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Rethinking your strategic planning for 2021

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Rethinking your strategic planning for 2021

Somebody asked me the other day if I planned to take a trip this year. I used to travel regularly for both work and pleasure, but I spent 2020 on the ground. I answered, “I don’t even know what’s going to happen tomorrow, let alone in six months.”

I would like to see myself relaxing on [insert tropical island here] because I’m celebrating my 50th birthday this year. But the reality is that while we might be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, the situation is as unpredictable as it has ever been.

I’ve talked in previous posts about the fluidity of data, the changes in consumer behavior, the need for flexibility in targeting and marketing. The need for that still exists. Now that we’re a month into 2021, marketers are asking me, “What do I need to do differently this year?”

My honest answer is that I don’t even know what I’m going to do tomorrow, let alone for the rest of the year. But that doesn’t mean you should give up your strategic process. I might not know exactly what will happen in 2021 because we still have so many unknowns, but one thing will not change: You still need to work out your strategy (the “why”) before you start talking about tactics (the “how”). It’s essential to follow this format so you don’t end up wasting money on things that don’t work.

In other words, we can still plan, but we have to change the way we plan. So, let’s talk about what strategic planning in 2021 looks like.

How far out should you plan?

In other years, we could plot out an entire 12-month calendar. This year, spend your planning day dividing your year in half – call the halves H1 and H2 – and think about what you would like to do in each half. Subdivide each into quarters if that helps. This has another benefit – it forces you to narrow your vision and focus your energy.

My friend David Baker, who was my boss when we worked for a major data company, asked me for my annual plan one year. “Keep it simple,” he said. “So, 20 things?” I said.

“No,” he replied. “One or two.”

“I can’t go to my EVP and tell him I have only one or two things planned for the first half of the year,” I retorted.

“Yes, you can,” David replied. “Anything more than that is just a pipe dream. You’re too unfocused. It’s better to spend 100% of your energy on one or two things than to do 10 or 20 things at 50% or less.”

Your H1 action plan

List your strategies by dividing your program into your automations and your promotions for each quarter. Then within each of those things, list one thing you can reasonably accomplish in each quarter. This should be a realistic goal based on what you can do and what will add the most value.

If you have a larger marketing team, you can go deep and wide, brainstorming ideas and choosing what’s realistic, achievable and profitable. If you have a smaller team, focus on one thing and do that for each of the two quarters in the first half.

You’re going to think this is not enough, but it’s realistic. It also gives you time to flex if and when disruptions come up.  This year will bring agile changes, and this approach gives you a shot at meeting those changes.

Focus on why you would do these programs or tests.  Why will your subscribers or customers care?  The valuable step in the strategy section is to define the goals first, then move into how you’re going to do it.

In the H1 action plan, you want strategies that will be the most impactful to your customers and business.  So choose wisely.

Your H2 action plan

This is where you can dream a little. We’re hearing a lot of talk that things could start to return to “normal” beginning this summer to fall if half to two-thirds of the population gets vaccinated.

This time, think about what you’d like to achieve in the second half of the year. Divide it into two parts again, but this time, label one section “Best-case scenario” and the other “Worst-case scenario.

“Best” is getting your business back to an adapted normal (I hate saying “new”). You can expect to get more investment in your marketing budget. You can set bigger goals and expect to achieve them. You can expect that holidays and rush season planning will figure in as usual. This is a view into what a normal year’s planning would be like.

“Worst” means your H2 looks like your H1. If that happens, you have to think about what your essentials are. Think about what you have to do and what you have the bandwidth to do. Much of your planning will be focused on holiday if you’re a retail/ecommerce marketer.

I’m seeing many companies create multiple models that are specific to various scenarios or signals. They’re planning for the best case but have developed a worst-case to have a fallback.

This year – 2021 – will be about making it through, using what you learned in 2020 and building on what you have. You’re fine-tuning the fundamental elements of your program. That must be reflected in your strategy.

Wrapping up: Take time for yourself

If you’re like many of the marketers I work with, you’re feeling disconnected these days. Coherent thoughts and strategic planning can be hard to come by when you can’t focus on the work at hand. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.

You might have had to do some seat-of-the-pants maneuvering last year as the pandemic and economic and social disruption shredded your carefully laid plans. But “doing what works” isn’t sustainable for the long term.

If you’re struggling, step off the moving walkway of your day and find some quiet time where you can focus. Block off time on your calendar and turn off your text and Slack notifications. Find some quiet time. You need this quiet time so you can assess where you are and think about the future. If you can get together in person with your team, do it off-site, not on Zoom.

We need to be smart marketers who get out ahead of developments instead of marketers who have to be in react mode. I know marketers on every point of the preparedness spectrum. Some are busy laying out plans while others are in panic mode.

The prevalent success path for all of us is having a plan and treating it like the agile document it must be.

This story first appeared on MarTech Today.


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

Author:
As the co-founder of RPEOrigin.com, Ryan Phelan’s two decades of global marketing leadership has resulted in innovative strategies for high-growth SaaS and Fortune 250 companies. His experience and history in digital marketing have shaped his perspective on creating innovative orchestrations of data, technology and customer activation for Adestra, Acxiom, Responsys, Sears & Kmart, BlueHornet and infoUSA.

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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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