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  • Meet Minneapolis: Travel to the Twin Cities this Summer for HITEC 2019

    We all know that travel can be a real hassle. So, what about a trip makes it worth packing up your suitcase, saying goodbye to your family for the next few days, fighting the airport and staying in a.

  • New Global Directors Join the 2018-2019 HFTP Board

    The HFTP 2018-2019 Global Board of Directors was installed during the association's 2018 Annual Convention and introduces new directors Toni Bau, Carson Booth, CHTP and Mark Fancourt. These extensive director profiles give insight into the distinguished professions and personal goals of HFTP's newest association leaders.

  • A Series of Must-Read Articles on Cybersecurity Produced by the HFTP Research Centers

    Data security remains a pressing concern and top priority for the hospitality industry. The HFTP Research Centers are dedicated to producing findings that can significantly aid hospitality businesses in their efforts to protect their guests’ privacy and personal information against potential cyber threats and attacks.

  • HITEC Special: Does EU GDPR Affect U.S. Hospitality Companies?

    By Alvaro Hidalgo. The EU General Data Protection Regulation has set a path towards protecting personal data which many other countries will follow. In a global industry such as hospitality, it should be a primary objective to take the steps towards compliance.

The Need for Speed: Why Site Performance Matters So Much

MDG Advertising ·18 April 2019
While site speed may seem like a minor technical issue, it is in fact something that has a huge impact on everything, from visitor retention to search performance.Why is page load time so important? How does it influence SEO? What speed should marketers be aiming for? Which steps should be taken to improve performance?Here's what marketers need to know:Why is site speed so important?Site speed--or, more accurately, load time for specific pages--has always been something to take into account. Ever since the days of dial-up Internet access, brands have had to be mindful of how long it takes for their online offerings to appear on a screen.However, what's turned speed from a consideration into an imperative is the shift from desktops/laptops to mobile devices. Essentially, people are willing to wait for a while for a page to load on a computer, but they don't have the same level of patience when using a smartphone or tablet.In fact, according to research cited by Google, nearly half (46%) of consumers say that waiting for pages to load is what they currently dislike the most about browsing the web on mobile devices.This deep aversion to slow-to-load pages has two consequences.First, it dissuades engagement and action-taking.According to a study conducted by Section, a 10% decrease in site speed correlates with a 13% drop in pages viewed per session. Along similar lines, research done by Amazon and Walmart found that faster-to-load pages generate significantly more revenue and conversions.The second issue with page speed is that it causes visitors to abandon sites altogether. Google found that bounce rates steadily increase as page load time increases--going from a one-second load time to a three-second load time increases the probability of a visitor leaving by 32%; going from one second to five seconds increases it by 90%; going from one second to six seconds increases it by 106%; and going from one second to ten seconds increases it by 123%.Why is site speed especially important for SEO?The goal of search engines is to deliver the results that consumers value most. So, given that consumers value fast-loading pages and dislike slow-loading pages, it's no surprise that search engines prize site speed.The influence of speed on search engine rankings is no secret. Google has long been open about the fact that it takes page load time into consideration as a ranking factor. Last year, the company made the connection even more clear when it announced that speed was now going to be taken into account for mobile pages.As Google put it on its blog: "People want to be able to find answers to their questions as fast as possible--studies show that people really care about the speed of a page. Although speed has been used in ranking for some time, that signal was focused on desktop searches. Today we're announcing that [sic] page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches."What's important for marketers to realize is that search engines such as Google take a nuanced view of site speed. In addition to total load time, they're also looking at such signals as time to first byte and start render (when a site begins loading) and visually complete time (when the user can see the page even if it isn't finished loading).How much does page speed matter to search engines? While it's impossible to tell the exact weight assigned, what's clear is that there's a strong correlation between page speed and good rankings. As an analysis by Backlinko found, pages that rank in the top couple of positions on Google results are significantly faster, on average, compared with pages that rank further down.How quickly should a site be loading?So, how fast should your web pages be?There's no single magic number--people have different expectations of load time depending on things like the type of content being accessed (for example, a media site vs. a financial site) and connection speed (a 3G mobile connection vs. a business Internet connection, for instance).Broadly, a survey from Unbounce found that some 27% of people are only willing to wait up to three seconds for a site to load on their phone, 32% are willing to wait up to six seconds, and only 24% are willing to wait longer than six seconds.This is in line with the advice given by industry experts: at minimum, sites should load in under four seconds, with under three seconds generally viewed as the threshold to prevent a high bounce rate.Unfortunately, brands of all types are failing to meet this standard. An analysis by Google found that pages across different verticals take more than five seconds to load, on average, with that number rising to over six seconds in a number of industries.What can be done to improve site speed?What can you do to improve the page load times on your sites?It's challenging because speed is impacted by a host of technical factors, such as media compression, code handling, and caching. Luckily, there are a number of tools out there that can help you identify where you're going wrong. One of the best is the free PageSpeed Insights from Google, which will benchmark your site, flag technical issues, and provide recommendations for how to improve performance.Beyond that, if your brand publishes a large volume of content, it may be worth considering solutions such as Google's AMP and Facebook's Instant Articles, both of which speed things up by moving some of the hosting of pieces to those platforms.Finally, keep in mind that even increment.Learn more about the importance of site speed. Contact MDG Advertising today at 561-338-7797 or visit mdgadvertising.com.
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Let's Get Visual: How Search Is Changing [Infographic]

MDG Advertising ·15 April 2019
What exactly is visual search? Why is it such a big deal? How is it being used? What can brands do to capitalize on its potential?What Is Visual Search?Visual search replaces the traditional input for searching for things online--text--with images. Essentially, instead of typing "tulip" into a box, a user submits a photo of a tulip to the platform.It starts with a visual that can come from anywhere, including:A image/stream taken in real time by a camera on a deviceAn image that's already in a device's photo libraryAn image pulled from somewhere (website, email, etc.)Next, the platform must identify and interpret, which involves:Recognizing what the image isDetermining what the searcher wantsDelivering the most relevant resultsWhy Is Visual Search Suddenly a Thing?Using visual search feels like magic: simply share a photo and the search engine quickly figures out what it is and what you want. This ease masks the fact that the task is immensely complex.The technology is just becoming a thing because up until recently, it wasn't possible to execute well. To make visual search as powerful and accurate as text search, these elements had to come together:The image: The widespread of adoption of smartphones with good cameras and speedy Internet access has made it possible to consistently capture and share high-quality images.The data: Search platforms need to be able to recognize what is in an image, which requires accessing and processing huge libraries over time.The intelligence: For visual search to work, the machines must be be smart. Advancements in AI and machine learning have made it possible for platforms to learn more quickly and accurately.What's So Great About Visual Search?Visual search matches what we see with the vast amount of information available on the Internet. That makes it possible to do a number of useful things, including:Answering questions that can't be asked via text: Sometimes we can't type in a search query because we don't know how to describe what we're looking at. Visual search is great for answering questions such as:What is this?What looks good with this?Where can I buy this?Linking the physical and digital: Often there's a disconnect between what people see in the real world and all the information available online. Visual search can bridge this by:Enabling consumers to match products they see with online information/purchasingUtilizing barcodes and QR codes to link products and services with digital contentMaking shopping experiences truly interactive with visual cues and promptsWhat Does Visual Search Look Like in Action?Although visual search is relatively new, it's already been integrated into quite a few products. In particular, a number of the major online platforms have focused on the technology:Google Lens: This extension of the search platform enables users to point their device's camera at any range of things--from a hat to a monument--and get relevant results.Pinterest Lens: Share a photo of something with the platform, such as a necklace or cake decoration, and this tool will deliver Pinterest Pins of similar products.Amazon Rekognition: This platform powers a number of visual search tools, including Snapchat's, and connects images with products.Find It On eBay: Share an image from social media with eBay and the company's mobile app will find listings on the service for similar products.How Popular Is Visual Search?Are consumers actually using visual search? Is the technology part of the mainstream? The data shows that it hasn't made it there yet, but that adoption is quickly accelerating.Most people still don't know what visual search is:Only 27% of US Internet users are aware of the technologyIt currently accounts for just a fraction of all searches:Less than 1% of all searches are currently visual basedBut its use is on the rise:The number of monthly visual searches on Pinterest jumped from 250 million in 2017 to more than 600 million in 2018What Can Marketers Do to Optimize for Visual Search?While visual search is still gaining in popularity, there are some things marketers can do now to optimize for the technology:Invest in images: If you want visual search engines to recognize your offerings, then it's necessary to have a robust library of images that can be accessed.Connect and catalog: Ensure that your images link to the correct product/service pages and that your site is structured in an easily crawlable way.Think of the physical and digital as intertwined: Consider how you can structure things like in-store displays to cater to those who may use visual search.Finally, keep in mind that this is only the beginning. Consumers are just becoming familiar with the approach and the underlying technologies are still improving. Expect visual search to become much more popular and much more powerful in the near future.

