In the Office

Week In Marketing: Olympic Ads, Fundraising Tool, Search and Shopping, Snapchat Audience, Chipotle Recovery

An Olympic Shift in Advertising Regulations
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) changed the rules about official advertising for the upcoming 2016 Rio Olympics, allowing more brands to take advantage of the games. howardmerrell blog olympicsPreviously, only official sponsors like McDonalds and Visa could feature Olympic athletes in ads, and athletes couldn’t tweet about non-official sponsors. With the recent rule change, athletes can be in basic advertisements that don’t use Olympic intellectual property, like the terms “Olympics,” “Rio,” “2016,” and “gold.”

Facebook Launches Fundraising Tool for Users
In the coming weeks, Facebook users will be able to create fundraising pages for verified nonprofits in order to start campaigns or donate directly to the charity. The feature was created several months ago for the organization pages, but it is now available for individual users to raise money for their favorite organizations. Fundraiser posts will allow users to donate directly through their newsfeed and to share amongst their friends.

Pinterest Focuses on Search and Shopping
In preparation for an upcoming IPO, Pinterest is updating its advertising strategy for keyword searches and audience-based offerings. The update will allow advertisers to target more specific audiences and take advantage of a search product with more than two billion monthly searches. Pinterest will offer keyword-tailored searches to advertisers, similar to Google, and the company will allow marketers to buy specific audiences, similar to Facebook. Advertisers can capitalize on unbranded consumers looking simply for new ideas.

Parents and Marketers are Using Snapchat
According to comScore, 38 percent of US smartphone users ages 25-34 and 14 percent of those 35 and older, are using Snapchat. About 68 percent of users 18-24 use Snapchat. While teens can find this trend bizarre, the older generation is bringing the app into the mainstream. Whether it is parents checking in on their kids, or professionals trying a new marketing tool, Snapchat is surging in popularity.

It’s a Love Story for Chipotle
Chipotle released their latest animated film to promote their new loyalty program, Chiptopia. “A Love Story,” the company’s third short original animation focuses on two competing children and their rival lemonade and juice stands. The film is being released months after two separate E.coli outbreaks and 60 reported cases from some of the restaurant’s locations. Chiptopia is part of a marketing campaign to recover consumer trust after the safety scare, and the film follows that message, promoting love and healthy food.

Week In Marketing: False Advertising, Featured Events, Celebrity Influencers, Content Performance, Dashboards

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VW’s Settlement Resolves False Ad Claims
Volkswagen’s false ad claims about its “clean diesel” vehicles will end up costing the company almost $15 billion. The settlement agreement deems that the company will have to buy the cars back from consumers, or fix them to meet standards, as well as give consumers an extra $10,000 in compensation. They are also responsible for fines, and will be making billions of dollars in payments to fund projects for clean fuel. The moral of the story is that violating consumer protection and other laws will always cost more than it’s worth.

Featured Events are In
For businesses that look to users to share their content and spread their messages on Facebook, a new solution has arrived. Facebook has created Live Events. Ten cities will have the Featured Events displayed on users’ upcoming events. The events chosen will be those that are deemed to be fun and local. Only public events are eligible to be chosen, and paying for advertising will not increase the odds of selection.

What are Celebrity Influencers Worth?
The right celebrity partnership can be worth it. Today the connection between celebrity talent and users/consumers is a different type of connection. Since much of the connection is built on social media, it is purely between the user and celebrity, the media is not interfering. There is no middle man or gate keeper. However, it might be smarter to pay for performance rather than pay the usual per post fee. It can also be effective to use middle-tier celebrities with a strong following of motivated users.

Measuring the True Performance of Content
It is anticipated that this year marketers will increase content production by 70%. But are they looking at the right data points to tell how their content is doing? Rather than simply looking at likes, shares and page visits to see how content is doing, looking into the users’ interactions with the content will give a better picture of how successful it is. Studies have shown that 59% of links that are shared on social media were never even clicked. So, marketers should pay attention to the time the users spend on the content, the time of engagement, the conversion rates, and judge your influencers based on the engagement they bring you rather than the views to ensure that the content is actually producing results.

