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Instagram Rolls Out New In-App Post Scheduling Tools

By Paid Media, Social Media, Uncategorized No Comments

Instagram is rolling out its new in-app post scheduling tools to all professional accounts in the app. The new option enables brands to schedule photos, carousels and Reels directly in the app, as much as seventy-five days in advance.

Here is how you can schedule Reels:

  • In the creation flow, tap ‘Advanced Settings’ before sharing the post
  • Tap ‘Schedule this post’
  • Select the time and date you want it to go live
  • Tap ‘Schedule’ in the post composer

Functionally, this doesn’t add anything new as users have been able to schedule posts via Creator Studio since 2020

But it could make it easier to manage your content on the go, and with the ability to schedule Reels so far in advance, this feature could help you maximize your content performance.

Instagram says that the option is rolling out from today, so if you don’t have it yet, you will shortly.

As usual, if you have any questions on how to get the most out of Instagram or any other media platform, please contact us today. We are here to help.

The Digital Marketing Trends Shaping New Customer Experiences

By Brand Engagement, Content Marketing, Insights & News, Social Commerce, Uncategorized No Comments

It can be increasingly challenging to keep up with digital marketing trends as they change so quickly.

To help marketers and digital leaders navigate this new landscape, we’ve identified the key trends to help you improve engagement and drive conversions this year.

1. SOCIAL MEDIA TRENDS

TikTok Will Continue to Grow & Brands Need to Take it Seriously

The rapid rise of TikTok has seen the app reach 1 billion users and counting. The platform has enormous engagement (U.S. users spend up to 850 hours a month on the platform) and enables brands to create hyper-personalized content that truly connects with customers.

In terms of the platform’s revenue, TikTok was the top-earning non-game app in 2021 with more than $110 million spent by users. This just shows the earning potential of the app for marketers looking to drive sales amongst young consumers. 

The Next Big Digital Marketing Trends in 2022

Influencers have also played a role in TikTok’s rise with many earning huge amounts through sponsorship deals. Battisby believes that brands are now taking notice of influencer marketing on the platform.

In the platform’s early days, it seemed to be a place for kids and teens and the influencer who want to reach them. But, today, we are seeing influencers like Gordon Ramsey and financial influencers like @johnefinance and @breakyourbudget who help GenZers learn about planning for their financial futures.

Social Commerce Will Become Seamless

During the pandemic, social commerce took off and is expected to reach $1.2 trillion globally by 2025 according to an Accenture study – a growth that’s three times faster than traditional ecommerce, aided by hashtags like #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt.

2022 is set to see the experience of social shopping evolve as platforms work behind the scenes to enable customer payments without leaving social media apps, creating a seamless customer experience. Gen Z and Millennials are predicted to be the biggest spenders as they will account for 62 percent of global social ecommerce revenue by 2025.

The Next Big Digital Marketing Trends in 2022

The key to driving engagement is for brands to create compelling shop windows on Instagram. It’s no longer enough to rely on one great image, companies need to have multiple images per product and add keyword-rich descriptions. Video is also crucial as the popularity of the format  – as witnessed by TikTok’s growth and Instagram’s recent transition – is exploding across all audiences. 

YouTube Advertising Will Explode

YouTube is going to explode in terms of investment from advertising in 2022. As more people move away from linear TV, fragmentation with subscriptions, and streaming services all means that more advertising spend is going to move to YouTube.

Last year YouTube’s global revenue (through its parent company Alphabet) grew to nearly $29 billion, up almost 46 percent from 2020. This level of revenue puts the social media platform on par with Netflix and is a result of the rise in more traditional TV advertisers on the channel, direct response ads, and brand advertising.

The Next Big Digital Marketing Trends in 2022

2. DIGITAL MARKETING JOB TRENDS IN 2022

Marketers Need to Upskill in Digital

As brands clamor to engage, promote, and convert successfully online, the need for digital talent across industries is intense.

A recent whitepaper, ‘Perpetual Evolution’, from The Economist Group, revealed that securing talent with the right skill set is the number one challenge that the digital marketing industry faces, while the lack of training to upskill marketers ranks seventh.

The Next Big Digital Marketing Trends in 2022

This demand is great news for marketers but poses a challenge for many in the industry who lack digital know-how or experience in digital marketing. So what digital marketing skills will be in demand in 2022? Social media skills remain in high demand, along with SEO and SEM.

