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How to make web accessibility a part of digital marketing efforts

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How to make web accessibility a part of digital marketing efforts

After being diagnosed with dyslexia in the final semester of my undergraduate degree nearly 40 years ago, the issue of accessibility has always been on my mind. I think of all the issues I have faced when it came to correctly reading various materials — including advertising.

I was thrilled to be present 25 years ago when Sir Tim Berners-Lee first announced the Web Accessibility Initiative back in April 1997. But while awareness of accessibility issues may have increased and various government legislations have mandated it (for some), anyone involved in the field of accessibility knows that digital campaigns as a whole are lacking.

Many people don’t think about accessibility beyond seeing ramps added to buildings. When they find themselves on crutches or using a wheelchair, only then do they become concerned with physical accessibility.

Accessible design — when combined with advances in technology that may hinder accessibility and an aging population who can no longer read small print — is becoming (and should be) front-of-mind for everyone in the marketing community.

I interviewed three accessibility authorities on the subject to find out the current state of things and the best way to ensure that accessibility becomes part of all digital projects. 

Our experts are:

What percentage of digital campaigns do you feel involve any level of accessibility thought and or testing?

The experts responded in an almost unanimous response of “none to almost none”. Evans was the most optimistic, estimating no more than 10% while Scudamore estimated 5%. She went on to expand:

“I am still seeing light grey fonts, red fonts, and other colors of fonts that do not have the high contrast that makes it easy for everyone to see. Many ads have very small fonts that also make them hard to read. Inaccessible content is still far too common. Many landing pages pop up over the website, and many pop-ups, landing pages and shopping carts are not reachable without a mouse, which makes them inaccessible.”

What is the most common aspect of accessibility that digital marketers forget?

Berg stressed: 

“It’s more of a lack of training than being forgetful or neglectful. Marketers are focused on able-bodied target markets and SEO and less inclined to consider how people access content. There’s a gigantic segment of the population using assistive technology or accessibility settings on their computers and mobile devices whose needs are ignored. They are simply not getting promotions because there are barriers preventing them from accessing content.”

Evans emphasized: 

“The most common aspect of accessibility that digital marketers forget is using the headings on blog posts and web-based content. They tend to enter headers and subheaders, and then format them to look the way they want. This deprives their content of search engine juice.

Search engines give a higher priority to headers and subheaders than using proper headings as in <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, etc. When you don’t use headings, the headers are treated like a paragraph. 

Think about reading an article in the newspaper or online. Do you scan the headlines, subheadings, images, and bullets? Most of us do. It’s how we get the lay of the land. Online content with <h#> headings provide the lay of the land for people using screen readers. Without them, they can’t skip around the content.”

Dig deeper: The cost of ignoring website accessibility


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Have you ever seen a digital campaign where you felt the marketers and designers did a good job from an accessibility perspective?

Both Evans and Berg couldn’t think of a single campaign that did a good job with accessibility, Scudamore did identify a single one:

“U.K. Unilever a few years ago. From their ad campaigns to their site, they did a really nice job and a seamless experience from the ad to the landing page to the sale. They have slipped a bit. I think there have been some leadership changes there, and perhaps accessibility isn’t the priority it still should be.

PurpleTuesday.com is also a good example. However, if you use the WAVE Evaluation Tool it will appear that the site has errors. It doesn’t. This shows that tools can only test a site through math, accessibility evaluations need both tools and people to review. We need marketers to up their game and knowledge about accessibility so we don’t rely on automated tools that have varying degrees of accuracy.”

If you could make digital marketers and designers implement a single aspect or key aspects of accessibility into their campaigns, what would it be? How could they test it to be sure they did it correctly?

Evans recommends looking at color contrast: 

“Campaigns are usually very visual. So, a single aspect I’d recommend they check is the color contrast. They can do that easily with a free color contrast tool like Colour Contrast Analyser.”

Berg also encouraged the use of tools for testing:

“Imagine what your campaign sounds like without the visuals. The bulk of the delivery is with the use of images, UI layout, calls to action and text. Without images, would you know the purpose of the promotion? Are the images described with alt text?

Use a built-in browser web dev tool extension to remove all images and see if there is anything left to communicate the promotion and then provide the opportunity in multiple ways, such as text, links, buttons with your keywords and verbs.”

Scudamore highlighted that accessibility testing shouldn’t be an afterthought:

“Brands must bring people with various abilities to the table at the start of the development of any campaign, website, app, etc. They must keep them on board to test as the project develops.

As an industry, we have got to stop wasting money trying to retrofit poorly developed projects. Too many brands and agencies lose time and opportunity by not considering accessibility as an imperative (as opposed to being an option, at best — or ignored, at worst).”

Dig deeper: Optimizing the online experience for disabilities improves it for all customers

Tools are tools and the most important tool any digital marketer has is the one located between their ears. That said, some handy utilities/tools to provide information to our brains were provided.

Scudamore recommends “cozying up with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Each step of the way. Every time there is a function or a measurable goal, we need to check how it should be done accessibly with the WCAG” as well as a contrast tester plugin from WebAim.org.

Berg also recommended WebAim.org and their WAVE browser extension. She also maintains a list of recommended resources.

Evans provided the following list:

  • W3C Easy Checks (manual review).
  • Use a color contrast analyzer for color contrast.
  • For web content, WAVE Browser Extensions, WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool, and/or Accessibility Insights for Web using the FastPass option.
  • For docs, Microsoft Word’s built-in accessibility checker.
  • For presentations, Microsoft PowerPoint’s built-in accessibility checker
  • Grackle has multiple tools

Berg’s final suggestion:

“This is not about features. It’s about delivering promotions in ways that more people will understand, perceive, and be motivated to choose. They can’t make decisions when they can’t see, hear, or comprehend marketing content and page layouts.

View your digital marketing strategies on as many computers and mobile devices as possible. Turn the page from portrait to landscape view. Magnify the page up to 200%. Be sure your marketing investment is not a big content blob when the page is requested with practices you may not have considered.”

Evans made the point, “If you want to reach more people, then make your content accessible.”

This was substantiated by Scudamore. As she pointed out:

“The American Institutes for Research estimates the spending power of people with disabilities in the United States to be $490 billion in disposable income for workers aged 16 to 64 — the after-tax dollars for basic necessities such as housing, food, and clothing. In the marketplace, PWD — as well as their families, friends, and advocates — wield considerable spending power.”

Dig deeper: How to make your content more accessible to the visually impaired

Incorporating accessibility in digital marketing efforts

It is this untapped market where we can expand the reach of our digital marketing efforts to not only increase revenues but increase our customer base.

If we are the first to tap into an untapped audience and do a great job, we’ll also create loyal customers. It’s time to take the advice of our accessibility experts and start including accessibility as part of our digital marketing efforts.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

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Alan K’necht an independent SEO, social and analytics consultant, a public speaker, award-winning author and a corporate trainer (SEO, social media marketing and digital analytics).

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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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