The most important report you may read this year

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Comscore recently published its  2016 White Paper on the U.S. Cross-platform Future.

If you’ve missed the biggest change of the past couple years, it may be because you’re still interacting with the Web and social media on a desktop or notebook device. And if you are, you’re in the minority. Yep, that’s right folks. In December 2013, 53% of the time spent on digital media platforms was on mobile, 47% on desktop. Flash forward two years later to December 2015 and 65%, two thirds, of the time we spend on digital media platforms is now time that we spend on our mobile devices. Desktops have been reduced to one third of the time.

Comscore’s data also provides some interesting insight into the use of social media and the differences between people under 35 (think Snapchat) and those over 35 (think Facebook.) But regardless of which cohort you are looking at, Mark Zuckerberg can feel good, as Facebook and Instagram rank among the top three most-used social apps across all ages.

The other side of the move to mobile is the ongoing rise of video. And this data was collected before Facebook launched Live Video.

If you’re running a communications business, the Comscore report is a must-read. In fact, you may find that it provides you with the markers around which you’ll be building your business plan for the next year. You could do a lot worse than to place your business in the path of the trends charted out by Comscore. After all, there’s nothing better than be where the future is when it arrives.

And if you’re interested, you can listen to Gini DietrichMartin Waxman, and I discuss the report on this week’s Inside PR podcast.

Medium shows that even the routine action is an opportunity for creativity

Medium iOS App Update

Medium reminded me today that even the most boring and trivial interactions with your community can be a source of unexpected creativity and delight. I’m used to seeing the same old same old boring “bug fixes” explanations of updates to iOS Apps. But when I checked the iOS App updates on my phone today, I saw this messages, which was anything but routine. And as I read it, not only did it bring a smile to my face, but it reminded my that Medium is a place for creative ideas and intelligent discussion.

It’s easy to say, “OK, that’s Medium’s business.” But don’t go there. That’s a dead end. Ask yourself, “Why should the people at Medium be any more creative than I am? Don’t I have many opportunities in my day to turn the routine into something fresh and unexpected?”

We all get used to things that are routine. They pass by as a blur in our day. They may be unremarkable or even irritating necessities. But they don’t have to be.

So, make this promise to yourself, “Today, I will look at all the routine things I do and turn at least one of them into an unexpected moment of creativity and joy.”

 

Native advertising going mobile at the New York Times

frames on white wall in art museum

Native advertising is an inevitable part of our future both as marketers and as consumers of media. Advertisers demand it for its promise of effectiveness and delivery of results. Publishers want it for its promise of revenue and a better reader experience. And consumers of media? Well we just want to get at the good stuff. The material that we came for. And if we think much about native advertising, we’re probably concerned about the threat to independence of editorial voice and our inability to know what to trust.

Native advertising is here to stay. So, we all should hope that it is done right. With transparency about the distinction between earned editorial content and paid content. With a presentation that enhances our content consumption experience. In a way that generates the revenue necessary to continue to fund the creation of content we will want to consume.

The New York Times has not been afraid to experiment with new ways of presenting digital content and charging for it. And it continues to innovate. Soon, it will be reworking the way that it presents advertising on mobile devices.

In a well-documented article, AdAge interviewed several NYTimes execs about the new mobile advertising approach, dubbed “Moments.”  These ads will be presented as “cards” with photos and videos spanning the full width of the mobile device, but leaving the previous and next articles partially appearing above and below the ads. According to the AdAge report, the ads will be customized to the seven moments in a given day that are most important to readers, as identified through a 12-month study conducted by the Times’ editorial product team.” This includes morning, mid-day and evening time periods.

The Moments advertising format and content will vary to match the way that editorial content is presented throughout the day. “For example,’ writes AdAge, “the early-morning ads will be largely text-based to align with the Times’ morning briefing, which is a text-heavy roundup of the day’s news and events. Conversely the evening version of these mobile moments ads will feature photos and videos to complement the Times’ evening briefing, which is a similar news roundup to the morning briefing but typically includes a dozen or more photos to make the reading experience more entertaining.”

This sounds like another big move forward by the Times. And if it works, it could show the way to the future for a lot of other publishers. Let’s hope that the Times does this right. Now just for itself. But also for readers as well as advertisers. And doing it right means transparency and clearly marking native advertising as paid-for content.

Martin Waxman, Gini Dietrich and I talk about this in the #IPRMustKnow segment of this week’s Inside PR podcast. Download or subscribe to the podcast to hear our discussion.

