Event Recap: AdWeek — What Is Newsworthy?

On Monday, Michael Roth, the Chairman & CEO of IPG, moderated an Advertising Week panel with Rebecca Blumenstein, Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Wall Street Journal; David Pemsel, Deputy Chief Executive, The Guardian; Pete Cashmore, CEO & Founder, Mashable; and Greg Coleman, President, Buzzfeed; in which they discussed the future of the news and advertising’s role.

Trust and Mission

Throughout the event, panelists kept returning to the importance of trust—the need to consistently deliver timely but reliable information. Building and maintaining that trust with the audience is a challenge for both traditional publishers and digital upstarts; as Cashmore explained, “new media companies got the business model and distribution right and are now trying to get trust right; others got trust right and are trying to move into digital.”

If “trust” unites publishers, “mission” distinguishes them from each other: Mashable believes its community is an essential part of the platform, whereas The Guardian emphasized its 200-year history and commitment to independence.

Native Advertising

Of course, advertising remains a crucial (though sometimes controversial) revenue source for news publishers. Ideally, native advertising is simply a story about a brand. At Buzzfeed, in fact, “the creative team talks to the client… Sounds kind of like an agency,” according to Coleman. Brand sponsorship can translate into longer lead times and higher production budgets, resulting in high-quality content; Cashmore noted that some of the ads on Mashable are shared twice as much as original content. That said, panelists agreed that it’s important to maintain trust by making clear what’s sponsored content.

Organizational Culture

Attracting the best talent has always been difficult, but the popularity of startups has made it even more of a struggle.   Ultimately, though, it comes back to trust and mission: if people believe in what your organization stands for, they will be inspired to produce the high-quality content publishers seek to deliver.

Twitter Launches New Analytics Dashboard

Twitter has launched some brand new analytics to help digital advertisers and marketers alike to gain better insights on their tweeting efforts. For years, Twitter has been lagging behind Facebook in terms of providing a built-in native analytic platform that goes beyond simple favorites and retweets. Now available to Twitter advertisers, Twitter Card publishers, and certified users, this much-needed new dashboard features an impression count, i.e. how many people have seen your each individual tweet. Meanwhile, all click-throughs to profile pages, clicks on hashtags, retweets, replies, and link clicks are counted to generate an “Engagement Figure” for each tweet. Overall, this comes off as a move in the right direction for Twitter to offer a more detailed measurement tool to compete with other social media for the attention of brands and marketers.

Twitter’s Redesign Features Pinned Tweets

After testing out several different design options over the past few months (to the chagrin of many users), Twitter has finally debuted the redesign that is going to stick. It’s a Facebook-like design, with a profile picture and a full background picture that takes up the full screen. The big news, though, comes with the tweets themselves: content that’s popular – that is, retweeted or shared many times – will appear in larger font, drawing attention to material that’s spreading rapidly or that has proven successful on these metrics. As well, twitter accounts can post a stickied tweet to the top of their timeline, promoting a specific campaign or drawing attention to something more about themselves, serving as additional promo for the account. It should allow social media managers and marketers more options in tweaking accounts to push the content that they want to the front of their feeds – and, ideally, their followers. 

Old Spice Returns With Prank Websites

The body-care company is simply relentless with its creative ads that have massive viral potential. Making the rounds this time are prank websites designed to be ridiculous in nature, and after several seconds of resting on the site an alarm goes off and the familiar Old Spice guy pops up – in stunning HD courtesy of Vimeo – to admonish you for coming to such a website, and to advertise Old Spice in the process. Assuming nothing’s changed, we have Weiden + Kennedy to thank for the laughs, and considering how much this campaign mirrors the others, it’s fairly safe to assume as such. Moving from traditional TV to YouTube, Reddit, and then covert websites has proved a savvy creative scheme. Have a look at a few of the sites below:

Neck Workouts

Gold Bluetooth Headsets

Leather Bedsheets

Protein Cologne

Tattoo Coupons 


Twitter Experiments With “Nearby” Tweets

Twitter’s improvements in 2013 aren’t limited to making the service more friendly to mass advertisers. The company has begun testing a feature that generates a timeline of “nearby” tweets.  Some users are already seeing it on their mobile devices, but the function has not rolled out to all users yet.  The “nearby” feed displays a map with the user’s current location, and a feed of tweets, with each tweet’s location indicated on the map as well.  This addition to Twitter could be just what it needs, giving users a way to prioritize and sort through millions of tweets.  It could also be an opportunity for savvy marketers to respond quickly to feedback from their area, or to gain foot traffic in brick and mortar stores.

Facebook: Soon With Commercials?

Facebook is ready to bring auto-playing videos to your mobile news feed in a bid to make videos a more attractive option for users.  Videos will auto play without sound while in the context of the feed, but a simple tap will expand the video to full screen and unmute the audio.  This a proposed solution to the problem that Facebook’s video platform is ineffective from the mobile creation environment all the way to playback, and could bring far more videos to your news feed in the near future.  If that happens, that could also mean video ads blending into the news feed in the same way.  Video ads are a potentially lucrative source of revenue for Facebook, with estimates placing the cost of distributing a 15 second video for one day on the platform between $1 million and $2.4 million.

Twitter Touts More Relevant Ads With Tailored Audiences

In a blog post today, Twitter announced Tailored Audiences, a new way to define groups of existing and potential customers, and to connect them with relevant brand messaging. In principle, the service will target users on Twitter who have also visited a product or brand’s website, so as to provide a sense of relevancy to the ads being served. The goal is to find groups of existing target customers who have already expressed interest, and use Twitter to convert them into sales. Though it seems straight forward, Twitter wants to build the service out to include other forms of targeting in the future.

Communication Breakdown: Brands Struggle On Twitter

Be human, conversational, and on-brand. These Twitter guidelines are easier said than done for brands on the social platform. Digiday’s “Tweeting Bad” segment gives plenty of Twitter mishaps to gawk at, but how do we put an end to this shameful activity? 

Aside from getting great copywriters, there are a host of tools that aggregate relevant stories across the web based on a brands interest. With technology from Percolate, Rallyverse and others, brands can find their voice and publish timely commentary on a range of issues aside from their product.  Because if you’re a CPG brand, there are only so many tweets you can post about toilet paper and baby wipes.  

Facebook Restarts Mobile Ad Network

After a 9 month hiatus, Facebook is once again launching its mobile ad network, which displays Facebook ads outside of the social network in mobile ads and sites. The goal of the relaunch is to improve the relevancy of the ads over the results from the first test, which resulted in low margins. The delay likely resulted from the combination of low margins and the need to channel money into mobile app install ads and Facebook Exchange, which is driving the ads in the first place. And now that the infrastructure is in place, it looks like the technology is likely here to stay. 

Twitter Tests Related Tweets Feature

As many have noticed, Twitter is constantly testing new features online. Today’s no exception, as Twitter is testing out a Related Tweets system that appears below the tweet box when you visit the unique URL of a tweet. It will present related tweets that share similar words or links. It has yet to appear in any non-web apps, and it’s not viewable to everybody yet, so it’s not quite completed yet. Nonetheless, it’s easy to see many uses for such a software, particularly for advertising companies who could stand to benefit from their social media campaigns appearing in related tweet threads for pertinent topics.