Why Should Brands Care About Agile Marketing?

VidMob CMO Stephanie Bohn Breaks It All Down for AdWeek  

Have you ever wondered how the engineering concept of agile software development became the new framework for content production in digital marketing? Well, when you look back to the television of the 1970s and compare it to the mobile device of today, the answers start to take shape.

In the past, one hero idea dreamed up by a highly reputable agency was typically enough to cover all the bases. One great idea for one placement and one general audience.

Today, however, brands must overcome the challenge of connecting with many audiences across many social platforms and digital placements. Not only that, they’re expected to reach highly specific audiences with targeted, personalized content at the right place, right time, and with the right message. Oh, and to do all that in near real-time.

Luckily, agile development was created to solve big problems and solve them fast. Adopting the agile development formula of launching small, strategic experiments in order to receive bigger and faster wins, helped brands reimagine the way to successfully approach creative while saving time and money.

As brands and marketers stay in this constant loop of production, discovery, and optimization, they’ll never have to worry about producing the elusive, one-size-fits-all campaign again. Because, as Stephanie Bohn mentions in this AdWeek piece, “what is the point of building unique customer segments if everyone gets served the same ad?”  

 

An Operating System for the In-House Movement

Last week I wrote about the tension between the Old Agency model and the emerging New Agency model. New agencies have smartly recognized that their clients’ needs are evolving and have made strides to adapt to the changing times. To do so, they have shown a willingness to work with 3rd party solutions providers, in a recognition that by focusing on the things that they do really well, and turning to partners for things that can be done better elsewhere, their clients will ultimately win.

But in far too many relationships this recognition has taken too long, and the resultant pain and wasted cost have led to a growing wave of brands moving large swaths of the production needs in-house. From last week’s post:

It seems like the wave of brands cutting, or severely limiting the scope of their relationship with their old agencies is growing by the day. Just in the last few weeks, we’ve seen announcements like this one from Chobani, from a host of other companies including, P&G, Unilever, Pepsi, ABI, Diageo, L’Oreal, Wayfair, Allstate, StubHub, Sprint, Booking.com, Starbucks and BMW.

When we talk to some of our clients who have taken the leap into in-housing, there are a few consistent themes behind their choice to do so:

•   Agency cost-structures don’t match their needs of social transcreation.
•   Old agencies are still very TV focused and seem to be largely ignoring TV’s steady demise.
•   Digital “Test & Learn” approaches are an anathema to the old agency creative process, despite being proven to work.
•   Creative talent can be found everywhere — no longer monopolized by traditional agencies.
•   Making performance data actionable in real time drives huge results, but only when they can connect the loop between data and rapid response production.
•   Brand employees know their product better than the inexperienced talent at the traditional agencies that would be staffed on their project.

But moving things in-house has proven to be far more challenging than many brands assumed. The reality is that agencies add a ton of value to the process, and pulling back on their usage has created a number of challenges:

•   Brands don’t know the best practices of the myriad online platforms that they should be advertising on.
•   Finding world-class creative talent isn’t easy.
•   Managing/paying a wide array of creative freelancers is a pain and carries legal risk.
•   Managing creative assets is a universal problem and will only get worse as more versions of each campaign become the norm.
•   Collaborative review among key internal constituencies is a messy process.
•   Asset approval times lead to missed deadlines.

