Content Marketing

Trust in Advertising is on the Decline – But Search, Social and Programmatic Still Deliver

By Content Marketing, Programmatic, SEO, Social Media No Comments

It’s no secret that consumer trust in advertising has been steadily declining in recent years. But, it’s not all bad news for brands as reports indicate consumers still trust some channels over others. For example, Nielsen’s Trust in Advertising study found that brand sponsorships are among the most trusted advertising sources among global consumers, yet most marketers don’t readily consider newer ad formats like brand integrations, sponsorships and product placements in their media planning. This is where programmatic strategies can help brands connect with customers by leveraging the built-in trust of these partner integrations.

The report also highlights how important digital channels have become from a marketing perspective, evidenced by significant increases in planned spending across search and social media.

Digital marketing channels are attractive because they drive sales in the current quarter, not the next and deliver real-time conversion metrics. Marketers surveyed by Nielsen believe search and social media are the most effective for their businesses.

Meanwhile, The Edelman Trust Barometer has shown that both trust and reputation are correlated with actual and intent to purchase, but that trust is in many ways the more powerful factor. For example, 61% of people globally say that a good reputation may get them to try a product; but unless they come to trust the company behind the product, they will soon stop buying it regardless of its reputation.

So, how can a brand improve its reputation and create the kinds of connections that convert?

According to Edelman, consumers most want Diversity, Authenticity, Transparency, Social Responsibility, Data Security, Valued Opinion and Purpose from brands.

Marketers can demonstrate these brand attributes through their message as well as the select channels and media outlets in which they place their programmatic ads. This can be amplified by additional content marketing through social media and search.

If you’d like assistance with your content strategy and how to best select the right channels in social, search and programmatic, give us a call. We are here to help.

The Rise of Cryptocurrency and Its Impact on Financial Brands

By Content Marketing, Uncategorized No Comments

With the rise of cryptocurrency, digital payments technology is forcing the financial system to change. Banks, which were once the biggest powerhouses that controlled the financial system and are starting to feel less powerful and want to regain control of valuable market share in an ecosystem that they once dominated. Crypto platforms like Coinbase and, to name a few are making billions from selling and managing Cryptocurrency, while banks and financial institution have been slow to adopt and left in the dust. 

It’s no surprise that the banks tried to regulate the cryptocurrency industry but failed. There are now more than 220 million global cryptocurrency users as of  June 2021 according to Research 

Things Have Changed

We live in a digital world. In years to come all assets are going to be in a digital format. With exponential growth of the number of people using cryptocurrency worldwide, if you can’t beat them join them. Banks are now scrambling to catch up and make a profit in this new financial ecosystem of digital currency, since more and more people and businesses around the world are embracing digital currencies at a rapid pace and even governments are getting involved because everyone knows there is serious money to be made. Even in the Caribbean, Jamaica is rolling out its central bank digital currency after a ‘successful pilot’ worth 230m Jamaican dollars, according to the Guardian,  the pilot for the country’s prototype central bank digital currency (CBDC) began in May 2021 and ended on 31 December 2021.

What Should Banks and Financial Institutions Do? 

The answer is simple. Get involved and get involved fast. Since we’re moving at a rapid pace, banks and financial institutions should get more involved in digital currency as quickly as they can. Currently, cryptocurrency is a threat to banks because it allows people to bypass banks for transfers, sales, and other purposes by connecting people instantly without an intermediary. If I wanted to transfer money to bank account using Coinbase or any other platform, the fee is much less than if I conducted the transaction with a bank. With Coinbase, you sell crypto instantly, pay a small fee and transfer money to PayPal for free – if you have connected your PayPal account.   

Some banks are starting to take Cryptocurrency seriously.

For example, look at what is happening with Bank of America, one of the largest US banks. Engineers at Bank of America filed the largest number of patent applications in the bank’s history, including hundreds involving digital payments technologies. This should serve as a wake-up call for other banks and financial institutions.

“The bank sees potential in blockchain, and we’re currently a leading patentholder in the space with more than 160 patents.”

