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Nicholas Giustino

Native advertising is currently one of the most overused buzzwords in the advertising world. Many people are quick to roll their eyes at native advertising, thinking of the original click-bait nature of headlines and the cheesy descriptions publishers used to lure the audience in, only to have them immediately bounce out. The channel has now evolved from click bait headlines, to include video with engaging content the audience seeks out. The ability to retarget off each unit is another fantastic feature found in the native space. As a result, content can more closely resemble a publication’s editorial content across a website, lowering advertisers cost and increasing engagement.

Two main units we look at and the cost associated with them include:

Native Articles:

This placement has expanded from simple CPM (cost per thousand) buying to now include CPC (cost per click) and CPE (cost per engagement) depending on the buying objective. Now more than ever, the buyer and the content strategist can work as one tying together the goal of the content and how its written with how the ad is bought. For example, one piece of content in a campaign could be bought to generate awareness while the second piece to go live could utilize the generated awareness to increase website traffic and website conversions. As mentioned, native articles previously served as a vehicle for click bait, but now with vendors like StackAdapt and OutBrain, native strategies can be taken to the next level.

Penna Powers Native Article Averages:

CPM: $4.45

CPC: $0.83

CPE: $2.94

Time spent on site (LP): 1m 38s

Native Video:

Video has been on a hot topic for a few years now with YouTube popularizing video as an advertising placement. Depending on video length a video will fall into one of two native camps pre-roll, playing before other video content and out-stream with the later only playing when in-view. By now you’re most familiar with pre-roll running pre, mid, or post and out-stream videos running within a piece of content, breaking up a Forbes article for example. One of the greatest features of the native video placement is the ability to retarget an audience based on completed video views. This allows the advertiser to further engage with the audience and lower the cost of a conversion since the audience has previously interacted with the brand

Penna Powers Native Video Averages:

CPM: $13.04

CPCV: $0.03

Viewability %: 57.87

Completion Rate: 67.34%

CTR: 0.33%

Display working with Native

These days everyone either hates online ads or blocks them all together. Insert display ads working in conjunction with Native articles and/or videos. The key difference when using display in a Native campaign is the ability to bid on a CPE model if you’re looking for engagements on a piece of content. Display ads offered by vendors such as StackAdapt provide a great opportunity to retarget your native campaign audience, further increasing engagement and post-click activity.

Penna Powers Native Display Averages: (Currently we are only using native display in retargeting campaigns)

eCPM: $4.74

eCPC: $3.56

CTR: 0.13%

StackAdapt Benchmarks:


eCPM: $3.00 – $5.00

eCPC: $0.80 – $1.50

eCPE $2.00 – $3.00

CTR: 0.40% – 0.80%

Avg time on site: 55s – 1m5s

​PreRoll Video

eCPM: $12.00 – $15.00

eCPC: $9.00 – $12.00

eCPCV: $0.02 – $0.05

CTR: 0.10% – 0.20%

Completion Rate: 70% – 80%

Native Video​

​eCPM: $12.00 – $15.00

​eCPC: $3.00 – $5.00

eCPCV: $0.05 – $0.07

CTR: 0.50% +

Completion Rate: 40% – 60%


eCPM: $1.50 – $3.00

eCPC: $1.75 – $3.00

CTR: 0.10% – 0.15%

Despite the perception, native advertising is not going anywhere anytime soon. Based on a IPG Media Lab and Sharethrough study, consumers looked at native ads 52 percent more frequently than banner ads. Native advertising presents a huge opportunity for agencies and their clients to create a lasting engagement that leads to further brand interactions and sales.    

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Is the content marketing program you’re paying for really a content marketing program? Is it delivering results?

Content marketing is more than flooding online channels with 500 million pieces of content. It is a well thought out strategy delivering valuable, relevant and consistent content that drives a highly qualified audience to take action. For the most part, agencies large and small are still using push marketing, not content marketing, as a way to reach their audience.