The Next Big Digital Marketing Trends in 2022

The Digital Gig Economy is on the Rise

Over the past decade, many workers are pursuing a more flexible ‘gig’ lifestyle for their professional lives. The emergence and rise of online services and apps such as Airbnb and Deliveroo have offered new ways of working for people rather than a 9 to 5 traditional job.

In fact, according to a recent Mastercard study, half of the U.S. population will do gig work by 2028.

This gig economy opens up the door for marketers with in-demand skills. We are seeing more creative or digital marketing professionals choosing the digital nomad route as this enables them to dictate their own working hours and have flexibility.

3. DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY TRENDS IN 2022

The Metaverse Will Become a Marketer’s Playground

While it has existed and evolved for years, the metaverse saw a boost in interest after Facebook changed its parent company’s name to Meta in October 2021.

This move, according to Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg is because “the metaverse is the next frontier in connecting people, just like social networking was when we got started. Over time, I hope we are seen as a metaverse company, and I want to anchor our work and our identity on what we’re building towards.”

So what is the metaverse? Basically, it’s virtual worlds in 3D that people can connect through Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). Imagine having an avatar that looks exactly like yourself with you exact measurements shopping in a virtual store. You would be able to try on clothes and see what they look like on your body from the comfort of your own sofa.

While we are still a few years away from reaching critical mass with the metaverse, brands are beginning to embrace it now to build on their customer experiences.

According to eMarketer research, there will be 65 million people that use VR and 110 million using AR every month in 2023. That’s a lot of potential young customers to have in one space.

The Next Big Digital Marketing Trends in 2022

Artificial Intelligence Will Hinder & Help Data Privacy

Privacy issues continue to plague brands as more customers demand transparency and control over their own data and we are seeing increasing concerns as AI continues to evolve the customer experience.

According to a Gartner study, 40% of privacy compliance technology will use AI by 2023 while global spending on privacy is expected to reach $8 billion by 2022.

However, companies can use AI in their data privacy initiatives to classify sensitive data and use it to search data to identify individuals that have asked to be forgotten (a specification covered under privacy regulations like GDPR).

The bottom line is the digital marketing space is changing rapidly and brands need to ensure they are testing new tactics and technologies while building the right presence across these new channels. If you need assistance taking a future-forward look at your brand’s digital presence and engagement, contact us today. Our experts are here to help.


50% of Marketers Hinder ROI by Underinvesting in Media, Nielsen Finds

By Paid Media, Uncategorized No Comments

Nielsen’s first-ever ROI Report demonstrates some of the gaps in marketers’ budgets, channels and media strategies that are negatively affecting ROI.

The report found that while about 50% of media plans are underinvested by a median of 50%, ROI can be improved 50% with an ideal budget, which Nielsen describes as the “50-50-50 Gap.”

“In a time when there are more channels than ever to reach desired audiences, it’s critical that insights on ROI are attainable and easy to understand. Brands can’t afford to waste valuable ads on the wrong audiences. By investing wisely and having a balanced strategy of both upper-funnel and lower-funnel initiatives, brands can reach the right audiences and maximize their ROI.”

Imran Hirani, vice president of media and advertiser analytics at Nielsen

The report found that media spend should be between 1% and 9% of a company’s revenue, with challengers spending more and larger brands spending less.

The report also found that overspending isn’t as problematic as underspending, which affects digital video (66% underinvested), display (60%), social (43%) and even TV (31%).

How to optimize ad spends, measure returns and improve metrics.

Nielsen’s “50-50-50 Gap” finding shows that while many media plans are often underinvested, results can be improved with better budgets.

