What's Next: Brief insights on the path ahead in digital communication.


Here’s the Skinny on Google’s Political Ad Restrictions

Google announced this week that they’re restricting political advertisers from using voter data or party affiliation in ad targeting. The result? Political advertisers can still run on the Google network. But they must target widely, not narrowly. These restrictions benefit big-dollar campaigns which can afford broader, less-targeted approaches while hurting small-budget issue and electoral efforts that must rely on more targeted, narrower delivery. Google, like Twitter in October, was facing little public pressure to make such changes. Most of the public and legislative ire was focused on Facebook, which hasn’t announced any changes (and we hope they won’t, in the interest of allowing every advertiser a level playing field). Unlike Twitter’s ban, which is fairly comprehensive, Google’s has a lot of loopholes. They don’t appear to be closing down their massive display ad exchange for voter-data targeting which more sophisticated campaigns and ad agencies can still use. Is this their way of retaining the lion’s share of political ad revenue while virtue signaling in the press for superficial PR benefit?


Streaming vs. Over the Top: What’s the difference for Video Advertising?

More video ads are being served today through connected TVs than mobile devices. A big change from just one year ago. But there’s a chasm separating how such video ads are bought and delivered depending on whether they’re through a streaming or an OTT service. Of all the app-based streaming services (including Amazon Prime Video and Netflix which don’t support advertising) the only ones that empower you to reach a larger audience programmatically and cost-effectively are the ad-supported leaders: YouTube and Hulu. The rest of the connected TV ad ecosystem is comprised of legacy media companies like the cable and fiber subscription services which sell ads as insertions into on-demand and OTT viewings of shows. There is no central marketplace for purchasing this type of video advertising programmatically. A fragmented buying approach is required. We’re watching for the epic moment when most streaming and OTT inventory can be purchased through digital exchanges.

Data Privacy Leaders Will be the Trend-Setters of 2019

Giant tech companies are being exposed almost weekly for data breaches (at worst) and creepy-but-novel ways to monetize consumer data (at best). We expect Congress will react in 2019. They’ll have no choice. Consumers, complacent in the past, aren’t anymore. They suddenly care about how brands cash-in on their digital lives. This shift in the zeitgeist is already motivating legislators. The big question isn’t what new privacy regs will mean for Silicon Valley, but how they’ll impact thousands of American companies whose primary business isn’t advertising or social media. Companies that sell stuff, non-profits that mobilize people, and service-economy organizations all depend on data. Data collection and use are essential to their existence. Organizations need to start preparing now for the coming shift in how an individual’s data is captured, stored, used, protected and erased. Those that take an early lead on plainspoken policies, strong user protections, and transparency about how an individual’s data is used will earn goodwill from consumers, investors and policy makers.


Self-Policing by Big Tech Will Increase the Quality & Cost of Ads in 2019

Last year, profound concerns about ad blocking declined because browsers stepped-in, namely Chrome, to limit the most offensive forms of impolite digital advertising. As we head into 2019, there are fewer page-crushing, auto-playing videos, impression-cluttered pages that can barely load, and pop-overs that threaten to crash your mobile browser. Self-policing for a better user experience across the internet by the big tech companies is likely to increase as players like Facebook and Google attempt to hold-off state and federal regulation. What will this mean for advertisers in the year ahead? An increasing focus on data security, privacy and user experience should, in theory, lead to higher-quality, although smaller audiences. Higher bid competition for those audiences will increase the cost of digital advertising per unit (e.g. CPM, CPC, CPV). And results metrics should improve (e.g. CTR, view rate, engagement rate).


5G & The Shift in Advertising That Nobody Sees Coming

5G is arriving in 2019. We can hardly wait. Who doesn’t want internet so fast you can download a movie in less than 10 seconds? Life-changing! So why isn’t the entertainment industry buzzing with activity in preparation for the shift? 5G will massively accelerate cord-cutting among consumers who previously had only one option for high speed internet: cable, fiber or DSL. With super-fast internet delivered through the air, consumers that were stuck in a monopoly market will suddenly have a great alternative for internet access. This will lead to intense competition against the legacy cable providers on which conventional TV advertising still depends. As consumers switch to subscription-based entertainment providers like Hulu Plus, Sling, YouTubeTV, HBO NOW and other streaming services, the legacy TV ad business will atrophy. Advertisers who need to run video will have no choice but to move budgets from legacy TV to digital and smart TV targeting. This shift won’t happen overnight. It’s too big. But smart organizations will ride the edge of the wave by modifying their media plans sooner, rather than later.


