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The state of influencer marketing in 5 charts - Digiday - 01 Dec 2016 10:49

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[[html]]Influencer marketing essentially hiring people with large social media followings to tout a givenbrand remains top of mind for marketers, in spite of significant questions about its effectiveness.<br><br>Research from several firms shows that a majority of companies have developed influencer-marketing strategies this year, and influencer marketing is poised to grow in 2017. In response to advertisers demand, a cottage industry of technology platforms has also popped up to measure engagement and effectivenessof having popular internet creatorsflog your wares.<br><br>And yet, in spite of all the hype, 2016 has beena light year for new funding in the space.<br><br>Advertisement<br><br>Here are five charts that summarize the current state of influencer marketing in the U.S.<br><br>Most marketers have adopted influencer marketing<br><br>Currently, 66 percent of more than 200 marketers surveyed by user-generated content marketing firm Chute have an influencer-marketing strategy in place. The top goal, based on 80 percent of the respondents, is to reach a new audience, while 70 percent look to reach a niche audience.<br><br>Influencers often have key industries or topics they stick to like parenting or travel, so working with them allows marketers to reach people who are also interested in those niche topics, said Monica Watson, senior manager of content for Chute. For example, weve seen that luxury automotive brands are huge among people who are interested in fashion on Instagram.<br><br>Other motives for brands to work with influencers include minimize social platforms constantly changing algorithms and generate early buzz around a new product.<br><br>Another batch of research from influencer marketing firm Linqia shows that the 170 marketers it surveyed typically spend between $25,000 to $50,000 per influencer-marketing campaign this year. The number is likely to double to $50,000 to $100,000 per program in 2017, as 48 percent plan to increase their influencer-marketing budgets next year.<br><br>Instagram is the No. 1 influencer-marketing platform<br><br>While each brand has its own focused platforms, Instagram is typically the go-to platform when companies work with influencers, followed by Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, according to Chute.<br><br>This popularity is due to the fact thatInstagram has a large user base and is more brand-friendly than, say, Snapchat, as Instagram provides more metrics to let marketers determine return on investment, explained Watson.<br><br>And you really cant build an audience on Snapchat in the same way you can on other platforms, she added. Theres no real way to discover creators to follow, so often the big influencers on Snapchat are ones that have big followings on other platforms like Instagram or YouTube.<br><br>Most marketers dont measure influencer marketing by direct sales<br><br>When it comes to metrics, more than 70 percent of marketers measure the success of influencer partnerships based on engagement (likes and comments on Instagram, the number of screenshots on Snapchat) and reach or views, rather than direct sales, according to stats from Chute.<br><br>Of course, this doesnt mean that direct sales are not important to marketers. But unless the consumer goes out of their way to use an influencers affiliate code or link, sales would be too difficult to track, explained Watson.<br><br>Plus, many brands see influencer marketing as part of a longer game, she said. If youre a luxury or travel brand, often those partnerships are more for awareness and building brand love.<br><br>Marketers have tested various compensation models<br><br>Theres no industry standard in terms of how influencers should get compensated. Linqia found that of the 170 marketers it surveyed, 57 percent pay social starts on a per post or video basis, while more than 40 percent have tested cost per engagement and cost per click, respectively. Less than 40 percent compensate social stars through free products or services.<br><br>In comparison, among the 123 social stars Chute surveyed, 49 percent get paid monetarily while 47 percent are compensated by free products and services.<br><br>Despite the hype, funding for influencer-marketing tech is light this year<br><br>Although influencer marketing is hot, 2016 is not a great year for vendor funding in the space. Only two vendors TapInfluence and Influential publicly disclosed that they received new funding this year, according to research firm Lighthouse 3.<br><br>Influencer marketing is, after all, essentially relationship based, and it doesnt require sophisticated technology like programmatic, so it could be a hard sell for VCs. Mia Dand, CEO for Lighthouse 3, also thinks that VC funding has been thinner overall this year compared to last year and influencer tech space is an unstructured mess right now.<br><br>It is hard to separate the hype from the reality, which makes it harder for VCs to find solid funding opportunities, said Dand.<br><br>Related<br><br>[[/html]] - Comments: 0

