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Darcy Grabenstein Jan 3

8 Trends Destined to Impact Marketing in 2017


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Annodyne T-shirt design

Yes, it’s time for the obligatory end-of-year trends blog post. Typically, these posts focus on topics such as marketing trends for the coming year.

I’d like to take a slightly different approach. I’ll be looking at upcoming trends and their impact on marketing.

1. Virtual Reality

Like it or not, virtual reality (VR) is here to stay. So are its counterparts, augmented reality and mixed reality. If you’re confused, you’re not alone. This video explains the difference between all three concepts.

How this impacts marketing:

For travel marketers, VR can be at once a blessing and a curse. On the positive side, VR can be used to give prospective visitors a real taste of what they can experience at a tourist destination. On the negative side, prospects who “visit” a place via VR may feel they can skip the real thing. It’s up to marketers to use VR selectively, giving prospective tourists just enough of a preview to make them want to see it all in real time.

2. Anonymous Consumers

TrendWatching refers to this as Incognito Individuals. Lest you jump to the conclusion that big data is “so yesterday,” think of it more as a deconstructing of data. On the one hand, the article notes, you’ve got non-traditional audience segments. On the other hand, you’ve got companies marketing to a “segment of one” at a mass scale.

 How this impacts marketing:

Non-traditional audience segments (TrendWatching cites the first male face of Covergirl as a case in point) must be taken into consideration when developing marketing campaigns. Once you’ve defined your segments, then you need to create ultra-targeted content to meet that segment’s needs. With all the data at our disposal, you’re doing your audience a disservice if you rely on mass marketing.

3. Love for Millennials

Inc. magazine says that businesses will begin to embrace Millennials instead of rejecting them. The stereotypes of selfishness and materialism will fall by the wayside.

This mindset is particularly important in higher ed marketing, where Millennials make up a majority of the audience. And in terms of graduate education, where Millennials are becoming a larger part of the demographic, marketers must shift gears in order to appeal to this segment.

4. Drones

Fortune predicts that drones will be increasingly used to make deliveries of fast food and similar items. While the FAA has eased up on restrictions for drone use, companies still face significant limitations.

How this impacts marketing:

For companies that deliver products, drones take quick, personal service to a whole new level (pun intended). Careful messaging will be needed to overcome consumers’ fears of drones, particularly fears surrounding privacy and safety issues, and focus on how the benefits far outweigh the risks.

5. On-demand work

According to a Forbes article referencing a prediction by the World Economic Forum, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is underway. Both workers and customers are freeing themselves from the traditional 9-to-5 workday.

How this impacts marketing:

There will be an abundance of freelancers, available to agencies and other businesses that typically hire them. A glut of freelance talent could cause rates to drop, and agencies can pass those savings along to their clients. Agencies that once shied away from hiring freelancers might find it cost-effective to do so. In addition, remote employees will be more commonplace, allowing agencies to remove geographical constraints, expand their staffs with top candidates and hire talent with the skills that match specific projects.

6. Patients as partners

Pharma will have a new strategic partner: patients. PwC Health Research Institute’s annual report says that pharmaceutical companies will better engage with patients in the coming year. Patients, faced with higher medical insurance deductibles, will be demanding better value from their prescriptions.

How this impacts marketing:

Pharmaceutical companies will need to forge more meaningful connections with patients. In order to do so, they must better understand their customer base. At Annodyne, we’ve helped pharma clients do this by mapping the customer journey and launching social listening initiatives. We’ve also created closed online communities that serve as a support group and a three-way source of information among the pharma company, patients and healthcare providers.

7. Less is more

Call it what you want — retro, nostalgia, form simplification, minimalism — the more people are
inundated in their lives with technology, the more they retreat to simplistic themes. Annodyne’s most
recent T-shirt design, shown above, is a nod to the nostalgic look. And it’s no surprise that logo design trends for 2017 harp on simplicity.

Pantone Greenery

Even Pantone’s color of the year for 2017, Greenery, reflects this trend. In choosing this color, Pantone noted: “The more submerged people are in modern life, the greater their innate craving to immerse themselves in the physical beauty and inherent unity of the natural world.”

How this impacts marketing:

For marketers of environmentally friendly products and services, this trend is good news. Marketers of any product/service should use technology prudently, not just for the sake of technology itself. Designs should be clean, copy clear and concise. The glut of promotional content people are exposed to on a daily basis means that advertisers who cut back on bells and whistles may garner more attention in the long run.

