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Going Native – The Benefits Of Native Advertising

Posted By Sing!, Tuesday 1 March 2016

This week, Sing! begin to dissect exactly what native advertising is, how it works, as well as who uses it, and why.


As the old saying goes, when in Rome do as the Romans do. Native advertising is all about adverts blending in with their surrounds. The advert no longer becomes the main focus of the content; however this does not make the advertising message any less powerful.

You may be familiar with sponsored posts on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr, to name a few. These sponsored posts are great examples of native advertising. It is important to remember that native advertising relies on the content being natural (native) and for people to see it more content based rather than advert based.

Plain and simple, native advertising is paid for advertising which is placed within content, thus bypassing a number of factors which would otherwise mean the advert would not be seen (ie. adblocking ad-ons, and apps). The main thing to remember with native adverts is that they offer a guaranteed way of promoting your content without being disturbed. Native advertising fits into the form of the content it is placed into so as not to distort and infringe on the user experience.


Native advertising is one of the cleverest forms of advertising out there, but how exactly does it work? Well the answer is simple … by pretending it is something that it’s not. The most important thing to remember with native advertising is that content is king. Our friends over at Facebook know this better than anyone. I present to you my very own Facebook newsfeed.

Right here nestled neatly between an update from Other Voices, and a Happy Birthday wish to one of my Facebook friends we have a nice example of sponsored content (one of the main tools of native marketing). Note how the ad beautifully blends in with its surroundings. Note how it completely distances itself from the other adverts on the site. Note how, as you scroll through your social media newsfeed, you don’t even need to glance to the side in order to be advertised to.

The fact of the matter is that these adverts appear throughout your social media newsfeed on a very regular basis, and you probably don’t even bat an eye lid. Why would you, it blends in with its surroundings so well, and as a result you will be joining the  other 49% of consumers who have never heard of native advertising.

The IAB categorises native advertising into three categories. Firstly, discovery/recommendation units, where the content is effectively sponsored in the form of a short tag below it, normally stating “sponsored by, recommended by…” Here the advert is integrated into the webpage, however it does not go into stealth mode and hide among the actual editorial content.

Secondly, we have the adverts which are mixed in with the rest of the content. These adverts do not link off the page in which they are on, but rather advertise through the content they are putting forward. These ads come in two categories. Paid for content/sponsored content, and sponsored content area. The only difference between these two is that paid for content/sponsored content is written in a partnership between the advertiser and the publisher, and sponsored content area can be written by either.

Thirdly, in feed – advertiser controlled. My Facebook screenshot from above is a great example of this, and this type of advertising generally links to a new page.


Native advertising is used by all companies big and small. As ad blockers, and other consumer habits begin to infringe on the impact of banner adverts, native advertising is powering ahead. In actual fact, consumers are 25% more likely to look at a native advert than they are a banner, and they are 53% more likely to engage with the advert. They also check native adverts out 4.1 times per session compared to 2.1 times for banner ads.

Consumers are also considerably more likely to share a native advert than they are a banner advert (32% versus 19%) and showed 18% more purchase intent after viewing them. With this in mind the real question isn’t who uses native advertising, but rather who should be using native advertising, and the answer is any company wanting to increase their market reach.

Further to the increased engagement that we can see from the figures above, there is also a lot to be said for the “stealth-like” approach with which native adverts conduct themselves. This “stealth-like” approach is actually so good that some 49% of consumers have never even heard of native adverts, with only a meagre 3% claiming to be very knowledgeable on the topic. The less people are viewing content as advertising, the more powerful, and valuable the content is.


As native advertising begins to take centre stage the big question that needs to be asked is to what extent this type of advertising actually works. There are numerous statistics on what both marketers and consumer think about native advertising, however in reality the only true mark of whether or not, or rather to what extent, native advertising works is through cold, hard facts.

So here they are:

  • On average 65% of media agencies produce between 1 to 10 native advertising campaigns per month for each of their clients.
  • Content marketing costs largely relate to the scope of the project being produced.
    When looking at Buzzfeed’s (a forerunner in native) campaign for Intel, it produced 12,481 social shares.
  • In 2016 the spend on native advertising is expected to be 13.9 billion US dollars up from 10.7 billion in 2015.

The output figures for native advertising campaigns are high, but as the old saying goes, you get out what you put in and larger budgets inevitably result in a larger return.

