Learn from the Pros (13)

Consider adding an offline presence to your 2017 Strategy

A digital presence is vital for any business or nonprofit to survive in 2017. 87% of Americans use the internet. In November of 2016, digital ad spend was already $16 billion, and 76% of retail marketers surveyed by RetailMeNot said Digital has a better ROI than Offline.

But according to Adweek’s Gemma Milne, “brands should use digital channels to facilitate actual human interaction, and build trust away from the volatility of the web…” In fact, the term “echo chamber” is cropping up to describe the self-affirming qualities of social media’s content algorithms. The journal Science published a research paper in 2015 reflecting how Facebook users, who self-identified with a political party, are more likely to have corresponding political content appear in their feeds. An offline presence can help personalize your brand, and even build awareness with a new audience.

What’s more is that 13% of Americans aren’t online, according to a 2016 Pew Research report. For businesses and nonprofits targeting individuals 65 and up, adults with a high school degree or less, and rural residents, a strong offline presence is worth considering. The barriers and attitudes of non-internet users range from cost to the perception that the internet does not personally impact them. Businesses should pay attention to these communities because they can possess strong brand loyalty, and nonprofits should pay attention because they are often in the greatest need of help.\

To reach people offline requires quality, consistency, and good strategy. A strong offline presence is an opportunity to distinguish a brand from the competition and create a connection with clients, but the experience should be positive. Content and creative should only ever affirm a brand’s reputation, not tarnish it. Be careful to avoid gimmicks and produce only what aligns with your core message; consistency is crucial. But quality content and consistent messaging are nothing if they aren’t delivered to the right people at the right time. Research your audience and your competitors, and brainstorm when, where and how to reach your target, and differentiate yourself from competitors.




Why You Should Make Your Website Mobile Friendly... and How!

Crafting your brand and business for mobile is as important as it is unavoidable. On average, Americans spend two and a half hours on their phones a day, which has digital advertising and content production hot on the minds of industry professionals. Both are crucial elements of mobile branding, but a mobile-friendly website should not go overlooked, especially when 60 percent of consumers say they will abandon a website that takes longer than three seconds to load. Further, 30 percent say they will abandon a purchase if the shopping cart isn’t optimized for mobile devices.

To avoid losing this valuable business, apply these strategies to optimize your website for mobile:


Draw Attention to Local Business Options

Users frequently search for a product or service to meet an immediate need. Highlight your unique services to stand out amongst competitors.


Tailor Your Site to a Small Screen

  1. Make Call to Action buttons front and center (buttons like Buy Now! or Call Now! that immediately send the user to the appropriate screen).
  • If your Call to Action is a phone call, keep promotions and other directions out of the way to avoid distracting the user to an action that is less important.
  • If your Call to Action is a form, simplify entry by limiting data fields, and turn off autocorrect for fields like First and Last name.
  1. Make fonts easy-to-read. Hootsuite recommends:
  • 14 point font for content.
  • Minimum 12 point font for forms.
  • 44 point font for buttons.
  1. Use high resolution images. iOS screens are high definition, and require double the image resolution to that of a desktop screen.


Create Cross-Device Consistency

  1. Always include full website or desktop options, as some users may want to access your full site for an enhanced experience.
  2. If a user has to move to another device to access your site, be sure they can pick up where they left off. Cross-browser IDs suggest pages the user has frequently interacted with, and shopper profiles retain cart items across devices.
  3. Use mobile-first responsive design, which provides the best possible experience at the mobile level, but improves design and functionality as screen size increases. Refer to the infographic below.
  4. Test your site frequently and on multiple devices, don’t limit device testing to just one model or brand. 


                                                                                               Mobile First Responsive Design

Mobile-First Responsive Design


New Radio Spot and Digital Ads Promote Oral Health with Pregnant Women and Babies

The Maryland Dental Action Coalition, is advocating for better oral health among Maryland’s pregnant populations. The Coalition created the Healthy Teeth, Healthy Kids campaign, targeting mothers of young children and pregnant women.

