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ADI Reports $11B In Online Sales, Thanksgiving Through Cyber Monday

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Online sales for Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday (Nov. 26 to 30) totaled $11 billion this year, with 40% of those sales coming from door-buster discounts, according to analysis by Adobe Digital Index (ADI).

The data suggests that, in order to make this season profitable, retailers will need to focus on getting shoppers to hunt for more than the big bargains that drove them online in the first place.

The online sales numbers are up quite a bit year over year, with 25% for Thanksgiving ($1.7 billion), 14.3% for Black Friday ($2.7 billion), and 12% for Cyber Monday ($2.98 billion), ADI reported.

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RIP Millennials: Marketing Will Be ‘Age Agnostic’ Next Year

Hotwire PR Study Finds Companies Will Target On Passion, Not Numbers

In 2016, marketing and communications professionals will stop targeting millennials as one demographic and focus on reaching the younger consumers based on their passions, according to a study released today by Hotwire PR.

The agency’s seventh annual “Communications Trends Report,” which was based on crowdsourced data from 400 communicators across 22 countries, revealed that brands will look to engage consumers with age-agnostic content that emphasizes certain values.

Another key finding from the study is that the industry is not prepared for mobile ad blocking, especially since Apple enabled apps that stop ads from popping up on smartphones and iPads through its iOS 9 operating system. To rise above the ad blocking influx, marketers will need to spend more time on native advertising, sponsored podcasts, influencer partnerships, and experiential efforts, according to the research.

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See the First 360-Degree Video Ads on Facebook

AT&T, Samsung, Nestle Among Brands Test New Format

360-degree marketing” has been an industry buzzword for years, but what about 360-degree advertising?

Facebook is starting to test 360-degree video ads with a handful of brands including AT&T, Samsung and Nestle, all of which can be seen below. Facebook officially introduced the virtual reality-lite video format on its desktop site and Android apps in September, and the social network is now bringing 360-degree videos — and ads — to Apple’s iPhones and iPads.

In addition to the brands advertising 360-degree videos on Facebook, publishers including ABC News, BuzzFeed and Nickelodeon have begun posting all-angle videos to the social network, which can also be watched using Samsung’s Gear VR virtual-reality headset.

And to attract more 360-degree videos to its service, Facebook has added a way for anyone operating a Facebook page to post 360-degree videos, including a way to edit the initial camera angle and vertical field of view before uploading the video. The company has also created a dedicated site for creators, publishers and brands to learn more about producing 360-degree videos.

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Why Marketeres Are Investing in Digital Hieroglyphics – Emojis

Ford, Domino’s, Dell, Others Work to Translate the Language of Emojis

Dell employed them for back-to-school marketing, Ford used them to promote its latest Focus model, and Domino’s has invested in them to revolutionize its pizza-ordering process. Emojis are transforming digital communication, but beyond occasionally measuring engagement with their own branded digital hieroglyphics, marketers still haven’t determined how best to gauge emojis as part of the larger social media conversation.

When Ford Motor Co. ran a branded emoji campaign in conjunction with mobile platform Swyft Media, the automaker generated 25,000 downloads of its Ford Focus digital stickers each day for 10 days in September. Those downloads led to 40,000 shares of those branded images via messaging platforms each day, totaling more than 1 million impressions, according to Swyft. The stickers, which can be shared in apps including Facebook Messenger and Twitter, feature images of Ford Focus automobiles coupled with phrases such as “Let’s Go!” and “Drive Safe!”

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Book Excerpt: ‘Entangling Brand and Consumer’ by Stan Rapp and Sebastian Jespersen

Entangling Brand and Consumer

Go Beyond Mere Engagement to Forge Enduring Ties With Customers

Entangling brand and consumer is the new business model for building an enduring, mutually rewarding customer relationship.

At a time when change is the only constant, holding on to what is gospel no longer works. “One-to-one” is yesterday’s news. This book is about taking the “to” out of “one-to-one.” Tomorrow’s pacesetters will be those who create an entangled “one-plus-one” twosome that goes where nobody has ventured before.

Welcome to a new reality where producer and consumer make history together rather than being at opposite ends of a shaky relationship. “Doing with” leaves “doing to” in the dust now that it’s so easy for your customers to tell the world how you treat them and what you do for them.

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How Much Is A Social Media Influencer’s Audience Really Worth?

Laundry Service CEO Jason Stein Breaks Down Social Media Economics

Just how much is a social media influencer’s audience worth?

According to Jason Stein, founder of Laundry Serviceand the second expert in our Digital Crash Course, it’s a lot more than you think.

