For OTT, Machine Learning Image is Worth More Than a Thousand Words

So, you’ve developed an OTT app and you’ve marketed it to your viewers.  Now your focus is on keeping your viewers watching.  How can machine learning drive more engagement? Let’s face it—they may have a favorite show or two, but to keep them engaged for the long term, they need to be able to discover new shows. Discovery InfiniGraph KRAKEN Video Machine LearningBecause OTT is watched on TVs, you have a lot of real estate to engage with your viewers.  A video’s thumbnail has more of an impact on OTT than any other platform, so choose your thumbnails carefully!

Discovery is different on different platforms

On desktop, most videos start with either a search (e.g. Google) or via a social share (e.g. Facebook).  Headlines and articles provide additional info to get a viewer to cognitively commit to watching a video.  Autoplay runs rampant removing the decision to press “play” from the user.

TVs have a lot more real estate than smartphones

TVs have a lot more real estate than smartphones

On a smartphone, small screen size is an issue.  InfiniGraph’s machine learning data shows that more than three objects in a thumbnail will cause a reduction in play rates.  Again, social plays a huge role in the discovery of new content, with some publishers reporting that almost half of their mobile traffic originates from Facebook.

OTT Discovery is Unique

The discovery process on OTT is unique because the OTT experience is unique.  Most viewers already have something in mind when they turn on their OTT device.  In fact, Hulu claims that they can predict with a 70% accuracy the top three shows each of their users is tuning in to see.  But what about the other 30%?  What about the discovery of new shows?

Netflix AB Test Example

Netflix AB Test Example

Netflix has said that if a user can’t find something to watch in 30 seconds, they’ll leave the platform.  They decided to start A/B testing their thumbnails to see what impact it would have, and discovered that different audiences engage with different images.  They were able to increase view rates by 20-30% for some videos by using better images!  In the on-demand world of OTT, the right image is the difference between a satisfied viewer and a user who abandons your platform. If you’re interested in increasing engagement on your OTT app, reach out to us at InfiniGraph to learn more about our machine learning technology named KRAKEN that chooses the best images for the right audience, every single time.  Also, check out our post about increasing your video ad inventory!

More on machine learning powered image selection and driving more video views.

Think You’ve Picked the Best Video Thumbnail? Think Again — 52 Videos that Prove Video Machine Learning can Double Play Rates

I’ve never met anyone who intentionally picked a bad video thumbnail—but they’re everywhere.

To be clear, bad ≠ ugly. Bad thumbnails are sometimes beautiful. Bad means that people don’t WANT to click on them. After all, the point of a thumbnail is to get people to click “play” or “stop scrolling” long enough for the video to start to playing.

KRAKEN Video Machine Learning Rikers Original ThumbnailEditors and content creators with years of experience spend a lot of time picking “best” thumbnails.  And publishers posting hundreds of videos daily rely on content management systems (CMS) that suggest or auto-pick thumbnails.

Guess what? They’re usually wrong.

Almost always, there is a better thumbnail for any given video or set of thumbnails.

How? Why?

Because “best” is defined by your audience, not you. You bring your experience and baggage with you every time you pick a thumbnail—and you are different from your audience.  Why not take the guess work out of the equation and use data, not opinion, to choose the right thumbnails every time?

Real Example

KRAKEN Video Machine Learning Teacher Original Thumbnail Let’s say you’re an editor in LA and pick a thumbnail for a video about the latest breaking news topic. You might choose this image to the right:

Now what if your viewer is from Texas? What if that image doesn’t speak to them at all? That doesn’t mean they’re not interested in the topic or wouldn’t want to see the video content, it means that the thumbnail doesn’t make them WANT to click “play.”

KRAKEN Video Machine Learning Teacher
If you had asked your viewers, they would have told you that they preferred seeing the images on the left—all taken from the very same video.

 

 

Our recent post “The Force Awakens” shows another great example and the science behind data-chosen thumbnails.

Your audience isn’t one-size-fits-all. Your thumbnails shouldn’t be either.

Here are 52 videos from last month that prove intelligent selection of images can greatly improve video play rates.  Each has an optimized set of thumbnails that performed 101%–425% BETTER than the original thumbnail.

KRAKEN Video Machine Learning Rikers

Quickly though—what is an optimized thumbnail?

Optimized thumbnails are dynamic and rely on machine learning and audience feedback. Our product called KRAKEN does this all in real-time

So, what the heck does that mean in english???

It means that our computers examine a video and pick a bunch of ‘best possible’ thumbnails, then A/B tests them to determine what ones people actually click on. It will serve different images to different people depending on a variety of factors, including device and placement. Hey, it’s a patented process!

Said another way, we crowdsource what thumbnails people actually engage with, then show them to future visitors.

Results – Before & After

Think sports fans will click on any video related to their team? Think again. Optimized thumbnails performed 198% better than the original:
KRAKEN Video Machine Learning NY Giants Original Thumbnail KRAKEN Video Machine Learning NY Giants
                    Original Thumbnail                                 KRAKEN Optimized Visuals

Optimized thumbnails work for ‘hard’ news videos, too. This video about Enrique Marquez’s ties to the San Bernardino gunmen had a 205% lift:
KRAKEN Video Machine Learning Enrique Original Thumbnail KRAKEN Video Machine Learning Enrique
                    Original Thumbnail                                 KRAKEN Optimized Visuals

Kardashians—love them or hate them, right? It turns out that optimized thumbnails can produce a 128% lift in video play rates:
KRAKEN Video Machine Learning Kardashian Original Thumbnail KRAKEN Video Machine Learning Kardashian
                    Original Thumbnail                                 KRAKEN Optimized Visuals

From earlier in the article: the Rikers Island Guard video saw a 157% lift, while the video of a Teacher under fire for her lesson on Islam saw a 127% lift.

Our top performing video of December saw a 425% lift.  Here’s an overview of all 52:
KRAKEN Video Machine Learning Graph Videos with 100 lift Dec 2015

 

What could you do with double the video plays (or 3X or 4X)?

Would it double your video revenue? Satisfy your audience because more of them are seeing your awesome video content (after all, that’s why they’re on your site in the first place)?

The good news is your “best” thumbnails already exist and are buried in your existing videos. You just need to release the KRAKEN and get them to the surface.

Leave a comment below and tell us your thoughts. If you are interested in links to all 52 top performing videos, send me an email at ryan.shane@infinigraph.com—I like talking with new people.

Video Machine Learning Success Customer Testimonial

Introducing Baglan Rhymes, Chief Digital Officer at AnchorFree with Chase McMichael, CEO of InfiniGraph, discussing the recent success of video machine learning KRAKEN on AnchorFree video ads page. Video Machine Learning Customer Testimonial – Case Studies discussed in this video are Fifty Shades of Grey, American Sniper and Birdman.

Video Transcription:

Chase: Hi I’m Chase McMichael, CEO and Co- Founder of Infinigraph and I’m here today with Baglan Rhymes, the Chief Digital Officer of AnchorFree. Hi Baglan. Baglan: Hi Chase. Chase: So tell us a little about AnchorFree. Baglan: Of course. AnchorFree is the world’s largest internet freedom platform and our mission is to provide secure and uncensored access to the world’s information for every single person on the planet. To date, we’ve been installed 300 million times. We have 30 million monthly active users and we secure approximately 5 billion page views.

