Instagram Ads Preview


This week, Instagram made their presence known to the marketing world by introducing the first taste of sponsored posts to users’ feeds. This new wave of advertising is expected to make a big splash, as it connects creative brand content to users by reaching them in an environment where they are emotionally invested.


Last week, Instagram slowly rolled out previews of the soon-to-be advertisements. Though similar to the fancy filtered photos we all know and love, ads will be denoted with a “Sponsored” sign in the upper right-hand corner, allowing users to easily identify paid posts. In a move of delightful transparency, Instagram will also offer users the chance to hide ads and provide feedback as to why they dislike particular advertisements. These options can be found in the right-hand menu button beneath the photo where users typically share posts.


Similar to another social media giant, Tumblr, Instagram maintains that advertisements will be relevant and “premium” to suit the high standards of their user-base. To ensure users are comfortable with the transition, Instagram has hand-picked big name, top brands that show promising results on the platform to test out the new service first. That means you may start seeing posts from Levi’s, Ben & Jerrys, and PayPal in your feed, whether you’re following them or not.


How does Instagram know what ads you might be interested in seeing? As you may remember, Facebook acquired the Instagram name in April of 2012. Using your friends, connections, likes, posts, and more, Instagram will be able to figure out what type of content you’re likely to respond to.


Unlike Facebook, Instagram is taking serious precautions while in the early stages of testing. Aside from needing a written invite from Instagram, brands must pay a hefty price tag to play. The goal is to prevent brands from using logos, stock photography, and text-heavy images to promote themselves and to focus (of course) on stunning photography the big brands can afford and the photo-sharing platform is known for. And to make money off those brands that are already using it.


For now, ads will only be visible to 18+ users in the United States, but will eventually be rolled out in all countries and users. Will you be throwing your hat into the Instagram Ads ring?

Foursquare’s Time Machine Maps all the Places You’ve Ever Checked-In (Ever)


Remember Foursquare? While it’s slipped the forefront of everyone’s social media mind these days, it’s not exactly down for the count either. Recently, Foursquare teamed up with consumer electronics giant Samsung to roll out a visually stunning update to the platform: Time Machine. The update is the first in a long while for Foursquare, and is certainly the first of its kind.

Appealing to the custom of geo-tagging your every move, Time Machine is an aerial view of all your Foursquare check-ins laid out chronologically. The in-browser app “plays” a gorgeous timelapse of your check-in history at blinding speed, mapping out locations in your most frequented city and its surrounding areas. It may not have any in-app capabilities at the moment, but it’s definitely worth checking out.

Aside from the visual beauty of Time Machine, users can look at (and of course, share) their “stats”. These statistics show everything from your most frequented check-in category to the furthest distance you’ve traveled. The app even breaks down your activity by work v. play, coffee v. beer, and trains v. planes – summarizing your check-in data from bars, airports, coffee shops, office buildings, movie theaters, and so much more!



The biggest take-away from this update is that Foursquare is now better able to generate suggestions for places you should visit. The app plots these suggestions out on the map, and you can click each one for more information. Of course, it still isn’t entirely accurate. For example, it suggested that I head to a campus tanning salon, likely due to the number of on-campus check-ins in my past and in absence of any other tanning-related activities.

The other take-away is that you can share this information with your friends. Thankfully, Time Machine will associate each point on the map with a time and date. This means anyone can see exactly where you were, when, and how often. You can decide if this is creepy, cool, or something that’ll get lost in our culture of oversharing.

When it comes down to it, Time Machine is a fancy way of saying that your information is no longer yours. Though the general concept of Foursquare is monitoring all of your check-ins (and everyone else’s) to calculate who should become the mystical cyber-mayor of a location, it’s a little unnerving seeing the culmination of all this data in one place.

The usefulness of this data is also unclear, as Samsung and Foursquare remain quiet about the future of their relationship. The partnership could have the potential to oust the growing popularity of Google Now, but it doesn’t seem likely that they’ll be taking on the search engine any time soon. The information is great for personal use and may get a few more businesses on the map, but brands will not be able to leverage this information to generate business.