On top of a massive reach, a native advertising campaign can also align a company with the right image. When a company aligns itself with a social media “influencer” this can result in a certain image being evoked. Depending on your preference, your brand image can change for the better with the right newspaper, celebrity, or internet blogger promoting it.

This post was originally published on


Sing! is a performance digital marketing agency which focuses on improving sales performance through digital channels. Our team combines digital marketing strategists and specialists. We make sense of the bewildering array of digital marketing tactics and technologies to select the right ones to meet your business challenges head on and help you achieve your growth ambitions. Our goal is to see businesses prosper from the selection of business relevant digital marketing options.


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The Use Of Video In Social Media

Posted By Vizeum, Tuesday 16 February 2016

Video has been the absolute golden child for social media content over the past 18 months. However make no mistake that when producing video content there are major factors to consider even before creating a content strategy.

  • Who is your audience, what platforms are they on?
  • How will the platform affect the content you create?
  • How are you going to measure it?
  • How can you innovate and break boundaries?

On top of this there are some hard hitting home truths that as marketers we must stand up to, face and at then end of the day accept. These are, your content is not likely to be viral, so invest in amplification, and secondly with 27M pieces of content being created daily, content is short lived and disposable. Don’t rely on one piece of artistry that needs to fill your content calendar for a year.

When looking at who your audience is and what platforms they live on, we must be data informed. Look at owned 1st party data from your social page analytics, google analytics and CRM data you have. You can also inform your content through social listening tools, Global Web Index Reports, think with Google and things like YouTube leaderboard.

Once audience and platform have been identified we must then examine what native content looks like on that platform. For example people spend longer watching a video on YouTube over Facebook.

With YouTube and Facebook we know that the most action must occur in the first three seconds, a big trend for 2016 is that brand content needs to be visually based and not dependent on audio, as the majority of content is consumed when people are out and about, e.g. commuting to work, standing in a queue, some brands are now even choosing to add subtitles to their video content.

Twitter is more of a real-time platform, and the nature of how you scroll through tweets means video needs to be short and concise. Instagram has limitations of 15 second videos and Vine with 6. How we use and measure value on Snapchat is the question on every marketers lips, however one thing is for certain, anything we do with it must be done in real-time. Other real-time video platforms that are growing in scale are Meerkat and Periscope. Go-Pro have just announced their partnership with Periscope, so users can live stream direct from their camera to their iPhones.

One piece of video content that we are all huge fans of in Vizeum is a short film created by Johnny Walker called the “gentleman’s wager”. It lives solely on YouTube, insight into their audience, choosing the right platform, and targeted amplification shows incredible results with nearly 12 million views. Of course, the fact that Jude Law stars in it definitely helps.

This article was originally published on


Vizeum is a global communications planning & media buying network, created for the new era of media. A convergent world where consumers and content come together, in real time, on platforms and devices. A global world massively impacted by digital and technology, totally reshaping the environment that brands and people live in.


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Strong Consumer Economy Growth Back To 2007 Levels - Latest CMM

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Monday 15 February 2016

New findings from the quarterly Consumer Market Monitor (CMM), published today by The Marketing Institute of Ireland and UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, show that consumer spending is making a significant contribution to Ireland’s economic growth. 

This report, covering quarter four of 2015 and also providing a review of the full year, highlights the recovery in consumer spending and its reflection of the “pent up demand” from rapidly growing sales of “big ticket” items – new cars, homes and home furnishings, electrical goods and other consumer durables. 


Consumer spending looks set to keep an upward trajectory this year and for the foreseeable future - driven by figures of 1.98 million people currently at work, up by 158,000 since the low point in 2012, and the evidence suggests that pay increases of about 2% were common in 2015, and likely to happen again in 2016.

These factors led to a remarkable increase in the amount of disposable income that is circulating in the economy. Gross disposable income increased by an estimated 7.5% in 2015, an increase level not seen since the boom times.  

Increased consumer confidence was also seen in the sales of new cars which were up 30% on 2015. Lower fuel prices have also helped, as will the reductions in tax and social charges coming through in January 2016.

Retail sales are also improving significantly; sales volume rose by 3.7% in 2014 and this upward trend accelerated in 2015, with sales volume up by 6.2%. All retail categories got a boost in recent quarters, and the evidence suggests that 2016 is delivering sales growth for most retailers. 