Chase: That’s excellent. Obviously, we got connected with the video machine learning technology—a technology called Kraken. Baglan: Yes. Chase: And you know one of the things was that you are using a monetization page with video on the free sites. Baglan: Correct.Video Machine Learning Kraken American Sniper Graph Chase: Tell us a little more about that.

Baglan: Yes, because we have a free service and subscription-based service and the revenue stream for the free service is our content sponsors—be it movie studios, be it news organizations. And we have our own content discovery platform where we have tiles of video content and also static content where we present the users upon connect. And the videos—we don’t make any revenue off of the videos unless the users click on it. So how do we get the users to click on a video when we have maybe 5 or 10 seconds of their attention right upon connection and that’s when we connected.Video Machine Learning Kraken 50 Shades Video Lift So we partnered with you on click to play videos to increase click to play rate because unless those videos are played we don’t get paid and through your machine learning algorithms we were able to increase the click rate.

Click to view rate grew 20 to 30 times on videos overall, movies, overall movies and we ran a test on Fifty Shades of Grey and American Sniper afterwards we did and we did Birdman where we got 3,000% that ridiculous Video Machine Learning KRAKEN Baglan Customer Testimonial Birdman Play Buttonnumber [increase in click to play rate]. A fight scene in tighty whities. I actually remember I asked you to remove that. We can’t show it there and you kept it and that tighty whities that fight scene.Chase: That was the best one! Baglan: Exactly. 3,000% increase [in click to play rates] and I’m so happy we kept it.

Chase: That’s the one that boost the most revenue. So you know right now, where you seeing you going, especially around the consumer in mobile. Baglan: Yeah, video is the way users consume content now. And then whenever we see a video associated with a brand, we see a 96% increase on purchase intent, 139% increase on brand recall and even our conversations are now in the form of a video with your friends and it is just a video. So the whole communication is changing from voice to audio, visuals and emotions—which is video. Chase: Thank you so much Baglan. So please be sure to click on the (i) above to get more information. Thank you.

Would you like to see more? Request a demo

Quick Intro to Video Machine Learning

Video Machine Learning: A Content Marketing Armageddon?

Video marketing is being revolutionized by machine learning, fast data and artificial intelligence. The dawn of data-driven video is upon us. Video takes the lion’s share of marketing spend and fast-growing mobile video is surpassing all other marketing methods. Understanding behavior and content consumption is key in optimizing mobile video. Brands have an insatiable appetite for consumer engagement, as evident in brands’ adoption of video, reported by YouTube, Facebook and InMobi.

Video industry leaders who embrace these advanced technologies will establish a formidable competitive advantage.

The market is moving away from the video interruption ad model and premium video is taking center stage. Battle for middle earth is being waged between video networks, publishers, and content creators. Those who have intelligent data will win the video marketing thunder-dome.

With few exceptions, old school person-to-person media buying is fading fast. Machine learning is being used to ensure the optimal deal is always reached in programmatic video placement. We are seeing a torrent of data coming in from ad platforms, beacons, wearables, IoT, and so forth. This data tsunami is compounding daily, creating what the industry calls “fast data”. Video and human action on video is a big challenge due to consumption volume. The competitive weapons are now speed and agility when building an intelligent video arsenal.

In July, I attended the launch of Miip by InMobi, an intelligent video and ad unit experience. These units are like Facebook’s left and right slider units, but Miip has also implemented discovery. Check out the video to see more of what I’m talking about:

All programmatic networks use fast data composed of human personas, actions, and connected devices. This data explosion is forming big data, and it’s happening at a massive scale. It’s not surprising that programmatic targeting leveraged machine learning and big data management. There is a lot of hype around Real-Time Bidding (RTB) and programmatic targeting.

With all this technology, the one thing that remains true is content still must resonate with the consumer – and machine learning is creating a huge opportunity to match the right content with the right consumer.

We see big players like Tubmoguel seeing massive growth, as described in Mobile Programmatic Buying Is Taking Off. Programmatic spend in mobile now surpasses desktop by 56.2%, eMarketer points out.

Video Creation & Growth
KRAKEN Video Machine Learning - Chase McMichael Video Setup

Video creation tools like Magisto, PowToon, and iMovie are simplifying the process. The decreasing hardware costs have also lowered the barrier of entry. The iPhone 6, Hero4, and video drone technology are great leaps forward in video capture.

Low-cost broadcast-quality video is here with iMovie HD and Camtasia Studio 8. Full commercials are edited on iPhones only. There is an explosion of professional content now. What was once cost-prohibitive is now the industry norm. With all this video technology unleashed, hundreds of YouTube stars were born. The cable cord-cutting acceleration is upon the cable networks now. As more high-quality digital video hits the scene this will fuel grater choice on the consumer’s terms.

Peter Fasano, from Ogilvy, and Allison Stern of Tubular, did a great job presenting The Rise of Multi-Platform Video. Here they reveal the differing advantages of Facebook and YouTube.

In both cases, content engineering is a must-have (see 5 Hypnotic Mobile Native Video Content Marketing Methods).

Facebook Engagement Tubular Labs Ogilvy

Secrets To A Successful Video Strategy from Social@Ogilvy

Data Driven Video Storytelling

This year, Cannes Lions was all about VIDEO storytelling with a big focus on data. Visual and mobile content experiences are personal. I am seeing a massive shift to data-driven journalism. Companies like Google News Lab, Facebook’s Publishing Garage, and Truffle Pig (a content creation agency) are all working with Snapchat, Daily Mail, and WPP – all powering scaled content creation.

“The power of digital allows content, platform, and companies to test and learn in real time before scaling.” -Max Kalehoff

Hear more on this movement from David Leonhard from New York Times’ The Upshot, Mona Chalabi from Facebook Garage, and Ezra Klein and Melissa Bell from Vox:

Video is Not Spandex

Consumers are not one-size-fits-all when it comes to how they consume content. The creation of content is a natural progress for using artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Machine learning has the ability to connect many data elements and test many hypotheses in real-time. Using humans to adjust the algorithms is “supervised learning”. “Unsupervised learning,” a self learning and constantly improving system, is the holy grail in AI.

The exciting part is when machine can create by themselves. We are witnessing this at Google: see Inceptionism: Going Deeper into Neural Networks.

the carnival of the animals and goodness knows what else

Getting the right message to the right person is critical in obtaining a positive response. The delivery process and decision will impact the responsiveness. Each platform requires a different strategy. Companies like Tubemogul, Tremor Video, and Hulu all have programmatic video management.

Now broadcasters are starting to embrace data, which enables advertisers to target a more specific audience. Soon we’ll have AI video distribution based on the actual content inside the video.

Video Machine Learning Kraken Birdman Graph

This graph shows real-time A/B testing from video launch and KRAKEN machine learning optimization in action. Machine learning makes it possible to stabilize and achieve lift.

