A Refreshed User Interface Enhances Advertising Experiences Inside Iris by Brand Networks

New Iris UI

On the heels of introducing Iris by Brand Networks (formerly the Brand Networks Platform), which offers brands and advertisers a cross-channel suite of additive software solutions, Brand Networks is excited to unveil a new User Interface (UI) that unifies the style and aesthetic of the application.

Reducing Friction with Consistent Account Selection

For those familiar with the process required to select an Account in Monitor, our cross-platform monitoring solution, they’ll be pleased to see that the same process is now supported throughout Iris. Of note, the Account selector, which you can see in the image below, is supported by our flagship solutions, Optimize Now and Open Signals, to provide an efficient and intuitive way for users to guide themselves through (potentially) a myriad of accounts for different digital channels.

Condensed, Refocused Navigation

In the fast-paced world of digital where consumers are shopping in increasingly fragmented ways, digital advertising activities, like cross-platform monitoring and optimization, can’t be placed in higher esteem. As Brand Networks’ further commits itself to these digital advertising activities, it also made sense to transform the way we approach navigation inside Iris.

In response, we’ve redesigned the navigation to better align with user workflows and broader company vision. There are now only 4 main navigation items: Monitor, Automate (which houses Optimize Now and Open Signals), Analyze, and Tools. Optimize Now and Open Signals are also now directly accessible via the top navigation, versus having to load Optimize Now first. By giving more prominence and easier access to the tools our users frequent the most, we aim to make navigating Iris simpler and more direct.

Fewer Modals; More Real Estate

To keep the core of Iris at the forefront of the user experience, we’re replaced the previous modal-based workflows, which are prone to suffer from too many UI options/workflows crammed into a small window, with full-screen views. At a high-level, this new approach reduces the cognitive load and visual clutter users currently experience in modal based workflows, while also breaking out of a windowed view to allow for increased real-estate. Similar to modals, these full-screen views sit on top of the user’s current workflow, so no context switching or page reloading is necessary.

Technological Enhancements a Value-Add for Users

In tandem with the release of the refreshed UI, we’ve updated the underlying technology that powers Iris to create an environment that enables us to effectively and efficiently implement new features and capabilities inside Iris, allowing us to respond to user needs in a more agile and effective way. More specifically, as part of an ongoing process of assessing page performance, we’ve made significant improvements to our caching strategy, which will lead to a much faster Iris user experience for all.

While this release focuses on a lot of visible aspects for our users, it’s quite often the fact that most of the changes are happening under the hood without a lot of flashiness. These changes are as important, however, as they may enable new capabilities, expand existing ones, improve user experience, and enhance security.

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As more businesses require efficient means to manage their online advertising initiatives, the importance for adtech providers, like Brand Networks, to provide simple straight-forward workflows will continue to grow. To this end, Brand Networks continues to evolve our adtech solutions to meet the needs of today’s ever-evolving digital advertisers.

How Instagram Is Gearing Up for the Modern Shopper

As Instagram’s user base continues to grow—800 million monthly active users according to recent figures—the ecommerce-centric social advertising offerings the platform is implementing are moving forward in tandem. Of note, In-App Payment, Shopping Tags, and an updated Explore layout are all aiming to make shopping on Instagram a more effective and efficient activity.

In turn, the gap between seeing merchandise on Instagram and buying it is narrowing. If Instagram remains a natural hub for consumers, we don’t expect to see innovation on this front slowing down.

In-App Payment Enhances Buyabiliy on Instagram

A group of select Instagram users now can utilize a payment feature where credit or debit card information is stored for purchases within the app. The initial focus will be on service-oriented business.

Source: Instagram

One brand jumping into this offering is Fandango. Today, its Instagram profile has ticket-purchasing functionality integrated for more than 30,000 theatres, along with the ability to shop for movie-specific merchandise.

Along the same lines, a handful of third-party integrations, including EventBrite, StyleSeat, Mindbody, and Resy, will begin to allow Instagram users to book appointments at spas and restaurants. This features may lend an especially useful hand if you’re positioned to take advantage of the decreasing time to buy, i.e., impulse buying, which continues to play a key role in how and where consumers make purchases. According to a study by Slickdeals.net, yearly totals from spontaneous shopping behaviors could top $5,000 for the average U.S. consumer. To no surprise, the majority of spur-of-the-moment spending goes toward food.   

Shopping Tags Give Purchasing Power to a Single Finger

To boost product discovery, Instagram launched Shopping Tags in November 2016. Continuing this trend, Instagram continues to roll out this organic feature to more businesses.

Instagram Shopping Tags
Source: SocialMediaToday

When enabled, users will see a ‘tap to view products’ tag seamlessly incorporated into the product images of product-driven merchants. When tapped, the tag provides additional details about product and price, allowing users to get pertinent information related to the product quickly.

