes an X-factor in the value of a win. And speaking of X-factors, we now have to consider the new kid on the block…

Netflix

Ohhhh how the industry does not know how to deal with the streaming giant. The 2019 Oscars sees the first ever Best Picture nomination for a Netflix film, in the glorious black and white form of Alfonso Cuarón’s, “Roma”. Oscar rules state that for a film to be eligible (except for the Best Foreign Language Film, Documentary Feature, Documentary Short Subject), a film must have played for seven consecutive days in the previous calendar year in a theater in Los Angeles, CA. This has ruled Netflix films out in the past, as their films have often been released solely streaming. Not one to want to sit in the background, Netflix released a number of its original films this year in theaters on limited release either before or at the same time they hit their streaming platform with Roma and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs picking up 13 of Netflix’s 15 nominations this year.

They also created history with Alfonso Cuarón becoming the first filmmaker to be nominated for Best Picture, Director, and Cinematography. “Roma” was also just the 5th film in Oscar history to be nominated in both the Best Picture category and Best Foreign Language Film – none of the previous films won Best Picture. If “Roma” does pull off the Best Picture win, it will be the first foreign language film to ever win the award.

Netflix has gone all in on the marketing of “Roma” in the hopes of winning a first Best Picture award for themselves (estimates of a $25 million advertising budget), but so have the other studios – so why are they getting their own section here? Well, it’s because their “is it worth it?” quandry is quite unique. Sure, there is the same benefit to the talent as mentioned above, and in many ways the benefit to the studios outlined is similar – but with one caveat; subscribers. Success for Netflix means not only everything listed above, but it also means they should see a huge spike in their new subscription base. People want to see Oscar films, and the easiest way to see one of the leading contenders is to subscribe to Netflix. While the effect on their subscriber base is yet to be seen, it isn’t difficult to see how their investment in “Roma” could produce a lucrative return. Netflix added 8.8 million global subscribers in Q4 2018 – if we take a modest Oscar spike of 25% in new subscribers for Q1, this would equate to at least an additional 2.2 million new subscribers or around $60 million in the quarter – a healthy return on their investment. This is, of course, a splash in the ocean when considering that in 2019, Netflix plans to spend $15 billion on its content, and will be very much back in the Oscar contention with original content like Martin Scorsese’s crime drama “The Irishman” starring Robert de Niro, and Steven Soderbergh’s “The Laundromat” with Meryl Streep and Gary Oldman.

Marketing Oscar films has always been big business in Hollywood, but as it has done in many other aspects of the industry, Netflix could be about to redefine the way forward, and in doing so give themselves yet another competitive advantage by making Oscar marketing a great investment, for one studio at least.

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Engaging Your Alumni With GeoDirect

A New Way to Engage Your Alumni

We’ve all received the cold calls, seen the generic emails, and the snail mail with pictures of happy students and a return address for donations.

This has been the extent of alumni engagement for the last 80+ years.

Did it work? Yes.

Does it work today? Nope.

Alumni engagement is the lowest it has ever been, right around 9% in the U.S. Although the situation appears grim, many schools have started evolving their alumni outreach campaign with innovative technology. And they’re reporting resounding success.

One way schools have been able to reach their alumni is through digital canvassing. Through powerful platforms, like GeoDirect, schools can directly reach their graduates through hyper accurate IP targeting using advanced digital canvassing ad technology.

How GeoDirect Works

The process begins by harnessing the power of offline data.  GeoDirect is a patented IP targeting software that matches physical addresses with IP addresses, enabling advertisers to deliver their messages with pinpoint precision to the right person, at the exact time of your choosing.

Rather than casting a wide net over a targeted demographic or geographic location, GeoDirect ad campaigns are directly targeted and delivered to predetermined households and audiences — in this case, alumni.

An ad campaign that’s launched under the helm of GeoDirect delivers results that speak (and pay) for themselves.

Why Use GeoDirect? A Case Study

In 2017, we partnered with Gonzaga College High School, an all-boys Catholic school in Washington, D.C.

They were looking for a new, unconventional way to reach their alumni and increase incoming donations.

We worked with Gonzaga to develop an integrated approach to reach graduates and other potential donors during the school’s Annual Fund campaign. After a series of meetings, we helped them develop a new design concept for print advertising, as well as for online display ads that were directed mail recipients in specific households.

Using the addresses Gonzaga provided to us, we put GeoDirect to work. Its targeting system matched all of those physical addresses with IP addresses. So every person who received a piece of traditional mail from Gonzaga was also shown an online ad soliciting donations.

GeoDirect helped make the connection between what alumni received at home in their mailboxes, and the ads they saw on their computers. It’s a proven way to increase campaign engagement and effectiveness. And, for Gonzaga… it worked.

What Other Industries Use GeoDirect?

GeoDirect can be used in virtually any industry that can benefit from more precise and effective marketing and advertising. GeoDirect has been effectively used to enhance results for the following types of organizations.