Devout dealer puts his faith in marketing - Automotive News (subscription) (blog) - 19 Sep 2016 14:10

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[[html]]Mark Benson believes marketing should be edgy to be effective. And in his search for an edge, he has found religion. <br><br>A couple of years ago, the managing partner of Honolulu Ford not only decided to keep his store closed on Sundays, but also advertised that fact. Benson said he did it to accommodate churchgoers, give his employees a day off and build goodwill. <br><br>This year, he went a step further, launching a cable-TV channel that offers on-demand religious programming created by local churches. The channel is called John 316, a reference to the Bible verse that many believers consider the gospel "in a nutshell." <br><br>Each program on John 316 carries a message in the beginning and at the end showing Benson and the church's pastor thanking Honolulu Ford for the opportunity to show the program, he said. That fixture often runs in the middle of the program too, he said. <br><br>"Dealers sponsor the local high school, Little League teams and all kinds of things," said Benson. "But when it comes to church or American values, we're all afraid." <br><br>If there's one thing that puts that fear to rest for Benson, it's the numbers. <br><br>Once a laggard in the Honolulu market, the dealership began to see its sales rise in early 2014 after Benson opted to close on Sundays, and escalate further after the launch of John 316. It's now the No. 1 Ford dealership in Hawaii, a Ford Motor Co. spokeswoman confirmed, selling about 1,500 new and used vehicles a year. <br><br>"We've been blessed in sales and profitability because we have been bold," says Benson.<br><br><img src="http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/storyimage/CA/20160918/RETAIL03/309199983/H2/0/H2-309199983.jpg&amp;MaxW=200"/><br><br>Lorenz: "Know your market."<br><br>'A numbers game'<br><br>Some advertising experts commend Benson's willingness to step into a religious forum to get noticed, but caution that the strategy is risky if it's not executed carefully. The marketing must come across as genuine to avoid offending potential customers. It could also alter the customer demographics. <br><br>"We're always pushing our clients to disrupt the status quo," said Cory Lorenz, vice president of media for advertising firm DDC Works in Philadelphia. <br><br>DDC Works does religious marketing for some of its clients, including a Catholic-based hospital. But Lorenz warns, "If you go down that road, you'll alienate a portion of your audience. It's a numbers game." <br><br>And in the case of Benson, Lorenz said, the numbers are on his side. Lorenz cited 2010 research showing that 40 percent of Honolulu residents are affiliated with a religion and regularly attend services. <br><br>"If he got one out of three people in Honolulu to buy a Ford from him, that's pretty successful," Lorenz added. "That's Marketing 101: Know your market." <br><br>Fancy Morales, senior marketing manager for automotive marketing company CardTapp in Bellevue, Wash., echoed that advice. "What Honolulu Ford is doing is working for their network, but I don't think what they're tapping into can be replicated easily," Morales said. "They know their market and its communities." <br><br>Ford itself has no control over Benson's decision to launch John 316 because Ford dealers are "independent businesses" that make their own marketing decisions, the Ford spokeswoman wrote in an email to Automotive News. And Benson said he is not using any co-op advertising funds to pay for it.<br><br><img src="http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/storyimage/CA/20160918/RETAIL03/309199983/H3/0/H3-309199983.jpg&amp;MaxW=450"/><br><br>Benson says his Sunday-closure strategy has resonated with religious customers.<br><br>Big banner<br><br>Benson said his decision to close on Sundays and launch John 316 was a marketing strategy but it also genuinely reflected his beliefs. <br><br>A devout Lutheran, Benson, 54, lived in Utah for a year in 1985. There, he first witnessed the power of religion in marketing. <br><br>"The dealers there didn't run away from embracing the Church of Latter Day Saints, because the church was such a positive influence there," Benson said. <br><br>In the late 1990s, Benson was a Ford dealer in Georgia, where his dealership sponsored many local church events, he said. <br><br>Even so, not everyone thought this was the way to go. Scott Hogle, senior vice president of sales at iHeartMedia in Honolulu and a friend of Benson's, advised him against shutting the dealership on Sundays. He worried Benson would get pressure from Ford and lose sales to other dealers who remained open. <br><br>Benson ignored him. <br><br>"Literally, a week later, a big banner was hung from Honolulu Ford over the freeway