5 Things Local Businesses Need to Know About Google Reviews

MDG Advertising ·22 March 2019
But exactly how important is this feedback from consumers? Do people turn to ratings and reviews left directly on Google over ratings and reviews left on other online platforms? Which demographics rely most heavily on this type of information? How do Google reviews and ratings impact search rankings?To find out, MDG Advertising's social media team took a close look at a number of recent industry surveys and analyst reports. Here are five key findings from the research that every marketer should be aware of:1. Most Consumers Now Turn to Google Reviews When ResearchingHow popular are Google ratings and reviews with consumers? The answer appears to be that they're very, very popular.According to a survey of 1,000 US consumers conducted by Uberall, some 51% of shoppers say they turn to Google reviews when researching brick-and-mortar stores; Yelp is the second-most utilized source for reviews (36% of shoppers turn to it), followed by Facebook (35%), the Better Business Bureau (22%), and TripAdvisor (15%).In other words, the majority of consumers in the United States now turn to Google reviews and ratings when researching local businesses.2. Younger Consumers Are Especially Reliant on Online ReviewsWhile online reviews and ratings are increasingly utilized by all consumers, younger demographics have become especially reliant on these as a source of information about local businesses.A survey of 1,000 US adults conducted by BrightLocal found that 86% of consumers overall say they check reviews and ratings of local businesses. However, there are stark differences among age groups: most (54%) consumers age 55+ say they only check the reviews and ratings of local businesses occasionally, whereas 50% of consumers ages 18-34 say they always check reviews and ratings.Put simply: it's very likely that the first thing younger consumers will do to research your firm is to check its online ratings and reviews.3. Google Reviews Are Vital for Search Engine OptimizationGiven that Google's core product is its search engine, it's no surprise that there appears to be a strong connection between reviews/ratings and rankings.A BrightLocal study found that local businesses with a substantial number of Google reviews and with a high average Google star rating are more likely to rank among the top search results in Google search. Specifically, the researchers found that the top three local business results on Google have 47 reviews, on average, and a 4.47 star rating, on average, both of which are significantly higher than lower-ranked businesses.Moreover, it's not just the quantity of reviews that has an impact; it's also the content itself. Because Google crawls all of the text, reviews that include specific keywords--for example, "Invisalign" in comments about a dentist--can be surfaced in the results for those terms.This means that having a sophisticated strategy to encourage more positive, in-depth Google ratings and reviews is a double win: it serves the needs of consumers and also helps with search engine optimization.4. Google Review Strategies Need to Be TailoredJust as not all local businesses are the same, the optimal Google ratings and reviews strategies for local businesses aren't the same.The BrightLocal report found wide variations in the number of average reviews among different types of businesses, as well as the average star rating. For example, hotels have 309 Google reviews, on average, whereas dentists only have 32, on average. And photographers have a Google star rating of 4.84, on average, whereas car dealerships have a rating of 4.11, on average.The key, then, is to develop a strategy that's tailored for your business type and market. So, while a hotel in a big city may need a large number of Google reviews to rank well on search and impress consumers, a lawyer in a small town may need far fewer.5. Google Reviews Are Evolving RapidlyFinally, it's important for local businesses to realize that Google reviews and ratings are not static: the product is evolving rapidly and the company is constantly adding (and subtracting) features.For example, late last year Google introduced an enhancement to its Maps platform that enabled users to add hashtags in their reviews. So, someone giving feedback on a restaurant could include #datenight in their review to make it more visible for others looking for a romantic spot.The direction that Google ratings and reviews will take next is anybody's guess. With so many different products--from search and Maps, to Android, YouTube, and IoT devices--Google could morph reviews and ratings in any number of ways and spread them across a multitude of different areas. What's certain is that their ever-increasing popularity with consumers indicates that they're here to stay and likely to become even more important to local businesses in the future.

9 Signs Your Business Needs to Rebrand

MDG Advertising · 7 March 2019
So, how do you know if the time is right? When should your brand get a refresh or even a complete overhaul? Following are the nine signs MDG Advertising's branding experts believe every business should be watching for:1. Your brand mission has evolvedAs market conditions and strategies change, businesses change. Often firms end up in a much different place from where they started and it's necessary to rework the brand to keep up.An example is CVS Caremark. The company was initially a combination of CVS, a regional general store/pharmacy, and Caremark, a pharmacy benefit management firm. Over time, it evolved into a healthcare giant with so many components under one roof that they rebranded to CVS Health and positioned the company around a new purpose: helping people on their path to better health. This affected everything, including their decision to discontinue cigarette sales in all stores.2. Your brand has become constrainingWhen firms start out, they often want their branding to be highly descriptive so that consumers can easily understand what they do. But over time, this specificity can become limiting.An example of this is Dunkin' Donuts. The initial branding quickly conveyed that this was a place to get a doughnut and coffee. However, after the company expanded into other foods--additional breakfast items, lunch, etc.--and more drinks, it decided to drop the "donuts" and focus on a unique, ownable, and condensed form of the name and logo.3. Your brand is confusingSometimes a business will end up with a name and/or messaging that confuses rather than clarifies. When this is the case, an immediate rebranding is essential.The most famous example of this is Google. The search engine was initially called BackRub because it was based on analyzing backlinks. Not surprisingly, people found the name befuddling and the company's co-founders rebranded the business within a year.In 2015, after more than a decade of transforming the way people use the Internet, it was time for another rebrand. This time, the focus was on reflecting the current and future ambitions of the company.4. Your brand is part of a business changeThere are times that a brand is perfectly fine, but because of a business change--a merger, an acquisition, a diversification, a legal dispute, etc.--it's necessary to rebrand.A good example of this is Andersen Consulting. In 2000, the organization was spun off from Arthur Andersen and needed a completely different name. An unexpected benefit for the company was that a year later the Andersen name was tarnished by the Enron scandal.They introduced a name and brand identity that has since become synonymous with high-performance, industry-leading consulting. "Accenture" was a portmanteau of the words "accent" and "future," and was meant to communicate the company's focus on helping their clients create their future.5. Your brand is not differentiatedGood branding isn't just about looking and sounding good, it's also about standing out. A brand that doesn't feel differentiated in the market from its competitors needs to be rethought.A cautionary example of this is Gap. The firm was blessed with iconic branding--a signature font in a signature blue box--but decided to mix things up in 2010 anyway. The new branding was a fail: it came across as bland and unoriginal. The company quickly switched back.6. Your brand doesn't work well in all contextsOccasionally, a brand works well in some contexts but not all, and so it needs to be reworked. For example, it may not be well suited for some languages, countries, or formats.An example of this is Airbnb. The firm had a fortunate problem: it was thriving abroad as well as on mobile, but its existing branding, the word "airbnb," wasn't ideal for either. With its 2014 rebrand, the company switched to an icon and visuals that could be applied more widely. They introduced the "belo" and hoped it would become a global symbol of belonging that everyone could share.7. Your brand has a bad reputationIn some cases, a brand becomes a liability instead of an asset. When consumers start to associate a brand with negative experiences or actions, it can be time for a change.An example of this is Philip Morris. As part of an effort to improve its tarnished reputation and disconnect from the strong association with tobacco products, the company shed its original name in favor of the not-very-memorable Altria. In this case, bland was deemed better than bad.8. Your brand wants to command a premiumIf a firm wants to command a premium for its products or services, it may need to rebrand to convey that level of quality. What works for some segments often doesn't for others.For example, Castelle, a maker of outdoor furnishings, had a perfectly serviceable brand. However, it did a major rebranding--new font, new logo, even a new tagline ("Handcrafted luxury furnishings")--to better appeal to the upscale audience it was targeting.9. Your brand simply feels outdatedFinally, it's important to keep this in mind: tastes change and it's necessary to keep up. For inexplicable reasons, certain things fall out of fashion and a brand becomes outdated.This can be seen in how the Pepsi brand has evolved over the years. From the name (Pepsi-Cola to Pepsi), to the colors (red only to red and blue), to the font (serif to sans serif), the brand has been continually tweaked and reimagined to keep it feeling current and relevant.

Dynamic Creative: How Advertising Is Being Transformed

MDG Advertising · 1 March 2019
However, while the label is a bit fuzzy, the thing itself is very real and very important. While they may not realize it, many brands are already running basic dynamic creative campaigns and, thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence, more sophisticated versions of the approach could soon revolutionize the field of advertising.So, what exactly is it? Why is dynamic creative advertising a thing now? What does it look like in action? Where does AI fit in?The creative experts at MDG Advertising analyzed a recent report from eMarketer that studied these questions in depth and provided an overview of the current state of dynamic creative advertising.Here are five key insights from that research that every marketer should be aware of:1. What Is dynamic creative advertising? How is it being used today?"Dynamic creative advertising" simply means different creative for different people. So, whereas in the past everyone saw the same billboard or television spot, this fresh approach makes it possible for specific groups, or even specific individuals, to receive tailored ads and content.Today, the first component of dynamic creative advertising--audience targeting--is utilized widely by brands. According to Winterberry Group and DMA data, as cited by eMarketer, some 42% of marketing professionals say segmentation is a key focal point of their current strategy, 36% say email personalization is, 26% location-based targeting, 22% website personalization, and 22% retargeting.2. Why is dynamic creative advertising becoming a thing now?Why has dynamic creative advertising entered the marketing zeigeist recently? Largely because over the past few years brands have gained access to powerful digital platforms and vast amounts of data.In terms of platforms, the big evolution has been programmatic ad tools. These have transformed the ad purchasing and delivery process, making it possible for marketers to effectively and efficiently target, and retarget, creative. Moreover, the vast array of ad opportunities online have enabled these units to be delivered exactly where brands want.What powers all this is data. Thanks to digital, marketers now have access to all sorts of information about audiences that was inaccessible before--demographics, location, purchasing and browsing history, etc.Combining these has enabled a host of fresh approaches: according to IAB and Winterberry Group data, as cited by eMarketer, some 65% of senior US marketers say that because of data and systems, they focused more on cross-channel measurement last year, 51% on programmatic buying for new formats, 51% on segmentation, and 45% on programmatic buying for established formats.3. What does AI have to do with dynamic creative ads? Why's it so important?While marketers have been making good use of their ability to target units in nuanced ways, there has been a major roadblock to unleashing the true power of dynamic creative advertising: the creative.Essentially, humans haven't been able to keep up with the platforms and the data. So while there have been endless possibilities for how to deliver ads, there haven't been endless variations of the ads themselves.That's where artificial intelligence comes in. AI makes the entire process better--from segmentation to campaign modeling and attribution--but where it really opens things up is in enabling marketers to produce more creative options.Because artificial intelligence can both analyze and learn, it creates scale: sophisticated systems can continually test, deliver, and rework campaigns without human intervention to make efforts ever-more effective.What's tantalizing is that the power of AI to enhance digital advertising is just starting to be fully explored. According to Econsultancy data, as cited by eMarketer, fewer than half of major agencies and brands are currently using artificial intelligence to target, segment, or create dynamic creative.4. What's possible with dynamic creative advertising?What does sophisticated AI-driven dynamic creative advertising look like?In their report, the eMarketer researchers paint a picture of how multivariate testing (analyzing the performance of different options) and on-the-fly creative development can work together:"Multivariate testing can now be done across hundreds of creative variants thanks to AI, helping marketers find the right color, font, call to action, and background image to reach a particular consumer. Retargeted ads can display not just the same product a consumer shopped for the day before, but also the angle that might be most appealing to that shopper."Think about how revolutionary that is. Dynamic creative advertising is in many ways the holy grail of marketing: each consumer can now receive a unique version of each ad with the elements-- font, image, product framing, call-to-action, etc.--changed to make the unit appeal specifically to him or her.5. What do brands need to do to be successful with dynamic creative advertising?So, what does it take to successfully execute on dynamic creative advertising?The industry experts interviewed by eMarketer brought up two key elements: technology and people.On the technology front, they noted that it's important to not just find systems that work well on their own, but systems that work well together. Because there are so many elements to each dynamic campaign--segmentation, targeting, buying, creative optimization, analysis, etc.--it's necessary for each of the technologies that are part of a stack to be seamlessly integrated with the others.Along similar lines, it's also necessary for organizations to be integrated seamlessly. With this approach, teams that traditionally may not have worked closely together--marketing and technology, media buying and creative development, etc.--must now work hand-in-hand. That requires a lack of silos and consistent cooperation.Fundamentally, while the power of dynamic creative advertising comes from machines and platforms, its success is still largely dependent on people.