 

Native Advertising: When it’s good, it’s very very good

I’m not a big fan of native advertising. But I have to admit that this video worked for me. It made me miss my own King Charles Spaniel. It made me want to rush out and bring home a puppy. And it made me think positively about Puppy Chow. A content marketing and native advertising trifecta. Emotion tapped. Intent formed. Positive connection (with the brand) established.

Google+ and the lesson of Owned vs Rented Spaces

Screenshot 2014-07-28 10.42.54

The pending breakup of Google+ holds a lesson that we should keep in mind: Social networks serve the business interests of their owners first. It’s as simple as owned vs rented spaces.

The terms, conditions and even basic operations of social networks can and do change at the whim of the owners if they see business advantage in this. If you don’t own it, if you’re just a renter, don’t be surprised if you wake up one morning to find the place has been sold out from under you.

Google gave us a stunning illustration of this on Sunday night when, with a Google+ post, Bradley Horowitz signalled the demise of Google+ as we know it.

The changes at Google+ underline something that savvy social media users should remember: Use your owned spaces to post your valuable content and then use social networks to promote it. Your owned spaces are as permanent as you want them to be. Social networks are as ephemeral as the owners want them to be.

In life (and marketing), there are two types of people

The recent spate of stories about air rage and fights between passengers breaking out over cramped seats and seatbacks being reclined reminds me that there are two types of people in the world.

The type who think, “I can, so I will. And to heck with you.”

And the type who think, “I can, but I shouldn’t, because I care about how this will affect you.”

493172635Look into the mirror. Which type of person do you see? Now think about how your coworkers, family, friends see you. Stretch a little further. Think about how the driver in the next car or on your morning commute or rushing to jump in the elevator with your before the doors close. Which type of person do they see?

This dichotomy extends into the world of marketing. It marks the difference between the traditional, “push it in your face, turn the volume of commercials up, spam the heck out of your email box” advertiser and the “I’ll only contact you if you give me permission and I know I have to earn that permission each and every time you have contact with me” type of digital marketer.

In the day to day world, there are two types of people. The type who slam their seat back in your lap because just don’t care about the passenger behind them and the type who resist that temptation because they know it will cramp you.

There are two types of marketers. There’s the type who say, “I can because I have the budget to be able to shout at you. And to heck with you.”

But there’s also the type who say, “I have the budget, but I will use it in a way that delights you, attracts you, and makes you want to come to me.”

Look in the mirror. Which type of marketer do you think you are? Now think about your customers and the people you would like to be your customers. Which type of marketer do they see when they look at you?

Which type of person and marketer would you rather be?

Content Marketing Cures the Anti-Spam Blues

Does your business have the Anti-Spam Law Blues? A Content Marketing program will lift your business prospects and your spirits.

Content marketingCanada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) has been in effect since July 1. And in its first several weeks of implementation, it’s created quite a stir among Canadian businesses and marketers.

Typical of the business reaction these comments from a Toronto-based business owner being interviewed for an episode of CBC’s The Current:

“When we first heard about the legislation, it looked like it was just for flyers and I thought: Well, we really don’t do that. Our communication is one-on-one …  We don’t spam our clients. And then I realized that we actually do send out a monthly newsletter. It’s not even very newsy. It’s an image of a carpet that we might have done within the past six months that might be of interest to a company. And then I got a little further into it and I got much more concerned about what this might mean for a small company like mine. … we have customers that are 25 years old and we may not have worked with them in the past five years. But I still consider them a customer. My understanding is that after July 1, I can only email them once and without their absolute consent I can’t email them again. … I think it will dramatically affect how we can work because this is how we all work through email. We communicate that way. … We have customers in Vancouver and Calgary specifically and how we stay in touch is through email… I might think they do hospitality. They do a lot of hotel work. Maybe I’ll send them this image that we did just because they might be interested in what we’ve been doing lately.”

Look closely at what she said. “We don’t spam our clients.” “We have customers that are 25 years old and we may not have worked with for the past five years. But I still consider them a customer.” “Maybe I’ll send them this image that we did just because they might be interested in what we’ve been doing lately.” This business owner is deciding whether her “customer” would be interested in receiving an email with an image of a recent project – even if that customer has not done business with the company in several years. The decision to send the email is in the hands of the sender. The recipient has no voice in the matter. If that’s not Spam then I don’t know what is!

Now, I’m sure that this business owner is not alone in taking this approach. In fact, any discussion around a Chamber of Commerce or Board of Trade event will easily turn up many business owners who see this as a legitimate and indeed necessary marketing tactic. Have list will mail.

That era is over.