8. The voice of Middle America

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the election’s impact on marketing. If we learned anything from Election 2016, it’s that Middle America — which felt marginalized for a long time — finally found its voice and is demanding to be seen and heard.

How this impacts marketing:

Marketers must understand the pain points of this segment of American society and address them in an authentic manner. Anything less will be looked upon with disdain.

So there you have it. The upcoming year will be filled with immense challenges and opportunities for marketers. Let the games begin.

Darcy Grabenstein is senior copywriter at Annodyne.


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Darcy Grabenstein Oct 31

The day my smartphone decided to become a submarine


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Wednesday was a traumatic day for me. My cellphone fell into the toilet. I know, it’s disgusting. But beyond the actual gross-out effect, I was actually more devastated by the loss of connectivity I felt.

Before you judge me, you should know that, according to a survey “IT in the Toilet” by 11Mark, 75 percent of Americans admit using the phone while in the bathroom. I must clarify that I wasn’t using the phone (really — it was in my back pocket, which caused the infamous “incident.”)

My mobile phone is like an appendage to me. As the saying goes, I don’t leave home without it. I’m now measuring my days in terms of B.C. (before cellphone) and A.D. (after drop).

People who have lost a limb often experience phantom pains. That is, they feel pain where the limb once was. Well, I’ve had a similar experience since my iPhone has been out of commission. I keep thinking I’m feeling my desk or purse “buzz” with an incoming text or call.

However, that’s impossible as my phone’s new home is this bag of rice:

Bag of rice

For those of you wondering why my phone is now sushi, supposedly by putting a drowned mobile device into rice for a couple of days, the grains will absorb the water. Wish me luck.

In the meantime, the loss of my faithful companion has made me think about all the things I use my phone for (in no specific order):

Texting family and friends, especially if I’m meeting someone (I had to pick up my husband after work that night, and lack of a cellphone made it more difficult than usual.)

Calling my mother (Yes, I’m a grown woman who calls her mother every day. Instead of mocking me, perhaps you should call your mother right now.)

• Checking emails

• Entering contests via SMS

• Playing games (Yes, I play Candy Crush to kill time when I’m waiting at a restaurant, doctor’s office, etc.)

• Using apps to check sports scores, schedules (Florida Gators, to be specific)

• Checking the weather

• Checking traffic

• Researching travel options before and during vacations

• Scanning my shopper reward UPCs at checkout

• Redeeming retail coupons

• Maintaining my grocery list

• Posting to social media sites like Facebook (We were at a concert that night and I was having withdrawal symptoms because I couldn’t take and share photos.)

• Using an app to enter my daily caloric intake and exercise (OK, I can do this via the web, but why? If you’re wondering, yesterday I consumed 982 calories and burned 318 calories. You do the math. And, yes, my mother would say I’m not eating enough.)

• Listening to music while I work out (see item above)

• Paying bills

In short, I rely upon my mobile phone for numerous tasks. Your customers and prospects surely do the same. That’s why you need to take into account what your customers and/or their demographic are doing in terms of mobile and where they are using their phones (besides the bathroom). Here are a few eye-opening statistics on mobile usage:

• According to a Wilson Electronics survey, 15 percent of Americans answer mobile calls during sex (good news for condom advertisers!)

• Wireless data consumption has grown 732 percent since 2010 (CTIA)

• 25 percent of smartphone owners age 18–44 say they can’t recall the last time their phone wasn’t next to them (Fast Company)

• According to the Pew Research Internet Project, 67 percent of cell owners find themselves checking their phone even it’s not ringing or vibrating (guilty as charged — pun intended)

• 57 percent of users won’t recommend companies with poor mobile sites (Search Engine Journal)

• By 2018, mobile video will represent 69 percent of mobile traffic (Forbes)

So when it comes to online marketing, make sure that mobile’s in the mix. After all, you don’t want to flush your online marketing dollars down the toilet.

Darcy Grabenstein is senior copywriter at Annodyne.


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Eric LeVan Jul 17

Next Gen Banner Ads


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Flash has been on the decline for a while now and I am still surprised that we’re using it in our campaigns as a means to capture attention and drive traffic. What technology do we fall back on once flash has gone the way of the dodo? We need a technology that can provide comparable 2D rendering to achieve the kinds of effects that people want to engage with.

I’ve decided to explore the HTML5 canvas platform as a suitable alternative to Flash. Why canvas? Since it is part of the HTML5 standard, it integrates much more seamlessly into a web page. Flash cannot be viewed on some mobile devices, which is a huge detriment for marketers, considering a vast amount of Internet traffic is now generated from handheld and portable devices.