Is Long-Form Video on Social Media the New TV?

MDG Advertising ·13 February 2019
Today, the hot new thing is long-form video. Last year, Facebook reportedly spent up to $1 billion on lengthier content and Google dedicated hundreds of millions of dollars to original YouTube programming; Twitter has invested heavily in live video streams, especially from sports leagues; Snapchat now has shows from major media companies; and Instagram got into the game last year with its IGTV offering.What's going on? Why are social platforms pushing shows and other long-form content? Are consumers watching? Are advertisers interested? Is social set to dethrone television and platforms like Netflix in the coming years?Recently, eMarketer published an in-depth report examining these questions. Here are five of the key takeaways from the data:1. Why Are Social Platforms Focused on Long-Form?Why are social networks embracing long-form video? In part, because over the past few years this type of content has been proven to work online.According to ThinkNow Research data cited by eMarketer, some 61% of adult Americans say they now watch shows on Netflix, 33% on Amazon Prime Video, and 24% on Hulu. This demonstrates that a sizable share of people have become used to watching lengthier digital pieces.More broadly, watching online video, especially on mobile devices, is becoming central to the lives of consumers: eMarketer estimates that 84% of Internet users will be frequent watchers of digital video content by 2021 and 83% will be using mobile devices to watch video content. This means that there will be an ever-growing hunger for digital video in the coming years.2. Does Money Have Something to Do with the Shift?Of course, social networks aren't diving into long-firm video simply because they see a potential for engaging audiences. The larger opportunity, at least from a business perspective, is to garner a larger share of spend from advertisers.According to IAB data, as cited by eMarketer, half of agency and marketing professionals plan to increase their spend on social media videos in the near future and 40% plan to increase their spend on TV shows online.Given that, expanding into long-form video solves two problems for the platforms: it opens up additional inventory for brands looking to advertise via video on social media and it entices marketers looking to advertise via online TV shows.3. Are People Willing to Watch Longer Videos on Social?The shift to long-form video clearly makes sense for the social platforms, but is it actually what audiences want? After years of being conditioned to expect short clips on various networks, are people open to lengthier content on social?The answer appears to be--at least right now--that younger audiences are much more ready for this evolution compared with older audiences.According to a Shareablee survey cited by eMarketer, some 47% of social media users in the US ages 18-24 say they would watch their favorite television shows on social media. This compares with 38% of social media users ages 25-54 and just 23% of social media users age 55+.4. So, Is Long-form Succeeding on Social Now?So, what's the current state of the social networks' strategies? Have audiences started to embrace long-form video on the platforms?The shift toward video content overall has clearly been a success: according to a Cowen and Company survey, as cited by eMarketer, among US social media users, 51% now watch video on Facebook, 48% watch on Instagram, and 30% watch on Twitter.The status of long-form pieces is harder to discern. A Morgan Stanley AlphaWise survey, as cited by eMarketer, found that 40% of US Facebook users age 16+ say they now view Facebook Watch content weekly. However, a Raymond James survey found that three-quarters of US Facebook users say they never view Facebook Watch content.5.Will Long-Form Succeed on Social in the Long Run?Given that long-form pieces on social media are relatively new, the more pessimistic estimates on current viewing behavior could very well be correct. It's very likely that audiences have not yet fully embraced this sort of content.However, that doesn't mean that they won't. An IAB survey, as cited by eMarketer, found that while only 40% of US consumers now stream live video on social platforms, 52% of consumers worldwide do so. In other words, at the moment there may be a gap between current behavior in America and what audiences are open to.So, what should marketers make of all this? The key takeaway is that while long-form video on social media may experience some growing pains in the short run, it's primed to be hugely important in the long run. There are number of underlying factors--ongoing evolutions in audience behaviors, the rise of younger consumers, increasing advertiser demand, etc.--which indicate that the shift toward lengthier pieces on social media is here to stay, not just a passing fad. Ultimately, while shows on social may not be fully there yet, they likely will become very big, very soon.

9 Email Marketing Trends to Watch in 2019

MDG Advertising ·21 January 2019
Email is amazing.While it doesn't tend to get the same buzz as channels such as social media, email quietly delivers extraordinarily impressive results for marketers year after year.Just how impressive?Email has a median ROI of 122%, more than four times higher than any other digital marketing format.Email is nearly 40 times more effective than social channels in helping brands acquire new customers.Marketers rank email as the channel that has the best combination of effectiveness and ease.Email marketing has been steadily effective for so long that an important fact about it is often overlooked: it's still evolving.From the platforms that power campaigns to the ways consumers consume messages, email is undergoing profound changes.What are some of these shifts? Which innovations and changes in behavior could have a big impact on the field in the next 12 months? Here are nine key email marketing trends we believe every brand should keep a close eye on in 2019:1. The Ever-Growing Importance of DesignEmail began as a purely text-based channel and that has often continued to be the primary focus. Traditionally, marketers have paid some attention to things like headers and images, but the bulk effort has gone towards developing good copy.Finally, that's starting to change. Brands have begun to realize that effective campaigns are as much about the visuals as the words, and they are starting to focus on design elements such as icons, illustrations, and button colors. Expect to see even more of this in the year ahead as marketers witness increased engagement from their design efforts.2. Mobile-First Becomes a MustWhat's behind the increased focus on design? In part, the same thing that's driving many of the current changes in email marketing: the shift from desktop/laptop computers to mobile devices.Some 55% of emails are already opened on mobile devices, up from just 29% in 2012, and that share is expected to steadily grow in the coming years. In other words, email is now mobile-first and every decision that marketers make in the next 12 months (the length of messages, how they are displayed, etc.) should take that into account.3. More Video Content in EmailsIn addition to the rise of mobile, there's another broad digital trend that is impacting email marketing: the rise of video.Video is expected to make up 80% of all Internet traffic by the end of 2019; 54% of consumers want to see more video content from marketers, and audiences say they are more likely to retain marketing messages delivered via video. Combine all that with the fact that email platforms are making it easier to deliver visual pieces in campaigns, and this could be the year that more video makes it into messages.4. True Email PersonalizationFor a while email personalization was mainly superficial; marketers would "individualize" messages by simply including something like the recipients name.Thanks to more powerful marketing platforms and richer data that has started to give way to true personalization. Brands are increasingly targeting highly specific content and offers to individuals based on past and predicted behavior.This approach already yields impressive results -- 82% of marketers reportincreased open rates with rich email personalization -- and is set to become even more effective in the year ahead as tools become more sophisticated.5. The Impact of Artificial IntelligenceWhy are email marketing platforms expected to become more sophisticated in 2019? Largely because of artificial intelligence.AI is no longer something out of science fiction: the technology is now being implemented across a wide-range of areas. Concerning email specifically, artificial intelligence can already help marketers develop effective content (topics, subject lines, etc), optimize send times/frequency, and predict audience actions.That's just the tip of the iceberg. AI is evolving rapidly and there should be many more real-world applications coming for email marketers in the year ahead.6. The Increased Use of Triggered EmailsTriggered emails -- messages delivered only when an individual has taken a certain action such as subscribing, abandoning a shopping cart, etc,. -- have a 71% higher average open rate and 102% higher average click-through rate compared with general newsletters.Those numbers are driven by the fact that marketers tend to have greater insight into intent when it comes to triggered emails (what the individual did/wants/etc.) and can deliver more relevant messaging. That effectiveness, and the fact that audiences tend to be less annoyed by triggered emails, is a strong argument for their increased use in 2019.7. More Interactivity in Email CampaignsHere's a simple fact that marketers often forget: emails can be interactive.All too often, campaigns are thought of as being static rather than dynamic. Today, though, marketing platforms make it possible to add a host of interactive elements to emails, such as image carousels, hamburger menus, clickable hotspots, and navigational anchor tags.There are also other more simple tactics marketers can utilize to enable audiences to engage with messages, such as including a 'reply to us' option for recipients. At minimum, brands should consider experimenting with this sort of basic interactivity to boost engagement in 2019.8. Respecting Privacy and Data Rights Will Remain CriticalThe biggest email story of the past year was the GDPR. The regulations adopted by the EU put in place strict controls on how marketers can collect/use data and gave consumers much more control over their personal information. Suddenly, many of the approaches brands had taken for years, such as buying email lists, became questionable.While the GDPR concerned European citizens, it was by no means an isolated event. Consumers across the world are deeply concerned about how brands are using their data and the issue is certain to remain at the forefront for years to come. Case in point: the California Consumer Privacy Act goes into effect in 2020 and will impact US email marketers in similar ways to the GDPR.9. The Need for a Unique VoiceEvery day individuals and businesses send more than 293 billion emails, and that number is expected to increase to more than 333 billion by 2022.In other words, consumers' inboxes are flooded with messages.How do you break through that noise to get your campaigns opened and read? In part, through some of the approaches already discussed: utilizing personalization to deliver highly relevant content, sending messages based on triggered actions, and optimizing subject lines with AI.There's also another way to stand out: by having a unique voice. That may sound like a little thing, but it's hugely important. Developing a distinct tone gives marketers a big advantage when it comes to email; it makes messages different and instantly recognizable to audiences.Of course, the need for a unique voice is nothing new -- it's been important since the advent of marketing. That highlights yet another thing that makes email amazing: it's the perfect blend of old-school and new-school. Ultimately, it is the best of both worlds. It is a channel that remains very familiar to brands while also integrating the latest digital advances.