  • Full funnel marketing: To grow ROI, brands should pursue a balanced strategy for both upper and lower funnel initiatives. Nielsen found that adding upper-funnel marketing to existing lower- and mid-funnel marketing can grow overall ROI by 13-70%.
  • Emerging media: It is difficult for brands to spend big amounts without proof that the new media works, but spending small amounts can make it hard to see if the media is working. Nielsen found that podcast ads, influencer marketing and branded content can deliver over 70% in aided brand recall, and that influencer marketing ROI is comparable to ROI from mainstream media.
  • Ad sales growth strategy: Ultimately, ROI will inform publisher pricing power. Publishers are not just competing against others in their channel, but also against other channels, so comparing channel ROIs can help set pricing strategy. The ROI Report uncovered that social media delivers 1.7x the ROI of TV, yet social gets less than one-third of TV ad budgets.
  • Audience measurement: Campaigns with strong on-target reach deliver better sales outcomes. However, only 63% of ads across desktop and mobile are on-target for age and gender in the U.S., meaning that on the channels with the most exhaustive data coverage and quality, over one-third of ad spend is off-target. To capitalize on opportunity and drive impact, advertisers should prioritize measurement solutions that cover all platforms and devices, with near-real time insights.

Along with channel underinvestment, Nielsen found that only 63% of ads on desktop and mobile are on-target for age and gender in the U.S., despite high levels of data coverage and quality in the channels. Advertisers should prioritize cross-platform and cross-device measurement solutions and near-real time insights to drive impact.

If you need assistance with your media strategy, contact us today. We are here to help.

Why You Should Include Facebook’s Lead Generation Ads In Your Marketing Mix

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What are Facebook lead ads?

Lead ads or lead generation ads on Facebook are customer information forms that are promoted throughout the platform. These forms collect customer information such as name, email address, postal codes and more. This information can then be used to further connect with the customer for lower funnel engagements or awareness of related events such as: contest registrations, newsletter subscriptions, email upsells, or future retargeting campaigns.


The Main Benefits of Lead Generation in Facebook:

Optimized for Ease of Opt-in
Lead ads are optimized for mobile users and are designed with pre-built forms that automatically populate with user data from the Facebook platform when the users opt in.

Brand Awareness and Encourages Lower Funnel Engagement

It warms upper funnel audiences and potentially converts prospects into high quality brand followers, while also creating opportunities for the brand to interact with the audience through emails, contests, etc.

Cost Efficient

Lead generation ads on average, are lower cost when compared to conversion focused ads. Thus, campaigns can be set up to focus on generating a large volume of leads for a relatively smaller budget, when compared to conversion ads.

Highly Targeted Segmentation

Facebook allows us to show lead ads to highly targeted audience segments in terms of interests, location, demographics, and more. This increases the quality of lead generation.

Strategy

Ideally users are incentivized somehow to provide their email, such as entry to a contest, etc. When you see Cost Per Lead increasing over time, you should switch the creative / offer to renew buying efficiencies.

We recommend using general ‘higher level’ targeting for lead ads and reserve current highly targeted segments for Conversion Ads. Conversion ads are designed to get people to take an action (such as purchase) on the website which is why it costs more per result. Although, lead ads are cheaper, the major trade-off when it comes to running lead generations ads instead of conversion ads is that you risk gaining leads that are higher up in the funnel. This means that although you may be generating a high volume of leads for a lower cost, a portion of those leads may be individuals who are not as interested to convert later down the funnel – we call these low-quality leads. However, there are methods you can employ to reduce this risk and increase the quality of leads.

Next Steps:

Existing conversion objective campaigns yield healthy results and are integral to the success of ongoing promotional ads, so plan to continue using conversion ads, but leverage lead gen campaigns simultaneously to test potential new markets.

The following strategy uses lead gen ads as a method to test target markets:

  1. Create the right image/video creative that is relevant to the market.
  2. Keep the form simple and ask only the questions required for future retargeting.
  3. Offer a gated incentive (e.g. a coupon) that can only be accessed when interested customers complete the form.
  4. Use collected first-party data to run future contests, events, email sequences, newsletters, etc. This also creates excitement and increases brand awareness in prospect audience. 5) Use a custom audience of those who have submitted their email address to exclude those people from seeing lead gen ads.

If you need assistance developing and executing the right Lead Generation strategy on Facebook or across any other digital platform, please contact us. Our team is here to help.

POV By Andrew Lee, Paid Social Analyst

Tis the eCommerce Season: Prepare Now for the 2022 Holidays

By eCommerce and Marketplaces, Social Commerce, Uncategorized No Comments

Holiday season and social climate:

The last few years have been atypical to say the least and eCommerce/shopping was greatly affected by the social climate. During the pandemic-driven hibernation in 2020, eCommerce was thriving because there was less opportunity for travel and subsequently more funds for purchases; particularly in demand for at-home use (candles, athleisure, office supplies) and digital education/fitness apps.