 

 

The following are three examples of machine learning techniques being used to enhance video engagement levels:

  1. Fast data requires advanced algorithmic learning to process: Identify what demographic responds well to which content type (e.g. video). Segment your audience by the type of content consumed. Look at what was shared when most comments were generated. Combine these data points and see what drove most action. These steps will help you learn what logical groupings achieve highest targeting response.
  2. Identify what visual objects induce habitual responses: What visual objects allow for higher consumer engagement? Visual content can then be grouped and that knowledge can be used over and over in later videos.
  3. Machine learning predicts video consumption habits: What people watch tells you a great deal about their preferences. Measuring audience behavior across video types creates a consumption map. Consumption maps predict things like video placement and cycle times.

The type of visual content affects the reaction of a targeted segment. Machine learning can track the visual preference of the video segments. Each brand and content creator structure can achieve a new level of understanding. What does the audience find most appealing? Is there a large-scale pattern you can identify?

Visual Programmatic
KRAKEN Video Machine Learning - Netflix-Wants-Personalized-Recommendations-Instead-of-Current-Interface-443094-2-1

The next frontier of mobile video is intelligence – the ability to predict, as well as adapt, content based on all the data available. We are seeing companies like IRIS.TV indexing video libraries to recommend content. Netflix and Amazon have the capability to “predict” using supervised learning human curators. All this metadata in video is providing a treasure trove of information: now we’re connecting with the social graph changing the game.

Finding content that viewers will enjoy is the ultimate goal and extended deep video engagement is a big opportunity. Achieving this level of nirvana has its challenges: see Why Websites Still Can’t Predict Exactly What You Want. We are just scratching the learning algorithms surface of artificial intelligence.

As technology advances, more intelligent visual content marketing will emerge. Machine learning will soon dominate the data-driven marketing landscape. We are moving toward story creation with technologies like Dramatis. People like Brian O’Neill at Western New England University are leading the way (see With Expanding Roles, Computers Need To Add ‘Storyteller’ To Resume). Video networks, content creators, and publishers have a grand opportunity, but all are going to need to collaborate and incorporate a more sophisticated offering if they plan on competing over Facebook and YouTube. The big question is, will they maintain control of their content destiny?

In the age of intelligent data, audience insight is always a winning strategy. Those who tune their video content with intelligence will achieve higher levels of revenue.

Would you like to learn more about video machine learning?  Request a demo!

How do you see machine learning impacting video in the future? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Image Credits
Featured Image: Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock.com
In-post Photo: Image by Ryan Shane. Used with permission.
All screenshots by Chase McMichael. Taken August 2015.

Mobile Video Play Rate Boosted by 200X to 3000X – KRAKEN Release – Case Study

Problem:

Video is the largest and fastest growing segment in online marketing. Unfortunately the first impression to a consumer of those videos is more than likely a static image and there isn’t a simple way to programmatically adjust based on audience intelligence. This problem is leaving billions on the table with un-played videos and lost engagement due to the lack of compelling starting visuals.

Baglan

Baglan Nurhan Rhymes , SVP of Revenue – AnchorFree

“In a highly competitive Ad Tech space, where videos drive the lion share of revenues, InfiniGraph’s technology, Kraken, is the first real breakthrough we have seen in many years.

I can see Kraken being implemented by digital broadcast networks, publishers, ad networks and video player platforms in the very near future. Early adopters will turbo charge their video ad revenues on desktop and mobile. ”

Initial Results:

Our beta customers: Disney, Paramount, Microsoft and AnchorFree have experienced between 10% to 3000% lifts in click-through and play rates on their video content using InfiniGraph’s patented Kraken technology..Mobile Video Play Rate Boost AnchorFree

Example –  AnchorFree before and after on “50 Shades of Grey”:

  • 200%+ boost in play rate
  • 10X increase in private viewing sales

InfiniGraph’s machine learning technology, achieves scale by producing the highest possible response to mobile video based on audience behavior.

Learning algorithms matter:

Mobile Video Birdman AnchorFreeImproving mobile video play rates is more of a science as seen in the second example on AnchorFree running “Birdman”.  Is your video “Thumb Stopping” when a consumer scrolls through their feed?  In the case of Birdman, the results were amazing.

Overall video play rates grew by:

  • 3000%+ boost in play rate
  • 2.6% peek click through rate

 

Mobile Video Performance Birdman KRAKEN Machine LearningSolution:

The Kraken machine learning system is continuously analyzing the video and user interactions at every content distribution endpoint, over many sequences. This decision making is done almost in real-time.

Value:

Mobile Video Machine LearningInfiniGraph’s mission is to help video content owners, publishers, and agencies deliver the most relevant video experience. This helps boost video starts, video completion rates, and increases page visit depth by eliminating creative burn and waste. This translates into higher revenues for the existing content through higher video starts, higher VCRs, and higher brand engagement.

Our clients, who have implemented proprietary “video click-through / play rate enhancement technology called “Kraken”,  have experienced upwards of 3000% lift in content plays.
As an Advertising,  Content Mobile Video Machine Learning Whats KRAKENProducer,  or  Brand Management Professional you know that video creates the greatest impact to your online marketing.  The challenge and measurement of success continues to be execution of “play-rates” and “video completion rates” .

Want to see more or run your own test? Contact Us

 

Mobile Native Video Interstellar 14X Hyper Play Rate Jump

Jim Calhoun, COO SocialMoms

Jim Calhoun, COO SocialMoms

We’re seeing the highest engagement levels for our customers using InfiniGraph’s native content

Paramount’s Interstellar uses mobile native video and distributed native advertising units to hyper jump their play rates by 14X. Mobile video is exploding and brands are leveraging advanced methods of distribution outside of the old school static native ads we are seeing today. We are now in the age of intelligence, machine learning, and responsive design.  Why can’t this intelligence be applied to mobile native video? Learn how to hyper drive your own mobile native video – signup, request a demo, and see how intelligence is applied.
Sign UP for Mobile Native Video

Above is an example of such intelligence integrated within the mobile native advertising unit for on and off domain content amplification. The mobile video leverages “deep linking” to launch video on a smartphone creating a seamless consumer experience. The content inside the native unit is dynamically updated based on consumer actions which increases overall engagement rates and exposure.

The Takeaway:

  • 50% play rate boost
  • Maximize content marketing spend
  • Mobile first content rendering
  • Intelligent content distribution
Rich Media CTR example

Doubleclick data showing industry averages of 0.06 to 0.18 vs .84 for mobile native more on benchmark on rich media

Most brands are sitting on tons of great content. This content is usually stuck in silos and doesn’t have a simple way of tracking with the consumer across other media sources, such as a websites/blogs (owned), and other paid mediums. Ad re-targeting is extremely effective; however a major issue is visual ad fatigue. The consumer sees the same media over and over, eventually reducing effectiveness. The Industry benchmarks on rich media content averages around .06% to .10% CTR compared to native ads which perform much higher. With new intelligent data techniques harnessing machine learning, these technologies are pushing engagement rates up to 50% improvement. 

