Video Ads: Has Facebook Gone Too Far?

facebook: the high price of video ads


Facebook is changing, once again. But this time it might be too annoying for its user-base to deal with. The idea of jumping on the video bandwagon is a popular one, especially to connect with the under-30 demographic; but instead of users sharing videos for entertainment, Facebook plans for these videos to be advertisements that will run on each user’s homepage. Are you ready for this new adjustment?

The Inner Workings of Smart Phone Applications 101: Mobile Navigation Toggling

 Smart phone apps.  Everyone has them and spends WAY too much time using them, whether one is tweeting coworker Jenny’s ill-informed comment, posting that awesome dinner on Instagram, making last minute modifications to that all important fantasy football team, liking a status on Facebook, snapchatting “selfies” to everyone and anyone, checking breaking news or crushing the competition in Candy Crush, the list goes on forever.  It doesn’t take much knowledge to know how to use them, but it does require extensive practice to slickly build them. 

Like websites and computer programs, smart phone applications are designed through common coding sets like Javascript, hypertext markup language (more affectionately known as HTML) and cascading style sheets (more affectionately known as CSS).  If you don’t know what these are, the Internet is littered with extensive and well-explained descriptions of these coding techniques.  This blog post is designed to narrow it down and apply these “languages” to smart phone apps.  So, on today’s edition of intern Brian’s EFK Group blog, we’ll be briefly looking at one of the hottest trends in smart phone app coding (I know, I know, smart phone app coding isn’t the coolest thing ever, but it’s important): mobile navigation toggling.

My guess is you have no idea what mobile navigation toggling is.  Trust me, you’ve seen it and use it essentially every time you open an app.  You know those three horizontal bars on the top left corner of the Facebook app and many other popular ones?  Yup, that’s mobile navigation toggling!

Mobile navigation toggling allows for a slick drop down menu to appear without it being invasive of any other features of the application.  Most applications have a symbol, like the ever popular three horizontal bars, that once clicked will slide the home page out of the way to allow for the aforementioned menu to appear.  The menu will conveniently and cleanly display the options to click on, which once touched will either push the rest of those options down to give way to the more options or link you to another page.

This feature has been frequently added to applications over the past few months.  What separates the application from its competitor is its UDX, or user design experience, which is a vital concept in the modern world of technology. Mobile navigation toggling enhances the UDX by making it easier for the user to access necessary information and features.  It also makes the application slicker and quicker to navigate through, just by simply moving one screen out of the way to allow for its counterpart to appear. 

If you want to learn how to do this, you’re going to have to start with essentials first (see:  second paragraph, first sentence.)  In the meantime, share this blog on Facebook, retweet it, post it to Instagram (no filter!), snapchat it (captioned as: Great, informational and fun read!) and film you’re YouTube reaction (Hey, I needed one more app to finish off the sentence)!


By Brian Link

Have You Caught it? Viral Marketing, That Is.

A new – well, relatively new – form of ad campaign is the viral advertisement. If you’re unfamiliar with the terminology, “viral” basically means anything on the internet (usually a video or a photo or a meme) that catches on and spreads like wildfire for some reason. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s bizarre, sometimes it’s disturbing – but it’s always memorable.

It’s no surprise that advertisers have caught on to the popularity of these types of videos, and started creating their own viral campaigns. If they’re good, viewers can hardly tell they’re created by a brand or company – or they won’t care. On the other hand, sometimes a viral video is an advertisement by accident. Here are a few examples of both types which I think are successful or just generally awesome.

1) Extreme Sheep LED Art - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2FX9rviEhw

A promo for Samsung’s new LED television, this video shows a group called the “Baastuds” (get it?) comprised of sheep herders in Wales. They attach little vests made of different colored LED lights to the sheep and then herd them into different formations – fireworks, Pong, the Mona Lisa. You may have to suspend disbelief for a bit – it’s an awesome video but it becomes 10 times more awesome if you pretend the sheep are actually doing all this.

2) Mattress Dominoes – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndYxBQXhNjI

UK mattress company Bensons for Beds attempted the world record for “mattress dominoes” – employees lined up, holding onto mattresses – basically what you’d imagine. While not as impressive as the sheep – at least this one is real. And I mean, how often does a mattress company get this kind of attention? I’d say it’s a win for this company. Plus, we like to watch people do weird stuff and fall down.