Starting in 2020, COVID was the catalyst for the change in consumer behavior. We began to see some relaxed restrictions with a slow return to offices, and more customer demand for Airbnb/staycation/travel experiences as well as general in-person activities with family/friends. Still, the landscape was not quite identical to pre-pandemic behaviors, and in tandem with this shift, modeled META data, the looming threat of cookie deprecation, shipping/demand issues and rising CPMS, there are additional layers of changes bringing a new transformative time in the industry.  

With all these social changes, platform nuances and industry transformations, how do we use the data we have to better inform our holiday strategy and prepare for 2022?

Evaluating 2021

To look ahead to this year, we need to evaluate 2021. The prior holiday season had the “strongest retail growth in more than 20 years” due to increasing customer spending. The expectation is for this metric to grow to 1.262 trillion in 2022, with 15.5% coming from e-commerce, while brick-and-mortar is expecting 1.026 trillion.

The 2021 Review

  • Fewer users shopped Cyber Monday/Black Friday overall and most shopped earlier to avoid inventory/supply chain issues and subsequent shipping delays.
  • Spending increased, particularly at brick-and-mortar retail stores, as there was a large appetite for in-person shopping/consumers were in a better place financially than the prior year. This included in-store shopping for apparel for in-person events/office usage.

Key stats (eMarketer 2022 Preview Report)

  • Retail spends grew 16% YoY to 1.221 trillion.
  • Mobile e-commerce accounted for 45.9% of sales, and 61% of digital visits and is projected to be almost 50% in 2022.
  • Brick & mortal sales increased 17.3% to 1.017 trillion.
  • Cyber Monday had the highest spending day online.
  • Black Friday inched up to .3% while Thanksgiving grew 2.3%.

What should you do with this data?

  1. Ensure your holiday planning/creative is approved assets to be ready for an earlier time in market and to be seen among the clutter as many brands will be present earlier.
  2. Invest in video assets because these have higher costs, but they see great LTV/revenue and work well with static.
  3. 2022 will have a longer holiday cycle, with less spend during the typical post-Thanksgiving period. So, you’ll want to ensure you have a strong evergreen presence. You should release seasonal/holiday messaging earlier to align with consumer demand. No longer do you need to save funds for the holiday spending all in late Q4.
  4. Consider starting early and implementing flat spending if it aligns with your business. Last year there were Black Friday promotions as early as October, and in general, holiday discounting was only 9% in 2021, vs. 14% in 2020, so monitor competitors/trends to see if this continues into 2022.
  5. Because brick-and-mortar sales increased, you should consider setting up store locator ads and ways to track your in-store or online ads. “Click to collect” drove 1 in 4 online transactions, so, if possible, you will want to set this up, and run CTV ad campaign tests.
  6. Cyber Monday should still be priority and if you have an offer; be sure to showcase/be present as this is still an instrumental day.
  7. As there are significant mobile visits and share of revenue, you will need to ensure your ads and user experience is mobile friendly. Invest in app/shops, in preparation for this influx.
  8. To drive purchases and rise above the clutter, ensure each receives a specific user journey and relevant messaging for where they are in funnel (new user vs. returning) and start soft vs. heavy copy to drive user to convert.
  9. Invest in your CRM data and learn from it as well as promote to repeat customers from these list with special offers to drive loyalty and continued purchases. Consider establishing a program/reward for these users.
  10. Test influencer marketing, that way your product is top of mind and when they are ready to purchase, you aren’t as affected by audience modeling.
  11. Ensure you utilize the shop features and continuing to monitor new features (i.e.: FB/IG shop, and enabling checkout within platforms, dynamic ads for hyper targeting ads to users that have seen specific products etc.) of the platforms and ensure you have an integration with a tool like Shopify, so you’re accurately tracking performance.
  12. Consider using a listening tool, to continue to meet consumer expectations and change messaging/strategy based on feedback, with a tool like Sprout Social.