Bank of America spokesman, Mark Pipitone, to the New York Times.

JP Morgan, also one of the largest banking institutions, introduced JPM coin which did not quite work out because it was tied to the dollar and now it is only used internally to transfer money and other assets between the banks.

Regulators, who were not ready for the surge in crypto currency are trying to create new rules that will control the use, which will probably be written to benefit them and give them a slight edge if regulation happens in the future.   

Now is the Time for Crypto Content

For banks and financial institutions that are curious about cryptocurrency, it may be worth testing the waters and spending time educating your employees, shareholders, and customers. Cryptocurrency can be volatile, especially during a pandemic and its reputation has been impacted by the rise and fall of Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency, as well as security concerns. However, there is great potential with Crypto, less red tape, and more transparency.

Now is the time to build out a strategy for your own cryptocurrency offering services and supporting content. Here are some of the crypto-driven initiatives financial institutions should consider:

  • Processing payments, loans, escrow service and facilitating international cash transactions via cryptocurrency.
  • Helping customers invest by developing online learning courses to advise on the types of crypto and earning potential.
  • Developing crypto-based growth assets and transactions. 

We recommend adding cryptocurrency to your content strategy to satisfy the information need and connect with customer searches. Another opportunity for banks is holding money i.e., digital wallets. There are some crypto whales that store a lot of money in different virtual wallets provided by non-banks. If the banking industry can figure out how they can offer a better, more secure service, there is an opportunity to surpass non-banks in this area.     

Additionally, banks could potentially invest in developing new tools that would help with the adoption of crypto by their current customers like ROI, etc., They could also offer interest-bearing crypto accounts, where customers could invest the crypto on the back end or through other financial tools.

Wrapping Up

Cryptocurrency is becoming an increasingly important trend for financial brands and payment processors, banks and financial institutions should continue to embrace cryptocurrency as most major retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Home Depot, and Costco will begin directly accepting cryptocurrencies as payment in the near future and major credit card companies, etc. Regulation will improve overtime and user adoption will continue to increase and banks should offer cryptocurrency services, including exchanges, savings accounts, and payment accounts which will become the new norm.

If you’d like assistance in developing a content plan that connects your brand to the cryptocurrency trend, let us know. We’re happy to help.

POV by Winston Burton, SVP, SEO.


How Neuromarketing Creates Connections and Conversions

By Brand Engagement, Content Marketing, Insights & News, Paid Media, Uncategorized No Comments

With customer data and AI driving digital engagement, brands need to take a human-first approach to create value through personalization and relevance. Enter neuromarketing.

What Is Neuromarketing?

Acronym’s VP, Integrated Media, Joanna Cohen is a neuroscientist and brand marketer. She explains,

“In its simplest sense, neuromarketing focuses on the psychology and brain physiology behind customer decision-making. Neuromarketing gives brands the ability to create more effective campaigns by understanding the way we perceive and process information. It helps us identify the emotional and perceptual triggers that are key to a customer’s decision-making and purchase process.”

How Does Understanding Neuromarketing Improve Brand Experiences?

The subconscious, specifically, emotion, plays a large role in influencing behavior. It can even change the way a certain brand, product or image is internalized in the brain. Most marketing strategies approach buying behaviors as a rational, conscious decision as illustrated below.

However, the human brain is much more motivated by emotions and the subconscious thought process, which is driven by the customer’s hopes and fears; their emotions and ego; their experiences and expectations; existing attitudes and beliefs (including social and political) and their behaviors. The process is actually more closely related to the below illustration.

Marketers and brands should take common emotional triggers into account when planning their digital campaigns. In fact, according to an IPA dataBank Study, marketing campaigns that focused on emotional drivers (the Feel, Think, Choose approach) were 31% effective as compared to campaigns that used the rational drivers (Think, Feel, Choose), which were only 16% effective.

How Can Brands Create an Emotional Connection with Customers?

So, if customers feel before they think and choose, how can brands tap into those emotions? The answer is visual imagery.

