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What The #&@$ Do You Do, Aaron?!?

Aaron Ford
Director, Digital Advertising
Joined The Orchard in April 2012

You started out with us in Interactive Marketing before we even had a Digital Advertising team. How did you get from there to here, and what the #&@$ do you do every day?
It’s all true — every word of it! With my experience at other companies, I got a first-hand taste of advertising, fan segmentation, and measuring the behavior of those who mean the most to creators: the fans. In the Interactive Marketing department, I had a more holistic role of which advertising was a small part. Whether it was hosting a fan Q&A with Todd Rundgren or making a hashtag contest out of Fuck Buttons DIY cubes, it was really a blast. As we started to gain access to various advertising technologies, it reignited that obsession with how fan data, segmenting it, and using it to maximize awareness or sales for our clients could have a major impact. As I started to take on more of the advertising duties for the Interactive Marketing team, it became clear that our clients valued digital advertising enough to warrant it becoming a full-service department.

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Introducing: The 4 Commandments of Marketing Drivers

February 6, 2015 Featured News, Marketing No Comments

driversimage4realMarketing Drivers are the absolute most important thing you must be communicating to your client rep, when working on priority new releases. We’ve already broken down the what, when, why, and overall best practices for marketing drivers. Today, we’re going to introduce you to the 4 commandments of communicating these invaluable assets.

Remember, the questions to ask yourself when you are putting together Marketing Drivers is “why is this a priority?” “why will this album sell?” “who is the artist?” and “what is this album about.” Long story short, we are looking for key sales drivers that will compel retailers to editorially feature a release.

And now without further ado, the 4 commandments of communicating marketing drivers!

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3 Simple Ways to Improve Your Facebook Ads

September 11, 2014 Featured News, Marketing 1 Comment

Optimizing Facebook AdsIt is evident that native advertisements on Facebook are becoming an integral part of the user experience. Nevertheless, with Facebook rolling out more features for News Feed ads and the overhaul of right-column ads, getting the most out of your real estate on the platform is more critical than ever. Here are three simple tips for optimizing your ads and placing you firmly above the competition:

1. Use first-party data whenever possible.

Whenever one advertises, the first question is often about who should see the ads. Though prospecting targets allows you to discover engaged audiences that react to your message, using first-party data to retarget potential customers hones in on those most likely to purchase your product.

There are a few ways that first-party data can be collected. If you have an email list of your fans, you can import the list into Facebook and it will securely compare the email addresses to any matching Facebook IDs so that you can retarget these people with your ads. Another way that you can retarget is by embedding a tracking tag onto your website so that you can capture website visitors into an audience. If you’ve ever wondered how you’re getting served Facebook ads for websites you recently visited, it’s because of these delicious browser cookies that inform Facebook about your optimal advertising experience.

The ability to track and retarget people who have already been exposed to your brand is an invaluable tool. According to marketing expert Dr. Jeffrey Lant’s “Rule of Seven,” one should expose a product to a potential consumer at least seven times within an 18-month period in order to have the person remember the message and perhaps, even buy your product. Retargeting further expedites this process because the consumer has expressed initial interest by signing up for an email list or visiting your website. You have their attention; now you just need to keep it and make a sale.

2. Make sure you’re picking the right objective.

When setting up an ad campaign on Facebook, the first thing you need to ask yourself is “What am I trying to accomplish?” In fact, Facebook asks you what your objective is before you start creating your ad. Examples of objectives include website clicks, post engagements, and page likes. Though these are similar in very nuanced ways, the most significant reason to choose your exact objective is that Facebook will optimize your campaign to help you reach that goal.

Many campaigns we run use the “website clicks” goal, as we want fans to arrive at the digital retailer after the click: the clicks lead directly to a point-of-purchase. Facebook optimizes the impressions so that they are served to the audiences that yield the most website clicks. It prioritizes website clicks over other objectives such as engagement (shares, likes, comments, etc.). Selecting the right objective allows Facebook to work in your favor.

3. Use look-alike models. 

Prospecting potential customers incurs financial cost and can be an arduous process that may or may not yield positive results. In order to alleviate some of these uncertainties, you should create and target a look-alike model of the fans on your Facebook page. Look-alike modeling allows you to create a unique audience of people on Facebook who are very similar to the people who either like your page or are part of one of your first-party data groups. This similarity modeling is based on their interests, behaviors, and other demographic information. You can actually select a percentage between 1-10% to choose how similar and/or large you want this custom audience to be (1% being the top one-percent of people on Facebook who are the most similar and 10% containing a larger group of people who are less similar). You can create these for each country where you have enough fans for the algorithm to create a new audience.

Look-alike modeling opens the door to targeting people who are interested in liking your page or purchasing your product. These are people you would have never been able to identify through manual targeting. If you have a tight budget, you may not have the flexibility to discover new audiences on your own. Targeting a look-alike of your current fans is a viable and efficient method of engaging potential new customers.

With so much content on Facebook with which to compete, it can be a very difficult and daunting task to break through the noise and run an effective advertising campaign. However, following the aforementioned tips will ensure that your ads are reaching the right people and allowing for the appropriate type of engagement.

Marketing Drivers: What We Need, When

calendarSo, your biggest priority of the year is approaching: a new album from the most prominent artist on your roster. You’re feeling organised; with 3 months to go before release date, the album is mastered and in production for physical. The digital is uploaded and ready to submit. Press and online teams are hired and have begun their campaigns. You’re releasing a single 2 weeks before street and have a radio plugger on board for that, along with a completed video. A 20-date tour is booked starting release week. Lovely. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, hopefully nothing at all. But as a label manager, one thing that still surprises me is that I am sometimes not made aware of all this activity, or I am told when it is too late for me to effectively utilize. Digital stores plan the layout of their storefronts ahead of release date; they work to deadlines just like everyone else. So getting them the information they require on time is essential.

