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Commercial-Free Broadcasting: Ad-Less YouTube is Coming

Premium services that offer ad-free services are nothing new, and soon, the largest video streaming platform in the world could be joining that list. YouTube is prepared to roll out a paid subscription service to users that could see the end of advertisements before and during videos… For as big as YouTube is – millions of subscribers and even more viewers, and counting each day – it makes no profit. Yes, the service is owned by Google and has thousands of paid ads across the site, but it makes $0. Many attempts have been made to help generate revenue, and many are banking on this new method to help (finally) turn a profit. Last fall, it was announced that YouTube was considering adding a premium subscription-based service, which would see users experiencing an ad-free service if they paid the fee. While something like this has been long-rumored, it had been uncertain when this would go into effect. Now fast-forward to today, where a report came out from Seeking Alpha that stated YouTube would be launching it’s paid subscription service as early as June 15, though it is uncertain at what capacity it will be. Regardless, the change is coming, and if it isn’t on the aforementioned date, a source at Bloomberg says it will be coming by the end of this year. Why June 15? According to TechCrunch, the date represents when the Partner Program terms go into effect, “but this doesn’t necessarily mean that the service will be immediately public to all YouTube users at that time. It could be a staged rollout, or YouTube could have simply wanted... read more

Insta-ads: Changes to Paid Ads on Instagram

An Instagram photo or video is worth a thousand likes, and thanks to changes coming to the photo sharing platform, advertising is about to see a major overhaul in the form of “call-to-action” buttons and better targeting tools. What does this mean for advertisers? How will you be able to spread your message? Here’s a look… We’ve talked about how Pinterest is revamping their advertising strategy, so this week, we’re here to talk about Instagram. The photo-sharing app is currently one of the top social media platforms in the world. More particularly, it’s most popular amongst younger audiences (teenagers have even said that it’s their most important social network). So naturally, it was only a matter of time until Instagram would move into the realm of paid advertising. It’s been about a year since the first paid ad popped up (with mixed results). Now in 2015, what changes are they bringing to the platform? Here’s a look: Relevancy: Early ads on Instagram were criticized by users because they weren’t relevant. Having heard these complaints, they announced that they would be adopting Facebook’s method of providing tools that allow for better targeting (Instagram is owned by Facebook, after all). This includes ads targeted on age, interests, and better feedback mechanisms to allow greater control for what users see. Call-To-Action: You may notice that some sponsored posts on Instagram will come with a “shop now” or “install now” button. This gives brands the chances to convert users into customers, as including a shopping link within comments typically doesn’t work. So how is it working? So far, brands appear to be happy. Instagram’s heavy emphasis on visual... read more

Watch The Pin: Introducing Video Ads on Pinterest

Pinterest has become one of the fastest growing platforms in recent years, but if you’ve been on recently, you may have noticed something else to go along with your DIY craft ideas, food recipes, and funny photos. The network – which had already started rolling out “Promoted Pins” – has recently started rolling out “Cinematic Pins,” their version of video ads… As a whole, Pinterest boasts close to around 50 million monthly users. Unfortunately, it’s not exactly the most profitable company out there, despite recently being valued at close to $11 billion (for perspective, Facebook was valued at over $100 billion). To help generate more revenue, Pinterest has rolled out its version of video ads, which they’re calling Cinematic Pins. Each video will be formatted much like its current Promoted Pins, where they will blend in with other items in your home feed. As for how they’ll play, this is what separates them from others. Unlike – let’s say – Facebook’s current video algorithm where it will automatically play and then stop as soon as you’ve scrolled past it, Pinterest’s Cinematic Pins are motion-based, and will only animate while users are actively scrolling, and then stops when you stop. From there, it will only resume playing if you click on it. This was done to give users more control, as many described an auto-play feature as “interruptive.” How will Pinterest’s videos fare? It’s still early, but they do have a few suitors. Brands such as Gap, Target, L’Oreal, Visa, Walgreens, and Wendy’s are already on board, with many more that could latch on to it should these new pins pick... read more

