12 Ways To Capture Consumers’ Attention With A Back-To-School Campaign

As summer comes to a close and the new school year begins, back-to-school marketing campaigns are in full swing. From selling school supplies and college dorm furniture to promoting special deals on phones and travel, marketers work hard during this short but critical window of time to capture the attention of students and their parents.

Forbes Agency Council

To help marketers gain and retain the attention of this key demographic in the back-to-school season and beyond, 12 members of Forbes Agency Council share their best tips for advertisers and marketers who offer relevant products and services. Follow their advice to make your campaigns stand out from those of your competitors.

1. Leverage Influencers
There are many college- and school-focused creators, as well as parenting creators, who have the perfect audience, credibility and authority to promote products and services in that niche. Influencers bring amazing results because, for their audience, it feels like they are getting a recommendation from a friend. – Anastasia Cecchetto, Ace Influencers

2. Optimize Your Content And Messages
Creativity is the No. 1 variable in advertising performance. Optimizing your content and messaging to be aligned with back-to-school and the products and services you sell will drive the most relevant clicks. Brands need to ensure cross-channel content is aligned across media, email and the Web, and they need to start early enough to have 20 to 40 days of campaign messaging in the market to drive enough reach. – Tucker Matheson, Markacy

3. Incentivize UGC With Email And SMS Options
Email marketing and SMS marketing options incentivize students to share their own experiences with products and services; you can then use that user-generated content in campaigns to create more buzz around the product or service. Parents and students want an experience—create an option that provides both a financial incentive for the consumer and content for the brand. – Vix Reitano, Agency 6B

4. Utilize Social Media
Back-to-school is an overlooked retail opportunity, as it’s hard to get people focused on it until they’re actually in-store doing last-minute shopping. The real opportunity is online (with a focus on social media) using paid videos on Instagram and paid and organic opportunities on Pinterest, not to mention audio—by advertising to on-the-go parents who are streaming or listening to podcasts during afternoon drop-off and pickup. – Scott Harkey, OH Partners

5. Position Company Founders As Industry Experts
In public relations, position your brand’s founders and representatives as experts in the field of parenting, whether they are parents themselves or market to parents. Parents are looking for trustworthy and reliable brands that they can relate to. Also, it’s all about how you communicate your brand’s values and initiatives to the media. – Jessica Kopach, The JKO Agency

6. Highlight Convenience
Back-to-school shopping can be hectic. Leveraging new ad types can help push convenience messaging. For example, Google Shopping and local inventory ads have a new beta: pickup later. Advertisers can now enable pickup later in the attributes of their inventory feeds. Using this beta will help advertisers capture consumers’ attention while avoiding the back-to-school “rush hour.” – Donna Robinson, Collective Measures

7. Appeal To Consumers’ Emotions
Use visuals and content that appeal to emotions. Starting a new school year can be a stressful transition for both parents and students, so show why your offerings are the solution. Aim for content that is both visually appealing and informative. – Hannah Trivette, NUVEW Web Solutions

8. Begin As Soon As Possible
Start your back-to-school marketing campaign as early as possible, especially this year, as it’s the first school year for some kids to be back fully in person since 2020. Along with that comes excitement and retail demand. You can reach the students themselves through social media and use more traditional media outlets to reach the adults who are supporting their school transitions. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

9. Email A Promo Code To Existing Customers
For parents, your most cost-effective (and direct) approach is to email last year’s customers a back-to-school promo checkout code. For students, get their attention on all the biggest social media platforms, such as TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. Each of these methods will need different messaging and creative tones, but both lead to the same place: more back-to-school purchases! – Bernard May, National Positions

10. Incorporate The Latest Trends
Consider the latest trends and developments your customers care about and incorporate them into your marketing plan. Remember that people will spend more this year because more students are returning to full-time education, and including a hot trend will grab their attention. – Dmitrii Kustov, Regex SEO

11. Run TikTok Ads
We’re in unprecedented times. Our agency spent $100 last week on a test ad, which garnered 700 new followers in one day. ROI for website traffic is just as impressive. This is where students and parents alike are hanging out online. All ads need to be tailored to this 9:16 video experience. – Kelly Samuel, Snack Toronto

12. Highlight Price Comparisons
It’s all about the visuals and ensuring that your ads “stop the scroll” and your products are priced affordably. This year, parents are going to be looking for bargains and deals, so highlighting price comparisons will be key. – Dawn Sinkule, Digital Dawn

16 Approaches Brands Can Take To Boost Engagement On TikTok

TikTok is the platform of choice for younger generations in 2022, and its influence and reach is only growing. With nearly every social platform making a shift toward featuring more video content, TikTok already offers the most popular features and functions, not to mention legions of global users, making it a great channel for branding and marketing.

Forbes Agency Council

While some brands rely on highly produced and polished video content to reach their ideal customers, those with a penchant for down-to-earth production styles and a bit of creativity can help new prospects discover their offerings with a well-planned TikTok content strategy. Below, members of Forbes Agency Council share their best advice for brands that hope to connect and boost engagement with target audiences on TikTok to ensure they take the most effective approach with their short-form video content.

1. Get In On The Trends And Have Fun
You have to have fun on TikTok—that’s why everyone’s there. Get in on the trends, do TikTok challenges and create content around popular music to start getting views. Even if you think your brand’s not “fun” enough to do any of that, behind-the-scenes TikToks that feature staff do very well. Some companies have earned millions of followers this way, reaching a whole new audience of brand advocates. – Nicky Senyard, Fintel Connect

2. Distill Your Message Down To Its Core
TikTok is a platform where users have very short attention spans. Distill your message down to its core, and tell an interesting story. Then, build on it and post as often as possible to grow your following. Don’t get discouraged if growth is slow at first, as every account started with few or no followers. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. – David Kley, Web Design and Company

3. Use Hashtags To Follow TikTok Trends
Use hashtags as part of your marketing strategy on TikTok to follow trends. Follow TikTok trends regularly and be prepared to change your content to keep up with the latest crazes. However, remember that while you certainly need to follow trends, you shouldn’t forget about originality. – Dmitrii Kustov, Regex SEO

4. Grab Viewers’ Attention Quickly
Short video content should be fun, quick, engaging and quickly grab a viewer’s attention, especially since the attention spans of consumers have gotten shorter and shorter. You have one to three seconds to make a positive impression. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