For interested parties, Shopping Tags currently redirect users to the corresponding web page on the merchant’s site. As Shopping Tags evolve, we anticipate this to evolve as well, especially as In-App Payments take hold as a viable way to drive social commerce.

Updated Explore Layout Helps More Brands Get Discovered

The most noticeable change related to Explore’s layout is likely the personalized nature of each user’s feed.

With topic channels listed across the top of the screen in tandem with related hashtags associated to an individual’s interests, the update to Explore aligns well with Instagram’s focus on ecommerce as it gives users a seamless way to browse of branded content they may not already be following.

Additionally, these changes to the Explore section, specifically the addition of related hashtags, should play an increasing role in informing your Instagram strategy by paving the way for added visibility into hashtags people are using about different products.

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There’s no denying that Instagram is an ideal environment when online sales and return on ad spend (ROAS) are your goal. In-App Payments, Shopping Tags, and an Update to Explore, all offer you additional resources and methods to test. As each feature matures, and consumers continue to see their benefits, you’ll be better equipped to tie your Instagram advertising efforts to sales.

On-Demand Podcast: Artificial Intelligence

AI Podcast

Some business leaders worry that artificial intelligence (AI) may pose a viable threat to the way you work. While super-intelligence, like technology being developed by IBM, certainly has the potential to alter the way you approach your work, it’s hard to imagine a scenario that would render humans completely obsolete—at least anytime soon. 

Today, it’s important to think of AI as another tool in your arsenal. The reality is that you have a lot to gain if leveraged correctly. For example, opening the door for AI can make room for you to focus on higher-order advertising activities, like campaign strategy.

In this episode of “Behind the Numbers,” Brand Networks VP of Marketing, Kyle Psaty, sits down with eMarketer to outline what the future may hold as it pertains to AI. 

3 Reasons Your ‘Omnichannel’ Marketing Isn’t Really Omnichannel (Yet)

Omnichannel Marketing

This article by Brand Networks VP of Marketing, Kyle Psaty expands on ideas originally presented on MediaPost.

Industry professionals at brands like The Home Depot and McDonald’s talk about omnichannel marketing as the end goal for all modern marketing strategies. At the same time, there’s a lot of confusion about what “omnichannel” marketing really means and how it’s used in practice.

I’ve seen marketers attempt to execute true “omnichannel” strategies for some time, but it’s clear to me that the omnichannel vision remains loosely defined and largely unattainable (for now, at least).

Before turning omnichannel marketing into reality, there are three major obstacles that marketers need to overcome:

Structure & Process

A big challenge for marketing teams is transparency. Most are functionally oriented and continue to operate in silos. Social teams gain insights from Facebook or Twitter, and use that data to inform future campaigns on those platforms. Meanwhile, the email team is looking at metrics provided by its ESP to improve performance, and the display team is reviewing its own dashboard to determine its next ad buy. Teams share topline insights and post-campaign takeaways—but in many cases, that’s where the sharing stops.

Omnichannel marketing teams need more than weekly check-ins to share actionable insights. In order to orient campaigns around individual consumers and more granular targeting segments, all facets of your marketing strategy have to be integrated. Each and every team under the marketing umbrella needs to be in constant contact, sharing insights, and maybe even audience segments from the DMP or CDP as they go.

Budget Fluidity

Similarly, the strategic and flexible use of marketing dollars is a structural roadblock with steep consequences. Once a specific team is allocated a specific budget, that number often doesn’t fluctuate — regardless of current events or changes in consumer behavior. Once you allocate $100 million to TV advertising, there’s no going back.

Brands need the flexibility to shift their budget between channels and strategies at the drop of a dime. Without this financial fluidity, teams will continue to face an uphill battle to truly implement an omnichannel strategy.

DataWizardry

Another challenge for marketers in their omnichannel efforts is determining how to use data without being creepy. Brands have access to more data than ever, but how to effectively gather, analyze, and use it (for good instead of evil) remains a struggle.

Customer data is often spread out across various spreadsheets and programs. Without a centralized place to house this data, how can a display campaign adjust based on insights gleaned from Facebook? How can personalized Instagram ads shift based on activity happening on Pinterest? Even further, a true omnichannel strategy means every touchpoint with a customer is highly personalized. This requires that data be compiled and analyzed from all active campaigns holistically. This is extremely challenging to pull off, and has yet to be mastered by any major brand to date.

A Challenge Within Reach

Though an omnichannel reality may not be possible today, it isn’t a lost cause.

One way that brands are making moves to overcome these challenges is with so-called centers of excellence within marketing departments. This team of marketers focuses on gathering data and sharing insights and audiences across the department. This practice is just taking off, and it’s a good starting point for overcoming current roadblocks limiting omnichannel capabilities.

