tag:econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/strategy Latest Strategy content from Econsultancy 2017-01-23T10:07:44+00:00 tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68720 2017-01-23T10:07:44+00:00 2017-01-23T10:07:44+00:00 Six successful examples of online brand communities Nikki Gilliland <p>Unlike areas of social community management (such as a <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64674-how-to-market-your-branded-facebook-page/" target="_blank">Facebook page</a> or a Twitter channel) these tend to be the dedicated forums or websites where online communities share and discuss their interests.   </p> <p>So, let’s take a look at some of the best examples.</p> <h3>Lego Ideas</h3> <p>Alongside Lego message boards, Lego Ideas is a creative online community for enthusiasts of the famous toy sets, allowing users to find and submit ideas for new designs. </p> <p>As well as promoting the sharing of ideas, it also incorporates a competition element whereby fans can vote and offer feedback. If a design receives 10,000 votes, it will be considered by Lego to become one of the brand’s official sets, even giving the creator a percentage of the final sales.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr">Meet this week's 10K Club member, Adrien S., fan designer of the The Little House on the Prairie project. Read more <a href="https://t.co/1c7wzz8OSq">https://t.co/1c7wzz8OSq</a> <a href="https://t.co/bgc5EsGWts">pic.twitter.com/bgc5EsGWts</a></p> — LEGO® Ideas (@LEGOIdeas) <a href="https://twitter.com/LEGOIdeas/status/821009322624905217">January 16, 2017</a> </blockquote> <p>Championing creativity, this example rewards loyal customers and gives them a reason to truly invest in the brand.</p> <h3>Made Unboxed</h3> <p>Furniture retailer, Made, launched an online community that connects undecided buyers with previous customers. The aim is to allow shoppers to see what Made's products look like in real life, as well as share ideas and inspiration. </p> <p>It is built on the idea that furniture shopping is a typically physical experience, yet not everyone has the ability to visit a showroom.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3164/Made_Unboxed.JPG" alt="" width="760" height="533"></p> <p>By enabling consumers to envision the set-up in a natural setting, it bridges the gap between online and physical stores and gives people a reason to connect.</p> <h3>Figment</h3> <p>Figment already existed before Random House bought it in 2013. Since then, it has continued on in the same vein, predominantly as a community for aspiring writers of YA (young adult) fiction. </p> <p>It acts as a sort of social network for 13-18 year olds, including both discussion elements and the chance for writers to express their own ideas and submit stories.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3165/Figment_2.JPG" alt="" width="760" height="554"></p> <p>By keeping the original community and using it to subtly promote Random House books (as well as titles from other publishers) – Figment is a great example of a subtly-branded online community, and one that provides real value for consumers.</p> <h3>Playstation Community</h3> <p>The Playstation community has flourished in recent years, boosted by the popularity of the online gaming community in general. </p> <p>It allows gamers to talk to each other in forums, with dedicated channels for different games as well as general topics.</p> <p>There’s also a competitive element in the form of ‘Trophies’ – a rewards system that recognises gaming accomplishments – allowing users to compete with friends online.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3166/Playstation_trophies.JPG" alt="" width="760" height="714"></p> <p>Combining gaming elements with discussion and competition, the Playstation community is a great complement to the everyday experience of playing video games.</p> <h3>BeautyTalk</h3> <p>BeautyTalk was created in response to the thousands of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/9366-ecommerce-consumer-reviews-why-you-need-them-and-how-to-use-them/" target="_blank">online reviews</a> and consumer queries left on Sephora.com.</p> <p>An online community for beauty fans, it is now a thriving forum whereby consumers can share tips, advice and reviews – as well as merely talk to one another about whatever topic they like.</p> <p>One reason it has become so successful is that it is incredibly helpful for answering product-related queries. By simply entering a question or keyword into the search bar, users are likely to be met with multiple existing threads, instantly reinforcing whether or not they should buy a specific product.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3167/BeautyTalk.JPG" alt="" width="760" height="650"></p> <p>Building on the need for unbiased opinions in the world of beauty, it has become a thriving community for beauty fanatics as well as a valuable resource for occasional Sephora shoppers.</p> <h3>Harley Owners Group</h3> <p>The Harley Davidson community is more than just an online forum. In fact, the ‘online’ aspect is pretty minimal, merely serving as a way of connecting with fellow riders and letting members know about the group’s perks, meet-ups and events. </p> <p>Unlike the aforementioned examples, membership isn’t free, and you can only join if you own a Harley Davidson motorcycle (or are a family-member or friend of someone that does). </p> <p>From dedicated motorcycle tours to access to the members-only website – there are many benefits to joining HOG. More than anything, it reinforces members' dedication to a particular lifestyle.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3168/HOG.JPG" alt="" width="760" height="412"></p> <p>By building an online community based on the experiences that come from riding one of its bikes - rather than just the actual product itself - Harley Davidson has managed to attract over 1m members worldwide. </p> <p><em><strong>To improve your knowledge, check out Econsultancy's <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/online-community-management/" target="_blank">Online Community Management</a> training course.</strong></em></p> <p><em><strong>If you're looking for a new role within community management or social media, you'll find plenty on <a href="https://jobs.econsultancy.com/?utm_source=econsultancy&amp;utm_campaign=econ%20blog&amp;utm_medium=blog" target="_blank">Econsultancy's jobs board</a>.</strong></em></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68711 2017-01-19T13:01:00+00:00 2017-01-19T13:01:00+00:00 Storytelling might boost your product page conversion rates: stats Patricio Robles <p>Origin's study presented 3,000 consumers in the US with two variations of product pages – one with a "standard" description and another with a description containing some sort of story.</p> <p>For instance, one product page for a bottle of wine contained a standard description of the wine with tasting notes, while the variation contained the winemaker's story instead of the tasting notes.</p> <p>Which page performed better? Consumers were 5% more likely to purchase from the product page with the winemaker's story, and they were willing to pay 6% more for the same bottle of wine.</p> <p>Origin saw a similar trend for other kinds of products. Consumers were willing to pay 11% more for a painting, for example, when the artist's story was included on the product page, and 5% more for a hotel room that was promoted with a real guest's story instead of the standard hotel-supplied description.</p> <p>On eBay, the impact of a story was even more pronounced, as Origin was able to lure 64% higher bids for a set of fish-shaped spoons when the listing was accompanied by a short fiction story.