5. Find Your Sweet Spot And Stick With It
Speak to your demographic, be real, find your sweet spot and stick with it. Don’t change your brand’s identity or values to gain followers just because you don’t see instant traction; change the way you speak and engage with your audience. Change the way you’re presenting and engaging and stick with it. Make it short, sweet and to the point, and always keep your audience wanting more. – Jessica Kopach, The JKO Agency

6. Keep Building Your List Of Ideas For Potential TikToks
Make sure that you create a long list of ideas about what you can film. TikTok thrives on consistency and frequency, yet I have seen many brands burn out quickly on ideas, then chalk it up to TikTok being a loser for them because their four videos didn’t land. Create a system to consistently come up with an endless list of ideas. – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency

7. Create Fun, Engaging Content That Is Authentic To Your Brand
TikTok users want content that is fun and entertaining. Videos from brands should reflect this. Brands not only need to create content that is both original and engaging, but they also need to be authentic to their own brand culture and values. Identify a brand archetype (such as a jester), then deliver content aligned with the spirit and consistency of that brand archetype. – Katie Schibler Conn, KSA Marketing

8. Have A Strong Hook And Create An Open Loop
Have a strong hook and create an open loop so that you increase the odds of users sticking around for the whole video. When creating your content, three effective video approaches/topics that will increase watch time and shares are videos that break common beliefs, give people an aha!/lightbulb moment or share an inspirational story. As a result, TikTok will view you as an asset if you keep people watching. – Callum Roche, Roche Marketing Group

9. Test And Learn; Rinse And Repeat
Test and learn. Test and learn. Rinse and repeat. By noticing what works, you will learn what the best messaging and format are for the future. Also, note what’s not generating engagement or eyeballs, and do less of that. TikTok can be like a daily focus group for each piece of content you post, with audience members who will vote with their eyeballs and engagement. Pay attention and improve each day! – Nancy Marshall, Marshall Communications

10. Use TikTok’s Unique Elements To Maximize Reach
Use the elements that make TikTok unique to maximize your reach. For example, using audio clips that have already gone viral is a great way to get extra views. Remember that Gen-Z increasingly turns to TikTok for news and information, so another winning tactic for brands is to use the platform to educate consumers about their product with either behind-the-scenes footage or informational videos. – Danielle Wiley, Sway Group

11. Tell A Story And Post Often
In many ways, classic advertising offers the best TikTok advice: Tell a story and post often. Personal stories give a product or service a “face” and a human story, making it easier for audiences to connect with it through a screen. But tell a story to one person—don’t make a viewer feel as if they are part of a massive group. Then, post often. Successful TikTok accounts often post two or three times a day. – Lon Otremba, Bidtellect

12. Leverage Interactive Elements To Get Viewers Engaged
Ask a question for viewers to answer in the comments or by creating their own videos in response. TikTok works especially well when you create your own trends and challenges for others to perform on their own. For instance, create a sound for others to use in their videos to mimic yours. As a result, you’ll create a network. – Hannah Trivette, NUVEW Web Solutions

13. Do Your Research And Focus On Solutions And Inspiration
Understand what your audience is interested in and how your brand can align to that. It’s important to offer content that isn’t sales-focused but instead focuses on how your brand’s service or product solves a problem or inspires. Putting these elements together is a winning combination to boost engagement on TikTok. – Donna Robinson, Collective Measures

14. Don’t Try To Make Your TikToks ‘Too Perfect’
Show the real appeal of your company and who you really are in each of your videos. That kind of authenticity is not only perfect for TikTok, but it can also create the kind of emotional connection that turns viewers into repeat customers. – Danny Star, Website Depot

15. Give Your Audiences Something To Engage With
Can your audience do a duet with your content, click a link or (at the very least) consider your message? Your audience needs to have an actual reason to engage with the content. Start testing text overlays, posing questions and tagging people directly if you are responding to a question. This shows that you are paying attention to what your audience is saying. – Bernard May, National Positions

16. Be Real And Authentic
TikTok isn’t about a movie-quality production with amazing lighting and a professional score. It is about taking a video on your phone with some backlighting, getting your info out quickly and being entertaining. It doesn’t matter if you are participating in a trend or trying to sell something to the public; people won’t like it if you’re fake. – Jason Hall, FiveChannels Marketing

How To Use Behavioral Targeting Without Third-Party Data

Behavioral targeting uses information about Web users to ensure ads are shown to the right consumers at the right time. With rules about third-party cookies changing dramatically and a growing emphasis on user privacy, the entire game has shifted for marketers, who can no longer rely on data provided by outside companies that have no direct relationship with their target audience.

Forbes Agency Council

Below, members of Forbes Agency Council weigh in on the question that’s on every marketer’s mind now: Without access to a key source of information they’ve long depended upon to inform their marketing strategies, what is the best compliant, non-creepy way for brands to create truly personalized experiences for prospects using behavioral targeting?

1. Leverage Opportunities To Gather Zero- And First-Party Data
Usage of zero- and first-party data is only going to increase. Pre-customer, first-party data opportunities such as newsletters or gated content can build cohorts of prospects who have engaged at certain stages. Marketing can take them to personalized experiences to advance the journey, and tools such as Google Optimize can help dynamically personalize page content based on a user’s remarketing status. – Brian Walker, Statwax

2. Don’t Use Data Gathered Via Microphone
Limit the use of apps that use microphones to gather user data. Ads that use interested search data and browser history will come off as less creepy than ads using information picked up from apps that capture what the consumer is saying when their microphone is turned on. – Spencer Hadelman, Advantage Marketing

3. Use Keywords To Target Content Viewers With Contextual Ads
The future of targeting users without cookies will consist of targeting keywords through contextual-based advertising. Contextual ads are based on the content you are looking for instead of the actual user behaviors. For example, a beer company can target users viewing content on ESPN.com contextually because that demographic is more likely to enjoy beers while watching their favorite sports team. – Michelle Abdow, Market Mentors, LLC

4. Segment Landing Pages To Target Distinct Audience Lists
Audience list targeting can help to a great extent. Segment your landing pages so that each page attracts a distinct audience group. Create different audience lists for different landing pages and work on populating them. Once they are ready, target these lists with interest-specific marketing messages and calls to action for audiences in different phases of the funnel and different interest zones. – Ajay Prasad, GMR Web Team

5. Talk To Your Target Audience In Person
Actually meeting and talking to your target audience is so essential. Attending events and trade shows is the best way to do this and a great organic way to do some market research. Networking is so essential to get to know your demographics! Think behind the suits: Are they parents? Are they foodies? Are they single? A lot of the information you’re looking for cannot always be found online. – Jessica Kopach, The JKO Agency