  • Non-Profits & Charities
  • Healthcare
  • Insurance
  • Financial Services
  • Hospitality
  • Restaurants
  • Home Services
  • Automotive
  • Sports & Events
  • Real Estate
  • Retail & Consumer Products
  • Political
  • Legal
  • Government Contractors

It’s time to supplement your direct mail campaign! Contact us today to find out how we can put GeoDirect to work for you.

 

10 Google Adwords Mistakes That’ll Blow Your Budget in a Heartbeat

Anyone savvy in digital marketing and its trends will tell you the same thing about Google Adwords: It’s an effective tool for bringing traffic to your website. However, creating a campaign to bring in customers or subscribers can be expensive, and those costs will quickly increase if you’re not careful.

Here are 10 Google Adwords mistakes that can eat up your budget before your eyes.

1. You’re not paying attention to the ‘Quality Score’ aspect.

You might just see a number next to the quality score category and disregard it. However, this is the wrong approach if you want to use Google Adwords effectively. The algorithm assigns a qualitative number to each keyword you use. You should try to get a 7 or greater on every keyword. Better quality scores mean each click costs you less money and raises your ranking in the ad results too. If you want to improve your scores, you need to create good copy, optimize your home page, and use ad groups for each keyword.

2. You keep using the same ads for different keywords.

We mentioned that every keyword needs an ad group to itself, and mistake number two is part of why that is true. The keywords you create need to match the ads very closely. For example, if someone wants a leather recliner, your ads need to focus on leather recliners. They should focus on that instead of focusing on other types of recliners or leather sofas. You’ll get more clicks at lower rates with ads that remain relevant to the keywords.

3. You ignore the split test feature.

Adwords includes a helpful tool that allows you to run multiple copies of a particular ad at the same time. The goal here is to see which ad gets the most clicks within a specified window of time. In this way, you learn what ad generates the most clicks without relying on luck or guesswork. You should use the split test to run at least two copies of each ad and see how many clicks it gets in a given time limit.

4. You don’t use conversion tracking.

So far, everything you’ve done with Adwords is about getting clicks. We want to convert those clicks into actionable things like signups, e-mails, and purchases. If you are not tracking these conversions, you only know how many clicks you’re getting, which doesn’t tell you about the overall success of your site. Use this feature to weed out pointless keywords taking up space without generating income.

5. There are too many irrelevant keywords.

Google Adwords allows you to choose broad phrases for your ad groups or exact matches. You should always choose the latter because using broad phrases will bring back a ton of results that will make your ads appear in places they don’t need to be. Over time, this irrelevancy will reduce your quality score, further eating into your profits.

6. Clicks navigate users to your home page instead of a landing page.

It might seem logical, but don’t link your ads to your home page. What you really want is a simple landing page that sells whatever product the person who clicked on your ad wants to buy. On your landing page, use short copy for low-risk impulse buys and longer copy for more complex needs-based purchases that the user spends some time considering before buying.

7. Your keywords are grouped poorly.

If you don’t group your keywords according to appropriate ad groups, you lose the ability to customize your ads to be a better fit for the potential customer. This means that instead of seeing ads for “laptops,” a customer might just click, see a bunch of electronics, and move on to something else.

8. You’re not including negative keywords.

Adwords can use negative keywords to exclude those that are not a good match for what you’re selling. If you sell heavy winter clothing designed for the cold, you might want a keyword like “jacket” to be included but not one like “light” or “spring”. That’s because either of those will produce results that are not helpful to you.

9. You’re not investing in your own brand.

In digital marketing terms, you need to “bid” on your own brand. If you do not advertise and push your own stuff, a competitor might do just that. That means that another company near you in the results can use your brand and siphon off your customer base. If you have a brand, you should want to be the top result for it.

10. You’ve set unrealistic expectations.

If your budget is small, you can’t expect big things from Adwords, especially not right away. Testing ads and building your campaign will eat through a small budget quickly and if you get nowhere, you may be inclined to give up on the process. Instead, you should save until your budget grows and spend it on a good campaign. This will let you modify the plan as necessary and give you the time you need to stick with it.

If you can avoid these common mistakes in your Adwords campaign, you stand a much better chance of turning your plans into profit and sticking with the platform.

 

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Does Facebook Advertising Really Work for Small Business?

495 digital marketingIt’s no secret that small business owners receive hardly any real exposure by simply opening a Facebook business page and posting regularly. The page alone will only reach a small portion of the target audience.

So, is it worth spending the time and money to use Facebook ads if you run a small business?

Careful post promotion and the right ad campaign could make a big difference in reaching the hundreds, if not thousands, more Facebook users on a daily basis.

Facebook’s Advertising Algorithm

Because Facebook offers its services for free, it depends on advertising revenue to stay up and running. The social media site uses a complex algorithm that tracks a user’s interests and works to get the right ads into the right newsfeeds.

The algorithm also works against businesses that do not purchase ads by keeping posts that haven’t been promoted from showing up on very many user news feeds. Even if your page has garnered 1,000 likes, each individual post is only available to about 30 Facebook users. For as little as $.027 per click you could purchase ads that will get you seen by far more users. Whether or not that expanded visibility leads to sales depends on how well you utilize your advertising options.