Pinnacle produced digital and radio ads informing pregnant women of the importance of prenatal oral care. Oral health has a significant impact on fetal health. The body changes and adapts rapidly throughout pregnancy, so neglecting dental hygiene, even infrequently, can cause gum disease which may lead to premature birth and low birth-weight.

Check out the radio spot and web ads below. 


How To Care for Your Mouth While You are Pregnant. Healthy Teeth, Healthy Kids, n.d.,

http://healthyteethhealthykids.org/how-to-care-for-your-mouth-while-you-are-pregnant/. Accessed 30 Sept. 2016.

The Oral Health Care System: A State-By-State Analysis. American Dental Association Health Policy Institute (2016): 1-75. Web.

The Oral Health Care System. Maryland Dental Action Coalition, n.d.,

http://mdac.us/. Accessed 30 Sept. 2016.


Instagram: Ways to Advertise and Engage Potential Customers


With over 400 million users, AdWeek reports that Instagram is the second most popular social platform used today based on the number of monthly active users. But as a business or agency, how can you use Instagram to advertise and engage with potential customers?

Instagram Advertising

Much has changed since Instagram originally introduced advertising to its platform. Originally, it is reported that advertising on Instagram could cost businesses anywhere between $350,000 and US $1 million per month. Now, Facebook Ads Manager can manage Instagram ads with a $5 daily minimum.  Similar to Facebook ads, you can choose targeting that includes geography, age, gender, demographics, interest and/or behavior. As you select your targeting and placement, Facebook Ad Manager will give you an estimated daily reach. You can also choose to allow Facebook to set the bid that will get you the best price or monitor the bid amount and change as you see fit.  In regards to the performance of Instagram ads, Naningans reports that Facebook and Instagram see very similar Click-through rates (CTR), Cost per 1,000 impressions (CPM), and Cost per click (CPC).













Nanigans, Global Advertising Performance - Benchmarks, Facebook vs. Instagram, 2015


Branded Content through Endorsements

Looking for an Instagram advertising opportunity that seems more organic? Reach out to your influencers. Influencers are those who have a great number of followers and have no problem spreading the word about your products or services. Influencers can post photos of themselves enjoying your products or promote a contest that provides a lucky follower with a free trial. These influencers can be local bloggers will a decent size social following or an Instagram user who already uses their platform to promote your business by tagging your business page or by using hashtags related to your business in their posts.

Keep in mind; requesting the help of influencers can come at a cost. Depending on the influencer and their number of social followers, New York Times reports that “for influencers with 50,000 to 500,000 followers, the average is $1,000 for Instagram”. Some influencers can simply be paid in free products or services. If you are looking for an influencer who is more credible and are open to hiring a service to assist, companies like Tapinfluence  and Fohr Card have directories of Influencers for marketers to choose from. While the cost can be a bit hefty, this strategy can be effective as Nielsen reports that, among every generation, recommendations from friends/relatives, consumer opinions posted online and branded sponsorships rank more trustworthy than print, cinema, radio and digital advertising.

One thing to remember when taking this approach is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has documented and enforced rules on how to proceed with paid brand endorsements and contests. One rule is that a post should be worded in a way that is clear and conspicuous if the endorsee is receiving payment by money, products or services. It is also suggested that the post include the hashtag #ad, #sponsored or #contest depending on the nature of the endorsement.

Here is a great resource that details more on the requirement of the FTC - https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/ftcs-endorsement-guides-what-people-are-asking

Advertising and Branded Content are both concepts that have been present in the media world for years. Now, business owners are adjusting their way of thinking to include emerging mediums used and trusted by new generations entering into the economy as consumers. And, while Instagram continues to grow and evolve, businesses will too and will find new ways to capture the attention of potential customers.