To begin with imagery is essential. Implicit memory, which is primarily visual, affects the way brands are perceived and this is encoded in our memories.

We’ve all heard the expression, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Consider that two-thirds of the stimuli reaching the brain are visual and about 80% of learning is visually based. In fact, facial signals are encoded in the brain and have a much more immediate effect on customers’ attitudes than words.

Brands can shape customer attitudes by tailoring perceptual cues through the use of color, image selection, wording – including font style and size – facial expressions seen in images, messaging sequence and storytelling. In other words, focusing on how the brain stores information and the psychology and physiology behind customer decision-making, brands can reach individuals across the customer journey with the right messaging.

The more brands understand how their customers make decisions, the better they can leverage insights about the brain and how it stores information to design memorable and effective marketing strategies that target both the conscious and the subconscious mind.

If you’d like to learn more about how neuromarketing can improve your digital marketing approach, contact us today.

POV by Joanna Cohen, VP, Integrated Media.

What is the Future of Social Media?

By Content Marketing, Insights & News, Social Media No Comments

Are hashtags as valuable as they once were? With all the endless noise in social media, can brands really get noticed online? What are future trends in the social media space?

On her live broadcast, Technology Revolution: The Future of Now, Bonnie D. Graham discusses these questions and more with:

blog on phone

Our Experts Explain How Instagram’s Algorithms Work So You Drive Better Engagement

By Content Marketing, Social Media No Comments

As part of its Creator Week event, Instagram provided insight into how its algorithms working, noting “they want to do a better job of explaining how Instagram works” so marketers can better engage with the right audiences online. The most significant takeaway shared is that there isn’t one universal algorithm, but, rather, separate algorithms for Feed & Stories, Explore and Reels.

Why is this important? 

Many people refer to “the Instagram algorithm” as one omniscient system. Insights like these help us understand how different parts of the platform work and how we can optimize to them: while the Feed/Story algorithm centers around contextual topic and interpersonal signals, the Explore algorithm centers more around topic clusters (they will show posts about a certain topic “without necessarily understanding what each post is about”); and the evolving Reels algorithm centers around content and creator popularity and heavily leverages surveys.

While leaning into key topics your brand may center around, (e.g. travel), will help you appear on the Explore feed of topic enthusiasts, this shows that brands need to think about their individual relationships with consumers to get on the coveted Feed and Stories placements.

It’s not enough for someone to follow you: they have to have a history of engagement with you. In fact, there are several key factors that drive the content visibility within Instagram.

#1: Interest

A customers’ Instagram feed isn’t only based on that customer follows, it’s also based on the accounts and types of posts that are of interest to that customer. When the Instagram algorithm thinks a person will “like” a certain type of post, that type of content will appear more often in that feed.

Basically, what your target audience sees in their Instagram feed is a combination of all of their Instagram behaviors, including their likes, tags, and – especially comments. This is why it is so important for brands to post consistently on Instagram.

#2: Relationship 

The Instagram algorithm prioritizes posts from the accounts your audience cares about. Thomas Dimson, a software engineer at Instagram, explains it this way, Instagram places a higher relevance on content from:

  • People whose content you like (possibly including stories and live videos)
  • People you direct message
  • People you search for
  • People you know in real life

#3: Timeliness

Not only does the algorithm pay attention to how much engagement your Instagram post gets, but it also looks at how long ago the photo was posted. Instagram’s algorithm cares about when you posted, because it always wants to serve you the latest, most interesting posts. This is a departure from the Facebook’s approach to timeliness in those feeds. You can find the best times to post on Instagram on another Acronym blog post here.

#4: Frequency 

This goes back to what we said about consistently posting on Instagram. Users who open the app more often will see a more chronological feed. Users who check the app less frequently will be served up content based on topic versus in chronological order. So, if you want to tell a specific brand story or connect with your customers around timely content, you should make sure you are posting often.