6. Click On The Profiles Of Your Social Media Audience
Start taking a look through your social media audience and click on their profiles to review what they are posting and commenting about. This is you taking an honest interest in your audience, and what you may find in 30 minutes of clicking and scrolling could level up your campaign. – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency

7. Transparently Connect With Consumers On The Front End
Transparency about how we intend to manage or use information is the key to navigating this continually changing privacy landscape. Consumers want to have a say in how their information is being gathered and used; we can connect with our consumers on the front end instead of depending on back-end data to inform us of their needs and wants. – Russ Williams, Archer Malmo

8. Use Offline Conversion Tracking To Enrich Paid Media Campaigns
Using offline conversion tracking to enrich your paid media campaigns involves taking (converted) customer data from your CRM and essentially reinjecting this information back into your ads platform, such as Google Ads. This allows Google’s remarketing artificial intelligence to function that much better. However, you are only using the customer information that has already come to you voluntarily and ethically. – Bernard May, National Positions

9. Use Post-Purchase Surveys To Segment And Tag Customer Profiles
Post-purchase surveys work well to understand the customer profile. Through surveys, brands can connect with customers on the things that matter most to them and structure their messaging around those interests. Most email and SMS platforms will allow customer profiles to be tagged for deep message segmentation, and interests can be used for creative segmentation in paid media. – Justin Buckley, ATTN Agency

10. Map Out Remarketing Campaign Creatives By Buyer’s Stage
Having a well-mapped-out remarketing campaign is a great way to emphasize your message and provide a compliant, personalized experience. Showcasing different remarketing creatives, depending on where prospects are in the customer buying journey, can be very effective to share information about what you’re selling to them. – Adrian Falk, Believe Advertising & PR

11. Segment Based On Trends In Audience Interests
Brands can give consumers a personalized experience through general audience segmentation based on trends in their interests from a variety of brands that meet the criteria. An example of targeting that is potentially too invasive is if you’re talking about running shoes around voice search devices, such as your Alexa or Siri, and suddenly you’re served ads for running shoes without ever having done a browser search for one. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

12. Restrategize Using Data Collected By Your Web Analytics Tools
Behavioral data is collected using your company’s Web analytics tools, cookies, customers’ browsing history and IP addresses. Cookies will soon disappear, so it’s time to consider a different strategy. Fortunately, you have the data collected by your company’s Web analytics tools. In addition, you can consider targeted email campaigns or reviving traditional questionnaires. – Dmitrii Kustov, Regex SEO

15 Key Elements Of A Memorable And Compelling Executive Speech

Every time executives speak publicly, they communicate a lot—not only about themselves, but also their organization. To ensure that their message has the desired impact on the audience, preparing in advance can help them deliver an effective and compelling talk or presentation.

Some executive speeches are given internally, and others are developed for external audiences. Likewise, some will be scheduled far in advance, while others happen with less notice and are more spontaneous affairs. Regardless of the timing or venue, the methods used to prepare for a memorable executive speech and approaches to audience engagement will vary depending on the goal of the talk. Here, members of Forbes Agency Council share elements executive speeches require to strike just the right chord with the audience.

Forbes Agency Council

1. Goals Articulated In A Concise, Aspirational Way
I had the pleasure of hearing one of my client’s CEOs speak to the company’s senior leadership last week, and he was great! He clearly articulated the goals, culture and milestones he wanted to hit in a concise, aspirational way. I came away reflecting on how I can learn from him. – Brook Shepard, Mason Interactive

2. A Combination Of Insight, Emotion And A Clear Message
The most memorable speeches by executives contain a combination of insight, emotion and a clear message. Individually, none of these particularly drive an address to be remarkable. But when combined, insight becomes more than shared data and experience, emotion extends beyond raw passion for the subject matter, and a clear message becomes a rallying point that is relatable and understandable. – Jonathan Schwartz, Bullseye Strategy

3. Personal Anecdotes Woven Throughout
A speech becomes more memorable and meaningful when there are personal anecdotes woven throughout—whether they’re about how an item being discussed affected the speaker personally or the hopes and ambitions surrounding the goals discussed in the speech. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

4. Emotional Connections And A Logical Resonance
A speech should help audiences connect emotionally and should resonate with them in a logical way. In order to achieve that, you have to understand your audience and their expectations really well. There are many other ways to connect with the audience, but the one that sticks has to make sense emotionally and logically. – Kamaljit Singh, AMZ One Step

5. Relatability With The Audience
Pathos is key. To paraphrase Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Relating your message to your audience’s experiences and emotions is central to a speech that resonates. – Heather Kelly, Next PR

6. Expert Blending Of Personal And Professional Identities
The best executive speeches are able to blend personal, relatable anecdotes seamlessly with the themes and takeaways of the presentation. While that may sound simple in theory, in practice it requires deep understanding of an audience, consideration of conclusions and, often, the expert blending of both professional and personal identities. – Chris Martin, FlexMR

7. Connectivity, Honesty, Excitement And Wisdom
When it comes to striking the right chord with an audience, it’s all about connectivity and honesty. You need to remember that you’re speaking to a human audience—so your speech needs to be personal, unexpected and relatable. People don’t want to hear corporate content or whitewashed company statements; they want excitement, wisdom and an admirable speaker. – Lars Lehne, Incubeta

8. No Fear About Showing Vulnerability
I’ve heard many powerful speakers over the years, but I think the ones who are the most memorable are those who are not afraid to show their vulnerability. When people share personal stories as a way of teaching others, it creates a sense of authenticity. The audience can relate to them more on a personal level. – Jason Hennessey, Hennessey Digital

9. A Relatable Personal Story To Start (And End) With
My favorite speeches start with a story that is told in a relatable and personal way, which ties into the theme or a key point of the speech. Select one memorable image that encapsulates the story. From that story, the executive can segue into the key points of their speech and end by revisiting the starting story/image. – Wendy Covey, TREW Marketing

10. Big Energy
The most well-constructed and brilliant speech will fall flat if it is not delivered with passion and energy. We’ve all been at a speech given by someone you had high expectations of, but their low energy and disinterest left your mind wandering away from their rich content. Make the audience “feel” the story and be a part of it. Then, they will remember your message above all else. – Jim Heininger, Dixon|James & Rebranding Experts

11. Resonating Content That Grabs Attention Within Ten Seconds
You have ten seconds to get your audience’s attention and keep them from looking at their phone. Once you have their attention, the fastest way to lose them is by including anything that does not resonate with them. We care most about the things that impact us directly, so make your speech relatable to the widest possible audience. – Justin Buckley, ATTN Agency