Tweets Seen ‘Round the World: Details of the Google/Twitter Deal

Your tweets could be showing up on more than just you and your followers’ respective timelines. They could soon be seen on the results of the largest search engine on the planet thanks to a deal between Google and Twitter. What does this mean? How will it affect things moving forward? Let’s take a look… Earlier this year, a deal was announced between the two companies, which would see relevant tweets on certain trending topics pop up on the search results on Google’s app (iOS and Android) as well as the mobile web, with a desktop application coming soon. The new feature went live May 19, with tweets showing up on a carousel towards the top of the page, displaying as large images. Clicking on one will redirect you to said tweet on Twitter. According to a Google blog post, this move is “…a great way to get real-time info when something is happening. And it’s another way for organizations and people on Twitter to reach a global audience at the most relevant moments.” For Google, they get access to more real-time coverage on what the hottest topics of the day. As for Twitter, they say there is no direct monetization involved with this deal, meaning they do not get any money for clicks. Rather, the real-time network is banking on driving traffic to the platform, and thus trying to create more interest in its product and attract new users. So what happens next? For the time being, this is only available in English and on mobile, with a desktop application and support for other languages being promised in the... read more

Emojis Are Worth A Thousand Words: How Brands Are Embracing The Ideogram

A picture is worth a thousand words, and the same could be said about emojis. These simple, often-cartoonish ideograms are being used in texts, tweets, Facebook posts, emails, and now in digital marketing campaigns. What are these things? Why are people using them? Do they really work? Today we’re going to answer that and more… For those who aren’t aware, emojis are small images that can be incorporated within social media updates, text messages or iMessages with friends, emails, chat apps, and more. In short, think of it as an illustrated emoticon. It could be something as simple as a smiley face, a thumbs up icon, a money bag, or – because this is the internet – a cat. The possibilities are endless. Though originally only available in Japan in electronic images and web pages, its uses has spread far beyond just that thanks to its inclusion in Apple’s iOS since 2011 and then in later versions of Android’s operating system. Emojis are primarily used by Millennials and Generation Y, and as expected, marketers and brands have gotten in on the action. This includes properties such as Bud Light during the Fourth of July: ??????????????????? ???????????? ??????????????????? ???????????? ???????????????????????? ???????????? ???????????????????????? #4thofJuly — Bud Light (@budlight) July 4, 2014 Star Wars adding one to the ends of tweets during its recent Star Wars Celebration:   To hyping the recent NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament:   And for worse, the Houston Rockets during the first round of the NBA Western Conference Playoffs: (Side note: The Rockets apologized for this tweet, deleted it, and promptly fired their social media person). Why are... read more

Tweeting Up-Stream: Meerkat vs. Periscope

Meerkat or Periscope? The darling underdog app of SXSW or the app that has been embraced by Twitter and the rest of the media? Live video streaming has come to the Tweet Machine, but which will suit your needs better? Today, we’ll take a look at both, and help you to answer that question… Video streaming services have become a hot commodity in recent years (see: Netflix, YouTube, Vimeo), and now live streaming is making its presence known (Twitch, WWE Network, YouTube on occasion). Now the phenomenon has come to Twitter, with two different services coming out at around the same time. Let’s take a look at them: Meerkat: It was the talk of this year’s South by Southwest (or “SXSW” to others), and it was even touted as the biggest hit since Foursquare was introduced in 2009. How does it work? Users are able to create an account through their already-existing Twitter accounts and create impromptu live videos. Since its big coming out party in Austin, TX, it has been embraced by not just attendees of the annual festival, but also celebrities, tech enthusiasts, and even radio show hosts. How much did it grow? In late February, Meerkat had generated only 20,000 users. Since SXSW, it’s grown to over 100,000. Periscope: Back in March, Twitter purchased a live video streaming service called Periscope for around $100 million. Much like its competition (Meerkat is a third-party app that is not owned by Twitter), this is an app that enables Twitter users to do live broadcasts of whatever they want (with some exceptions. Recently HBO and the NHL have been cracking... read more