The Digital Habits of US Hispanics: What Brands Need to Know

MDG Advertising ·17 January 2019
It's no secret that the US Hispanic market is increasingly vital to brands. Hispanics now account for 18% of the population, are the second-fastest growing ethnic group, and control more than $1.7 trillion in annual purchasing power.However, while businesses may recognize the importance of reaching US Hispanics, many remain unsure of exactly how to target this group, especially via online channels. In part, this is because marketers often encounter recommendations based on anecdotal experiences and outdated ideas rather than on reliable, up-to-date information.So, what are some current data-based trends and behaviors? How do the digital habits of US Hispanics differ -- or not differ -- from those of other groups? Which devices and platforms does this demographic tend to favor?Recently eMarketer tackled these questions in an in-depth report based on original and third-party research.Here are five key insights from the report that every brand looking to target US Hispanics should be aware of:1. Engaging Hispanics Isn't Simply About Creating Spanish-Language Online OfferingsSome brands still seem to think that marketing to US Hispanics online is simply about providing Spanish-language offerings.The problem with that idea is that the group is not monolithic: it is diverse in a host of ways, including language.The US Hispanic demographic in the United States is comprised of Spanish-first, English-first, and bilingual segments, each with specific -- and not necessarily predictable -- online communication preferences.According to GlobalWebIndex research cited by eMarketer, some 95% of English-first US Hispanics prefer English when using digital devices, 70% of bilingual US Hispanics prefer English, and more than half (52%) of Spanish-first US Hispanics prefer English.Overall, 78% of US Hispanics say they prefer English when interacting with digital devices. Given that, simply relying on Spanish-language online offerings is not only insufficient, it often goes against what members of this demographic want.2. US Hispanics Under-Index in Having Broadband at Home and Owning ComputersFor many years one of the major differences between US Hispanics and other groups was access to the Internet. That digital divide has mostly disappeared: 83% of US Hispanics are now Internet users compared with 85% of the overall US population.However, while Internet access has evened out, there remain differences between how US Hispanics and non-Hispanics get online. Specifically, US Hispanics under-index in computer ownership and broadband access at home.According to GlobalWebIndex data, as cited by eMarketer, some 79% of US Hispanic Internet users own a desktop/laptop computer, compared with 92% of non-Hispanic Internet users.The gap in broadband access is even more noticeable: a Pew Research survey cited by eMarketer found only 47% of US Hispanic adults have broadband access at home, compared to 72% of non-Hispanic whites.3. Smartphones Are at the Heart of Digital Life for Many US HispanicsIf US Hispanics are using the Internet as much as other groups but have a lower rate of computer ownership, how are they getting online?The answer that emerges from the research is smartphones. According to YouGov research cited by eMarketer, 87% of US Hispanic Internet users have a smartphone compared with 84% of non-Hispanic white Internet users.The combination of over-indexing on smartphone ownership and under-indexing on computer ownership is important for brands to note. It highlights the fact that mobile phones are at the heart of digital life for many US Hispanics and that digital strategies looking to reach this group should be mobile-optimized.4. The US Hispanics Tend to Be Very Heavy Users of Social NetworksAn additional digital area where US Hispanics over-index is in heavy social media usage.According to Culture Marketing Council research, as cited by eMarketer, US Hispanics are much more likely than both white and black Americans to say that they are on social networks from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to sleep.The survey found:47% of US Hispanics ages 13-17 self-identify as heavy social media usersVersus 32% of non-Hispanic blacks and 24% of non-Hispanic whites37% of US Hispanics ages 18-34 self-identify as heavy social media usersVersus 30% of non-Hispanic blacks and 28% of non-Hispanic whites29% of US Hispanics ages 35-49 self-identify as heavy social media usersVersus 20% of non-Hispanic blacks and 19% of non-Hispanic whites5. Digital Video Services Are More Popular with US Hispanics Than with Other GroupsFinally, there's yet another area where US Hispanics over-index in usage: digital video services.According to Pew Research data cited by eMarketer, some 78% of US Hispanic adults are YouTube users, compared with 73% of all adults.This affinity for streaming video is even more pronounced when looking at other services. For instance, 79% of US Hispanic adults are Netflix users, compared with 62% of non-Hispanics, and 39% of Hispanics are Hulu users, compared with 26% of non-Hispanics.Ultimately, the notions that US Hispanics are stuck in a digital divide or are always Spanish-first are outdated. What emerges from the research is a picture of a complex group that has varying online language preferences and that is Internet-savvy, smartphone-reliant, and strongly connected to social networks and video sites.

9 Social Media Trends to Watch in 2019

MDG Advertising ·19 December 2018
When it comes to social media, the year ahead should be quite an interesting one for marketers.On one hand, social media companies are in the midst of grappling with some very thorny issues -- from privacy/data concerns to slowing growth -- and the repercussions could bring challenges for platforms and marketers alike. On the other hand, platforms are continuing to evolve rapidly in order to boost engagement (longer time spent, more e-commerce purchases, etc.), and this will give brands access to many fresh approaches to achieve their goals.Given all this, what are the shifts that businesses should be following closely? Which features, content types, tactics, and evolutions have the potential to significantly impact social media marketing efforts in the months ahead?Here are nine of the key social media trends we believe every brand should watch closely in 2019:1. Social StoriesWhile posts currently rule social media, a new format is coming for the throne: stories.Stories -- vertical-oriented, impermanent slideshows comprised of videos and images -- are growing 15x faster than news feeds and already have 450 million daily users on WhatsApp, 400 million on Instagram, 70 million on Facebook Messenger, and 150 million on Snapchat (the platform that pioneered the feature).As for the future, Facebook's chief product officer believes, "the Stories format is on a path to surpass feeds as the primary way people share things with their friends" in 2019.2. Social MessagingThe rise of the stories format is highly important to marketers, but another shift in social media behavior may be even more impactful: the rapid adoption of messaging apps.In her 2018 Internet Trends report, tech soothsayer Mary Meeker highlighted a fact that marketers often overlook: three messaging platforms (WeChat, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger) now have more than 1 billion monthly active users, and the growth of these types of apps continues to be breathtaking.It's believed that the majority of digital sharing is now occurring on "dark" (i.e., one-to-one) channels such as messaging apps rather than via public feeds. This could have huge implications for brands looking to connect with audiences in 2019.3. Privacy and TransparencyGiven the various recent scandals and breaches, it's no wonder that people have become wary of how social networks approach privacy and information: more than half (51%) of Americans now say they do not trust platforms to protect their data.Moreover, some 80% of consumers are concerned about the access advertisers have to what they post on social media and 81% of consumers want brands to focus on being transparent on social media.This isn't to say that social platforms aren't thriving and central to people's lives -- more than two-thirds of American adults are on social media and most visit a network at least daily. Rather, it's simply a reminder that social media is built on trust. If users stop trusting that their data is being protected and used properly, and if they don't think advertisers are behaving openly and responsibly, they will stop engaging. That's why both social marketers and the platforms themselves need to be hyper-vigilant about privacy and transparency in the year ahead.4. On-Platform Shopping FeaturesOne thing that's been puzzling about social networks over the past few years is that it's remained relatively difficult to shop on them.That's finally changing. Platforms are rapidly adding features to please both consumers as well as brands, and it's becoming increasingly easy to find, save, and purchase via social.The best example of this is Instagram. Over the past few months the network has released a slew of updates that make on-platform shopping easier, including being able to add products to a collection, being able to see all of a business's offerings on its profile page, and being able to use product tags in videos.This is just the tip of the iceberg. Instagram and other social platforms have strong incentives to make e-commerce more effective, so they are likely to continue to focus on the experience throughout 2019.5. Communal Content ExperiencesAt the beginning of 2018, Mark Zuckerberg said he wanted to refocus Facebook on encouraging "meaningful interaction" and reduce the consumption of "passive content."One result of this shift was an update to the News Feed that prioritized "opportunities to interact with the people you care about." Another was the development of Facebook Watch Party, a feature that allows people to watch videos simultaneously and interact.In 2019, expect more products and updates from Facebook and other networks that encourage communal content experiences, especially around video.6. Micro-influencers and Micro-brandsInitially advertising and influencer marketing on social media was all about big: macro-influencers like the Kardashians got all the attention, and the success stories touted by the social platforms concerned major brands committing large spends.Now the pendulum is swinging towards small. Marketers are seeing that micro-influencers (those with fewer than 100,000 followers) can be just as, or more, effective as macro-influencers. Microbrands, such as Homesick Candles and Rowing Blazers, are transforming a wide-range of markets using social-first marketing strategies.As digital marketing and campaign management platforms continue to improve their capabilities, expect these nimble influencers and businesses to continue to make a big impact in 2019.7. Engagement MetricsBrands still can't get enough Likes.Despite an ever-increasing need to demonstrate ROI, many marketers continue to focus on social metrics, such as Likes, that give little indication of how effective content and ad offerings truly are.While this approach is understandable -- these have traditionally been the simplest data points to access and understand -- it's also outdated. It is now possible for marketers to easily see more useful metrics, such as those concerning engagement, so shifting focus should be a priority for brands of all sizes in the year ahead.8. Augmented Reality ExperiencesAugmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are no longer buzzwords: the market for these products is forecast to exceed $298 billion by 2023.While VR tends to get the most buzz, it's AR -- the layering of digital experiences on the real-world -- that has the most potential for social media marketers in the near term.AR features such as Snapchat's Face and World Lenses are already used widely, and the increasingly powerful capabilities of smartphones have the potential to turn audiences into augmented reality creators. Given all that, it should be possible for social media marketers to develop some truly innovative AR experiences in 2019.9. Responsive Customer ServiceOver the past few years, as social networks transformed largely into content and advertising distribution platforms, many marketers shifted away from thinking of them as customer service channels.That's a mistake.Why? Because consumers notice how brands provide support via social: some 30% of people say say they would switch to a competitor if a brand ignores them on social media and and 71% say they would recommend a brand to others if they have a good social media service experience.Just as social networks are refocusing on community, so too should social media marketers. Ultimately, by making an effort to provide high-quality, responsive customer service on social media, brands can set themselves up well not just for 2019, but also for years to come.

