Today’s Wall Street Journal reports some interesting statistics on video ad viewership. And by “interesting” I mean “holy $#@t.” Apparently companies will go to very great lengths to convince advertisers that their ads are being seen. But many of the views are on sites such as (and you can’t make this stuff up) USFunVideos.com, a company that displays ads smaller than a needlepoint, hence invisible. That’s one of the better case scenarios. Another bit of data eye-candy comes from audience research firm ComScore, who found that 36% of online ad views are generated by nonhumans (i.e. bots, i.e. robots/machines/ i.e not your customers).
So, in my post today, I’m going to break down the Wall Street Journal’s “Moving Targets” sample scenario of online fraud, and provide a content marketing alternative from Captains of Industry.
TRADITIONAL AD AGENCY APPROACH
- Car brand X asks its ad agency to place an online video spot targeted to men aged 25-54 who are likely World Cup fans.
- The agency often goes to an ad network, which in turn sells ads across the web.
- If the network doesn’t think it can reach enough World Cup fans, it may turn to an ad exchange to find more ad space for the video campaigns.
- Fraudsters can exploit this system by setting up bogus sites who’s fake viewers look attractive to Car Brand X.
CONTENT MARKETING APPROACH.
- Car brand X asks a content marketing agency to build engagement with men aged 25-54 who are likely World Cup fans.
- A good content agency will first look at what kind of meaningful, valuable, educational and entertaining web content will appeal to car buyers aged 25-54 who are likely World cup fans. What content would these people seek out, and then share?
- The agency develops a strategy for not only the kind of content to be used (i.e. video, podcasts, etc), but what the most effective platform should be for the content (new website, or existing social media platforms such as YouTube, for example)
- In tandem, the agency develops a distribution strategy for the content. This may include a publishing calendar, with different kinds of content deployed over time on different platforms and with different forms of social media outreach.
- The agency develops a creative concept from the strategy. If the research uncovers that male world cup soccer fans are hungry for information on a particular kind of car, and wary of superficial glitz, the agency might then create a series of entertaining but educational videos about the car, all hosted by a soccer celebrity.
- The web video series is then deployed on the kind of platform the strategy has determined will allow the video to be seen by the largest number of potential customers. Not videos that interrupt these people, mind you. These would be videos that the customer would seek out because THEY WANT TO SEE THEM. Because the videos are genuinely interesting, with a depth of information that helps the customer understand the features and benefits of this car – with the story tailored from a soccer fan’s perspective. The trunk space, for example, could be measured not in cubic feet, but by how many soccer balls and other gear it can hold.
- Social media is used to get the world out, including targeted outreach to soccer blogs frequented by men aged 25-54.
- Success is measured not just by views but by the number of people – actual people – who click through to request more information on the cars being showcased by our soccer star.
The result is that FEWER views may be recorded, but the quality of those interactions will be far greater, with actions and influence measured on a human scale. And here’s the kicker: If large advertisers took half the cost of the 36% of their media spend wasted on views by robots, they could fund a Captains content marketing campaign start to finish.
To quote the HAL 9000 computer from 2001 A Space Odyssey, “Dave, I really think we should talk about this.”
In today’s branding circles, there are the image geeks and the type geeks—the latter of whom frequently extol the virtuous presence of a perfectly crisp finial or manual kerning. For an increasingly visual reader demographic, typography can speak louder than the words it treats to convey the more elusive essentialities of a brand—personality, tone, age. But too often in this space, form trumps function; beauty rules purpose. It’s rare to see a typeface that is as lovely as it is legible—it’s even more rare to see a typeface that is lovely, legible, utilitarian, and on-brand. It’s this reality that makes the story of the Castledown font—created for students learning to read and write at the Castledown Primary School in East Sussex, England—all the more unusual.
Neil Small, a former teacher-turned-headmaster of Castledown Primary, was frustrated by a not-uncommon concern in our era of universal design: standard library fonts used in workbooks were dull and hard to read for students with dyslexia. When he first contacted Colophon Foundry, a London type studio, he had a clean typeface in mind— one shaped closely to young learners’ natural writing patterns. His request came with an extra layer of complexity and seeming impossibility: Small believed that the right font could be a learning tool in and of itself—a scaffold that would improve all students’ reading and writing practices.
Colophon designers Edd Harrington and Anthony Sheret spent a month with Castledown students, immersed in observing the minute details of their letter placement, pressure points, licks and type preferences as they traced out their letters and first words—contextualizing their findings against accessible design tenets. The namesake custom design they unveiled has now been in use at the primary school for a year. And beyond making it indeed easier for all students to trace, replicate, and read without issue, the Castledown typeface has become the school brand —its friendly curves and inclusive feel extended to a whole new audience of readers via the Castledown Primary website and print collateral.
While a month-long, audience deep dive isn’t always possible in type design, attention to the subtlety of real-life “typography” is and should be. The otherwise unnoticed oscillations of a pencil, or the intrinsic, human patterns of letter formation are precisely what make for designs that go beyond brand, legibility, and utility to refreshingly personal intimacy—the kind that translates across workbooks, mediums, and audiences. In this case, the story of one primary school’s pursuit of a deeper purpose through workbook type design provides an inspired lesson in visual communication—the kind that all true type geeks and branding experts can get behind.
On Wednesday the Obama administration announced a new website created with data visualization tools to make it easier for Americans to see the effects of climate change on their communities ( www.climate.data.gov ). True to a government made website, Climate.data is very clugey to use, but after a bit of tinkering I was able to find an interesting mapping tool that showed the likely impact of sea level rise on coastal communities. But why pick just ANY coastal community to visualize? I zeroed in on the location for billionaire Bill Koch’s sixteen million dollar waterfront compound estate on the toney island of Oyster Harbors in Cape Cod. Koch, who made his money in the fossil fuel industry, thinks climate change is a liberal fiction, and will do whatever he can to stall the adoption of clean energy in America.
Well, I have bad news for you, Bill. According to the latest projections, sea level rise is happening even faster than scientists previously thought. Along the Massachusetts coastline projections show between a 3 and 6 foot rise between now and the end of this century. Using the data visualization tool, your estate is in serious jeopardy of being under water. I’m not talking about a mortgage being underwater – the kind of problem that hits regular folks. I’m saying your whole estate will very likely be under the Atlantic ocean, a kind of billionaire Atlantis. I make this point not only because I strongly disagree with Mr. Koch’s climate change-denying beliefs, but also because the Climate.Data website needs to make it much easier for people to see how the un-checked changes hitting our atmosphere will affect us personally. Our houses, not just our regions or towns. It would work like Zillow.com just enter your address and see if you’re property will be under water. An interactive map of this nature would be relatively easy to make, and would go a long way towards making climate change a real and urgent issue for more Americans. Maybe even Mr. Koch – although I doubt he’ll believe in climate change even with the waves are lapping at his leather armchair.
Check out what sea level rise could do to the Koch estate:
Mean Sea-level Rise | Boston, MA
Projected Sea-level Rise | Boston, MA