MG-Blog-Header-Comp4Sponsored story. Branded content. Native advertising. Whatever you name it, it’s advertising. And studies show that readers prefer native advertising to the traditional banner ad, for the most part. According to the IPG Media Lab and Sharethrough study, “consumers looked at native ads 52% more frequently than banner ads.” Those are a lot of potential consumers to convert. And brands are looking for more and more ways to discretely convince you to buy the latest pair of shoes from that company with the “swoosh” logo on your favorite digital publication.

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It’s Thanksgiving next week and we’re thinking about some things that we’re thankful for this year. In addition to being thankful for the opportunity to be creative on a daily basis and for our supportive friends and family members, we thought about some things that we’re very glad exist in digital. Read More

Mindgruve 12 Favorite Digital Topics

Quick! Make a wish—it’s 12/12/12. Or is that for 11:11…? Whatever it is, we’re a bit superstitious and we want to take advantage of today’s date singularity and share with everyone our 12 favorite digital topics of 2012. Topics below are in no particular order.

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It seems like each day, this industry of ours is changing and developing. From the start of a mobile revolution to an explosion in crowdfunding, 2012 was one transformative year, and 2013 is bound to be an even more powerful game changer. Although it’s impossible to predict everything that will make its way onto our radars this year, here are some trends that are already ramping up for the New Year. Hint: We’ll be talking about mobile… a lot.
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Mobile advertising is becoming an integral part of advertising strategies due to the fact that it can conveniently reach consumers right in the palm of their hands. This year, it seems the best way to reach users are through apps as they are being downloaded everyday for almost any occasion, opening the door to integrate mobile advertising more fluidly in a campaign while search, shop and share tools, such as QR codes, continue to play a major role.

With 95% of mobile users downloading and using free apps, worldwide mobile app revenue will triple to $15.1 billion and downloads will more than double to 17.7 billion this year alone. While it is estimated that 51% of the US will have smart phones by the end of 2011, the popularity of tablets are growing as well with speculation that 50 million Americans will own a tablet computer in the next year. To keep the increasing number of tablet and smart phone users engaged through apps, iAds – a new form of mobile advertising that explores the capabilities of smart phones and tablets through rich media – is needed. Even more so when considering that mobile app revenue, especially for free apps, is made by cost-per-click mobile ads. While CPC mobile ads are a great way to advertise, CPC ad dollars are often wasted because users frequently click or tap the ads by mistake. In fact, a survey conducted by Pontiflex and Harris Interactive found that 47% of mobile app users click ads unintentionally with 61% being 18-34 year olds – the most active group of mobile users. However, the survey also found the solution that 71% of app users prefer in-app ads that don’t take them out of the app.

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1st Annual Hackathon SD

With Red Bulls in hand and an awesome concept in mind, the Mindgruve Development Team joined fellow developers and designers at the 1st Annual Hackathon SD, brought to you by the folks at OpenCandy! Their mission: create an award-winning mobile application in only 23 hours.

Countless energy drinks, candy bars and three short naps later, we developed an app – The Golden Sanctuary – sure to be useful for people on the go, travelers and anyone else in search of the cleanest throne in the city – as well as some funny stuff to read and do once you get there. Check out our wireframes, comps and highlights from the event!

February 18, 7:05PM:
Team Mindgruve puts their thinking caps on and prepares for a long night ahead.

Mindgruve at Hackathon SD

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There is no doubt that digital media is becoming more and more prominent every day. Everything has a website, it’s all about fans and followers, there’s an app for “that,” and tablets are making print feel irrelevant. However, despite rumors and myths, digital is not replacing traditional media; it is enhancing it. While advertisements have shifted from “buy now” to “follow us,” traditional media is being forced to learn how to play with digital media to create a more well-rounded, powerful campaign. Because of this, companies are starting to take digital media more seriously realizing its importance in creating value for consumers. It’s this user value that provides the most powerful impact.

Thanks to the Y generation, traditional media now plays a different role when it comes to a campaign. It hasn’t lost its power to reach masses, in fact that’s where its strongpoint is. Traditional media’s ability to reach masses is used for “introducing” a campaign and driving consumers to digital media. Digital media in return, ultimately turns into brand loyalty and conversion rates. It is suggested that 70% of budgeting should be spent on traditional media to ultimately drive consumers to digital media. Thus, to be popular online, offline advertising is still key.
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As 2010 comes to a close, we’re recapping Mindgruve’s Top 3 Predictions for 2010 and looking forward to what 2011 will bring.

First, at the beginning of 2010, we said SEO and social media would be huge and they were. In addition to Google and Bing’s search results that feature Facebook and Twitter posts, Clickz notes that link building through social media can help generate leads, while the recent Facebook-Bing partnership indicates the growing importance of social media’s relationship with search.
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In recent months, we’ve seen rebranding hits and misses by several well-known companies that have either left consumers embracing their new image or alienated them with uninformed changes. Understanding how a brand sets the stage for meaningful interaction and advocacy within your audience, we studied these recent efforts to get to the heart of what makes a successful rebranding: balance. Company goals, messaging, culture and strengths must balance with audience expectations and a digital strategy to effectively introduce your new brand identity.

