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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!

How, Why, and When to Advertise Your Stuff

via Reddit's Ad Pitch DeckDeciding to spend money to increase awareness of your project is a big decision. You’ve probably already spent a ton of money creating your art and the idea of spending again may be anathema to you. You may have already gathered the funds for a large-scale media purchase and are ready to go. I don’t know this and have no supernatural powers. I’m just writing a blog post for The Daily Rind and trying to help.

Managing our clients’ and our internal advertising budgets, I’ve seen the gamut of situations in which advertising could be useful and have executed campaigns. I’ve found that a step-by-step thought-process prevents one from completely blowing it. Completely blowing it can mean wasted money or a project no one knows about. This is my process and the one I recommend to others.

  1. Define your goals – What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to grow awareness, or drive those that are already aware to a place to purchase?
  2. Define your message – What is the message you want to deliver? Go through the process of creating a simple sentence “Promote the new video duh!” is not good. Your message is something like “Watch this video and learn more about this artist.”
  3. Research your fans and potential fans – Who should receive this message? You may not know who your fans are as much as you think you do. Even if you’re the label, you can lack perspective. You have no objectivity and that’s normal. Rely on data and numbers to combat your definite bias. Use tools such as Facebook Insights. Pay special attention to the “People” tab. Those are the ones who engage with your page. Some people are lazy and just Like pages they do not plan to engage with. The “People” tab shows you who the engaged fans are; the people who will buy your stuff. You may also find tools like Google AnalyticsBeluga (free), Next Big Sound, Musicmetric, and others handy. Create useful names for the different segments: “18 – 24 year old bros in Arizona who love action sports” or “Hipsters that pirate your stuff in Silverlake.” All of this is valuable if you create segments that mean something to you.
  4. Identify your targets – Who do you want to receive the message based on your research? Maybe you’ve found that your audience is “75 – 85 year old vagrants with an iPod touch and Starbucks WiFi.” This is not an audience that is worth your hard-earned, borrowed, or stolen ad dollars. If your goal is to create awareness for a video, even though most of your audience are these vagrants, you should target the small part of your audience that is of a demographic using the platform on which your video is published. If your budget is limited, you should focus first on the fans most likely to purchase and only go outside of that fan-base after you’ve given the core fan-base every opportunity to give you money. They can be best targeted through tracking pixels from third parties such as Google, Facebook, or The Trade Desk.
  5. Devise your strategies – In what voice do you want to deliver your message? What’s your angle? Are you enticing people with a free track?
  6. Decide which tactics you will use – What tactics will you employ to execute the strategy? Video? Search Ad? Retargeting Landing Page visitors with banners? Asking a question in a promoted post? Leveraging memes such as Doge (such link. so lol)?
  7. Identify the platforms / technology you will use – Where will you deploy your tactics? Facebook? Google Search? Bing Search? LinkedIn? Banner inventory on the coolest sites? Video inventory?
  8. Execute your campaign – Double-check everything. A misspelling or typo can be absolutely devastating to your cause. You don’t want that. We don’t want that. Deploy your campaign at hours of peak traffic for your audience, strategy, tactic, and platform. This may mean that you deploy each part at a different time.
  9. Optimize your campaign – Don’t just let it sit there spending your money. Constantly optimize. What’s working? What’s not? Don’t be alarmed by lower click-through-rates (CTR) on banner ads than you see on Search ads. Banners are about impressions and you are billed per impression. Search is about clicks and you are billed per click.
  10. Recap your campaign – Even if you are doing your own digital advertising, you should do this step. Create a document that is an overview of the campaign. You will find nuggets of information in this document that you will not find by just looking at numbers on the platforms.
  11. Learn from your campaign – After you have created this document ask yourself if it was a success. Go back to your goals. Did your video get more views than they would have without it? Did your Facebook page see a higher rate of engagement? What would you do differently next time?

Spending money to promote your work is a big deal and it’s worth your time to go through this process to make sure you don’t completely blow it. I’d love to answer any questions (no centaur questions) or address any feedback so do not hesitate to comment.

