Amplify Programmatic By Using Data-Driven Creative.

Amplify Programmatic By Using Data-Driven Creative.


Way back in 2014, we heard the faint whispers of this “Mobilegeddon” that was coming for all of us, brands especially; needless to say, we are finally there. However, that being said, the global data and facts don’t lie: eMarketer estimates (and it hasn’t been wrong yet ) that mobile will account for about 72% of US digital ad spend by the end of 2019, coupled with Google’s tech-forward audiences who are online on their mobiles for more than 74% of their time. We may safely assume that marketers need to start responding to consumer behavior, as SA is not as far behind the curve as most believe.

Given the deep penetration that mobile has, as per my first column, marketers need to start paying attention to their mobile efforts, marketing strategies and digital marketing budgets, as well as molding the creative to the awesome capabilities programmatic and mobile offer.

Search has evolved so much over the last five years, due to the super computers we call mobile devices, and the “always-on” device is becoming the “always-on companion”, therefore driving the need for contextualised creative, all the while with the need to remember that nothing in this world can connect with a human better than a human. Neither programmatic, nor SEO, nor content marketing — none of these can forge that connection better than a real person, but we can damn sure come close!

1. Use all the available data to understand what your audience wants

Do this by leveraging the technology and molding the creative that is interesting and relevant to the consumer.

Some of you may already be using your market research and CRM to inform digital campaigns, but there is an entire boatload of data you could be missing out on: website data such as your most popular products, or audience data such as time of engagement, interests and places, contextual data like location, device, screen 1, 2 or 3, etc.

The key point here is: Know all the data before you make a decision on what your audience needs; figure out where you can be smarter with your creative.

2. Collaboration is a prerequisite

In my experience, it’s all too often that the digital, creative and production agencies are brought into the campaign process at different times, often well after the media strategy has been decided.

What’s missed is that, if we bring the creative in with the digital agency and brand from the beginning, we can build more creative relevant strategies around your target audience.

3. Communication is vital

Looking at a typical campaign, the process is frequently that one party does one portion of the work and then it’s handed over to the next party, yet it more than likely comes with no insightful data.

By involving everyone from the get go, you can ensure the ongoing communication and a much more-effective campaign.

4. Maximising programmatic

Programmatic advertising allows the brand to reach their target audiences in the moments that matter, when they make a decision, changing how we buy and sell media. In doing so, it changes the way we have to look at creative in the programmatic sphere.

There is a wealth of data available through programmatic, from first-party analytics and third-party audience data to the contextual inputs such as devices. Get smart. Leveraging all the data and insights from all the campaigns that you run may be a daunting task, and may very well require a huge change to your processes, but it’s the key to amplifying programmatic and creating more efficient, smarter campaigns.

Ensuring that the creative team is working with the planning team and that they all work with the analytics team will enable you to maximise the value of your programmatic by creating unique, niche, customised campaigns for current and potential audiences.

In conclusion:

  • Creative agencies: The opportunity is that you can deliver the “creative proposition” in the right context to the right audiences, lending its way to impactful memorable content.
  • Digital media agencies: The opportunity exists to ensure that all parties have the right creative and that production agencies have the right format for the media buys. This opens the doors so you can offer a greater breadth of service to your clients.
  • Production agencies: Efficiencies can be created with access to data, and insights; data-driven creative creates a far more-structured environment and process that can create efficiencies, even with campaigns that do not rely upon any dynamic creative.
  • Brands: The long-ranging effects — of how brands reach users will depend upon data-driven insights that inform brand strategy, content strategy and marketing strategy when applied correctly — are vast but, in order to achieve all of this, marketers need to change their mindset. A collaborative, iterative strategy for the long-term marketing strategy.

Once all of this is achieved, your creative may be the powerhouse of your programmatic success.

How Mobile And Search Change Retail

How Mobile And Search Change Retail

At any given moment (micro moment) people are searching for content online based on their intent. It’s no longer about the best TV campaign, the best banner campaign, homepage takeover, the best AD campaign, it’s not about the biggest billboard or the or the best radio campaign, it’s all about a brands OMNI PRESENCE and the searchers / consumers INTENT.