Over the years, the marketing industry has taken dozens of twists and turns, and each challenge has been bested, one way or another. As long as we recognize the roadblocks in front of us, and accept that the mecca of customer experience is still ahead, I have high hopes for an omnichannel future.

On-Demand Webinar: Omnichannel Advertising

The world has moved beyond channel-based strategies that focus on display, video, mobile, social, etc. In an era of empowered consumers interacting with brands in increasingly diverse and fragmented ways, it’s time for marketers to make omnichannel a reality in order to create a personalized and cohesive experience for their consumers.

Join guest speaker Joanna O’Connell, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester, and Kyle Psaty, Vice President of Marketing at Brand Networks, as they look at the what omnichannel marketing really means in an advertising context.

Brand Networks Creative Receives Prestigious 2018 Communicator Award

Brand Networks Communicator Award

In the ever-evolving world of marketing and advertising, there is one thing that remains consistent: the need for strong digital communication strategies. Engaging audiences and providing a rich storytelling experience while driving overall performance is crucial to a great campaign. And now more than ever, campaigns need to be designed to do this across mobile, tablet, and desktop devices.

Brand Networks Creative, a team formerly from Tapad, has always been passionate about delivering strategies to meet that need, and I’m extremely proud of the team’s recent recognition by the 24th Annual Communicator Awards. We took home an Award of Distinction for Marketing Effectiveness for our recent work with Acura. With entries received from across the U.S. and around the world, the Communicator Awards is one of the largest and most competitive awards program honoring creative excellence for communications and marketing professionals.

So how did we achieve this prestigious recognition?

The premise behind the Acura campaign was two-fold: create a visually compelling storytelling experience and cohesive, cross-device strategy that would engage audiences looking to buy a new car, and raise awareness of Acura’s 2018 TLX model.

A person’s journey to purchase a new car can include as many as 900 digital interactions over a three-month period. As many as 70% of those interactions occur on a mobile device, with 35% of conversions happening on a different device from where they began.

With this knowledge, we leveraged Acura’s original creative assets to generate a suite of engaging ad units tailored for every device, each of which contained a strong call to action.

For mobile and tablet devices, these units included:

Brand Networks’ proprietary Orientation Responsive Video Plus, which allows full-screen video playback in both vertical and standard formats to dynamically match the orientation of the viewer’s device.

The Cube, a high-performing, yet cost-effective 4-sided interactive display banner.

Vertical Video Units, which allow the viewer to watch an ad in a hand-held state on mobile and tablet, driving high Video Completion Rates.

For desktop, we created Expandable Banners with 4 action-packed videos, which included an interactive 360º view, allowing potential buyers to virtually explore the features of the TLX. We also created a car dealership locator, which dynamically populated directions to the user’s closest dealership based on their location.

The campaign was a huge success, with a traffic rate of .24%, which was nearly double the benchmark set by Acura. The custom video and vertical video units also outperformed standard pre-roll CTR benchmarks by 400%.

These are the types of results that can be achieved through a cohesive cross-device strategy. Our team at Brand Networks is committed to creating strategic marketing campaigns, and we are excited to continue helping brands effectively deliver their message across all devices.

My sincere congratulations to the team for this achievement. You all do outstanding work!  and I look forward to many more future success stories!

The Evolving Role of the Media Buyer: How AI Can Help

This article by Brand Networks CEO Dave Fall expands on ideas originally presented on MarTech Advisor.

The role of the media buyer – and the ways in which artificial intelligence (AI) can help evolve that role – is always top of mind with our team at Brand Networks. In fact, that was a large motivator behind launching Iris by Brand Networks earlier this year, which brings intelligent automation to media buying on social.  

I’m a big believer in the power of AI, and recently contributed an article to MarTech Advisor around this topic, entitled “The Benefits of Giving Your Media Buyers a Break.” In the article, I discussed how I believe AI will impact our industry moving forward and my vision for what is possible down the road. And while I’m excited for what the future holds, I also know significant advancements are already being made.  

As AI becomes more and more integrated into the role of the social advertising media buyer, there are five key aspects of the job that are already being impacted in a positive way:

Ad waste minimized: Media buyers can put thousands of dollars into campaigns, only to find that just a fraction of that money was used to place ads in front of an interested and engaged audience. This is referred to as “ad waste,” and the best way to avoid it is by optimizing campaigns several times a day. Done manually, optimization is a time-consuming task with plenty of room for error. But with the help of AI, this process can happen automatically, dozens of times a day, cutting down significantly on wasted ad dollars.

Pacing monitored and controlled: Pacing ad spend effectively is yet another tedious undertaking that’s crucial to the success of an ad campaign. Keeping tabs on how quickly you’re spending money, whether its $5K or $100K, requires constant attention. AI can help here as well. By keeping tabs on how fast your ad dollars are spent, AI has shown to reduce the risk of overspend by 50 percent, and provide a 14 percent better chance of spending earmarked budget in full.