The Complexity of the YouTube Advertising Market

January 15, 2014 YouTube No Comments

For many artists and labels, YouTube has become a nice source of additional revenue. However, it’s very difficult to make any type of accurate revenue projections. The YouTube advertising market is complex, changes rapidly over time, and isn’t based on a per-unit cost in the same way as a Spotify or iTunes. Season, territory, content performance, and content value to advertisers all play a part.

Seasonally, the ad market across the internet, including YouTube, typically starts each quarter lower than the previous quarter ended. Revenue generally increases from January to December of each year, with the largest drop in revenue coming between December and January of the new year. Unlike the holiday gift card trend on iTunes, for instance, you can expect revenue from YouTube to drop dramatically from December to January.

Territory has an effect as well. If we were to look at two channels with similar content but audiences in two different countries–say the U.S. and Germany–we’d likely see vastly different CPMs and revenue. Channel A is focused on the U.S. where advertisers generally pay more, and Channel B is based in Germany, where they can’t even monetize their music content. So even if the channels have about the same number of videos, subscribers, and views, they’ll likely make very different earnings. Recommendation: keep an eye out for standout countries that may show surprising stats, like Belize or San Marino, and find out why and what you can do to capitalize on them.

Content performance, measured by watch time and audience retention, also plays a part. YouTube’s algorithms tend to reward quality content (i.e. high watch time) with better paying ads. The appeal of the content to advertisers is also a factor. If the content reaches a specific audience that’s of value to an advertiser, they’re likely to pay more to reach that audience. NOTE: This doesn’t mean that you should alter the type of content you produce in hopes of reaching would-be advertisers. Focus on producing quality content for your audience and the rest will fall into place.

YouTubing For Businesses

January 6, 2014 YouTube No Comments

WillItBlendYouTube isn’t just for the entertainment industry and home movie enthusiasts. Businesses are getting creative by harnessing its power to reach customers. Video for businesses can mean a lot more than advertising. Used the right way, YouTube could get a product or service in front of new customers and keep them coming back for more.

Possibly the most entertaining example of this is Blendtec’s YouTube series, Will it Blend?. As the name suggests, episodes test the power of Blendtec’s products by blending various objects. The genius of this series is in their choice of objects to blend. Each time a major device comes to market (for example, a new iPhone), Blendtec is the first to get its hands on it and blend it to bits. Imogen Heap even enlisted the help of Blendtec to blend together meaningful objects tied to the recording and promotion of her new album. This brilliant use of tent-pole programming appeals to what viewers are already searching for and gets the company’s product in front of a huge audience. Even if viewers might not particularly be in the market for a new blender, they’re certainly going to think of Blendtec when they are.

Maybe less entertaining but equally as effective is Williams-Sonoma’s appetizing YouTube channel. The kitchenware company sells a huge variety of top-of-the-line kitchen appliances and gadgets. Using their YouTube channel to showcase featured items has given Williams-Sonoma a great opportunity to show their products in action. Let’s say I’ve stumbled upon a video featuring their new waffle maker. Not only do they show the product, but they also show you how to use it and how to make a delicious food item at the same time. So now that I’m dying for a waffle maker, I’ve got a head start and know just where to buy one.

YouTubing for businesses isn’t only limited to kitchen items. Companies like Troy Lee Designs have come up with creative ways to include the physical space of their store, showing off cool products at the same time. The motocross race shop sells everything from helmets to hardware and has a facility that begs a visit. To show it all off, they decided to have InsiderMX swing by and fly a GoPro strapped to an RC helicopter through the shop. This point-of-view perspective gives viewers a glimpse of what the shop is about and urges them to swing by to see it for themselves.

Thinking out of the box can really give businesses an edge. A creative YouTube channel can help level with potential customers and give them an honest view into what a company is about. Whether it’s a sense of humor with any given product or a hands-on demonstration, incorporating YouTube can help businesses reach a potentially huge audience. Entertaining viewers this way gives them something to remember — without having to beg for a sale.

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The Orchard is a pioneering music, video and film distribution company and top-ranked Multi Channel Network operating in more than 25 global markets. Founded in 1997, we empower businesses and creators in the entertainment industry.

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