February 24, 2015No Comments

2015 digital marketing conference picks

To be a graphic designer in the digital marketing arena, is to be in an industry of constant change. New technologies, new trends and new ways of communication are constantly introduced. In order to stay relevant, it is important to keep your skills and knowledge up to date. One of my favorite ways of doing this is by attending digital marketing conferences. In my experience, digital marketing conferences are a much more engaging, and many times a more cost-effective, way to continue design and marketing education. Digital marketing conferences offer other benefits such as:

  • Discussing common issues in your field
  • Learning new skills and techniques
  • Growing your network of peers to enhance your professional knowledge base
  • Discovering new technologies
  • Getting out from behind your computer screen and engaging in social interaction
  • Rekindling your passion for design and marketing

There are dozens of digital marketing conferences offered every year. While I would like to attend as many as possible, unfortunately a little thing called a job gets in the way. Were time and money not an obstacle, I would attend the following digital marketing conference in 2015.

Summit. The Digital Marketing Conference

When: March 9-13, 2015
Where: Salt Lake City, Utah
Summary: Reinvention is a journey. Continue yours at Summit. The digital landscape is changing and marketers need to reinvent themselves and their strategies to succeed. Join over 5,000 marketing leaders at Adobe Summit to explore the latest trends, ideas, and best practices for getting better results from your digital experiences.

Click Z Live New York

When: March 30-April 1, 2015
Where: New York, New York
Summary: With over 15 years of experience delivering the most cutting edge digital marketing events around the world, ClickZ Live (formerly SES Conference & Expo) provides an unrivalled forum to hear from world-renowned speakers as they deliver an action packed, educationally focused agenda on the latest digital marketing tips, tricks and tools that will blow your mind, make you re-think your strategy and provide actionable takeaways to revolutionize your marketing campaign.

An Event Apart

When: May 11-13, 2015
Where: Boston, Massachusetts
Summary: The design conference for people who make websites. An Event Apart Boston is an intensely educational learning session for passionate practitioners of standards-based web design. If you care about code as well as content, usability as well as design, An Event Apart is the conference you’ve been waiting for.

SmashingConf New York 2015

When: June 15-18, 2015
Where: New York, New York
Summary: After the great success of last year’s New York conference, we’re bringing the SmashingConf back to the Big Apple. The rules haven’t changed: “2 days, one track, 18 brilliant speakers, and hands-on, practical and useful talks.” As always we have phenomenal speakers lined up.

Inbound 2015

When: September 8-11, 2015
Where: Boston, Massachusetts
Summary: INBOUND fuels the passion that drives the most innovative and successful business leaders of our time. INBOUND's purpose is to provide the inspiration, education, and connections you need to transform your business. This September, we will host thousands of marketing and sales professionals from almost every industry imaginable and from all corners of the globe at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. In 2014, we had 10,000+ attendees from all around the world and we're excited to be bigger than ever this year.

March 31, 2014No Comments

Going native: native advertising vs display ads

In today's web connected society, marketers are constantly finding ways to reach consumers online. Display ads used to be one of the most trusted weapons in a marketer's online arsenal. Sadly, the effectiveness of online display ads has been called into question. With so many online ads being served to customers on a daily basis, many consumers have "banner ad blindness." According to DoubleClick, the average banner ad has only a .1% click-through rate. When you factor in that 50% of clicks on mobile display ads are accidental, the number of viable click-throughs is even smaller. So if display ads are no longer engaging consumers as effectively as we'd like, what's the solution? Many marketers and advertisers are looking to native advertising for the answer.

What is native advertising?

I'm sure many of you have heard the term native advertising thrown around quite a bit in 2014. But what exactly is native advertising? The answer to that is pretty varied depending on who you ask. However, most advertisers and marketers will agree on the following qualifications for native advertising:

  • Native ads are generally content based. With content marketing playing a key part in today's marketing efforts, native ads are an extension of this content development. Native ads are more informational and less promotional .
  • Native ads blend in. To be considered native in design, native ads blend seamlessly with the content around them. They match the design of the space and do not disrupt the normal behavior of the user. Moreover, they should function in a manner similar to the existing content.
  • Native ads are paid for. It's important to note that while native ads should blend in with their surroundings, they are paid for ads and are not intended to deceive the user. As such, native ads should have some form of disclaimer such as "sponsored" or "featured" to alert the user that it is in fact an ad.