With eCommerce growth back to mid-teens, rising 15.5% to 235.86 billion, the channel is back to pre-pandemic levels. However, we still anticipate earlier holiday shopping to stick as demand will occur earlier in the holiday season, and these habits were established for several years now. Profitero’s Black hypothesized:

“October will be the permanent new kick-off for the holidays, because it feels normal now after two years and it gives retailers three months to make their number versus two. ”

That’s not to say you shouldn’t be in market during the big three (Cyber Monday, Black Friday, and Thanksgiving) but the strategy should start earlier while we monitor trends/industry changes.

Of course, it’s early and there are several factors to look out for, as we move toward the early holiday season, that will impact projections/spend.

  • Inflation/Labor Market Changes and General Economy health (i.e.: if gas prices go up, users will have less discretionary income).
  • If stores close, during Black Friday for social climate changes, this will impact spending.
  • If Prime Day (Apple) or large brands (Amazon, Walmart etc.) change their holiday calendar, it is likely to have a trickledown effect.
  • COVID/Social Landscape.

There is no one-stop solution. So, it’s important to speak with experts like us so you consider historical performance, creative and the audience targeting that out-performed. With previous insights/data and the above, you are set up for another successful holiday season.

POV by: Gellena Lukats, Director, Paid Social

Why Budget Liquidity Matters When Utilizing CBO in Facebook Campaigns

By Insights & News, Paid Media, Social Media, Uncategorized No Comments

When evaluating and measuring your Facebook campaigns that utilize Campaign Budget Optimization (CBO) and Lowest Cost Bidding Strategy, performance should be evaluated in terms of the sum of the whole, not the individual ad sets and ads.

Source: Meta for Business

As Meta explains, when individuals review a report like the one above, a common misconception is that Meta’s machine learning moves more budget to underperforming ad sets – a phenomenon dubbed “The Breakdown Effect.”

In reality, this is not the case: it only appears so because marketers aren’t exposed to the real-time costs of results in the auction (the machine learning system that takes place to determine which ad is shown to a person). For example, it may look odd that an ad set with a higher cost per conversion was given more budget (as above), but this was likely because the auction system determined that the cost per conversion of the other ad sets would increase if given more money.

Campaign Budget Optimization with Lowest Cost Bid Strategy enabled allows the system to dynamically shift budget to ad sets and ads that will result in the highest number of results for your campaign. This is the opposite of assigning specific ad set budgets, or giving specific budgets to specific audiences, in a single campaign.

“The Breakdown Effect” gets to the heart of how Meta’s auction system works, and can be a common point of confusion. It’s important for marketers to understand this concept so they can discern why reports may look a certain way, and so they aren’t tempted to turn off CBO by assigning specific budgets to specific entities in the same campaign to drive more budget to entities with lower costs. This will deliver fewer results and an overall higher cost per result for your campaign.

For brands with nimble budgets, it can be tempting to make every dollar count by designating dollars to specific ad groups based on previous performance costs. But doing so based on an evaluation of campaigns using CBO will deliver the opposite effect because individual ad sets & ads should not be viewed in isolation as performance costs of individual entities in a CBO campaign are not the best indicator of success. And, also because this limits the system’s ability to learn and move budget in a fluid manner based on real-time happenings in the auction. Flexibility in budgets and assets – what Meta calls “liquidity” – optimizes the system’s machine learning capabilities. 

Remember, the more flexibility, the better as the cost per result of a specific entity in CBO campaign is not a good indicator of success. While reviewing overall campaign performance of a CBO campaign is ideal, the amount of budget assigned to different entities is a better indicator of success when trying to evaluate different ads and ad sets.

If you need assistance in how to structure and optimize budgets to the platform’s machine learning capabilities with CBO, please contact us.

A Chat With Some of Acronym’s Women Leaders For Women’s History Month

By Inside Acronym, Uncategorized No Comments

Acronym was formed in 1995, and women have held leadership positions here from the start.  Flash forward 27 years, and you see an agency that has a workforce in North America that is 52% women (48% on a global basis). In addition, the majority of Acronym’s Senior Leadership Team (63%) is made up of women. Building on this legacy of empowered women, and in honor of Women’s History Month, we decided to ask some of these women to share some of their own experiences building successful careers and what advice they have to offer others.

Have you worked with a female business mentor?  If so, what were some of the lessons she taught you?

Kristen Gonzalez, EVP, Agency Operations, stated that she has “had informal business mentors who gently course-corrected me when they were aware of ways in which I was undermining myself. Even those who were not that gentle taught me some great lessons. Sometimes growth is painful, but the reward is in applying those lessons forward and the results eventually speak for themselves. I’m as grateful for the lessons in what not to do as I am for those in what to do.” 

