How Will Apple iOS 14 Change Digital Advertising?

How Will Apple iOS 14 Change Digital Advertising?

Apple’s upcoming iOS 14 privacy update has many advertisers and app developers scrambling.  In summer of 2020, Apple announced the rollout of their new operating system, iOS 14, which included new privacy features. As part of the new operating system, mobile users will be empowered to decide whether or not they want their data tracked as they peruse different apps and the internet. These new changes, scheduled to take place sometime in Spring 2021, will have a noticeable impact on the marketing landscape for platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Google, and many more.  In preparation for these changes, platforms and advertisers alike have to rethink how they do business, including implementing new strategies and tactics designed to minimize impact.

One major change involves Identifiers for Advertisers (IDFA) – Apple’s mobile ID that allows advertisers to target and track users within apps on iOS devices and shares user information with ad platforms, app developers, and mobile measurement providers. With the release of iOS14, users will be required to opt in in order to be tracked across apps and websites. As fewer users are expected to opt in, advertisers will have much less data to work with, thereby reducing the accuracy of their marketing abilities and the personalization of their ads.

As one of the most prominent social media platforms, Facebook has been challenged with the adoption of the new iOS 14 policy, as Facebook utilizes their user’s web data to monitor off-platform user traffic via Facebook Pixel and use this information to calibrate targeted advertising demographics, build retargeting audiences, and match users with programmed content. It is important to note that while Apple iOS 14 mobile users will be required opt in/opt out of data tracking, Android and other mobile users will continue reporting third-party data to sites, such as Facebook and Google. Nonetheless, Facebook has been forced to pivot by making changes to their advertising platform in order to mitigate the potential changes that can adversely affect ad campaigns.

Facebook has been quite vocal about the coming changes to their platform, and they urge advertisers to understand these updates which will undoubtedly impact their marketing practices. The big changes for Facebook’s advertising model include strict limiting of Facebook Pixel reporting capabilities from several reportable events down to just one, as well as capping the number of supported events for each domain down to only 8 prioritized events. Facebook will also require that advertisers on the platform verify their website domain and will reduce the accuracy and timeliness of conversion reporting as 28-day attribution windows are scaled down to default 7-day windows.

Google will also be adversely impacted by the changes in Apple user privacy settings, however their approach to the reduction of IDFA access seems to flow better among advertisers and developers. According to Adexchanger, although Facebook has indicated that it will stop entirely collecting IDFA information from its Apple users, Google will implement an AppTrackingTransparency (ATT) Framework, which will allow continued tracking information from Apple users who decide to opt in with minor changes to reporting tools such as Google Analytics.

As we progress into the era of enhanced security, user privacy and transparency, first-party data will be especially important. Actively capturing user information (email, phone, address), will be even more valuable, since their utility will likely increase over time as IDFA privacy protocols become stricter in the advertising space. More than ever, it is essential to develop a viable strategy for maximizing advertising spend and optimizing a results-driven multichannel approach. Perhaps the most viable way to stay ahead of the curve is to stay informed of privacy changes and policy updates for platforms that you advertise on and to be proactive instead of reactive.

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2021 Advertising Shows Strong Optimism

2021 Advertising Shows Strong Optimism

2020 was a difficult year for virtually every industry, including traditional advertising. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel as we begin the New Year, as advertising spending in 2021 is projected to bounce back and show positive gains that lead the way for years to come.

A recent report from Magna shows that the U.S advertising market was one of the most resilient sectors from the downfall of COVID 19-related closures and budget decreases, showing just an average 1.5% decline in spend for 2020. Overall, spending is expected to rapidly increase in 2021 as many companies shift their focus to online commerce and retail efforts. According to Morningstar, online ad spending is expected to grow 20% in 2021 and a 14% average rate for 2022-24, outpacing the annual growth rates of 2017-19.

Looking at advertising trends by medium, the digital advertising outlook for 2021 is also quite optimistic. Magna forecasts an 8% year-on-year growth for digital spends of over $336 billion, bringing the medium’s share to 59% of total ad spending. In particular, increases in social media spending will be fueling this trend, as platforms gain more users and increase the lifetime value of each user. A study from eMarketer forecasts U.S. social media ad spending for 2021 to increase by 21.3%, reaching nearly $49 billion in overall spend.

These sizeable gains in online spending are in large attributed to online retailers increasing their advertising efforts to attract and retain long term customers and build brand reputation. According to research by Criteo, in recent months, 53% of consumers have discovered at least one form of online shopping that they plan to continue purchasing from.