Many retailers are feeling as if their business is under siege, some even going as far as saying its retail apocalypse. In essence however it is an opportunity for brands and business to shift with the times, and break free of the old way of marketing and thinking. I’m not saying ditch your hard earned skillsets, just expand on them.

I’m also not negating the historically inspirational tactile experience that you get when you actually go shopping at a store you love. I doubt mobile will eradicate going to a store, but it definitely adds something new to the mix of marketing tools we have available.

Mobile and Retail Converge

It’s as if the smartphone has become the sales assistant. Deep down in the core of it, mobile retail experiences CAN provide that all time feel good, especially when finding deals directly in line with the consumers INTENT and or purpose.

There are a fair amount of retailers and coders that are upping the game and turning our smartphones into the all-time instant gratification, discovery and inspirational tools under the sun, therefore evolving the (dare I say it) “traditional experience”.

The rapid increase of, shopping apps, online video, gaming and online platforms like social media has most people glued to their devices. People are no longer meandering the isles and isles of goods in stores, they no longer go from shop to shop by foot or car.

The reality of local retail and search

We have learned this last year, is that the relationships have changed between digital and retail stores, and there are 3 new realities that are peeking their heads into consumer data understanding, and these realities are predicted to drive retail from a digital perspective though out 2016 and beyond.

1: The in-store shop assistant IS the smartphone

2: In store traffic CAN be driven via digital

3: An Omni presence approach will help brands tackle the various shopping styles and habits thereby locking in consumers

What’s evident, and key to understanding this, is that there are some techno savvy retailers that are reaching their customers by focusing on the online conversion journey and not so much on where that sale happens.

The “on-the-go” consumers, do their research online, averaging about 15 hours per week. In the search data game we call them “snack shoppers” they like to take things at their pace, and research across all devices, smartphones, tabs and desktop, at any time they find convenient, even in front of the TV.

So iteratively, all the data tells us to focus on the journey of the consumer, be there for the consumer at every turn, be helpful, be present, be authentic, but be there. And by there I mean omnipresent.

It’s a common misunderstanding and myth that if a searcher finds something online that they want to purchase that they will inevitably want an online store to do so, but local search data tells us a different story.

Local online information can motivate instore visits, let’s look at what the data says about the information the consumer finds helpful in making a purchasing decision.

3 out of 4 searchers who find local information results are more likely to visit the actual store

42% of IN STORE shoppers search for information IN STORE

64% of those use search engines

75% would like the price of the item at a local store

74% would like to know what’s in stock at a local store

66% would like the location of the nearest store with said item

63% would like details about the store like hours of operation and phone number

59% would like a map showing the stores that hold said item

56% what else is available at the store that carries the said item

Here’s the slammer, ALL research for a consumer begins with a search engine, VS an app or a mobile site, immediacy and proximity are very important as 69% of searchers expect the store / product / business to be located within 8 – 10 kms of them, and more than 50% want instant gratification and want to purchase within the hour, a micro moment showing its head again. Mobile influences the consumers purchase decision, as data shows that 93% go on to buy!

The new consumer is so spoilt for choice, the new tech has delivered new opportunities, but this surplus also means that the new mind set has implications, according to a study done by Google, TNS and Ogilvy.

The new consumer mind set shop with the same purpose that they consume content. Bringing us back to the user’s intent. Purpose equals purchase, they want sustainability, media that virtually matches the purpose they lead their lives with, and this perspective in turn helps the consumer fulfil their interests, needs, wants and desires. This study also revealed that 42% of the “new consumers” chooses brands that actively engage with them on their passions and interests, VS those who did not.

Humbly we say goodbye to the feel good tactics that brands used to use in the past, who’s love affair with TV was scheduled around the seasonal happenings, split by the time of the day and totally dependent on broadcast media.

