Native Advertising is Broken: Six Steps to Fix It

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Writing for HubSpot, I've explored what's wrong with current iterations of native advertising and what we can do to fix it. Native advertising, of course, all the rage these days. Companies like BuzzFeed and ShareThrough have based their business models on the notion that in-stream, organic-like content will save the day and finally allow everyone to retire those tired and underperforming banner ads to a nice tropical island far, far away.

In its current form, however, native advertising is destined to fail just like the banner ad failed. Why? Because most native advertising placements -- just like most banner ad placements -- are not structured with inbound marketing strategies that treat native advertising content creation as a starting point. Rather, the content is treated as the end point. In essence, most native advertising today is basically a branding play.

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by Steve Hall    Mar-29-13    
Topic: Online, Opinion



Panties in A Bunch Over Tiger Woods 'Winning' Ad

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Oh the joys of real-time marketing backlash. We're quite sure Tiger Woods and Nike are very happy he's back on top. We're also quite sure they both really do feel "winning takes care of everything" as the brand's real-time ad touted yesterday.

It's also very clear quite a few people are none too happy about Tiger Woods flouting his newfound No. 1 status following his sex scandal debacle from a few years ago. Some say the ad is in poor taste and, in essence, sweeps the not-so-winning portion of Woods' life under the carpet.

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by Steve Hall    Mar-27-13    
Topic: Celebrity, Opinion, Social



7 Steps to Becoming a World-Class Real-Time Marketer

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Lately, real-time marketing is the buzzword du jour. While the notion of real-time marketing has been around since the mid-nineties, the practice gained steam after Oreo's "Dunk in the Dark" ad was created immediately following the power outage during this year's Super Bowl.

Then, shortly after the Super Bowl -- during the Oscars -- it seemed like practically every brand was developing Dunk in the Dark-like ads. The point I'm trying to make isn't that most marketers are lemmings unable to stop themselves from immediately jumping on the next shiny new object. In fact, a little real-time marketing experimentation is definitely not a bad thing, so in this post I wrote for HubSpot, I'll highlight the necessary steps you should take to be an effective real-time marketer.

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by Steve Hall    Mar-27-13    
Topic: Opinion, Research, Social, Tools



10 Steps To A Successful Social Media Strategy

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Despite the fact that most Americans have embraced social media, recent studies show that as many as 72% of businesses that have a social media presence do not have a clearly defined social strategy in place. Without a clear social strategy, building a successful social presence that inspires customer loyalty and engagement is nearly impossible.

Is your business one of the 72%? The good news is you are not alone. If you're just starting to develop your social media strategy, or taking a second look at a strategy that just isn't paying off, here are some best practices to make the most of your company's social presence.

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by Steve Hall    Mar-18-13    
Topic: Opinion, Social



How Metalhead Mentality Breeds Creativity

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TBWA\Chiat\Day New York Head of Planning, Ed Castillo, attended a SXSW panel entitled Anarchists to Sell-Out: Punks Make Better CEOs and had these thoughts to share.

The presentation I enjoyed most at SXSWi was "Anarchist to Sell-Out: Punks Make Better CEOs" by Deep Local CEO Nathan Martin. Martin's candid account of his journey from skate punk, to electronics anarchist, to metal front man, to tactical-media artist and agitator, to design professor, to creative technologist for hire (my characterizations, not his) was a provocative and inspiring story about embracing the disruptive force of creativity and living strictly on one's own terms. In a career punctuated by hacking the Nintendo Gameboy, trading sex for votes, and Nike Chalkbot, Martin has apparently found a way to participate meaningfully in the circus that is brand marketing while staying true to the idealism of his art and the hacktivism of his youth.

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by Steve Hall    Mar-18-13    
Topic: Industry Events, Opinion



How NFC Could Revitalize Direct Marketing

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NFC - near field communication - is a relatively new technology that has the potential to revitalize the direct mail marketing sector. It enables marketers to deliver content via an embedded NFC chip that allows wireless communication when a user touches a smartphone or mobile device to a piece of marketing collateral or brings the device into close proximity with an NFC tag.