#5: Following

Instagram factors in each users’ following on the app. The more active your followers are, the more you will see their content and the more often your content will appear in their feeds. However, if you have inactive followers, Instagram will not rank your feed as high as brands with followers who regularly  engage with the app. So, you may want to conduct regular purges of your following to eliminate inactive accounts.

#6: Usage

If you spend a lot of time on Instagram, you’re going to see more posts as Instagram digs deeper into its analytics. If you spend enough time on Instagram, you can even run out of new content to see. Once this happens, the algorithm will serve you suggested content from new accounts — based on your previous usage.

What actions should brands take? 

Remember that engagement is king on the Feed, and think about how you can get someone to interact with your post, not just view it. So, post consistently with content that is of interest to your following and engage with your following through likes and comments. With social media, like everything else in life, you get out of it what you put into it.

If you’d like assistance in better leveraging Instagram or any social platform with paid and organic content, please contact us. We’re here to help.

The Potential Impact of Google Allowing Users to Opt-Out of Tracking

By Analytics, Content Marketing, Web Analytics No Comments

Ahead of an upcoming developer conference, Google announced it will let Android users opt out of being tracked by the apps they download from the Google Play Store. 

This move mirrors Apple’s roll-out of iOS 14, which gave consumers the option to opt out of tracking via the IDFA, or device identifier that tracks consumer behavior across apps. 

According to the announcement, this will be launched via a Google Play services update in “late 2021.” 

Why is this important?  

Since Apple’s iOS 14 announcement in 2020, advertisers have been waiting to hear how Google will respond to its competitor. With all three major smartphone players (iPhone, Android & Samsung) using either the Google Play Store or Apple Store, this means nearly all social media app users will have the option to disable tracking.  

Considering that more than half of all worldwide web traffic so far this year was generated via mobile devices, the option to disable tracking will significantly impact first-party data.  

What is the impact on brands? 

This update will further decrease audience size, bringing higher CPMs and less qualified targeting via website data, in the same way Apple’s iOS 14 does. However, the severity of this decrease will depend upon whether this switch will be automatically pushed to users, or if this switch is simply an option users will have to manually turn off in settings. 

What action should brands take? 

First party data will be the name of the game in this privacy-first era. We recommend brands continue to find ways to leverage and foster first-party audiences, whether by creating a newsletter that requires email, a Facebook Store where shoppers interact, or leveraging video ads that can track people who watch most of the video or engage with your ad. 

If you’d like help identifying the best approach for your brand and your specific audience, please contact us. Our experts are available to help.


POV by Acronym’s Paid Media Team

Learn how to stop selling and start helping with Acronym’s Mike Grehan & Emetrics Summit Founder Jim Sterne

By Content Marketing No Comments

If you’re looking to establish long-term relationships with your customers, tune in to SEMrush’s upcoming webinar, Understanding Intent: Stop Selling, Start Helping, with Acronym CMO Mike Grehan and eMetrics Summit Founder Jim Sterne.

Mike and Jim will discuss why the best advertising is emotional – not persuasive – and connects with consumers far earlier on the path to purchase. You’ll learn precisely how to identify and engage these consumers, as well as how to sustain the relationships. Hint: AI and machine learning are invaluable in helping map content to intent.

You’ll also have a chance to ask these industry heavyweights your own questions about brand building and making emotional connections.

It all takes place Wednesday, December 13 at 12 ET/9 PT.

Register for the event here.

Webinar: How to Use Customer Intent to Drive Content Strategy

By Archives, Content Marketing One Comment


Webinar_500x300On Dec. 3, Acronym, Conductor and Scotts Miracle-Gro held a webinar titled How to Use Customer Intent to Drive Content Strategy. It provided a detailed road map of how brand marketers are using their understanding of customer intent to drive content strategy and reveal gaps in content at the various stages along the path to purchase.

Moderated by Mike Grehan, Acronym’s Managing Director and Chief Marketing Officer, the webinar featured Ryan Pitcheralle, VP of Acronym’s Digital Center of Excellence; Joe Taylor, Manager of Customer Success at Conductor; and Larissa Livingston, Digital Marketing Manager at Scotts Miracle-Gro.

