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Verso Advertising — Fall 2016 Newsletter



  Featured Campaigns: Here I Am, Tales of the Peculiar, Killing the Rising Sun, The Kept Woman

  Performance Snapshot: Programmatic

  Next to Now: Links to Recent News in Advertising

Featured Campaigns
Here I Am - Jonathan Safran Foer - New York Times Book Review
Jonathan Safran Foer  •  Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Eleven years after the publication of his most recent novel, Jonathan Safran Foer returns with a magnificent new novel that’s generating superlatives from readers around the world. FSG ran a pre-pub campaign through June and July to prime reader interest, followed up with a powerful presence in the New York Times and New Yorker at launch, and then ran a two-page spread in the NYTBR packed with reviews from around the world.
Tales of the Peculiar - People magazine
Ransom Riggs  •  Penguin Young Readers
On the eve of Tim Burton’s movie version of "Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children" hitting theaters, Penguin Young Readers launches a new book by author Ransom Riggs that takes readers deep into the shadowy history of the peculiars. We built on the buzz by targeting new and existing fans on movie screens and Spotify, as well as in print with People and Entertainment Weekly.
Bill O’Reilly  •  Henry Holt
The latest book in Bill O’Reilly’s blockbuster history series launched with an epic splash—occupying a full center spread in the New York Times, a prominent billboard at one of the busiest entry points to New York City, and a powerful programmatic email campaign. The series is a juggernaut, and this book shot straight to #1.
The Kept Woman - Karin Slaughter - The New Yorker
Karin Slaughter  •  William Morrow
To launch the red-hot new thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Karin Slaughter, William Morrow ran print ads in local markets to support the author’s tour, targeted broadcast radio spots, and a wide-ranging digital campaign that included programmatic reader targeting as well as digital content targeting with the New York Times and the New Yorker across desktop, mobile and in-app units.

As more and more global ad dollars shift to programmatic spending, the question remains: Is programmatic a good fit for books’ title-by-title marketing strategies or is it a better fit for longer term brand advertising? Our experience in the last few years suggests that programmatic can be the right call for certain books—especially those that have an audience that is well-defined demographically and behaviorally.

Here’s a snapshot of 2016 book campaign performance with programmatic platforms through early September:

  • Top click-through rate (CTR) range: .193% to .321%. Average CTR: .135%
  • Top cost per click (CPC) range (a measure of marketing efficiency): The best CPC's ranged from $0.52-$0.86. Average CPC $1.93.
  • Average cost per thousand impressions (CPM): $1.65
  • Average mobile/desktop delivery ratio: 75% / 25%. This ratio reflects programmatic’s ability to optimize—as the algorithm shifts impressions toward best performing units and tactics. 
  • How a narrow view of data can be misleading:
    • One campaign delivered a below-average 0.05% CTR, but since the goal of the campaign was awareness, we focused on delivering as many impressions as possible with our limited budget—which we did for a very low CPM of $0.80. As a result of the high number of impressions, the campaign’s CPC was $1.75 CPC, indicating exceptional value for the budget.
    • Two campaigns for similar books each delivered the same .119% CTR, but that doesn’t mean they were equally successful. One delivered a very strong $1.82 CPC, but the other was twice as efficient with a $0.86 CPC.

The data in this snapshot shows that programmatic can be an effective way to get the word out to the most interested readers. While many programmatic vendors have minimum spends that exceed book publisher budgets, Verso’s exclusive relationships with DSPs (Demand Side Platforms) allow our clients access to cutting-edge programmatic technology that works for title-by-title marketing.



Every Friday we post links to the latest news on what’s next in advertising and what it means for book marketing. Here is a selection of recent links:

While podcasts still don’t deliver the ad metrics of other digital products, evidence continues to mount that podcast advertising is effective. A new Edison Research study commissioned by the IAB suggests that 65% of podcast fans “are more willing to consider purchasing products and services they learn about during a podcast.”

