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How 1 Content Director Leads 10 Growing B2B Publications

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How 1 Content Director Leads 10 Growing B2B Publications

Sarah Tolle started her professional life teaching English in Spain and Hungry. On the side, she started writing content for a marketplace startup in the home design industry and, eventually, for other clients.

When her teaching stint ended and the Wisconsin native settled in Canada, Sarah increased her entrepreneurial activities. She continued creating content for clients, often startups, and expanded into strategy development and social media growth hacking. She also ran a handmade jewelry business on Etsy.

All that experience prepared her well for joining the small Black & White Zebra (BWZ) media company four years ago. When she started, the company consisted of just three people: the founder, a creative director, and Sarah, who joined as a writer.

As BWZ grew, Sarah shifted into an editor role, managing writers, then took on the newly created managing editor position. Today, she is the content director, overseeing a team of about 30, focused on growing the content team and building a robust content strategy and production system around their 10 niche business media brands.

One of those publications – The Digital Project Manager – won best digital publication in the 2022 Content Marketing Awards and earned finalist nods for best multi-author blog and best topic-specific blog.

For Sarah’s work on that and the nine other publications, she was honored as a finalist for the 2022 B2B Content Marketer of the Year.

With the company’s growth – and the growth and evolution of their target industries – Sarah has had to learn to build a program that often operates like a startup – navigating many changes in real time.

“For us, it comes down to relationship-building,” she says.

An entrepreneurial spirit helps Sarah Tolle oversee 10 growing B2B publications at @__BWZ, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

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Relationships with subject matter experts drive everything

BWZ operates 10 B2B publishing brands focused on quality assurance, human resources, product management, digital publishing, and other niches. The model relies on external subject matter experts who write the content. That’s why relationships are essential for BWZ’s success.

Every organization tries to work efficiently. But BWZ must stay focused on reducing friction in content creation because they work with professionals who typically have full-time jobs.

“Scale for us is how well we can build a system that facilitates real people who work in these fields to contribute content,” Sarah explains.

Identifying SMEs willing to write for their publications is the first step. Two editors on Sarah’s team handle the search for contributors. They get referrals from current contributors and look for experts in industry groups on Slack. They also post on niche job boards and conduct other outreach.

But finding the experts is only the first step – ensuring they can write is crucial. As part of the onboarding experience, BWZ does paid trial projects. “We want somebody who has clear and helpful ideas for others in their field,” Sarah says.

Contributors find their time is well spent. “They love to build a name for themselves. They love being featured, and they like the recognition they’re getting from their work in the field,” Sarah says.

BWZ pays contributors (from $50 to $1,000 per project, depending on the content project’s difficulty, format, etc.)

Finding SMEs is only step one – ensuring they can write is crucial for Sarah Tolle and @__BWZ, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

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For content planning, quarterly rules the day

Though some brands operate on annual editorial calendars, the BWZ team takes a quarterly approach, allowing it to adapt to developing trends, news, and more.

Over three months, they log each publication’s ideas for articles, podcasts, videos, etc. Then, the individual media brand’s general manager, editor, and team members focused on SEO and monetization angles meet. Though the finer details are the editor’s decision, the group discusses the ideas to identify what best matches the target audience’s needs and the company’s business goals. Sarah facilitates and guides collaborations with each publication team.

For their longer-running brands, the teams also discuss whether they need to create new content pieces or upgrade existing content about a topic. Often, they simply update the content that drives the bulk of site traffic, and it continues to attract an audience.

For example, The Digital Project Manager might earn significant traffic from an article about project management skills. Even though the skills haven’t changed, the team adds new references and hyperlinks to keep it fresh in the mind of search engines and audiences.

#Content planning at @__BWZ includes deciding when to update existing content instead of creating something new, says Sarah Tolle via @AnnGynn and @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

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Paid membership communities offer a new revenue stream

While most of its content is created to attract organic traffic, BWZ saw a need to build something for bottom-of-the-funnel audiences early on. It launched a beta version of a paid community offering for The Digital Project Manager.

At the time, the staff was still small, so Sarah wore multiple hats for the project. She helped develop the publication’s strategy and marketing. She also was responsible for many of its content marketing and production efforts – webinars, landing pages, evergreen content with lead magnets, etc.

Today, The Digital Project Manager paid membership community totals about 1,000 members paying $69 or $199 a year. All members get access to a private online forum where they can engage with each other and the brand team. They also can participate in three monthly interactive learning sessions and access on-demand sessions (30 days for the first-tier members and forever for the higher-paying members). They also may get exclusive access to resources such as templates, checklists, guides, and books in a professional development resource library. The $199 members also get peer support in a dedicated mastermind group.

That said, most of The Digital Project Manager content remains free. The team decides on a case-by-case basis what works for the free side vs. the paid side. So, for example, they might publish an explainer article available to all and offer a related checklist template to community members.

By using The Digital Project Manager as a pilot program, BWZ can use the lessons learned as it considers paid communities for its other brands.