Interstellar200

Interstellar Mobile Native Video

Content Marketing has truly taken on a new life and the quality of content within videos has leaped to extraordinary levels.  As more publishers and brands are seeking to control the content on their site, white label native ad platforms will continue to take hold.

Native unit for Interstellar launching the mobile native video

Native unit for Interstellar launching the mobile native video

The example on the left demonstrates what an embedded native unit looks like when deployed over a publisher network or brand website. The code behind these units is designed with a mobile first strategy, assuring optimal rendering on mobile. InfiniGraph sources content from the existing Interstellar movie published content, scores the content and transforms it into intelligent mobile native units. What’s unique about this approach is the consumer actions on content are tracked and the brands content inventory is managed per individual unit to maximize content marketing spend. eye-120803Keeping content fresh is a major factor in reducing image fatigue, repetitiveness, and inactive engagement. The human brain can process images in 13 milliseconds, how fast your visuals resonate with your consumer is key to amplifying brand content on domain as well as enhancing off domain engagement. The same mobile native unit can be deployed over other 3rd party native networks, ad networks, programmatic exchanges, and on the brands domain simultaneously.

Apply some intelligence in your mobile native video – signup, request a demo and see how intelligence is applied.
Sign UP for Mobile Native Video

5 Hypnotic Mobile Native Video Advertising Methods

Mobile native video advertising has transformed content marketing via native advertising world in a big way. Brand are clamoring to get their video storytelling in high gear as others have jumped on the bandwagon long ago. Today we’re undergoing a forced feeding of video on Facebook with their Foie Gras auto play strategy and every post in our feed has videos popping up. (Original post on SEJ)

No wonder controversy has peaked with talks of YouTube being second fiddle and the emphasis of video on the other big social platforms. This video hypnosis strategy is being perpetuated by brands as static visual display gives way to 30 frames a second story telling. The mobile consumer has put in motion an explosion of new tools, data insights, and techniques that brands must embrace to be competitive. There’s no question video is not only killing it for the brands but every person is a video content author now. This is changing the way content is being created, shared, and consumed.

In a previous post, 5 ways to weaponize your mobile content marketing via native advertising, I addressed the channels and solutions brands must consider to scale their content marketing. Recently, major bets have been placed, such as Yahoo acquiring BrightRoll for $640MM and Fox acquiring TrueX for $200MM, making the importance of mobile video to the ad machines clear. Mobile, video, and native advertising are top priorities, according to top ad executives. Consumers have an insatiable appetite to consume mobile video, as described in 5 Electrifying content marketing methods via native advertising. Now, the stage is set for mobile video and native advertising to erupt in the digital ad landscape.

Here are a Few Points Bolstering Mobile Native Video

Disney Planes Mobile Native Video

iPhone simulator screen shot of mobile native video of Disney Plans Fire & Rescue. Photo/ Screen shot 12/05/2014 www.mamiverse.com

  • Native advertising hyper growth: From 2013 we have had a 29% growth with eMarketer projecting $3.1 billion in spend. Publishers are holding the fort, like Forbes and LinkedIN Pulse with their mobile app.
  • The mobile platform is ripe: Smartphones are fueling this mobile video growth, powered by higher bandwidth on wireless networks, broader wi-fi access, incredible processing power, monster memory, high-definition screens, HD cameras, and killer optics. There are also a plethora of video editing apps making it easy to create and deploy high quality video on the spot and distribute it with just a click.
  • Longer-form video is desirable: Consumers are shifting to rich experiences with greater tolerance to video advertisements. Greater than 20 minute video content grew 86% year over year and shorts from less than five minutes all the way to 20 min clicks experiences a 22% growth reported by FreeWheel.

We have now entered the trifecta of mobile, video, and native advertising, creating a great opportunity for new mobile native video delivery mechanisms that would work well in the confines of editorial content and optimized over many form factors. As this popularity builds for mobile native video, the brands and content creators who streamline delivery will ultimately win.

Advertisers obviously value a richer and immersive storytelling experience. As more publishers and brands move to native, they are shifting from short pre-rolls to longer form content. Facebook has fully capitalized on this movement with 53% of its revenue from its mobile advertising and recently released a Premium Video Ads product. There is lots of news and quotes from experts around the move of content consumption on mobile. Here we highlight a sample set from a recent campaign running mobile native video ads:

The consumer is hungry for great content. The right placement of mobile native video makes a formidable strategy. In the Disney Planes case study, mobile native video produced 70% higher CTR over the desktop native unit of 26%. With 66% mobile users being more likely to interact with a video than those on a desktop demonstrate why there is some much talk on mobile first strategy . Consumers are highly trained now (like a Pavlovian dog) thanks to the many video apps and video enabled feeds.

Mobile vs desktop comparison running mobile native video. Mobile had a 66 present increase in engagement. Photo created for post Chase McMichael

Mobile vs desktop comparison running mobile native video. Mobile had a 66 present increase in engagement. Photo created for post Chase McMichael

When a video ad appears prompting interaction, consumers are more likely to participate due to the reward of great content. This drives the higher share volumes we see on experience based content. These results are very encouraging for brands developing cross-screen campaigns.

Trends in Video Ads on Top Brands

Analyzing thousands of brands and their video posting behavior along with consumer interaction creates unparalleled insights as to what brands need to do, and the level they must play at to be in the game of mobile native video.

Top 25 brands share ratio to post

Top 25 brands and media companies with high video posts to share ratio. Photo: Created by Chase McMichael

Here, we compare top brands and the volume of video they are creating along with the engagement on those videos. Don’t assume video plays is the best measurement of video effectiveness. Brands are looking for full consumption and engagement resulting from the content. The ratio of shares per post has been found to be a great measurement of comparing a brand’s consistency and quality factors.

The share per post ratio over the past year shows Fox News, PetFlow, and BBC News lead the way along with traditional video based TV news properties dominating the social video landscape. Where Women Get It Free is head to head with NBA! Those media outlets engineered to naturally produce video content will continue to see an increase in their dominance.

Top 25 brands like ratio to post

Top 25 brands and media companies video posts to like ratio. The top share ratio brands don’t match with the top likes ratio brands. Content that achieves high shares is most valuable. Photo: Created by Chase McMichael

There are challenges at the moment with video chicanery such as autoplay and paying for plays that skew the real numbers, however, people commenting, liking, and sharing video provides hard attribution to go from. Be careful on plays, there are so many services out there that will get you PLAYS for cash, like the old days of buying friends and followers, but it’s hard to fake shares and authentic comments. Unfortunately, we’re seeing ad fraud in the billions and that’s coming to mobile native video. Facebook autoplay still playing an ad when hidden under the fold will not build confidence.

What’s it going to take to be in the top mobile video advertising game? If your brand is among one of the industries we have analyzed, the bar has been set very high.

The chart above provides a view into the amount of content required (video posts) and the reach / share levels of engagement required. The main takeaway question is does your CMO or CEO know the commitment level to be a top player in video?

Translating Big TV Spend to Mobile

Recent deal such as Target and Best Buy with True[x] clearly shows marketers are moving media spend from banners to the native ads. The data don’t lie with the response on native over social networks and other publishers preferring in context rich media, video, and visuals as part of the ad experience.

