Programmatic Advertising: What it is and why your company needs it

A few months ago, as I was browsing the net for new topics for my blog, I stumbled upon the term ‘programmatic advertising’. It caught my attention straight away and I decided to check it out. I am a digital marketing professional, but to be honest, this was the first time I was learning about programmatic. I have been more inclined towards marketing automation, email marketing and social media, but haven’t had too much exposure to digital advertising. I have done social advertising in the past on some of my previous jobs and as a freelancer for clients, but more in the form of strategy rather than execution. For quite some time, I have been using social advertising to promote one of my two brands – Something for Everyone and a Pinch of Salt. I’ve mainly done it through Facebook because it provides the best features for doing so. But programmatic is a whole new level of digital advertising.

Social Media Advertising

Source: AdCheck

First of all, let’s start by explaining what exactly programmatic is. Put in the most simple way, it means the use of software algorithms to buy digital advertising space. It is an optimised way, which is much more convenient and effective than traditional ad buying. The targeting is more precise as it is data-driven and, therefore, offers a more personalised customer experience. If you are searching for specific products or services, and then you start getting served ads based on what you were looking for, you wouldn’t block these ads, would you? On the contrary, if you are served ads that are of no relevance to you or your current interests, you would get annoyed and would want to stop seeing these. This is why programmatic is so good- because it feeds data to technology, which serves the ad to the right person, at the right time in the right context.

Programmatic Advertising

Source: Business First Family.com

Logically, the next question is how it works. Of course, it’s quite complicated and the process could be quite technical as well. As the Internet grew a lot in the past years, the demand for ad space grew with it. Publishers emerged from every corner and the online ad campaigns became more aggressive and less customer-oriented. This is when ad blockers became trendy and threatened the world of digital advertising as they were preventing advertisers from reaching their audiences. Ad blockers, however, served as an alert that something in the digital advertising world should change. And this is how companies started adopting this new and smarter way of advertising, which was focusing on quality rather than quantity.

Programmatic Advetising

Source: KRT Marketing

Through Demand-Side Platforms (DSP), advertisers started buying impressions in an automated fashion, removing salespeople and human ad buyers from the process, thus making it cheaper and more efficient. DSPs are usually linked to Data-Management Platforms (DMP), which provide the data (location, browsing history, online behaviour, language etc.) advertisers need for better targeting. DSPs then access online marketplaces called ad exchanges where publishers make their impressions available. Based on the data they have from the DMP, demand-side platforms decide which impressions to purchase automatically and then place a bid (the process is called real-time bidding). The highest bidder wins and their ad is served to the user straight away. The whole process takes milliseconds, the time which is needed for a webpage to load.

DSPs are designed to make the ad-buying process cheap and efficient for advertisers. This, however, is not in the interest of publishers who want to sell their impressions for the highest price. For this purpose, Supply-Side Platforms (SSP) were created. They are the publisher’s equivalent of DSPs and are designed to maximize the prices their impressions sell at. Both types of platforms use similar technology.

Programmatic Advertising Ecosystem

Source: AdTuple

The whole programmatic ad process, in a nutshell, includes: 1) publishers connect their inventory to ad exchanges through supply-side platforms; 2) advertisers then access those ad exchanges through demand-side platforms, which decide what impressions to buy and bid for them; 3) through an automatic process, the highest bidder is determined and their ad is served to the user. It should be noted here that real-time bidding is only one type of programmatic advertising. Sometimes, publishers sell ad inventory at fixed prices instead of auctioning them off, which is called programmatic direct.

Programmatic is the future

Source: Marketing Choice

Technology and machine learning are changing dramatically the way marketing is done nowadays. The processes become optimised, more efficient and help marketing campaigns achieve their goals to a higher extent and for a lesser budget. Machine learning algorithms, employed in programmatic advertising are expected to generate around $42 billion in annual advertising revenue by 2021 (source: Papyrus). Programmatic advertising is not just efficient- it leads to more sophisticated, targetted and smarter campaigns. Programmatic is the future of digital advertising in a world which becomes more and more driven by technology.

Lidiya K.