These are real problems, and solving only one or two of them doesn’t really help brands get where they need to be. In order to be truly useful, a single-point solution is needed that accomplishes at least all of the following points:

•   Affordable — To go from producing a few video assets to producing thousands, production has to get a lot cheaper. Period.
•   Built specifically for “Test & Learn” — A properly deployed process of testing and learning leads to dramatic increases in campaign efficacy. But this isn’t as mindless as simply changing the colors of cars in ads.
•   Curated pools of talent that are pre-vetted for each job — Every job is different and the talent needed to succeed on Pinterest is very different than what is needed for Instagram Stories. Finding the right people every time is the first step to success.
•   Fully connected loop (data → production → publishing) — Data without the ability to act on it is useless. The new tools need to connect these three components into a seamless loop so that brands can see what’s happening, create new materials accordingly, and then put those new materials to work the instant they are done.
•   Empowers brand employees to drive the results they want — Every brand has different needs. To be useful, the new tools will have to allow brands to specify the specific KPI’s that matter to them and then optimize around those exact points.
•   Helps brands understand the specific best practices for each platform, as they evolve — Each platform has its own set of best practices, and what’s working today may not work tomorrow. Given that content creation isn’t instantaneous, this puts even more pressure on having continuously updated best practices.
•   A single point of payment and legal agreement — Brands want to create at scale. They don’t want to pay vendors at scale!
•   Archival and robust asset search enables instant access to everything in a brand’s library — As brands produce more and more assets, their library will grow exponentially. Being able to find everything that you already have instantly and easily becomes increasingly important as a lever for cost efficiency and speed of production. Machine learning can be used to help here, but it needs to be connected in a way to enable easy extraction and manipulation of the selected library assets once you find them.
•   Collaboration software will need to make multi-stakeholder projects easy —When rapidly shifting cultural moments make producing content “in the moment” ever more important, timelines have to be compressed as much as possible. To do this, technology needs to play a role in managing all aspects of ideation, production, licensing, and approval in one seamless system.
•   Tools to not only learn what creative is working but why Data is reactive and tends to look backward. Data tells us what worked. In order to improve our creative processes and hit-rate, we need information not just about what worked but why. Creative insights are key, and when creators are given access to systems that can deliver real-time creative insights during the production process, learning cycles can be compressed significantly.

At VidMob, we’re laser-focused on addressing each of these points as part of the technology platform that we offer our brand clients as part of our Agile Creative Suite (TM). In doing so, we think VidMob can offer a solution that behaves like “an operating system for the in-house movement.” Change is never easy. But a great technology platform built on a foundation of respect for human creativity and a true alignment of interests can go a long way towards accelerating us all towards a better marketing future.

View story at Medium.com

The Cost of Inaction: How You Can Meet the IAB’s Video Innovation Challenge — Today.

Yesterday, the IAB released a great piece, Building 21st Century Brands: Video Creative Innovation, in which they laid out a video innovation mandate for the marketers and the digital advertising industry. It was a long read (20 pages) and so, for many of us, we’ll read it over the course of a few days. And for every day we wait—we are losing money for our brands.

Of the many pertinent data points addressed, one worth noting is that marketers on average will spend $10MM this year on their brand’s digital and mobile video. To frame it differently, this amounts to $27,937 a day or $191,780 a week. This underlines the point that if we set video innovation as an issue to discuss and tackle later or as an item on our 2018 roadmap, we are actively constraining our brand’s potential growth.

But here’s the real danger: not creating video (or making weak creative) for the platforms and formats with which the audiences are engaging.

So why is it that marketers often stumble in terms of creative? We often hear them cite 4 challenges:

  • “The cost of creating compelling video is prohibitively expensive.”
  • “Making high-quality video takes too much time and takes up too many resources.”
  • “We lack the expertise needed to produce great video.”
  • “We don’t understand enough about the videos we make from a data perspective.”

So, how do you solve these challenges when best practices are often lacking or your in-house or agency teams can’t keep up with your vision for video innovation?

Start.

At VidMob, we’re helping hundreds of marketers, agencies, and platforms whose video and emerging media aspirations are greater than the resources they have. By leveraging our curated pools of talent, we are helping marketers go from concept to execution not only for 6s or vertical videos but also on the emerging formats that are most daunting for advertisers like stories, lenses or filters in a matter of days and for a fraction of the costs to which they’ve been accustomed.