Time saved: With AI at their disposal, media buyers are able to focus more time on strategy, and think critically about how best to achieve business goals. Rather than spend their days concentrating on rote calculations and campaign maintenance, they can address higher-level questions, such as, “How can we get users to interact with our product?” or, “Are we targeting the right audience?” With more time on their hands, media buyers have the bandwidth to move the needle for brands in a way that’s more impactful.

Control improved: Social advertisers have long maintained a tight grip on campaign settings like bids, budgets, campaign start and end dates, and targeting specifications. But these low-level performance controls don’t offer great control over things like a campaign’s overall investment strategy. For example, should the budget be applied to achieve a single objective, say, video views, or multiple goals, like video views and website conversions? AI can be given complex instructions about topics like this and execute flawlessly.

Learning curve reduced: Media buyers tend to specialize in delivering campaigns on a specific channel, say, Facebook or Snapchat. The differences between each ecosystem are not insignificant. However, AI effectively lowers the learning curve by accounting for subtle differences in the way delivery or bidding systems function. AI reduces the need for users to understand every nuance on each channel by creating a smarter user interface. This, in turn, reduces what’s required to master each channel independently.  

Our team at Brand Networks is passionate about continuing to find solutions to make the role of the media buyer more strategic and the work more streamlined, and we’re continuing to make advancements. Over time, I believe the daily challenges and limitations that media buyers face will diminish, and the role of the media buyer will be elevated from where it is today. As I noted in MarTech Advisor, “as more brands start to recognize the value in using AI to make media buyers’ jobs more strategic and enjoyable, their advertising goals will become easier to hit and performance will be stronger than ever.”

eMarketer Roundup: Social Media & AI

Did you know that 34% of marketers surveyed worldwide by web presence and SEO company Conductor said they felt most unprepared to deal with AI in 2018—the highest rate of any technology mentioned, which included virtual/augmented reality?

A lack of understanding is playing a powerful role in this uncertainty. Brands and agencies are asking themselves: What exactly is AI capable in the context of social advertising? What’s the difference between AI technologies like machine learning, deep learning, etc.? 

In the eMarketer Roundup presented by Brand Networks, you’ll learn:

– What social media marketers are up against, and how AI can help. 

– Who, if any, are calling themselves experts on Artificial Intelligence. 

– If consumers will accept AI-powered advertising. 

On-Demand Webinar: Snap ’til You Drop

Wondering how today’s leading commerce and retail advertisers are taking advantage of Snapchat’s advertising solutions to drive sales? If you answered yes, you aren’t alone. With the average Daily Active User spending over 30 minutes per day inside the mobile app, and 3 billion filters, one of Snapchat’s most popular advertising offerings, viewed daily, it’s no surprise that marketers are getting involved with Snapchat.

Marketers looking to achieve their direct response objectives need to understand what Snapchat offers. The building blocks are ad types, targeting, and measurement, but how do you bring them all together to achieve your direct response goals? Learn that and more in this Brand Networks on-demand webinar about Snapchat’s advertising solutions.

People with a Promise: How the Brand Networks Paid Social Activation Team Sets Itself Apart

Picking a media services team

So, you’re looking for a managed media services team to run your social advertising campaigns?

I could offer an easy answer and tell you to look for a team whose cumulative experience exceeds a specific number of years. That’s imperative for success, but you already know that. So, I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’m going to talk about five intangibles that set the Brand Networks Paid Social Activation team apart from the rest.

For us, success is always in the future. The next insight. The newest best practice. Sometimes, it’s even in the transition from managed media services to insourced licensing by a brand’s in-house team. That’s because Brand Networks offers the very best software and services in social advertising. We don’t have to care whether you want managed or self-service. We have the luxury of focusing solely on your success in social.

We won’t rest on our laurels, satisfied with what we’ve accomplished in the past—that’s a promise.

The 5 Intangibles: How the Brand Networks Paid Social Activation Team Sets Itself Apart  

We know our industry: We’re all social advertising experts—don’t you have to be to keep up with the ever-changing ecosystem? The industry is changing daily, whether it’s software updates, new ad types, new targeting capabilities, or new advertising inventory. It’s crucial that our team stays current on all innovation to ensure we provide strategic recommendations, share knowledge with clients, and execute as effectively as possible. Understanding how our industry works plays a pivotal role in how we succeed; thankfully, our leaders know how important this is and is and invest in it, and our teams are curious and passionate about all of the intricacies in this exciting space.

Fun Fact: According to an eMarketer study, social advertising will account for approximately one-quarter of total digital ad spending by 2020.

