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Make Sure You Are on Stable Ground [New Research]

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Make Sure You Are on Stable Ground [New Research]

There’s a wonderful scene in the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when the rich investor, Walter Donovan, tries to convince Indy to go after the Holy Grail. He says, “We’re on the verge of completing a quest that began almost 2,000 years ago. We’re just one step away.” Indy responds, “That’s usually when the ground falls out from underneath your feet.”

When we released our 2021 B2C content marketing research, I noted the data showed the “imperative to develop direct, digital relationships with customers” became more important. But the pandemic making us all feel a little like Indiana Jones: “We’re making this up as we go.”

The pandemic and other events of 2020 had given marketers confidence in increasing the importance of content marketing. But, I noted, the responsibility coming from that power was important. If content marketers wanted to succeed, scale, and grow, they needed to help their businesses understand how to realize their “gut feeling” that better content was necessary through an intelligent and functional strategy.

Well, CMI’s B2C Content Marketing: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – Insights for 2022 indicates that B2C marketers still struggle with some classic content marketing challenges.

What challenges lie in wait for 2022?

Well, let’s explore.

We’re just one step away

According to this latest Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs research, one in four (26%) of B2C marketers rate their content marketing as extremely or very successful. That is a big drop from the previous year when one in three (34%) reported the same.

About one-fourth of B2C marketers (26%) say their #ContentMarketing is extremely or very successful. That’s fewer than one year ago (34%), according to @CMIContent #B2C #research via @Robert_Rose. Click To Tweet

Yes, the pandemic continues to have a lot to do with this struggle. Talent acquisition has been more difficult. Priorities in digital transformation for sales enablement, e-commerce, and other customer experiences have deprioritized some content marketing initiatives.

Content marketing strategies for 79% of B2C marketers have changed at least slightly since the pandemic, while 20% of marketers say they’re implementing strategies that are extremely or very different.

Things are, indeed, both the same and very different.

Make sure the ground doesn’t fall away

Indiana Jones always survives the ground falling out beneath him because he’s always aware that it might. He prepares.

That’s why what I said in last year’s research bears repeating: “(I)t’s no longer good enough for content marketers to simply understand how to create blogs, infographics, or other media assets.  We need to understand how solid planning of content operations (across ALL of marketing and communications) fits into our ongoing approach. That means understanding technology, governance, and how to structure content so that it can be reused, repackaged, and leveraged across silos.”

We see content marketers wearing more hats, and this is only going to continue in 2022.  As content marketing grows as a multi-discipline practice and becomes an important part of our business strategy, detailing the “planning” and “preparation” part of that strategy is how we stay on solid ground.

Data from this year’s research points the way into some of that preparation.

Investment in video here to stay

As they did last year, short articles/posts topped the list of content types used by content marketers. Most other content types remained steady compared with the last few years, with the obvious exception of in-person events and one less-expected difference – long-form articles, which almost doubled in usage (42% vs. 22% the previous year).

Content Assets B2C Marketers Created/Used in Last 12 Months

As far as budget this year, 61% of marketers say their 2022 content marketing budget will be higher than their 2021 budget. Where will they be spending money? Seventy-two percent expect to invest in video, followed by paid media (51%).

Areas of B2C Content Marketing Investment in 2022

Certainly the rise of TikTok as the most popular site on the internet and the ongoing trend of live video replacing in-person events largely drive this trend. This is something we’ve seen across both B2B and B2C – most notably with companies like Salesforce, which launched a video streaming platform as a marketing initiative.

72% of #B2C marketers plan to invest in #video in 2022, according to new @CMIContent #B2C #research via @Robert_Rose. Click To Tweet

Given all companies have gotten this memo, differentiating and piercing the noise has become ever more difficult. So, paid media has become to become incredibly important in content marketing.

Paid media promotion increases

Over three-fourths (78%) of B2C marketers say they used paid methods to promote content in the previous year. Forty-three percent reported increasing their spending on paid promotion over the last 12 months.

Where are they buying? Paid social media advertising/promoted posts top the list (80%) followed by search engine marketing/pay-per-click (66%). Rounding out the top five involves a precipitous drop to sponsorships (39%), native advertising/sponsored content (36%), and partner email content promotions (24%).

Paid Content Distribution Channels B2C Marketers Used in Last 12 Months

#B2C marketers most often use #SocialMedia advertising/promoted posts as their top paid content distribution method, according to new @CMIContent #research via @Robert_Rose. Click To Tweet

The results here are not surprising. As we’ve discussed for many years, social media strategies are clearly becoming paid media strategies – and we’ve seen many companies move much of their paid promotion to social media networks.

Time to double down on content operations

As I mentioned in the beginning, we’re close to reaching the Holy Grail. Content marketing has been recognized as a functional and active strategy. Even though we aren’t seeing marketing-related media, such as Adweek or Adage, reporting on the practice as much as we’d like, we are seeing the effects of this strategy. If you need the success stories, just ask us.

Whether it’s building a media company in your business, or branded content, or building your content studio, content marketing is an increasingly important piece of the B2C marketing strategy.

Although most B2C marketers report success with content marketing, the challenges are the same as they’ve been. The two most frequently cited are creating content that appeals to different segments within the target audience (42%) and internal communication between teams/silos (41%).

B2C Organizations' Current Content Marketing Challenges

Both of those top two challenges speak to the internal operations of content and the development process. Our research points to continued transformational shifts that make content marketing an ever more important part of the integrated marketing mix.

In today’s modern business, everyone creates content — from the web team to the product team, brand team, demand-gen executives, even frontline account representatives. It’s probably easier to count who doesn’t create content-driven experiences for customers these days.

But we must realize that this explosive trend is actually our quest. Our attempts to complete it require us to develop not just great content, but an operational strategy that supports all content. Without a strategy, an inconsistent voice and inability to measure success will lead to the ground crumbling underneath us.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:

Keep your eye on the real prize

My Advice?  Preparation.

It’s not the sexiest part, but a scalable, successful, and differentiating content marketing operation will help you more easily create, manage, activate, and measure digital content. You will define success by how well the content marketing strategy empowers everybody on the front line (sales, account reps, executives, and even accounting and legal) to tell your stories — and the best “next stories” — to your audience.

In many ways, we have to learn the same lesson as Indiana Jones at the end of The Last Crusade.  He was so close to getting the prize that he became obsessed with it. He saves himself from the ground falling from beneath him by letting it all go and realizing the quest wasn’t about his prize. The journey was about saving everyone around him.

A strategic content marketing operation isn’t the storyteller of the business. It’s what enables everyone else to be the storytellers.

Download the full B2C Content Marketing: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – Insights for 2022 to learn more about what your peers are doing (or not doing).

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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