The Importance Of Content Marketing For Promoting Your Business

Content marketing- this term is all over the web these days. When it comes to promoting your business’ products and services online, the WAY to achieve results is throug an effective content marketing, social media and SEO strategies. These are actually the three crucial steps for a successful promotion of your business: 1) creating compelling and engaging content that attracts your audience, 2) sharing this content on your social profiles, which is where your audience can find it and 3) making sure you rank high on Google search results so that prospects interested in the type of content you’re sharing, can find you and add to your clients list.

Image source: Geary LSF

Image source: Geary LSF

The first question that arises though, especially in beginners’ heads is ‘How do I create content that counts?’ And my immediate answer would be ‘REASERCH’. Research is the stepping stone for everything. It is the foundation without which one cannot achieve anything. Through solid research you’ll be able to identify your goals, your target audience, the types of content you can use to achieve the desired results, how to manage your content strategy effectively etc. In order to build a successful content marketing strategy, it is essential that you set up clearly-defined goals, what you want to achieve. This way you’ll be able to decide the type of content you are going to use, the channels you are going to share it from etc.

The Content Marketing Institute defines the term ‘content marketing’ as:

“A marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

Again ‘clearly defined audience’ is the first thing you need to have in hand before starting your content marketing strategy. For example, let’s say you’re a marketing technology provider. Your business is B2B, then who your potential customers would be? Businesses that need this technology of course. Probably they don’t know they need it yet, so your job is to tell them. Very important key words in the definition of ‘content marketing’ are also ‘valuable’, ‘relevant’ and ‘consistent’. Sharing information your target audience already knows wouldn’t do you any good. Your aim is to stand out of the crowd and to achieve that, you need to add value to your content. The types of content your audience would be most interested in reading, is another crucial thing you need to find out as part of your research, before starting to build your content marketing strategy. HubSpot has produced a nice list of the most popular types of content, marketers use to attract prospects and turn them into long-time customers:

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According to recent research conducted by Regalix, 98% of marketers say content marketing is core to their marketing strategy. For me, this means content marketing should be an integral element in every successful business plan. A good example for an effective content marketing provider is B2B Marketing. They constantly post stats, industry news and survey results on their website which generate a lot of traffic and directs many potential customers their way. Their content is relevant, valuable and being shared on a regular basis.

Image source: STRYDE

Image source: STRYDE

Now that you know the importance of content marketing, it would be unforgivable to ignore it as a tool, very effective tool actually. It will take some time until you get on tracks and achieve the results you want but with consistency and perseverance, soon you’ll be an established and successful content marketing guru.

Lidiya Kirilova

5 Successful SEO Strategies That Will Boost Your Traffic

Search engine optimization, or as most of us know it by its acronym SEO, is this powerful marketing discipline which makes you popular on the web. Nowadays, when everything is digital, it becomes tougher and tougher to get yourself noticed and attract visitors to your website. And this is where SEO comes to help, although sometimes that might not be enough. If you want a proper search engine optimization, you need an expert, which could be quite expensive as SEO’s work is hard, time-consuming and requires a lot of strategic thinking. For small businesses, which normally have tight budgets, it could be quite a challenge to get a proper SEO support from someone experienced. In this case, it’s always a good idea to do some research and familiarize yourself with the basic principles of SEO. I recently came across MOZ’s Beginner’s Guide To SEO, which is very informative and is great for anyone who wants to get a general understanding of search engine optimization.However, for those of you who have clicked on this post with the hope to find effective strategies to help you increase your traffic, here is my top 5 favourite SEO techniques:

1) Optimize your website to be mobile friendly

Yes, I know, this is a very banal strategy but it actually works. Most people nowadays possess smart devices and use them a lot to search the Internet. As you can see from Smart Insights infographic below produced for their Mobile Marketing Statistics 2015 report, the percentage of people accessing websites from their smart phones is almost the same as those using PC/laptops to browse the web. That is why it is crucial that you implement mobile traffic optimization for your website. If you want your brand to be successful and recognisable and to appear on top of the search results, you need a mobile-responsive website.

desktop-vs-mobile-most-popular-devices-2015-550x719

2) Social Media Activity

I keep saying in all my posts that social media is an integral part of every aspect of today’s business world; it should be part of crisis comms, internal comms, external comms, marketing & PR etc. And of course it should be part of your SEO strategy as well. Social media gives you platform to get yourself noticed, so make sure you do so by setting up your profiles on as many social channels as you can (these need to be in line with the nature of your business). But as you can imagine, setting up profiles is simply not enough. You need to create presence, build a network and engage with it. It takes time and consistency, but at the end it pays off very well. For more social media marketing tools, check my guide.