We focus on the details: The Brand Networks social media services team may sport sweatshirts and baseball caps, but what we’re lacking in style, we make up for in the details. We have intensive and detailed internal processes that are uniform across accounts and offices. This operational maturity ensures that we provide the most accurate and efficient service possible. We have an extensive and reliable Quality Assurance process for all campaigns that must be both self-checked and checked by other media analysts. We’re also constantly performing internal retrospectives to make sure we are aware of nuances to help improve this system and the performance we deliver for our clients. Not only does this process-centric work happen prior to campaign launch, we’re constantly making optimizations so there’s room for improvement every day.

We’re fearless: One of our Corporate Values at Brand Networks is Tenacity, and our managed services teams bring that to life in our passion for presenting and testing new opportunities with clients. We never say no to a challenge and work closely with our partners in organizations like Facebook and Twitter, to make these opportunities happen. We don’t stick to the old, easy, routes when it comes to planning; we look to new targeting strategies and offer ideas, however unexpected they may seem. Not only do we recommend out-of-the-box approaches or new ad types, we recommend utilizing Brand Networks’ additive technology like Optimize Now and Open Signals to help our clients take their campaigns to the next level. We are far from fearful; we are bold.

Did you know? Optimize Now saves the average paid advertising team eight hours per week per person in manual calculations and optimizations.

We have access to knowledge: While we have offices around the country (and the world—shout out to Sydney!), we’re constantly knowledge-sharing across accounts, offices, and departments. It’s pertinent that we work as a team and enlist others who can work well in a team environment. Because a lot of what we do isn’t inherently intuitive, it’s imperative that our teams communicate effectively. This ensures new best practices spread like wildfire inside Brand Networks Paid Social Activation. We also work very closely with our partner representatives for all media channels in order to execute. Some of our job titles may just say “Media Analyst,” but we do so much more than this title can begin to explain—a major part of this job is forming strong relationships with our partner leads and internal departments so that we’re providing the most up-to-date information and strategies possible.  

We Care about Excellence: Everyone in our social managed services organization would tell you that this is not just a day job. Social advertising is always on, and our teams are always willing to help after our doors close for the night. This quality ties into the fact that our teams care about the work and dive deep into every campaign, every plan, and every report. We go above and beyond to ensure our clients are happy and that the services they’re receiving drive effective and efficient results. I can tell you personally that the majority of our Media Services teams made the decision to skip  Summer Friday’s last year (despite wanting to be outside) in order to make sure this level of service was preserved. Rain or shine, bad mood or good mood, our teams bend over backwards to deliver excellence.

The Proof Is in the Pudding: Success You Can See on Pinterest

Goal: With brand awareness and video advertising already key to a client ’s social advertising success, when Autoplay Video became available, the brand was eager to test it out. The retailer hoped that Pinterest Autoplay Video would create cost-efficiencies while improving overall performance.  

Strategy: Having run successful brand awareness (CPM) campaigns with Brand Networks on other platforms in the past, the brand was excited by the promise of Pinterest Autoplay Video. To see if the ad type would have a future in the retailer’s social advertising strategy, the Brand Networks Paid Social Activation team built an approach that would effectively demonstrate the impact video could have on its target audience.

Using product-centric and actionable Autoplay Videos, the latter helping drive an increase in view-through rate (VTR), the campaign leveraged a myriad of advanced targeting capabilities offered by Pinterest, including Engagement Audiences and Actalike Audiences.

Results: In total, the campaign generated a view-through rate (VTR) 21% greater than Brand Networks’ internal benchmarks. Moreover, the campaign drove a cost per view (CPV) 57% less than the industry benchmark.
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Don’t be fooled by the keg and kombucha on-tap, ping pong table in the lounge, or community scooter waiting in the corner. Truthfully, I’ve never worked with a better team, nor a more successful team. I’m proud to work in the Brand Networks Paid Social Activation organization. If you’re looking for a stellar managed services provider in social, take it from me—this is not just a team, it’s a family.

Brand Networks Announces Three New Appointments to its Leadership Team; Introduces New Digital Activation Team

Boston, MA—April 4, 2018—Brand Networks, the company recently named a “Leader” in Social Advertising Technology by independent analyst firm Forrester Research, today announced three strategic appointments to its leadership team, along with the introduction of its new Digital Activation division, adding programmatic display and video advertising services to the company’s suite of offerings.

Effective immediately, Brand Networks has promoted current EVP of Finance Justin Shepard to the role of Chief Financial Officer, and has promoted current Vice President of Human Resources Kristen O’Hara to the role of EVP of People and Culture. The company has also appointed Derrick Chan, formerly of Tapad, to SVP of Operations.

“As long-time industry veterans and proven leaders in their respective fields, I’m thrilled to welcome Justin, Kristen and Derrick to Brand Networks’ leadership team as we continue our focus on growing the company, while delivering world-class service and unmatched advertising technology to our clients,” said Dave Fall, CEO of Brand Networks. “I truly believe Brand Networks’ leadership team is among the strongest in the industry; this team will help us as we continue to extend our market leadership position over the coming years.”   