Scotts Miracle-Gro and other marketers are active proponents of Acronym’s See, Think, Do framework for understanding customer intent. Each day, using the most appropriate content, they engage with their largest addressable audience of potential customers (the See stage), along with those who are actively interested in a product or service (the Think stage) and, finally, the decision-focused crowd (the Do stage).

As Livingston explains in the webinar, for Scotts Miracle-Gro someone in the See stage could be planning a backyard party but not even remotely thinking about grass seed. Thus an effective search content strategy might incorporate the term “Fourth of July party ideas.” Once the party planner realizes that the quality of his lawn could be one component of a successful party, he could easily progress to the Think stage and want to know the difference between cheap and premium grass seed. Choosing the most appropriate seed quality happens in the Do stage.

According to Grehan, far too many marketers are solely focused on the Do stage—presenting content that seeks to create immediate transactions. By ignoring the See and Think stages, these companies are missing opportunities that more savvy competitors embrace with great content.

Among the webinar highlights are detailed graphics that explain:

  • How to develop content based on customer intent
  • How your content should align with user moments and intent stages
  • Matching customer personas to life moments
  • Mapping website pages to moments that matter
  • Mapping content to intent stages
  • Segmenting content pages
  • Setting the right KPI’s

Webinar attendance is free. To watch the presentation click here.



OPINION: With Permission-based Advertising, Ad Blocking is Irrelevant

By Archives, Content Marketing, Paid Search No Comments

By Zach Eberhart


If you’ve been on the web lately then you’ve probably heard that it has begun its slow (but sure) death. It was inevitable really, all technologies come and go, following their predetermined fate without fail along the well-blazed product life cycle.

If you haven’t been on the Internet, or if you’re just outside the sensationalist bubble that can be the digital marketing news space, then this news probably comes as a surprise. We beat SOPA, we helped the FCC vote in favor of net neutrality, even China, despite the Great Firewall, has double the amount of Internet users than we have people. So who is the culprit responsible for the web’s demise? Well, it’s none other than ad blocking.

Ad blocking has been around for a while. You download it, install it, and browse the web ad-free save a few “acceptable ads.” The benefits of using an ad blocker are vast: no popups, no auto-play ads, no pre-roll, faster load times, and increased privacy. The drawbacks? Besides the loss of being potentially introduced to a new product that you probably don’t need, not many. I’ve never personally used one and am surprised whenever I hear about other members of the advertising industry using it. I have, however, been very tempted recently due to the rise of full page ads, pre-content ads, ads that generate and expand in the white space between paragraphs of an article, and pretty much anything that dramatically reduces my experience. Head over to Forbes to witness all of this and more in one place — it’s infuriating.

Many others are tempted as well. Around the world, there are nearly 200 million active users of AdBlock (Plus), the most popular ad blocking software in use. What may be more frightening (to advertisers), is that the use of ad-blocking software is only beginning to reach mainstream use. In the past year, ad blocking grew by 48% and 41% in the U.S. and internationally, respectively. If it stays at the same rate, one out of every four American Internet users will be using an ad blocker by 2016.

This is terrifying to publishers, for whom most revenue relies on advertising — especially display. In fact, ad blocking is estimated to cost publishers close to $22 billion in 2015. That’s no small sum and everyone, even the largest, most profitable publishers, is feeling it. The New York Times, arguably the best publisher in the world, recently saw a 5.5% year-over-year drop in revenue. If the Times is hurting, imagine the smaller publishers that see 100% of their revenue coming from display advertising.

While I’m sure you’re now battling the urge to write a tear-soaked check to all of your favorite content producers, consider why we are in this situation to begin with. In the late Nineties, website owners faced the problem of decreasing CTRs and ad blindness, which consumers developed over years of browsing uniform websites. However, instead of developing more engaging, less intrusive advertising, publishers resorted to pop-ups, the complete opposite. And while pop-ups eliminated problems of ad blindness, they prompted silent cursing at monitors like few things before.