In the past it was easy for business owners to assemble lists of “prospects”. They could pick up business cards at trade shows. They could offer discounts to people who would register to receive them – and then send them email even if that person did not realize they’d signed up for an email newsletter. There were all sorts of ways to assemble a list of prospects to make a business grow. Most of those avenues are now closed. If you want to email something to a business prospect in Canada, you must either have an existing business relationship with them or obtain their explicit consent.

In the new world of the anti-spam law, consumers must know that they are signing up for a mailing list when they do so and know how you intend to use that list. The anti-spam law puts control of what consumers receive back in their hands and takes it out of the hands of the business owner who may “think” that a “prospect” might be interested in what they have to send. Consumers know what they are interested in and they can control what they receive.

Content marketing to the rescue

So what’s a business owner to do? Quite simply, business owners must give people a reason to receive their email letters. And in order to do that they must draw people to the sign-up form.

Content marketing satisfies both of these requirements.

By creating interesting, informative, entertaining content you can satisfy the curiosity of people who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer. If you do this well, they will find you when they search for a topic. Or others within their community of interest will recommend things you have published in their social feeds. One way or the other, qualified leads will come to you. And then, if you create an ongoing stream of that interesting, informative and entertaining content, they will sign up to receive it and want to keep receiving it.

Content marketing is worth the effort for a business. Even more so now that CASL has made assembling a list of prospects has become much more difficult.

How I use 76insights for content marketing

76insights logo76insights gives publishers and marketers insight into how their content is resonating with their audience. It does this through an intuitive user interface that enables them to see patterns in which pieces of content are resonating, on which channels and social networks, and with whom. They can identify specific pieces of content that they want to further share with their audience and click out to the native application or their preferred application such as HootSuite to republish and share.

76insights is very different from any other social media tool that I have seen. And after I’ve described it to people, I often see that they are still puzzled about it.So this weekend, I decided to record a video showing how I use 76insights to do my work as a member of the Thornley Fallis content marketing team.

In this video I demonstrate how I use the analytics dashboard to identify patterns in which of our content was most resonant with our community, to identify who was interacting with that  content, and then to share items that I think will be of interest to one or more of my communities on different social networks.

76 insights is being rolled out by invitation to select content marketers and publishers. If you’re interested in knowing more or even in becoming one of the early adopters, click over to the 76insights site to find out more and, if you’d like, to request an invitation to be an early user.

Disclosure: 76insights has been developed by my colleagues at 76design and I’m proud as punch of what they are creating.

Georgia Sapounas sees Social Media on the Olympic Road to Sochi

The Canadian Olympic Committee’s Digital Manager, Georgia Sapounas, traveled to Ottawa yesterday to provide the Third Tuesday Ottawa participants with a glimpse into the Canadian Olympic Committee’s plans to use social media during the Sochi Winter Olympic Games. And as always, the Third Tuesday participants tweeted extensively about what they were hearing and thinking. I’ve captured some of the highlights from the #3tYOW Twitter stream.


Continue reading…

Canada and Google Products: So Close Yet so Far Away

Canadians have the best of all worlds. We live close enough to the United States to be able to share US media and pop across the border to spend weekends in US cities (Hello New York, Boston, Chicago, Seattle!) But we still get to keep our own spelling of worlds like colour, pronounce the letter Z as “zed” and watch our democracy unfold in the daily ritual of Parliament’s Question Period.

Yet, when it comes to the introduction of new Google products, we often have a much less happy situation. And this is one of those times.

For the past few weeks I’ve been watching reviews of the Chromecast, the new Nexus 7, the HTC One Google Play and Samsung 4 Google Play phones. All look like awesome devices. And all are just out of reach for a Canadian.

This is what I see when I sign onto the Canadian Google Play device store:

Canadian Google Play device store, July 28, 2013

Canadian Google Play device stores, July 28, 2013

The Canadian store offers only last year’s devices – the Nexus 7 2012 version and the Nexus 4. Not one word about the awesome new devices that my American friends sixty miles south of me are ordering and testing.

When it comes to the introduction of new products from Google, Canadians are so close, yet so far away.

UPDATE:

July 31, 2013 Still no sign of the new Nexus 7 on the Google Canada Play devices store. BestBuy.ca now shows one model of the new Nexus 7. However, it is not available to buy online nor in a store.

BestBuy 130731

 

UPDATE 2:

August 13, 2013. Slowly, slowly, the rollout is occurring.The New Nexus 7, well at least the 16GB version made its appearance on the Canadian Google Play store this morning.

New Nexus 7 16GB in Canada Play Store 130813