9 Resolutions Every Marketer Should Make for 2019

MDG Advertising ·12 December 2018
As we head into the new year it's time to make some resolutions.On top of personal commitments -- does eating healthier, getting physically fit, and saving more money sound familiar? -- what should marketers seek to improve professionally? Which approaches should you embrace to make your marketing efforts more efficient and effective?Here are nine resolutions we believe every marketer should consider making in 2019 to have a more productive and prosperous year:1. I will use social media to engage, not just to postOver the past few years, many brands have fallen into the habit of using social networks primarily as distribution platforms for content and advertising. While this is certainly an important role, it is not the only one. In the year ahead, brands should remember that social media is a powerful tool for interacting with audiences, not just for delivering offerings.Why is using social to engage so important? Because utilizing it as a service channel can lead to a big payoff: 71% of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand say they are likely to recommend it to others.2. I will embrace voice-controlled assistantsDigital is undergoing a profound shift that marketers should pay close attention to in 2019. Thanks to the integration of platforms such as Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant with smartphones and other devices, consumers are increasingly utilizing voice rather than typing to ask questions and issue commands.Some 58% of consumers say they have already used voice search to find a local business and it is predicted that half of all searches may be conducted via voice by 2020. This is important to brands because voice and typing spark different types of queries and are processed in different ways by digital platforms. That means it's necessary to employ targeted tactics to optimize your offerings for voice.3. I will respect consumers' privacy and protect their dataIn 2018, the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) gave consumers much more control over their digital privacy and imposed strict requirements on how businesses can collect and use data.This should not be dismissed as a one-off event or as the act of overzealous European regulators: GDPR is just the tip of the iceberg and it highlights the growing concerns consumers across the globe have about how brands use and protect personal information. Given that, ensure that you are diligent in the year ahead about respecting consumers' privacy and protecting their data.4. I will focus on quality, not quantity when it comes to contentHere's a sobering statistic: it's estimated that 5% of a brand's content generates 90% of engagement, on average.One takeaway from this is that quantity is not the solution to your problems: simply producing more and more pieces is not likely to attract more interest, boost interactions, or generate more revenue.Ultimately, focusing on quality is vital. If you concentrate on developing a few superb pieces rather than on many mediocre ones, your content investment will reap a much higher return.5. I will be transparent and honest with my audiencesWhat do people want from marketers on social media? Transparency.Some 81% of consumers say brands have a responsibility on social networks to be transparent and 86% say a lack of transparency makes them more likely to take their business to a competitor.As for what demonstrates transparency, it's relatively simple: consumers say they want brands to admit mistakes, provide honest answers to questions, be clear on pricing, and avoid withholding information.6. I will start with my mobile deviceIt's no secret to brands that mobile is ascendant. More than two-thirds of Americans now use a mobile device to access the Internet and more than half of US online traffic originates from smartphones and tablets.Despite this, when reviewing digital campaigns many marketers still default to using a computer. This desktop-first approach in a mobile-first age creates a disconnect between consumers and brands.So, what can be done? Try learning from what a very old-school organization, The New York Times, did to emphasize the importance of mobile. For a period of time, the publication blocked the desktop version of its site in its offices, thereby forcing its staff to make their phones or tablets primary rather than secondary.7. I will pay attention to the metrics that matterWhile measurement is always a good thing, many marketers continue to pay too much attention to vanity metrics and too little attention to actionable metrics.What's the difference? As HubSpot puts it: "Vanity metrics include data such as social media followers, page views, subscribers, and other flashy analytics that are satisfying on paper, but don't move the needle for your business goals. They offer positive reporting, but no context for future marketing decisions -- something actionable metrics can do."Often actionable metrics are more difficult than vanity metrics to collect and analyze, but the effort is worth it. Fundamentally, your marketing efforts will only become more effective if you truly know what is and isn't working and if you know which specific things need to be done in order to improve.8. I will maintain my brand voiceOften marketers will spend time developing their brand voice but then lose it when executing campaigns.This is understandable. With constant demands on time, and so many channels to engage on, it's a difficult challenge to concentrate on carrying your identity across everything you do.Our advice: do it anyway. Your brand is your defining attribute and must be part of everything you create. We've seen over and over again that whether it's through design cues or vocabulary, maintaining consistency in all facets of a brand can exponentially increase its recognizability.9. I will embrace the changeFinally, here's some food for thought: less than two decades ago Facebook and YouTube didn't exist, the iPhone hadn't been released, and print was the second-largest advertising channel.In other words, while things may seem relatively stable in the moment it's important to remember that we live in an age of rapid advancements. While emerging platforms and approaches may seem like just buzzwords today, they could soon be critical to marketers. For example, it's estimated that the augmented reality and virtual reality markets will surpass $94 billion by 2023.Of course, there's no way to predict exactly what will become big and what will fizzle. What we do know is that things won't stay the same. For marketers, then, the most important resolution may simply be to adopt a mindset. In the year ahead, don't become entrenched; instead, start to get excited for what's new and embrace the change.

How Digital Has Transformed the Creative Landscape [Infographic]

MDG Advertising ·28 November 2018
How exactly have things changed? Which shifts have had the biggest impact? Did digital kill the creative star?To find out, check out MDGs infographic, How Digital Has Transformed the Creative Landscape.1. Creatives Are Developing Many More Formats for Many More PlatformsThe biggest change brought by digital to creative is that it has both increased the number of platforms brands need to engage on and the number of content types they need to develop.In addition to traditional channels and formats, marketers must now create a wide range of content for a wide range of platforms. These include:Blog postsSocial postsLong-form textInfographicsImages and slideshowsShort-form videosLong-form videosInteractive experiencesOwned websitesExternal websitesOrganic social mediaPaid social mediaOrganic searchPaid searchDisplay advertisingEmail newslettersIn many ways, this mirrors the shift other industries underwent long ago: marketing and advertising creative has moved from focused craftsmanship to production at scale.2. Personalization and Programmatic Are Driving Even More Demand for CreativeAnother major impact of digital is that it has made it cost efficient to target specific audiences, and even specific individuals, with specific pieces of creative.These approaches and technologies, such as personalization and programmatic ad buying, have been widely embraced because of their effectiveness.70% of creatives say its important to personalize content around the customer journey81% of agencies now engage in programmatic buying of digital advertisingA key consequence of targeted marketing is that it has sparked demand for more creative, since multiple versions of ads and content pieces are often needed. That is largely why:65% of creatives say they are creating more content than 5 years ago60% of creatives say they spend more time creating content than 5 years ago3. Data and New Tools Have Changed the Nature of CreativeDigital has not only changed how pieces are distributed, but also how they are made. In part, this has taken the form of new tools, such as hardware and software, for developing creative.69% of creatives say they are using different tools compared with 5 years agoHowever, the shift goes well beyond just new tools. The combination of constantly-updated data and fresh content types has made the entire creative field more iterative and collaborative.73% of creatives say it is now important to be able to collaborate easilyIncreasingly, development is organic and fluid, not static. This means teams are being required to do more on a day-to-day basis than simply creating.Compared to five years ago:40% of creatives spend more time on asset management and collaboration38% spend more time on iterating designs and getting approvals28% spend more time on meetings and administration4. Creatives Have Started to Rely Increasingly on Automation and AIHow have creatives been able to develop many more pieces as well as take on much more collaboration and iteration without massively bigger budgets?A large factor, and another transformative aspect of digital, has been automation.The share of creatives who say they use automation to help with:46% templates40% photo/design retouching34% file naming31% style guide implementation20% smart grids18% localizationAutomation may just be the start of how technology transforms the creative process. AI has already been incorporated into design software to enable the development of dynamic experiences, and a significant share of creatives believe it will soon have an even bigger impact.69% of creatives foresee their use of AI increasing over the next 5 years45% of creatives think AI will take over some of their job responsibilities5. The Democratization of Creative Has Made Talent More Important Than EverA key way digital has transformed creative is that it has democratized it; with smartphones and social media nearly anyone can share nearly anything online.This has led to a growing flood of content from consumers, not just creatives.Every minute online people:Share 2 million snapsWatch 4 million YouTube videosPost 50 thousand Instagram photosPublish 80 thousand Tumblr postsAt first glance, this would seem to make creatives less valuable: who needs a professional when everyone with an smartphone can post something? However, thats not actually the case.A study of the Instagram preferences of 13-24 year-olds found they want posts that are:Thoughtfully composedArtfully presentedBeautiful/engagingHave rich/authentic narrativesIn other words, young, online-savvy audiences highly prize the abilities of professional creators, like skillful design and deft storytelling. Ultimately, while digital has transformed nearly every other aspect of the field, it has not killed the creative star. In fact, talented creators are more valuable than everand now they have more powerful tools than ever.