Fast forward two decades later and we find ourselves in a situation where some users are completely fed up with online advertising: robbing their favorite publishers of revenue, bent on blocking all ads rather than just the annoying ones. And blocking all ad content is exactly what Apple allowed app developers to do with iOS 9.

See, many people allege that AdBlock runs like a modern day extortion racket. Ads are blocked, large ad-tech firms see their bottom lines get a little closer to losing a figure or a comma, some backroom conversations are had, ad-tech firms write a check for an undisclosed amount, and then they find themselves on the “Acceptable Ads” list (paywall). Of course, users of AdBlock have the option to turn off the allowance of “Acceptable Ads,” but when it comes enabled as a default, most of the less savvy consumers don’t get around to it (perhaps purposefully allowing it to negate some of the moral implications of using an ad blocker).

Although many suspect this as the means which publishers are added to the “Acceptable Ads” list, AdBlock sympathizer PageFair is quick to cite a legal battle in Germany in which they proved the contrary. Winning the case by arguing that the majority of the advertisers are added to the whitelist for free, it is still hard to ignore the millions of dollars worth of payments that regularly come through in exchange for inclusion.

To read AdBlock’s side of the story, see this blog post its website.

But now, with the release of iOS 9, we are now seeing a whole host of ad blockers that don’t have a whitelist (yet). Meaning that all forms of advertising are blocked: Display, video, (dynamically inserted) native, and search. When Apple supported the development of ad blockers, it was essentially leaving a loaded gun unattended, with three of the potential targets being Google’s main revenue streams (GDN, YouTube, GSN).

Although deals are probably being negotiated as we speak, there’s always the chance that a popular ad-blocking app, either on mobile or desktop, doesn’t give in to the pressure of the large ad-tech firms that power most of the interwebs.

While one would think that all of this would lead to advertising that is more user-friendly, we find ourselves creeping toward the opposite direction. Verizon recently made headlines by purchasing AOL, and while many may have been surprised by the deal, those who understood where a large part of AOL’s revenue came from saw things quite clearly. With plans to create a mobile-first advertising platform, we’ll see the marriage of AOL’s ad-tech with Verizon’s access to one out of three American cell phone owners (and where they’ve been and what they do). Oh, the places you’ll go (and get served with a “relevant” advertisement)!

So what’s next? If we as marketers (and content producers) start thinking about why consumers are using ad blockers rather than how to get around them, we can prevent the slow and imminent death we have been so vehemently warned about. By focusing more on intent-based marketing and by serving advertising that is anticipated, relevant, and welcome (or useful), we not only end up with a happier customer, but we may even be able to avoid parties littered with disapproving head shakes accompanied with the head shaker’s personal critique of advertising. “Why does the ad from XYZ Company follow me everywhere? Don’t they know I don’t want the item??”

It’s obvious that something needs to be changed. Incentives are stronger than ever for consumers to use ad-blocking software, especially on mobile. After installing the app, pages load roughly four times faster, about half of the amount of data is used, and your battery lasts longer. Once consumers get a taste of what could be, it’s going to be even more difficult for them to go back to an ad-supported web. We need to take the focus away from “more data” and shift it towards “more welcomed.” And while we’ll see a rise in brands encouraging the usage of their app over the web (ad blocking on mobile currently only works in Safari) and in-app advertising (anyone else notice an increase in advertising on Instagram?), until the model for online advertising changes, the rally cry of “Adapt or Die” will only become louder. Ad blocking has become a vehicle of protest against what isn’t working. It’s our jobs as marketers to fix it.

Zach Eberhart is a PPC Strategist currently focused in the health vertical. With experience at startups, agencies, an analytics firm, and now a Fortune 100 client, he has seen all sides of digital marketing and is passionate about the practice. Zach is originally from the Philadelphia area, and after attending school at Northeastern University and moving to NYC has lived in all three major Northeast cities. While he loves PPC, he’d rather trade travel stories or talk about music and art events around the city.