Sales of services have also been strengthening, up 4.1% for the year 2014, and up by 5.8% for 2015. 

Sales of household goods have been particularly notable, most notably furniture and lighting up by 19%, electrical goods up 10%, and hardware, paints and glass up 5%. 

However, the appetite for home improvements has not been matched by property sales. There were approximately 42,400 residential properties sold in 2015, up by just 6% on 2014, suggesting that tighter lending rules are holding back house purchases. The number of new mortgages issued in 2015 was also muted, up 19% year-on-year for a total of 22,767, indicating that cash buyers still account for more than 50% of transactions. 

The indicators are that the consumer economy is now growing strongly, with all types of spending increasing, apart from fuel. In sum, consumer spending is now back to a level of about €90 billion, close to the previous peak in 2007. Before we start to fear a new bubble building, however, we need to remember that a normal healthy market would have grown in the interim years, so we should probably be at a level of between €100 and €110 billion by now without the recession. This suggests that we still have some way to go to get back on track in the consumer economy.  

Consumer confidence in Ireland is now well ahead of the last peak in 2007, and also well ahead of our European neighbours.


Household disposable income rose by 3% in 2013, the first increase since 2008, and continued to grow through to 2014 and 2015, but at a faster rate - this increase exceeding the growth rates of the Celtic Tiger era.


Borrowing by Irish consumers grew at a record level from 2000 onwards and peaked in March 2008 at €150 billion, but has declined steadily since then, down 39% from 2008 to €92 billion in Q3 2015. Household debt is reducing at a rate of about 2.8% per annum. The figures show that lending to Irish households fell again in Q4, while deposits rose sharply.  

The rate at which Irish households have reduced their debt is quite remarkable, surpassing most other countries – with household debt as a percentage of income having decreased by 33%.


Sales of new cars experienced a major turnaround in 2014, with 92,361 units sold, a 30% increase on the previous year. This buoyancy continuing through 2015, with 121,110 new private cars licensed, a rise of 31% for the year. Sales of second hand cars are also thriving, with almost 950,000 transactions in 2015, which was up 8% on 2014.

Retail sales excluding the motor trade are also improving; sales volume rose by 3.7% in 2014 while value increased by 1.5% indicating a significant upturn in activity. Retail sales growth accelerated further in 2015, with volume up by 6.7% in Q4, year-on-year, and value up 3.3%.

All product categories except fuel experienced growth in Q4 2015. Most remarkable is the significant growth displayed by sectors that have been particularly weak throughout the recession, such as bars and newsagents. In summary: 

  • Food sales up 4.5% in volume and up 3.3% in value; 
  • Non-specialised stores (supermarkets) up 4.8% in volume and 3.6% in value; 
  • Fuel down -2.0% in volume and down -10.8% in value;
  • Clothing, footwear & textiles up 7.4% in volume and 4.1% in value; 
  • Household equipment up 10.1% in volume and 6.1% in value;
  • Department stores up 8.8% in volume and 5.6% in value;
  • Pharmaceuticals and cosmetics up 7.4% in volume and 3.7% in value;
  • Bar sales up 5.8% in volume and up 6.4% in value.
  • Books, newspapers, stationery up 1.3% in volume and 2.8% in value; 

Overall, retail sales are back on a strong growth path, getting stronger in each successive quarter of 2015. This positive momentum bodes well for continuing growth through the rest of 2016 and into future years, reflecting the broad-based strengthening of the economic fundamentals in the Irish consumer market.

Mary Lambkin, Professor of Marketing, UCD Smurfit School, and one of the authors of the Monitor, said: “Consumer spending accounts for over 50% of GNP in Ireland and is a critical factor in driving recovery in the economy. The level of consumer spending is fundamentally dependent on the amount of disposable income circulating, and this has increased significantly in the last year as a result of more people at work. In fact, the increase in disposable income last year was back to the sort of level that we have not seen since the Celtic Tiger years. This increase in incomes, together with greater availability of credit, is leading to accelerated spending on many categories of goods and services."

Tom Trainor, Chief Executive, The Marketing Institute, said: “Despite massive national debt and a shaky banking system, it is great to see consumer confidence reaching its highest level in a decade, as this is driving spending which is in turn enabling many businesses to grow and expand employment.”