#VoteForMe: Politicians and Social Media

In the past, politicians generally announced their intent to run for office by organizing large rallies, going in front of the cameras, or buying a chuck of airtime on television to broadcast it. Now doing so is as simply as sending out a video or a message in 140 characters or less. As we gear up for a busy election season in the run-up to the 2016 General Election, we’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about the role of social media in political campaigns. That’s why today, we’re going to take a look at politicians, connecting directly with the voters, and what this will mean when November 2016 rolls around… Last weekend, Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for President of the United States, not with a press conference or an elaborate television special, but with a two-minute video that was released on social media. Naturally, it instantly went viral, and in a matter of minutes, it was all over the news, for better or worse. Which leads us to the question we’re bringing up today: What is social media’s role in contemporary politics? Politicians are now making their announcements on the platform of their choice, some use it as a barometer for future legislation, and even supporters are connecting with other like-minded individuals. According to Mark Glantz, assistant professor of communication and media studies at St. Norbert College, social media has enabled politicians “to connect directly with your supporters without the filter of other media. You have people who are following you, they get the message directly from you, which means it’s absolutely unaltered and you have a little bit... read more

Teenage Dream: Social Media Use and Teenagers

Between Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and others, teenagers these days have many choices in front of them when it comes to their social networks. but which ones are they using? Which are on their way up while the others are being cast aside? Today, we’re going to break down the numbers to try and answer those very questions… The Pew Research Center has recently released the results of a survey on social media use for Americans aged 13-17. In the world where trends seem to change more than in Katy Perry’s “Hot N Cold,” it helped to clarify a few questions: is Facebook really on the decline? Is Snapchat the future? How important is Instagram? In a nutshell, here’s what they found: 1.) Facebook Still King: Despite the news of Facebook’s dwindling popularity amongst teenagers, it’s still very much the top dog in the social networking world. 71% of teens reporting using it. The next in line? That would be Instagram, with 52% reported using it. 2.) More Is More: Since we live in a digital age, it’s only natural that someone might maintain more than one account. According to the numbers, 71% of teenagers reported doing so, and of that number, 41% say Facebook is the one they use the most, with Instagram and Snapchat making up 20% and 11% respectively. 3.) Insta-Popular: Facebook might be the network that is the most popular, but it’s not the one where teenagers are. Rather, that honor goes to Instagram. On average, everyone has 145 followers, though it’s worth noting that 1/3 of teens have no idea what the exact number is. 4.) More Is... read more

End of the Line?: The Fall of Google+

In 2011, Google+ came in with a roar, and now in 2015, it seems to be going out with a whimper? The much-touted social network could be going by the wayside sooner rather than later, but why? How could something with seemingly everything on its side fail? Today, we take a look at what’s going on with the network, and what will happen going forward… From revolutionizing the online search engine to its many innovations in the tech world, Google has done many amazing things over the years. So when they launched their own social network, how could they lose? After all, they had something the Facebooks and the Twitters of the world didn’t have: backing and support from Google. Plus, when you took a look at all of its features, how could you not be intrigued? The ability to organize your friends and family members (Circles), being able to video chat with more than one person, uploading and sharing videos, the SEO benefits, integrating your account with other Google services (YouTube, Gmail, Google Drive, etc.), and of course, being able to post a status and share photos to name a few. But almost 4 years later, Google+ has become an afterthought. Facebook is still king; entities like Instagram and Snapchat have already surpassed it; and of the millions of users with an account, a majority of them came from YouTube accounts (another Google-owned property). It was supposed to be the game changer, and now it’s limping off into the sunset. So what went wrong? Here are a few explanations: It Was Built On Google’s Vision: People love being able to... read more