Solving the video creation challenge is only the beginning. Unearthing the insights around videos will help brands understand the power of their creative and enable them to iterate quickly. This is the guiding principle behind our deep-learning powered Agile Creative Suite, which is transforming the creative process into a full connected loop of data → production → publishing.

So today, do something to meet the IAB’s innovation challenge: explore a new format, iterate a new concept, create, test and try again. While that immediate next step is daunting, the cost of inaction is worse.

And it’s easier than you think.

View story at Medium.com

Everlasting Life

The sad fact is that all ads die.

Just like plants, animals, and radioactive elements, ads decay over time and eventually cease to function. This decay curve, also known as wear-out or ad fatigue, generally tends to look something like this, no matter what the underlying asset type, industry or format in question is. T varies, as does the slope of the decay, but the curve is the curve.

decay-curve-standard-vidmob-agile-creative-suite

In bad news for marketers, T has begun to shrink over the past year as consumers seem to be growing less tolerant of seeing the same ad too many times. When coupled with the already expanding array of platforms, formats, and personalization requirements of targeted advertising, this is placing an increased burden on marketers of all sizes.

The good news is that at least marketers have real-time visibility into their progress along that curve. Whether it’s within media buying software, in tools like Google Analytics or Facebook Power Editor, or in 3rd party analytics platforms, performance data is available in abundance. No matter what KPI you’re tracking, you can track every single campaign as it moves along the curve, and know exactly when it crosses critical return thresholds.

Data is not the problem.

But when it comes to video, acting on that data is often impossible. If it takes two to four weeks to turn around new creative, by the time you get new assets it is usually too late. Being ‘of the moment’ is more important than ever today. Remember the Olympics? Vaguely? Well, that was 10 days ago.

Similarly, if it costs tens of thousands of dollars to rapidly turn around a testable array of fresh creative options, the cost/benefit of doing so is murky at best. In both cases, with no good alternatives, marketers have been forced to simply hope T is as long as possible and ride the curve straight down to the bottom.

At VidMob, we’ve been paying close attention to this problem and have been working with our clients and partners to craft what we hope will be a game-changing solution for marketers of all sizes. In essence, the solution we’ve been building focuses on making it both easy and cost-effective to generate testable arrays of new, custom creative in near real-time, as informed by the available data. We call it the Agile Creative Suite (TM).

Here are three of the key technical components that make the Agile Creative Process work so seamlessly:

1.   Where your media is matters. 

We learned from talking to many of our clients that management of their library content was a severe point of friction. Even if they could find a legacy asset, all they usually had was the finished final draft. The raw assets and the associated edit files for the projects were almost never accessible, which meant that even the smallest change required them to basically start from scratch. We solved this by offering a service to our enterprise clients where we archive ALL of the associated media for every project. The final videos, sure. But also all of the raw files, the edit files, the communication trails, etc. In doing so, we make asset libraries infinitely more valuable for our clients, by reducing both the cost and friction associated with any media optimization.

 2.   Duplicate your project, not your workload.

Next, we learned that our clients were basically just like us. They hated replicating work. Loading up a brief that had already been communicated, and re-treading conversations that had already been discussed simply annoyed people. So we built a single-click mechanism to duplicate any existing project. Doing so creates a new project that preserves all of the old media assets, the communication trails, and everything else. Instantly, you’re ready to begin work and the project is already 95 yards down the field.

 3.   Single click publishing into all appropriate Ad Accounts. 

The last step is publishing your newly optimized media so that you can instantly start testing them to see which versions to focus your spend on. VidMob’s integrations into the Ad API’s of all of the major platforms make this the simplest part of all.