Spotting a content marketing campaign is easier than you may think. Content that makes the audience seek further information, click through deeper and want to consume more rather than avoid it, is content marketing. Here are three essential questions to get you to the content marketing sweet spot:
– How is this right for my audience?
– Where is my audience?
– Will this deliver the results I’m looking for?

You may be saying to yourself, “I still don’t get what content marketing is. This is another industry buzzword for 2016.” What may have been a buzzword in 2016, however, is going to be a mainstay in 2017. A recent Forbes article even said, “Content marketing isn’t going anywhere.” The key to unlocking content marketing for your brand is to understand and recognize the value delivered to your audience in each piece of content. To get you started thinking like a content marketer, you need to be thinking about channels in your content marketing strategy.


Content Marketing Channels

Social Media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr) Social media channels are usually tossed to the intern who puts it at the bottom of their to do list. Today’s social media landscape requires pinpoint audience targeting with content to match. Active channels are only relevant if your audience is using them. Social media channels can be effective in that it opens a two-way conversation with the audience leading to further content consumption.

Native People view native, or sponsored, content 53 percent more frequently than traditional ads. Native provides the opportunity to have the audience engage with your content naturally within the website they are currently on. Tying into a strong blog content strategy increases your chances of increased website traffic, SEO ranking and further audience engagement. Video also plays a strong role in native content whether you’re using the video to retarget the audience or to drive engagements.

Podcasts Looking to stand out in a completely different world? Podcasts are your answer. Written off for dead a few years ago, podcasts are back with vengeance. This format provides a much more intimate way of getting content in front of the audience by communicating verbally to the listener. As we’ve mentioned the key to content marketing is creating valuable content and podcasts do just that. It is an on-demand technology giving the listener the power to decide what they want to hear and when they want to listen. Podcasting is also time and cost efficient medium compared to other forms of marketing.

Video 2015 was dubbed “The Year of Video Marketing,” thanks to the development in software tools creating valuable and engaging video content is easier than ever. Is your agency pushing the envelope? Are they using iPhones to shoot quick :15-:30 videos? If not, they should be. Videos and podcasts have untapped potential because of their association of costing large sums of money and being hard to create. This is simply not true. We are entering the age of real time video, this being an important pillar of a content marketing strategy.

SEO Some will say SEO is all about content marketing. You may be asking yourself, “Don’t we use two different agencies for SEO and other content?” Does SEO even fit into content marketing?” The main problem is the two are not integrated in many agencies and teams nationwide. Strong SEO is reflected in valuable blog content that is optimized in a targeted, native campaign. The truth is, there is a lot of overlap with SEO and content marketing with each still maintaining their own unique differences. SEO states the requirement. Content marketing fulfills them.

Paid Search Going hand in hand with SEO, Paid Search is on the frontlines of any marketing effort. Paid search ads are becoming more robust, creating yet another channel of content for users to consume. It is crucial to deliver a relevant and engaging message to people at the exact moment when they are searching for information.

Blogs once considered dead, like podcasts, are back again. A strong website presence includes a dialed in blog acting as a library full of valuable content the audience can search and engage with. For blogs the name of the game is quality over quantity, similar to many other content marketing channels we’ve covered. Blogs drive website traffic every time you write a post along with keeping your social presence strong. At the end of the day a strong blog helps convert your audience with each new blog post generating new leads.

You’ll notice all of these channels form the pillars of content marketing. The strategy for marketers is to determine the right rotation based on client’s unique needs and tailored content marketing strategy. For clients, we create strategic content marketing plans backed by research. If conversations and strategy sessions with your agency don’t mention content marketing, maybe it’s time to start the search for a new plan that will take your brand to the next level. Penna Powers started as an advertising agency, evolving into a full service communication firm with a team dedicated to creating content marketing strategies that benefit clients from retail to government.

Just as we’ve adapted to the changing world of communication, we can help your brand adapt to any audience and any medium. Don’t wait, give us a call today, and we’ll show you what a real content marketing strategy looks like.