Interstellar Native Unit

Example of native mobile video optimized to support responsive design. Screenshot 11/23/2014 www.socialmoms.com

Likes on video is not the same action as sharing to your friends. Consumers willing to stamp their name on something with greater emotion tend to share or comment. That is why these tend to be the best hard attributions besides click to purchase. The WWE, UFC, MLB, and NBA skew towards male users where Women Get It Free, PetFlow, Prez Hilton, and The Voice skew female. It’s well know that females share more, and the data on video proves that to be true.

There has been a great deal of hullabaloo and hype about how Facebook has passed up YouTube, and how Yahoo is overtaking Twitter in mobile ads. Some have claimed it’s all lies. The reality is, consumers are sharing video in a big way. In fact, as the data has shown, there are more shares than likes on videos.

Video Usage Analysis on Mobile Native Video Advertising

Here are five ways brands can leverage these 2015 trends that will define high performance content marketing efforts and help brands get a jump on their mobile native video advertising strategy.

Agile Marketing and Real-Time Tool Explosion

The smart brands have created newsrooms and command centers, driving content creation to the next level with full on video production. Data will be a driving factor to the competitive advantage. Knowing what consumers engage with and what they click on is a gold mine. Many technologies enable you to understand your competitive content landscape.

Mobile First

Over the last four years, we have seen a steady increase in mobile activity due to native apps and responsive web content. 2014 was truly a breakout year with many experiencing as high as 60% and 70% shift to mobile. In 2015, brands must focus on useful mobile experiences for content and commerce. With 66% increase in CTR over desktop, it’s easy to see why the ROI justification on mobile is simple. Think of what works best for mobile and where your consumers are consuming your content. Content designers must realizing that not all consumer are in front of a TV. What are you looking to achieve on mobile and is the video designed for the mobile experience?

Mobile Video and Social will Demand TV Budgets

Mobile, social and video are the hottest trends and will commandeer big spends as the quality and complexity of story telling continues to rise. The consumer is mobile and the experience has to shift to the medium where they are at making the challenge of the creative fit the form factor.

Engagement and Viewablity Videos Views

Marketers are increasingly being pushed for verifiable results over the simple view or play. Viewability is now a must-have for brands to be assured their content is being seen and engaged with. Next year, it will be all about video engagement. We’re quickly moving beyond YouTube and seeking out customers in their native environments.

Optimizing Video Ads for Device and Thumbnails

Marketers would be wise to customize ads for each device, because those type of ads drive the best results. This is back up by data we see and also by a study from video advertising firm Innovid, which analyzed video ads over Crackle’s network consumer base. The study combined pre-roll and interactive video ads across auto, retail, CPG, entertainment, and travel for one-year period on desktop, mobile, and iPad. Optimized ads can deliver a six times increase in engagement, seven times boost in click-throughs, and a 25% rise in completion rates, the study reported. The thumbnail image is one of the most critical images because it is the first image consumers see. Studies show optimizing the thumbnail image can increase CTR’s from 5 to 30%.

A new startup called Neon coming out of Carnegie Mellon University is using advanced video analysis techniques to determine what thumbnail or text in combination would yield higher CTR. Working with IGN results have even gone as high as 59% increase on highly customized thumbnails based on cognitive sciences. Overall, brands will see the best results when an ad is optimized for the screen and the thumbnails are well crafted. Brands must prepare for the multi modal customer and engineer for omnichannel to stay in this high stakes poker game.

Facebook Disruption

Facebook now how Premium video along with the auto play and pushing video over all other post their drive for dominance is self evident if you’re on Facebook. For Facebook this was always in the plan to debase YouTube video dominance. Morgan Stanley projects Facebook video ads could to be worth $1 billion this year and rocketing to $5.5 billion by 2019.  And now Facebook is creating a YouTube like experience going head to head with the more static non social YouTube. We could be witnessing a move over old school video channels.

Viewability and attention as the key measurements now over just clicks are views.  Brands what to know is their ads being engaged with. Google recently announced 56.1 percent of ads on the internet are not view-able.  See infographic too.  A revolution like the editorial content mixing with ads “native” is now happening with with video where rich media meets polished ad copy all engineered as entertainment. As mobile native video takes hold there will be a best in class native ad structure. The melding of native ad content and video will give rise to a more interactive experience customer want to watch, willing to share and engage on.

Your Next Big Move

Over the last three years growth in brand mobile videos has skyrocket with 73% from 2013 and sees to top over $4.4 billion in 2018, and mobile video ads will grow almost 5X faster than desktop. We will see a migration of desktop ads to mobile, which is a no brainier. And mobile video is just add water for advertisers’ video ad assets created for larger screens.

The number of videos does not extrapolate to overall levels of engagement however. It’s easy to see the growth of top brands and their acceleration will continue as long as consumers keep consuming. Democratization the video creation and dissemination process has lowered the barrier for any size brand to enter and establish a video footing.

Facebook Mobile Ads Are Brands’ Best Bet for Holiday Shopping Season -With the holiday shopping season fast approaching, new research from advertising technology company Spongecell indicated  mobile ads are the way to go. Loading video is now as easy as taking a picture. If a picture is worth a 1000 words with 30 frames a second and audio to boot makes 1,000,000 words or so, Right? Video Selfies funding demonstrates even VC’s are ready to capitalize on the fastest-growing sector of mobile advertising and is attracting big brands looking to leverage their heavy television media buys.

We’re quickly moving past the 15 and 30 second to full-length creative content streams. Mobile ad spend is growing rapidly, but brands who invest in mobile-ready solutions now will win. By getting ahead of the trend, brands will be able to understand, experiment with, and become market leaders in mobile advertising.

Tell us in the comments how your integrating video into your content marketing and what’s working.

5 Electrifying content marketing methods via native advertising [Webinar]

static-electricity-hair-stand-on-end1All brands must have content amplification, both mobile and native advertising, in their content marketing arsenal. Beyond the hype, native advertising is one method showing great success at scale and it’s here to stay. Regardless of how amazing your content is or who created it, if you don’t have a clear amplification and execution plan in place, getting above the noise is near impossible. In this webinar we’ll dive into the 5 ways to electrify your content marketing, using data and reviewing effective native advertising methods. Brands have to wake up and focus their content to achieve higher engagement throughout the consumer’s path to purchase or risk losing TOP OF MIND to competitors that are capturing greater market share.

What am I going to get out of this?thinking-web-pic

  • Learn how to amplify your content all the time.
  • On and off domain content amplification.
  • What’s native advertising? Scale in context.
  • How to mobilize your content marketing.

Are you reaching your customer? 4 Barriers to consider:

1. We’re in a content deluge.

ContentandMediaSurplus

We’re in an era where the volume of content creation and dissemination is at an all time high with no signs of stopping. The old saying “drinking from a fire hydrant” is an understatement. The sheer volume from so many channels is creating a media surplus. This mountain of consumer engagement insight is where lots of the buzz comes from regarding big data. The brands that harness this data will dominate pure and simple. Content is omnipresent. There are no shortages of devices either. Everyone is a content creator, which adds to the noise.