“Here’s How Many People Are on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Other Big Social Networks”, AdWeek’s Social Media Trends, 2016 http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/heres-how-many-people-are-on-facebook-instagram-twitter-other-big-social-networks/637205

“Global Trust In Advertising: Winning Strategies For An Evolving Media Landscape September 2015 - Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Survey, Q1 2015”, Nielsen, 2015, Page 13, https://www.nielsen.com/content/dam/nielsenglobal/apac/docs/reports/2015/nielsen-global-trust-in-advertising-report-september-2015.pdf

Nanigans, Global Advertising Performance - Benchmarks, Facebook vs. Instagram, 2015, https://instagrampartners.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Nanigans-Instagram-Advertising-Benchmark-Report-December-2015.pdf

“How Small to Medium-Sized Businesses Can Advertise on Instagram”, Shortstack, http://www.shortstack.com/how-small-to-medium-sized-businesses-can-advertise-on-instagram/

“Endorsed on Instagram by a Kardashian, but Is It Love or Just an Ad?”, New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/30/business/media/instagram-ads-marketing-kardashian.html?_r=0


Where are 2016 Election Candidates Spending their Money?

This year’s political season has been a costly one for candidates pushing to become the next leader of the United States. But the question is, where exactly are they spending their media dollars?

CBS News reports TV ad spending for the 2016 election will reach and possibly exceed $4.4 billion dollars but unless you are in the 14 swing states, you may not see many TV ads. Unless you were watching this year’s Olympics Games. It's being reported that the Clinton presidential campaign’s “Hillary for America” spent $15.8 million, half of her national budget, during the two-week event. Trump’s presidential campaign, on the other hand, has its first ad buy scheduled to begin August 2016 in swing states: Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina and Ohio.

Online and Digital will see a pretty decent chunk of campaign dollars this political season. Fortune reports that an estimated $1.2 Billion dollars will be spent with a little less than half going to social media.  

While presidential campaigns are strategically planning their media schedule, some media outlets are not accepting political ads. National CineMedia (NCM) is one of them. In 2015, NCM declared their movie theatres as a “Politics-Free Zone”. 

With a little more than two months left before the election, Americans should prepare to see more of the democratic and republican nominees before it’s all said and done.  



"Clinton Spends Big On Rio Olympics" http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/283025/clinton-spends-big-on-rio-olympics.html


"Trump campaign is raising cash, but we'll see soon if it can spend it" http://www.cnbc.com/2016/08/19/trump-campaign-is-raising-cash-but-well-see-soon-if-it-can-spend-it.html


"Facebook and Google Are Big Winners As Political Ad Money Moves Online" http://fortune.com/2016/07/21/political-ad-money-google-facebook/


Pokémon Go: How to drive traffic to your business without setting up a PokéStop or Gym

Pokémon GO has taken the world by storm. For those who aren’t familiar, Pokémon Go is free-to-play location-based reality game that allows Pokémon fans to capture Pokémon in the real world. 

As of July 26, 2016, Sensor Tower reports the app has been downloaded 75 million times after only 20 days after launching.  With download numbers like that, it’s no wonder businesses are jumping on board to capitalize on this craze!  

But what other option do you have now that Niantic, software developer of Pokémon Go, isn’t accepting any new submissions for new PokéStops or Gyms? Pokémon Lures modules are the answer!  These modules lure Pokémon to a PokéStop which in turn, lures more Pokémon players to catch them.


If your business is close to a PokéStop, purchasing a Lure Module in the Pokémon Go Store can attract Pokémon (and their players) near your location for 30 minutes.  One lure costs .99 while 8 lures will cost you about $7. Here is how you set up a Lure.

  1. Download Pokémon Go and purchase a lure in the Pokémon Go App Store.
  2. Your business must be located near or be able to travel to a PokéStop, as you can only set up a Lure near a PokéStop. Get comfortable as it can take a few minutes to set one up.
  3. Tap on the PokéStop on the Pokémon Go main screen.
  4. Once the PokéStop opens up, tap the small, white, cylindrical shaped icon above the giant circular PokéStop picture.
  5. Go back to the main screen. The PokéStop should now be awash in purple flower pedals and swirls. That means the Lure is active.

If your business is near a gym, promote a discount to the current gym owner or victor. Gyms are taking over quite frequently, so ask your patrons to take a screenshot of their victory. If you are worried about fraud, only offer the current gym owner or team a discount as you can check this from the Pokémon Go app.

Other ways to capitalize on Pokémon Go, you can offer and promote free WiFi and/or charging stations to all Pokémon player walking through the area.  