12. One Thought-Provoking Idea Or Question
I have always enjoyed speeches that leave you with what I call a “plus one.” These kinds of speeches have a purpose, and that’s to leave you with one idea or question that keeps you thinking. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative

13. Stickiness
One of the most important elements of a good speech is stickiness, as it means that the audience is going to remember the speech. That stickiness needs to come from the history of what the person speaking has done in the past. When you have this information, you will have a great story and a memorable speech. – Jon James, Ignited Results

14. An Element Of Surprise And Delight
Having an element of surprise and delight is essential. With speeches, the audience will often lose focus quickly. The presentation needs to be interactive with the audience so that the take-home messages can be quickly absorbed. There’s nothing worse than a PowerPoint presentation in a small font with no images and nothing to differentiate it. Mix things up a bit, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. – Adrian Falk, Believe Advertising & PR

15. Inspiration And Motivation
An executive speech should be inspiring and motivational, not just a lot of great words about nothing without any specifics. You have to straddle the border between being pretentious and dryly enumerating what has been done or should be done. Also, try to build each presentation around a particular idea. – Dmitrii Kustov, Regex SEO

How CPG Brands are Evolving in 2022


This AIThority guest post is co-authored by Karla Crawford Kerr, VP of Marketing, and Cyndi McMaster, Director of Client Development, Hawthorne Advertising.

The consumer-packaged goods (CPG) industry is on an exciting and transitional path right now, especially when it comes to the marketing approach. Virtually everything about the category has changed, including the items classified as CPG, the way brands develop and bring products to market, and how consumers learn about and acquire CPG products.

The pandemic accelerated the shift to digital shopping channels, and a combination of greater availability of venture capital and affordable digital advertising options enabled emerging brands to use direct-to-consumer sales to remove barriers that had stood for decades — obstacles that once protected legacy brands’ share of the market and prevented new entrants from gaining traction.

It’s critical for marketers to understand how CPG is evolving so they can compete effectively as the landscape shifts.

Legacy brands had the advantage, but over the last decade, emerging direct-to-consumer brands like Dollar Shave Club, Warby Parker, and countless others flipped the go-to-market script, appealing to new generations of customers and driving growth through social commerce.

Karla Crawford Kerr, VP of Marketing

Karla Crawford Kerr
VP of Marketing

Cyndi McMaster, Director of Client Development

Cyndi McMaster
Director of Client Development

New Customers, Values and Buying Habits

How consumers buy CPG products has changed. For many it’s now become automatic to purchase everyday staples like laundry detergent, pet food, coffee, etc., through Amazon and other direct-to-consumer platforms which also make automatic reordering at the right frequency simple and easy. And more people are now ordering groceries and other supplies online for pickup or delivery. And when consumers do physically visit stores, they compare prices in real-time on their phones, which makes multichannel selling for CPG’s an absolute must.

The customer base has changed, too, as is the way consumers select and buy products.

Millennial and Gen Z customers are looking for products that meet their needs at a good price, but they also look for brands that share their values, like sustainability and corporate commitment to their employees and communities, because they want to feel good about their purchases.

At the same time, as higher prices put pressure on budgets and new choices proliferate, brand loyalty is weakening, especially for legacy brands.

Many shoppers are opting for store brands or are willing to give less well-known products a try if marketed in a way that appeals to, even mirrors, their values and who they are (vs what they should aspire to be). Newer brands that succinctly convey product benefits while communicating a strong mission can pick up today’s more socially conscious consumers, including companies like Girlfriend Collective, which makes quality clothing for all shapes and sizes from recycled materials.

Acquisitions, Incubators and Retooled Distribution Strategies

Another sea change in the CPG space is the way brands develop and distribute products.

Buying habits changed, so brands have had to shift distribution to meet consumers where their needs and preferences are in the moment of purchase, balancing convenience with the experience. Established CPG brands meet these challenges in different ways, with some opting to offer legacy products on multiple channels and others acquiring emerging brands to reach new consumers.

In some cases, legacy brands have shifted from funding in-house new product development to purchasing emerging brands that appeal to desired demographic groups to remain relevant in a changing marketplace. For example, the maker of Schick razors acquired direct-to-consumer razor brand Billie for $310 million late last year, and instead of folding the emerging brand into its legacy portfolio, the parent company is allowing Billie’s founders to continue running the successful business.

E-commerce Startup News: Promoted.ai Raises $6M to Transform E-Commerce Businesses using ML Infrastructure

Emerging brands recognize that product development and distribution have shifted too, and instead of focusing on scaling up for an IPO, some are looking to be acquired earlier as a means of expanding production and distribution capabilities. But the landscape is now flooded with new products and brands, there is heavy competition.

According to a recent McKinsey report, “Today, low barriers to entry have encouraged an explosion of DNB’s (digitally-native brands). However, DNBs (digitally native brands) that break through with outsize investor returns are rare. Over the past two decades, fewer than 0.5 percent of DNBs have reached $100 million in revenues. Investors face the challenge of sifting through concepts to determine which are worthy of the capital required to scale a business or buy into an existing company at high multiples.”.

In other cases, brands that were previously acquired by large CPG companies are finding they do better when the big enterprise divests and new owners invest more in product quality, innovation and marketing, as in the case with Bolthouse Farms, KRAVE PURE FOOD, and other brands.

Products and Messages that Break Through the Noise

One aspect of the CPG sector hasn’t changed: product quality still ultimately drives success or failure. The product must genuinely solve a problem and have attractive benefits and features. If it doesn’t, consumers will catch on eventually. But the way marketers communicate value has changed. Ads that are less polished and perceived as more authentic can appeal to the demographics CPG brands are most interested in targeting.

Emerging CPG brands demonstrated that influencers and social media can drive fast growth, even legacy CPG brands took note and invested in those channels too, demonstrating that campaigns on platforms like TikTok and Instagram can drive sales. And Amazon offers newer brands a quick and easier path to e-commerce. But these efforts should not be mistaken as a stand-alone marketing strategy.

Per Retail Dive, “A diversified marketing mix and the cost of customer acquisition are among the factors investors look for before contributing funding.” What’s needed for CPG’s to successfully launch and grow a brand is an omnichannel approach that expands past the initial customer base and loyalists- one that cuts through the noise of competitors and takes continuous analysis to identify consumer segments the brand hasn’t connected with yet or should be. Grove Collaborative has does a great job with content and messaging that successfully delivers a product’s uniqueness and value to customers in real, relatable terms while testing and expanding new media channels and platforms.