New Twitter Dashboard for Businesses Users
Twitter is looking to capture the attention of small- and medium-sized businesses with its new Twitter Dashboard. This dashboard will allow them to schedule tweets, get content suggestions and view analytics and customized feeds through which they can engage with consumers. These customized feeds allow brand managers to look at tweets about their organization in a concise list. Twitter is hoping that its new tools will make it more appealing to businesses.

Week In Marketing: Ad Effectiveness by City, Video Ads, Color in Marketing, New Google Features, Twitter Videos

HM Blog Charlotte Which U.S. Cities Are Ignoring Your Ads?
A recent study in 100 cities across the nation looked click-through rates of millions of impressions. That data was then turned into a ‘click-through index’. Six of the 10 cities least likely to click through were in California. Charlotte, NC ranked 12th most likely to click through, and as a state North Carolina ranks 18th on the most likely to click list. Mississippi is the state with the highest click-through index (most likely), and Utah is the state with the lowest index (least likely).

YouTube helps small-scale marketers with video ads
YouTube is launching a new app, YouTube Director. This app offers free templates, music options and editing software that will help small businesses create ads. YouTube also unveiled another service that uses a company’s logo, screenshots and pictures to create ads. And they are saying in certain cities YouTube will provide businesses with approved filmmakers in exchange for the company’s pledge to spend $150 on advertising.

Psychology of Color in Marketing
Consumers make a decision about a product or a brand within 90 second, and a large factor in that snap judgement is color. Colors evoke many different emotions, and color targeted packaging and ads have been successful in the past. Not to mention the colors that don’t match the product often drive conversation. Colors evoke a wide range of emotions, and if marketers know their target market well, then they can figure out which colors to use in order to strike the optimal emotions.

Google launches AdSense Labs for publishers to test new features
Google launched AdSense Labs earlier this week. This new section will allow publishers to test new features as they become available. This option will be placed under the Optimization Tab, and new tests will be added as they are created. The first two features available for testing are Show Fewer Ads and Inline Ads.

Twitter’s Video Push
Twitter will soon launch a new section of its app, which will be called Watch Mode — a section totally devoted to videos. Now, when users click on a video on Twitter, which will trigger the Watch Mode section and other videos will be suggested. This is reminiscent of the change Facebook made last year. Videos can now be up to 140 seconds, which is an option that will now also be available on Vine. In conjunction with this, Twitter will also launch a new app called Engage, so video creators can track the analytics.

Week In Marketing: Emojis for Marketing, Measuring Store Visits, LinkedIn Acquisition, Targeting with Pinterest and Snapchat


Twitter lets Brands Target ads Based on emojis
Twitter is starting to treat emojis like keywords. That’s right, Twitter is now letting brands target Twitter users based on the emojis they tweet. This includes all tweets with emojis that users interact with by tweeting, retweeting, liking or sharing. However, brands are currently only allowed to target one emoji at a time, and not combinations or sequences of emojis.

Facebook Attempts to Measure Store Visits
Facebook is using the maps already programmed onto users phones to tell brands how many people they actually think visited their store due to an ad. This will also enable users to click on the in-ad maps and get directions to the store as well as see the hours and phone number. Facebook will also use the information from people who share their location with the app to track the number of users who actually visit the store. Advertisers will be able to see this information in real time, as well as view stats for the past day, week, or 28 days.

What Does the Acquisition Of LinkedIn Mean For B2B Marketers?
Microsoft bought LinkedIn. The deal seems to look good for both parties, and B2B marketers too. This merger seems promising for marketers looking to run ads on Bing or in Outlook. B2B marketers can also keep their eyes peeled for new opportunities with Lookalike Audiences. They should also see better display and retargeting for Bing Ads, as well improved segmenting and data cleaning.

Snapchat Opens Ad Floodgates
Snapchat Partners” has launched. This new tool will allow marketers and ad tech providers to connect and create custom buying and management tools. It also lets marketers partner with creative agencies to create stimulating ads. Snapchat will now be placing ads between some of their users’ “Stories”, which will be displayed across the screen with full sound and the option to skip. Marketers will also have the option to add other actions when users swipe up on their ads, such as, longer videos, directing them to a website or article or prompting users to buy an app.