3) Content Publishing

Nothing can boost traffic like fresh content, and search engines love that. What you need to do is start posting articles, press releases or company news on your site, but in my opinion, having a blog section is the best traffic booster in terms of content. But if you want this strategy to work, you need to do it on a regular basis; publishing content at least two times a week is a good start. This SEO strategy also gives you the opportunity to embed key words that will rank you higher in the search results, so make sure you do your homework properly. Key words on blogging work the same way as hashtags on Twitter. You just need to research which are the most popular key phrases/words people are talking/posting about that are relevant to your piece of content, and just use them.

Image source: gatelogix.com

Image source: gatelogix.com

4) Key Words Matter

As I mentioned above, you need to do your homework properly, if you want to achieve the desired results and even exceed them. It is extremely important in terms of SEO, how you structure your key phrases/words and how you position them on the web. The so called long tail SEO can do a great job in increasing your traffic and selling your products/services. Long tail key words are normally 4-7-word long phrases that describe very specifically your piece of content (70% of Google search terms are long tail). They can be very useful as they are unique, which means you might be the only one using a key phrase structured this way. Therefore, if your customers search for this articular phrase, guess who will show up first on the search? Yes, you! However, to achieve that you need to do a very good research on what your customers are looking for. You can use help from research tools such as Wordtracker.

5) SEO & Public Relations

SEO and PR are an unexpectedly good combination. Public relations is about building relationship with your various audiences and now, with the help of social media, that is much easier. You can start interacting with key influencers and people who are likely to share your links. Guest blogging could be a really good way to achieve that. Also sharing your targeted influencers’ content and actively engaging with them, might result in them following you and sharing your content back. The more you appear on the web, the higher you rank on searches. LinkedIn is another great platform for publishing your content and increasing your traffic. You can start by writing LinkedIn posts, which of course need to redirect to your website, engaging in LinkedIn conversations, joining relevant LinkedIn groups and so on. Traditional PR could also be very helpful. If you manage to build relationships with journalists, there is no better way to get publicity and boost your traffic.

Image source: considerthis.co.uk

Image source: considerthis.co.uk

The SEO industry is very broad and sometimes unpredictable; what works for one could be a disaster for another. Everything is error and trial. However, what I can say for sure is success lies in the balance, so whatever you do always try to find the golden mean and you will never be wrong.

Lidiya Kirilova

UK General Election 2015- Why Britain Chose To Be Blue For Another 5 Years

Everyone was excited about the 2015 UK General Election long before it was held. Political parties started their election campaigns more than two years ago, preparing themselves for a big battle. The style of the campaigns could be roughly described as quite similar, with political parties barking at each other in the beginning, then starting to bite in the midst of the campaign and finally tearing off meat of their rivals at the end. Sometimes I’m thinking to myself that the term ‘black PR’ must have been invented by a politician. We know politics is a dirty game which, however, is not always won by the dirtiest player; or at least by the one who plays the dirtiest.

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But let’s elaborate a little bit on the tactics of the different political parties and their leaders and try to figure out why they achieved what they achieved. It’s been a shock for a lot of people that the Conservative party won the General Elections for the second time in a row, especially after the contradictory results from the European Parliament Election in 2014. So what did the Conservatives do to win so many voters on their side? On a first place, theirs was the least aggressive campaign of all. People don’t want to see politicians throwing stones at each other; they want to hear reasonable solutions to their problems, they want better living standard, higher salaries, better health system, lower levels of crime, better protection etc.