</p> <h3>Why simple stories work</h3> <p>Origin's study suggests that companies don't necessarily need to develop strategic, brand-level initiatives to benefit from the power of storytelling. Instead, the mere inclusion of stories into product pages can pay dividends.</p> <p>That the use of simple stories at a product-level can be an effective way to drive more sales and increase perceived value, in turn boosting what consumers are willing to pay for a product, shouldn't come as a surprise. </p> <p>A 2014 Nielsen study <a href="http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/press-room/2014/global-consumers-are-willing-to-put-their-money-where-their-heart-is.html">found that</a> globally, over half of online consumers are willing to pay more for products and services offered by companies that they believe are committed to social responsibility.</p> <p>While not every story speaks directly to social responsibility, many stories, such as those that provide information about the person who created a product, piggyback on the related trend of consumers wanting to know where their products come from, particularly on a personal level.</p> <p>Stories can also be used to capitalize on the trend of consumers, particularly young consumers, <a href="http://www.cnbc.com/2016/05/05/millennials-are-prioritizing-experiences-over-stuff.html">preferring experiences over products</a>. Origin's hotel room product page with a photo and story from a real guest sells the possibility of a real experience, not just a hotel room, and a product page for a wine bottle that contains the winemaker's story sells the creator's vision and journey, not just a bottle of wine.</p> <h3>A worthwhile priority for 2017?</h3> <p>Given the ease with which simple stories can be incorporated at an individual product level, companies should consider using the new year to explore the opportunities they have to engage in practical storytelling, even if they're not convinced or ready to apply storytelling at a more strategic, brand level. </p> <p><em>For more on this topic, check out these resources:</em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/topics/copywriting"><em>Online Copywriting training courses</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67941-10-nudge-tastic-examples-of-persuasive-copywriting-from-charities/"><em>10 nudge-tastic examples of persuasive copywriting from charities</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64969-five-evocative-examples-of-ecommerce-copywriting/"><em>Five evocative examples of ecommerce copywriting</em></a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68715 2017-01-19T10:39:00+00:00 2017-01-19T10:39:00+00:00 What does a community manager do and what skills do they need? Nikki Gilliland <p>To clear things up, I thought I’d delve into the world of community management and find out why it’s becoming increasingly important for brands of all kinds.</p> <p>Here’s a beginner’s guide.</p> <h3>What does a community manager do?</h3> <p>The role of a community manager is to act as the bridge between a brand and the community it is aiming to create (i.e. a loyal audience or group of core consumers connected by a similar interest). </p> <p>They should be the brand’s ambassador, engaging with potential customers and building relationships with existing ones. They are also focused on gauging sentiment around the brand, using social listening tools in order to monitor feedback and engagement.   </p> <h3>What’s the difference between a social media manager and a community manager?</h3> <p>Isn’t that just the same as what a social media manager does, you might ask? Apparently not.</p> <p>Though there tends to be overlap between the roles, both interacting with customers on the same platforms, there are marked differences.</p> <p>While a social media manager focuses on the logistics of content creation and distribution – i.e. managing a content calendar, posting on social, and monitoring analytics – a community manager is focused on establishing community guidelines, as well as facilitating and moderating conversation between members. </p> <p>Another way of looking at it is to think about what each might aim to achieve from a post, let’s say on Facebook.</p> <p>A social media manager might post to engage customers in conversation – they’ll measure this by the amount of direct replies or likes. On the other hand, a community manager will post with the aim of getting customers talking to <em>each other</em> – and this will also be measured through qualitative data, such as sentiment and the level or quality of engagement.</p> <h3>Skills and attributes</h3> <p>There are many ways to measure success within community management. You can read about four elements for building a <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68694-four-crucial-elements-you-need-to-build-a-valuable-online-community/" target="_blank">valuable community here</a>. However, let’s start with the kind of skills community managers are required to have, as well as why they are vital.</p> <h4>Communication </h4> <p>It might sound like an obvious skill, but there’s a difference between being a good writer and someone who is a skilled communicator.</p> <p>Community management is not just about crafting creative or engaging tweets – it’s also about listening to what members are saying and using this to shape future messages. The role is basically digital networking, so it is vital for a community manager to have excellent people skills, too. </p> <h4>Empathy and judgement</h4> <p>Following on from this, a community manager must be able to empathise with the customer and know how to respond in a manner that reflects the brand's values and identity. Again, this is different to a social media manager or exec who might post as the brand, where as a community manager is always speaking on behalf of the brand - and as a human being.</p> <p>We’ve all seen examples of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65901-the-top-20-fail-iest-social-media-fails-of-2014/">social media fails</a>, with employees posting knee-jerk or inappropriate reactions to customer complaints.</p> <p>On the other hand, when a brand responds well, it can turn a negative experience into a positive one. Take Adidas, for example, which shut down homophobic comments on an Instagram pic using just two emojis. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3148/Adidas_CM.JPG" alt="" width="720" height="372"></p> <h4>Organisation and data analysis</h4> <p>While community management is based on a lot of human and emotional attributes, it also requires organisational skill and the ability to manage a fast-paced workload. </p> <p>With multiple platforms to monitor, it is important to keep on top of how communities are responding in real-time, using analytics tools to measure things like reach, traffic and engagement. </p> <h3>Benefits of community management</h3> <p>So, we know what is required for effective community management – but what are the benefits for brands? </p> <h4>Growth</h4> <p>Community management is not simply about championing the brand, but also about listening to valuable feedback from customers. By gaining a deeper understanding about an audience and what they want, brands have more chance of attracting new customers and retaining existing ones.</p> <p>With social platforms also being the place customers are most likely to express real emotions, it gives brands true insight into how their customers are responding.