The learning here is simple, digital is a powerful metric of connection for the brand / store and the consumer, retailers should use online presence that is amplified by solid SEO and tools such as; mobile CRM, mobile apps, mobile ads, video, search data, geo targeting, and local ad inventory to best position themselves for the dawn of generation C and the millennial age.

5 Tips In Winning The 2016 Content Marketing Challenge

5 Tips In Winning The 2016 Content Marketing Challenge

2015 has been a long year, with a myriad of new algorithms affecting search and social media, content quality taking center stage, long form content fast on its heels, not to mention the advance of video marketing and the micro moment. PR and SEO are now one output or at least should be, as is SEO and content marketing. The blurred line is spreading across all the digital marketing outputs. We now know that SEO and SEM are not the same thing, that syndicated content is duplicate content, that social media has serious ranking power and that authenticity and relevance are key in content. Click baiting and link farming are the cardinal sin, and, we know that content is STILL king, and that the marketing of that content is the queen.

Yet the deeper insight here is often missed. In this past year I have had the pleasure of working with some of the largest news publishers in the country, the largest marketplace in SA, and some of the best digital agencies in town. And this is the insight I have for you.

The Content Marketing Deluge

The biggest threat to content marketing as a practice is content marketing itself, as content marketing does not equate to content marketing success. The issue I have found most prevalent in the industry is that there is a skills shortage, of epic proportions in the severe lack of content managers, content strategists & content marketing professionals.

Businesses need to build on their internal content teams, ensuring they are equipped with up to date SEO knowledge, principles of copy-writing, ORM and PR basics and of course social amplification techniques.

Copy-writing agencies are now content farms, digital advertising agencies are now social media experts, video production companies are now rich media creators, contract publishers are now rebranding themselves as content marketers… and all this is based on content created from a mix of inexperienced content creators that are already stretched to the limit with no idea on how content marketing works.

This translates to an influx of crappy content, and that means that its just a matter of time before content marketing blindness takes over. Consumers will wisen up to this “new” tactic of mass publication pretending to valuable content. The reality is that content marketing is a powerful tool to get the consumer to drop their defenses for just a little while so we can gain their trust and become their custom. But with crap content disguised as great content, the user who is bitten will not be clicking on the good content in a hurry. So content marketing in my view will become harder with diminishing returns as long as we continue to mass produce content under the guise of believing that hordes of content published means you are a successful content marketer.

Branded content, in my opinion, and yes it is jaded, is the swearword of the digital marketing space, the term “branded content” was created by the world of paid media  it has no place in content marketing in 2016, but allow me to elaborate: Unfortunately, the problem is that the people in control of marketing media budgets in this industry do not understand content marketing as a concept nor as a business strategy.

SO, Who and or what will be successful in content marketing? It’s going to be the businesses and brands that create something of value, something unique, something so close to the audience, it will be precious to them. Those who build a “content brand”, not brands publishing branded content. What brands often forget is that the consumer has enough wit about them to know that:” Brands are a symbol of a promise, and a strong brand is built on promises upheld”

Brands and publishers alike need to stop applying the same old marketing structures and principles to content marketing. Content marketing does not require content assets to be effective, however producing high quality content consistently will be a challenge and the key is: less really is more, less quantity but more quality”.

Smart Content Marketing Tips

Here are some examples of “smart” content:

  1. Answer A Question: Can be called the “how-to” format. This is perfect for instructions like how to bake a cake, or teaching your audience something.
  2. Provide Opinion: Kind of like a review style and a great opportunity to show your perspective on a specific topic.
  3. Add Context: Pick an angle to follow with your particular topic, this is the ideal format for interviews and event coverage. Always focus on connecting with your audience first, if you can illicit some sort of emotional response you’re on the right track, and PS: It’s at this level that people connect and make purchasing decisions.
  4. Smart content uses more than just words, it uses images, graphics, animations and video so use these to bring your content to life.
Video Micro Moments Amplify User Intent

Video Micro Moments Amplify User Intent

Video Micro Moments:


Yep, Its official now in ways we could never have imagined, mobile has obliterated desktop search, and although we saw that coming we could not have prepared for the new video trend that is set to shake the very ground on which written content depends.