3) The Man Your Man Could Smell Like – http://www.youtube.com/user/OldSpice

Old Spice has made headlines with its Old Spice Guy campaign – commercials and tons of videos on YouTube have reintroduced the brand to a younger generation. The ads are fun, clever and amusing, and Old Spice have really utilized the social media channels. Most recently, they created tons of actual response videos to other YouTubers, one including a wedding proposal! We don’t really care that it’s obvious these are being created as advertisements – because the Old Spice guy is so darn likable.

4) Bros Icing Bros – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/24/bros-icing-bros-smirnoff_n_6061...

I’m linking to an article about this one, because the actual website has been shut down. Bros Icing Bros is a viral campaign that revolves around the drinking game in which Bro 1 hands Bro 2 a Smirnoff malt beverage, and Bro 1 must drink it in one go, while down on one knee. Unless however, Bro 1 is already holding one, then Bro 2 must drink both beverages. The game became incredibly popular, with bros across the nation posting videos to YouTube and photos to Facebook and Twitter of their Icing escapades.

There was a lot of speculation as to whether this was a very sneaky campaign devised by Smirnoff, but those rumors have since been put to rest by the company. It’s not surprising (that they would not want to be affiliated with something that promotes binge drinking) but you have to admit, this viral video probably did wonders for the brand. Besides just spreading the Smirnoff name, it increased the brand’s popularity with a demographic to which does not usually appeal – the Bro. Even though the game is based on the fact that Smirnoffs are “girly” drinks, the Bros are buying them!

So what are your favorite viral videos? Advertisements or otherwise. Let us know!

Stop, Look (Collaborate?) And Listen

I may be in the minority with this one, but I am one of those people who reads every bit of an instruction manual or directions before diving into the assembly of this or that product. Many (if not most) people tend to forego these things in favor of trusting their own inherent capabilities for putting together a bookshelf or installing a cable box or cooking dinner. And of course, ignoring the directions does not always result in dire consequences, but more often than not, the process would have been more efficient had you listened to the instruction manual.

Listening (or reading) is not only important for building a piece of furniture that doesn’t fall apart when you try to use it, but also for building a brand that has staying power. Seems obvious, no? But actual listening involves a lot more than you may think. For example:

1) As if I haven’t reiterated it enough, brands/businesses/agencies need to jump on the social media bandwagon – this is not news. But it’s not sufficient to just join all of these websites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, etc. Each one is different and comes with its own set of instructions and social etiquette. You wouldn’t post the same sort of update to Twitter as you would to Facebook and DEFINITELY not to LinkedIn.

In order to create a professional, polished and on-brand personality for your business using social media, it’s important to feel it out first. READ what types of things others in your industry are Tweeting, search for guidelines to using social media (do’s and don’t’s), LISTEN to what topics are popular in order to Tweet about relevant issues and therefore attract more traffic. Do some research like this before mindlessly Tweeting or Facebooking in order to avoid social media faux pas.

2) Another issue that’s near beaten to death is that a shift in media is currently happening. Old news, true, but we’re still figuring out all the repercussions for businesses in the industry. A definite consequence, however, is that the way companies (namely advertisers, marketers, etc.) interact with consumers and the public in general is changing. TV advertising is giving way to internet and viral marketing, and consumers are provided with many more outlets for discussing (and criticizing) products and advertisements.

On the one hand, this open discussion makes it easier for consumers to “see through” ad campaigns and not blindly believe whatever promises commercials make them. While this may seem threatening to some (read: lame!) ad agencies, it actually offers so much opportunity for companies to grow, adapt to the times, and LISTEN to their audience. So much is accessible via the internet – consumer discussion on blogs, news websites, message boards, Google alerts set up to notify you when your brand is being talked about, Twitter hashtags – businesses have a wealth of opinions at their disposal on these websites. By reading and listening to what people are saying about their brand, or about what they’re interested in, or about what ad campaigns they love/hate, an agency can be more effective and, ultimately, successful.

So, to sum up, listen, listen, LISTEN. Most people are bad at it. It’s the truth. They’re constantly thinking of what to say next (or, in terms of advertisers, how to scream their message louder.) But some practice, and a little patience for doing research can (and will) go a long way.

Advertising Vs. Social Media - Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Reading an article today, and though it’s about a year old (might as well be a decade, at the rate technology is changing at the moment) about the inherent antithesis of the advertising industry and social media. I hadn’t really thought about it in that way – but to be honest I hadn’t really given much thought to using platforms like Twitter and Facebook as a business, rather than as personal amusement at the self-indulgent status updates and blog posts of my former high school classmates.