</p> <h4>Trust </h4> <p>Relationship building is at the core of community management. Unlike the days before social media, where one-to-one contact between a customer and a brand was rare or required speaking on the telephone, it is now an instant and expected part of customer service.</p> <p>Everything from fast response times to a friendly manner means customers will feel valued, and in turn, place trust in a brand.</p> <h4>Value</h4> <p>By creating a community – whether it’s a Facebook group or online discussion forum – brands can impact consumers on a more emotional and everyday level.</p> <p>This allows companies to become more than just a faceless brand and serve a purpose based on something other than its original product. In turn, this can lead to <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66439-three-ways-community-management-drives-loyalty-for-charities/" target="_blank">greater loyalty</a> and long-term success.</p> <p><em><strong>To improve your skills and knowledge in this area, check out Econsultancy's <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/online-community-management/" target="_blank">Online Community Management</a> training course.</strong></em></p> <p><em><strong>And if you're looking for a new role within community management or social media, head over to <a href="https://jobs.econsultancy.com/?utm_source=econsultancy&amp;utm_campaign=econ%20blog&amp;utm_medium=blog">Econsultancy's jobs board</a>.</strong></em></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68705 2017-01-16T14:14:50+00:00 2017-01-16T14:14:50+00:00 Why Oprah’s endorsement could be the key to success for Weight Watchers Nikki Gilliland <p>But is Oprah a unique case due to her super-stardom?</p> <p>Here’s some insight into why she (and big celebrity endorsements) could still be the key to success for Weight Watchers and other brands like it.</p> <h3>Brand challenges</h3> <p>Weight Watchers has had a tumultuous time over the past couple of years, with shares rising and falling sharply. In 2015, Oprah bought a 10% stake in the company, which sent investment rocketing. A year later, CEO James Chambers left, leading to renewed doubt over the brand’s declining membership.</p> <p>One of the brand’s biggest challenges has undoubtedly been competition from emerging areas within the health and fitness industry, such as apps and wearables with tracking technology.</p> <p>It’s been estimated that <a href="http://www.wareable.com/wearable-tech/how-many-apple-watches-sold-2016" target="_blank">36.7m FitBit trackers</a> have been sold since 2014 – an impressive figure when you compare it to Weight Watchers’ 1.4m active online subscribers.</p> <p>Of course, for Weight Watchers - a brand that is rooted in the emotion-driven diet industry rather than rationally-focused fitness sector – this kind of comparison is a fruitless exercise. That being said, reversing dwindling membership is undoubtedly a big aim, and this brings us to its renewed marketing efforts with Oprah front-and-centre in a series of new ads.</p> <h3>The personal factor</h3> <p>Part of the ‘Live Fully’ campaign, Weight Watchers rolled out two new ads in time for autumn and winter 2016, both featuring Oprah “revealing her own story”.</p> <p>In both, she is seen announcing the fact that she has lost 40 pounds on the plan, putting it down to a focus on ‘living well’ and not feeling deprived in the process.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UNlaMUnOVUg?wmode=transparent" width="854" height="480"></iframe></p> <p>The campaign depicts losing weight in a healthy and positive way by highlighting the amount Weight Watchers members are allowed to eat rather than what is off-limits. And with the brand promoting such a positive and life-affirming attitude, there’s certainly an empowering feel to the ads.</p> <p>Though this style of marketing is well-worn ground for Weight Watchers, Oprah’s influence injects a fresh boost of authority, and in turn gives the campaign greater value. Unlike a celebrity that’s merely been paid to promote a product, Oprah’s involvement is rooted in both personal and professional reasons.</p> <p>Of course, cynics might say that her shares in the company are motivation enough to front a campaign, but with Oprah’s well-documented association with Weight Watchers in years previously, it would suggest her association is authentic.</p> <h3>Building consumer trust</h3> <p>For brands using high-profile personalities in marketing, this authenticity is key when it comes to instilling consumer confidence.</p> <p>While research suggests that a celebrity endorsement can lead to a <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/steveolenski/2016/07/20/how-brands-should-use-celebrities-for-endorsements/#77eb58cc5556" target="_blank">4% increase in immediate sales</a>, it is vital that it is seen as a genuine and natural reflection of their personality and values. </p> <p>Oprah, who is well-known for championing female empowerment, philanthropy and entrepreneurialism, therefore aligns with, not only the values of Weight Watchers, but also its core consumer.</p> <p>Likewise, with social media also allowing us greater insight into the daily lives of celebrities, it’s becoming easier to see through those who are disingenuous. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/3054/oprah_insta.JPG" alt="" width="680" height="437"></p> <h3>Positive results</h3> <p>In the third quarter of last year, <a href="http://www.weightwatchersinternational.com/file/Index?KeyFile=36547514" target="_blank">Weight Watchers reported</a> that subscribers were up 10.1% compared with the same period in the year previous. </p> <p>Similarly, revenue was up 3% year-on-year to $281m. Overall, it looks as though Oprah’s ad campaign contributed to these positive results.</p> <p>With a revamp that cleverly aligns with the TV star’s female fanbase, Weight Watchers has proven that celebrity endorsement still offer value – as long as it is done with transparency and real authenticity. </p> <p><em><strong>To learn more about this topic, check out Econsultancy's <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/the-future-of-celebrity-marketing" target="_blank">Future of Celebrity Marketing</a> report.</strong></em></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68691 2017-01-11T11:37:38+00:00 2017-01-11T11:37:38+00:00 Why Iceland has replaced celebrities with micro-influencers Nikki Gilliland <p>In place of Andre and other (arguably) recognisable faces like Michael Buble and Stacy Solomon, the brand has introduced a campaign featuring real-life mums.</p> <p>Teaming up with YouTube community, Channel Mum, it now works with a number of vloggers to promote its products in a more ‘authentic’ fashion.</p> <p>So, why the move? Here’s a few reasons behind Iceland’s shift in marketing strategy.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/iQlZcEh4u4c?wmode=transparent" width="854" height="480"></iframe></p> <h3>Value of micro-influencers</h3> <p>Last year, Iceland’s boss, Malcolm Walker, reportedly labelled the supermarket’s association with celebrities as ‘brand damaging’ – a hint at the troubles of Iceland’s front-woman, Kerry Katona.</p> <p>While it's hard to say whether this has had a truly negative impact, what we <em>do</em> know for sure is that social media influencers have simultaneously risen in popularity.</p> <p>More specifically, we've begun to see a greater demand for micro-influencers.</p> <p>If you’re not familiar with the term, a <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67807-is-micro-influencer-marketing-viable/" target="_blank">micro-influencer</a> is someone with anywhere between 500 to 10,000 followers on social media. With a smaller but more in-tune audience, many brands are recognising the power of working with them instead of top-tier influencers or celebrities.