Monday, April 29, 2019

5 Ways AI is Advertising’s New Guru




Like many other industries, the advertising and media worlds are experiencing major disruptions caused by artificial intelligence (AI). While there remain many challenges when it comes to advertising with AI, there are also many benefits to this emerging tool. Using research and data on current trends, we highlight five essential ways AI can harness consumer data, engagement tools, and employee skills to help transform how the advertising world informs and reaches consumers.

When people hear the phrase “artificial intelligence,” consumers and advertisers alike have a variety of reactions to it. Some people envision robots taking over the world, or at least much of the workforce, which means forfeiting some jobs. Some advertisers may picture hackers and disruptors working on fake ads. The reality is that although there are definitely challenges to integrating and working with AI, advertisers are already using it to their advantage and will only continue to further integrate AI applications to more effectively reach a target audience in an increasingly fragmented consumer space. For those advertisers who are still wary of using AI, there are lots of benefits.

In 2019, most people are aware of the controversy surrounding Facebook, when it was discovered the tech company has been sharing user data to allow other companies to target users in very specific ways, often through utilizing AI. We have all seen the ads that pop up in our Instagram feeds for things we were thinking about buying and wondered - “how did they know?”, or gotten emails from Netflix suggesting shows we knew we wanted to watch, but just hadn’t gotten around to doing so. While sometimes this form of advertising can feel invasive, it makes it easier to find products, services, and entertainment tailored to your needs and interests thanks to AI. Facebook’s methods of sharing information with advertisers may be a bit extreme, but it led to the type of advertising that’s becoming more and more common today.

Through analyzing massive, almost inconceivable, amounts of data, AI can track your habits and guess at what you might want to watch, buy, or read. Surveys of media buyers and advertisers show that a majority of marketers are incorporating AI research into their creative planning and marketing strategies; even more are planning to add it into their methods in 2019. The advertising industry is gathering and harnessing user data and then turning that information into smarter ways to reach consumers. The following five areas highlight some of the innovations in the use of AI; most advertisers believe this is only the beginning.

Data Science

The $100 billion ad industry has always done its best to reach you where you want to be reached, such as advertising clothing in a fashion magazine because they know their target audience is likely reading those magazines. The challenge for advertisers is that consumers have more choices than ever before. Another challenge is that even though breaking down user data means advertisers can make smart, data-driven decisions, the amount of data across different systems can be hard to process. AI technology makes gathering this data and analyzing it for trends more accurate and less expensive than previously seen in advertising, allowing advertisers to more efficiently use this data. AI can also tackle the data across all available platforms to create better marketing analytics.

As finely tuned AI capabilities are further integrated into marketing data collection, the worry that staff will have to become more technically educated, or even that humans could possibly be phased out of the process altogether, isn’t the case. AI technology serves advertisers, saving them time and effort, but it still needs a human eye to decode and apply it to various tasks. The efficiency that AI provides creates more time for creative thought, direct consumer relations, and decision-making that could benefit the entire advertising cycle.

Machine Learning

The systemic integration of AI into digital marketing strategies means that consumers may not even realize decisions are being made based on their preferences and usage of platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. For example, if you click on and buy clothing shown to you on Instagram, an algorithm very likely chose it. Consumers, while still wary of sharing too much with companies or of big tech being too invasive in their lives, are becoming more comfortable with AI’s ability to learn from them and serve up content that fits their needs.

The greater audience understanding that marketers garner from experience-based self-learning algorithms can help business strategy, marketing choices, and content creation be more tailored, cost-effective, and achieve a better return on investment. Connecting with consumers where they want to be met means consumer response is generally positive, since using these models ensures the content they want is what they get.

These AI capabilities are projected to grow quickly and include futuristic initiatives such as machine vision, the ability to take a photo of a product and have your phone or computer find it for you, and interactive programming, which then changes outcomes based on your known preferences when it comes to the advertisements you see.

Targeted Advertising

The average click-thru rate for advertisements is often so small that it's leading to limited ROI for many advertisers. Consumers respond to personalized advertising for the content of their choice, which means highly targeted ads help consumers get more information about what speaks to them and the response rate is much higher for businesses.

The data analyzed to help advertisers choose where to place their spots can even predict demand or problems in content supply in real time as consumers click on what they want to look at or buy.

Advertisers have learned that context and content are everything. There is even a movement to tie ads and messaging to a particular moment, so companies don’t appear to be ad blind, or not in touch with what is happening at any given time. You wouldn’t want to run a bubbly spot showcasing positive interactions during coverage of a tragic event, for example. Utilizing AI to identify when is or isn’t an appropriate time to run a certain ad can help companies avoid embarrassing situations.

Next Generation Automation

As AI continues to advance, the things we are already growing used to will evolve and add capabilities that once seemed the stuff of science fiction. Speech recognition already means that your Alexa device can order pizza, paper towels, or even play a song like the ones you’ve already listened to; voice commands will continue to be used in more applications. Image recognition and speech-to-text transcription lead to even closer direct consumer relationships across channels and interactive entertainment; these developments are on their way to our daily lives.