In days gone by, I used to call up buyers at shops and sell in records. Healthy sales were dependent on a plot, being able to tell buyers what they needed to know about the release, why their punters would be buying it, who’s playing it on radio, which publications would be reviewing it. Collectively we can refer to these selling points as “marketing drivers.”

Additionally, understanding what a shop sold, their market, a buyer’s tastes and knowledge and more generally nurturing great relationships all helped the process and allowed me to sell all kinds of releases, even if they were niche records without much in the way of marketing behind them.

The digital world is a different beast, but all of the above still applies. However, while there were 1000s of shops all with their own niche, in the digital space there are far fewer players, so I would argue that marketing drivers are even more important than they used to be. Essentially, if a service is going to give your release visibility on their store, they need to know it will sell. So, I thought I’d give you a brief rundown of what you need to send to your label manager and when, to give your priority releases their best chance at digital retail. You’ve gone to all the effort of marketing your artist and giving their new release all the support it needs, why stumble at the final hurdle?

Depending on the scale of your release, some of the below may not apply but some of it must.

What We Need

A listening link. Sounds obvious I know, but it’s important. The people who make these editorial decisions want to be able hear what they’re going to be recommending to their customers. And make it easy for them, it needs to be a streaming link. Links to downloads no thank you.

A press release or one sheet

Sales history and predictions. How well have previous releases from the same artist done? Have they charted? What are your predictions for first week sales, digital and, if relevant, physical?

Have you set up a pre-order and how’s it performing? Anything specific to particular stores (exclusives, bonus content etc)?

Artist assets. Links to your artist’s online assets and social profiles: their website, Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram, Songkick, etc. with stats where relevant.

Press & Publicity. The name of the artist’s publicist and the PR company running the release campaign — print and online. Provide details for all territories where there is activity. Send clear and concise breakdowns of print coverage, online, perhaps even TV! Is it a review, a feature, perhaps a front page spread? This should include items that have already run, things that are confirmed and also TBC.

Radio. Have you hired a radio company or plugger (if not, try iPluggers)? Which stations and shows have been playing your music? Are these spot plays or playlists?

Video(s). Are there any videos associated with the release? If so, have you secured support with an editorial partner?

Advertising. Are you running any print or digital advertising? If so, what publications? What’s the budget for digital and what platforms are you targeting?

Live. Is the artist / band touring? If so, where and when?

Where? Territory focus. Let your label manager know where your release will sell, where there’s a plot — whether that be local PR, tour dates, radio promos, and so on.

Is your artist happy to post pre-order links and buy links during release week? (Note: never link to multiple services in the same post.)

Definitely include anything else you feel pertinent and any key selling points not already covered, like details of contributing or featuring artists.

When We Need It

The all important question. It goes without saying there should be an ongoing dialogue between you and your label manager for all your priority releases. Make them aware of your release from day one and keep them in the loop with all developments.

As a rule of thumb, the further in advance the better. Ideally you’d be supplying your label manager with a list of marketing drivers 6 weeks before release date. This won’t always be practical, but at the very least it should be 4 weeks in the US and 3 weeks ROW. Leaving this short lead time should be the exception rather than the rule. 4-6 weeks is what you should aim for. This will allow your label manager enough time to process what you’ve sent them and communicate to The Orchard’s various retail marketing teams around the world.

In addition, chase up your PR companies so that you can send your label manager one final update exactly 2 weeks before release date ROW, 3 weeks in the US. Your client manager wants that in their inbox first thing Monday morning.

Of course, there are occasional genuine last minute priorities that pop up and in these instances we do our best to work around tight deadlines. For the rest, it is often a simple lack of communication. We know you’re not doing everything 2 weeks before release date, so just keep your client manager informed. Cool? Cool.

YouTube Really Wants You To Subscribe

YTSubscribeYouTube has hit the streets this month with advertising urging passersby to subscribe to some of its top creators. This is one of the first major physical ad campaigns pushed by the video streaming service specifically promoting channels. New Yorkers have started spotting ads like the giant one pictured left in NoHo as well as in the subway. And YouTube ads are planned to make their way to other cities as well as network TV.

So why does this matter? Well, for one thing, a major push by a mostly internet-based company like YouTube into the “real-world” is something to watch. Although the ads boast multi-million subscriber numbers, most people probably don’t know who these internet “celebrities” are. Likewise, most casual YouTube users don’t even subscribe. The majority of users still rely on the platform simply as a search-and-discover tool. And therein lies the impact of this campaign.

YouTube has been pushing the importance of subscription to both creators and users for some time now. Most recently, YouTube’s Head of Entertainment, Alex Carloss, made a compelling speech on the topic driving home the value of engaging a devoted returning fan base rather than a casual audience. The exact impact that subscribers have on views is still largely debated, but the concept points to a larger shift by YouTube. Deciding to pair a physical ad campaign with major channels and subscription has a feel more akin to network TV. Getting these brands and channels out in the open provides a new level of exposure to channels that normally rely solely on rabid internet sharing for promotion.

It’ll be interesting to see what the impact of this bold move will be on these channels and YouTube as a whole. Though it’s not exactly a complete game changer, it’s interesting to see an apparent shift in user behavior that YouTube may be looking for. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should change what you’re currently doing on YouTube, but you may want to push more focus toward subscribers to see if there’s an impact on your channel. For a quick way to rope in more subs, try enabling your channel’s In-Video Programming settings to ad subscribe links to your channel. See you on the subway ride home, YouTube!

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