From the Underground: Introducing Meerkat

Despite some of the bigger, more commercial names that pass through South by Southwest (SXSW), there was one underdog from the underground that caught the attention of some of its attendees. It’s called Meerkat, and this video streaming service is the breakout hit from Austin, TX’s annual festival conference. What is it? Why are people so excited? What is its future? Today, we take a look at it… Touted as the biggest hit since Foursquare in 2009, Meerkat is a live video streaming app that allows people to host impromptu videos through Twitter. Those who want to use the service simply create an account through their existing Twitter accounts, then when they shoot their video, the app will automatically tweet out a link for others to see. SXSW is a hotbed of activity, featuring the latest in entertainment, pop culture, technology, startups and more. Despite attention being all over the place, it was Meerkat that seemed to stand out from the rest of it. Attendees were constantly using the app to document some of the musical performances, panels, and more going on around Austin. It wasn’t just limited to them. Even celebrities were getting in on the action. Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon was using it from his desk during a taping of the show, giving fans a behind-the-scenes look, and actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus used it at an event for her show Veep. How much did Meerkat grow because of SXSW? In its debut in late February, there were around 20,000 users. After the festival, it grew to over 100,000. It became so popular that it was recently banned from the Y... read more

6 Reasons Why You Clicked: A Study in Listicles

You’ve seen them on BuzzFeed, you’ve seen them on Unworthy (and its parody website ClickHole), you may have even seen them on reputable news websites. They’re called “listicles,” and while as simple as can be, they also rack up clicks and shares like nobody’s business. Why are they so popular? Who tends to read them? Is it a blip or a trend? Today, we investigate… You’ve seen them all throughout your Facebook news feed. Those shared links where the article is just a giant list (sometimes with accompanying photos or gifs), and then your friends will oftentimes name off which ones relate the most to them. They’re not quite lists, but they’re not quite articles. Rather, they’re referred to as “listicles.” As for how people feel about them, it’s a mixed bag. Some people – mostly Millennials – like listicles because they’re simple, easy to digest, and as we’ve already stated in this article, relatable. Others are more critical, citing how low-brow they tend to be, as well as poorly written and uninformative. Criticism aside, you can’t deny its popularity. Much of BuzzFeed’s popularity (and subsequent parodies) is based on listicles, and over the years, many other publications have adopted this medium as an alternative to long-form articles (much like this one). But why are people clicking on them? Here are a few reasons: No Filler: Unlike its wordier counterpart, listicles don’t have a lot of filler information. It gives users exactly what they just clicked on. No swerves, no padding things out, just what they want to read about. They’re Short: Aside from some of the high number lists, articles are typically... read more

Growing in a Snap: The Rise of Snapchat

It’s here now and then vanishes away forever in seconds, but is it here to stay? Snapchat is a favorite amongst anyone with a smartphone, and since its initial release in 2011, it has become one of the biggest apps across the App Store and Google Play. So what’s behind its meteoric rise? Today, we take a look… For those who don’t know, Snapchat is a photo-sharing app that allows users to send pictures (and later on, videos) to their friends. The catch? Each piece of media is visible for only a few seconds, and then vanishes away forever, never to be seen again. Snapchat might not sound like much, but you can’t ignore its impact: Since its release, the app has over 100 million active users and has become the #3 most important social network amongst Millennials (behind Instagram and Facebook), 700 million+ snaps are shared amongst users per day, and thanks to Snapchat Discover – the company’s advertising medium – this little ghost has made the jump into the mainstream. That’s right, Snapchat is no longer just that thing you use to send funny pictures to your friends and family. The film “Ouija” was the app’s first paid ad, and even Madonna used it to release her new video. It’s not just these two who are getting on all the fun. Brands near and far are starting to flock to Snapchat. Because who wouldn’t seize the opportunity to advertise to over 100 million potential customers? And if you’re still not sold on its popularity, consider this: Snapchat was the fastest growing social app of 2014 with a 57% increase.... read more

Say ‘Yes’ to What?: The Best Tweet About “#TheDress”