This is by no means meant to jilt you, this is meant to scare you, force your mind to a dark place, If you realise like most publishers here in the southern African tip, you don’t have video content, nor do you know how to create it or monetize it let alone optimize it or market it….

Let’s be fair and take into consideration we have more cell phones than we have people in SA (59,474,500 vs 50,586,757), and knowing that mobile search outranks desktop, even Ad inventory is suffering!

What the 4,5 and 6 is a Video MICRO MOMENT… It’s a moment that happens in a … well, micro moment, there are many kinds of micro moments, they pop up in weird situations, but for relevance and in the light of giving you value and not confusion, we will look at the most important 4 for consideration when planning your video strategy, and the USER INTENT behind it. Understanding this could only benefit.

Micro Moments you can bank your strategy on:


Video Micro Moments

The “I- want-to-watch-what-I-am-in-to” MOMENTS

53% of online video viewers watch to be entertained or inspired

User Intent – Feeding passion or interests

Your responsibility – KYA : Know Your Audience not their demographics




The “I-want-to-know” MOMENTS

70%  of Millennial’s WILL find a YouTube video on ANYTHING they want to learn

User Intent – Learning, researching, and exploring

Your responsibility – KYA : Know Your Audience not their demographics



The “I-want-to-do” MOMENTS – Seeking instruction and how to

“How to” searches on Youtube are UP 70% year on year!

User Intent – Seeking instruction and how to’s

Your responsibility – KYA : Know Your Audience not their demographics



 The “I-want-to-buy” MOMENTS

Best place to learn about products or services that interest 18-34yr olds.

User Intent – deciding what and how and where to buy

Your responsibility – KYA : Know Your Audience not their demographics

If you want to have a meaningful role in your audiences online consumption, you best figure out who they are, when they come, what their journey is etc… ‘

As I own a Beauty property, and nurture my social platforms, I know that YouTube experienced an unlikely trend, BEAUTY content grew by a whopping 50% between 2014 and 2015. How TO search went up 70% YOY. Knowing that, I grew my social audience without even trying hard. Winning ratio 60% Video, 40%% How To’s, 10% written content.

Key note:

If you have all these tools available to you, BE there when your audience is looking for “instant gratification” and build long-term satisfaction in the process. You need to rank in organic search first, then you need to add some paid search, use intent and context when creating video content, align your advertising natively and you have the winning formula.

The splintered users purchasing journey is now scattered in to copious micro moments, infinite supply of choices and messages, so brands best be there if they want to compete in the video revolution, or your competitor will be.

The Blurred Line between Content Marketing and SEO

The Blurred Line between Content Marketing and SEO

The fact that content marketing and SEO have been thrown in the ring as opponents is not unknown to us, however the truth is that SEO and Content Marketing work hand in hand like a well-oiled machine. SEO has always been about the content, once you get down to the nitty gritty, as terrible content won’t rank no matter how well your site is optimised. In my line of work, the 2 cannot exist without each other. In a nutshell, they do not compete with one another in any way.

My practice and belief on this matter is that SEO and Content Marketing are one output, we could also say that SEO should be termed “Content Optimisation” as if there is no content, there is no SEO. It’s that simple.

If you practiced content marketing without SEO, you would be creating “vacuum content”, this is content that is created and pushed onto multiple platforms, repurposed and redistributed, but unfortunately wasn’t optimised, therefore a total waste of resources and effort. All content that is created for distribution across any platform should be optimised.

The dilemma that agencies and businesses are faced with is where do they put their marketing spend? In content marketing or SEO? To add to this is, another  issue that we are presented with is that SEO and Content Marketing are separated across our industry. There is a disconnect. There are few digital marketers that have both skillsets in one output.

True digital marketers will know that content marketing and SEO are a pre requisite and critical for any marketing strategy online, and that they work together like your mind and your body.