that read: "Sunday we rest,'" Hogle recalls. <br><br>Consumers liked it and started buying more cars there, Benson said. <br><br>A move such as closing on Sundays, when competitors are open, allows a dealership's message to "evolve" into family values, said Lorenz. <br><br>"A lot of dealers in our area are always talking deal, deal, deal," said Lorenz. "This opens it up to use Facebook content to talk about family values and being closed on Sunday." <br><br>And, Hogle said, it could be perceived by Honolulu's religious consumers that the dealership is "moved by faith not just finances." <br><br>John 316 is the boldest bet Benson has made on religious marketing. He acknowledges that the venture is no charity, and says he's comfortable using religion to make money. <br><br>"Over the years, I would have felt conflict" doing it, Benson said. "Maybe I've matured to the point where I've sat with religious leaders of the community, and they have rallied behind me. They know my heart and you really can't fake this stuff."<br><br>"Maybe I've matured to the point where I've sat with religious leaders of the community, and they have rallied behind me. They know my heart, and you really can't fake that stuff."<br><br>Mark Benson, managing partner, Honolulu Ford<br><br>He said he paid about $48,000 to buy the channel for 12 months from Oceanic Time Warner Cable Media. The eight churches that supply programming don't have to pay for it to be aired, but they promote John 316 in their bulletins, at weekly services and through social media, Benson said. Seven are Christian churches and one is nondenominational, he said.<br><br>Since the launch of John 316, viewership has steadily grown: Visits to the channel climbed from 50,866 in April to 57,313 in July. (August's total dropped to 48,941, because of a technical problem, Benson said.)<br><br>"We are confident that the social-media campaigns that the churches implemented will see us surpassing 100,000 visits per month by year end," wrote Jaime Kagawa, account executive at Oceanic Time Warner, in a July letter.<br><br>Benson said some consumers visit the store simply to thank him for Honolulu Ford's support of the local church. In one online customer testimonial, a customer said he was brought to the store by God. Some of the fans who stop by end up buying a car or getting service, he said.<br><br>So far Benson said, his customer demographic hasn't changed, and his atheist and Jewish employees and customers are OK with the Christian-oriented channel.<br><br>"We are in an area that virtually no one else wishes to stand," said Benson. "Isn't that the purpose of marketing?"<br><br>[[/html]] - Comments: 0

Is Google Trying to Kill SEO? - Entrepreneur - 28 Jun 2016 03:38

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[[html]]Google is getting ready for a day in court, after a precedent-setting move by a Florida judge who denied the search engine giants motion to dismiss a case that could redefine how businesses engage in search engine optimization. The case is especially noteworthy, as most previous challenges based on Googles search results have resulted in immediate dismissal.<br><br>Google claims the plaintiff, e-ventures Worldwide LLC, engaged in search engine manipulation in order to cause its websites to be ranked higher in Googles search results, stating that doing so was bad behavior that had to be deterred. Consequently, Google summarily de-indexed hundreds of the plaintiffs websites without review or redress. The de-indexing was not based on algorithmic rules or webmaster guidelines, but rather, subjectively applied based on an anonymous tip from an unnamed third party.<br><br>Related: These 9 SEO Tips Are All You'll Ever Need to Rank in Google<br><br>The larger question here is chilling to virtually any small business which seeks a higher ranking, since Googles own definition of search engine manipulation is vague and unpredictable. According to a brief filed by e-ventures attorney Alexis Arena at Flaster Greenberg PC, Under Googles definition, any website owner that attempts to cause its website to rank higher, in any manner, could be guilty of pure spam and blocked from Googles search results, without explanation or redress.<br><br>It seemed as though I was personally targeted by Google, said Jeev Trika, CEO of e-ventures Worldwide. I would purchase a brand new domain and post nothing more than bye bye world and within minutes, Google would de-index that domain too. So, Googles argument that it was removing websites because they were violating Google webmaster guidelines falls flat. It was not about the website content, it was about targeting the website owner. The fact that Google targets people like this is not something that is consistent with their published policies, or what they tell the public.