“Advertisers pay for people, they pay for audiences, they pay for eyeballs, they pay for attention, they pay for trust, they pay for influence,” Mr. Stein said. “And the only way to continue to engage that audience and retain that audience is to create great content.”

But more importantly, he said, social media influencers distribute their own content to their followers. And in a world of disposable content, audience loyalty reigns supreme.

“Many influencers are reaching as many, if not more, people than traditional publishers every single day,” Mr. Stein said. “They got that reach because they were really good at producing original content that people wanted with the specific point of view they brought to the table.”

Mr. Stein said the average social media influencer makes in the low six-figure figures whereas the outliers can make millions.

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Why Growth Hacking Is the Next Big Thing for Marketing

What Brands Can Learn from Airbnb, Twitter, Dropbox and Other Growth-Hackers

Sir David Brailsford had a difficult challenge ahead of him. The year was 2012 and the Olympic Games were on. The team he was coaching, British Team Sky, had not won a single major cycling tournament since 1966.

Far from being discouraged, Brailsford approached the task by breaking down every single thing he could think of that went into riding a bike and then improved it by 1%. The nutrition of riders, the pillows that cyclists slept on, the gel they used for their massages, the ergonomics of a bike seat, the weight of tires — Brailsford improved it all, just by a tiny bit.

By putting all those 1% margins together, or by “aggregating marginal gains,” Brailsford ended up with a remarkable improvement. In 2012, Team Sky won Tour de France and went ahead to win two more. At the Games, it triumphed with 70% of the gold medals in cycling.

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Alphabet’s 7 Brands You Should Know

You May Know Google, but What About Calico or Sidewalk?

On Monday Google cleaved itself into a new company called Alphabet. Made up of several companies that had previously constituted Google, Alphabet is already being likened to Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett’s holding company that most people may not be familiar with despite knowing its subsidiary companies which include Geico, Dairy Queen and Fruit of the Loom.

There’s Google, of course, but Alphabet houses other companies people may not be familiar with, such as Sidewalk, which seeks to improve cities, or Calico, which wants to find the fountain of youth. That appears to be a major reason for the decision to create Alphabet. These companies may have stemmed from Google, but they’re sprouting into their own organizations and need room to grow outside of Google’s shadow. And it doesn’t hurt that separating their costs from Google’s may help Wall Street investors appraise Google’s business without its profit-shrinking former side businesses.

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Best Practices: How to Improve Brand Metrics with YouTube

Four Lessons From Citrix on Using YouTube Video Ads for B-to-B

Software company Citrix, which makes GoToMeeting and other web-conferencing software, has been upping its video-ad strategy in an effort to expand its reach with its business audience and engage with users in a more entertaining way. And it’s using YouTube video ads to get results.

“As [ad] rates for TV have increased, it’s been more challenging to reach the business audience,” said Melissa Leachman, senior manager-media and campaigns for Citrix. “Even though we’re a b-to-b marketer, a lot of our audience acts like b-to-c, so we wanted to look to other spaces to broaden our reach.”

Citrix has also been trying to reach younger business decision-makers, and it thought video would be a more effective way to reach them.

“In essence, we are looking at millennial decision-makers,” Ms. Leachman said. “If we’re using video, and video reaches a younger audience, then we needed something that reaches them where they are consuming media.”

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Don’t Turn Content Into This Generation’s Banner Ads

Four Key Strategies for Brands When Creating Content

Our industry has finally woken up to the power of content marketing. According to eMarketer, 59% of marketers plan to increase their investment in content marketing. Not surprisingly, there’s a cottage industry growing to help brands cheaply and easily create content. From distribution to measurement, there seems to be a new tool popping up every day.

Personally, I’m getting nasty flashbacks to the early days of banner ads. When banner ads first came out, the marketing industry treated them like rebranded laundry detergent — “new and improved!” So, we shifted a bunch of dollars online and used half-baked data to prove it worked. Until, of course, we realized it didn’t.

The reason banners didn’t fulfill their promise isn’t that they were completely flawed. It’s because we didn’t look at them from a strategic standpoint. We didn’t understand their role, how to measure them or how to optimize them.

The same will be true of content if we don’t apply the lessons we learned. If we simply develop content because we think it’s new, improved, quicker and easier than previous tactics, we’re doomed to get the same disappointing results that we got from banner ads. We can’t simply create content to offset the fact that interruptive advertising is being avoided at an unprecedented rate. Content is not a panacea. It needs a strategic foundation. Here are four key action items to keep in mind when creating content:

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