5 Things Marketers Should Give Thanks For

MDG Advertising ·15 November 2018
'Tis the season to reflect and express gratitude.So, what should marketers be thankful for this year? Which evolutions, tactics, and trends impacted the field positively in 2018?There are countless options to choose from, but these five in particular stand out for both the scale of their influence this year and for their potential to continue to affect marketing for years to come.1. The GDPR Data RegulationAt first glance, Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) seems like something marketers should lament, rather than be thankful for. This sweeping legislation, which went into effect in May, gave consumers much more control over their own data and required businesses to disclose their data collection practices as well as ask for explicit consent to utilize information. Although the regulation was enacted by the EU, it impacted firms of all sizes across the globe.Why was this good for marketers? Because for years data had been collected, used, and stored sloppily: too many firms had embraced the power of data without accepting the necessary responsibility. This was leading to ever-increasing distrust and anger from consumers.Essentially, GDPR forced businesses to take much needed steps that had been avoided for far too long. While this brought some short-term pain, it made the long-term future of data-based marketing much more secure.2. Voice Search and Natural Language ProcessingWhile search engine marketing and search engine optimization have been powerful tools for businesses, there has also been a largely unacknowledged flaw: the way search platforms are used and they way operate has not matched real-life behavior. Specifically, the keyword-based approach to search hasn't been a good fit with how people naturally use language.Two trends are changing this. First, thanks to the popularity of tools such as Siri and Google Assistant on smartphones and devices enabled with Alexa-like helpers, consumers are increasingly using voice to search instead of typing. Second, search engines like Google are utilizing approaches such as natural language processing (NLP) to better understand how humans communicate. Essentially, people are searching more conversationally and search systems are simultaneously getting better at deciphering conversational language.For marketers, this combination means that trying to anticipate stilted consumer queries is becoming increasingly less important. The major benefit of this is that efforts can be focused on targeting what people truly want -- not the keywords they happen to use in a search engine.3. Account-Based MarketingWhile new technologies usually get most of the buzz, sometimes changes in approaches can be just as transformational to marketing.One prime example is account-based marketing (ABM). This framework, which transitioned from a buzzword to a mainstream strategy this year, is used to market to firms or even individuals with specific messaging, rather than lumping them into segments. While this may not sound revolutionary, its impact is: some 97% of marketers say ABM has a higher ROI than any other marketing initiative.Why is ABM such a big deal? Because it's an example of an approach maturing at the same time as the tools needed to execute it properly. Thanks to sophisticated marketing platforms, marketers and salespeople can now to highly tailor messaging, advertising, and content at scale. This means each target is delivered the most effective materials, resulting in higher engagement and revenue.4. InstagramWhat if there was a social network that was based on the visual content types audiences love (images, videos, ephemeral posts), that was adored by valuable audiences, that wasn't tainted by scandal, and that had highly-effective advertising capabilities?There is: Instagram.The platform now has more than 1 billion active monthly users, is catching up to Snapchat in popularity with young consumers, and has avoided the controversies surrounding parent company Facebook while still utilizing its incredibly powerful advertising engine.Basically, this was the year that Instagram became the Goldilocks network: just big enough, just popular enough, just trendy enough, and just sophisticated enough. In a time when audiences are increasingly wary of big social platforms, it has become a much-needed haven for marketers.5. MillennialsFinally, this year marketers should be thankful for a demographic that has been much maligned: Millennials.For years, businesses have been struggling to understand this group, which is expected to overtake Boomers as the largest age cohort in the United States in 2019. Unfortunately, much of the coverage has been alarming: supposedly these younger consumers want firms to be hip and political by diving into cutting-edge technologies and controversial causes.The data, however, paints a different picture. As with all other groups, Millennials' top concerns with products/services are cost and quality. Beyond that, this group doesn't necessarily want companies to take stands: just 15% say they pay attention to brands' political and ethical positions. Rather, what they care about are authenticy (97% value), trustworthiness (77%), loyalty (74%), and responsibility (73%).Fundamentally, Millennials are simply pushing brands to ditch artifice and focus on providing authentic messaging, high-quality service, and good value. That's a positive shift that both consumers and marketers should be thankful for.

Travel and Hospitality Marketing Budgets for 2019: 4 Trends to Watch

MDG Advertising ·10 October 2018
As you dive into 2019 budgeting, what trends should you be thinking about? Which approaches, platforms, and tools should be top of mind for travel and hospitality marketers?The team at MDG Advertising recently analyzed a host of recent analyst reports and industry surveys to find out.What came from that deep dive are these four key trends trends that every travel and hospitality firm should be watching closely in the year ahead:1. The Power of SearchWhen it comes to travel and hospitality marketing, search has become the digital workhorse. Newer channels may get more buzz, but it's search that continues to most consistently deliver audiences, engagement, and bookings.Some 48% of all US travelers say they begin trip planning with a search engine and 57% of travelers ages 18-34 go to a general search engine to check accomodation prices.In addition, travel and hospitality advertising on search is especially effective: 36% of consumers overall recall viewing a travel ad on a search engine and 50% of consumers ages 18-34 recall viewing a travel ad on a search engine.Moreover, search is becoming more important, not less important. Due in part to News Feed changes made by Facebook, search engines overtook social media as the top referrer of traffic to content sites this year.Given all that, make sure to budget well in 2019 for the tried-and-true (and highly effective) approaches of search engine marketing and search engine optimization.2. The Value of Visual ContentTravel and hospitality has always been an especially good verticals for visual content. What's changed in recent years is that images and videos have become more central to digital platforms, enabling consumers to more easily access these pieces.Today's trip planners engage across formats and channels: 49% say they look at travel content sites, 30% look at social media, and 23% watch videos.In other words, it's now highly likely that audiences will encounter--or will even seek out--images and videos related to your brand before finalizing travel plans.Visuals are also increasingly a key part of advertising: consumers rank images as the most memorable element of online travel ads, ahead of prices/deals and personalized features.This combination of organic and paid potency makes visual content a win-win for travel and hospitality brands: pieces can be utilized in different ways across different channels, engaging multiple audiences effectively.3. The Rise of InstagramMark Zuckerberg has done many smart things in his life, but the smartest may have been buying Instagram. The Facebook-owned social network has been experiencing tremendous growth over the past few years and now has more than 1 billion active monthly users.The combination of scale, a visual-based feed, and receptive audiences has made Instagram especially important to the travel and hospitality industry.How important? A survey of UK travelers found that 40% of respondents under 33 prioritize "Instagrammability" when choosing their next holiday spot, and US consumers rank Instagram as among the most influential platforms for travel advertising (along with Snapchat and YouTube).Moreover, influencers say Instagram is far and away the social network they use most, as well as the social network that's most effective for posting content.Put simply, Instagram is a perfect fit for travel and hospitality marketing as it's an ideal showcase for visual content, is prized by younger travelers, has highly effective advertising capabilities, and is where influencers can wield the most weight.4. The Popularity of Deal- and Impulse-Based TravelTravelers have always sought out deals and procrastinated planning. However, the rise of digital and smartphones has made it easier than ever to shop around and take last-minute trips.When Google did an in-depth study of modern travelers earlier this year, it discovered these interesting behaviors:Loyalty isn't a given: Just 9% of US travelers "always" know which brand they want to book with prior to researching and two-thirds of US elite hotel loyalty program members say they would pick a different hotel for a better price.Instant gratification is on the rise: Some 60% of US consumers say they would consider an impulse trip based on a good hotel or flight deal, and most US travelers plan to take more short getaways (three nights or less) than longer vacations (more than three nights) in the next 12 months.Again, this behavior isn't new, but it does seem to becoming more widespread. That's why brands shouldn't rest on their laurels next year and assume they'll have loyalty: it'll be more important than ever to compete for travelers' dollars based on price and timely prompts.Ultimately, the takeaway from all of these trends is that travel and hospitality marketers shouldn't be complacent in 2019. To succeed in the marketplace in the year ahead will require continuing to engage on established channels such as search, investing in fresher approaches such as visual content and Instagram, and remaining ever-vigilant about shifts in travelers' behaviors.