Direct-response and digital advertising campaigns will remain at the forefront of marketing growth for 2021 and onwards, as first-party data gives brands useful insights into their customer’s behavior, identifying the path to maximize sales and recurring subscriptions. Social media platforms are also becoming much more efficient at targeted marketing and helping businesses integrate digital communications and robust payment systems that streamline purchases and customer experiences.

2021 will be the first year in history that digital advertising attracts more than 50% of global ad spend, a trend which is likely to only increase over time. Right now, it is more relevant than ever to ensure your business has an omnichannel marketing strategy that diversifies advertising spend to reach new customers and amplify sales. Contact us and see how we can positively impact your business for the New Year.

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The Impact of TV on Digital Performance

The Impact of TV on Digital Performance

Traditional television advertising continues to dominate, and in fact, has been shown to substantially improve the performance of digital advertisements by forming lasting impressions among viewers and building trust with your target audience. According to a report from Mediascience, television ads running concurrently with digital ads increases the average viewership time by 300% compared to running digital alone and leads to an increased brand recall from audiences by over 200%. The combination of TV and digital advertising also boosts purchase intent by an average of 15% among viewers.

The main reason television advertisements pair so well with digital is because TV ads produce a halo effect which validates and solidifies a brand’s reputation. This phenomenon causes digital ads to also be perceived as more desirable compared to without a TV presence, which makes digital seem more exciting and less intrusive than TV ads alone. From a strategic perspective, incorporating both digital and traditional TV advertising into your business is likely to increase performance by a larger percentage than either medium alone.

TV ads also bring a higher level of attention to branding, as a recent study from EffecTv shows that 94% of audiences watch the full length of TV ads, compared to only 78% of viewers watching full length digital ads. We also know that lesser known brands benefit more from TV ads than established ones, as well-known brands such as Target or Coca-Cola experience a diminishing return from a saturated market of television brand awareness, making it the perfect opportunity for smaller businesses to start casting a wider net with their marketing budgets.

According to a study conducted by TVSquared, television advertisements drive an additional 23% average weekly increase in website traffic while TV ads air. Conversely, when a TV advertiser goes off-air, they see a weekly reduction of website traffic by an average of 20%. Pausing TV airings can also reduce a brand’s visibility and awareness, which leads to lost opportunities of converting leads into potential sales.

Consumer’s trust in television as a credible source of new information makes it an essential factor in your direct marketing plan, as a solely digital strategy does not create the same level of brand reputation as combining the two. Mediascience also reports that TV ads are viewed on average more than twice as often as digital ads, so it makes sense that seeing an ad on both TV and digital will yield a higher level of audience interest and engagement.

It is essential for brands to develop a consistent TV schedule to reach their target audiences and attract new customers by running a wide range of different airings and channels. Building trust with customers has never been more important at a time such as this, utilizing the halo effect of TV paired with digital advertising will position your business to take full advantage of an omni-channel marketing strategy.

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RD Fun Facts: How Station Start-Times Affect When Your Ads Will Air

RD Fun Facts: How Station Start-Times Affect When Your Ads Will Air

As a busy media-buyer I don’t think a day goes by without a thought or a mention on a topic relating to “station start-time.”  It is something so basic and engrained in the direct response media world that most of us don’t give it a second thought.   From coordinating phone rooms and listing services to explaining to clients when their ad will actually air, vs. the time/day it is booked in our system, station start-times greatly affect the behind-the-scenes logistical nuances of station programming. With 25 years of media-buying under my belt, the start-time annoyances continue on day after day.

What exactly is station start-time and why is it that stations are not universally aligned when it comes to start-times?  A station’s start-time is the time at which a station starts its new broadcast cycle for the day. While some stations start at 4am, others start at 5am, 6am or 12am.  What’s the big deal you ask?  The big deal is, if a station starts their day between 12:30am-6am, any media booked between the hours of 12:30am – 6am for a particular date, doesn’t actually run until the following day.  Make sense?  In other words, if I book a 2am airing for 12/1 with a station that has a 4am start, then the ad won’t actually run until 2am on 12/2. With hundreds of stations out there and tons of ad space I have to book, you can see how things can get tricky with figuring out when ads will actually air.

I spoke to a few seasoned veterans in this business to get their take on this topic.  We all agreed on some form of the explanation below as to why stations aren’t universally aligned when it comes to station start-times.

