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Local Economics Through the Lens of Elected Officials and Organizers

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Local Economics Through the Lens of Elected Officials and Organizers

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.

If you want to serve local business owners, allying your company with their deepest needs matters. Recently, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance provided a valuable opportunity to hear directly from localism advocates and elected officials about small business owners’ goals and obstacles. If your brand is marketing software or other services to this largest sector of American commerce, I highly recommend setting aside an hour this week to watch the whole recording (embedded at the end of this post). 

Today, I’ll briefly recap the information from this event that stood out to me as most illuminating, in hopes that you will be able to evaluate these messages to help you find common cause with clients and customers. 

The present state of local economics in the U.S.

ILSR’s co-director, Stacy Mitchell, began the webinar by remarking that, just a decade ago, it was not common to hear much political talk surrounding small businesses versus monopolies, but that this is changing. Advocacy groups are gaining strength and political factions like the 100-member progressive caucus are increasingly getting out the message about the present state of U.S. local economics, which Mitchell summed up this way:

“Today, we know that economic concentration and the losses that we’ve seen both for working people and for small businesses have had devastating effects on communities; that the decline of small businesses and the growing concentration across our communities is really driving racial and economic inequality, ultimately undermining our democracy. And we know that the primary driver of this is corporate power, whether it’s the power these corporations wield in the market or the political power they have to rig government policy in their own favor and to undermine their smaller competitors.”

What local business owners want

Chanda Causer, the Co-Executive Director of The Main Street Alliance, gave this list of priorities she hears voiced by the SMB owners she speaks with every day:

The question was raised as to what business owners and organizers can do to get the public to care about these requirements, and about local economic health. Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, Brandi Collins-Dexter explained, 

“I think that everybody I talk to cares about this; big business has such a ubiquitous role in our lives that I think people just don’t know what to do about it.”

This quote will resonate with every local search marketer who has been reading survey stats for the past two years that claim three-quarters or more of the public is committed to shopping more locally, and yet, sees how all of our choices have been whittled down to a frustrating dependence on Amazon, Walmart, Target, or dollar store-type options.

I believe that the majority of Americans genuinely do want to shop small and care sincerely about the communities in which they live, but when we need to buy a blender or a book, we increasingly face the stark reality that our town’s independent hardware store or bookshop was driven out of business by economic policy. Meanwhile, our intelligence is repeatedly insulted by monopolies portraying themselves as local heroes and using offensive scare tactics to warn SMBs and the public against any legislation that would limit their profits. 

Solutions, obstacles, and hope

If industry surveys and local advocacy groups indicate that the public already cares about the survival of local business owners, we’re already part of the way to solving the dilemma of the economic role of small businesses being cut by 50% over the past 40 years. 

What emerged from the ILSR event was a three-part approach to realizing the society that surveys say we want.  If implemented, it would take local business owners on a journey from a place of fear to a place of respect and protection.

Education

First, Ms. Causer emphasized the need for continuing dialogue and education, encouraging individuals to take the time to speak about their concerns with their own neighbors, concerns like the effects of monopoly on the community. An educated public is one that can bring pressure to bear on representatives.

Pro-local legislation

Secondly, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, who represents the Seattle area and part of King County, is focused on a legislative approach. She is the vice-chair of the subcommittee on antitrust, which conducted a 16-month investigation into the operations of tech monopolies. She introduced HR 3825, designed to prevent corporations like Amazon from demoting merchants on their platforms while simultaneously preferencing their own cheaper product lines – a practice that has been devastating to small entrepreneurs. She is also attempting to directly address the dire needs of all business owners (and the general public) for healthcare amid the pandemic with her HR 1976 Medicare for All bill. As she stated, “The way that local communities do well is to have a thriving small business economy.”

However, Assemblymember Ron Kim, whose district has the largest proportion of small business owners in New York State, was frank about the obstacles standing in the way of the needs of local business owners and communities being met: 

“As long as we’re spending, in a place like New York, $7-8 billion a year in tax breaks to subsidize the growth of mega-monopolies and big companies who, in return, donate millions and millions of dollars to executive officers and governors and mayors to keep this game going, we’re going to have a continuous problem.”

Make bribes illegal

This means that the third, and most essential, element in the three-part dynamic is to make it illegal to bribe political candidates and elected officials. Without this stipulation, even the most caring and educated public will find its needs ignored, and pro-local legislation will continue to be defeated by corrupt officials who have been paid by corporations to create policy that serves them. 

The scenario may seem hopeless, but it isn’t, because you — who work in tech amid the long-shadowed boulders of monopoly — are reading this article and have a voice. Your co-workers have voices, too, and can advocate for your brands developing authentic allyship with clients and customers. 

Our industry has published volumes on the necessity of building relationships with the communities we want to serve. It’s a worthy aspiration, which hinges on listening well and demonstrating solidarity. Honest chats with independent business owners produce stories like Assemblymember Kim’s, about how one of the oldest Korean-American restaurants in his community is becoming a worker co-op to be able to continue operating in a broken economy.

You’ll hear family stories like those of Ms. Collins-Dexter, whose great-grandfather was forced off his land by a powerful tobacco trust, and had to start over again as an auto mechanic whose shop became a major source of community aid during the Great Depression. 

You’ll hear neighbors like Ms. Causer explain that 68% of respondents surveyed by her organization want to talk about monopoly, and that she’s advocating for people tp start singing the union songs again — that our grandmothers sang.

And you’ll hear the local business owners whom Congresswoman Jayapal said would only give comments to her antitrust committee in private, because they so fear punishment by the monopolies.

The takeaway

The next time you’re asked how to build out the stages of your customer’s journey, consider asking your team and bosses to begin by donning the shoes of a local business owner. They’re the people in your community who are living in real fear of being put out of business by national, state, and local policy, and of being made invisible by powerful platforms in daring to speak out. Empathy for this plight could be the start of the most genuine relationships your company has ever developed. It could even be the basis of a coalition of industry agencies and SaaS groups bringing their own, collective pressure to bear on public servants, to insist that we finally do get money out of politics and re-balance our economics to prioritize societal well-being.

As a local SEO, I’ve often looked at Google’s local guides program. There are roughly 150 million of these community interpreters globally, and they write an average of 62% of the reviews you read. That’s a lot of people with a lot of potential power, if they ever chose to organize on behalf of the local businesses they so abundantly grade. Why would they do that? Because there is little left to review when a local business landscape is reduced to just one or two monopolies. There is no fun or joy in that.

I think Brandi Collins-Dexter is right about good people not knowing what to do, and I suspect a lot of that feeling of powerlessness is rooted in a sense of isolation. But, just like there are a lot of local guides, there are a lot of tech workers, and together, we can help build the hope we seek from emboldened collaboration. 


Watch the recording




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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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