Although NFC technology has been around since the 1980s and marketers are increasingly using it today, the technology was slower to catch on in marketing than QR code technology. QR codes - two-dimensional matrix codes that are often printed on direct mail marketing material - have found a ready user audience in the marketing realm for several years now. QR codes appear on everything from movie posters to fast-food restaurant drink cups to ketchup bottles. With QR codes, consumers can scan the printed code with their smartphone's camera to be connected to online digital content.

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by Steve Hall    Mar-18-13    
Topic: Direct, Opinion



Is SXSW the New Cannes?

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While we knew this was the case for several years now, SXSW Interactive has become a huge event generating conversation the world over. This year's event generated 1.1 million tweets in 5 five days across 200 countries and 19 languages.

Social media monitoring company Synthesio created an infographic summarizing global social media conversation about the Austin, Texas event. Without surprise, the U.S generated the most (71%) conversation followed by the UK (4.6%) and Canada (4.4%).

Some say SXSW is the new Cannes. In some respects, it is. As the advertising industry moves more towards technology and content solutions versus Super Bowl-style creative solutions, this shift in mentality may make sense. But it will be a very long while before the advertising industry gives up its Rose-filled afternoons on the Carlton Terrace or the massive beach parties that occur every night which, by the way, put even the best parties at SXSW to shame.

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by Steve Hall    Mar-18-13    
Topic: Industry Events, Opinion



Why All Brands Need to be Real-Time Marketers

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In a rousing SXSW Interactive pop-up panel hosted by Expion and moderated by Advertising Age's David Teicher, the subject of real time marketing was discussed. On the panel were Mondelez VP of Global Media and Consumer Engagement Bonin Bough, Oreo Senior Associate Brand Manager Steve Doan, Expion Chief Innovation Officer Albert Chou, 360i VP of Emerging Media David Berkowitz and Vayner Media Co-Founder Gary Vaynerchuk. Held at Pete's Dueling Piano Bar on 6th street, the panel shared theories and practical advice for brands navigating the ever-quicker stream of media that now rules our daily lives.

The fact the panel was held at Pete's Dueling Piano Bar was apropos. To see Bough and Vaynerchuk share a microphone was both comical and practical. Comical because the two couldn't comment enough on each other's commentary. Practical because had each had their own microphone, it would have much like, well, a pair of pianos dueling each other.

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by Steve Hall    Mar-12-13    
Topic: Industry Events, Opinion



Why 'Do Not Track' Will Hurt Many Brands

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This guest post on the topic of Do Not Track is written by Tim Stoute, Co-CEO & CTO of Toronto-based eyeReturn.

Online advertising is appealing because it is effective and measurable. The "Ad Tech" industry is a competitive and innovative space, where disruptive new techniques are frequently introduced to provide advertisers new tools, reports, and efficiencies for their advertising dollars. One of these new technologies is behavioral advertising. Behavioral advertising allows online systems to classify web-surfing habits and target specific advertisements based on the classification - this, as you know, makes the advertising more efficient for the advertiser, and more relevant to the end user.

While behavioral advertising is both anonymous and a benefit to all parties, some people perceive the practice as intrusive and infringing on user privacy. Recognizing these concerns, the online advertising industry has worked together to form standards, regulations and opt-out systems. One of these standards is called Do Not Track (DNT).

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by Steve Hall    Mar- 7-13    
Topic: Opinion, Policy



Why Winning A Cannes Lion Will Soon be Irrelevant

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There is an article over on the HubSpot blog written by your truly that you really should read. It's well understood that most, if not all, of us who have toiled in the world of marketing and advertising understand that what we do is supposed to sell stuff, not win awards. Alas, sitting on the Carlton Terrace in Cannes sipping rose is hard to pass up if one is lucky enough to have that experience.

Winning awards is all well and good and can greatly benefit one's career and an agency's ability to win new business. We won't dispute that but too much emphasis is placed on the glamour of advertising rather than its intended purpose; to create a smooth, gentle pathway that moves people along to a point at which they decide to open their wallets and hand over their hard earned cash for your (or your client's) products or services.

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by Steve Hall    Mar- 4-13    
Topic: Opinion








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