Social media is where a lot of innovative technologies first appear and go through consumer tests. Facebook is still the source of most data that advertisers utilize and which then often influences what you see on other social media platforms, such as Instagram. Twitter already crops photos to be most appealing based on eye-tracking, pinpointing where a person will look first. Companies that do the best on social media are those that use data science to analyze and act upon findings to change messaging or products as needed. AI can help with this quickly and cheaply.

Other products already being used, but with increased development and applications, are chatbots and dynamic pricing. Chatbots appear on sites and can handle routine customer questions and issues, dynamic pricing analyses pricing across the web, and make sure a company’s pricing of products is relevant.

Content Curation and Creation

While a real person wrote this article, you’ve probably read one that was written by a computer. Clearly most things still need human oversight, but AI “writers” are growing more intelligent about the pieces they can put together. At Forbes, for example, staff members use Bertie - kind of a “writer’s companion” that studies what a writer most often writes about, how they write, and then makes suggestions about stories, areas of interest, and writing styles.

AI can also suggest headlines based on what works best for SEO purposes. If you’ve ever been drawn in by a headline such as “Top 10 Places to Go on Spring Break,” it may have been written by AI. AI is even used to analyze behavior and see what you might want to do next and make suggestions. Eventually, it’s likely AI will be involved in content creation and immersive content experiences, studying and then suggesting what content viewers are most likely to watch. This direct consumer relationship is possible through the use of AI.

The keys to successful advertising in the AI age are to know your brand, invest in understanding context and content, and then use that targeted content across channels to develop messaging that has a human touch. Because no matter how much data you have, you still need to disrupt the massive amounts of information each consumer interacts with each day to strike a nerve and capture or change behavior in order to draw attention to your product or service.


Sunday, February 10, 2019

How to Improve Your Confidence at Work


No matter where you are in your career path, you could likely use a little extra confidence. This feeling is especially real for young professionals or those who are starting at a new company. Learning to have confidence in your work and position can help you go a long way at any company. We’re often far too critical of ourselves and need to acknowledge that we probably know more than we think we do and are capable of a lot. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help at work, but you also need to learn to feel confident in your own abilities. Here are some ways you can improve your confidence at work.
Stick to your word
By staying true to what you say at work, you’ll gain more confidence in yourself and also see your coworkers gain more confidence in you. If you say you’re going to get a project done by a specific deadline, get it done. If you offer to help out someone, help them when they ask for it. Proving to yourself and others that you’re honest and reliable can significantly increase your confidence.
Improve your knowledge
If there’s a specific area that you do not feel confident in at work, improve your knowledge in that area. Listen to podcasts, read books and articles, or take courses that can help you master that skill.
Stand up for yourself
To have true confidence at work, you need to learn to stand up for yourself. There are going to be times when people may try to take credit for your work or push ahead of you to benefit in the workplace. If you feel like you’re not assertive enough when it comes to the work you do and possible promotions or other benefits, learn to speak up for yourself.
Be friendly
Being friendly to the people around you and learning to smile and greet others, even when you’re busy or stressed out, helps you seem like a more confident person. You’ll come across as relaxed and in control instead of harried and unfriendly.
Talk about achievements
While there’s a fine line between bragging and rightfully talking about your accomplishments, there is a difference. If you accomplish something at work, go ahead and mention it to your supervisor. You need to feel comfortable talking about what you’ve done well; knowing these items can be vitally important when you’re interviewing for a new position or going through a review.
Find a support system
If you have a strong support system at work, you’ll find that it helps your confidence immensely. Having others, you can go to for advice or run an idea past is incredibly valuable. Having a support system outside of work is great too since you can talk to someone who’s removed from the environment. Surround yourself with people who are encouraging and positive.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Five Tips for Using Google Ads to Promote a Business


Google Ads, formerly branded as AdWords, is a robust advertising service that entrepreneurs can use to promote their business. It features a web-based interface from which entrepreneurs can create ads for Google’s search results, YouTube, Blogger, and millions of partner websites. And because it’s a pay-per-click (PPC) service, Google Ads only charges entrepreneurs when a qualified user clicks their ad.
Choose relevant, long-tail target keywords
When creating ads for the search network, entrepreneurs must specify the words or phrases that will trigger ad impressions. Known as target keywords, they can make or break a Google Ads campaign. Short, generic target keywords may generate lots of impressions and even clicks, but they’ll quickly consume an entrepreneur’s advertising budget while yielding few conversions in the process. For a higher return on investment (ROI), entrepreneurs should choose long-tail target keywords that are relevant to their ads.
Optimize landing page for keyword relevancy
The landing page associated with an ad should also be highly relevant to the ad’s target keywords. Using the target keyword “baseball bats for sale” with a landing page displaying golf clubs for sale doesn’t make much sense. Instead, entrepreneurs should create several small ad groups, each of which with a relevant landing page that corresponds to the ad group’s target keywords.
Use remarketing to target website visitors
In 2010, Google launched a new advertising feature that specifically targets users who’ve visited an entrepreneur’s website. Known as remarketing, it’s a highly effective way to promote a business since it only reaches users who’ve visited the website. Entrepreneurs can expect fewer clicks with remarketing, but those clicks will likely drive more conversions.
Increase ad visibility and functionality with extensions
Entrepreneurs aren’t required to use extensions with their ads, but doing so is well worth the nominal time and effort it needs. Extensions increase the visibility of ads by adding new information or functionality. The call extension, for instance, allows entrepreneurs to include their business’s phone number in their ads whereas the site links extension displays clickable links to the entrepreneur’s desired web pages.
Experiment with the display network
Some entrepreneurs are reluctant to target the display network, believing that the quality of traffic is lower than that of the search network. While the display network typically yields a lower conversion rate than its search network counterpart, it’s able to reach a broader audience. According to WordStream, the display network reaches more than nine in 10 of all internet users worldwide.
There’s a reason over 1 million entrepreneurs use Google Ads to promote their business: It’s a cost-effective service that gives entrepreneurs full control over their ads. To succeed, however, entrepreneurs should follow these five tips when creating campaigns.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