Is it white and gold or black and blue? No matter what side you stand on, this infamous dress effectively ruled the internet for the better part of last week, and as usual, marketers were all over it to offer their two cents on the matter. So today, we’re dedicating a post to some of the best dress tweets… You may remember when a dress took over the internet last week. How popular was it? According to Tumblr users swiked – where the picture originated – the post had received over 73 million views, 483,000 notes by the end of Friday, 31 BuzzFeed articles, and not to mention more than 5000 questions about it by the end of Friday night. What color is it? According to Facebook Data Scientists, 58% of users were on Team “White and Gold,” while 42% believed it was black and blue. In other words, #TheDress is the new Tootsie Pop: “the world may never know.” Since #ThreDress was all everyone was talking about, brands jumped all over it to weigh in on the debate (and of course, advertise themselves). Who won the internet? That’s for you to decide. So without further ado, here are our top 10 tweets about #TheDress: Trust us, #TheDress is white. — Clorox (@Clorox) February 27, 2015 This cheesecake is black and blue: Or is it?! — Food Network (@FoodNetwork) February 27, 2015 It’s not the color of #TheDress that matters, it’s the #party you wear it to. — Party City (@PartyCity) February 27, 2015 Doesn’t matter if it’s blue/black or white/gold, they still taste delicious. #thedress —... read more

“Watch” What Happens Next: Wearables and Social Media

Wearables are sleek and stylish, but are they a next evolution in your social media strategy? From Samsung and Motorola smartwatches to the forthcoming Apple Watch, these gadgets are looking to change the way we look and manage our mobile technology. That’s why today, we’re going to take a look at what this will mean for digital marketers in the future… Wearable technology is on the rise. Despite some devices looking like a first draft by design, privacy concerns, and everything that plagued Google Glass, demand is relatively high. According to a survey, 71% of people aged 16-24 years would want a device like that, which at the time included smartwatches, smart jewelry, and the aforementioned glasses. Not bad for a generation that has largely abandoned wearing a watch of any kind, smart or not. Wearables have been on the rise for the past few years now, whether you’re the owner of a FitBit or a fancy new Samsung Gear S. These aren’t your parents’ calculator watches they were rocking in the 1970s. While maybe not as accessible yet, these innovative devices have all the functionality of a smartphone, and maybe even more convenient since it’s always on you. Which leads us directly into what the purpose of this blog post is about: with more smartwatches set to hit the market in the next year – including the much-hyped Apple Watch – expect wearables to influence the direction of social media. More particularly, social media marketing. WHAT IT WILL CHANGE: If anything, sending messages straight to wearables will make things easier than they already are. As convenient as smartphones have been... read more

#NowWatching: A Study in Twitter Ratings

Between awards shows, professional wrestling pay-per-views, sporting events, and even weekly hour-long dramas, there’s another way that Nielsen measures its television ratings. In addition to viewers, they also take a look at how many tweets they’re generating. How exactly do they measure this? Today, we take a look… Everyone’s favorite real-time social network is used to measure how many people are turning in. These days, it’s all about those hashtags and what kind of conversation is going on around the Twittersphere. Some people just like to post updates, some like to add their own commentary (which either borders on totally sincere or tongue firmly planted in cheek), and others like to make funny pictures or promote their own brand during a telecast. There’s a reason you’ve seen an influx of hashtags during broadcasts. While this is a fairly new metric, it has become a point of focus for both networks and advertisers. According to studies, 19 million unique people in the U.S. were composing 263 million tweets about live TV, and that was back in 2013. Since then, that number has only grown. How does Nielson measure it’s Twitter Ratings? Let’s explain: Nielson looks at a variety of factors, including TV-specific activity (author and tweets), and its reach (unique audience, impressions). This is all measured across 250+ networks across the country. Twitter Ratings are also the first of its kind to include demographics. Age and gender metrics are taken into consideration, providing better insight on who’s watching what, who sees tweets about TV, and how do the Twitter numbers match up with that of the television numbers. Much like... read more