Pinterest Allows Marketers to Target Users by Email Address or Device ID
Companies can use email addresses and mobile IDs to target customers from Pinterest. This means the opportunity to directly target consumers. For example, it could be used to reach consumers who may have put an item in their shopping cart, but that haven’t purchased the product yet.

Week In Marketing: They, Long-form Writing, No Real Marketing, Promoted Pins, Personalized Marketing, Viewability Data


The Word of the Year
The American Dialect Society declared ‘they’, used as a gender-neutral, third-person, singular pronoun, the word of the year. This use of the word they is becoming the favorite when choosing a pronoun for which the gender is not known. The culture shift towards gender neutral language is even changing some military language, such as riflemen to rifle technician. So, using the pronoun they is the best bet at not offending anyone.

Long-form writing gets more shares
Studies have shown that long-form articles get just about as much attention as short-form articles. It also showed that while posting a story Facebook gets it more traffic, people accessing stories on Twitter spend more time on the content. The study also revealed that while both long and short-form have relatively short life-spans, long-form articles receive more shares on Facebook than short-form articles.

Success!…With No Real Marketing
A “Saved by the Bell” themed restaurant, sold three months’ worth of reservations in minutes, with what one of its owners calls “no real marketing”. They set up a free Facebook event page that ended up going viral. After that, they did everything as slow and as simply as they could. They waited until all the details were confirmed and customers were absolutely itching for more information, before creating a website or Instagram account. They said they took a whole new approach to promoting, and completely let “the brand speak for itself.”

Promoted Pins are Effective for Pinterest
Pinterest will now measure the impact of Promoted Pin Campaigns on in-store sales. A study using Oracle software reported that “Promoted Pins drive 5x more incremental in-store sales per impression.”

Personalized Marketing
Blueshift is offering a new Personalization Studio. They say that this personalization platform is moving away from the standard, pre-chosen cookie-cutter options that have always been offered with these services. Now, marketers with have the ability to craft templates for emails, display ads on the web, mobile notifications and other channels. The new platform is making personalizing for a segment of a target market, or even a single user, easier and even possible to do without bothering the IT guy.

Viewability Data
Active View technology will become available for all in-stream inventory on YouTube. The program provides viewability data on a per-campaign basis. Active View will also be available for TrueView purchased either with Google AdWords or DoubleClick Bid Manager.

Deidre Hartley – She’s Baaaaaack!

We’re excited about the return of Deidre Hartley. After leaving the agency more than ten years ago to spend time with her family, she is back at Howard/Merrell as our newest Media Planner and Buyer.


In this role, Deidre will maintain client media schedules and assist with media planning and recommendations. As part of these responsibilities, she will be in charge of processing digital invoices, resolving print and broadcast discrepancies, pulling analytics data for reporting, securing media kits, completing print media investigations and evaluations, helping prepare client documents, and conducting media research for new business pitches.

With a strong work ethic and drive, Deidre is not the type to sit idle. Since she last worked at the agency, Deidre has been actively involved in the local schools. She has served as the President of the Adams Elementary PTA, Yearbook Chair and Chief Editor of the Adams Elementary PTA, and most recently, substitute teacher for the Wake County Public School System.

We’re glad to have Deidre back. She has already hit the ground running!

Week in Marketing: Zoo Crisis, Facebook Engagement, Ad-Blocking War, e-Commerce, Brand Storytelling, AP Style

Cincinnati Zoo under Criticism
The public took to social media following the news breaking of a 17 year-old gorilla being killed at the Cincinnati Zoo over the weekend. People from all over the country voiced their opinions and criticized the decisions and opinions of the mother, the zoo, and other social media users.


In its press release and press conference, the zoo did not mention or confront the public, but defended their actions and detailed the procedures used during the incident.

Facebook Engagement Declining
Over the last 12 months the engagements – likes, shares and comments – of posts on Facebook by top publishers have been steadily declining. Studies have also shown that the new Facebook Reactions have not had a significant impact on users engagements with posts. However, native video is getting more and more attention, publishers that are posting the same number of native videos this year as last year are now getting twice the engagement.

Ad-Blocking Wars are Moving to Mobile
Ad-blocking had traditionally been confined to desktop browsers, but it is now becoming more popular on mobile devices. It is even possible to block ads on Facebook or in apps. The shift to mobile ad-blocking has taken off more in Eastern nations, but is expected to make its way toward the Western world as manufacturers include ad-blocking as an offered feature for their products.