What all of this means in practice is that by using VidMob’s Agile Creative Suite, our clients are able to react to data in ways never before possible. Within hours or a few days (depending upon the urgency), with minimal effort or overhead requirement, clients can create, transfer, and re-publish an array of entirely new creative. In doing so, the age-old decay curve takes on new shape.

new-decay-curve-agile-creative-process-vidmob

What’s interesting about this new curve is that all of the shaded area is performance gain. In fact, because standard decay curves can be estimated with reasonable accuracy, it’s actually relatively easy to calculate just how much gain a marketer experiences through this process. I got kicked in the head a few too many times growing up, so my integral calculus skills aren’t what they were 20 years ago, but I know smarter folks than me can work through this quickly. That said, for decently sized campaigns, this gain can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and for large campaigns, we believe it will save millions.

Perhaps most importantly, we believe that the Agile Creative Process has the potential to, at least in certain instances, help accelerate the changing the nature of online marketing. Arrested decay holds the promise of everlasting life, and as we all move more and more away from campaign-based marketing towards always-on approaches, we’re optimistic that the platform we’re building at VidMob will have a positive role to play in the emerging new world order in which marketers find themselves.

It might not be exactly the immortality solution that Gilgamesh and Ponce de Leon were looking for centuries ago, but, hopefully, it will be a bit more practical for those of us who are okay with growing old but want to build great businesses along the way.

VidMob Is a HubSpot Connect Certified Partner!

It should be no surprise that video has become a core focus of every marketer’s agenda. Our primary goal here at VidMob is to help marketers succeed in this video-first environment, and we do this by connecting them with a global network of expert editors, animators, and motion graphics designers that can help solve for all video needs.

One of our core beliefs is that if we make video creation easy and affordable, marketers will produce more of it. And as we embark on our mission to help marketers with video across the globe, aligning ourselves with the right partners becomes even more important.

This is why we are thrilled to announce that VidMob has become a HubSpot Connect Certified Partner.

HubSpot develops inbound marketing software that allows businesses to transform the way that they market online. With video traffic expected to account for 80% of all consumer Internet traffic by 2019, the need for powerful video creation tools is paramount. Our integration enables HubSpot customers to (1) work with their existing assets to produce video content, and (2) publish video assets they’ve created on VidMob to their HubSpot accounts. This flexibility gives HubSpot marketers an opportunity to launch and optimize their video marketing campaigns at remarkable scale.

We look forward to partnering with HubSpot and helping their customers succeed with video! Check it out here to learn more.

App Install Ads Now Available on Snapchat Campaign Manager

In the world of mobile, advertising on Snapchat is no small fry for capturing attention. Point in case: the average Snapchat user spends 25-30 minutes per day in the app. That’s essentially a primetime sitcom episode, except watched on mobile. And with over 150 million tuning in daily, you’ve got the makings of one serious audience for capturing meaningful app downloads through powerful ad creative.

Run App Install Ads on Snapchat with VidMob

We’re excited to announce that we’ve enabled the App Install ad type in our Snapchat Campaign Manager. Now, any brand can create and run sharp, influential App Install Snap Ads to reach that in-demand mobile audience.

Whether you need new creative for your App Install Snap Ad or have something ready to go, VidMob can get your ad up and running in just a few clicks. Here’s how it works:

1. Start with Your Snap Ad Creative

Need a VidMob creator to cut Snap-approved creative? Hire a creator with VidMob.
Already have content that meets Snap specs? Let’s start your campaign.

2. Set Up Campaign Parameters

Enter all necessary campaign, spend, and targeting details to reach your ideal audience.

3. Launch & Monitor

Launch your campaign and watch how your ad performs. Not hitting your goals? Send the creative back to the marketplace to find a Snap-approved creator who can edit for optimal performance.

For more on VidMob’s Campaign Manager and what Ad Types we support, take a peek at our Snap Ad announcement or visit our Snap Ads FAQs.

Find out how you can get started running App Install Ads on VidMob today. It’s quick and easy to sign up!

Snap Ads + VidMob

Self-Service Video Advertising on Snapchat Is Available for the First Time—Thanks to VidMob.