AttentionDefficetDisorder2. There is an attention deficit.

Your customers are very distracted and most are multitasking over many apps and receiving content notifications frequently. Both on and off domain distractions complicate your ability to increase time with your customers. Consumers are mobile and vying for their attention in this digital ADD world pushes some brands to extreme content marketing. Brands must stay relevant and create compelling, share worthy content at a clip like never before or risk becoming irrelevant.

TunnelVisionRequired3. Tunnel vision is a requirement.

Consumers are looking for or engaging on specific content and brands must have some tunnel vision too. People can barely consume, much less comprehend, 285 pieces of content in a day. Multitasking and multiple devices is a cultural norm requiring a higher degree of content stickiness. We only want to consume content relevant to us at a very specific moment in time. Tunnel vision helps us do that.

CustomerJourneyUnpredictable4. The customer journey is unpredictable.

It’s complicated to say the least. Consumers are being influenced and the path to purchase is based on many online and offline factors. Most of us embark on an open-ended purchase path and our content consumption patterns change daily.

The above was inspired by a Michael Brito slideshare.

The $110 Billion Big Problem

Brands spent $110 Billion on Content Marketing in the last 3 years, yet the interactions by consumers on that content is low. Content is stuck in silos across the web / mobile / social / blog channels and lacks context over all consumer touch points.  Is your content disconnected?

Above is a great example of a top content creator’s precipitous decline in social engagement. Disney continues an exponential increase in it’s content creation and post rate as seen in the graph above, however, the two graphs on the right prove engagement   has leveled off and that social shares have declined over the past 3 years. The data demonstrates consumers haven’t stopped engaging but there are so many other avenues to choose from. What’s exciting is that all this content and the data from social channels sets up a data bonanza for the brands to harness.

Interest Graph Actions on Content

Data on your customer content and consumer behavior is not a nice to have but a must have for any modern digital marketing effort. You must have a clear understanding of your audience and what’s relevant to them or your marketing message will fall flat. Consumers have many interest graphs across many networks today. For marketing automation and personalization, graph data is paramount for relevant content personalization.

The_GraphBetter engagement through better content marketing insights is the focus. Brands have to look across their paid, owned and earned channels and understand the underlying interest graph of interconnections.  Anyone of these channels can go viral. The facts are most all content now has a social share function integrated with delivery or as part of the content itself. Hard actions on content can now be measured vs. social mentions or the amount of views/traffic a property obtains. Using engagement performance and applying scores on content now enables content marketers to benchmark over many sites/channels within the same content category. What’s unique? All content has gone social enabling interest graphs to be created on your customers. This data provides deep insights into what’s resonating and shared based on type, source and brand identity.

Integrated Content Experience

Brands require an innovative approach when creating and distributing their visual content, especially on mobile. Pinterest style layouts are proven to be highly effective in increasing consumer engagement and discovery. Smart brands are combining these vector scaling adaptive layouts and harnessing the consumer behavior to their advantage. By surfacing real-IntegratedContentExperencetime trends to induce higher engagement wherever the consumer is, targeting and personalization are no longer nice to haves but the key to customer retention and conversion.

Different brands and businesses have different content needs and preferred methods of engagement. Identifying your content mojo is a big part of an amplification strategy.  Brands with clear understanding of how their prospects, customers, and advocates interact across these media elements have an opportunity to retain or gain market share.

Here are the three:

  • EARNED MEDIA – Media relations, Influencer engagement , Word-of-mouth
  • SHARED MEDIA  - Social media channel strategy, Community management, Social content creation
  • OWNED MEDIA – Brand website/newsroom , Campaign microsite , Mobile apps

OmniChannelSlideWe’re now in an omni-channel world and have to look at the customer in a new way over all brand touch points. Using omni-channel retailing while working with the “Connected Consumer“, all shopping channels work from the same database of products, prices, promotions, etc. Instead of perceiving a variety of touch-points as part of the same brand, omni-channel retailers let consumers experience the brand, not a channel within a brand. Merchandise and promotions are not channel specific, but rather consistent across all retail channels.

ContentSlide

Content

If you want to be in the game you must have GREAT content – to start with – not a product promotion but a real story around client success.  The best content is that being created and re-purposed over many channels over and over.  Be realistic on the volume of content you need to create.  Insights on what your industry is creating and the volume to stay relevant is readily available over every industry.  Don’t complicate you content marketing creation process there are ample examples of what’s effective and what consumers are willing to share.

The content marketing cycle.
ContentMarketingCircleSlideEvery part of your content marketing cycle has great importance.  For this post we’ll focus on the promotion side of content marketing. A big step is defining your objectives and data you want to obtain ongoing.  Not just reporting but a plan of action over each promotional channel. Next, must have a rock solid monitoring strategy and a plan to use the data to drive your decision process.  Without these you’re just guessing and wasting time.

5 Ways to Amplify Your Content Marketing & What’s Native Advertising

EbookSlide1. Amplification Comes From Who You’re Working with

We found partnering on the eBooks creation process to be highly effective for thought leadership, lead generation and very lucrative. Who is part of your content and the quality are critical factors. Here are a few eBooks we created with top content marketers.

All our eBooks have blog posts associated with them as well as paid amplification program. Beyond our co authors tweets and reach, we leveraged native ads and found them to be highly effective in reaching our intended audience.  eBook also provided us with big rock content we used to repackaged and amplified over many channels.  For more on this topic get Jason Miller’s “Welcome to the Funnel” he is the god on content re-purposing and big rock content. 

NotNativeJustPaidPlacement2. Amplification – Paid Placement

Paid content amplification is a must have to reach a broader audience. Content jammed at the bottom of publications is one method of expanding reach -  but people call this type of amplification “recommendation” like Outbrain, Yahoo, Taboola, Gravity etc.

It’s a lower cost method to push content on top publications, however, the performance is on par with standard ad hole insertion or less. This type of content amplification  doesn’t constitute in context content marketing, however, some publishers have seen successful cross promoting content and others have not using these method.

NativeAdvertisingSldieWhat’s Native Advertising and Types of Native Ads?
What ever you call it “sponsored content,” “advertorial,”  “promoted post” or “branded content” native advertising is here to stay.  In a recent post we highlighted the fusion of content marketing and native advertising describing the native advertising matrix consists of;

  • Effective contextual advertising,
  • Branded content,
  • Advertorial and
  • Sponsored Text.Here we break them down into their visual components.

TextNativeTextSlide

Google was the first to introduce native at scale with the insertion of text ad in the search stream. Now text ad can be found on most publications. For publishers looking to get some montization and Google AdSence like placement this method will be around for some time.

SponsoredNativeSponsoredSlide

Sponsored or advertorial content is the most expensive to deploy and time consuming. Many brands have achieved success with this type of native advertising, however, for smaller brands this native method is cost prohibited. Smaller brands can achieve sponsored content like the “In Post” method below.

In StreamNativeInStreamSlide

In Stream or promoted post is the most popular form of native advertising, unfortunately, most is out of context and doesn’t enhance the consumer experience vs just clogging up one’s feed. On mobile you’re forced to interface with this type of in feed sponsored content hence why mobile video and in stream ads obtain some of the highest CTRs in the business.