Instagram Makes e-Commerce Push
Instagram is stepping up their advertising game. The app has launched new features called “Instagram Business Tools” that allow businesses to track and analyze campaigns they run on the app. Instagram has also introduced “Business Profiles”, which allows companies and users to talk in the app. The new advertising tools are targeted towards small businesses, but large companies are welcome to join in on the fun.

Zappos Embraces Brand Storytelling launched the new #ImNotABox campaign. The company also released a short film titled, “Box Home”, to accompany the launch of the campaign. The film has been called an “interesting piece of content marketing”, and is really trying to tell a story while also serving its promotional value. The campaign is aiming to connect with consumers by sending them boxes with templates that instruct consumers how to make the box into something else.

AP Stylebook 2016 Updates
The new 2016 AP Stylebook was just released. A few changes had been made to keep up with the technologically-advanced times: internet and web will no longer be capitalized, and emoji and its plural, emojis, have been added. A detailed section on data journalism has also been added to the Stylebook, along with about 250 other additions or updates.

Week In Marketing: Twitter Characters, Google Search Ads, Victoria’s Secret Catalogs, Spelling Bee, 20th Century Fox


Twitter to change Character Counting and upgrade replies
Twitter users will experience an overhaul in what constitutes 140 charactes over the next few months. Certain attachments that previously were included in the character count, such as photos, GIFs, videos, polls, etc., will no longer be tallied. Additionally, in a reply, the @name will not be counted either. This update allows individuals and companies alike to get more bang for their buck and has the potential to significantly alter Twitter marketing strategies in the future.

Google Maps to integrate local businesses in Search Advertisements
Utilizing different pin colors, Google Maps hopes to provide users with a more personal experience through the incorporation of local advertisements. The Internet mogul is aiming to connect users with small business owners and marketers in any city via cellular location services. Local business pages will have the ability to feature special offers, pictures, virtual tours and product browsing, as well as the opportunity to market their establishment with a ‘promoted pin.’ This Maps update could change the way that small businesses market to customers in clients.

Victoria’s Secret Sheds Weight of Physical Catalogs
For reasons ranging from environmental degredation to financial security, Victoria’s Secret is discontinuing its iconic catalog. The fashion company has been producing “up to 300 million copies of its catalogs per year, at a cost of $125 million to $150 million annually,” according to Adweek’s Kristina Monllos. When the retailer began to diminish its catalog production and distribution, the sales didn’t drop. Victoria’s Secret has revealed that their main marketing focus moving forward will be in the digital sphere, primarily through social media platforms and individual accounts.

20th Century Fox takes over Snapchat
The highly anticipated summer blockbuster X-Men Apocalypse will be released in theaters soon, and 20th Century Fox pulled out all of the stops to raise awareness for the film on Snapchat. While some companies have been known to feature multiple lenses (the Snapchat feature that allows users to animate their face) on the same day in addition to Snapchat’s stock lenses, this marks the first time that the only lenses available were from a single company. Users were able to choose from nine lenses of the movie’s popular characters and millions across the world viewed the ads.

Amazon capitalizes on Spelling Specialists
In addition to sponsoring the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Amazon is partnering with the contestants to produce four commercials that will air during the finals competition. The ads focus on the dedication of the contestants, their lives outside of spelling and their dreams while also shedding light onto the supportive families and the lifestyles of their loved ones.

Week In Marketing: Aggressive Social, DoubleClick, Facebook Credibility, TV Station Performance, Digital TV

Too Aggressive on Social?
Almost 75 percent of millennials (ages 20–39) and Gen Z (ages 16–19) say they’re disinterested in brands that advertise too aggressively on social media. A Harris Poll study found that although organizations should have a strong presence on various digital and social media channels, it’s probably best to let these consumers come to you. follow-1210793_1920-2 The study revealed:
– Today’s younger consumers are much more likely to trust information they seek out themselves
– Direct targeting on social media via ads can actually lose you customers
– Although younger consumers have a greater need for fast interaction from brand managers, they want to be the first to initiate contact
– When millennials reach out online, nearly 80 percent of them expect a response back within the same day