Justin Shepard, Chief Financial Officer: As CFO, Justin Shepard is responsible for overseeing Brand Networks’ corporate finance, strategic planning, financial reporting, tax, treasury, and financial planning and analysis functions. Prior to joining Brand Networks in 2014, Shepard held the position of Director of Finance at Retroficiency, where he led the finance, administrative, and human resources functions, and participated in the fundraising efforts utilized to support its operations leading up to its eventual sale to Ecova (now ENGIE Insight) in 2015. Prior to that, Shepard held positions in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Transaction Services practice in Los Angeles and Boston and Grant Thornton’s Audit practice in Boston. He is a CPA in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Kristen O’Hara, EVP of People and Culture: With more than two decades of experience in the industry, Kristen O’Hara is responsible for overseeing Brand Networks’ people and culture team. In this role, she is charged with fostering a sustainable, energized company culture by establishing policy and procedure, driving training and development, and generating programs to enable personal growth. The first human resources staffer to join the company in 2012, Kristen has been a mainstay at Brand Networks for over six years, and has been the primary shepherd of the culture’s advancement. Prior to joining the company, she developed a specialization in deploying internal training and human resources best practices across an array of marketing and advertising firms.

Derrick Chan, SVP of Operations: In his role as SVP of Operations, Derrick Chan is responsible for overseeing and expanding business intelligence amongst all divisions of the company through financial analyses, technology enablement, and backend vendor management. His experience in leading services organizations in the programmatic display and video space makes him a key strategic member of Brand Networks’ leadership team. Prior to joining Brand Networks as part of the Tapad partnership, Derrick worked at MediaMath and Akamai Technologies in various senior and management roles where he was responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations and analytics for entire business portfolios.

The appointments to the leadership team come as Brand Networks introduces its new Digital Activation team, comprised of team members who joined Brand Networks earlier this year through the company’s strategic partnership with Tapad. The creation of this new division is a further step in Brand Networks’ commitment to bringing digital advertising—including display, video, and rich media—together with paid social advertising in one streamlined media solutions offering.

During my time at Tapad I had the opportunity to work with many of the members making up the Brand Networks’ Digital Activation team, and am extremely excited to have them on board,” continued Fall. “Combined with our Social Advertising team, the Digital Activation team will be instrumental in helping us scale the value of our managed media services toward omnichannel solutions for all of our clients.”

The foundation of the Digital Activation team’s tech offering is device graph data, a technology that collects data about billions of digital devices and maps them together. By leveraging this technology, the team can build custom models to help clients identify prospects most likely to convert, and hone campaign targeting to address only this group. The team will also have access to in-depth analytics providing cross-device insights along with audience insights, helping brands gain a better understanding of their customer’s behavior across all devices.

To learn more about Brand Networks, please visit www.bn.co.

About Brand Networks

Brand Networks offers advertising optimization and insights combining paid social media, programmatic display, and video. Brand Networks delivers award-winning adtech and managed media services to hundreds of enterprise customers, including 81 of the AdAge 100 Leading National Advertisers and 14 of the 25 top US companies as ranked in the Fortune 500. The company leverages Iris by Brand Networks, the first AI-based platform for social advertising, and the Tapad Device Graph™, which powers the company’s Digital Activation services, to deliver unified digital advertising experiences for customers worldwide. Brand Networks was founded in 2006 and is headquartered in Boston with offices in San Francisco, New York City, Rochester, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, and Sydney. For more information, please visit bn.co.

Artificial Intelligence: Transforming Social Advertising and the Way You Work

With the market for Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the rise and the increased proliferation of AI-powered tech being presented to Marketers and Advertisers, you may be asking yourself if Artificial Intelligence is right for you. In the world of Social Marketing and Advertising, AI has certainly arrived.

What pessimists fail to note is that AI isn’t new and the sky hasn’t fallen. If you’ve turned to digital advertising in the past, say, via a DSP, you’ve used AI. Sure, the future of AI-powered social ad tech is unclear in terms of the role it will ultimately play, but there’s no reason to fear it—thoughtfully-designed Artificial Intelligence isn’t built to replace you, it’s built to assist you and to complement your skillset.

AI-Powered Social Ad Tech: Your Biggest Enabler

According to Britannica, Artificial Intelligence is, “the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings.” From that, you could concoct a number of doomsday scenarios. In the context of social advertising, AI is far from your enemy—it can and should be your biggest enabler.  

In its current state, AI-powered social ad tech is best suited to manage your social campaigns. Using technology like Optimize Now, Brand Networks’ proprietary optimization technology, AI can reduce the strain of repetitive and tactical work and increase the time you spend on higher order work that a machine cannot—think campaign strategy and creative insights extraction.

While some pundits claim there’s more smoke than fire surrounding AI, in the realm of the increasingly complex and unruly social ecosystem, AI should become your friend.