Generation Who?: Marketing to Millennials

Millennials are selfish, lazy, entitled, have short attention spans, and may very well save your business. Say what you want about this generation, but if you ignore them, you might get left behind. That being said, how do you market to them? Will they remember it (or care) anyway? Today, we take a look… Millennials – or “Generation Y” to some – refers to the demographic cohort to Generation X, and is comprised of anyone born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s (hence the name “Millennials). As for how they’re seen by older generations, this is where it stops being so nice: they’re entitled, overly dependent on technology, self-indulgent, (“Generation Me” is also a common term), and every other synonym that comes to mind. But here is where you might have to start being nicer: there are close to 90 million Millennials – that’s 7% more than Baby Boomers; many now have more income, even after the 2007 financial crisis; they’re expected to have more spending power than the aforementioned Boomers by 2018; and more importantly, marketing is all about staying current, and if you’re not keeping up, you’re falling behind. So if they have such short attention spans, how do you advertise to them? You may have watched the Grammy Awards this year, and if you did, you might have come across Truth’s “Left Swipe Dat” video, a 2-minute anti-smoking ad that capitalized off the popularity of Tinder while also showcasing things like memes and popular music and YouTube stars (Fifth Harmony, Becky G, Grace Helbig, Harley Mortenstein, and more). However effective it is remains to be seen.... read more

Game On: Online Viewers Embracing Twitch For Video Streaming

Twitch has become a favorite amongst gamers, e-sports enthusiasts, and tech aficionados, and it’s quickly becoming a heavyweight in the video streaming race. Though the competition is stiff, its emergence is something that can no longer be ignored. So is it time to take it seriously? Today, we take a look at Twitch, its outlook, and where to go from here… You’ve seen your friends (or complete strangers) play games on it, you may have even partaken in watching a tech show on it. From tech geeks to casual users, it’s hard to ignore what Twitch is doing. For those who don’t know, here’s a quick rundown: Twitch (or was launched in 2011 as a spin-off of the now-defunct, a website that allowed users to broadcast their own user-generated content. Unlike its predecessor, Twitch primarily focused on the tech-side of things such as video games, e-sports competitions, and the like. Is it a heavyweight among the ranks of sites like YouTube or Vimeo? No. Actually, it’s not even in the same ballpark. As it stands right now, Twitch accounts for 100 million unique views per month with 16 billion minutes of content in as many days. If we’re comparing this to the current champion in YouTube, they generate 1 billion unique visits each month with more than 6 billion hours of content watched in the same timespan. Okay, so it may be a little premature to anoint Twitch as a successor to YouTube, but there’s still plenty to like about the company, especially when it comes to a service with a very high ceiling. In 2014, Twitch... read more

Believe It or Not: Combatting Social Media Hoaxes

If it’s on the internet, it must be true, right? Information travels faster than ever, but along with that, there’s an increasing number of false information circulating the web. So how can you sort out the true from the false? Today, we take a look at the world of social media hoaxes, measures being taken to prevent it, and how you can prevent yourself from embarrassment… Between news stories, satire, changes in policies, urban legends, and more, plenty of information gets passed around. When it gets passed around enough, it goes viral, and when it goes viral, people start believing it as fact. What are we talking about? Here are a few examples: Twitter Deaths: From Lady Gaga and Zayn Malik (of One Direction fame) to Wayne Knight and Macaulay Culkin, Twitter has seemingly killed more people than the plague. Most tend to only go on for a few hours, or until the celebrity in question takes to Twitter to address the rumors. Satire Articles: Between The Onion and The National Report, satire has fooled many people on the web, so much so that Facebook is looking into tagging articles from The Onion as “satire” as to not confuse users. Terms of Use: Several times a year, a message will circulate Facebook stating that they are going to start charging users or releasing private information unless you copy and paste a specific status update. Due to a high volume of questions for concerned users, Facebook created a help page to reiterate the message that “Facebook is a free site and will never require that you pay to continue using the... read more