It’s an exciting time with limitless opportunities for CPG brands that embrace change.

Marketers are changing the world in a real sense, and brands that connect with marketers who have the right expertise can do more than just keep up as CPG evolves — they can drive that evolution forward.

Buckle Up, Media Planners: The 2022 Midterms Will Be Tough On Advertisers

George Leon, Chief Strategy OfficerOn TV & Video” is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in advanced TV and video.

Today’s column is written by George Leon, chief strategy officer at Hawthorne Advertising.

The midterm election season will be here before we know it. The 2018 election season disrupted formerly stable patterns. This year, the lack of stability might be even more pronounced.

A rare trifecta of factors influence the marketplace today: heightened political tension, a war in Europe and high inflation. We can add the pandemic to the mix, too. It has changed media consumption habits significantly, and the new habits are persisting.

Let’s take a look at the past impact of midterm elections on ad buying and planning and the current patterns that are emerging. Understanding these patterns can help media planners and buyers be as prepared as possible for the remainder of the year.

Advertising during a tumultuous 2018 and 2020

Midterm elections typically generate less enthusiasm and have significantly lower turnout than presidential year races. Through 2018, the midterm pattern was a bell curve with a peak in September-November. But the 2018 midterms were anything but typical.

According to the Pew Research Center, more people voted than in any midterm election year since 1978. The intense interest drove campaign ad demand, which in turn drove advertising rates 1,000% to 2,000% higher in the 2018 cycle.

Voter turnout rose even higher in 2020, with nearly two-thirds of eligible voters participating in a record-setting presidential election. Afterward, through the start of the new year, many viewers tuned out of the post-election coverage. CNN saw declines of 40% to 50% in some markets, while networks like Fox News and MSNBC saw less precipitous decreases.

For media planners and buyers, the bottom line was that the negative political discourse was reflected in a diminished consumer response to ads placed during that period. Buyers were paying more for placement and getting less bang for their buck.

2022 has been painful for advertisers — so far

The Virginia gubernatorial election and early Texas primaries provided a preview of what to expect in the months ahead. In Virginia, there was a sharp increase in the frequency of communication. And the negative tenor of the political ads affected consumers’ willingness to stick with programming during the commercial break to view nonpolitical ad content.

The bell curve pattern expanded, with political content airing earlier in the year. Buyers who expected the usual pattern encountered pricing and availability barriers earlier. They also got diminished returns because political ad content turned viewers off.

One of the biggest surprises from the fourth quarter of 2021 was the lack of a response rate rebound after elections concluded. There’s usually a lift when the political season wraps up, but there wasn’t one in the second half of Q4. After an initial rise, response rates hit a brick wall, likely due to low consumer confidence and spiraling inflationary pressures.

The growth of CTV and the death of cookies will shape this election season

What will the remainder of 2022 hold for media planners and buyers? Rates will likely double in the next few months, possibly followed by a dip. Then there may be an increase that lasts through the election and the rest of the year. Rate increases will likely match or even exceed the sharp increases from the 2018 midterms.

It’s important to factor in the shifts from linear to OTT/CTV inventory in the years leading up to the pandemic and high rates of adoption as it subsides. Frequency will be a major issue, and inventory will be affected profoundly. But OTT/CTV is highly targeted, so ad servers will focus on fit, meaning consumers won’t be inundated with bombastic content.

Marketers may also look to paid social as the shift away from linear TV continues, but the disappearance of third-party cookies is making it more difficult to drive awareness and conversion on channels like Facebook and Instagram.

As a result, advertisers may decide to hold off on campaigns until the midterm period is over – if they can. Buyers who need to drive action around time-specific events like Medicare enrollment will need to maintain a presence during the midterms, but they’ll have to plan on paying more to place inventory that receives lower response rates.

Buckle up as you prepare for the rest of the year. Be aware that it will take more spending to maintain response rates, let alone increase them in the fourth quarter. The upcoming midterms will be a bumpy ride.

15 Smart Ways For SMBs To Get Started With Paid Social Media Advertising

Paid social media ads can help companies reach their target audiences faster and with more precision than organic social media marketing tactics. From branded content to influencer messaging to pay-per-click advertising, getting sponsored and promoted content in front of specific audiences on the most popular social media channels can bring big benefits for brands.

Of course, a paid social strategy is table stakes for many larger companies, but how can small or midsized businesses get into the game without spending too much of their marketing budget? Here, 15 members of Forbes Agency Council discuss the best ways for smaller companies to get started with paid social media advertising.

Forbes Agency Council

1. A/B Test Small Ad Buys On Facebook And LinkedIn
A/B testing with small amounts of money using both Facebook and LinkedIn is a good way to start your paid social media strategy. Facebook tends to have the better return on investment, while LinkedIn tends to have better reach. By testing both platforms out, small and midsized businesses can determine whether the investment is worth it and their target audience is being reached. – Scott Miraglia, Elevation Marketing

2. Leverage A Video Views Campaign On Facebook
Leverage a video views campaign objective on a platform such as Facebook, as it’s cheaper, and let the content do the filtering—don’t narrow the targeting. It’s similar to casting a wide net in the ocean and seeing what bites. Then, retarget those who watched a percentage of the ad that you deem appropriate. They’re qualified, and you can now run ads for a fraction of the cost of cold targeting. – Callum Roche, Roche Marketing Group

3. Sponsor A Post Before Building Out A Paid Ad Budget
Test the waters until you’re comfortable with the channel. Consider sponsoring a post, which can be done for a much smaller sum—we’ve done them for $100. Then, take a look at the metrics. Are you reaching the intended audience? What type of reaction are you getting? Then, build out a paid ad budget. It’s not exactly a direct comparison, but it will give you a snapshot of what to expect. – Leeza Hoyt, The Hoyt Organization, Inc.