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Artificial intelligence (AI) used to be seen in Sci-Fi movies featuring intergalactic travel. Now, companies such as Facebook, IBM and Microsoft are implementing the technology throughout various products and services. In the social media space, Facebook is leading the charge: taking AI mainstream and merging the term with its previous connotation. Using the 900 million monthly users of Facebook’s messenger app, the social AI will interface with bots for simple tasks, such as ordering flowers or answering customer service related questions.

Facebook’s ultimate goal is to transform the industry. By simplifying day-to-day tasks, a whole new industry is hatched, similar to the app revolution paving the way for companies such as Uber. From an agency perspective, this does seem interesting, as one of the most time consuming tasks is managing audience responses that require simple replies. Aside from selling products, these bots could direct people to the appropriate phone number for customer service assistance, or help you find the bakery department in your local grocery store. The sky is the limit when it comes to this technology. But, we will have to wait to find out whether shoppers are interested in dealing with artificial intelligence, or if they still prefer face to face. We expect that the large brands will continue to test Facebook Messenger, watching the performance carefully to see if the initial glitches will be worked out. As of right now, developer interest in messaging/bots has greatly outpaced consumer interest thus far.


You may be asking yourself, “Are there risks associated with having clients utilize bots on their social media?” The answer is yes, it is similar to the risk of having a human handle social media interactions, even with the tightest social media policy in place. The best way to introduce these bots is on a small scale, using simple customer service responses and scaling as you see fit. No one wants to hear that it’s the bots fault, as we’ve all seen with the Microsoft fiasco. Many of today’s tech leaders are pushing artificial intelligence and bots at a feverish pace, leaving some to wonder what the boundary is for such technology. Until such a boundary is established, there will be a race amongst the social and tech company elite to unleash bots on the masses, especially in the social media realm.


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It has been over a year since Pinterest first opened advertising to a select few, mostly large-scale brands. The original 12 brands were tied to expensive 6-month commitments, spending $150,000 per month during the timeframe. Fast-forward to February 2016, and agencies like Penna Powers now have access to one of the most coveted social audiences online. Using Pinterest’s initial CPM and CPC benchmarks of $30-$40 and $0.50-$1.50, we’ve launched our own campaigns with the results highlighted below. Before diving into the advertising costs, we thought it would be helpful to discuss what exactly makes up Pinterest advertising.

UntitledAdvertising on Pinterest is simple and straightforward in selecting one of two options, either an engagement campaign or one that drives traffic. After choosing a campaign objective, you are directed to select an existing campaign or prompted to set up a new one, followed by selecting the Pin you would like to use as an ad. A stand-out feature of the ad dashboard is when selecting a Pin for promotion, Pinterest shows you the most clicked and repinned Pins during the last 30 days. Pinterest’s targeting creates a native experience both on the web and in-app by selecting your audiences interests and their location.


Our initial tests for both engagement and website click campaigns were setup for a very popular retail client that was recently granted Pinterest advertising access. Our results are below:

Pinterest Advertising Campaign Performance:

Engagement Campaign:

  • CPE: $0.27
  • eCPE: $0.26
  • CPM: $5.30
  • CTR: 1.99%
  • eCTR: 2.03%

Website Click Campaign:

  • CPC: $1.52
  • eCPC: $1.52
  • CTR: 0.04%

The success of the campaign and current projections of planned campaigns, we expect to see a large lift in website traffic from our Pinterest ads as more resources are put into the social channel. We are also seeing the audience spend more time on the client’s website and converting on various products, which is in line with the experience of much larger advertisers. Pinterest advertising has a huge upside, especially as it introduces more ad products down the road (including video ads). Data will also continue to trickle down from large advertisers to those of various sizes as Pinterest opens the platform further. In the mean time, if you haven’t already signed up your Pinterest account up for Promoted Pins, you can do so here.

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Not too long ago, social media was looked at as the “thing” brands needed, but had no idea how to use. Fast forward to 2016, and we have 1.35 billion monthly active users on Facebook, 284 million on Twitter and don’t forget Instagram with another 300 million users. Social media is no longer on its own island. Instead, it is part of a unified content marketing strategy that tips traditional silos on their side in the name of a holistic inbound marketing strategy. As social media marketers, we are constantly seeking data in the name of ROI and to see where our own campaigns stack up in the crowded world of social promotion. The data below highlights something very important. Social media is not going anywhere.