</p> <p>In fact, a recent <a href="http://markerly.com/blog/instagram-marketing-does-influencer-size-matter/" target="_blank">study by Markerly</a> proved that bigger doesn’t always mean better.</p> <p>From analysis of 800,000 Instagram users, with the majority having at least 1,000 followers, it found that the rate of engagement (in the form of likes and comments) decreases as the number of followers rises.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2930/Markerly.JPG" alt="" width="638" height="323"></p> <p>For brands like Iceland, it’s clear that micro-influencers offer a unique opportunity to tap into an existing and highly engaged audience.</p> <h3>Changing brand perceptions</h3> <p>Influencer marketing is based on honesty and authenticity. Instead of spinning brand-designed messages, the idea is that micro-influencers are natural advocates - either loyal customers in their own right or recently converted fans. </p> <p>Iceland has chosen to capitalise on this with Channel Mum, a medium-sized community, and an existing demographic that aligns with the supermarket’s own target audience.</p> <p>For its most recent Christmas campaign, it focused on changing brand perception, asking vloggers who had previously avoided the supermarket to re-consider their opinion.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/gaLG-sUO4RY?wmode=transparent" width="854" height="480"></iframe></p> <p>By inviting viewers into real-life homes, the vloggers are able to build a sense of authenticity and trust that is often missing from celebrity-driven marketing. </p> <p>With recent research showing that 35% of young mums are more likely to <a href="https://www.warc.com/LatestNews/News/Mums_turn_to_online_video.news?ID=36220" target="_blank">trust online videos</a> rather than traditional mediums, Iceland aims to win back former customers as well as lure in new ones with this upfront approach.</p> <p>While previous TV advertising was merely focused on ‘showing’ products, YouTube enables the 'tell' aspect - using honest opinions and relatable storytelling.</p> <h3>Cost effective campaign</h3> <p>For Iceland, the benefits of using micro-influencers does not just lie in immediate levels of engagement. With a direct and laser-focused approach to targeting, it can be a more cost-effective solution in the long run.</p> <p>Instead of using the medium of television to speak to a large audience – the majority of which may not be part of Iceland’s target demographic or even that interested in the food sector – the brand is able to tap into a smaller but far more attentive audience online.</p> <p>By creating an entire series for a single campaign, it's also able to reach customers on a regular basis.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/S-AFcg_4rl0?wmode=transparent" width="854" height="480"></iframe></p> <p>Lastly, with platform algorithms now favouring other factors <a href="http://blog.instagram.com/post/141107034797/160315-news" target="_blank">over chronological ordering,</a> micro-influencer content is more likely to be visible online.</p> <p>In turn, it’s also more likely to be shared, building on word-of-mouth recommendations from family and friends. </p> <h3>In conclusion...</h3> <p>Following on from its success with Channel Mum, Iceland has recently introduced dads into its online marketing campaign, planning 36 new videos from a male perspective.</p> <p>Proving the continued value of micro-influencers, Iceland is a great example of how to tap into and engage (and re-engage) a target market.</p> <p><em>For more on this topic, download these Econsultancy reports:</em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/the-rise-of-influencers/"><em>The Rise of Influencers</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/the-voice-of-the-influencer/"><em>The Voice of the Influencer</em></a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68658 2017-01-03T14:34:00+00:00 2017-01-03T14:34:00+00:00 Why more brands should write like The Economist Nikki Gilliland <p>Here’s a bit of expansion on what I found interesting and the reasons why brands of all kinds should take heed.</p> <h3>Simplicity doesn't mean ‘dumbing down’</h3> <p>The first topic up for discussion was how businesses and brands can instantly improve their use of language.</p> <p>The general consensus seemed to be that, instead of thinking about the writing itself, the first step is to consider the person reading it.</p> <p>It’s a simple tactic, but certainly one that finance-related brands in particular fail to execute, with many using unnecessary jargon or complicated language to convey the message instead.</p> <p>Of course, there is the argument that the language used is a by-product of a complicated industry (like banking or technology, for example), and that making it any simpler would be a case of dumbing down.</p> <p>But on the contrary, I think it is the smartest approach. Often the most successful companies are the ones that speak in the simplest and least-complex terms. And as well as engaging and attracting consumers in the first place, this can also lead to a superior customer experience.</p> <p>Experian is a great example of a brand that uses clear and concise copy to aid the user journey.</p> <p>It is designed to be as simple as possible, replacing standard words and sentences with conversational phrases to help users understand better. Even its login form is designed with this in mind, giving the user a subtle nudge in case they've forgotten their username.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2596/Experian.JPG" alt="" width="650" height="614"></p> <h3>Avoid the ‘curse of knowledge’</h3> <p>The ‘curse of knowledge’ is a term used to describe when an individual unknowingly assumes that the people they are communicating with have a certain level of understanding on a given topic.</p> <p>Often, this is the reason behind unnecessarily complex copy.</p> <p>One thing that The Economist does is make its writing as tight and succinct as possible, often cutting down first drafts to avoid arguably redundant words like ‘top’ and ‘very’. By writing in this way, it ensures that a naïve reader is more likely to understand it, as well as someone with an existing amount of knowledge.</p> <p>Online investment management company, Nutmeg, also uses language to convey a sense of clarity and transparency.</p> <p>Instead of explaining what it can offer the consumer, it steps into their shoes, highlighting the questions they are likely to have and providing answers in a straightforward way.</p> <p>What's more, it does not try to hide potential pitfalls (such as the questions of the user doing it themselves) but deliberately points them out - something that the user will instinctively appreciate.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2597/Nutmeg_common_questions.JPG" alt="" width="650" height="309"></p> <p>Below is a great example of how Nutmeg deliberately avoids the ‘curse of knowledge’. Instead of assuming that the reader knows what diversification means, it provides the definition at the beginning of the sentence. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2598/Nutmeg.JPG" alt="" width="700" height="278"></p> <h3>Write like you speak</h3> <p>Finally, onto the question of how and why brands often misjudge their <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67268-how-to-achieve-the-right-tone-of-voice-for-your-brand/">tone of voice</a>.