Kristen then spoke of some of the challenges she has faced, saying “It’s hard for me to say that the challenges I’ve faced personally have directly been about gender. I’ve worked with many men who were solid advocates for me and treated me with respect and consideration in each encounter. Women are often expected to be in opposition to each other at work and in personal relationships; it’s a competition mindset that does not need to be there. We can all be better advocates for each other. In fact, the women I work with every day here at Acronym inspire me. Age, experience, and title are not always correlated with being inspiring. You can find great people doing great things at all levels of an organization.” 

Kristen closed with a valuable piece of advice for all women in the workforce, recommending that they “adopt a lifelong learner mindset. When you focus on learning as much as you can, you move your perspective from one of lacking to one of gaining.”

What women inspire you and why?

Jennifer Jones-Mitchell, SVP, Marketing & Communications said, “The first and most enduring inspiration is my mom. She was an entrepreneur when women weren’t allowed to be business owners in the U.S. At a time when women couldn’t even have a credit card without their husband’s or father’s permission, she opened and ran a small chain of home décor stores. She endured unbelievable indignities on merchandising trips and overcame so many obstacles as she built her career as a successful retailer. I once asked her why she didn’t protest in the streets for women’s rights in the 1970s and her answer was, ‘I wasn’t about to ask for permission to start my own business. I just did it.’ It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized the confidence and courage she had.”

Jennifer explained why that kind of confidence and courage matters by stating “one lesson I come back to often is that fear is good. Early in my career, I’d been successful in a position for a few years when I had the opportunity to take on a larger role. I told one of my mentors I was a little scared to leave the comfort of my existing position for this new challenge. She said, ‘if it makes you scared to do it, then it’s worth doing because that means you are growing.’ I followed her advice and haven’t looked back since. This advice drives me to embrace change, to try new tactics and explore future trends. No one learns anything new doing the same things they’ve always done. No one forges new paths by being comfortable. Fear is good. Fear drives us to succeed. That fear you feel when taking on a new challenge is how you know it’s worthwhile.”

Jennifer also added this final piece of advice for other professional women. “Don’t water-down your sentences with words like ‘just,’ ‘actually,’ maybe,’ or ‘sort-of.’ Some examples include ‘I just want to add a thought,’ ‘I actually have a question,’ ‘That sort-of makes me uncomfortable’ or ‘Maybe you should leave.’ These modifiers undermine what we are really saying. And remember to promote yourself. So often, women are taught it’s impolite to tout our talent, experience, and success. It’s not. It’s good business. Get your voice out there – create a podcast, write articles about industry trends, speak at events – advocate for yourself. Finally, know your own worth and learn to negotiate for what you deserve.”

What challenges do you think women face because of their gender?

Stephanie Hart, EVP and GM, Digital Analytics said, “The past few years have highlighted that there are still many parts of the world and workplace that allow misogyny and a ‘boys club’ mentality. Every person who speaks out against even a small transgression helps to chip away at discrimination and improve the world for all women. Just because Acronym is such a safe environment, we can’t pretend that things that happen in politics and the media don’t impact the way women are treated daily elsewhere.”

But there is a lot that women can do to overcome and even preemptively address these challenges. Stephanie explains, “I’ve worked with and for many wonderful women throughout my career who have taught me lessons such as listen before you speak, stand your ground with a smile, embrace challenges and change, and maintain your own credit history. One of the biggest myths that needs to be broken is held by women – that they need to be 100% prepared and able to accept a new professional challenge. I see under-qualified men winging it all the time while well-qualified women sit back and doubt themselves. Of course, this is a massive generalization, but I think more women need to have the confidence to fail.”

Finally, Stephanie offers this advice, “Don’t be apologetic because you must balance life and work. Don’t think that this inevitable balancing act makes you less valuable in the workplace.”

When or how do you feel most empowered?

Sara Gould, VP, Human Resources says”I feel most empowered professionally when I can do what I do best and am trusted. When I don’t have to push for a seat at the table, but I am looked for and asked to fill the needed space, not because of my gender identity but because of the skills and knowledge that I provide.”