One thing is certain from the launch of Time Machine is that it’ll definitely having you wish you used Foursquare more – precisely what they intended.

so whats next

Get the Most Out of Vine for Your Brand

vineAre you using Vine yet? Many brands have been quick to jump on the bandwagon and start experimenting with these trendy, six-second video clips. However, it’s become clear that most are not using it to its full potential. Vine is so much more than quick collections of footage brands can throw at their consumers. With careful planning, Vine can become an effective tool to reach your fans. Here’s how to get the most out of your six seconds. Here are a few tips on creating engaging Vines for your consumers.


1 .Take Your Time
While brands were quick to use the platform, many did not take the time to strategize or create. A common trap we’ve seen brands falling into is trying to pack as much information as they can into a clip.

For example, NASCAR is all about speed. However, showing us clips of pitboxes at a blinding speed feels more like an assault on the eyes than a clever Vine.

 It’s an interesting concept, but information overload.


2. Know Your Audience

If you sell pizza, don’t Vine about ice cream. While something you may think a video is fun or interesting, it won’t do much for you without the presence of your product or brand.

Take a look at this clip from the Gap.

Not only are they giving exposure to their brand name, but they are showcasing their product in action. Super adorable action at that.


3. Added Value

Six seconds isn’t a ton of time, but clever brands will use this as an opportunity to offer a quick tutorial. Lucky Magazine is maximizing their effectiveness by posting these simple ways to style a denim shirt.

The Vine might not say Lucky Magazine, but it provides the answer to a need, and people will engage with it.


4. Lose the Shakes

Think of each Vine as an investment for your brand. Videos taken with a steady hand are more visually appealing than those that look sloppily put together.

This Vine from dove certainly provides value, but could definitely look cleaner.

This circles back to our first point: take your time. You wouldn’t show a television commercial you shot only once, would you? If you review your Vine and it looks a bit wobbly, film it again!

AdWords – What You Pay is Not What You Bid


Setting up an AdWords account can be a daunting task. Not everyone is willing to throw their money into the competitive world of PPC Marketing.

Whether you’re working with a small budget or a large one, bidding for a better ad placement can be tricky. After all, what you bid isn’t what you pay, and getting your ad in the number one spot depends more on the ads below you.

Before you start bidding, it’s important to understand that your ads have a better chance of being shown if your keywords and ad copy are highly relevant to your landing page and to the needs of your audience. You also want to make sure, if applicable, that you’re utilizing features such as day parting (showing relevant ads only at relevant times), geo-targeting (showing relevant ads in relevant places), and network targeting. Settings will help Google determine the best times and “places” for your ads, but that’s only a piece of the AdWords puzzle.

Once Google determines whether or not your ads will be shown, they must determine where they will show up on the page. This is where your bids come in.

Once upon a time, ad placement was determined by how much money you were willing to bid for your audience to see your ad first. Then, Google Ad Rank was implemented, altering this system. Now, what you bid is no longer what you are paying for clicks.

Ad Rank is a dimension determined by your Max CPC (bid) x Quality Score. This ultimately means that the better your Quality Score is, the more likely you are to achieve higher Ad Rank with lower CPC’s than your competitors. The higher your Ad Rank, the higher Google will place your ads. This will increase your visibility and hopefully your profits/leads. Experiment with your account to keep your Quality Score / Ad Rank high.

Your actual CPC (what you pay for your clicks) is derived from the following function:

GoogleAdwords CPC formula

Below is an example of how this system works with three ads at the top of a SERP.

GoogleAdwords table

*This chart assumes that the ad below Advertiser 3 has an Ad Rank of 11.

As you can see, advertisers with the best quality score have the lowest CPCs and often pay less for clicks than their competitors. The lower your Quality Score (and thusly, Ad Rank) as compared to your competitors, the higher your bids need to be and the higher your actual CPC is. No matter how high your Ad Rank is, it is the Ad Rank of the ad below yours  that determines what you will actually pay (in relation to your Max CPC) for clicks.

In conclusion, the higher you bid, the higher your Ad Rank and the higher your ad will be placed on the page – sometimes. If your Ad Rank is running a close race with your competitors, higher bids will give you an edge.  But remember, you can keep that bid low if you focus on your Quality Score. The better your score, the less you will likely need to bid (and pay!) for your clicks and ad placements.