</p> <p>Speaking about language bugbears, Robert gave the example of airline companies placing a heavy stress on verbs when communicating with passengers, e.g. “Unfortunately, ladies and gents, we <em>ARE</em> experiencing a delay. This means we <em>WILL</em> be remaining here for the time being.” </p> <p>This type of thing doesn’t just happen when words are spoken out loud. One of my own bugbears is how brands attempt to reach a younger demographic by using certain slang words or phrases they <em>think will </em>resonate.</p> <p>Of course, this can be incredibly effective for brands that are built around a very specific tone of voice (and target a certain age bracket). Fashion brands like Missguided and ASOS, for example, use colloquialisms to reach a millennial audience – and they do it well. </p> <p>However, there are a lot of brands, again often financial, that sound superficial when they alter or change their tone of voice to try and reach a younger audience. It often comes across as cringy rather than cool.</p> <p>Alternatively, the best examples are brands that do not dumb down or try to be edgy, but ones that aim to be direct and relevant.</p> <p>Barclays is a good example, often discussing topics like student finance and graduating without being patronising or pretending to be cool. Its LifeSkills series – designed to help youngsters get the skills they need to succeed after school and university – is particularly good. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2599/Barclays.JPG" alt="" width="650" height="350"></p> <p>As well as being customer-centric, asking users exactly who they are and what they want from the service, it is engaging and conversational whilst being informative at the same time.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2600/Barclays_2.JPG" alt="" width="700" height="411"></p> <p><em><strong>If you'd like to improve your skills in this area, check out Econsultancy's <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/online-copywriting/" target="_blank">Online Copywriting</a> training course.</strong></em></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68640 2016-12-20T11:07:00+00:00 2016-12-20T11:07:00+00:00 Why live video was the biggest social trend of 2016 Nikki Gilliland <p>So why was has live video become such an important medium for brands? And what exactly should they be doing to capitalise on it in 2017?</p> <p>Let’s delve into the topic a little more.</p> <p>(Note: Despite other platforms introducing live video features, this article mainly focuses on Facebook)</p> <h3>Why are brands using live video?</h3> <p>When <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67603-what-marketers-need-to-know-about-facebook-s-livestreaming-push/" target="_blank">Facebook Live launched</a> last year, it certainly wasn’t the beginning of live video being used as a content marketing tool.</p> <p>We'd already seen many brands experimenting with Periscope for about a year or so, including early pioneers like <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66564-how-brands-can-use-periscope-and-meerkat/" target="_blank">Red Bull and Mastercard</a>.</p> <p>However, with the arrival of the live video functionality on Facebook, the opportunity for brands to reach a bigger demographic came into play. </p> <p>With many already having an existing and well-established audience on the platform, it certainly made sense to start using it as the main output for live streaming.</p> <p>This year, we've also seen Instagram rolling out two new features, following on from Instagram Stories in August.</p> <p>The first, Instagram Live, allows users to live stream (before the video disappears for good when the broadcast comes to an end). The second feature is an update to direct messages, meaning that users can also send disappearing photos and text when communicating in a thread.</p> <p>Of course, we can't ignore the continued popularity of Snapchat either. Currently, the platform is said to generate a mammoth 10bn video views a day (up from 4bn a day in 2015), overtaking Facebook's last count of 8bn. When you take into account that Snapchat has a fraction of the daily users that Facebook does - 60m compared to 1.18bn - this is all the more impressive.</p> <p>Unsurprisingly, live video is now being taken seriously by brands of all kinds, with the medium becoming a core part of social media marketing strategies.</p> <p><em>Mastercard was an early adopter of live video.</em></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr">|LIVE NOW| Watch <a href="https://twitter.com/Harris_English">@Harris_English</a> &amp; <a href="https://twitter.com/Morgan_Hoffmann">@Morgan_Hoffmann</a> share <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PricelessGolf?src=hash">#PricelessGolf</a> tips <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/meerkat?src=hash">#meerkat</a> <a href="http://t.co/9mm2W0Kn2q">http://t.co/9mm2W0Kn2q</a></p> — Mastercard (@Mastercard) <a href="https://twitter.com/Mastercard/status/600316262862954496">May 18, 2015</a> </blockquote> <h3>Why is live video so effective?</h3> <p>Firstly - and forget the live aspect for a moment - more people are watching videos on social platforms than ever before. According to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index, video will account for <a href="http://tubularinsights.com/2019-internet-video-traffic/" target="_blank">80% of all consumer Internet traffic</a> by 2019.</p> <p>Video is easier to consume than written content, with increased data and faster load times also resulting in people watching more videos on mobile - and sharing them too.</p> <p><a href="https://ondeviceresearch.com/blog/iab:-mobile-video-usage,-a-global-perspective" target="_blank">68% of users</a> are said to share the videos they watch on their smartphones, meaning that the most-used apps are ideal spaces for brands to infiltrate.</p> <p>Secondly then, alongside a desire to access the medium, live video also opens up an interactive and instantaneous connection with brands and well-known personalities.</p> <p>Allowing brands to broadcast live and ‘in the moment’, it means that viewers can also feel part of the action, creating a strengthened bond and connection.</p> <p>What’s more, it also allows for instant feedback, with viewers even more likely to comment and engage if there’s a chance the creator might also respond or say their name in real-time. Mark Zuckerberg himself has suggested that <a href="https://econsultancy.com/admin/blog_posts/68640-why-live-video-was-one-of-the-biggest-social-media-trends-of-2016/edit/people%20were%20watching%20live%20streams%20three%20times%20longer%20and%20commenting%2010%20times%20more%20than%20on%20regular%20vi%E2%80%A6%20" target="_blank">people watch live streams three times longer</a> and comment 10 times more than on regular videos.</p> <p>Facebook Live also has a few additional features which has ramped up brand-involvement.  Users can watch a stream even after it has finished and privacy filters mean brands can pick and choose the people they want to see a video. This adds an additional ‘exclusive’ element for fans, as well as a more tailored experience all round.</p> <h3>Types of live video</h3> <p>Brands used live video for a variety of different reasons in 2016.</p> <p>Lets’s take a look at a select few...</p> <h4>News and politics</h4> <p>Another big trend in 2016 has been the politicisation of social media, with both the Brexit referendum and the US election causing huge spikes in political-related content.</p> <p>Putting aside any controversy over the platform’s involvement with <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68547-how-advertisers-are-being-exploited-by-fake-news-sites/" target="_blank">fake or biased news</a>, we can certainly see how brands and publishers jumped on these timely events to reach users in the moment.