2015 Social Media Advertising Highlights:

Social Media CPMs:

  • Facebook – $6.37 (Includes all Facebook ad placements)
  • Instagram – $5.86 (Includes all Instagram ad placements)
  • Twitter – $14.18 (Includes all Twitter ad placements)

Cost Per Engagement:

  • Facebook – $0.66
  • Instagram – $0.23
  • Twitter – $0.72

We’ve calculated the above CPM and CPE based off our own client’s data, showing a much more realistic expectation for campaigns with different targeting and audience parameters.

Moving into 2016, we expect to see a continued rise in Facebook advertising costs as inventories continue to shrink on the network. Q4 2015 was the first time ad inventory on the channel increased since 2013, with even larger percentages of ad budgets shifting to the channel. Facebook-owned Instagram will dive deeper into advertising with the launch of multiple account access and ad retargeting through Facebook, and vice versa. Finally, we expect Twitter to continue struggling overall, with the only upside being its event targeting, which we have seen success with around the Super Bowl and NFL playoffs. As a whole, social media advertising will see its share of media budgets increasing to 20% by 2017, as more ad products come online and video platforms such as Snapchat open their ad platform to the masses.

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As I write this, I can confidentially say that 10 of my closest friends are snapping at work, on vacation, or while at home drinking coffee at their kitchen table. Content marketing is evolving at the fastest clip ever as tailored messages turn to personalized video, capturing all of the moments in our daily lives. Snapchat is at the center of video sharing, with millions of snaps happening every day from across the demographic spectrum. Enter brands both large and small from Coca-Cola to ad agencies, utilizing the channel and telling a personalized story that makes their brands look human. How Does Snapchat Affect My Brand? Great question. Snapchat is used daily by 100 million users across the world, creating 6 billion daily video views with 30% of the demographic being the highly coveted millennial generation.

SnapChat Facts:

  • 100 million users worldwide
  • 30% 18-24 usage
  • 6 billion daily video views
  • 65% of users contribute content

As millennials and younger generations accelerate the shift from permanent to expiring content, channels such as Snapchat are positioned to gain the most from the disappearing act. It was only 15 months ago that the first ad appeared on Snapchat, demanding $750,000 for the spot and ushering in a new era of branded content for the channel. Many agencies, including Penna Powers, have a wish list of marketing tools for the platform to further their client’s brands.

As an agency, we look at Snapchat as a channel where you either need to have a huge budget to even get in the door, or organically invest the time and resources it would take to really expand a brand on the channel. Snapchat has just barely scratched the surface when it comes to its influence on branded content.

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One month after Instagram opened advertising to small and mid-size agencies Penna Powers had the opportunity to launch test campaigns for both sponsored posts and videos. These campaigns tested various demographics in the non-profit/government and retail verticals. Both tests allowed us to successfully engage the designated audiences, driving website clicks, brand awareness and engagements. But most importantly, the campaigns provided Instagram advertising metrics for us to share with the world.

Storytelling is what Instagram does best, add in Facebook’s excellent targeting capabilities and your brand story can now be seen by the exact audience you’re seeking. Our campaigns set out targeting two very different audiences, teenagers (13-17) in the non-profit/government campaign and M/F (18+) in the retail campaign. The wide audience in the retail vertical was chosen to allow us to gauge a true CPM benchmark based on a large demographic segment. We were curious to see if Instagram’s estimated CPM of $13 held true or if our campaigns would come in much higher, even or much lower. Both campaign results are listed below presenting a much lower CPM in both instances by a healthy margin. The non-profit/government campaign also presented interesting data that teenagers will actively engage with Instagram content even though studies are showing a migration to other social media channels such as Snapchat. The wide audience in the retail vertical aligned with established Instagram data with the millennial audience outperforming all other segments of the target demographic. Instagram advertising is uniquely positioned to help push Facebook even further ahead of Twitter and Google in the social advertising front.