4. Target A Narrower, Bottom-Of-Funnel Audience
If you can’t define yourself as the No. 1 provider of your product or service, narrow your target audience until you can. Big companies can broaden their advertising spend to reach a broad audience (top of funnel), but your niche allows you to target a narrower audience (bottom of funnel) that is more likely to convert. Finely narrow your targeting to specific people, then expand your reach later. – Stefan Pollack, The Pollack Group

5. Start With A Small Ad Spend And Test Continuously
Do not let an ad campaign run without making iterative improvements depending on how the audience responds. If you drive leads to a landing page, but no one converts, revise the messaging on that page so that it speaks more to buyer pain points. It’s better to start out small and incrementally increase ad spend. – Jonathan Franchell, Ironpaper

6. Have A Strong Social Strategy And Solid Engagement Practices
All companies should remember that social media ads are not a Band-Aid. They must be paired with a strong social strategy and foundational social engagement practices. Understanding your target audience and developing a social media strategy based on that understanding is the easiest way for small or midsized businesses to put an impactful social stake in the ground. – Kathleen Lucente, Red Fan Communications

7. Set Up Proper Conversion And Attribution Tracking
SMBs tend to create campaigns around the wrong metrics. It is crucial to set up proper conversion tracking and multichannel attribution tracking so that you understand which campaigns generate positive ROI. Also, creatives and offers are the biggest levers you can pull on paid social, so test everything to discover the winning offer for your paid social ads. – Yan Zhang, XYZ Advantage

8. Spread Your Budget Equally Among All Platforms, Then Narrow Down
For the first month, equally distribute your viable budget among all the social media platforms where your target audience is active. Narrow down to that one platform that gives you maximum returns at minimum cost and concentrate all your budget there in the following months. Closely monitor your campaigns and block all the sources that cause wasted spend. Aim to achieve the minimum cost per action possible. – Ajay Prasad, GMR Web Team

9. Start With A Specific Campaign, Goal And Audience
Start with a specific goal versus broader branding initiatives. Track it and learn from it. Also, start with a smaller, targeted audience. If you’re looking to get started with paid social media ads, start with a specific campaign, audience and goal, then learn from those results. – Mark Skroch, BCV Social

10. Start With A Budget Of $500 Per Ad On LinkedIn
We recommend a starting budget of $500 per ad to our clients who are just starting out with LinkedIn advertising, regardless of company size or goals. It’s a sweet spot in terms of financial commitment, as you work to tailor your target audience and A/B test ad copy to deliver the best results. You can always increase your spending from there and use your metrics to inform a more robust strategy. – Heather Kelly, Next PR

11. Have A Solid Foundation In Place To Capture And Convert Leads
Smaller businesses need to be strategic in their marketing spends. Make sure that there is a solid foundation in place before running ads. The biggest mistake that small businesses make is spending money on ads but not having a way to capture or convert the leads that those ads generate. Without the proper foundation to take advantage of the ads, it’s just a waste of critical revenue. – Jason Wilson, Strategy, LLC

12. Test Social Media Ads With Small Sample Sizes
You can start testing ads on social media with small sample sizes. This can be very cost-effective, and you need to start somewhere to be able to test different creatives, offers and target audience response. Once you see where the ROI is coming from, you can expand your social media plan into profitable marketing channels. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

13. Use Paid Ads To Boost Organic Content That Is Gaining Traction
Start by focusing on creating organic content and a good cadence of organic social engagement. Once you can see what content is naturally gaining more traction on which platform, you can then try boosting those posts with small budget spends and weekly campaigns. In the B2B space, we have seen clients get hundreds of leads quickly on very little ad spend simply by using this technique. – Azadeh Williams, AZK Media

14. Time Your Social Media Ads Around Big Sales And Events
If timed well, social media ads can be game changers even when on a budget. For starters, time these ads around big sales or events. Not only will this attract consumers to the brand, but it will also give them an opportunity to try your product or service at an attractive price point, boosting conversion rates. – Candice Georgiadis, Digital Day

15. Be Extra Analytical To Ensure Every Cent Counts
Smart with smaller budgets, focus on your business’ service, product or target audience segment that offers the most ROI potential, and continually assess, test and optimize. Large ad investments are not a telltale sign of success and vice versa. When investing less into an ad campaign, you need to be extra analytical to ensure every cent counts. – Dejan Popovic, PopArt Studio

14 Creative Ways Marketers Can Use 360-Degree Images And Other Unique Visuals

Consumers tend to find visual elements more compelling than simple text or audio. With recent, exciting innovations in video production and photography, digital marketers and advertisers have a literal smorgasbord of unique visual assets to choose from to capture the attention of ideal audiences.

From 360-degree images to panoramic, aerial videos and 3D animations, special types of video and photography can be incorporated into content marketing and digital advertising strategies in myriad ways on a variety of platforms. Here, the members of Forbes Agency Council share creative ways to leverage these intriguing visual elements and gain more traction with campaigns.

Forbes Agency Council

1. Use AR Filters In Social Creative Campaigns
We’ve been using augmented reality filters in several of our social creative campaigns for clients and partners. Beyond engagement, they create fan interactivity with the brand. Giving fans this fun tool to play with leads to sharing and reposting. It also puts fans front and center, elevating them from passive audience members to active brand ambassadors. Note: This works best when you have an existing fan base! – Marc Becker, The Tangent Agency

2. Provide A 360-Degree Glimpse Behind The Scenes
Customers love behind-the-scenes content, so 360-degree images and videos can provide a great immersive experience. If it’s a product, you can demonstrate to the audience how it’s being made and showcase your assembly line. If it’s a service, you can invite people to take a look at what’s going on in your office on a regular day. There are lots of creative options for any business. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

3. Surprise Audiences With Something Unexpected
360-degree images can benefit any destination, event, showroom or experience, and even companies competing for talent and wishing to offer an insider look. As an added bonus, surprise your audience with something unexpected, such as a scavenger hunt, surprise guest or unexpected object that makes it worth sharing. – Eric Gilbertsen, REQ

4. Let Users Get Immersed In Your Properties And Events
Product demos, live events and tours of spaces are excellent ways to leverage 360-degree images and video. By allowing users to immerse themselves in your properties and events, or interact with your product in a dynamic way, you create experiences that will attract your ideal audiences to your brand. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative

5. Use Special Visuals In Your Homepage Banner
Use short videos and special photos in your website’s homepage banner. An effective website is one that instantly catches the visitor’s attention, so surprise your audience by using unique photography rather than a stock image. – Hannah Trivette, NUVEW Web Solutions

6. Show Fashion Or Homeware Products In Context
360-degree imagery can be great for fashion or homeware products. There’s the one side where the user is simply rotating a product from all angles, but if the product is also part of a collection, you can create user experiences where someone is immersed in that collection. Imagine not just showing a single chair, but how that chair can be contextualized in a room fully outfitted with your designs. – Tellef Lundevall, Accelerated Digital Media

7. Use 360-Degree Images On The Right Marketing Platform
The key is to choose the right marketing platform to improve engagement. Each social platform has its own audience and interest group, so a company needs to know where and when to post its content. For example, if you use Facebook to promote your products and services, you can post 360-degree images summarizing many details and easily capture the audience’s attention. – Dmitrii Kustov, Regex SEO