“Right Place, Right Time” Takes On a Whole New Meaning

Historically, consumers consumed—they flipped through periodicals, watched commercials, and listened to the radio. They were forced to receive whatever information you put in front of them and either believe it, or not. They couldn’t publicly question it or engage in discourse about it. Until recently, that worked; today, consumers are empowered. They’re fueled by a state of perpetual digital connection where US smartphone owners spend five hours per day. This has led to a feeling of empowerment and even entitlement among consumers. Now, instead of consuming whatever they’re fed, they’re asking for a completely new menu—and they’re used to getting what they want, when they want it.

Think about it:

– Spotify creates playlists based on your listening habits

– Amazon, the originator of auto-curated product recommendations, is now delivering via drone

– Google Maps populates the quickest way home

– Netflix suggests content based your viewing habits  

This trend has led to the modern consumer expecting smart connections that help make their lives easier. As the point of engagement and transaction continue to merge, the need for immediacy, personalization, and authenticity will become even more of a necessity.

Thankfully, Artificial Intelligence can help. In the context of social advertising, AI-powered technology can revolutionize your work day.

What You Can Expect From AI-Powered Social Ad Tech

There’s nothing wrong with admitting that managing the sophistication of today’s social ecosystem exceeds our cognitive capacity. This knowledge gap has led to the increased use of AI-powered systems, which are built to optimize problem sets quickly and efficiently without external interference. Said another way, AI-powered social ad tech will complement you and close the opportunity gap by optimizing the customer journey.

Let’s break it down into three benefits:

Efficiency: There’s no shame in admitting that computers process data faster than humans—we’re facing an unmanageable proliferation of information. Let AI take over the time-consuming processes of the past, and get valuable time back that you can spend researching, strategizing, or working on creative.

Smart Decisions: Limited access and insight into your data can prevent you from making the personalization decisions consumers expect. AI-powered social advertising solutions are built exclusively to consume large amounts of data from multiple channels and then analyze it. With those data, they can offer recommendations into creative, targeting, budget allocation, and more. As an end result, you’re creating a more meaningful experience for your customers.

Continuous performance improvements: Traditional marketing processes are discrete, time-bound, and hard to manage. Frankly, they can be arbitrary to your customers. AI-powered solutions operate continuously and learn as they go in relation to your inputs, like creative and targeting, as well as your goals and KPIs.  

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Artificial Intelligence is already impacting digital advertising. Its emergence in paid social, while steady, has proven to be one riddled with apprehension. But history has shown us that curiosity and courage are the hallmarks of great marketers and great marketing. Think about the first company to raise what’s become the modern billboard during the rise of American industry. Even the first advertisers on social were taking a degree of risk. Looking back, they’ve all been rewarded, to some degree. So dive into AI-powered social advertising technology—you’ll be leading the march of progress in the digital age.

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Introducing the Brand Networks Digital Activation Team

Brand Networks Digital Activation

The call from the market has been clear: Marketing leaders are hungry to move beyond siloed multi-channel advertising into integrated omnichannel strategies.

Our response is simple: Let Brand Networks coordinate your display, video, rich media and social advertising campaigns as a single provider, and we’re confident we will be able to create better synergy and add strategic value.

This past January, we announced the expansion of our managed media capabilities and offerings through a strategic partnership with Tapad.

Today, I am very proud to formally introduce a new division of Brand Networks, the Brand Networks Digital Activation team, comprised exclusively of Tapad alums who joined the company through that partnership.

Brand Networks Digital Activation

During my time at Tapad, I had the opportunity to work with many of the members of this team, and I am thrilled to welcome them to Brand Networks. The launch of the Digital Activation team is the first step in our commitment to bring digital advertising—including display, video, and rich media—together with paid social advertising in one streamlined media solution.

Meet the Brand Networks Digital Activation Team

The new Brand Networks Digital Activation team is composed of expert digital advertising specialists, many of whom have been working together since 2011. Though new to Brand Networks, the average Digital Activation employee has been part of the same display and video advertising team for over three years.

Here at Brand Networks, these individuals are now working alongside social advertising specialists in offices around the United States, including, New York, Chicago, Detroit, Dallas, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Well known in the Automotive, Financial Services, and Retail verticals, with deep knowledge of those industries and others, this savvy collective is already trusted by over 50 of the Fortune 500.

Over the past 7 years, the team has developed the ability to deliver effective campaigns at every stage of the consumer journey. Whether you care about raising brand awareness or driving sales, they know how to deliver engaging experiences to your consumers in any context.

Powered by Device Graph Data

The foundation of our Digital Activation team’s tech offering is device graph data, a technology that collects data about billions of digital devices and maps them together. Audience Magnifier, the proprietary solution for direct response campaigns, profiles the interests, lifestyle and intent behavior of the brand’s converters across every device, providing a holistic view of their consumer context, including interests and behaviors. Based on these interest and behavioral patterns, our new Digital Activation team is empowered to build custom models, identifying prospects most likely to convert and honing campaign targeting to address that specific group.