Instagram Advertising Campaign Performance:

 Campaign 1- non-profit/government- Sponsored Posts:

  • CPC: $0.14
  • CPM: $4.17*
  • CTR: 2.96%

Campaign 2 – Retail- Sponsored Posts:

  • CPC: $0.44
  • CPM: $6.58*
  • CTR: 1.47%

Campaign 2 – Retail- Sponsored Video:

  • CPV: $0.01
  • CPM: $2.48*
  • CTR: 2.08%

*Instagram estimated CPMs of $13

Instagram Advertiser Results (Instagram for Business Blog):

  • 97% lift in ad recall
  • 16-point average ad recall lift
  • 7x higher Nielsen ad recall vs. other study data

Users spend on average 5 minutes per day on Instagram and Facebook.


We look to Facebook to begin tying in retargeting between the two ad platforms serving ads to the audience members who may have interacted with one on Facebook or Instagram presenting an opportunity for marketers to have even better data and more audience touch points. At the end of the day social media is all about engagements with the line between a website click and a comment blurring every day. The new advertising opportunity has brought about change within our own Social Media Department with the team shifting dollars almost immediately from Twitter to Instagram because of the superior ad products and the fact that Instagram blows away Twitter engagements.

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One year ago Instagram introduced native advertising in the United States utilizing promoted photos and videos from major brands introducing a new multibillion dollar advertising business. Thus far ads have been creative and engaging emphasizing audience storytelling. The advertising program has seen an increase in brand awareness, cross platform lift and traffic for many of its early partners, particularly the retail companies involved in the program. Due to its success, Instagram is opening up its application program interface (API) for advertising in the middle of August to marketers and then general advertisers in Q4 of 2015.

Instagram Facts:

  • 300 million users worldwide
  • 60% 18-24 usage
  • 70 million photos per day
  • 5 billion likes per day

Instagram will launch multiple advertising products resembling similar offerings from parent company Facebook. The carousel ads on Instagram will bring multi-page print campaigns to mobile devices with the added benefit of taking the audience to a website to learn more. Overtime campaigns will mirror the same objective based goals Facebook campaigns offer. All Instagram ads will have a special tag in the top right that says Sponsored. The image below from Instagram shows a mock-up of the carousel’s layout and storytelling ability.


In addition to carousel ads, photo ads will be launching and giving brands the opportunity to reach a passionate and engaged audience by delivering messages in a focused, creative format. Sponsored photos will measure reach; brand awareness and ad recall appearing natively in the user’s feed.


Companies can tie together Instagram Ads with Facebook campaigns to increase cross platform measurements effectively increasing engagement, website traffic and conversion opportunities. Audience targeting will leverage the same tools as Facebook advertising providing Instagram with a leg up over other social media ad products. Analytics and reporting will also appear along side the Facebook dashboard with delivery and measurements including:

  • Impressions
  • Reach and frequency
  • Demographics
  • Brand metrics
    • Ad recall
    • Message awareness

Unique to Instagram will be the ability to measure ad recall and brand awareness by leveraging Nielsen technology. Instagram’s goal is to grab the user’s attention with concept driven creative that is relevant and tasteful. Initial beta testing partners were buying on a CPM basis with businesses with large-scale budgets seeing a CPM of $20. Instagram informed Penna Powers CPMs would come in at $13 when advertising opens in mid-August. Estimated CPCs have not been discussed yet but will be available as more objective based campaigns come online.

Instagram Advertiser Results (Instagram for Business Blog):

  • 97% lift in ad recall
  • 16-point average ad recall lift
  • 7x higher Nielsen ad recall vs. other study data
  • Users spend on average 5 minutes per day on Instagram and Facebook

Though many other social media channels offer similar promotion tactics, Instagram holds the only claim to be able to utilize Facebook’s powerful targeting capabilities. This means that companies can reach their target audience at a much lower cost across two of the largest social media channels in the United States and world. First and foremost, the average Instagram user is looking to engage with their day-to-day brands. Thus, sponsored posts will likely increase brand awareness, engagements and purchase interest for your products.

