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IF YOU read ONE THING
Four Instagram content strategies to inspire you

As we covered last week, Instagram doesn’t exactly make it easy for publishers to send traffic back to their sites. But, with over 500 million daily active users—60 percent of them below the age of 35—publishers and content creators are experimenting with ways to engage audiences on the platform. Parse.ly’s Clare Carr highlights four brands using Instagram, each with different goals, styles, and results. Bleacher Report, for example, uses Instagram to encourage downloads of its app. Clue, an app that tracks the menstrual cycle, sees Instagram as a way to build loyalty and answer questions from existing users: “It’s user-generated content that also helps us find out what content we need to produce in the future. We can’t get this kind of feedback loop on other channels,” according to Clue head of content Amanda Cormier. Ultimately, Carr writes, “The decision to invest time, energy, and cost investment in [Instagram] should be backed by data that shows that your audience might be open to it there and monitored for the results you want to achieve very closely.”

POWERSTAT
Mobile use on track to overtake TV
According to eMarketer, the average U.S. adult is expected to spend roughly the same amount of time on mobile devices compared to watching TV. Moreover, app usage is expected to be six times as long as mobile browser usage.

Source: eMarketer

TREND WATCH
Podcast ad spends are rising

Advertisers are spending more money on podcasts—and new data shows exactly what kinds of ads marketers are leaning toward. Advertisers spent 53 percent more on advertising on podcasts in 2018 compared to 2017 ($479.1 million compared to $313.9 million) according to estimates in a new report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Interactive Advertising Bureau. But some of the most interesting findings are hidden deeper in the report. For example:

  • The number of dynamically inserted ads (those that are added when a listener downloads a podcast) is increasing, but baked-in ads (which are added by the podcast producer) still made up more than half (51.2 percent) of podcast ads sold in 2018.
  • Ads read by the podcast host are the preferred ad type, making up 63.3 percent of ads sold in 2018. These kinds of ads are viewed as podcast “beachfront property,” according to Marshall Williams, an ad executive who spoke to The Wall Street Journal.

NEWS YOU CAN USE
Train your brain to think creatively

The days of categorizing people as “creative” or “not creative” are over. In a Fast Company article, neuroscientist Dr. Tara Swart explains that creativity is more nuanced than the binary division based on “right-brain” and “left-brain” personality types. In fact, newer research suggests that creative thought occurs when lateral networks are fired, connecting brain pathways from both halves of the brain. According to Professor Roger Beaty’s study, highly original thinkers demonstrate strong connectivity between three specific brain networks—mind wandering, focused thinking, and selective attention. Thus, you—and anyone—can learn to think creatively by letting your mind wander, reducing distraction, practicing mindfulness to increase selective attention, and engaging in cultural activities like reading a novel or attending a show to strengthen connections between the two hemispheres.

PERSPECTIVES
Who takes responsibility for fake news? Americans see “made-up news and information” as a bigger problem than climate change, illegal immigration, and terrorism, according to a new Pew Research Center report. The report also found that while a majority of Americans believe political leaders and activist groups create a majority of made-up news, they also believe that the news media has the most responsibility when it comes to fixing it—far more than tech companies or the government.

  • “Pew didn’t ask, in this survey, precisely what measures Americans think should be taken to reduce fake news—but 53 percent of survey respondents said the greatest responsibility comes from ‘the news media,’ compared to only 9 percent who said the same about tech companies.” - Laura Hazard Owen, Nieman Lab
  • “Since Facebook has monopoly status in the market, users have no power to drive market-based accountability. … If government doesn’t step in, then I don’t see anything fundamentally changing. It’s a systemic issue … and Congress has the authority to change it.” - Sarah Miller, deputy director of Open Markets, The Guardian
  • “I think we will rue the day when we don’t step up. … The platform companies—Facebook, Twitter, Google—are alert to the fact that there’s a problem, and they have taken firm actions of self-policing. … But from a guardrails or rules-of-the-road standpoint, remarkably we’ve done nothing.” - Mark Warner, U.S. Senator, The Guardian
  • “‘Fake news’ and ‘misinformation’ are abstract terms, which gives people in power—such as President Trump—room to weaponize the term in order to denounce news they don't like. This has dramatically exposed more Americans to the debate around the problems it causes for society, and likely impacts their view of it as an important issue.” - Sara Fischer, Axios

This week in our office

We launched our Analytics Lab Bootcamp this week, and we’re grateful for our amazing attendees who were dedicated to learning how to harness data to better engage audiences. Stay tuned for future bootcamp opportunities!

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