Below you find two similar examples of the same ad. One is implemented in Flash, while the other is implemented in canvas. Can you spot the difference without cheating?

 

Get Adobe Flash player
AimRx. We can help you reach your patients. Get in touch.

Now that we have seen both demos in action, let’s draw some comparisons:

Flash (left) Canvas (right)
Dev Overhead Very Low High
Footprint Compiled SWF (38 KB) Canvas Javascript (7KB) + Assets (200KB)
Quality Embedded True
Fallback Support Good None
Maintainability Requires Adobe Flash Requires Text Editor

Thoughts

Both contenders offer up specific advantages. Because of Flash’s age and maturity, it is widely supported in older browsers. This is a major benefit over Canvas, which will only work in current-gen browsers. With Flash, though, you lose your audience on other platforms. Canvas will work on mobile devices, although it may not run as efficiently on the hardware that runs phones and tablets. Flash grants us some portability since all the assets are embedded in the SWF format. Extra care must be taken, however, to ensure that the assets will not suffer a loss of quality in the compression process. Personally, I like a crisp, clean image. Because canvas uses native browser functionality to build its presentation layer, there is no discernible loss of quality.

The overhead for canvas is very high. While Flash demands the use of proprietary software, it also makes the development of the ad itself much easier. This means that creating a canvas ad from scratch by writing custom JavaScript takes a long time — approximately 8 times longer. This overhead time could be mitigated quite well by performing the development in Flash or associated IDE and then exporting the final product as HTML5 canvas. Some applications, such as Muse, handle this very well. They use a built-in framework for easily translating Flash-like builds into canvas.

After all is said and done, if pressed to choose a technology for ads going forward, I would find it hard to choose Flash. My decision isn’t weighted on the bias against Flash that is growing steadily as we progress, but simply in its inability to reach the market share of growing mobile platforms. Now if only Google would permit us to provide a simple JS file in lieu of the usual format.

Eric LeVan is a front-end developer at Annodyne.


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Justin Frame Oct 24

Universal Google Analytics


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Classic Google Analytics has been the keystone to understanding how users engage with your website for the memorable past. The ga.js version, which can be identified by taking a quick look at the onsite code snippet, and seeing the _gaq object and the .push function, will soon be replaced by Universal Google Analytics tracking. The Universal Google Analytics tracking code, or analytics.js, can be identified by viewing your onsite analytics snippet and seeing the ga(‘create’, ‘UA-xxxx-y’); configuration.

The new Universal Google Analytics will introduce a set of features that change the way user data is collected from your website. This adjustment in data collection will allow you to better understand how visitors interact with your website — what pages they are viewing, how long they are staying on individual pages, what sources they are coming from, how they are contributing to your revenue, etc.

Universal Google Analytics was in beta, available to only a select few online marketing bigwigs, but is now going to be the new operating standard. All advertisers that use Google Analytics to track their websites and advertising will be required to switch over to Universal Analytics, by way of the DIY tool, or an automatic switch performed by Google. The DIY upgrade tool will be rolling out to accounts over the coming weeks and will allow users to transfer their profiles to the new-and-improved Google Analytics. When the upgrade hits your account, you will notice a blue transfer button under the Property heading in the admin panel of your Analytics account.

Universal Google Analytics
Clicking the transfer button will initiate a 24-to-48-hour process that, when completed, will require a manual upgrade of the code snippet on your site (swapping your ga.js to analytics.js). Once you have initiated the sequence and swapped your code snippet, you will have full access to all of the new features that Universal Google Analytics offers. For more information: https://developers.google.com/analytics/devguides/collection/upgrade/

Staying abreast of these recent Google changes is becoming difficult for SEM/PPC practitioners, but stay tuned to the AnnoBlog for updates and opinions from top industry professionals!


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Eric LeVan Aug 15

Strategizing the Perfect Web Solutions


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Are you looking to improve a website? Start a blog? Build a web application to ease daily overhead? Are you marketing a new product? Building up a member base?

Depending on your web development needs, it can mean the difference between WordPress and Joomla, Drupal and Salesforce. The Internet is a volatile place in which content comes and usually never leaves. WordPress, for instance, is the 800-pound gorilla for easy content distribution. But there are so many different content archetypes floating around the tubes that need to be considered.

WordPress is great for supporting a blog, but can it support a full website and all the different types of content and behavior held within?  The answer used to be no, but over time WordPress has matured into a product that has done its absolute best to meet the general needs of the public. But this isn’t the case with all software, and WordPress alone will not lead to victory.

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