In PostNativeInPostSlide

This is the newest form of Native advertising whereby the native unit is in context to the content around it. Native ads done well create a more reliable experience for the consumer than an obtrusive, in-stream ad that isn’t in context. Brands are seeing higher CTR (1 to 3%) on both desktop and mobile due to relevance. A great example is a publisher creating content on the latest refreshment ideas for summer with a Starbucks native ad unit about their latest refreshments, changing in real-time.

The in context native ad provides value to the content around it and it is an overall better experience.  No wonder these real-time native advertising units get more engagement. Content amplification doesn’t have to be hard just smart.  For more depth on native advertising see our latest post on SEJ.

3. Amplification – OwnedSephora2XGreaterEngagement

On domain visual content marketing is very effective. You have a captive audience on your website or mobile application, however many brands fail to surface the right content throughout the consumer engagement path.
Here DGDG, a large automotive dealership in the bay area, powers their thank you pages and main content HUBs from their 14 auto brands top content. DGDG Content HUBMost brand’s thank you pages, purchase exit pages, etc. are dead and they are missing a big opportunity to re-engage with their customers with fresh content and Close the Social Loop. You have their attention so put your best foot forwards.

Brands require an innovative approach to the way they display visual content and accessibility especially on mobile extending the discovery process and site stickiness. Pinterest style layouts are proven visual interfaces to increase consumer engagement and share rates. Smart brands are combining data intelligence and visual content based on consumer behavior to their advantage surfacing real-time trends to induce higher engagement wherever the consumer is at.

4. Native – Amplification

PrincessNativeInContext2Many publishers create sponsored content for brands, however, this type of publishing can be expensive.  The unique element on the right created by SocialMoms was including a real-time native ad for Princess Cruises.  The unit is leveraging trending content from Princess and distributed in a native unit over the SocialMom’s network. Content is created as part of the native unit to increase greater context.   Princess Cruises native units achieve 20X great CTR than industry averages due to dynamic images based on consumer data and smart placement.

MobileIsLackingOnMostBrands5. Mobile Mobile Mobile

Mobile content display is lacking on most brands and the use of data on consumers to create a better user experience is almost non existent.  A great example is the mobile interface on Disney.  Here we have a static layout, content change is infrequent vs user engagement driving content changes based on trends or past behavior used in an Instagram layout structure. Brands that integrate Infinite scrolling, simple sharing and adaptive interface increase time on site.

InfiniGraph’s vector scaling and adaptive content design for any content type provides flexibility to content published by the brands in a robust mobile interface. You followers are coming to you site on mobile devices especially if your amplifying content over native networks like Facebook etc.  Here are a few tip to consider when developing a strong mobile strategy.

Customer Experience ImagesmPut the user first

  • Observe what users are trying to accomplish.
  • Derive patterns from their behavior.
  • Create the content Features (infinite scrolling, swiping, touching) that they do on other apps.

 

SimplicityRocksFocus on simplicity

  • Both design and user experience are critical.
  • Smaller screens require simplicity is crucial.
  • Remove everything superfluous from the UI.
  • Only show elements to the best advantage.

Context-is-kingsmContext is king:

  • Mobile is personal.
  • Devices keep getting smarter.
  • Information can be personalized.
  • Content is delivered to the right user at the right time and place.

 

Want to download the slides?  Tell us what you think, what content marketing and amplification techniques are working for you.

Native Content Amplification Achieves 16.5 Percent CTR

Val Kuncheff at DGDG

Val Kuncheff Del Grande Dealer Group eCommerce / Digital Marketing Director

Content amplification is a must have for any brand looking to maximize their content assets and increase their content effectiveness. DGDG is the largest automotive dealership in the San Francisco bay area with 13 locations representing 14 auto brands. “With InfiniGraph’s native content amplification we increased our content exposure over our websites boosting greater time on site” - Val Kuncheff Del Grande Dealer Group eCommerce / Digital Marketing Director

The challenge
DGDG wanted to increase their customer time on site and achieve greater interaction with their content. Each of DGDG’s dealerships are creating outbound content yet there wasn’t a central area to discover all of the content unless you found each new post on each individual site manually. They also needed a way to cross promote their content in real-time based on the most engaged content greatly increasing their total content exposure. Would you like to see how they launched their native content amplification? Registration is free.

DGDG Native Amplification Content HUB

DGDG, the largest family owned automotive group serving the entire San Francisco Bay Area. Click through to see Native content amplification over all dealerships in action.

The solution
Leveraging InfiniGraph’s real-time native advertising solution they were provided with content recommendation and content amplification over all of the DGDG sites. All content is analyzed to obtain a Trend score based on engagement which is then packaged within a native insertion unit used to visually surface their trending content. DGDG placed these units in strategic areas on their site.

The results
DGDG was able to achieve:

  • 16.5% CTR back to the site’s content
  • 100% increase of time on site
  • 60% decrease in bounce rates

Consumers are most engaged when they are given engaging content. This sounds intuitive yet most brands have static text, dead visuals, and bland thank you pages after a customer performs some action.

These actions include:

  • simple email opt-in
  • filling out a form
  • requesting a meeting
  • making a purchase, etc.
DGDG Native Content Insertion thank you page.   Smart use of tending content to bring customer back into a website.

DGDG Native Content Insertion thank you page. Smart use of tending content to bring customers back into a website.

DGDG did it right and directed all entries and requests back to highly interactive, native content insertion pages with amazing trending visuals achieving 16.5% CTR back into their site.  Every location has its own native content amplification HUB providing their customers with quick access to the latest automotive trends. DGDG took advantage of this turn key native content experience providing ongoing and consistent real-time content recommendations.

DGDG Mobile Native HUB

Mobile optimized native insertion on DGDG mobile content. Screen shots from an iPhone 5s. All actions regardless of web or mobile created a slick user experience.  Above is the mobile rendering of DGDG trending content.

Would you like to see how to launch your very own native content amplification? Registration is free.

 

Visual Content Marketing and Most-Searched Retail Brands

Go bold or go home. If you’re a brand and you’re not doubling down on an image strategy, say beyond social via Content Hubs, now is your chance to enhance your own media amplification. Brands have already started with hashtag content hub sites, displaying what people tweet, and some social hubs are doing simple visual content aggregation.

Choosing tools and systems that provide robust, intelligent content handling will be the deciding factor on which brands retain consumer’s attention. And, more importantly, the consumer “share” button click, bringing the brand along for the ride. There’s no question that retailers are leveraging Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram to push visual assets.

lindsay_300x200
Lindsay Ellingson at the #VSFashionshow . Photo / Creative Commons

Ask yourself this question: Is my content going to be more compelling than my friend’s baby picture? You must become a source of great content discovery. This goes beyond good storytelling. We’re talking about sustaining a content relationship and becoming the go to source for all things relevant in your industry.

The brands that are leading have figured out that when a consumer comes to them and they don’t have the answers, they’ll likely end up on a competitor’s site.