Once upon a time, stations did not run programming 24/7.  If you were around in the 70’s, you may have watched the color bars and listened to the single droning tone for a few minutes in anticipation of a cartoon starting at 5 am.  Those were the days when stations didn’t have enough programming or viewers to fill up a 24-hour day. Therefore, station start times varied from station to station.  As more stations popped up, the exasperating trend continued.  


Prior to 24/7 programming, it was very common to see SMPTE color bars on your TV set.  Stations have since filled their time slots around the clock, but station start-times have mostly remained unchanged.

As one of the GSMs of a broadcast station explained, “Before hubs, station groups, and being on the air 24 hours a day, we had sign-on and sign-off.  Stations all signed on at different times and that was their start time.  Stations continued to use that start time when they went to a 24-hour broadcasting day. Some stations have adjusted to match the start-time of their owned group or traffic hub, but still no standard 12am time for all.”

Nonetheless, there is something warm and fuzzy about stations continuing to use their old start times in this day and age of constant progression.  It is a nice bit of nostalgia.  One station group, Nexstar, has even brought back the National Anthem at 4am before starting their regular daily programming. I will now smile and think of the past every time I come up against a day-start issue….I hope you will too!

COVID-19: Potential Short-Term & Long-Term Effects on Advertising

COVID-19: Potential Short-Term & Long-Term Effects on Advertising

Just four weeks ago, before our world was upended by the coronavirus strain known as COVID-19, no one would have foreseen that weeks later, our healthy economy would come crashing to a grinding halt.  This happened at an unprecedented rate, and was so quick in its onset.  With most of the nation confined to our homes without outside contact, many are fearful what the future holds.  

As a media agency, we have been through crises in the past of political, social and financial natures.  We have survived some of nation’s most trying times, including 9/11 and the Great Recession of 2008. Through our experience, we have seen certain trends and are anticipating that this may play out in a “similar” fashion.  Being in the direct response and DTC industry, our benefit in the past, and as it is right now, is our ability to know “how the population is responding to our advertising.”  We can see if they are going to the websites, calling the phones and ordering the products.  We have seen in the past and are experiencing it today, that Direct to Consumer products that make things easier at home are the ones that will trend (i.e., home cooking, exercise, education, well-being, vitamins, minerals and other supplements).  People will be looking for ways to save money and feel better about themselves (home care, beauty) as they exit the “quarantine” and wait for the economics to adjust.

Due to shelter-in-home orders, viewership levels are up, but people are not necessarily responding in mass due to the economic downturn they are personally feeling or apprehensive about.  Thus, in trying times, River Direct works closely with TV stations and digital publishers to make sure that the rates being charged, are commensurate with the audience delivered and the orders being generated.  General advertisers have a tendency to pull media when a crisis of this nature occurs and thus, media rates decline. 

Many of our clients have asked us how we anticipate things playing out in the advertising/media buying world.  Due to the unchartered nature of the current crisis, there’s no way of knowing – however, we offer a few scenarios: 

Best-case Scenario: Social distancing works and the virus peters out by early May/June.   People begin to go back to work and receive paychecks, economy starts to improve.  The media will start to pick up slowly as people gain confidence.  People will pull out their wallets and order product.  The general-rate advertisers will come back into the space “slowly” (Q3) allowing direct response/DTC to take advantage of the situation from May going forward….4th quarter ends up being more aggressively pursued and election dollars go into the market as planned.

Delayed-Recovery Scenario: The virus starts to disappear between June and end of July….in direct response we are able to take advantage knowing how people are feeling and make it through third quarter and hope there are no virus rebounds and anticipate a strong 4th quarter for direct response; with General advertisers having a bit more trepidation but still engaged.  Election dollars are there and rates are reasonable.

Lengthy-Recovery Scenario: The virus is not contained, and has a resurgence in places where we thought it had gone away and doesn’t disappear until late summer.  Economy is slow in getting back to speed and trepidation continues to occur in the market place.   The summer months’ rates decline precipitously and people are not confident and don’t have extra monies to spend and are not purchasing product.  Personal financial burdens are tough and advertising in general is soft.  We always have the advantage in knowing what to pay based upon response, but the fear is people slow down their purchasing because of the economic setback.  The ad industry for 4thquarter is soft for general advertisers and those doing campaign advertising will get the ads for a very low rate due to decreased demand. 

So here we are in early April, trying to predict the future, as everyone else in the world is trying to do the same.  In our hearts, we are anticipating the “Best-case Scenario” and at worst, hoping for the “Delayed-Recovery Scenario.”  Most importantly, we are all praying that our nation is able to work together to keep the loss of lives at a minimum, and to recover as quickly as possible on all fronts.