As marketers we are on a constant hunt for new tools to leverage in the battle for consumer eyeballs with more and more budgets shifting to social media. Instagram’s popularity continues to grow reaching 300 million users in 2015, a majority of them being millennials. This growth shows no evidence of stopping in the near future. By launching sponsored campaigns on Instagram brands will rewarded and recognized as early innovators. At the end of the day Instagram’s engagement rate dwarfs Twitter’s engagement signaling to marketers of all sizes that shifting their dollars to Instagram is a smart bet.

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Twitter finally joined Facebook in launching a mobile advertising dashboard within its mobile application on iOS and Android. The addition of this new dashboard comes as no surprise, in Twitter’s last earning call it reported 89% of total revenue came from mobile advertising. This matches the overall trend of social and digital advertising shifting from desktop to exclusively mobile.

We spotted the new button while tweeting out of our Penna Powers account via an iPhone 6. The button is featured prominently on mobile users Twitter profile page, next to your settings icon. While you may not be able to launch a full campaign from your phone during a meeting, you have all of the major metrics and ability to edit a campaign flight on the fly. The ability to quickly glance at a campaign is in contrast to Facebook’s approach of a stand-alone Ads Manager app where you’re able to review post performance and quickly launch a campaign. The added dashboard is a plus in our eyes and doesn’t take up precious real estate on our already crowded iPhones filled with every social media app under the sun. Iphone Marketing Land

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Social media transformed the way we all look at, read and interact with content. We share our daily interactions at a rate never before seen, from what we ate for breakfast to the birth of a new child. Over the last three months we’ve seen the content envelope pushed even further with live streaming mobile applications from Periscope and Meerkat. Live streaming began its moment in the sun by Twitter acquiring the Periscope app for upwards of $100 million dollars, beginning its head-to-head battle with rival app Meerkat.

As content creators and storytellers we are constantly looking for ways to reach our audience in new and engaging ways. Twitter’s Periscope and Meerkat present us with these new opportunities—and the data backs this claim.

The top factors driving interest in live streaming apps are:

  • It’s an easy way to share live events in real time – 43%
  • It’s a new way to see what’s going on in the world – 42%
  • People’s general interest in tech innovation – 39%

Beyond telling a story, live streaming creates new opportunities to deliver content and engage audiences from where they are—conferences, community events and policy briefings.

The defining event that pushed live streaming apps, specifically Periscope, to the wider audience was the blockbuster Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight. Many people were not willing to cough up the $100 price tag to watch the fight on Pay-Per-View, instead turning to Periscope, a trend likely to displease HBO and Showtime.

Further amplifying the significance of live streaming, Twitter recently partnered with Hacehette on author videos. The #WhereIWrite series ran throughout the month of April with a Hachette author live streaming from the place where they write.  Readers were encouraged to join in live by downloading the Periscope app and following the author.  The campaign demonstrated the ability to capture the audience’s attention and stir engagement all while increasing brand recognition of the author and publisher.

In the coming months we can expect to see more agencies introducing campaigns on behalf of their clients as well as politicians using the platform as a way to portray themselves as authentic to the American people.

Content marketers alike would all agree the new crop of apps popping up is providing even more opportunity to push the limits of brands and campaigns. You should be asking yourself, how does live streaming fit into my content plan? Can we live stream an event, photo shoot or creative in action?  ‘

When a content idea is decided, the next set of questions should identify who the audience is, what the objective will be and if any new policies will need to be put into place.

Brands are constantly looking for new ways to put a warm, human feel/touch to their identity and these live-streaming apps allow the behind-the-scenes people and employees to have their own live channels for representing their brands. At the end of the day, these new live stream apps remind us that the only constant in social media is change.  Do you have thoughts or predictions with how Periscope and Meerkat will be used? Share it with us at @PennaPowers on Twitter.

You can download Meerkat here.

You can download Periscope here.



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