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Digital Customer Experiences: Can Machines Make An Emotional Connection?

Posted By Inga Ryan,, Friday 12 February 2016

Customer experience includes those experienced through a digital interface. Researching a product online, using a mobile app to find a store’s nearest location, searching for tech support information on a smartphone—are all digital customer experiences. 

Irish people the world over excel in making emotional connections. However, bringing consistent humanisation to digital interactions appears to be a major challenge for Irish business. This doesn’t have to be the case. 

Achieving a personalised interface is critical to making an emotional connection and can be done in a similar way to face to face interactions. It involves building relationships. Like with any relationship this takes time. 

The first step is to give an impressively reliable and intuitive digital experience and so win customer confidence. Gaining this confidence is important so we can then ask questions and the information garnered allows us to segment and personalise each future interaction. research found that people expect seamless online experiences. They are reassured when they receive confirmation of order emails and further notification when goods are dispatched and an estimated time of arrival. We discovered that the reverse is also true, if you fail to take these steps customers are not only likely to complain but also to advocate against your brand.

Irish business generally considers digital as a stand alone business channel with its own objectives, which are dealt with separately and not as part of the overall picture. It asks “how can the use of technology save us money and increase efficiencies?” This results in siloed thinking whereas a holistic approach is needed. In the USA the approach is different and business asks itself “What can we do to give the customer what s/he wants and delight them, on all channels?” This leads to a cohesive, relevant omni-channel experience, resulting in ease of use and happy customers.

Retail is an obvious area in need of better online platforms. Over 75% of Irish online purchases are spent abroad which emphasizes the importance of optimal online engagement. Most supermarkets and retailers have a fairly basic online proposition and we have a lot to learn in this area. recommends we learn from those who do it brilliantly. For starters we must engage with customers via social media and respond to customer queries and complaints quickly.  Online CX experts use photographs and video or live TV to make the experience feel real. Their interface is streamlined, intuitive and easy to use. They develop a tone of voice that reflects who they are and what they stand for. They collect customer data and segment it to make suggested offerings relevant to each individual. 

Before all this we need to get the basic offering right. 


With one click on their website you know that they can give you what you are looking for. There are visual windows to every department. Their Community section with live cookery and cosmetics demonstrations offer advice which feels like a cosy chat with a friend. They also offer a deferred payment option which is very tempting when you see that special something!


Rabo Direct has a consistently friendly conversational tone of voice over all of their platforms, and it works. This is especially effective in the banking industry, where technospeak is the norm. Irish consumers consider the Rabo Direct website “Quick and easy to use”, “very straight forward” and they are “Reassured by immediate email confirmations when they make a transaction”. It doesn’t take much to stand out in this way and yet it makes a big difference. It’s interesting that even though their platforms are telephone or online, they are considered to be a “great bunch”. No queues mean that customers feel looked after. 


Amazon leverages their “machine experience” predictions brilliantly. They seem to know more about customer needs than the customer herself does (!) and their digital communications feel human. Consumer are relieved to have Amazon taking the onus of thinking ahead to what they need and want and they know the suggestions are relevant because, after all, predictions are based on their own preferences. But these predictions are the result of much research and data analysis.


With family membership each individual has a login under their own name and TV shows are recommended to each individual.  Not only is this a comfort to a parent but also gives a sense of ownership to younger family members. 

The above is a snapshot of tools that will help create an emotional connection with your customer. It is critical that Irish business exploit this facet of digital engagement in a world where consumers demand more and more instant gratification.


Inga Ryan runs is a community of likeminded professionals tasked with achieving CX excellence within their organisations. We provide services including consumer research (resulting in the CX Ireland 2015 Report), customised CX debriefs, the annual CX festival, networking opportunities and a resource library.


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The Marketing Institute & Edelman Social Media Survey

Posted By the Marketing Institute & Edelman, Wednesday 3 February 2016

The Marketing Institute of Ireland and Edelman Ireland have partnered to produce the 2nd Annual Social Media Survey. 

This survey aims to identify Irish marketing professionals attitudes and behaviours towards incorporating Social Media into their marketing strategies.

The survey is open to all marketing professionals in Ireland and only takes a minute to complete. All respondents will automatically be entered into a draw to win a luxury Afternoon Tea for two at one of Dublin’s finest hotels.



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