I’m not saying that there aren’t any differences between the two disciplines, SEO is the technical approach to holistic content. Channelling the technical efforts into content marketing is the way to apply SEO, see the secret to content marketing success is to apply SEO techniques.

The bonuses with content marketing and SEO is the backlink opportunity, both disciplines need these to be effective. Content marketing provides the opportunity of the backlink that SEO demands. Then to add to this, content marketing demands great UX, SEO and UX are part and parcel of the SEO process. The UX is important as it helps the user find the content easier and faster, but still it all comes back to same thing… CONTENT.

An output both SEO and content marketing share. SEO requires consistent output to gain its velocity where content marketing requires this consistency to be effective, as fresh content has better chance of being quickly indexed and will register higher in SERPS.

SEO and Content Marketing are a marriage made in heaven, a true convergence, it would make sense to start thinking of the two as one output, that way you get the best out of both disciplines.

Rules Of Engagement For Effective Content Marketing

Rules Of Engagement For Effective Content Marketing

We have all heard that content marketing is new wave of marketing, and that if you are not in content marketing you stand to fail miserably. However, there are a few golden rules that, if followed correctly, could make this transition into content marketing far easier and show some results faster than you would have received otherwise. The tips herein are designed for anyone to use, you don’t have to be a huge publisher or agency to make content marketing work for you. Just be sure to remember that each of these points are to be practiced all the time, there is no once off application. 

  1. The reflection of perfection:

Creating content should not be based on how well the sentence is structured, or how a search engine will find it. Content is written by people, for people, not search engines. Perfection is only a temporary “phase” online anyway, as the rules of engagement keep evolving, just like the audience. This is not to say you should publish sub-standard content, rather get the piece published, you can edit, condense, expand and contextualize a couple of hours later. Read what you’ve published, then decide what needs to be fixed.

  1.  Reduce, reuse, recycle:

Lets look at a free publication of say an E Book. Every single page and possibly paragraph could become an, info graphic, chart, social post, video, how to, and so forth. We often have no idea how much content we actually have at our fingertips. In this infographic I have used an article and broken it down into an easy to understand 4 part infographic set that was published via social media. So from a couple hundred words, I created 4 separate pieces that each ranked individually for a week. Now that makes more sense, especially if you create your own content.

  1.  Slice and dice it:

We content marketers are always looking for ways to extend our content to prospects, partners, publishers, bloggers, etc. Re-purpose old content through quizzes, surveys and polls. There are tools like SnapApp that can assist you in this, however it’s not a free tool. Leverage SEO, through tools or a professional that will boost your efforts. Enable sharing of the content through partners, and social media. If it can’t be shared it won’t be seen. Bite sized portions suitable for the on the go mobile user.

  1.  Pictures share faster than words:

They always have… Most publishers have access to image galleries, free and paid versions. Free versions are duplicated incessantly all over the web, it’s even worse when you’re in a competitive industry, this should not stop you though. Images have always had greater impact than anything else online, just look at the birth of the meme, and then the platforms dedicated to pictures like Pinterest and Instagram to name just 2. Infographics are generating 45% more search volume and traffic than most content online – Why? I’ll tell you, information x image = Informative image that is easy to understand, identify, and SHARE! It contains data in pictures, and I’ll let you in on a secret here, the brain naturally retains more information from an image than it does a 1000 word article.

  1.  Mobile missiles:

We all heard about the Google mobile update that in essence, enforces that your site is mobile friendly. Did you know that Africa has more mobile devices that toothbrushes! We can safely assume they access via mobile right? In January this year, 3 out of 10 “Facebookers” access the platform through their Mobile device, and that is exclusively, in fact, just last week I saw that Facebook had reached 1 billion consecutive users at one time. That’s insane. But my point is this; your content marketing efforts should include social “versions” that can support. Collaborate, cement and amplify your content marketing campaign.  The most consumed content on Facebook is VIDEO, so consider short 1 min inserts that natively support the other content, or supplement with an image that can be quickly imprinted and shared.