Time constraints ensure productivity

Managing 10 distinct media brands and overseeing the best mix of content for all those publications seems daunting. Sarah says one thing that has made it all possible – a time-blocking approach to her calendar.

“When I started with the company, I didn’t plan my time,” Sarah says.

BWZ’s founder Ben Aston questioned how she could continue functioning without a calendar to manage her burgeoning responsibilities. So, she started blocking off time for each project. “I’ve not stopped since. It’s all about creating the constraints.”

Now, when somebody asks her to check the copy in a slide deck, for example, she’ll schedule time on her calendar to do it. Sarah often chooses two hours as her first gauge for a task before learning if it takes more or less time.

She also uses her calendar to determine her priorities.

“When someone comes with a project and says, ‘This is more important,’ I can look at the calendar. Then, I can say, ‘OK, I could do it, but I have to give up this other thing and do it next week.’ It helps reign in the chaos and keeps expectations realistic,” Sarah explains.

Those in-the-moment decisions require her to understand and align with the leadership’s priorities for the business and the publications. She notes the related tasks on her calendar so they remain top of mind when she considers adjusting her priorities.

Mastering the language of content

Sarah says the time has flown since she started at BWZ four years ago. Her journey’s been quick from writer to content director, a necessity as the company grew its media brands. Sarah’s success has come because she expertly shifted her mindset and work from an entrepreneurial, all-hands-on-deck approach to a more strategic, high-level view approach for the growing content brands under the BWZ umbrella.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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YouTube Ad Specs, Sizes, and Examples [2024 Update]

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YouTube Ad Specs, Sizes, and Examples

Introduction

With billions of users each month, YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine and top website for video content. This makes it a great place for advertising. To succeed, advertisers need to follow the correct YouTube ad specifications. These rules help your ad reach more viewers, increasing the chance of gaining new customers and boosting brand awareness.

Types of YouTube Ads

Video Ads

  • Description: These play before, during, or after a YouTube video on computers or mobile devices.
  • Types:
    • In-stream ads: Can be skippable or non-skippable.
    • Bumper ads: Non-skippable, short ads that play before, during, or after a video.

Display Ads

  • Description: These appear in different spots on YouTube and usually use text or static images.
  • Note: YouTube does not support display image ads directly on its app, but these can be targeted to YouTube.com through Google Display Network (GDN).

Companion Banners

  • Description: Appears to the right of the YouTube player on desktop.
  • Requirement: Must be purchased alongside In-stream ads, Bumper ads, or In-feed ads.

In-feed Ads

  • Description: Resemble videos with images, headlines, and text. They link to a public or unlisted YouTube video.

Outstream Ads

  • Description: Mobile-only video ads that play outside of YouTube, on websites and apps within the Google video partner network.

Masthead Ads

  • Description: Premium, high-visibility banner ads displayed at the top of the YouTube homepage for both desktop and mobile users.

YouTube Ad Specs by Type

Skippable In-stream Video Ads

  • Placement: Before, during, or after a YouTube video.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Vertical: 9:16
    • Square: 1:1
  • Length:
    • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
    • Consideration: 2-3 minutes
    • Action: 15-20 seconds

Non-skippable In-stream Video Ads

  • Description: Must be watched completely before the main video.
  • Length: 15 seconds (or 20 seconds in certain markets).
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Vertical: 9:16
    • Square: 1:1

Bumper Ads

  • Length: Maximum 6 seconds.
  • File Format: MP4, Quicktime, AVI, ASF, Windows Media, or MPEG.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 640 x 360px
    • Vertical: 480 x 360px

In-feed Ads

  • Description: Show alongside YouTube content, like search results or the Home feed.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Square: 1:1
  • Length:
    • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
    • Consideration: 2-3 minutes
  • Headline/Description:
    • Headline: Up to 2 lines, 40 characters per line
    • Description: Up to 2 lines, 35 characters per line

Display Ads

  • Description: Static images or animated media that appear on YouTube next to video suggestions, in search results, or on the homepage.
  • Image Size: 300×60 pixels.
  • File Type: GIF, JPG, PNG.
  • File Size: Max 150KB.
  • Max Animation Length: 30 seconds.

Outstream Ads

  • Description: Mobile-only video ads that appear on websites and apps within the Google video partner network, not on YouTube itself.
  • Logo Specs:
    • Square: 1:1 (200 x 200px).
    • File Type: JPG, GIF, PNG.
    • Max Size: 200KB.

Masthead Ads

  • Description: High-visibility ads at the top of the YouTube homepage.
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080 or higher.
  • File Type: JPG or PNG (without transparency).

Conclusion

YouTube offers a variety of ad formats to reach audiences effectively in 2024. Whether you want to build brand awareness, drive conversions, or target specific demographics, YouTube provides a dynamic platform for your advertising needs. Always follow Google’s advertising policies and the technical ad specs to ensure your ads perform their best. Ready to start using YouTube ads? Contact us today to get started!

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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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