</p> <p>CNN was one broadcaster to make use of the opportunity to stream live, with its election results video resulting in 24m views, making it one of the top ten most-watched live videos of the year.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fcnn%2Fvideos%2F10155576641936509%2F&amp;show_text=0&amp;width=560" width="560" height="315"></iframe></p> <h4>Education and communication</h4> <p>Live streaming is also very effective for conveying what’s going on behind-the-scenes.</p> <p><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68090-how-zsl-london-zoo-is-using-facebook-video-to-drive-social-growth/" target="_blank">ZSL London Zoo is a great example</a> of this, using the medium to communicate the work being done by the zoo as well as by its conservation scientists out in the wild.</p> <p>By combining three elements that it knows its audience is interested in – the cute, the wondrous and the weird – it ensures user interest.</p> <p>Similarly, by capitalising on Facebook Live’s autoplay function and integration into newsfeeds, it has found far bigger reach than when it was previously using Periscope.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fzsllondonzoo%2Fvideos%2F756217194414741%2F&amp;show_text=0&amp;width=400" width="400" height="400"></iframe></p> <h4>Humour and fun</h4> <p>For brands that make content merely to delight and entertain an audience, Facebook Live is an ideal medium.</p> <p>LadBible in particular is a good example of how to captivate users with light-hearted and cliff-hanger style content.</p> <p>It builds on the notion that views won’t be able to tear themselves away from a live stream because they’re hooked into what’s unfolding – regardless of how ridiculous it is.</p> <p>Case in point, this July live stream of a line-up of melting lollies…</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FLADbible%2Fvideos%2F2783253238388515%2F&amp;show_text=0&amp;width=400" width="400" height="400"></iframe></p> <p>Of course, we can’t fail to mention Buzzfeed’s watermelon video, which drew 800,000 people at the time - a figure comparable to live TV.</p> <p>Since then, it has gone on to generate over 11m views in total.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FBuzzFeed%2Fvideos%2F10154535206385329%2F&amp;show_text=0&amp;width=400" width="400" height="400"></iframe></p> <h4>Regular series</h4> <p>While many take a one-off approach, other brands have been using Facebook Live to create a new kind of serialised content.</p> <p>Makeup brand Benefit hosts a weekly series called ‘Tipsy Tricks’, which is usually held on the same day and the same time each Thursday.</p> <p>By sticking to a schedule, Benefit is banking on viewers getting into the habit of tuning in, much like they would a TV series.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fbenefitcosmetics%2Fvideos%2F10154080819678148%2F&amp;show_text=0&amp;width=400" width="400" height="400"></iframe></p> <p>What’s more, the brand also builds on the interactive element by using viewer comments and feedback to inform the direction of the content or what will be discussed in next week’s show. </p> <h3>What’s next for live video?</h3> <p>With many of our experts also predicting <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68630-social-media-in-2017-what-do-the-experts-predict/" target="_blank">live video to be big news in 2017</a>, it’s clear that this year has been a case of trial and error.</p> <p>For Facebook, it certainly hasn't all been smooth sailing. Concern over the platform’s graphic content censorship policy arose after it streamed footage of the aftermath of a fatal shooting, before the video also disappeared due to a supposed ‘glitch’.</p> <p>Facebook has since <a href="http://newsroom.fb.com/news/h/community-standards-and-facebook-live/" target="_blank">reiterated its stance</a> on graphic content, however, it surely remains a sensitive issue. </p> <p>For brands, the potential earnings from advertising will undoubtedly continue to be a big draw. In June, it was revealed that Facebook had paid 140 media companies a combined $50m to create videos for Facebook Live. The list – including everyone from Gordon Ramsay to Mashable – demonstrated the brand’s intent to promote the product.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2434/Facebook_Live.JPG" alt="" width="500" height="449"></p> <p>As we head into 2017, there's also the announcement that Facebook is to expand its broadcast feature to enable 360 degree video.</p> <p>It's an interesting development, which will ultimately combine the immersive aspect of 360 technology with the instant and engaging features of live.</p> <p>So, keep your eyes peeled this time next year, as we'll undoubtedly be looking back at how the biggest brands capitalised on it.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68614 2016-12-19T15:30:00+00:00 2016-12-19T15:30:00+00:00 Why HotelTonight’s holiday campaign is a humorous hit Nikki Gilliland <p>While most marketing focuses on ‘family togetherness’ at this time of year, HotelTonight is instead promoting the idea that, sometimes, there’s such a thing as <em>too much</em> family time.</p> <p>It was originally launched for Thanksgiving in the US, but it’ll stay relevant throughout Christmas.</p> <p>Here’s just three reasons why it works so well.</p> <h3>Goes against tradition</h3> <p>HotelTonight offers consumers the chance to book last minute hotel rooms via its app or mobile website, similar to the likes of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67402-how-hotels-com-uses-email-to-keep-me-as-a-loyal-customer/" target="_blank">Hotels.com</a> or LateRooms.</p> <p>In contrast to the aforementioned examples, HotelTonight doesn’t tend to focus on inspirational travel content.</p> <p>Instead, it boldly takes a different tack.</p> <p>This year, its "Visit, Don't Stay” campaign is based on the simple idea that you might not want to stay with your family at Christmas time.</p> <p>It has created a variety of funny print ads to demonstrate why.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2204/HotelTonight_1.JPG" alt="" width="390" height="785"></p> <p>Choosing to go against the sickly-sweet theme of family togetherness, it cleverly takes the simple and highly relatable idea – that we might have to put up with family rather than enjoy seeing them – and runs with it. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2205/HotelTonight_2.JPG" alt="" width="390" height="786"></p> <p>It gets the balance right, too.</p> <p>The anti-family feeling comes off as jovial rather than hateful or serious, conveniently promoting the brand's promise of a room whenever you need it.</p> <h3>Gets consumers involved</h3> <p>Alongside humorous print and video ads, HotelTonight has been rolling out efforts to engage consumers on social media.</p> <p>This is in the form of a competition, whereby users are asked to explain their own reasons for not staying the night at a family member’s house, with the best (or worst) winning HotelTonight credits as a rewards.</p> <p>Using the hashtag #HotelTonight on Facebook and Twitter, it’s easy to get involved, with a presence on multiple platforms leading to high visibility and increased awareness of the brand. </p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FHotelTonight%2Fposts%2F1170087673026775%3A0&amp;width=500" width="500" height="391"></iframe></p> <h3>Creates something memorable</h3> <p>With most travel brands going for an experience-led approach – building on the idea that <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68428-how-travel-brands-are-capturing-millennial-interest-on-mobile/" target="_blank">millennials in particular crave adventure and spontaneit</a>y – HotelTonight’s focus on humour makes a nice change.