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Samantha Thu

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NETA Digital Marketing Webinar Recap

Our own Samantha Thu, Media Director, recently led a webinar for The National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA), a professional association representing 277 member public broadcasting stations in 46 states, the Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia. NETA provides leadership, general audience content, educational services, professional development and trusted financial management services, including human resources and benefits administration, to individual public media licensees, their affinity groups and public media as a whole. The focus of the webinar was on today's ever evolving media landscape and examining digital media specifically as it has become an essential element in marketing strategies, esp. for public broadcasting which historically relied on public relations, community outreach and traditional media channels to promote programming, events and fundraising efforts. Many of the stations handle their marketing needs in-house with limited resources and small budgets, with few having the expertise and opportunity to test into paid media.  With limited funding, stations primarily utilized organic social and Google Ad Grants for nonprofit organizations.  The burning question at hand was “where to start?” With nearly 130 registered individuals from various roles ranging from Marketing Operations to Analytics to Communications and Public Relations, the session kicked off with a simple poll to gauge how familiar people were with digital advertising. An overwhelming majority of attendees were not familiar with digital paid media advertising; 80% responded they know enough or a little.  Meanwhile, 50% responded that they handle all digital advertising in-house, with only 2 responses that noted they actually partner with an ad agency for their media efforts. To bring it back to the basics, the development of a digital media strategy was the first topic discussed, covering how to understand and research current media consumption trends, remaining nimble in your channel presence to capitalize on where the eyeballs are and when they are most engaged.  There are key questions that must be addressed to ensure there is alignment with not only goals and objectives, but how this will be accomplished from a targeting, messaging and measurement perspective and the applicable roles and responsibilities within the organization who will be the subject matter experts for each of these focuses. The webinar continued to dive into various buying methods for digital media as many attendees expressed being overwhelmed with the multitude of options out there, such as direct digital buys vs. programmatic, paid social vs. boosted posts, and how to remain current with trending advertising options and find the best ad placements.  A high-level punch list of digital media buying tips included the following: 1.) Start with a general focus Rather than pay for large inventory, advertisers hoping to reach consumers’ interest can bid for the right audience and the right time. Programmatic not only makes ads more relevant to consumers it also helps publishers to sell inventory in a more valuable way for advertisers. 2.) Identify your target As with any advertising strategy, digital or otherwise, marketers need to establish clear objectives and a well-defined target audience. If you have a specific product or service to promote, or if you’re simply trying to amplify brand awareness on social media, you need to make sure that you’re reaching the audiences that are most apt to listen to your message. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time. Start by determining demographic data, such as the gender, age, and location of your audience. After gathering that information, you can begin planning how and where to allocate your ad spend. 3.) Prioritize transparency Most digital media buyers don’t bid on blind inventories; you should know where you are running, for brand safety purposes but to also ensure premium content environments. For that reason, it’s important to segment your audience and provide buyers with as much data as possible. 4.) Don’t Overlook Mobile  The behavioral capabilities of programmatic buying technologies are strongly linked to cookies. Which is a problem when it comes to mobile, since there are no cookies on mobile devices. Time on mobile increased 18% in 2019 compared to the previous year and 77% of all Internet time is spent on a Mobile device. This is why it’s important to adapt all creatives to mobile devices before starting your next digital ad campaign. 5.) Identify what ad formats are growing Video generates double the engagement that traditional banner ads generate but typically come at a higher price (CPM). Even interstitial ads (advertisements that temporarily take up an entire device’s screen) have average bidding prices that are 60% higher than those of banner ads. Banner ads are one of the cheapest inventory and most prevalent formats in digital media. In addition to their creative capabilities, new and more captivating ad formats like dynamic creatives, can be programmatically delivered to the user in real time. 6.) Maximize Impact with Optimizations One reason to consider digital is because of the real-time tracking and reporting capabilities, unlike anything in traditional media. These functions give you the data needed to determine if your campaign is successful and when to make changes.  Optimization is the real-time process of viewing and analyzing advertising campaign metrics, such as impressions, CTR or conversions and then making changes to the campaign in order to improve the results. The nature of print makes campaign optimization a long-term process, if not an impossible one. But in the online world, it’s not only feasible, it’s expected. So marketers must plan time and resources into the ongoing campaign for optimization. While there isn’t a golden rule for determining when the right time is for making changes to your campaign, the move to optimize should always be informed by metrics. To wrap up the presentation, the benefits of utilizing a media agency were covered; while these highlights may be bias coming from a Media Director, subject matter experts do add value and intangible benefits to an organization trying to get a handle on an ever-changing landscape.  

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