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Hitting the Mark for Mother’s Day

2014 April 9
by Autumn Kindelspire
Autumn Kindelspire, Content Manager

Autumn Kindelspire, Content Manager

Mother’s Day gift ideas—from sparkling jewelry sets to luxurious spa day packages—are already popping up all over the Internet. For retailers, Mother’s Day is a lot more than flowers, cards and candy. It’s the third-largest retail holiday behind Christmas and Back to School.


Mommy Money

Mother’s Day shopping promises big check-outs for retailers: The average consumer spends about $168.94 on gifts for Mom and overall spending for Mother’s Day reached $20.7 billion last year.

If you’re still planning your Mother’s Day advertising copy, remember this: Emotion matters. Mom is often the first person with whom we create a deep, emotional bond. She feeds you, clothes you, cares for you and she also lays down the law when you’re out of line. It’s a complex relationship that may change over time but rarely loses its resonance with consumers.

Give a gentle tug on your customers’ heartstrings by reminding them how special Mom is and why the product you offer is the best gift to reflect the special bond they share. It’s not about the size of the gift; it’s about the sentiment the gift represents.


(Photo Courtesy Paul Scott)

(Photo Courtesy Paul Scott)

Mother’s Day is Digital Too

Nearly 3 in 10 Americans will buy Mother’s Day gifts online. Why the surge in online shopping? One factor might be Millennials, who are perfectly comfortable researching and purchasing products online. And their purchasing power is impressive. Millennial purchasing power is an estimated $170 billion annually. In 2011, Millennials between 25 and 34 spent approximately $191.35 on Mother’s Day, and the younger Millennials (18 to 24) came in a close second at $183.38. This may be a bit of double-duty gift-buying. Many Millennials are themselves, new parents—80% of U.S. births are now to Millennial parents.

Millennials are equally comfortable to purchase items online or in-store, but their first inclination when researching products is to grab their laptop, tablet or smartphone. Earn their attention with helpful buying guides, creative Mother’s Day gift ideas, and emotional, uplifting stories. They also love a good deal, especially if it’s promoted on their favorite social media. In an eMarketer study, more than half of the women and 44% of the men surveyed said they used Facebook or Twitter to receive notifications for sales and specials.


Forget About the Flowers

Flowers are a big seller on Mother’s Day. About $1.9 million goes toward bouquets and other floral gifts for moms. But they are hardly the biggest Mother’s Day gift category. Jewelry and electronics top the gift charts, with average spending at $4.2 and $2.3 billion, respectively.

Make your shopper marketing dollars count with media placed where shoppers are likely to be browsing for Mother’s Day gifts on major retail and auction sites, as well as social media.

There are an estimated 2 billion moms in the world, but she’s always one in a million to the people who love her. With the right digital marketing strategy, your product can be the one gift that makes her day.

What Retailers Need to Know to Thrive in the Visual Web

2014 April 3
by Chris Shindelbower
Chris Shindelbower, Vice President of Creative

Chris Shindelbower, Vice President of Creative

With so much content vying for user’s time, visual content is the perfect medium for time-crunched consumers. To hold their attention, especially when 42% of online adults are scrolling through multiple social feeds, content needs to be instantly appealing. Enter the visual web, where 300 million photos are uploaded to Facebook daily, there are now 150 million users on Instagram and Pinterest now has 70 million users. It doesn’t matter what you’re trying to say or sell: if you want to be heard, it’s time to break out the camera.

What is the “Visual Web”?

The “visual web” is a paradigm shift from using visuals (e.g., images, videos, gifs, Vines) as supporting media to using visuals primary method of delivering engaging content (think Buzzfeed). It’s the online manifestation of a picture being worth a thousand words.

The shift makes sense. Humans are inherently visual creatures. In fact, 30–40% of the surface of the brain is dedicated to processing visual information. We can process an image much faster than any page of text.

visual web

Retailer Success in the Visual Web

With the massive influx of content from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Vimeo, Buzzfeed and other entertainment sites, and Tumblr, shifting the focus to visual might be daunting. But the online shopping experience stands to benefit from the visual web trend; it might even be a major factor in eCommerce’s growing popularity. So, if you’re still treating images like a side dish, now is the time to take notes.

Capture Attention Quickly

In most cases, visual content will be surrounded by other visual content, whether the user is on Facebook or in your storefront. The image should:

  • Attract viewers
  • Be immediately identifiable and high quality
  • Generate interest
  • Convey the feeling and driving point of the story

For example, if you have an image of a consumer product, it should send a message about the product while keeping the audience in mind. Treat the development of visual content the same way you would write a well-constructed paragraph of copy. Consider the tone of the product and the sentiment of your audience.