It's All About the Images [Infographic]

MDG Advertising · 3 October 2018
Why is this case? How exactly do visuals help? Which approaches can marketers take to increase the impact of their images?To find out, check out the key findings below, as well in MDG Advertising's newly updated infographic, It's All About the Images.People Are Wired to Value ImagesThe power of images lies in the fundamentals of human nature; we're wired to notice, remember, learn from, and respond emotionally to visuals.People remember only 10% of information three days after hearing it, on average; adding a picture can improve recall to 65%Nearly two-thirds of people say they're visual learnersConsumers are significantly more likely to think favorably of ads that emphasize photography, over ads that emphasize textGiven the powerful pull of images, it's no surprise that they're valued by brands:Marketers rank images as the most important content type, ahead of text and video68% of marketers say they plan to use images more in the futureAvoid overused stock images to ensure that your pieces stand out from those of other brands.The Impact of Images in ArticlesImages are powerful on their own, but when mixed with text they become even more impactful. Audiences consistently respond well to the combination of words and visuals.Articles with relevant images get 94% more views, on average, compared to articles without imagesResearchers have found that certain types of articles especially benefit from images:The Top Content Categories Where Images Boost Article Performance:General newsPoliticsSportsTo maximize the effect of images in articles, optimize all accompanying captions and metadata.The Impact of Images on Social MediaSocial media was initially text-driven and audiences tended to react most strongly to this content. Today, it's visual pieces that garner the most views, likes, shares, and comments.Images on Facebook receive 20% more engagement than videos and 352% more engagement than linksThis trend is likely to accelerate given that younger audiences prefer visual-first social networks.The Social Networks US Teens Use Most Often:SnapchatYouTubeInstagramYounger users say the images they like most on Instagram are beautiful and well composed.The Impact of Images in Press MaterialsGone are the days when an all-text press release would do the trick. Today, reporters and publishers want materials from brands that include multimedia elements, especially images.Journalists say images are the most-used multimedia and data element in storiesJournalists say providing images is among the most valuable things PR professionals doThe more multimedia you include in your press materials, the more views you're likely to get. That's according to an analysis of more than 10,000 press releases.The Impact of Images in SearchA key benefit of images that's often overlooked by brands is their search impact: visual pieces are highly valued by both search audiences and search engines themselves.Consumers, especially local ones, respond strongly to images in search:60% of consumers say they're more likely to consider or contact a business that has an image show up in local search resultsSearch engines understand this preference and increasingly prioritize visual-heavy content:Pages that appear in Google's featured mobile snippets have 12 images, on averageEnsure that your business shines on search by making your pages well structured and image heavy.The Impact of Images in E-CommerceIt's no secret that high-quality images help to sell products online, but sometimes brands overlook exactly how important they are.Simply put, consumers believe that good images are essential to an e-commerce experience:67% of consumers say that the quality of a product image is "very important" in selecting and purchasing the productIt's not just that images are valued, it's that they're often more valued than other content:More customers value the quality of a product's image than value:Product-specific information - 63%Long description - 54%Ratings and reviews - 53%When it comes to product visuals, don't skimp--provide many high-quality images for audiences.

Online Reputation Management 101: What Businesses Need to Know

MDG Advertising ·14 September 2018
It's time to get serious about managing your brand's reputation online.When done well, online reputation management (ORM) can be a huge boom for businesses, leading to increased interest, stronger loyalty from consumers, and significant boosts in everything from in-store visits to purchases. When not dealt with properly it can suppress demand for products/services and directly impact revenue.Why is online reputation management more important than ever today? What exactly is ORM? How can you begin to approach it effectively?MDG Advertising's newly updated infographic, Online Reputation Management 101: What Businesses Need to Know, answers these questions. We cover the specifics of what online reputation management is, which platforms matter most, why doing it properly is so vital, and how to get started.Check out the infographic to learn the key things every business should know about ORM.

Travel and Hospitality Advertising: 5 Digital Spend Trends to Watch

MDG Advertising ·30 August 2018
As travel and hospitality marketers get ready to set their budgets for 2019, which digital advertising trends should they be keeping a close eye on?To find out, the team at MDG Advertising went through a recent in-depth research report, which was based on interviews with major industry advertisers and an analysis of 160 metrics from 16 third-party sources.What did we learn? Are travel and hospitality advertisers increasing their digital advertising budgets? Which channels and formats are receiving the biggest share of spend? What are the key industry evolutions impacting the ad market?MDG's latest blog post, Travel and Hospitality Advertising: 5 Digital Spend Trends to Watch, shares the highlights from the research. We cover projected budget growth, spend trends by format, what impact video is having on the market, the effects of programmatic buying, and how mobile has changed the industry.Read the full post to find out the key digital advertising trends every travel and hospitality marketer should be watching.

How to Measure Social Media ROI: A 4-Step Plan for Marketers - MDG

MDG Advertising ·22 August 2018
Even now, many years into social media having become nearly ubiquitous, these seemingly simple questions continue to vex many firms. In fact, according to a recent survey, only 23% of senior marketers say they can quantitatively determine the impact of their social efforts.Often these struggles are rooted in the belief that measuring social media ROI is a nearly impossible task, involving endless measurement and analysis.The truth is that it is relatively easy and is achievable for firms of all sizes. MDG Advertising's new infographic, How to Measure Social Media ROI: A 4-Step Plan for Marketers, outlines a clear approach you can take to determine the impact of your engagements across platforms.Check out the infographic to find out how your brand can measure its social media return on investment using a simple four-step process:

How to Measure Social Media ROI: A 4-Step Plan for Marketers - MDG

MDG Advertising ·22 August 2018
What is the return on investment of your social media efforts? Are your audiences taking the right actions on the right platforms? Which social tactics are truly helping your brand achieve its marketing and sales goals?Even now, many years into social media having become nearly ubiquitous, these seemingly simple questions continue to vex many firms. In fact, according to a recent survey, only 23% of senior marketers say they can quantitatively determine the impact of their social efforts.Often these struggles are rooted in the belief that measuring social media ROI is a nearly impossible task, involving endless measurement and analysis.The truth is that it is relatively easy and is achievable for firms of all sizes. MDG Advertising's new infographic, How to Measure Social Media ROI: A 4-Step Plan for Marketers, outlines a clear approach you can take to determine the impact of your engagements across platforms.Check out the infographic to find out how your brand can measure its social media return on investment using a simple four-step process:

Facebook's New Recommendations Feature: What Local Businesses Need to Know - MDG

MDG Advertising ·10 August 2018
If you thought summer would slow Facebook from making major updates to its platform, you were wrong.The social network just unveiled a host of changes intended to make it easier for its users to connect with local businesses. Included in the release is a redesigned look for mobile Pages, additional Events functionality, an expanded job application tool for firms, and a stand-alone Local experience.The most impactful element on local businesses may be the new Recommendations feature, which is a combination of existing and new functionality.What exactly is Recommendations? How does it work and what effect will it have on local/multi-location businesses?Here's what marketers need to know:1. What Is Recommendations?Essentially, Recommendations is replacing the existing ways that Facebook users leave feedback about local firms.Whereas in the past people would engage via ratings and reviews on a business's Page, now they'll have a unified experience: Recommendations.The changes are not superficial -- everything from the underlying way the feature works to the user experience has been completely redesigned.

7 Tips for Succeeding with Instagram Marketing - MDG

MDG Advertising · 2 August 2018
This year is set to be a big one for Instagram marketing.According to Social Media Examiner's annual report, in 2018 some 69% of marketers plan to increase their investment on the platform and 74% plan to learn more about how to best use the social network.What's driving this spike in interest? Largely, a quickly growing audience and considerable popularity with younger consumers: Instagram now has more than 800 million active users, with 71% of US adults ages 18-24 and 72% of US teens ages 13-17 utilizing it.However, while most marketers understand the power of the platform, actually establishing a successful presence remains a challenge. Many marketers are still unsure about which types of content to post, when to engage, how best to reach audiences, and what the social network's full range of features is.To help, here are seven steps that every brand should take in order to make the most of its Instagram marketing efforts:

How Social Media Has Changed the Ad Game - MDG

MDG Advertising ·18 July 2018
Social media has evolved into the perfect landscape for advertisers hoping to expand audience reach. Brands are shifting away from old-school advertising tactics as social media becomes more and more popular.To help you understand the key factors and changes that are driving the move toward social media advertising, the team at MDG Advertising just refreshed our popular infographic, How Social Media Has Changed the Ad Game, with vital statistics and tips for 2018. We've done the legwork for you, narrowing down the approaches that matter.With more than a third of consumers spending their online time on social sites, there's never been a better time to implement a winning social media strategy. View MDG's full infographic to find the answers to your most pressing social media advertising questions.Click here to see full article

5 Global Advertising Trends Every Marketer Should Watch - MDG Advertising

MDG Advertising ·16 July 2018
Most marketers know that the advertising landscape is changing--but how? Are digital channels growing quickly? Will ad spend growth increase? What formats are on the rise?To find out, the team at MDG Advertising analyzed recent research reports. Our new article, 5 Global Advertising Trends Every Marketer Should Watch, reveals key highlights from the current data and provides answers to some of the most frequently asked advertising questions.So, what should marketers take note of when planning a strategy? The research shows that the years ahead should offer plenty of opportunity, but they'll also bring major changes. Advertisers should remain optimistic, nimble, and hyper-aware of the big ad shifts--while not abandoning traditional ad approaches that are working well.For essential insights on today's global advertising trends, check out MDG's full blog post.

