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How Contextualizing Topics can Lead to Press-worthy Content for Your Brand

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How Contextualizing Topics can Lead to Press-worthy Content for Your Brand

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

More brands than ever are investing and producing quality journalism to drive their earned media strategy. They recognize that it’s a valuable channel for simultaneously building authority while finding and connecting with customers where they consume news.

But producing and distributing great content is no easy feat.

At Stacker and our brand-partnership model Stacker Studio, our team has mastered how to create newsworthy, data-driven stories for our newswire. Since 2017, we’ve placed thousands of stories across the most authoritative news outlets in the country, including MSN, Newsweek, SFGate, and Chicago Tribune.

Certain approaches have yielded a high hit rate (i.e., pick up), and one of our most successful tactics is helping add context to what’s going on in the world. (I mentioned this as a tactic in my Whiteboard Friday, How to Make Newsworthy Content: Part 2.)

Contextualizing topics, statistics, and events serves as a core part of our content ideation process. Today, I’m going to share our strategy so you can create content that has real news value, and that can resonate with newsroom editors.

Make a list of facts and insights

You likely have a list of general topics relevant to your brand, but these subject areas are often too general as a launching point for productive brainstorming. Starting with “personal finance,” for example, leaves almost too much white space to truly explore and refine story ideas.

Instead, it’s better to hone in on an upcoming event, data set, or particular news cycle. What is newsworthy and specifically happening that’s aligned with your general audience?

At the time of writing this, Jack Dorsey recently stepped down as CEO of Twitter. That was breaking news and hardly something a brand would expect to cover.

But take the event and try contextualizing it. In general, what’s the average tenure of founders before stepping down? What’s the difference in public market success for founder-led companies? In regard to Parag Agrawal stepping into the CEO role, what is the percentage of non-white CEOs in American companies?

As you can see, when you contextualize, it unlocks promising avenues for creative storyboarding.

Here are some questions to guide this process.

Question 1: How does this compare to similar events/statistics?

Comparison is one of the most effective ways to contextualize. It’s hard to know the true impact of a fact when it exists stand alone or in a vacuum.

Let’s consider hurricane season as an example. There’s a ton of stories around current hurricane seasons, whether it’s highlighting the worst hurricanes of all time or getting a sense of a particular hurricane’s scope of destruction or impact on a community.

But we decided to compare it another way. What if we asked readers to consider what hurricane seasons were like the year they were born?

This approach prompts a personal experience for the readers to compare what hurricane seasons are like now compared to a more specific “then” — one that feels particularly relevant and relatable.

I’ll talk more about time-based comparisons in the next section, but you can also compare:

  • Across industries/topics (How much damage do hurricanes do compared to tidal waves?)

  • Across geographic areas (Which part of the ocean is responsible for the most destructive hurricanes? Where has the most damage been done around the world?)

  • Across demographics (Which generation is most frightened of hurricanes?)

There are dozens of possibilities, so allow yourself to freely explore all potential angles.

Question 2: What are the implications on a local level?

In some cases, events or topics are discussed online without the details of how they’re impacting individual people or communities. We might know what something means for a general audience, but is there a deeper impact or implication that’s not being explored?

One of the best ways to do this is through localization, which involves taking a national trend and evaluating how it’s reflected and/or impacts specific areas. Newspapers do this constantly, but brands can do it, too.

For example, there are countless stories about climate change, but taking a localized approach can help make the phenomenon feel “closer to home.”

1642618690 517 How Contextualizing Topics can Lead to Press worthy Content for Your

We put together a piece that illustrated significant ways climate change has affected each state (increased flooding in Arkansas, the Colorado River drying up, sea levels rising off South Carolina, etc.). You could take this a step further and look at a particular city or community if you had supporting data or research.

If you serve particular markets, it’s easy to implement this strategy. Orchard, for example, does a great job publishing real estate market trend reports in the areas they serve.

But if you’re a national or international brand that doesn’t cater to specific regions, try using data sets that have information for all countries, states, cities, ZIP codes, etc., and present all of it, allowing readers to identify data points that matter to them. When readers can filter data or interact with your content, it allows them to have a more personalized reading experience.

Question 3: What sides of the conversation have we not fully heard yet?

The best way to tap into the missing pieces of a story is to consider how other topics/subject areas interact with that story.

I’ll stick with our climate change theme. We did the story above on how climate change has impacted every state, which feels comprehensive about the topic, but there’s more to dive into.

Outside of just thinking how climate change is impacting geographic areas, we asked ourselves: How is it affecting different industries?

1642618690 999 How Contextualizing Topics can Lead to Press worthy Content for Your

Now we have a look at a more specific angle that’s fascinating — how climate change has impacted the wine industry.

When you have a topic and want to uncover less-explored angles, ask yourself a set of questions that’s similar to the compare/contrast model:

  • How does this topic impact different regions? (E.g. What is wine’s cultural role in various countries?)

  • How does this topic impact different demographics of people? (E.g. Who profits most from wine making?)

  • How does this topic impact different industries? (E.g. How have wineries/vineyards impacted tourism?)

  • How is this topic impacted by these various things? (E.g. How is the flavor of wine impacted by region? Who buys the most wine, and where do they live?)

This should create a good brainstorming foundation to identify interesting hooks that aren’t often explored about a really common topic.

Conclusion

Not only will taking the approach of contextualizing differentiate your story from everything else out there, it will also allow you to re-promote it when a similar event occurs or the topic trends again in the future. Contextualized content is often this perfect blend of timeliness and evergreen that’s really difficult to achieve otherwise.


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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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