In my opinion, the Conservative party started building slowly an army of supporters, very long time ago. They won the people by handling well issues of historic significance such as the Scottish Independence referendum last year. And they are planning another one in 2017- an in/out EU referendum. Many people have expressed an opinion that Britain is losing more than it’s getting from its EU membership. Moreover, British citizens have never felt as part of Europe anyway, so a lot of them are not seeing a reason in staying in the union. And the Tories used this big debate, going on in the country for a long time, in their favour.

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As opposed to their biggest opponent, the Labourists failed to recognise what their electorate wanted. In a recent interview for BBC, Ed Miliband’s brother, David has criticised Ed’s leadership, saying voters “did not want what was being offered”. A lot of the criticism also goes towards the fact Ed Miliband was not the most appropriate face of the Labour Party and the campaign itself, as his message to the voters was showing that he was desperate to win. Moreover, the aggressiveness some of the Labour voters have shown, such as “Let’s Kick Cameron Out” messages on Twitter, didn’t help either. In actual fact, the Labourists’ aggressiveness could have become a motivational factor for the Conservatives’ electorate to go and vote.

david-cameron-ed-miliband-nick-clegg-nigel-farage-election

As for the other parties, it is no surprise SNP became the third political party, winning 56 seats contrasted to just 6 in the previous Parliament. The question of the Scottish independence is live yet, meaning Scottish nationals, especially the ones supporting the independence, will never vote for an English party. As for UKIP, it is a party that gained popularity in the blink of an eye but lost it just as quick. Its hypocritical values and the behaviour of its leader were punished by the voters as a result of which UKIP will probably be completely shoved off the British political scene in the coming years. This is the party that was relying on black PR the most, but as we can all see, it didn’t do it any good.

For a liberal country like Britain, it is quite an occasion that a conservative party will continue to rule it for another five years. I don’t know if this is a good decision for the country, but it is a fact that the Tories know how to play the game. They judged their target audience in a very good way, recognised what it wants, and just offered it. In a world torn by wars, economic and political crises, religious conflicts etc. it is very important to show the people you can handle the situation and maintain the balance. The Conservative Party managed to convince the people it can. But can it really?

Lidiya Kirilova

Twitter Marketing- The Best Tool To Promote Your Business

Twitter is one of the most popular social platforms in the recent years. It has more than 300 million active monthly users and is a great tool for marketing your business. We all know LinkedIn is the main place where businesses and professionals connect and promote their companies; however, Twitter provides a much more personal approach and, in my opinion, a better networking environment. Moreover, it’s easier as well as quicker to grow your followers on Twitter than on most of the other social media platforms. This way you have a much bigger audience to share your updates with. Facebook, for instance, is limiting the visibility of your posts, which means just a certain percentage of your fans will actually see them. Twitter, on the other hand, does not, which means your tweets could potentially be seen by all your followers.

twitter-marketing-tools

Now, that we defined Twitter is an amazing marketing tool above others, we need to figure out how to reveal its full potential in order to achieve optimal results. First of all, you need to start by modifying your profile. If you’re a company or a freelancer, you need to have your logo as a profile picture. If you’re a professional, you need a professional photo of yourself. Your bio is crucial as well. This and your profile picture are the things people see first. This is the so called ‘first impression’ about you, so make sure it rocks! Second step in building up your Twitter presence is to find relevant people/businesses to connect with. Don’t just follow random profiles, be selective. This way you show you have a strategy and you have clearly defined your goals. For instance, I use my Twitter profile for three main things: 1) to promote my website/blog posts, 2) to promote my services and myself as a freelancer and 3) to connect and engage with key people within the industry.

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It’s very important to have links re-directing to your website/blog in the little field under your bio. As I mentioned earlier, this section is the first thing people see in your profile, so make sure you embed all your important links in there. Now, that you are ready to start your Twitter marketing, you need to make sure you have valuable content to share. Your content is what builds your reputation among your audience, so you need to provide quality. Another important thing in terms of networking is when you start your tweeting activity, don’t just share your own content and nothing else. Re-tweeting your audience’s updates is an excellent way to engage. This way you show you value their work and encourage them to share yours as well; plus is a good way to win more followers. And don’t forget to add relevant hashtags. This way you make it easier for people with the same interests as you to find you and follow your updates. Favouriting your audience’s tweets is another good networking method, so whenever you spot a decent piece of content, just hit the star button!