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TV isn’t going anywhere: Why Marketers Should Not Abandon Traditional TV Advertising

TV isn’t going anywhere: Why Marketers Should Not Abandon Traditional TV Advertising

With the everchanging digital age, and the recent trend of TV viewers cutting cords and switching to platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Vudu, it’s natural to assume that the traditional TV advertising space would be in a state of decline. However, there is significant evidence that suggests that although digital advertising is becoming a popular method of gaining ad views, it still does not match up to the volume and effectiveness of traditional methods of advertising. According to a recent study by Dataxu (recently acquired by Roku), approximately 70% of big-screen advertising still lies in the traditional TV space as opposed to the 30% coming from the digital ad space. Based on these results, traditional TV advertising still reigns, as exemplified by the $10 billion spent on television in 2019 by the biggest advertisers.  The higher rates of active ad viewership, ability of advertisers to target their audience through programmatic TV capabilities, and the proven effectiveness of TV ad media are just some of the many reasons the largest advertisers in the industry love television.

Major Advertising Companies Continue to Turn to TV for Majority of Their Ads

With the increasing use of data to improve the TV advertisement space, the outlook is better than ever in terms of building an effective advertising campaign, increasing brand image, and targeting the right viewer. In fact, Geico, one of the most well-known brands in the country, claims that TV advertisements are most effective in building their brand. Geico still spends about 4 times more on traditional TV advertisements per month than they do on digital. According to Statista, GEICO spent $23.46M on TV advertisements in a 7-day time period. Companies like these make the overall outlook for the television advertising industry look promising for the future. 

Even digitally native brands have touted the power of TV advertisement. Touch of Modern, for example, has found success in their TV advertising initiatives. According to Touch of Modern Founder, Jerry Hum, TV advertising began as an experiment for their company in their search to find the best advertising strategy, and resulted in TV having the biggest chunk of their marketing spend. View the video here:

Why TV is so effective and appealing to Advertisers:

Engaged, Active Viewers:

Research states that although digital forms of advertising are becoming more popular, TV advertising maintains its place at the top in the advertising industry.  According to research conducted by the University of Adelaide, eye-tracking was used to show that TV ads are more effective in terms of connecting to the viewer emotionally, and for commanding twice the number of active viewers as YouTube and 15x that for Facebook. Active viewership is defined as the level of engagement tracked through active eye-contact, active listening, and personal connection to the ad that is collected by the device the consumer is using.  Studies showed that during a TV advertisement, a larger percentage of viewers were actively viewing the ad based on eye movements than during a digital advertisement. With digital advertising, users are able to bypass advertisements entirely by controlling their advertisement viewing experience, clicking out of ads entirely, and remaining idle when an advertisement plays in the background. This, however, is less of a problem in the traditional TV space since its more likely for the consumer to view the ad directly as they are not able to click out of the ad, or indirectly through passive listening or viewership while they wait for their TV program to resume.


Mass Reach with Improved Targeting Capability Through Programmatic TV

In order to combat non-active TV viewership, TV advertisement companies have begun to implement addressable TV ad placements in order to tailor ads to specific viewers and households. Addressable TV leverages data collected from cable subscribers in order to target specific households and tailor the viewers’ ad experience through segmentation at a geographical, demographical, and behavioral level. Addressable TV is seen as an add-on to traditional TV strategy that helps make planning more efficient and, today, in the United States, there are approximately 64 million addressable households, with the spend expected to rise to $3.37 billion next year. 

As evident, the TV advertising industry has evolved with the digital shift to demand better tracking and targeting capabilities, data-enablement, and better attribution through programmatic TV. In order to stay competitive, the industry is shifting to include these digital capabilities. For example, states that 57% of the industry uses first-party data, 49% uses third-party behavioral data, and 64% uses third-party demographic data in order to target their audience with a tailored advertisement experience and to keep viewers engaged. Major advertisers utilize programmatic capabilities in order to pinpoint the exact customer they are looking to serve in order to maximize their media dollars and minimize wasted impressions. 

With the everchanging world, its easy to see that although much of the advertisement space is turning to digital to differentiate their media reach, traditional TV advertising maintains its hold over the advertising industry overall. With analytics and data-driven results that are being implemented into the industry, it will become more important to tailor the advertising experience to viewers, thereby making the traditional TV advertisement even more powerful and effective. Only time will tell how the online streaming TV platforms will play into this shift, but until then, Traditional TV advertising isn’t going anywhere.

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