When it comes to measuring campaign performance, in-depth analytics are also available to provide cross-device insights into reach and frequency, performance lift and device pathing to conversion. This thorough analysis also uncovers audience insights, enabling brands to gain a better understanding of their consumers’ behavior across devices.

Another unique service is this team’s Creative Services division, which specializes in extending campaign creative to bridge the gap between concept and objective. The award-winning group helps brands enrich their cross-device storytelling with custom, interactive elements appropriate for every device. This enables brands to deliver compelling and memorable experiences tailored to their goals.

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This is only a fraction of the team’s capabilities, knowledge, and potential. As we look toward an omnichannel future, I am excited to welcome the new Digital Activation team to the Brand Networks family and look forward to all that we can achieve under the same roof. 

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Stories Everywhere: Preparing Snapchat For the Future

Snapchat Stories Everywhere

It doesn’t take much to see that Snapchat’s changing. Snapchat’s user growth increased by 5.05% in Q4 beating Wall Street’s expectations. Today, Snapchat has roughly 187MM daily active users (DAUs). Moreover, Snap Inc., Snapchat’s parent company, reported that 90% of Snap Ads were bought programmatically, lending further proof to the efficacy of its auction-based ad buying system. But of all the stats unveiled in the Q4 roundup, the one holding the most promise may be the fact that the Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) in the “Rest of the World” region nearly doubled. For advertisers, this translates to “Snapchat is operating more efficiently in areas with slower connections.” Over time, this could open the door to global campaign execution and a significant bump in reach.

The real story begins, however, when you consider the strategic, albeit uncharacteristic move that goes against the historical grain for Snapchat. Instead of keeping its users in its mobile app, Snapchat is now allowing users to share content outside of its core app through a feature called “Stories Everywhere.” While the move may seem counterintuitive, it’s one made to foster user growth while continuing to make Snapchat a popular and engaging destination for premium content.

How Stories Everywhere Works

Historically, Snapchat’s main allure was its exclusivity—unless you had a Snapchat account, you couldn’t view its content. That worked for Snapchat as it established itself, but, as its industry counterparts moved further away from this insular approach, Snapchat seems to have reacted by wholly embracing the shift.

With this pivot, anyone can watch and share select Snapchat content to Facebook, Twitter, email, text messages, third-party websites, and more—all via a link generated by Snapchat. Snapchat is initially restricting content eligible for Stories Everywhere to Official Stories, Our Stories, and Search Stories, but we’re bullish that this will eventually encompass more of Snapchat’s content types as its re-design and new features take shape.

Official Stories: Content created by celebrities and influencers will last 24 hours outside of Snapchat

Our Stories: Content created by Snapchat around marquee events, for example, will last for up to 30 days outside of Snapchat

Search Stories: Content created based on topic or location will last for up to 30 days outside of Snapchat

Stories Everywhere: Preparing Snapchat for the Future

Stories Everywhere is a significant change to the Snapchat experience. This isn’t an “advertising thing” yet, but it’s changing Snapchat, and it could impact advertising opportunities soon. Here’s why it could ultimately be a boon for advertisers:

Increased Discoverability & User Growth: The immediate benefit of Stories Everywhere pertains to the reach and addressable audience for publishers and influencers. As these parties strategically curate and place content around the web, don’t be surprised if the coming fiscal quarters result in a noticeable upswing in older demographics turning to Snapchat. The extended reach may also be enough to entice influencers previously unattached to Snapchat’s model to make the switch. Theoretically, they would also bring with them their loyal followers from other realms.

More Content From Publishers & Influencers: By allowing content to survive for a more extended period outside the app, Snapchat could be creating an environment for publishers and influencers to create more content. Why? Because more strategic opportunity is available. A publisher, for example, could use Stories Everywhere to point Snapchat users to its website. Ultimately, this extended reach via cross-posting can add value insofar as broadening the opportunities and chances for engagement at different points within the purchase lifecycle.

Proof of Concept for Snapchat: Not only will publishers and influencers continue to see how many views their content receives within the app, but Snapchat’s commitment to measurement solutions is apparent by the ability to report on impressions outside of the mobile app. This alone could be a selling point for advertisers focusing on reach. Plus, Snapchat’s counterparts don’t currently support cross-platform sharing, which makes this offering even more enticing.

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It’s too soon to tell, but the impact of Stories Everywhere may reach beyond Snapchat’s immediate audience. If this catches on, it’s likely that this will affect the broader digital advertising space. As we wait to see what Snapchat rolls out over the coming quarters regarding both capabilities and paid ad offerings, take the time now to experiment and acquaint yourself with the new organic content experience.