Americans “Cut the Cord”, Broadcast shifts to Branded Content



More than ever before, Americans are “cutting the cord”. They are ditching their monthly cable/satellite service and opting for wireless streaming.

But with TV commercials being nonexistent on streaming services like Netflix, what does this mean for broadcast media? Are TV spots a thing of the past? Not yet.


Online Video Advertising: Is it right for your media campaign?

It’s undeniable that online video content has changed the advertising world in the last ten years with over 233 million unique viewers watching content on sites like YouTube, VEVO and Broadband TV.

And if you’ve watched a funny cat video on YouTube or joined the discussion on Huff Post Live, you are among the majority of Americans who are watching online video ads as AOL and Google dominate the ad medium, reaching and serving a little over 80% of the population with online video ads.

With those statistics in mind, many advertisers still have questions on how and why they should incorporate online video advertising into their media plan.

Here are the few questions we hear about online video advertising and our thoughts.

What is achievable with online video advertising?

Online video advertising can help advertiser achieve a variety of goals but here are a few key benefits when including online video media in your buy.

  • Engagement – Thanks to social media, the interaction between the target audience and an advertiser’s message is measurable. Between likes, retweets and shares, advertisers are able to gage how their audience is responding to their message.
  • Trackable retention – Is my target audience watching the entire commercial or did they fast forward through it? With broadcast buys, advertisers may have these thoughts. And even though broadcast is very good for branding, advertisers have no idea if their audience is actually seeing the TV spot. With online video advertising, advertisers are able to see reporting that details if a viewer watched at least 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% of the online video.
  • Conversion – Was it worth it? Online video reports on the number of clicks to the website and with the application of a pixel on the advertiser’s website, reporting will tell if a sale was made after seeing that online video online.

My media plan already includes broadcast. Why should we include online video advertising?

If an advertiser’s media plan already includes broadcast, why not use those TV spots in an online video advertising buy as well?  Production can be extremely costly, so making good use of that investment is crucial in diversifying a media plan. Many online media outlets have in-stream and in-display advertising options that will allow advertisers to hit the target demographic without breaking the bank.

How does online video media compare to standard media in regards to in-display media?

Standard media may be the classic option for most digital campaigns (especially when it comes to in-display) but with rich media, advertisers typically see a better click through rate (CTR) with these eye-catching ads. When looking at the benchmarks reported by Google, click through rates for standard media ads typically fall below .1%. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (AIB) report that online video formats, on the other hand, can see click through rates anywhere between .4 and 1.2% depending on if it’s pre-roll or interactive. This is a great benefit that translates into more traffic to an advertiser’s website! Keep in mind, the digital campaign may have a variety of goals that need a combination of ad types to make those goals achievable. Don’t rule out either option until the campaign goals have been properly assessed.

Is broadcast media suggested over online video media when it comes to a buy?

Every media plan should be strategically crafted to foster the best results based on the goals of the campaign. Equipping a media plan with diverse options is important to a successful campaign as each media type serves a different goal.




Source: comScore Releases February 2016 U.S. Desktop Online video Rankings

 http://www.comscore.com/Insights/Rankings/comScore-Releases-February-2016-US-Desktop-Online-Online video-Rankings

2015 Interactive Online video Benchmarks https://www.iab.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Innovid_Interactive_Online video_2015_Benchmarks_US.pdf

Rich Media Gallery – Interactive (Google)




Crafting the Cattle Chute


Building a Better Web Experience

We've spent our fair share of time on the Internet... even when not developing websites. This gives us the unique advantage of wearing both hats—Internet creator and user. Text-only websites that have well laid-out navigation and rich content provide a better end-user experience than a visually gorgeous one that neglects planning a visitor workflow.

The key to crafting a thrilling murder mystery and great website architecture are surprisingly similar: start from the end and work backwards.

Looking from the finish line, what's the best path to get your visitor from your homepage to the finish line? Is your finish line a checkout page? A contact form? Do you have multiple finish lines? For most small to medium sites, we recommend that you select two or three finish lines. We'll help you select more if you only have one in mind.

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