Three weeks ago, Snapchat announced VidMob as one of a number of new API partners. At the time, VidMob had integrated Snapchat’s creative API making it easy for clients to post advertisements created on the VidMob platform directly into the Snapchat platform. This integration made it easier for large brands that were working with Snapchat, or one of their agency partners, to create the ad media needed for the campaigns they were purchasing with Snap or their agency.

Today, we have a much larger announcement. But to understand the true potential of this latest extension of our relationship with Snap, let’s take a step back and look at self-service advertising on the other major social platforms.

In 2000, Google launched AdWords enabling anyone with a credit card to advertise on Google. Prior to the launch of AdWords, the only companies that could advertise on Google were large brands with a direct relationship with the company. Today, millions of businesses use Google AdWords, generating almost $80 billion in annual ad revenue. In 2009, Facebook launched a self-service advertising platform, opening up advertising on their platform in a similar manner. Today, self-service advertising on Facebook and Google accounts for the majority of the advertising spend on both platforms. Without question, the long tail is the path to advertising success.

Meanwhile, Snapchat has grown into an incredibly powerful platform on its own, with nearly 160 million daily users, and over 10 billion video views daily—all full screen, and the majority with audio on. And Snapchat is a young audience. To put it simply, there is no better platform to reach the under 34 crowd than Snapchat. However, until now, there has been no self-service platform to enable the mid- and small-size companies to purchase and run Snap Ads on this highly desirable platform. So while millions of companies could easily purchase and run ads on Google and Facebook, there has been no means to do so on Snapchat.

That all changes today. As we announced this morning, VidMob has worked with Snapchat to extend our API integrations on their platform. In addition to our Creative API integration, VidMob has built the Snap Ads API into a full-featured Snap Ad campaign manager on VidMob, enabling any company in the world to purchase and run Snap Ads on their own. As of this morning, it is as easy to run ads on Snapchat as it is to do so on Google AdWords or Facebook.

And speaking of ease, it’s worth noting one additional point about VidMob integrations with Snap. Not only do we make it easy to set up the targeting parameters, pay for the campaign to run, and review real-time performance data, VidMob also makes it just as easy to make the advertisement in the first place. A big part of the reason that Google AdWords and Facebook advertising have been so successful was that any business could easily create a text ad in seconds. You simply choose your targeting parameters, set your daily spend, and then type in your ad. It doesn’t take long to write, “Come by today for the best coffee in Boca Raton” or “Buy one pair of shoes and get the second pair for free.” Anyone could do it. But all of these platforms are transitioning from static (text- and image-based) ads to video advertising; and even though there is no shortage of evidence that video advertising is far more effective, making the actual video advertisement has proven to be far more difficult than writing a text ad—thus holding back many companies and putting a damper on anyone outside the Fortune 500’s ability to participate in the potential of video advertising. This has effectively put a cap on the number of video advertisers, and as a result, the number of advertisers using video on Facebook and Google is still a small fraction of their overall advertising base.

VidMob’s Snap Ad Campaign Manager

Through its relationship with VidMob, Snapchat has made moves to solve for both of these problems—ad creation and purchasing. As of today, any company can create beautiful, custom video advertisements with ease on VidMob. And once they’re ready, set up detailed targeting parameters, manage daily spend levels, and watch the performance results in real-time. Furthermore, VidMob’s integration makes it easy to make alterations to ads in real-time based on that data, enabling companies to optimize video advertisements as they go. While this has been common practice with text and image-based advertising for years, it has been rare to non-existent with video due to the difficulties and expenses of video production. Not anymore.

So if you’ve noticed that the team at VidMob has been a little more excited than usual recently, now you know why. Our goal remains to make it as easy as possible for any individual or company to tell their story in a video world. If part of that means helping a great company like Snapchat build a self-service video advertising business that’s every bit as dominant as Google and Facebook’s, well, VidMob and our army of creative professionals are here to help.

Create and run Snap Ads today: Sign Up for VidMob.