8. Showcase 3D Products With 360-Degree Photography
For e-commerce developments, we use 360-degree photography to show three-dimensional products to the end user. This technique allows for user-friendly, experiential e-commerce design, produces more conversions and reduces the number of product returns. We also started utilizing 360-degree imagery in product personalization as well as environmental design for walk-through facility presentations. – Goran Paun, ArtVersion

9. Use Mid-Action Images To Show How People Experience The Brand
Use mid-action images showing people or influencers using the product or experiencing the brand. A viewer can use their mouse to see all angles of the image and will want to engage more to become a part of the moment in the imagery. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

10. Connect A Series Of 360-Degree Images With Clickable Hotspots
Connect a series of 360-degree images with clickable hotspots so viewers can navigate through a physical space or store online. Pair these hotspots with click-to-buy links or pop-up windows for detailed product information. This can extend an exclusive or limited-time retail pop-up shop to a much broader audience, driving engagement and sales. – Matt Miller, X-FCTR

11. Drive Interest With A 360-Degree Short Film/Advertisement
360-degree images can be very useful for company showcases such as office tours, networking events and product demonstrations. However, one of the more interesting uses that I’ve seen is a 360-degree short film/advertisement. A unique experience alone, which actually grants agency to users, can drive interest and engagement. – Tomas Oscar Andrén, UPRISE Management

12. Gamify Images And Reward Users For Finding Items In Them
Common ways to use 360-degree imagery include showing real estate, motor vehicles and holiday accommodation to prospective buyers. However, brands could be creative by gamifying these images so that you win rewards, discounts or vouchers by finding certain items within an image. This sort of interactive experience can boost customer loyalty and engagement in new and innovative ways. – Azadeh Williams, AZK Media

13. Provide More Immersive Home And Apartment Tours
These innovations in video and photography are fantastic for providing more immersive home and apartment tours. It allows renters and buyers to have a more tangible look at their next home. These innovations can also expand the market of buyers who may be moving “sight unseen” from one state to another. All in all, this can reduce buyer friction and convert interested parties faster. – Bernard May, National Positions

14. Immerse Online Event Attendees In 360-Degree AR/VR Formats
Immersive experiences are taking over the world. For marketers, this could be hosting online events using 360-degree visualizations to bring them as close to the human world as possible. Imagine the concept of having an expo floor, meetings and concerts all in 360-degree augmented and virtual reality. We’ve missed experiences! – Candice Georgiadis, Digital Day

14 Smart Ways For Agencies To Deal With The Impact Of Ad Blockers

Significant numbers of people use ad blockers, with estimates ranging from about a quarter to a little less than half of all internet users worldwide. The desire to rid the online experience of digital ads is understandable, given how annoying it is for users to see repetitive, intrusive pop-up ads for products in which they may have only once indicated mild interest, or not at all. But ad blockers can make it challenging for digital marketers and advertisers to execute their jobs well.

Whether their audiences are leveraging ad blocking software or using browsers with built-in ad blocking capabilities, agency pros are developing solutions to overcome the obstacles they present. Here, members of Forbes Agency Council outline different ways ad blockers affect agency work and how their agencies are addressing the impact.

Featured members share smart ways for agencies to deal with the impact of ad blockers.

1. Diversify Efforts In Less Impacted Areas
Ad blockers reduce reach, but is the reach even what we wanted to pay for? Someone who doesn’t want ads is likely to ignore them anyway. So blockers may help narrow an audience to more relevant prospects, but diversifying efforts in areas that are less impacted by blockers is the most crucial step. Leveraging email, search and helpful content will keep the right users seeing you and moving through the funnel. – Brian Walker, Statwax

2. Never Rely On Ads Alone To Help Clients
Remember when streaming was going to kill TV advertising? Remember when everything digital was going to get rid of paper? There are always changes to what we know; the truth is, we adapt or go out of business. Any agency that was relying on ads alone to help their clients was ignoring a large part of the equation. Successful marketing relies on engaging your clients at a point in time that suits them, not you! – Hamish Anderson, Three Piece Marketing

3. Collect Zero- And First-Party Data For Marketing
Ad blockers are not new to our industry, but the ways we deal with them continue to evolve. Zero- and first-party data is our best friend when it comes to implementing a worthwhile solution and practice to gather accurate and usable consumer insights. Especially now, with updated privacy efforts, how agencies and brands collect zero- and first-party data for marketing efforts makes a difference. – Josh Perlstein, Response Media

4. Use Channels Where Users Watch Ads To Access Content
Ad blockers are a customer’s choice. Instead of dealing with them, move toward channels that encourage ad viewing as a prerequisite for watching video content so that there is a trade-off of the consumers’ attention for the programming they want to view. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

5. Create Quality Content And New Revenue Sources
Ad blockers are here to stay, so agencies need to find ways to deal with them. Agencies can focus more on creating quality content that will be worth consumers’ time even if it cannot be monetized through advertising. Another approach is for agencies to develop new sources of revenue, such as offering services such as consulting or search engine optimization in addition to traditional advertising services. – Evan Nison, NisonCo

6. Try To Reach Audiences Through Many Platforms
It’s all about diversifying your marketing efforts. If a business was 100% dependent on ads, then ad blockers definitely put a big dent in their revenue. However, if you also reach people through social media, content marketing or emails, then the effects of ad blockers start to diminish. The key is to try to reach your audience through as many platforms as you can, including inbound. – Rafael Romis, Weberous Web Design

7. Focus More On In-App Ads Than Ads On Browsers
A lot of ad blockers are more focused on browsers, so optimizing for in-app ads that appear on people’s phones typically alleviates this issue. It’s much more difficult to block ads in apps such as Instagram. – Spencer Hadelman, Advantage Marketing

8. Create Immersive Ads Or Natural Ads
Creating immersive ads or natural ads is an effective strategy for counteracting the effects of ad blockers. Sometimes, they can be even more effective. For instance, while Netflix didn’t have ads for most of its existence, it negotiated in-content product placements that worked products into scripts in such a way that viewers didn’t even realize they were being advertised to. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative

9. Leverage Organic Inbound Marketing And PR
Our agency focuses mainly on organic inbound marketing and public relations, so ad blocking has little to no negative impact on our campaigns. In fact, the more consumers use ad blocking and the less they trust ads, the more engagement, trust and traction we see our content and campaigns gaining on behalf of our clients. So in all honesty, ad blockers are great for adding greater demand to our agency’s solutions. – Azadeh Williams, AZK Media