However, I’ve already learned a lot more in a week about how and why a business should use social media. At first (and, admittedly, somewhat still) I felt completely overwhelmed by the idea of SOCIAL networking. I have enough anxiety about being social in actual real life, and now you’re telling me I have to be social on the internet, too?! I have to reach out to random people and COMMENT on other people’s tweets?!

Anyway, how this relates to what I was saying is the fact that social media is SOCIAL – it’s a two way street for a business. Sure, you get to choose what content you post and what you decide to talk about. But you can’t make people follow you on Twitter or friend you on Facebook. (Actually, I heard you can ‘buy’ Facebook fans. How bizarre…) So you have to do more than just vomit out information – you have to listen, too, to what people are saying in your area of interest, so that you know what will be well-received and what customers are looking for. Your success with social media, sure, it depends a lot on you BUT, again, it’s a two-way dialogue.

Here’s where this is so different/difficult for ad agencies. Advertising is not exactly known to be a very conversational concept – it’s more like shouting or telling or convincing. Jason Falls writes in a social media explorer article, “An agency’s creatives and strategic planners suddenly having to factor in listening and observing to their communications process after decades of just shouting from the roof tops presents a seismic culture shift.” Social media involves building relationships with consumers/clients/potential clients, not just touting your product. Basically, what’s traditionally familiar for ad agencies in terms of interacting doesn’t really translate well to social media.

Clearly though, its not to say that it’s impossible for ad agencies to embrace social media – exactly the opposite. (I mean, look at us! Clearly we’re amazing at it.) They just need to – surprise – learn to change the way they’re approaching this new media. Social media is about making connections and being HUMAN…not just a big bad business.

Why Facebook? We’ll Tell You Why

Is anyone not on facebook these days?? Didn't think so… It seems to me that if you want to get in touch with someone the best way has become to write on their wall. Facebook now has over 400,000,000 active users, and if they’re anything like me, they can barely go an hour without checking their page! So how can a business use this new obsession to promote themselves? I have a few basic safe steps to take in order to connect with users, and a few ways that are for those companies not afraid to take risks.

The basic ways to connect are pretty obvious; the first way is to start a fan page that features your logo and a brief description of the company. The next step to this would be to have your company employees become fans, and then make page suggestions to all of their friends to become fans as well. The wall of your page should consist of interesting content that is relevant to your field and at the same time relates to your fans. It would be a wise idea to also send messages to your fans, updating them with the latest company happenings and thanking them for their support. The final step is to post big announcements on your fan page, such as the signing of a new client or creation of a new event; this will allow your fans to track your success.

The previously mentioned ways to connect are all effective and safe… But what fun is it being safe? Let’s take some risks! At this point every company should already have a facebook fan page, and should be doing all of the things I have listed in the previous paragraph. The next few ways to connect will allow your company to cut through the clutter. My first suggestion would be to post photos of your employees (with their permission of course), and by this I don’t mean cheesy real estate headshots! I mean real photos from around the office or at company events. Take pictures of Tom from accounting winning the company wing eating contest, or Dolores blowing out the candles at her office birthday celebration; this will give your company a face and will allow your fans to relate to it. Another way to connect to your fans is to ask them questions on facebook. If you are working on something for an ice cream company, why not ask them their favorite flavor of that brand? It is a quick and fun way to interact with your fans, while also getting one of your client’s products on their mind. To take it a step further, you can also ask them to submit photos of themselves eating their favorite ice cream flavor and turn it into a contest for the best fan photo!

Anything that will let your fans invest in your company will only strengthen your connection to them. My final way to connect is to tag your fans. What I mean by this is, if you want your fans opinion it’s as easy as tagging and asking them. For example, if you have been working on a new design or promotional video, why not tag your fans in it and in the caption tell them to post what they think? Who isn’t going to look at a video or picture they have been tagged in? No one… congratulations you just got the hardest part out of the way, they are already looking at it! Now they have read the caption asking them to give their opinion, and since they are already there they might as well respond. These last few ways are a little different from the conventional ways to market yourself on facebook, but where has conventional ever gotten anyone? Try these steps out and let me know how it worked for you! Post your comments on the EFK Group facebook fan page and follow us on twitter @EFKGROUP!