Twitter-Marketing

Now you’re ready to start your Twitter marketing, so start experimenting with it to see what works best for you. Hope my little guide helps you identify the benefits of Twitter as a social media marketing tool and gives you a general idea on where to start from. However, social media is very time-consuming, so if you don’t have time to build your profile and manage it yourself, contact me and I will give you advice or build it for yourself. For more information, visit my website: www.worldofcreativecomms.com and let’s achieve decent results together!

Lidiya Kirilova

The Power of Infographics And Why We Should All Embrace Them

Infographics came to the visual scene recently and haven’t left since. It’s amazing how something so simple at a first glance, can make such a big difference to your business. I firstly took an interest in infographics about a year ago, when I started work for a content marketing agency. I immediately recognised the benefits of using infographics as they are very informative, catchy and visually creative. Simplicity and complexity blend together to form an incredibly good, end product!

Below is an infographic I did for a health company some time ago. Even dry material such as desease stats, could be presented in an accessible way and this is what makes infographics so great. The one I made is not so professionally done as I did not have an access to a proper software so had to use a free, online one, which limits you in terms of design. Still, the main points have been made; besides, this is a much better way of presenting particular findings than providing your audience with, say, a thick, boring report. Don’t you agree?

infographic

Infographics are great marketing as well as PR tools, because they summarise big amounts of dry and boring content and present it in a visually creative way. The benefits of visual content have been recognised recently, and more and more practitioners out there are making good use of these. But what is it that makes infographics so special? Here are some stats, which give answer to this question:

  • 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual;
  • 65% of the world population consists of visual learners;
  • 1/2 of the brain is dedicated to visual function;
  • The brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than textual information;
  • Practitioners who use infographics grow in traffic 12% more than those who don’t;
  • In March 2012, #infographic was tweeted 56,765 times;
  • Infographic production increases by 1% every day;

So, if you are not using infographics in your business, you’d better consider starting to do so. Be creative, be visually-friendly and remember, simlicity is the key to success.

Lidiya Kirilova

Is PR More Aligned With Marketing Than It Used To Be

Today I read an article by B2B Marketing on the connection between marketing and public relations nowadays. The results revealed in the B2B PR Agencies Repot 2015, suggest that 96 per cent of PR agencies think ‘PR is more mixed in with marketing than it used to be’ as the result of rapid digitisation. Moreover, 74 per cent said that nowadays ‘PR agencies are competing with marketing agencies much more.’ In this post I will attempt to analyse these results and explain why the border between marketing and PR is fading and will become even more blurred in the future.

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Originally, public relations (PR) is part of the marketing communications mix. However, PR evolved a lot by itself and became a whole new discipline. While marketing is more associated with sales, PR is focusing on communicating and building relationship with its various publics. At the end of the day, both marketing and PR aim to increase profit, but where the real difference comes from is in the means they use to achieve it. 

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Nowadays, things are completely different than they used to be, say about 5 years ago. This is when I started my first year at university and what I remember is social media was still at its dawn, marketing was all about sales and profit, and PR was mainly associated with press releases and the traditional media. During these years we have witnessed the dramatic changes PR and marketing have gone through, and their transition from traditional to digital. Originally, social media was rather associated as part of PR than marketing since it’s all about media and communication. But soon marketers also started seeing the huge potential social media has, and the opportunities it provides. And this is how the border started fading away.

pr-vs-marketing-infograph

These days every business, as well as practitioner from any industry that pretends to be successful, is supposed to have well developed social profiles. A website, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook profiles are a must. Digital marketing, content marketing, visual marketing, infographics, etc. are all innovative means of reaching the customer who has become much smarter and informed than they used to be. Technology and digital media are the things that are uniting marketing and PR nowadays and they are likely to make them bond with each other even more.

Lidiya Kirilova