Nonetheless, there are still some inherent hurdles to overcome when achieving that sense of empowerment. Sara explains, “Being a woman and in Human Resources, I get hit twice with stereotypes. It is assumed I am sensitive and just focus on Harmony vs. Strategy. My response is, ‘yes, I am sensitive, and what of it?’ I am a bit of an empath and being in HR with that ability is a blessing and a curse as it can be exhausting. I struggle with why men and women are looked at differently when they express emotion in the workplace.  For example,  a guy expresses anger at work by yelling it gets brushed under the rug but, if a woman cries, she is shamed. Why is one emotion deemed better or worse than another? Emotion is real and should be acknowledged. I also believe in a Richard Branson quote, ‘the customer doesn’t come first, your employees do, because if you take care of them, they will take care of your customers.’ Science has caught up and now shows that engaged people who feel cared for do more than what is expected at work vs. those who are treated like faceless minions.”

This is when it’s important to build a strong support network. Sara continues, “There was a female leader at my last company who gave me great advice when I was struggling with my own management line. She said you need to have your own Board of Directors – each person serves a different role. Each teaches you something. Some hug you when you need it, some kick you in the butt when you need it, and all push you to be the best version of you, and not to be something else.”

Sara concludes with this advice, “Be you and be all of you. Harness your power for good.  Support worthy people that are around you regardless of who or what they are. There is enough room at the table and light on the professional ladder for all of us. Also, stop saying sorry if you didn’t do anything wrong! But if you did, own it.”

What advice do you have for other professional women?

Farah Sadiq, EVP and GM International says, “Over the years there have been so many leaders who have paved the way to impact and define social equality. In today’s context, I am inspired by the ideology and strength of the younger generation who are spokespeople for today’s challenges – Malala Yousafzai, Greta Thunberg, Thandiwe Abdullah and many more who have stood up and are fighting for a better and more sustainable future. In a world where we can be anything we want, choose to be kind. It’s amazing what can be accomplished with positivity and a team spirit.”

Joanna Cohen, VP, Integrated Media adds, “Find your voice! All too often competent professionals hesitate to contribute; the fear of making a mistake can be a powerful deterrent to participation. I hope that women, and men, will rely on their education and expertise and share their insights and recommendations. If we are going to have a seat at the leadership table we need to demonstrate, without hesitation or fear, our ability to make valuable contributions to the conversation.”

Gellena Lukats, Director, Paid Social reminds us, “If you’re in a room, make sure you’re heard. If you’re placed in an important meeting, there’s a reason, and if you’re trusted to be in a role, own it and make sure people know your worth, especially if you’re the only woman in the room. There are a lot of stereotypes of what women should be – be professional, kind, and challenge yourself to lead by example. Don’t change your management style, personality, or approach because of what you think you need to be, but challenge yourself to be the best professional version of yourself possible.”

Mary Sutter, Director, Social Media adds, “I think we are very fortunate at Acronym in that women aren’t underestimated off the cuff. In a lot of industries, women are underestimated. I’ve experienced it in the past and hope I don’t experience it again in the future, but know that it could happen. As such, I always work my butt off because I know as a woman, I have to prove myself. My advice to other women is ’stand up for yourself. But at the same time, don’t sweat things that maybe don’t matter so much.’

Let us know if you have any experiences or advice to share! We’d love to hear from you. And, in the meantime, let’s celebrate all the contributions women make to our world, from groundbreaking inventions to global diplomacy, business leadership and more. Happy Women’s History Month!

Why Black History Month Matters

By Diversity and Inclusion, Uncategorized No Comments

Black History Month is a very important time to celebrate and educate the world on the achievements of African Americans and their significant contributions to US history. Did you know that an African American invented the three light traffic signals? Probably not. Unfortunately, these are the things that are not taught in school. The Three-Light Traffic Signal was invented by Garrett Morgan in 1923.

Garett Morgan, a Black inventor and son of an enslaved parent; produced several significant inventions, including an improved sewing machine and the gas mask. As a motorist, he witnessed a severe car accident in Cleveland, Ohio. Being a quick thinker, he expanded on the current traffic light by adding a “yield” component, warning oncoming drivers of an impending stop, which probably saved the lives of millions of drivers who use the roads every day throughout the United States.