<br><br>The brief notes that search engine manipulation includes anything done to a website to make it more visible on Google — and therefore virtually any business using generally accepted SEO tactics (or any marketing tactics, for that matter) could be accused of manipulation, giving Google an excuse to de-list a website arbitrarily and outside of its algorithmic process, or as in the case of e-ventures Worldwide, de-index all of a website owners properties summarily. Should Google prevail, commonly used tactics such as title tags, incorporating keywords in headlines, incorporating legitimate backlinks, or even writing a daily blog would all be suspect. The outcome of this case could dramatically affect how virtually every business in the world does its online marketing.<br><br>A First Amendment question.<br><br>Google is claiming First Amendment rights, stating that it is a publisher and free to publish or not publish anything it sees fit. How Google defines publishing is a bit of a stretch — they do publish a constantly evolving list of algorithmically-ranked links to websites, but that is by no means the same as operating as a media outlet which exercises editorial discretion. By journalistic definition, a SERP isnt the same thing as an article — its just a mechanically ranked database. Googles entire case however, rests on a First Amendment argument.<br><br>Related: Companies Will Spend $65 Billion on SEO in 2016, Much of it Will Be Wasted<br><br>There is an important distinction being brought out in this case that goes far beyond the rights of e-ventures Worldwide, and calls into question the very nature of SEO and digital marketing. In previous cases, the courts have found that Google does indeed have First Amendment protection, but in those cases, the questions related to the rankings of a website, rather than deletion of websites simply because they were affiliated with a person or a company. Previous cases have held that, for example, if someone claims they should be ranked higher in the SERP than Google shows, Google prevails on First Amendment principles. But, if Google bans 366 websites from all search results because they are affiliated with a particular person or company, then that is a very different thing than anything the courts have addressed previously, said Alexis Arena, e-ventures Worldwides attorney.<br><br>Google did not offer a response to our request for a comment, but they did provide a copy of their most recent June 1 legal filing, which attempted to reinforce their First Amendment claims and argue again for dismissal, again reinforcing its opinion that search engine results are editorial opinions and therefore qualify for First Amendment protection.<br><br>What is SEO and is it a legitimate strategy?<br><br>Before Google refined their algorithm, getting on the first page of search results often could be achieved with tactics like keyword stuffing and artificial linking schemes, but those days are gone, said Jeev Trika, CEO of e-ventures Worldwide. Because of changes to Googles algorithms, Internet entrepreneurs and Web publishers like myself now go the extra mile to provide websites and articles that are relevant, useful, and written to journalistic standards, and that has made the virtual world a better place.<br><br>Related: The Top 4 Reasons SEO Is Dead<br><br>But, says Trika, Google has overstepped its bounds in invoking First Amendment rights to arbitrarily quash websites without review, on the basis of an unsubstantiated third party anonymous tip, and outside the realm of the Google algorithm. Googles actions deny businesses the basic right to market themselves in the digital economy, said Trika. Google in reality controls the market for Internet advertising, and must be held to a higher standard.<br><br>Trika suggests Google is not drawing a distinction between generally accepted search engine optimization techniques — such as simply creating and publishing outstanding articles and useful information — and what they refer to as search engine manipulation. SEO is simply engaging in an ever-changing array of tactics to gain recognition — something businesses have done long before the Internet existed. By Googles own definition of manipulation, any company using header tags or incorporating keywords into headlines could be subject to arbitrary de-indexing.<br><br>Googles business model isnt, at the end of the day, providing a free search engine or publishing data, its selling advertisements, said Trika. The free search engine is merely a vehicle for doing so. Google has an economic reason to deny legitimate Web publishers who are promoting SEO placement in the SERPs so that they can sell more advertisements, but that type of anti-competitive action should not be protected by the First Amendment.<br><br>Ever since the first advertisement appeared in the very first newspaper, companies have attempted to use marketing, advertising and public relations tactics to bring more attention to themselves. SEO is merely one more tool in this time-honored commercial tradition. The outcome of this case may well have a lasting effect on how companies move their marketing initiatives into the digital world.<br><br>[[/html]] - Comments: 0


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