</p> <p>With CMO, Ray Elias, suggesting that the company’s competition is “big brands with deep war chests that have been advertising for years” – its clearly designed to be disruptive. Its highly visual nature sets it apart.</p> <p>Others try to do this by creating a distinctive tone of voice. <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68375-airbnb-how-its-customer-experience-is-revolutionising-the-travel-industry/" target="_blank">AirBnB</a> is welcoming and reassuring, for example, while <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68201-how-hostelworld-uses-video-to-connect-with-target-audience-of-young-travellers/">HostelWorld</a> is overly comical. </p> <p>However, words are limited in the “Visit, Don’t Stay” campaign.</p> <p>In fact, the video ads include no spoken words whatsoever.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ya9Tzl0LUYo?wmode=transparent" width="854" height="480"></iframe></p> <p>A bold image and tagline of “Family overload?” is all that’s needed, resulting in a simple but memorable message.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/o88DK3IF90M?wmode=transparent" width="854" height="480"></iframe></p> <p>So, if you’re one of those people who’s a bit concerned about staying with the family in a few weeks’ time – at least you can take comfort in these gloriously relatable ads.</p> <p><em><strong>Now read:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68154-16-ad-examples-that-prove-print-isn-t-dead/">16 ad examples that prove print isn't dead </a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68630 2016-12-14T11:22:00+00:00 2016-12-14T11:22:00+00:00 Social media in 2017: What do the experts predict? Nikki Gilliland <p>We’ve asked some industry experts for their predictions on social media trends in 2017. The people offering up their opinions are:</p> <ul> <li>Kirsty Price, senior community manager at PSONA Social.</li> <li>Alice Reeves, associate director of social and outreach at Jellyfish.</li> <li>Jordan Stone, deputy head of strategy at We Are Social.</li> <li>Joanna Halton, head of client strategy at MyClever.</li> <li>Will Francis, founder of Vandal London.</li> <li>Michelle Goodall, social media consultant and tutor of Econsultancy’s <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/social-media-and-online-pr/" target="_blank">Social Media &amp; Online PR Training</a>.</li> </ul> <h3>Lots more live video</h3> <h4><strong>Kirsty Price:</strong></h4> <p>Gary Vaynerchuk called it over a year ago and it’s becoming clearer by the day that TV’s biggest competitor is live video on social media platforms.</p> <p>2016 has been the year of development and experimentation, with the launch of Facebook Live and platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram releasing video capture and live streaming products in Q4.</p> <p>However, 2017 is likely to be the year that live video shifts from early adopter to mass market use. There’s so much room for innovation in the live video space and I’m really excited to see how brands will use this medium creatively in 2017. </p> <h4><strong>Alice Reeves:</strong></h4> <p>Live video is going to continue to grow as a way of interacting with your audience in real time.</p> <p>I think people are bored of seeing traditional, highly polished, carefully constructed marketing all the time. Live video allows a more genuine connection with brands. </p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FNBCNews%2Fvideos%2F1562519697101388%2F&amp;show_text=0&amp;width=560" width="560" height="315"></iframe></p> <h3>Micro-Influencers</h3> <h4><strong>Kirsty Price:</strong></h4> <p>On social media, attention is the currency and in 2017 everyone has the opportunity to <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68608-could-l-oreal-s-beauty-squad-mark-a-shift-for-influencer-marketing/" target="_blank">become an influencer.</a> Savvy brands are starting to realise that they can generate an impressive return on investment working in partnership with people with around 1,000 followers, not just people with celebrity status.</p> <p>Off the back of this, we’ll see more and more influencer matchmaking tools popping up and (hopefully) more sophisticated social media disclosure tools.</p> <p><em>(For more on this topic see: <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67807-is-micro-influencer-marketing-viable/">Is micro-influencer marketing viable?</a>)</em></p> <h3>AI and VR</h3> <h4><strong>Jordan Stone:</strong></h4> <p>There’s a lot of talk about artificial intelligence, but we haven’t really seen much true AI as of yet - just clever parlour tricks. The real story is automation, which will have a greater impact on marketing, with all elements of the agency process becoming ripe for potential automation.</p> <p>IBM’s Watson used automation to create a movie trailer earlier this year - ultimately the work needed a human touch to bring all the elements together but the project had huge implications for the creative industries.</p> <p>I’d expect augmented reality to continue to develop - Pokemon Go and Snapchat were such huge successes in 2016 that developers would be mad not to find use for them in 2017.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/gJEzuYynaiw?wmode=transparent" width="854" height="480"></iframe></p> <h4><strong>Alice Reeves:</strong></h4> <p>The biggest trend for next year has got to be <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/a-marketers-guide-to-virtual-reality/">virtual reality</a>. We saw the explosion of Pokémon Go this year and I can’t wait to see what’s going to be the next AR/VR craze.</p> <p>We’ve already got the first VR social network, vTime, and it’ll be interesting to see how this develops and what other contenders step into the market</p> <h4><strong>Joanna Halton:</strong></h4> <p>I also think that VR will start to reach a tipping point with consumers through the likes of Samsung headsets, Google Cardboard and Playstation VR.</p> <p>Live video and vertical video recording (not just horizontal video) are things that content creators and brand managers should begin to look at - if they aren’t already!</p> <h4><strong>Michelle Goodall:</strong></h4> <p>We'll see many more creative, transmedia campaigns incorporating AI and platforms like Facebook Messenger next year.</p> <p>One of my personal favourite integrated campaigns of 2016 was Channel 4's 'Human 2' fake product recall campaign. This example showcases the move towards AI and Bot integration in creative social media campaigns.</p> <p>Channel 4 ran print, TV and outdoor ads for Persona Synthetics, the fictional company recalling faulty synthetic humans or synths. All ads led to a website with a live chat function linked to Facebook Messenger, where the user has progressively creepy and realistic conversations with a malfunctioning synth.</p> <p>It's <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternate_reality_game">ARG</a> for the Facebook generation and a really brilliantly executed campaign to promote a second series to both existing and new viewers.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/wvnrD3MHz4s?wmode=transparent" width="741" height="417"></iframe></p> <h3>Chatbots</h3> <h4><strong>Jordan Stone:</strong></h4> <p>Chatbots will show no sign of slowing down and with the launch of WhatsApp for business planned in 2017, I’d expect to see an explosion in the Instant Messaging Marketing world - perhaps even the opening of chatbot agencies.