Make Ads One Part of a Larger Marketing Scheme

The Facebook platform is designed to promote personal interactions between users. If you simply create an ad that directs users straight to a product or service it will not be as effective.

Be creative with the ads and make them part of the general interaction with potential customers.

Direct interested users to your page and then give them the option to participate in an e-mail marketing campaign.

Taking the time to develop a relationship so the customers feel like they know you and your company will lead to more sales in the short run and more loyal customers in the long run.

Launch Dark Posts

Dark posts sound ominous, but they are simply posts that look like regular news feed posts but they do not show up on your timeline and they do not post to fan feeds automatically.

A dark post can include a regular status update, a video, a link, a photo, or a special offer. These posts can be highly targeted to specific fans of your page, which means you can create specific ad campaigns related to a customer’s interests, charitable donations, buying habits, financial data, or other behaviors.

These specific ad campaigns can be powerful tools to help you reach different demographics effectively.

Customize Settings

Businesses that simply open up an ad campaign and leave all the settings at the default setting may not see much difference in traffic or sales. To take advantage of all of the benefits Facebook advertising offers it is crucial to tailor the settings to fit with your specific small business and the customers you need to reach.

Facebook offers geo-targeting tools that can be highly successful when used properly. If your ad campaign does not seem to change the number of visitors or fans on your page, experiment with the settings until you find a combination that brings the maximum number of people to your page.

Conclusion

Bottom line: Facebook ads do work — if they’re used the right way. If nothing else, it gets a business seen by far more users than a business page that is not promoted at all.

Facebook ads are a relatively inexpensive way to reach more potential customers and build stronger relationships with all of your Facebook fans.

495 Digital Advertising

The Best Way to Bypass Bot Traffic and Save Your PPC Campaign From Ruin

Bots are an ugly part of life for any organization doing business online. There are armies of them, crawling and clicking on ads, creating huge volumes of fake traffic.

Advertisers lost an estimated $19 billion as a result bot fraud in 2018, according to Juniper Research (via Which-50.com). That’s the equivalent to $51 million a day.

With bots everywhere (and multiplying quickly), advertisers and online businesses alike must stand up and take note. No doubt it will take sophisticated ad technology and proven traffic-cleansing techniques to prevent bots from taking over, but there is something digital advertisers can do right now to buck the system.

No, we’re not talking about using a shady black hat work-around. We’re talking about a tried and true strategy that will bypass bots and save an advertising campaign from a sinking ROI.

More on this later. But first, some specifics.

The Deal With Bot Traffic

Bot traffic is a form of online ad fraud in which a nefarious individual or group of individuals uses automated software and scripts to drive artificial impressions or clicks. Normally, web traffic involves a visit from a human. With bot traffic, however, non-human computers trigger ad impressions and click ads; thus, costing advertisers big bucks.

How Digital Ad Fraud Costs Advertisers Big Bucks

Bot traffic costs advertisers money in several ways.

If you promote your website on a pay-per-click (PPC) platform like Google AdWords, for instance, a competitor may drive up your advertising costs by sending bot traffic to your ads. Because they aren’t human visitors, bots won’t generate conversions or otherwise improve your return on investment (ROI). They will, however, inflate your advertising costs.

If you advertise on a cost-per-impression (CPM) platform, bot traffic can also cost your money. The websites on which CPM ads are displayed typically earn revenue based on impressions. As a result, some corrupt publishers will purchase bot traffic to inflate their impressions and earn more money. This is bad news for the advertiser who created the ad because he or she pays for low-quality bot traffic.

Signs You’ve Been Blasted by Bots

There are a few tell-tale signs of bot traffic, which one of which is an unusually high click-through rate (CTR) or impression count.

If your PPC ads suddenly have a 50 percent or higher CTR, you might be receiving bot traffic. Alternatively, generating 50,000 ad impressions on a website or channel that usually generates just 2,000 to 3,000 impressions could be a sign of bot traffic.

Scouring through your website logs can also reveal bot traffic. Assuming you have Google Analytics installed, check metrics like bounce rate and average view time. Bots typically visit the site and immediately leave, resulting in a high bounce rate and low view time.

The Best Way to Win the War Against Bots and Boost Online Ad ROI

Beating online ad fraud, while complex, can be done. And quite easily too.

The process begins by harnessing the power of offline data.  

We rely on a product called GeoDirect. It’s a patented IP targeting software that matches physical addresses with IP addresses offline, enabling advertisers to deliver their messages with surgical precision to the right person, at the right time.

Rather than casting a wide net over a targeted demographic or geographic location, and allowing the bot armies to attack, GeoDirect ad campaigns are directly targeted and delivered to predetermined households and audiences.

An ad campaign that’s launched under the helm of GeoDirect delivers results that speak (and pay) for themselves.

Did we mention that GeoDirect is also connected to all the major ad networks, and can deliver ads like:

  • Display
  • Text
  • Native
  • Video

Conclusion

Beating online ad fraud, like any other process for solving a complex problem, is an activity that involves constant analysis and learning from previous experiences. Using a  disciplined methodology, like GeoDirect, with specific data parameters and corrective measures can help bypass bot traffic and give online businesses reassurance that they are getting their money’s worth.