But, before undergoing a rebrand of any sort, it’s important to consider the reasons for doing so:

  • First, sympathizing with Business Insider, a “successful rebranding involves overhauling a company’s goals, message, and culture.” Simply changing a logo isn’t enough to change the bond you have (or hope to create) with your audience.
  • Second, knowing your strengths can help develop a new brand that caters to you and drive future success with brand advocates.
  • Third, rolling out a new brand through a well-defined digital strategy that includes online and mobile channels is imperative in engaging your target at the spaces where they spend a majority of their time.
  • Finally, as Myspace discovered in their recent brand refresh, awareness of your audience and their expectations of you is just as important as how you view yourself.

An intricate strategy in place to balance these areas can mean saving time and work wasted on an unappealing brand that lacks direction and impact. With this in mind, we took a closer look at two brands that have made strides and setbacks in their brand.

The Hit: San Diego Zoo

  • Company Goals, Message and Culture: Job well done. Before rolling out a new, cohesive brand for all three San Diego Zoo entities, the goal was to ensure they appear unified and highlight the San Diego Zoo’s efforts in conservation.
  • Core Strengths: The San Diego Zoo’s strengths lie in the culture that it has developed since 1916. Conservation and education are important elements of who they are and we believe the new brand reflects this well through the identity system and communication of zoo programs and initiatives.
  • Digital Rollout: Before the new brand was introduced, San Diego Zoo did a wonderful job of engaging the community. After the rebrand, their Facebook page, Twitter page and website continue to create an educational experience that allow the community to help in conservation efforts, play educational games and adopt animals.
  • Audience Expectations: San Diego Zoo did their research. They knew the name “Safari Park” better represents the experience people have at San Diego Zoo Safari Park. They also understand the fun, family-oriented experience of both parks and the educational experience of the institute needed to be captured in the new identity system when compared to the old, corporate-looking logo.

The Miss: Gap

  • Company Goals, Message and Culture: Unfortunately, Gap fired a complete dud. Rolling out a new (less than liked) logo in early-October, the public was quick to call them out with “Crap Logo Yourself.” Gap did little to connect their new visual representation with what a Gap spokesperson later told us was meant to “signify Gap’s transition from classic America design to modern, sexy, cool.”
  • Core Strengths: Gap’s strength as a clothing brand is that they are considered iconic by many, creating what Brand New calls “a cool, breezy, and sophisticated brand visual language.” The hasty switch to the new logo did little to enhance the appeal they had or highlight their shift to “modern, sexy, cool.”
  • Digital Rollout: Overall, Gap is doing what they can to create a large digital presence (recent Groupon deals and Facebook check-ins come to mind), but have yet to embrace it in a branded way to engage with their customers beyond “big savings.” Prior to the new logo, Gap did a good job at engaging the community with store news, giveaways and styling tips. After the new logo, all hope for a revised digital strategy was lost when Gap failed to properly introduce the online community to it.
  • Audience Expectations: Gap found out a little too late what their audience wanted. After introducing the new logo and receiving a flood of negative feedback, Gap attempted to quell the mob’s anger by calling it a “crowd sourcing project,” which did little to smooth things over. In the end, Gap ditched the new logo and crowd sourcing plans, illustrating why proactively discovering a target audience is much better than reacting to their negativity.

As you can see, a rebranding must be balanced through all four areas we looked at. What recent rebrands do you think are hits or misses?

In App Advertising: Reaching Target Demos in New Ways

Marketing within apps and games is revolutionizing how marketers reach new consumers

Due to the continued innovation of the smart phone, mobile apps have become a huge part of the new media industry. In particular, mobile games have seen a big benefit from this rise in popularity, accounting for 5%, or $500 million, of U.S. gaming sales in 2009 alone. These new mediums have given marketers a whole new venue to reach its specific target audiences directly and engage them in a way they have never been able to before. There are many advantages to the use of mobile ads and we believe that they will become a very effective marketing method due to their specificity and diversity.

One advantage is the potential for massive exposure because there are now over 49 million smart phone users. Recent mobile phenomenon such as Angry Birds and Words With Friends has shown that it is possible for marketers to get millions of impressions from a single app or game. Compared to console games which feature less intrusive advertising, mobiles games offer more direct advertising in order to leave an impression on its audience. This new medium also allows for a wide range of creative possibilities because of advanced smartphone technologies such as touch screens and gyroscopes that result in more clicks. For example, Greystripe has shown that their interactive ads for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment increased overall product awareness by 19%. Advertisements can now be just as engaging and interactive as apps themselves which will leave a bigger impression on users. Aside from engagement and production, there are also significant advantages demographically.

Mobile ads allow marketers to more accurately and effectively target advertisements toward certain demographics. In general, smart phone users are a valuable demographic because they are generally between the ages of 18 and 35 and have a large steady income. However, ads can still be placed within many games or applications to reach many specific demographics, making marketers campaigns much more effective. Marketers also have the option of reaching selected demographics by creating ads for a specific app store. Android users tend to be younger than Apple users while Apple users tend to be wealthier and more educated. Finally, ads can be highly localized because of most smart phones built-in GPS capabilities. This makes them particularly useful for local businesses and companies looking to reach potential consumers in a new and captivating way.

Mobile ads are an exciting addition for marketers looking to publicize their products in new mediums. They offer a different level of diversity, creativity and engagement that is difficult to find in other marketing venues. With many companies redeveloping their digital strategies and embracing in app/game advertising, innovation is sure to continue and these ads will become a mainstay for marketers moving forward.