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Verso Advertising — Winter 2015 Newsletter



•  Featured Campaigns: The Stranger, The 5th Wave, Fairest, The Whites

•  Featured Platform: Podcasts

•  Featured Unit: The Carousel

•  Next to Now: Links to Recent Reads in Book-Related Ad Tech

Featured Campaigns
Harlan Coben - The Stranger - video spot


Sylvia Day - Captivated by YouThe Stranger is an all-new tale of suspense from #1 bestselling author Harlan Coben. Coben’s novels are known for starting strong and keeping up a killer pace, and they demand a marketing campaign to match. For The Stranger, we designed a campaign that extended from weekly book reviews and magazines to daily newspapers, mobile ads to broadcast television. The result: another chart-topping blockbuster for the writer Gillian Flynn calls “one of the all-time greats.”

The 5th Wave - Penguin - Subway Posters


Patricia Cornwell - Not Just a ReadThe 5th Wave books have been a mainstay of the bestseller lists ever since they first appeared. This winter, we were thrilled to help the books sustain their blockbuster momentum with an advertising campaign that stretched from movie screens nationwide to to a ground-breaking Wired native unit to a New York subway campaign. We love the visibility of outdoor campaigns, and the way that visibility can get amplified across social media—in this case, when our 5th Wave poster served as a backdrop to a hot dude reading (as recorded on Instagram’s @hotdudesreading). The book’s excellent video was put to particularly good use with Wired’s new “In-Stream Sponsored Content” unit: a custom-built video unit that is positioned within relevant editorial as an integral part of Wired’s beautifully responsive site. 


Last summer, the New York Times gave us a preview of a new native ad unit custom-made for mobile: TapNYT. We were thrilled that Macmillan Children's signed on to be the first book publisher (and the second company of any kind) to run the unit, and gratified that user response was just as strong as we’d hoped. TapNYT is a mobile Web interstitial ad that is served between articles. Because users are encouraged to tap through a series of pages to advance the story, the unit requires a high level of user engagement to continue. Naturally, users can also opt out either by tapping the “X” or not touching the unit for several seconds. 

Fairest - TAP NYT

We’re seeing great user engagement with this unit: 

  • 18 taps on average per viewing
  • nearly a minute spent per story, and 
  • an average completion rate of over 50%.

While mobile advertising is well on its way to becoming the dominant digital platform, the small size of the screens presents a problem for all but the biggest brand name authors. New units like TapNYT—as well as the increasing size of screens such as the iPhone 6—give advertisers much more canvas to work with, space we need to tell the stories our audiences want and our books deserve. 

Richard Price - The Whites - New York Times


We expect every book by Richard Price to be an event, and The Whites did not disappoint, inspiring a rush of praise from heavy hitters such as Michael Connelly and Stephen King and hitting the bestseller list right out of the gate. As Michiko Kakutani wrote in her glowing New York Times review of the book, “No one these days writes with more kinetic energy or more hard-boiled verve.” We worked to capture that energy with full page ads in the New York Times, New York magazine and The New Yorker. As Price shows us, when you go all-in with one city, you can get to the heart of something much bigger. The Whites may be the ultimate New York story, but its reach is universal.  

NPR Podcast DirectoryEver since Serial burst into national prominence last fall, podcasts have seen a resurgence in media attention. The media may only be noticing now, but the audience for this platform has been growing for years. NPR podcasts alone are downloaded an average of 80 million times a month. We love the form for the immersive quality of the storytelling and the way it fits into our mobile lifestyle: you can listen while driving, doing dishes, or having your morning coffee. The same qualities that make podcasts great for listeners make them equally great for advertisers—they provide an unhurried, ultra-focused and highly relevant moment in the listener’s day. Long a favorite of the book-buying audience on air and online, NPR also has one of the strongest portfolios of podcasts—each one with downloads ranging from the hundreds of thousands to the millions, and the opportunity to run sponsorship credits as long as thirty seconds. “This American Life,” “Planet Money,” and “Radiolab” are just a few of the public radio franchises with highly popular podcasts. But NPR isn’t the only game in town; traditional print media is discovering the form too. The New Yorker has strong new offerings including the Political Scene Podcast (44,000 downloads and growing) and a breakout Fiction Podcast with over 91,000 downloads. The NYTBR’s new podcast also shows great promise. Relatively new to the scene, it’s already the second-most popular podcast in the book category. 
The New York Times is one of our most active advertising partners, always eager to experiment with new units to meet advertisers' needs. We’ve been working with them for years toward a dynamic group ad in the digital space, and were thrilled when they presented us with a brand new unit called “The Carousel.” The Carousel unit allows users to scroll using the action we’re used to using on iTunes. To be among the first advertisers to try this unit out, contact your Verso Account Executive today.  


➤ Seeing is believing
Nielsen’s Jonathan Nowell gave a fantastic talk at DBW about the changing market for print and ebook sales since 2007. There was only one problem: his slides were impossible to read! The good people at Publishers Launch took mercy on us, and posted them to Slideshare. Now we can see in detail his shout-out to London’s glorious Foyles as a bookshop of the future.

➤ Marissa Mayer must be doing something right
When it comes to news, Yahoo News is top dog (NYT is 10th)—at least when it comes to volume.

➤ Google’s algorithm is the new Walter Cronkite?
A recent Edelman poll found that online search has become the world's most trusted media source.

➤ The Death of Ocean and Duke
Lululemon's ideal customers, personas named "Ocean" and "Duke," are not long for this world. According to Marko Muellner in his article “The Marketing Team of the Future,” brand marketing strategy is moving away from a persona model (are you a “gearhead” or a “popgirl”?) to a cohort model. The cohort model allows for a more varied portrait of consumers, taking into account the multiple interests, responsibilities, roles and passions each of us possess as individuals. The cohort model works to understand what mode the consumer is in at the moment the ad is served: Does she need a new laptop? Is she hungry for fast food? Is she looking for a new romance novel? This may be the new fashion in marketing strategy, but it lines up with what we’ve seen in book-buying behavior all along. Passionate readers take books and ideas very seriously. But no one’s just a reader.

➤ It takes guts to read data
Netflix may be the ultimate data-first company, but we appreciate the human insight brought out in a New Yorker article that quotes Netflix’s Ted Sarandos on how he chooses content: "'It is important to know which data to ignore,' he conceded, before saying, at the end, 'In practice, it's probably a seventy-thirty mix.' But which is the seventy and which is the thirty? 'Seventy is the data, and thirty is judgment,' he told me later. Then he paused, and said, 'But the thirty needs to be on top, if that makes sense.'" (via Almighty’s Dark Matter newsletter)

➤ A word with the master
For a year or two, John McPhee has been writing New Yorker articles that dispense a lifetime’s worth of writing advice. His essay on how to use the dictionary will change how you write. This post on that essay gives a great hack into a sweet and plentitudinous word-hoard. Go get some. (via @WinBasset)

➤ Beautiful images for the age of the .GIF
Cinemagraphs are a haunting new form—a cross between video and gif where only one piece of the image is moving.

➤ Searches for Staycation are up! 
This makes us happy because there’s no better way to “get away” during a staycation than with a book.

➤ An inspirational idea
Form = Function = Message in this billboard. It changes while you look at it, changes that deliver a powerful message.


For an even fresher take, look for weekly links to relevant news,
posted each Friday on our website.


The opportunities mentioned here are just a few of the new advertising tools and strategies we come across every day. To find out more about any of the ideas in this newsletter—or to get a plan crafted from the latest, most relevant, and most actionable information available—contact your Verso account manager today.

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