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MARKETING

Stop Making These Reporting Mistakes To Keep Your Content Budget

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Updated May 24, 2022

If you aren’t getting sufficient ongoing executive support for your content marketing, look at the writing on the wall.

Are you communicating with the C-suite in ways that will get them to sit up and notice what content marketing is doing for the brand? You might be if you’re making any of these six mistakes.

Read on to figure out the problem and how to remedy them fairly easily, so you win the attention and budget from your company’s leadership.

1. Fail to set SMART goals and KPIs

Though an obvious pitfall, content marketers repeatedly fail to appropriately document goals for their strategy. Failing to set goals is a common pitfall. They don’t make them SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

That failure might be prompted by the marketers’ own fear of failure – not hitting a goal is worse than not identifying a goal. But how else are executives going to track your success and decide content marketing is worth funding?

Executives need to know #ContentMarketing’s goals and results to decide if it’s worth continued funding, says @IamAaronAgius via @CMIContent @acrolinx. Click To Tweet

Brand awareness, for example, is often a general fuzzy goal mentioned by marketers. What are your key performance indicators (KPIs) for measuring awareness? How much should the content contribute to a revenue boost? In what time frame? Whatever your goals, make them measurable.

Once you detail your SMART goals and clearly define the KPIs, present them to your company’s executive team to get their buy-in. They’re more likely to invest when they have a tangible way to see if the content marketing program succeeded or didn’t quite hit the mark.

2. Don’t align marketing with the business’ road map

To get time-starved executives to take notice, ensure content marketing goals intersect with their priorities, which usually revolve around the bottom line.

Too many marketers assume their content generates revenue. They don’t prove it with data-driven findings.

In HubSpot’s 2021 Not Another State of Marketing Report, 85% of marketers say they are somewhat or very confident in investing in their programs that influence revenue. But that’s not enough. As the report’s authors write: “The disconnect lies — you guessed it — in failing or nonexistent attribution reporting.

That’s a mistake if you want to garner C-suite support. These executives want proof. Whether you’re fortunate enough to have data directly linking content marketing tactics to ROI or must undertake a significant analysis, begin reporting meetings with this headline in mind: How Has Content Marketing Affected the Balance Sheet?

Every report to executives should answer this headline: How has #ContentMarketing affected the balance sheet? says @IamAaronAgius via @CMIContent @acrolinx. Click To Tweet

3. Deliver numbers only

Leadership doesn’t necessarily have the time or expertise to delve into each content marketing initiative’s minutiae. You must show them the bigger picture.

Don’t present the result of one time-limited activity – contextualize it. How did it fit into the overall content marketing efforts for the year? How does that compare to last year’s performance? Are there anomalies in the data? Why?

Putting context around the data also works in your favor when the numbers don’t look great. It helps you explain why the less-than-expected results don’t indicate that content marketing activity was a total flop.

For example, a retail brand compares its gifting blog’s first-quarter performance to the previous year’s fourth quarter. At first glance, the numbers indicate the blog significantly underperformed. By adding the context about the impact of the holiday season on fourth-quarter numbers, executives can better recognize that the hit in visitors wasn’t that bad.

If the explanatory context isn’t obvious, drill down by looking at assisted conversions. Say this retail brand conducted a paid social campaign to bring shoppers to the site, but the visitors didn’t convert. Analyzing assisted conversions could explain that the social referral traffic visit is merely the first step in their buying experience. A large percentage eventually return to the website to purchase the products advertised to them on social media.

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4. Lack transparency

When leadership commits budget to content marketing, they need to trust you and the content marketing strategy.

You should never attempt to hide negative figures or bury bad results in your reports. Obfuscating the truth only makes them less likely to trust you with the company’s dollars.

Never hide negative figures or bad results in your #ContentMarketing reports to executives. They are less likely to trust you with company dollars, says @IamAaronAgius via @CMIContent @acrolinx. Click To Tweet

Instead, report exactly what has happened and proactively explain how the approach will be adjusted to ensure the failures won’t be repeated.

5. Report inconsistently

Your content marketing likely will see peaks and troughs in traffic and conversions. Performing random data pulls or only reporting your successes doesn’t give leadership the information they need to make the right decisions.

While it can be tempting to send an email or schedule a meeting with the executives the moment you see a set of outstanding results, resist the urge. It’s vital to be consistent with your reporting – both in format and timing.

Document (and share) your reporting process, including strict timelines. It could look like this:

  • Set SMART goals (month one)
  • Ideate campaign (month one)
  • Set KPIs (month one)
  • Set up tracking for KPIs (month one)
  • Implement initiative (months two, three, four)
  • Gather data (month five)
  • Analyze data and identify trends (month five)
  • Document findings and recommendations for adapting the next campaign (month five)
  • Report to leadership (month five)

6. Ignore the power of storytelling

As content marketers, we know that storytelling is a powerful tool for engaging any audience – so use it for your executives.

While they may not properly engage with a spreadsheet packed with context-free figures or a document full of marketing jargon, they have a natural interest in understanding customer behavior.

Thanks to significant advances in technology, data surrounding search query information, basket size, and click-through activity can help you create powerful stories about your customers’ behaviors.

Turn your reporting meeting into an engaging storytelling session. Narrate stories around each primary customer type, explaining how they behave and engage with your brand. Use visuals and even videos to really help leadership see and buy into the stories.

Then, you can follow up by email with the details – the spreadsheets and documents – supporting the points in the presented stories, thereby ensuring that the transparency box is ticked too.

Not only can storytelling tactics gain their full attention during the presentation, but they are more likely to convince any content marketing skeptics to support your budget requests.

If you can stop making these six mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to convincing leadership to break the vicious content marketing cycle.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

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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