</p> <h4><strong>Will Francis:</strong></h4> <p>Automation of marketing triggers can be incredibly effective and efficient. With tools like Hubspot and Mailchimp making personalised lifecycle marketing (i.e. receiving communications based on your behaviour and your stage in the funnel) so cheap and easy, this will further extend into social in 2017.</p> <p>Expect more chatbots and intelligent communications through email and social from the brands you engage with.</p> <h3>Social being taken seriously</h3> <h4><strong>Joanna Halton:</strong></h4> <p>In 2017 I expect spend for social platforms to increase. This week has seen reports that digital will overtake linear TV spend and WPP reporting that Facebook is likely to be its second biggest supplier in 2017.</p> <p>It's all indicative of social being taken more seriously as a channel, with brand managers adopting large scale social inclusive campaigns and budgets that match.</p> <h4><strong>Kirsty Price: </strong></h4> <p>Social media marketing is such a fast-paced and ever-evolving industry and it’s so important to practice daily self-education and experimentation.</p> <p>That being said, I believe that we’re finally starting to see the ‘professionalisation’ of social media as a career with the release of certification programs from platforms and social media tools.</p> <p>As social media comes of age, it would be great to see more training and development opportunities arise that focus on both the theory and practice of social media, and how it fits into the overall marketing strategy. </p> <p><strong><em>On that note, make sure to check out Econsultancy’s range of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/topics/social/">social media training courses</a>.</em></strong></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68637 2016-12-14T10:11:44+00:00 2016-12-14T10:11:44+00:00 The Guardian claims impressive results from new native ad platform Nikki Gilliland <p>On the back of this, the fact that the Guardian has launched a new platform for advertiser created content might not come as much of a surprise.</p> <p>But is it a welcome move? Here a bit more on the story.</p> <h3>What is ‘Hosted by the Guardian?’</h3> <p>‘Hosted by the Guardian’ is a new platform that has been specifically designed to host advertiser content on Guardian.com, mainly in the form of videos, articles and galleries.</p> <p>It has been described as a ‘premium environment’, drawing on traffic from the Guardian’s homepage where the content will first be promoted.</p> <p>So far, Renault is one of the biggest brands to test out the platform, running three videos to sell its new range of electric ‘ZOE’ vehicles.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2399/Renault_desktop.png" alt="" width="780" height="490"></p> <h3>A transparent approach</h3> <p>Native advertising continues to be a big challenge for both brands and publishers.</p> <p>On one hand, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67019-12-alarming-ad-blocking-stats-that-reveal-the-size-of-the-problem/" target="_blank">the rise of ad blocking</a> suggests that readers are fed up of intrusive ads, meaning that surely native ads - where the content mimics the editorial environment on which it is displayed – would be preferable.</p> <p>However, increasing confusion and frustration over poorly labelled sponsored content means that reader distrust is one of the biggest risks for publishers.</p> <p>The below chart from Contently’s <a href="https://contently.com/strategist/2016/12/08/native-advertising-study/" target="_blank">latest report</a> reflects confusion over the classification of ads, with the majority of readers unsure about what a native advert actually is.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2400/Contently_chart.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="412"></p> <p>Interestingly, the Guardian’s new platform aims to combat this issue, mainly by prominently labelling the various types of sponsored content it produces.</p> <p>The example from Renault is clearly labelled as ‘advertiser content’, meaning that is has been paid for and produced by the advertiser rather than the publisher. </p> <p>It also includes a link to a more in-depth disclaimer about what this means.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2404/Guardian_disclaimer.JPG" alt="" width="640" height="560"></p> <p>The videos distinctly feel like adverts, too.</p> <p>Showing a group of Central St Martins students taking part in a competition to design the 'car of the future' - the brand involvement is obvious.</p> <p>While there’s no real mention of the ‘ZOE’ cars, Renault has a heavy presence throughout, even down to praise from the judges about the company's innovative nature and its support of students.</p> <p>Despite this, the storytelling aspect means it is engaging to watch, with the genuine hard work and talent of the students shining through.</p> <h3>Will readers embrace it?</h3> <p>Results from Renault’s campaign indicate that the platform has so far proven successful.</p> <p>Apparently, Renault’s ‘Hosted by’ videos delivered a 60% view-through rate from over 25,000 unique visitors, with a further 4% clicking through to the brand website.</p> <p>What’s more, the overall campaign was said to double awareness of the Renault ZOE, with a third of those who recalled the campaign claiming that they would consider buying an electric car in the future.</p> <p>It’s surprising to hear such a positive result, however, this could be down to the platform being hosted on its own hub.</p> <p>It’s unclear whether or not the ad was labelled as ‘advertiser content’ on the homepage, as there is currently no sign of Renault’s campaign anywhere else on the site. But I’m assuming that this was the case, which means that readers would have known this before actively clicking through to watch it.</p> <p>Perhaps we can also put down this campaign's success to the fact that readers view both the Guardian and Renault as two trusted brands. </p> <p>Contently found that 41% of readers would feel increased trust towards a publisher if it featured a native ad from a most trusted brand.</p> <p>So, while there are obvious risks involved, native advertising does have the potential to increase positive sentiment for the publisher - as long as it is executed correctly.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/2401/Impact_on_reputation.JPG" alt="" width="705" height="436"></p> <h3>In conclusion… </h3> <p>With native advertising remaining an important source of revenue for publishers, the Guardian's new platform is a sign that many are taking notice of the <a href="https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/native-advertising-guide-businesses" target="_blank">FTC's stricter regulations</a>.</p> <p>Of course, it helps that Renault's content is well produced, using the real-life context of a student competition to increase engagement.</p> <p>Likewise, with prominent labelling of 'advertiser content' as well as heavy use of the Renault logo, it's pretty unlikely that anyone would view it without knowing that it is an ad.</p> <p>Created with transparency in mind <em>and</em> the aim of providing value for readers, it is a decent example for others to follow.</p> <p><em><strong>Further reading:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67083-is-native-advertising-sustainable" target="_blank">Is native advertising sustainable?</a></em></li> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67044-is-native-advertising-the-answer-to-ad-blocking/" target="_blank">Is native advertising the answer to ad blocking?</a></em></li> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66281-five-changes-programmatic-native-advertising-will-bring/" target="_blank">Five changes programmatic native advertising will bring</a></em></li> </ul>