12 Social Media Trends from Mary Meeker's 2018 Annual Internet Report - MDG

MDG Advertising ·11 July 2018
What are the essential Internet trends to watch? How is digital changing our lives and the world around us? Every year Mary Meeker--general partner at KPCB and long-time technology soothsayer--wades through a tremendous amount of research and conducts interviews with top industry experts to find out. Her 2018 annual report is chock-full of thought-provoking insights, from an outline of the ways in which consumer spending habits are shifting, to an exploration of how the nature of work is changing. One of the key areas that Meeker covers in depth is social media. Specifically, she examines the latest platforms, user behavior, advertising, and content evolutions. Here are 12 of the key social media observations from Meeker's report that every marketer should be aware of:

The ROI of Social Media [Infographic]

MDG Advertising ·28 June 2018
So, how can you effectively measure the success of your social media initiatives? To shed some light on this controversial topic, we've updated our infographic, The ROI of Social Media, with the latest statistics. The infographic offers tips and techniques that will help you know whether your social efforts are increasing revenue--or whether it's time to step up your game.Struggling to Measure Social Media ROI? You're Not Alone.If you've had difficulty measuring social ROI, know that it's a common problem. Forty-four percent of CMOs say that they haven't been able to measure the impact of social media on their business, while only 20 percent say that they've been able to quantify social media's success. Plus, 36 percent of CMOs say they have a qualitative sense of its impact, but they haven't been able to translate that into solid figures.Brands aren't the only ones struggling to quantify social ROI. Research has shown that 28 percent of marketing agencies face their own difficulties when determining the impact of their social media initiatives. More than half of agencies--55 percent--say that they can measure social ROI somewhat, and only 17 percent say that they can quantify it accurately.Today's marketers often rank measuring ROI as one of the top issues with their social efforts. So, why is it so difficult to measure social media ROI? We outline some of the challenges marketers face in the next section.The Challenges of Measuring Social Media ROIToday's marketers face four key social media challenges:Measuring ROI: Social media still is a relatively new marketing channel, making it difficult to determine its impact on revenue.Publishing content: Generating compelling content ideas can be difficult at times. Plus, many firms have limited resources when it comes to creating digital content.Developing a strategy: Social media marketing is more than simply posting on all platforms; companies that are successful go beyond basic posting. To use social media to its full potential, companies must create campaigns and advertisements that engage their target market.Tying social media to business objectives: How will your social media strategy impact your overall business goals? Many businesses find themselves struggling to figure out where social media fits into the big picture.What Marketers Are MeasuringAs mentioned previously, marketers face multiple challenges when quantifying the success of social media--but it doesn't mean they aren't trying. More than two-thirds--73 percent--of businesses regularly track their social media efforts, though the metrics analyzed are limited. Most marketers are looking at likes, comments, and other engagement statistics instead of overall sales.More than half of businesses measure engagement, which includes views, likes, and shares. A smaller percentage of firms--21 percent--measure conversions, including revenue and goal conversions. Just 16 percent of firms measure amplification, and a meager two percent measure customer service metrics.So, what about firms investing in paid campaigns? Surprisingly, the most popular metric analyzed by these firms isn't directly related to sales. Those using paid campaigns are focusing on audience reach and growth, clicks to website, and engagement. The conversion rate takes last priority, despite the firms' financial investment in the social campaigns.Social Media Works, But Exactly How Much Is Hard to QuantifyThe majority of marketers believe that as a whole, social media has helped their businesses--even if they can't quantify its exact impact. Most believe that the benefits of incorporating a social media strategy include:Increased exposureMore website trafficDeveloping fan basesGenerating sales leadsGrowing business partnershipsBoosting salesMarketers' budgeting plans often reflect a belief in social media's effectiveness and optimism about its future. A survey of CMOs revealed that businesses are spending 12 percent of their marketing budgets on social efforts. This number is expected to rise to more than 20 percent over the next five years as brands increase their presence across multiple platforms.Why Is Measuring Social ROI Difficult?It's clear that social media gets results, but it's also apparent that most marketers struggle to measure its overall impact. So, what's holding brands back from measuring the success of their social initiatives?Marketers claim that there are multiple causes. Here are the top reasons brands struggle to quantify social ROI:They're unable to tie social media to business outcomes: Despite tracking engagement metrics, brands can't see how social posts and shares affect overall revenue.They lack analytics expertise and resources: Many marketers are new to social media and analytics tools. There may be a learning curve as marketers adapt to new platforms and begin to allocate resources toward measuring social ROI.They're employing inadequate measurement tools and platforms: While there are many social media tracking tools available today, not every platform will provide the data marketers need.They're using inconsistent analytical approaches: Some marketers are unable to receive a clear picture of their posts' success due to inconsistent reporting.They're relying on poor or unreliable data: The quality of social data received also matters. For example, social media platforms are littered with fake and duplicate accounts. Activity from these accounts can sometimes affect the accuracy of your data.While there's no magic bullet for making the process simple, it's possible for every organization to measure social ROI by investing in skilled staff, analytics platforms, and high-quality data. Finding the right approach will take time and effort, but knowing how to track social media's impact on your bottom line will make the investment worth it.

Local Search Evolved [Infographic]

MDG Advertising ·16 May 2018
Google's location-based searches are growing rapidly, and so are consumers' expectations. So, what key changes should you be aware of this year? We've updated our popular infographic, Local Search Evolved, with fresh approaches and statistics, giving you the tools you need to boost search engine rankings and expand your business. Here's what you need to know as you evaluate your local search strategy in 2018.Mobile's Impact on Local Search BehaviorWhen it comes to online search, Internet- and GPS-enabled smartphones have completely changed the landscape. Search has become even more localized in the past few years--in 2017, 61 percent of consumers primarily used a smartphone to access the Internet. This shift is significant because with the move to smartphones, searches are likely to be local.The vast majority--82 percent--of smartphone users rely on search engines when looking for local businesses, and over a third of these are related to location. In the past, consumers had to manually localize their searches by adding a ZIP code or other information. Today, with GPS services enabled, a smartphone user doesn't need to input any location information when conducting a search--Google does this automatically.Local Search Is Driving Small Business GrowthWe know that the popularity of smartphones has had a profound impact on how consumers find nearby products and services, but how will it affect business growth? The results are profound--mobile devices are expected to influence $1.4 trillion in local sales by 2021.So, why does local search lead to a boost in sales? It's because local searches often lead to action. A whopping 72 percent of consumers often visit a store within five miles of their location after performing a search. Plus, 28 percent of nearby searches result in a purchase. Essentially, attracting the local search market means that you'll have first access to those who are in the last stage of the sales journey.This is great news for small businesses, which can use local search to their advantage by optimizing their website pages. As Google focuses more on ultra-relevant results, small-business websites with well-crafted content will become even more prominent on the first results page.Search Engines Determine How Consumers Find BusinessesWhile there are multiple ways that consumers find local businesses, the power and effectiveness of search engines have made them the primary method. Eighty percent of consumers use search engines to find the products and services they need, and 63 percent will go on to visit a company's website. Social media also plays an important role in how consumers locate businesses. Forty-eight percent of consumers search through social media to find business information.When the search for a product or service aligns with the convenience of using a smartphone, the inclination is to choose a store or service nearby. Brands that take advantage of these "micro moments" created by on-the-go consumers will see great results in 2018.The Significance of Local SEOThe importance of developing a local SEO strategy cannot be understated when it comes to mobile search. Google search results no longer display a list of simple blue links--today's pages include several important elements. These include images, informational pieces, and more.Marketers must consider which factors are important in different scenarios, including Local Pack (map-based) results and traditional organic results. Strengthening your Google My Business signals will be key when increasing local pack results. Business addresses are the number-one piece of information searched for by local customers, making it essential to keep that information updated. It's also important to make sure your contact information is consistent across all channels.Marketers also can boost map-based results on their websites by adding link signals and optimizing titles with local keywords. Boosting your citation and review signals will also help raise your rankings. The more your business is mentioned across different websites, the higher it will appear in search results.Optimizing your link, on-page, and citation signals will also help you improve your localized organic rankings. You'll also want to examine your behavioral signals, including the click-through rate and URL access and duration. Personalization is another significant ranking factor, which includes targeted elements like location and browsing history.Reputation Management Plays a Key Role in Local SearchA major development in local search has been the importance of reviews and rankings. A staggering 93 percent of consumers look to local reviews when deciding if a business is good or not, and 35 percent always read the reviews when searching for the right business. More than half of consumers say that positive reviews make them more likely to choose a local business; conversely, 40 percent of users state that a negative review would cause them to shy away from a business.Consumers consider reviews deeply valuable information. Because of this, they often are displayed front and center in Google's results and can significantly affect website traffic. In fact, many searchers won't look past the Google My Business listings to view the other organic results. If your goal is to increase website visits or rise to the top of search engines, you must receive glowing reviews.Busy, on-the-go consumers want immediate, relevant information--and brands must deliver. Finding success with local search involves embracing several different tactics. Focusing on mobile search queries, optimizing your site's SEO, and improving your Google My Business page are all-important when developing a local search strategy. In addition to implementing these tactics, brands should focus on producing high-quality content and providing great customer service. These fail-proof techniques will encourage stellar reviews and keep customers coming back.

Facebook's Custom Audience Tool: A Guide for Brands - MDG

MDG Advertising ·11 May 2018
Facebook recently removed third-party ad targeting segments, which were built into the Advanced Audience page. Called Partner Categories, these segments included supplemental material from Experian, Axciom, Oracle Data Cloud, and other sources of personal data.While these tools were considered helpful means for targeting users based on their offline activity, there are other robust tools within Facebook that enable brands to take advantage of their first-party data in targeting the right audiences.

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