10. Try Emails, Text Messages And Push Notifications
Ad blocking impacts just one channel in the grander scheme of things. As an agency owner, being creative is my job, and while ad blockers do impact numbers on digital, there are still emails and text messages and push notifications! If you see that your ads aren’t getting traction, think of other channels. – Candice Georgiadis, Digital Day

11. Pivot To Other Forms Of Digital Marketing
Ad blockers on various platforms often lead to necessary changes in ad types and audience targeting, and if necessary, even pivoting to other forms of digital marketing. For example, can’t reach Apple customers because of an iOS update? Target Android devices. If it’s getting harder to bring in new customers, focus more on incentivizing repeat purchases from your customers via email or text. – Bernard May, National Positions

12. Offer Quality Content And Email Campaigns To Opt-In Users
It’s clear that users prefer ad blockers. Google is even ending third-party cookies on Chrome to enhance privacy. Agencies dependent on ad clicks will need to adapt by offering quality content and email campaigns to users who opt in. At the end of the day, this approach will deliver more qualified leads. – Marc Hardgrove, The HOTH

13. Don’t Focus On Ad Blockers, Just Create Engaging Campaigns
Ad blockers are reality for marketers and a completely valid way for internet users to create a more private and enjoyable online experience for themselves. At our agency, we don’t see ad blockers as anything to deal with; rather, our job is to create engaging, useful and creative ad campaigns and target the most ideal users. – Dejan Popovic, PopArt Studio

14. Develop Every Channel To Reach New Audiences
If ads are blocked, the ad is non-viewable, and the impression will not be charged. For agencies, this makes ads more efficient because the user who does not engage with ads is self-removed. This also reinforces that brands should not rely on any one channel or any one platform but instead develop every channel to reach new audiences. – Justin Buckley, ATTN Agency

Personalization at Scale: What Synthetic Media’s Rise Means for Brands

Advancement in artificial intelligence (AI) is giving rise to synthetic media. But is it something brands should lean into? Here, Christian Jones, head of marketing, Hawthorne Advertising, discusses synthetic media’s advantages and how marketers can integrate it into their brand strategy.


Synthetic Media Can Drive Personalization at Scale

Consumers expect personalization. It’s table stakes in 2022, and brands that can’t deliver the personalized content people expect are at risk of losing customers to competitors who can. But while companies of all sizes can define customer segments, it’s difficult to personalize digital content using traditional methods due to the expense. Smaller companies and startups, in particular, find the price tag impossible.

The emergence of synthetic media makes producing personalized content fast, easy, and affordable.

Synthetic media, as defined by Wikipedia, is “a catch-all term for the artificial production, manipulation, and modification of data and media by automated means, especially through the use of artificial intelligence algorithms.” In sum, it’s content produced by technology, not by humans directly. The most visible type of synthetic media at this stage is “deepfakes.” While there are countless creative examples, the Tom Cruise deepfake is often referenced based on his global familiarity and an admirable character impression. But what if customers could interact with your brand’s spokesperson or representative as a deepfake, as museum visitors in Florida did with surrealist painter Salvador Dalí? This kind of interaction could be game-changing.

Deepfakes (and their more nefarious implications) aside, synthetic media has many non-video applications that are immensely useful, including AI-written text generation, music composition, realistic human photogeneration, voice synthesis, and more. As technology advances, the toolsets for creation will become easier and more accessible.

For specific examples of how synthetic media may be of immediate use to brands, consider the avatar as a virtual spokesperson and brand representative. What if technology could render your products already on a consumer or an avatar that represents your target audience? It’s easier to see yourself buying shoes or a new hoodie if you’ve already tried it on, creating brand affinity within audience segments.

In Roadrunner, the Anthony Bourdain documentary, filmmakers leveraged synthetic media to create a realistic voice-over from Bourdain that he never actually voiced. Synthetic media also creates new possibilities for companies with a global customer base. This is deeply distressing to anyone who knew or loved the late author and television star. But it does illustrate the possibilities of editing and creating video content with synthetic media.

After developing video content with a host speaking a message in one language, synthetic media toolsets make it simple to translate a video message and “voice-over” into dozens of other languages. Creating new ad spots without additional voice-over recording, reshooting, or dubbing? It’s almost unheard of. Script changes are also a snap — edit the script, and the facial movements and VO follow along. The tools to generate synthetic media can essentially eliminate traditional “linear” production processes for localization, customization and personalization.

How Synthetic Media Will Evolve in the Near Term

The advancements in the production capabilities to generate synthetic media are evolving quickly, so it’s a good idea for brand marketers to know its advantages and understand its limitations. Currently, one of those limitations is the uncanny valley phenomenon. As the technology evolves and target audiences become accustomed to synthetically generated content, that will likely be less of a concern. But a measured approach over the next 2-4 years is probably best.

Synthetic media is already making inroads with consumers, and the acceptance rate of the emerging technology may follow a trajectory similar to photo filtering, widely popularized by Snap and Instagram. Photo filters have been a gamechanger in the photo-sharing space because algorithm-driven platforms make incredibly complex operations simple for everyday users. That’s starting to happen with synthetic media too.

Younger consumers are experts with filters on Instagram, more receptive to tools like digital face-swapping technology and more comfortable interacting through digital personas. Platforms like Rosebud let users map their facial expressions onto avatars to tell stories and bring old photos to life, giving users a “decentralized Hollywood on your laptop,” according to the creators.

Integrating Synthetic Media Into a Brand Strategy

As synthetic media usage on consumer platforms grows, the impact on brand marketing will increase because the potential advantages are massive. In addition to the ability to personalize at scale, synthetic media can fundamentally change concepts like spokesperson name and likeness usage. This provides brands with PR crisis-proof spokespeople (since non-human avatars are impervious to scandals, for now at least) and boosts the productivity of human spokespeople by reducing the need for recording sessions.

Brand marketers will need to be thoughtful about how they integrate synthetic media into their strategy. For companies that have a synthetic and/or tech-forward focus, it might be a natural fit, whereas brands that are high-touch and/or human-centered should proceed cautiously. The target customer is also a consideration; younger audiences are definitely more receptive.

It hasn’t fully escaped the uncanny valley, but synthetic media and other technologies will eventually automate many creative processes associated with video production, including scriptwriting. As the palette of tools becomes more advanced, marketing, as we know, will change; but we’re not there yet. For now, brand marketers should keep a sharp eye on the explosion of new tools to exploit this new tech and be ready to jump in when the time is right.