Mobile Optimized Content

With some retailers seeing up to 50% traffic from mobile devices this year, it’s a real wake up call for those that have yet to get their mobile mojo in motion. It’s easy to see how much consumer action is on mobile when you monitor the referral traffic from social channels.

As more traffic increases, developing a more user-friendly site for a true mobile experience is critical. The challenge for brands is when to stop. Do you create a mobile site, optimize your current site, or create an app? Native apps work well for all brands. Kohl’s, Macy’s, and Amazon top the list with their mobile deployments. Consider this - is your site truly mobile? Second, did you make a native application just because everyone else did?

Remember you’re competing with your consumer’s Instagram, Twitter, etc apps for attention.

Content Marketing

 

The mobile optimized retailer will have a competitive advantage. Example of mobile Content Hub photo / InfiniGraph

2013 was a major coming-of-age year for content marketing.  For 2014 it is the must-have strategy. Many analyst reports are putting it at the top of their lists and brands are budgeting for more content.
InfiniGraphMobileContentHub_2014

If you are serious about keeping your consumers engaged, the bar has been lifted. The retailers that have figured out the types of content and volume of content their consumers respond to will have the upper hand.  Consumers have a limited amount of digital bandwidth which requires your content to have a heavy hand on usefulness. Content Engineering will play a major factor in a brand’s approach to melding their mobile, eCommerce, and content marketing offerings.

Retailers need to focus on what content is performing well around them. The only way to do that is to have access to the data. If retailers offer many brands and they don’t know what’s trending in their own stores then shame on them. This is a massive opportunity to amplify what’s already relevant to your customers and dynamically link it to the purchase point. Brands must go beyond just visual to a more proactive discovery. Discovering what content is most shared and engaged is the catalyst to your next post.

E-commerce and m-commerce – A Big Data play

In 2013 global sales reached and epic 1.25 trillion with 15% of that coming from m-commerce (mobile commerce). This demonstrates consumers’ relentless desire to have it now. Those retailers harnessing their big data assets intelligently will capture a greater market share.

The biggest differentiation comes from brands that are using the massive data coming from all this additional engagement. Recommendation engines, prediction platforms, and smart algorithms separate retailer winners from losers. Combining content and commerce in a seamless fashion means consumers get a more personalized experienced, which will surely increase conversion.

Most Searched Retail Brands 2013

MostSearchedRetailBrands2013-637x634

Most searched retail brands of 2013 Engagement Performance Analysis Photo / InfiniGraph

Every year Google creates their Trend report listing people, places, and things searched for most by users globally. The most searched doesn’t necessarily mean the most engaged. Above is a detailed analysis on the types of content and the overall average engagement of the top 10 retail and apparel brands that were searched most often in 2013. As you can see on the left side of the graph, Nike, Macy’s, Forever 21, and Victoria’s Secret top the list with the most engaged content.

Engagement is how much consumer interaction was obtained on their content posts (comments, shares, likes, retweets and clicks). There are many other engagement parameters to look at but to be consistent we look at the top two most used networks by the retailer, Twitter and Facebook.

The top 10 Google Trends list used many factors to determine what was most searched, however, for some retailers this is not the type of attention they want. We are sure that Target would have topped the list with the recent credit and debit card hacking scandal, but this doesn’t help their bottom line at all. Using content engagement is a solid barometer and the type of content that trends with consumers positively shows who is winning the engagement battle.

  1. Kohl’s — Kohl’s achieved the top spot this year on Google’s most searched retail and apparel brands.  That is with a financial struggle holding the company back the peaks in search happened around Thanksgiving when an Illinois police officers shot a shoplifter. This is the type of PR most brands don’t want.
  2. JCPenney — Like Kohl’s, JCPenney is experiencing it’s own financial woes. CEO being sacked, the stop-in-shops was a #FAIL, and a branding redesign just created more confusion. Overall, there was lots of interest in what was going on at the company but not the type of engagement to drive sales.
  3. Nordstrom — On the high-end, Nordstrom’s, like Macy’s, came in strong. By contrast, Nordstrom had a very strong 2013. Consumers responded to their Blue Nile partnership and their crowdsourcing in-store display strategy via Pinterest.  Nordstrom leveraged the content hub to their advantage and continues to use strong visuals to engage their customers.
  4. Forever 21 — Teen retailer Forever 21 is on a roll to not only topping the most searched but also being in the top 5 most engaged. Being a trend spotter and getting their fast fashion to market has been key. The Forever 21 expansion has paid off, which puts greater pressure on brands like Abercrombie & Fitch who have not escaped their own PR nightmares with run of the muck CEO mouths.
  5. Victoria’s Secret — Can be summed up in one hashtag: #FSFASHIONSHOW. The imagery from the show caused an engagement storm with female and male consumers. Nothing like something sexy to propel your brands and VS does it so well with the images and their social push that any brand should be envious of.
  6. Old Navy — Old Navy topped the search list during BlackFriday and with a little help from Gap who didn’t make the list. It got some Black Friday, love but couldn’t keep the momentum going.
  7. Macy’s — Macy’s received lots of love this year starting in October and pushing through Black Friday, rounding out with Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Big earnings coming in from their integrated retail strategy means they have seen lots of bucks show up this holiday season. Brands attempting to hold a candle to Macy’s, such as Sears, are going to have to alter their content strategy to keep up.
  8. American Eagle — American Eagle is not flying like an eagle with 68% drop in profits and a lack of original content. Not engaging the consumer and no big story has put more pressure on this once great brand. Competitors like Forever 21 are not letting up, demonstrating that the retailers who engage are winning.
  9. Nike — Nike has been a long time friend of Google search and has hot products to boot. They have a continuous sports marketing effort not to mention Finish Line, Foot Locker, and Sneaker Freaks pushing their own efforts, helping drive Nike to the top on both most engaged and searched.
  10. Dillard’s —  Dillard’s was not in last place, but for this list they are. There was lots of activity on store closings and relocations but they were at the bottom of engagement along with JCPenney. The good news is they seem to have changed their game, and content and images show it is starting to work.

Actions to take in 2014:

  • Retailers need to be smarter about how they leverage their visual content and promote high performance over quantity. The Content Hub will be important due to the owned media nature.
  • Brands need to budget not just content creation but VISUAL content creation. Content is key, but without strong images it misses the point of many key social platforms.
  • Using themes and events to create quality images and amplify your brand story to build more earned media on your owned assets. Don’t be so dependent on channels you don’t control.
  • Mobile optimized content distribution and eCommerce / mCommerce integration must be a central focus with strong emphasis on data capture and strategy to use that data.
  • Consolidate your data strategy and become more data-driven in your marketing. The bigger the brand the more data. You must look beyond collection to intelligent prediction to gain and retain an edge.

As brands struggle to stay relevant and enhance consumer loyalty, the gap between the winners and losers will widen. 2014 will truly be an exciting year for the data-driven marketers and how real-time marketing will impact visual content usage.  For the brands that have structured a high performance content marketing team and the data needed to adjust their strategy will be a big part of who dominates their industry.

Your turn: What do you see as the key deciding factors that brands must implement to further differentiate and increase consumer engagement?