TV Stations Performance on the Rise
In the midst of a big election year – and Summer Olympics to come – U.S. TV stations are poised to see strong double-digit percentage rises in over-the-air advertising revenues in 2016. Stations are expected to post 12.6% rise in 2016 ad revs; 13.3% Gain In Online/Digital. TV station advisor BIA/Kelsey forecasts this to total $20.8 billion, up 12.1% over 2015.
– Local TV over-the-air revenues sank 7.2% in 2015 versus 2014
– This year, local TV stations’ digital/online revenues will rise by around the same rate as-over-the air TV – up 13.3% to $1.0 billion
– During the last Presidential election year, local TV stations were estimated to have taken in $20.3 billion in over-the-air advertising, and $600 million in online/digital advertising
– East Coast TV stations will see an 11.1% gain
– Southern TV markets will rise 12.6%
– Western TV stations will grow 11.9%
– Midwest markets will see the greatest climb – up 14.6%
– Southwest markets will rise the least – up 8.4%

Digital Video More Popular Than Prime-time TV?
Television programming is losing more of its audience to digital, according to a new study commissioned by the Interactive Advertising Bureau. According to the study, the number of U.S. adults watching original video programs online at least once a month has grown to 63 million from 45 million in 2013 with users describing digital video as more “innovative,” “memorable” and “fun”. According to IAB, 26 percent of the U.S. adult population now watch original digital video. The study found that those who do watch online prefer it over prime-time, news, sports or daytime TV. Around 62 percent of those surveyed said they prefer original digital video over prime-time TV because it allows them to watch their shows on their own schedule.

Updates for Google’s DoubleClick
Google has updated DoubleClick for Publishers. This will make it easier to sell native ads that look good across device screens and experiences including mobile websites, apps and desktop sites. Google’s solution works by asking marketers to provide individual ad components such as headlines, images and article text, then fits them to each screen.

Facebook Loses Credibility
News outlets say that journalists who were hired to give Facebook news credibility—routinely suppressed stories about conservative leaders and issues. According to an article in PR Daily, Facebook news curators said conservative topics were suppressed on the site and conservative-leaning websites such as Breitbart, Drudge Report and Red State were pushed down in the rankings. The former curators also accuse Facebook of injecting stories into the “trending section” that didn’t necessarily warrant that tag.

Week in Marketing: National Geo, People-based Advertising, Re-gramming, truTV, Labeling


National Geographic’s First Instagram Video Series
National Geographic announced plans to leverage that social dominance with several new digital initiatives, including 10 digital series, its first Instagram video series and a virtual reality platform. With more than 49 million followers on Instagram, National Geographic is the No. 1 media brand on the platform, and the No. 13 brand overall, trailing only celebrities like Beyoncé, Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian.

People-Based Advertising
Largely fuelled by social networks, the new world of data is enabling marketers to connect with the right audience, at the right time. The change in focus is causing many to re-think their traditional approaches and use the data available to create more refined messaging for specific audiences and audience subsets. If you target people based on more of the things they’re interested in, you can save money and increase response. A recent survey of 350 senior North American marketers to better understand the impact of people-based advertising in their businesses. Some interesting findings include:
– 70% of North American advertisers are buying people-based ads.
– 83% of North American advertisers report that people-based ads outperform traditional digital media.
– 92% of North American media buyers are increasing people-based advertising buys this year.

Using Re-Gramming
Why are brands tapping into the value of the Instagram re-gram, and re-posting real customer content from their branded handles? Because it can accomplish a variety of marketing goals – from building an online community and generating brand awareness, to driving more sales. Here are a few ways to repost on Instagram to improve your marketing: to celebrate customers, to propel your social campaign, and to integrate with ecommerce,

TruTV Is Attracting a Younger Audience
truTV says its median audience is now 35 years old, a full three years younger than a year ago, and ranks among the top cable networks with young adults. On the content side, truTV is adding three new series and a pair of specials, in addition to six more pilots in development.

Want a six pack of ‘America’?
Budweiser has sought approval for new labels that replace the Budweiser name with “America,” according to a filing with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. The labels don’t stop there. They include phrases such as “E Pluribus Unum” and “from the redwood forest to the Gulf stream waters this land was made for you and me,” as well as “indivisible since 1776.”