  1.  The authenticity factor:

I have heard this term thrown around more often than I care to admit, “the internet is nothing but copy and paste” and in the past it may have been 100% correct, but the search giants have an algorithm that can tell if you have plagiarized, copied, scraped and stolen content. This will flag your site as LOW QUALITY and then its game over for your search ranking.

Be authentic, if you find information you wish to relay, read it, validate and authenticate the source, and relay it in your own words. Mention your source. You could always just ask if you could publish it on your site, most publishers don’t mind. People and search engines prefer that, i promise.

  1.  The “How to”:

Ever search for a “How to” article? I’m sure you have. I am an avid DIYer and gardener, and i often search for “DIY or How To articles, these are generally the easiest to find aswell and since last year are doing wonders for the SEO (that means ranking) of the sites who published them. This directly ties in the Google Knowledge Graph, the Hummingbird algorithm. This algorithm is set to amplify the usefulness of the internet as this is primarily what people search for, useful relevant information. You don’t need the knowledge graph to make this work though, just publish some good quality how to content. Assuming search volumes are in sync, If you were a baker, I would opt for “How to make butter cream icing like a pro”, and link that article to another one with “Icing ideas for buttercream icing”….

You can see where I am going with this right?

  1.  Content Marketing the SEO way:

The best way to explain how SEO works is by thinking of a spider and how he builds his web. He starts in one corner and moves to the next corner, and then the next…. Creating a support structure to build on. Then he spins his web connecting each and every strand to each other. In the early morning the web has dew drops all over it, these would be the data points, but when a fly lands in the web, the spider is able to identify by that web he built, where the fly is caught. He quickly moves towards they prey to immobilize it. That’s how SEO works. It’s a spider web of security for your site and all the people to come to it, and can find it.

How much of your content marketing efforts should be focused on SEO?

Tracking where your traffic comes from is a great start, so you would go to Google Analytics and then to Audience acquisition and then to the overview. You should be able to track 7 traffic sources. Organic search, Email, Direct, Referral, Social media, Paid search and other. Don’t rely solely on Google Search that would be impeding any efforts. SEO is not just Google, neither is content marketing. G+ is a great tool for authenticity and authorship, RiteTag is perfect for Social media monitoring and amplification, and Facebook has Insights you could delve into, just be cautious of the 7 day data cycle.

There are 8 different formats you could create that have SEO value to your content marketing campaign, like Video’s, Article’s, Infographic’s, free E Books & PDF’s, How to guides, expert interviews, embed Tweets and memes.

  1.  Socially speaking:

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram have ALL updated their algorithms to combat spam on the web, but more specifically here it’s to stop brand spam.

The gravy train for businesses and brands in Facebook is over. Brands and agencies have long exploited the social algorithms, from both ends, by spamming the audience with far too many organically seeded over promotional posts, charging clients stupid amounts of cash for “posts” to the audience based on the average of 0.04% CTR. That’s all in the past now, the search giants woke up, know what is happening and will be swift with penalization. The penalty? Only 10% of ALL over promotional posts will ever be seen by your audience, unless you pay for your audience to see it.

Search Wars defines and outlines all the changes that have occurred within Facebook and Twitter, as well as the penalties and other titbits of useful info. In this document I outline the do’s and the don’ts with key guidance and insight.

  1. SEO long tail

It’s unrealistic to expect any real search volumes when you just start content marketing, by incorporating social you could grow that traffic much quicker. When you start to see increasing volumes through search efforts you apply, the residual affect could be long lasting.

As I work with news publishers, we have some great examples of good content marketing. We all know the Oscar Pistorius saga, every time he makes it back in the media spotlight, all the old content on the site gets a new insurgence of traffic. This is the long tail effect of content marketing. If you’re really savvy you will anticipate the wave of interest and be prepared with social media amplification content, that provided this “social content” is a new spin, on an old  tale, the search volumes should sky rocket for at least 48hrs. If planned well with a water tight lateral content strategy, you could retain and or re-target half of that new audience.

Amplify your visibility through Google Knowledge Graph and Twitter.