Is your website ready for Gutenberg?

Roughly 60% of websites are built on WordPress. And the world’s most-used CMS is about to receive a major update to version 5.0 on 11/27/18. If your WordPress website is set to auto-update for security (as it should be) then it will receive Gutenberg, the revolutionary, new content editor for WordPress. While Gutenberg represents a major advance in content layout, the WordPress ecosystem is only partially ready for it. Many of the top themes and plugins used on WP sites are not yet compatible with Gutenberg. So expect this update to catch a lot of webmasters off guard as they discover glitches when managing their sites after the release date. What can you do to prepare? Keep your entire WP code base up-to-date. Update and test your site and its plug-ins in the days coming up to the release. And continue testing after your site updates to 5.0. Not only will this help you ensure stability. You’ll start learning how to use Gutenberg!

Are You Cut Out for Analytics?

What skills do you need to be great at analytics? Whether you’re analyzing website metrics, ad campaign results or social engagement, we’ve identified three critical skills that effective analysts must possess. 1) Visualizing data. You might be able to make sense of raw data in a table. But when reporting your findings to others, charts, graphs and the contextualizing power of design are essential. 2) Using business logic to drive measurement priorities. There is a cult of measurement in the digital sphere. We can measure anything. Everything. But not everything needs to be measured. Choosing what to focus on is critical. And these choices must be driven by business logic and organizational goals. 3) Translating from data to insight. It’s not enough to measure and report mathematical facts. You have to turn numbers into actionable reasons for optimizing your organization’s comms approach. Otherwise, why measure anything?

New Political Ad Rules on Google, Facebook and Twitter: Well-Intended (And Flawed)

Greater transparency and disclosure in political advertising is democratic. It can improve online political discourse. Facebook, Google and Twitter have taken a step forward with new rules for verifying advertisers involved in federal campaigns, ensuring they’re US-based. So far, so good. Unfortunately, their hurried approach to rolling out these new procedures has been buggy.

Facebook was the first to launch, and their new disclosure practices are probably the least problem-prone, despite numerous errors in classifying non-political ads as political. Google’s time-to-verification has been sluggish and their support team wasn’t ready to handle the influx of confused customer support calls. Worse, Google is actually muddling political ad disclosure. They’re requiring all political ads to display the name of the Google account holder, not the actual entity paying for the ads. Hopefully they’ll soon realize that candidates and issue groups can hide behind an ad agency with this illogical approach to disclosure. Twitter’s process is the latest to launch, and could end up costing them money. They’re requiring each Twitter handle that will be used for political ads to be tied to a verified ad planner. This will lead to unprepared Twitter handles (many of which are created just-in-time for a campaign to launch) and campaign staff who shift budgets to other platforms. They’re also requiring public notary involvement in the verification process–the only one of the three platforms to add such a laborious step.

Most political ads aren’t run by the candidates or PACs that provide the funding. They’re run by agencies, consultants and media planners. Facebook, Google and Twitter will soon realize that these well-intended tools for disclosure and verification need to be updated to reflect the reality of the political ad marketplace. The big tech business model is dependent on automation. Robotic support. Algo-driven ad approvals. They’re even trying to automate the verification for political advertisers. They’re going to discover that a little more human involvement will be needed to perfect these new processes so that they yield the intended benefits.


Amplify Your Fly-in

Hundreds of organizations send delegations to visit congress every year and deliver important messages. As “fly-ins” proliferate, the attention span of Congressional staffers and members is taxed. Their collective memory of visitor messages is shortened. Delivering a message to Congress in-person is powerful. This power is amplified when other tactics reinforce a fly-in. Especially targeted social media promotions. According to the Congressional Management Foundation, Hill staff increase attention when they see 30 social media comments on an issue. CODAVATE can empower your Congressional hall-walkers to reach members and staffers before, during and after your actual visits. Learn about the power of amplification in a conversation with us.

This year, time-to-live on Facebook might change

We all love the speed of digital. Going live with a new campaign in days or even hours. Digital makes communication faster. And the pace of modern communication is leading to changes at Facebook. From privacy policy updates to enhanced approvals on certain types of ads, Facebook is taking a deep breath and slowing down a little. This year, plan some extra time when you intend to launch political or issue advertising campaigns on Facebook. We’ll help you work through the new steps for verification and disclosure. Facebook’s changes will improve the quality of advertising on their platform. But they’ll take some extra time and effort. Don’t forget to plan for it.

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