When it comes to inventions, most modern-day people heard about famous inventions like the iPhone by Steve Jobs, the light bulb by Thomas Edison to name a few. There are a lot of ingenious inventions that were invented by Black Americans that most of us use in our everyday lives and that have made our lives easier, but the inventors are often forgotten or not given the proper exposure that they deserve.   

Millions of people depend on getting fresh produce, dairy, meat, seafood, to feed their families etc.  This would not be possible without transporting these products in refrigerated trucks, since these items must be maintained at a certain temperature. With millions of refrigerated trucks bringing food, flowers, prescriptions and other essential items through the United States, this was an extremely important invention. The refrigerated truck was invented by Frederick McKinley Jones an African American in 1940 and is very an extremely important innovation that serves the world this very day. Without the use of refrigerated trucks, we would not be able to use the COVID vaccine which has saved the lives of millions of people across the globe. COVID vaccines like Moderna and Pfizer must be stored at a certain temperature or else it goes bad and must be thrown away.

Another famous invention by an African American woman was Dr. Patricia Bath who was an ophthalmologist and laser scientist. Bath was not only the first female African American doctor to patent a medical device, but also the first person to invent laserphaco cataract surgery that advanced treatment for cataracts. Dr. Bath was the first woman ophthalmologist to be appointed to the faculty of the University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine Jules Stein Eye Institute.

Living in today’s world, we all know how important security can be to make sure we are all safe and sound. We owe that to Marie Van Brittan Brown, who Co-Invented Home Security System in 1966. Marie was an African American nurse, who produced an early security unit for her own home. She was living in a neighborhood in Queens that had high crime rates and felt unsafe, and being a highly creative and ingenious person, created a device that would help put her mind at ease and feel more secure: a system that used a camera that could slide into and look through four peepholes in her front door and she monitored it from her monitor and boom the home security system was born.

Over time, Marie added other features to the system, including a microphone to speak to people who come to the door, a button to unlock the door, and a button to contact the police. Marie and her husband took out a patent for the system in the same year, and they were awarded the patent three years later in 1969.

Wrapping Up

Black history month is important because it allows the African American community to raise awareness and give visibility to the people and organizations creating change, educate the world on the accomplishments of African Americans who have  played an integral role in building America and have been foundational to the growth of America, our economy and creating inventions that people use everyday and made our lives easier.   

POV By Winston Burton, SVP, SEO

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 Crypto.com, 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 Crypto.com 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.

The Metaverse is Coming. Are you Ready?

By Insights & News, Uncategorized No Comments

As digital advertising continues to become more complicated and marketers seek new ways to integrate SEO, PPC, and UX, along with emerging social channels, changing regulations, and growing tactics like automation and personalization, we want to share the top trends for 2022 that will help brands expand their reach and awareness while driving revenue.

Although augmented reality and virtual reality have been utilized by marketers for more than a decade, we will see an increase in the creative use of these technologies and – more importantly – in the adoption of these tools by consumers thanks to 5G.

source: eMarketer

The metaverse will not only provide a new virtual realm in which customers can engage with brands, it will also deliver a new set of metrics for marketers, including how long virtual objects are held in view and where users are looking when experiencing an ad. These insights can help shape new, and more meaningful, customer experiences in the very near future.

If the past twenty years have taught us anything about consumers in the digital space, it’s that they want rich, immersive experiences.

Soon, static images and, even videos, will seem as quaint as a fax is today. The metaverse will deliver fully interactive 3D and even 4D experiences that enable customers to engage with brands in a new, personalized way.

In fact, the entire customer journey will soon take place in the metaverse. According to AdWeek, “The metaverse enables brands and consumers to co-create content in ways that we haven’t even discovered yet.”

In other words, user generated content will become more immersive and will, in many ways, become a two-way conversation or co-creation between the customer and the brand. Instead of watching an ad that features a favorite personality, customers will experience a hologram of that personality and can engage directly with him or her. Instead of buying clothes online and returning them because the fit isn’t right, consumers can “wear” the clothes in a 3D virtual setting in a try-before-you-buy manner.

As with any emerging trend or channel, the brands that get there first will win. If you aren’t already exploring how these virtual worlds will transform your brand’s customer relationships, you are falling behind. Reach out to us for ideas on how to leverage the metaverse today for a more profitable tomorrow.