What does native advertising look like?

Below are a few examples of native ads:

Twitter native advertising

Facebook native advertising

LinkedIn Native Advertising

Why should I use native advertising?

Native ads offer several advantages to traditional display ads. Native ads break through "banner ad blindness" because they cause the user to process the ad as they interact with the content. According to a study by Sharethrough, consumers looked at native ads 53% more often than display ads. Consumers were also 32% more likely to share a native ad than a display ad. Check out their infographic about the effectiveness of native advertising.

Native advertising also focuses on content marketing. Since content marketing is about creating a dialogue versus a hard sell, consumers are more likely to view the targeted content. Native advertising allows you to feature your content outside of your own channels (company website, social media, etc.). This allows you to recycle content that may not have been used recently, but is still impactful for other outlets.

Challenges to native advertising

Native advertising is still a fairly new avenue for online marketing. Unlike display ads, there are no consistent standards for native ads. Because of this, it is important for companies to maintain creative management over the unique content needed for varying platforms. IAB has created a guide of the 6 most common types of native ads which can be downloaded here.

Native ads also measure less in brand recall than display ads. This is mostly likely due to the fact that a brand's logo is more visible on a display ad than in a native ad, but still something to consider.

Gaining user trust can also take time with native advertising. The best way to overcome this is by making sure your content is relevant and provides value to the consumer and doesn't appear as an ad disguised as content.

There is also debate over whether native advertising degrades the value of true editorial content.

Are display ads dead?

While native advertising is the buzz word of the moment, I still feel display ads serve a purpose. For one, they provide great brand recognition. Just like print ads before them, display ads are a subconscious reminder of brands for consumers. I think the key to a successful banner ad is when it is less distracting and more engaging. A subtle difference but an important one to distinguish.

I also think retargeted banner ads still have something to offer. Retargeted banner ads are behaviorally based and are served to a targeted audience. Though not the same as content marketing, they still have their use in integrated campaigns.

It's still too early to tell if native advertising will cause display ads to go the way of the dinosaur. But in the age of content marketing, it's not a bad idea to consider investing in this area as part of your marketing plan.

March 21, 2014No Comments

LinkedIn: Hello content. Goodbye Products tab.

LinkedIn is revamping how Company Pages interact with members. Beginning April 14, Company Pages will no longer include a tab for Products & Services. Instead, they ask companies to promote their content through company updates and Showcase pages.

Previously, the Products & Services tab gave LinkedIn members an insight into what a particular company does. Along with a brief description about each product or service, members could then click a link to the company's website to learn more. In essence, this tab allowed company pages to act similar to a microsite for the company. As a downside, many of these services and products were left with static content and often forgotten about by the company.

By removing the Products & Services tab, LinkedIn is promoting content marketing to engage members about a company's products and services. Companies can do this through one of two ways: company updates and/or Showcase pages.

Users are already familiar with how company updates work. A page administrator logs in, navigates to the company's page, and posts an update. Done and done. Content is posted and the organization's followers receive an update.

Showcase pages work in a similar way. With a Showcase page, companies can create child specific pages to offer content about products, services or company initiatives. Showcase pages are designed to build relationships with members who want to follow a specific aspect of an organization. The benefit of this, is that new, relevant content is provided to a targeted audience to keep them engaged. Keep in mind though, that these pages are not designed for short-term campaigns or static content. Be sure to have a strategy for maintaining a Showcase page before creating one. Otherwise, it may be best to stick to providing overall company updates. Check out Microsoft's company page for an example of how Showcase pages work.

Overall, I believe this will be a useful tool for companies on LinkedIn. For active companies, this allows them to grow followers in specific areas that they may not reach through generalized company updates. It also encourages companies to stay relevant by providing new and targeted content.

Will you miss the Products & Services tab? How is your company offering content to LinkedIn members?

Let's connect.

© Justin Herren 2022 | Creative strategist + design lead