How to Strengthen Your Brand

Entrepreneurs with small businesses are often eager to expand their brands to help grow their consumer base and their bottom line. There are several benefits to strengthening one’s business by way of extending their brand. Having a strong brand helps you establish yourself as an expert in your industry; a consistent brand also makes a company more appealing to potential clients or consumers. However, any brand extensions require adequate research and forethought if you want to do the best job possible.
A small business doesn’t become an expansive company overnight. Building a lasting brand is a long-term process that requires a concentrated effort and the right strategies. Read on for four various brand extensions to consider when trying to expand a brand.
Expand your products
Starting a business from the ground up is incredibly challenging. This obstacle is why it’s tempting to stick with what works once a company finds success with a product. However, no business will succeed if they refuse to change and adapt to market demands and advances.
To keep one’s brand relevant for the long term, it helps to consider extending their current line of products. With a line extension, brands work to add other branded products within an already existing product line. This improvement allows the brand to keep their current customers interested while attracting new consumers with other products.
New categories of projects
Category extensions allow a brand to introduce their company to consumers in a separate category. These category extensions are more successful for brands that have an established reputation in their industry. This expansion allows the brand to branch out into an entirely different category of a product without alienating their customers while beginning to offer a more extensive array of categories within their industry.
Try a new niche
Market extensions can be a trickier endeavor for brands. However, when done successfully, market extensions attract consumers from a totally different niche. The most active market extensions introduce consumers to a brand that they may have never heard of otherwise and help that business move into a new industry.
New location
A brand that is looking to expand outside of their current locale should consider geographic extensions. While considered the most expensive method of strengthening one’s brand, the use of online marketing campaigns makes geographic expansions more effective. While introducing products to a completely different region presents a considerable risk, the opportunity of tapping into a totally different set of consumers is worth it.
There is a multitude of ways a business can strengthen their brand. With the right research and strategies, brands can apply these various extensions to their business plan to help expand into a new market and draw in a new audience.

Five Tips for Getting Great Referrals from Your Top Clients








Word-of-mouth news about a company is an essential part of any brand’s marketing strategy. Companies with stellar reputations and quality work typically find that a significant amount of their customer base comes from referrals. However, to get these referrals, brands must encourage their top clients to spread the word. It can take some time for referrals to occur organically. For this reason, brands looking to cash in on word-of-mouth marketing should use the following strategies to do so and make the most of this strategy. 

Make use of LinkedIn

Making use of LinkedIn is a great way for brands to identify potential clients and customers. LinkedIn is the perfect platform to use when researching an individual or company before getting a referral. Instead of asking satisfied clients for blind referrals, looking for leads on LinkedIn will make the entire process that much easier. You can see who your clients are connected to and know whether or not they have connections who would be a good fit for your company.

Target satisfied clients

Clients are most likely to provide referrals after they have had a positive experience with a company. Brands looking for good referrals should ensure that every client has a positive experience. By providing customers with regular updates on a service or product, these clients will be satisfied and more inclined to spread the word about their new favorite brand. Prioritize communication with clients to keep them happy.

Use a template for referrals

In order to get the most out of the entire referral process, brands should take the initiative and simplify things by providing clients with sample email templates. These templates allow the client to plug in their name and the name of the person they are referring, instead of having to handle the entire process themselves.

Promote positive feedback

To get referrals, a brand must show that they are worthy of them. Companies that promote their satisfied customers’ positive feedback will automatically encourage other clients to share good things about that brand. Moreover, these clients will be more inclined to provide the brand with referrals. 

Offer incentives

No customer has to give brand referrals. This reality is why brands like to include incentives for any clients that provide them with their contacts. With the positive reinforcement of an Amazon or Starbucks gift card, brands are likely to get better referrals than they would otherwise. 

Ready to score high-quality referrals? Put these five strategies into practice to encourage clients to share their best referrals.