There are few surprises in the most recent Pew report on reading in America: overall adult reading is slightly down, ebooks remain plateaued, and the core demos of America’s strongest readers remain affluent, educated women. Here are some relevant excerpts:
“In the most recent survey, those most likely to be book readers included women; young adults (those ages 18-29); those with higher levels of education and higher household income . . . These patterns largely hold for overall book reading and for the different reading platforms – printed books and e-books.
“The average woman read 14 books in the past 12 months, compared with the nine books read by the average man, a statistically significant difference. The median number of books read by women was five, compared with a median of three for men, which was not statistically significant.
“Those with higher levels of education were more likely to have read multiple books than those with high school diplomas or less. The typical college graduate or someone with an advanced degree read an average of 17 books in the previous year, compared with nine for high school grads and three for those who did not graduate from high school.”
The New York Times reports on the continued importance of out of home advertising, even as online ads steal budgets from print and broadcast. New digital innovation—both with creative and with user targeting—means the venerable ad platform is just as vital today as it was 100 years ago.

In programmatic advertising it’s vital to know what kind of data you’re using and whether it’s first, second, or third party. This ClickZ article provides a good primer on the differences and advantages of each. 

A recent study suggests that the best time to send a holiday marketing email might be December 12, 2016—a date dubbed “Green Monday.” A retail industry-created holiday similar to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Green Monday falls on the second Monday of December:
“Only 10% of retailers deployed Green Monday campaigns in 2015, according to Yes Lifecycle Marketing, indicating that competition for the inbox may be lower than more popular retail holidays such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
"Green Monday saw an average email open rate of 14.5% in 2015, while open rates for Cyber Monday email campaigns has an average open rate of 12.9%. In addition, Cyber Monday open rates fell year-over-year while Green Monday open rates have increased.”
A new study from ComScore underlines that ads on premium websites in the Digital Content Next (DCN) trade group—which includes the New York Times, WSJ, Condé Nast, Hearst media and others—deliver better results than ads on non-premium websites. From the Wall Street Journal article on this report:
“The study, which comScore said analyzed the ad campaigns of 15 large brands across a number of advertiser categories, concluded that ads placed on DCN sites were 67% more effective than non-DCN sites. According to comScore, that difference confirmed that ‘premium sites deliver premium performance.’
“The study also found that premium publisher sites were more effective in driving so-called ‘mid-funnel brand metrics,’ which measure consumer attitudes including favorability, consideration and intent to recommend.
“'The primary driver of this increased effectiveness is the halo effect that comes from the value of the contextual environment in which these ads are seen,' the report concluded. Basically, ads perform better when they appear alongside high-quality content.”
This is a value-proposition inherent in the way ads on premium websites are priced—with CPMs often two to three times as expensive as non-premium sites—and matches with results we see at Verso. We are always glad to have additional data to inform and contextualize our observations.

Here’s a link to more detail on the report from AdWeek. And here’s Niemen Lab’s take on the same study. 

This New York Times article explores the great splintering of video standards and best practices in a world where some platforms (such as YouTube) are watched with full sound and some (such as Facebook) tend to be watched with the sound off. Platforms such as Snapchat argue for vertical video while other platforms prefer horizontal. YouTube has found success with longer video, while many other platforms insist on video no longer than fifteen seconds. Do we have to cut a different video for every platform now? Well, if you want to optimize engagement for each platform, then the answer is yes.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) recently released a report on the mobile shopping experience, "Mobile Commerce: A Global Perspective". While the global payment system is of less concern to U.S. book publishers, the ecosytem of research, engagement and purchase is critical to book buyer's experience and offers relevant insight even when ads are not directly linking to a buy page. Top results include:
  • 76% of mobile purchasers say they have engaged with an ad in the last six months
  • 51% of mobile users bought in a store after researching on mobile (this is a good argument for the discovery and research function of ads)
  • Top frustrations with mobile purchasing: Too expensive, Too slow, Hard to use, Previous bad experience, Unstable network
This article pairs well with Brian O’Leary’s recent call for all book publishers to focus on the mobile experience.
The opportunities mentioned here are just a few of the new advertising tools and tactics 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.
Verso Advertising
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