If images or video are outside of the strategy of your campaign, consider giving key product details a visual treatment by using an infographic. Infographics are easily sharable and can visually reinforce your brand while providing useful information that may otherwise go unnoticed.

Test, Optimize and Share

Use online channels as a chance to test and optimize your visual marketing and merchandising in a relatively inexpensive and lower-risk environment, as opposed to in-store display or broadcast media. If something’s not working, images are much easier to adjust for optimal user engagement, not to mention you can test what works among audience segments.

Social media is powered by the visual web —Did you know images on Facebook get 104% more comments than the average post? — so it should be an essential part of your strategy. As a bonus, it can also provide an effective way to measure, optimize and communicate with their audience.

Embrace Mobile

The visual web is ideally suited for the mobile experience, where image grids outperform lists of links and romance copy. Mobile users are, by definition, on the go. They don’t want to spend a lot of time looking for what they need — they want to glance down and get going.

When you’re considering the mobile experience, remember to tailor the image to the mobile shopper and don’t let those high-resolution mobile displays go to waste.

Is the written word dead?

No. There’s always room for clever copy. A picture might be worth a thousand words, but a short paragraph can clearly convey an idea that might be outside of interpretation. Consider your audience, intent and product to understand where text, image or a combination of the two will be most effective and appropriate.

Taking a Moment to Congratulate Brian Quinn

2014 March 27
by Path to Purchase

BQ Award StillWe’d like to take a quick moment to congratulate our Chief Revenue Officer, Brian Quinn, for earning the prestigious ad:tech Industry Achievement Award, which honors those who provide outstanding service, create breakthrough ideas and foster industry growth.

Brian has been a contributor to the industry for nearly 20 years. He founded the influential 212, New York’s leading organization for the digital advertising industry, which now has more than 5,000 digital media, marketing and advertising professionals in its membership. Brian currently serves as co-chairman on the IAB’s Sales Executive Council, which is dedicated to furthering the interests of ad-supported interactive properties.

At Triad, Brian oversees all sales and marketing activities for the company’s digital retail site partners, including Walmart, Sam’s Club, eBay, Sears, Asda, CVS, Toys“R”Us and Dollar General.

From all of us at Triad Retail Media, our heartiest congratulations to Brian!

Why Retailers Need to Stop Thinking and Start Offering Video Advertising

2014 March 10
by Sean Cheyney
Sean Cheyney, VP Sales & Business Development

Sean Cheyney, VP Sales & Business Development

As a consumer, you are accustomed to video content across your usual online content destinations. On news, entertainment and sports sites, you know and expect at least some video content. Video content keeps users engaged, holds them on the site and, most importantly, keeps them coming back. Of course, a component of the video ecosystem you are also accustomed to is video advertising in the form of pre-roll or sponsored content.

So, if consumers have a certain level of expectation for video content on their favorite websites and they are used to video advertising as an “entry ticket” to be able to watch that video content, then why has video content and video advertising opportunities failed to gain significant traction outside of pure content destination sites?

Retailers are missing an opportunity to achieve their primary objective of selling more products.  Unlike Amazon, retailers don’t have to invest in video creation resources on their product pages to be successful. A simple invitation to suppliers (whether monetized with advertising or not) to submit helpful video content to assist with the sale will help jump start video content on their site.

Currently, video advertising demand outweighs supply across quality sites. This offers opportunities for publishers to sell their inventory directly at high CPMs or put their inventory into an exchange where advertisers can bid programmatically and fight over the existing inventory. Publishers who have figured out how to utilize video content not only as a way to enhance the site experience, but also as a way to substantially impact advertising revenue are cashing in.

The big question for retailers is, why continue to sabotage the customer experience, site sales, and monetization opportunities while Amazon is mastering video and reaping the rewards?

Retailers Are Also Publishers

Most video content associated with advertising opportunities have been limited to content publishers as opposed to traditional retailers and other ecommerce players. Why? Video content enhances the site experience. While the purpose of the video content is different for retailers (focused on informing purchase decisions) as opposed to pure information and entertainment, retailers are clearly missing the boat in terms of capitalizing on the multiple streams of revenue video can generate.

Many retailers hesitate because they don’t want video to clutter up and interfere with the buying process. While their first objective always should be site sales or a clean experience that leads to an in-store sale, retailers miss a major opportunity to hit both of those objectives. This is where retailers need to start seeing themselves as both publisher and in-store sales assistant.

Now That’s an Opportunity!

Say, I need to buy a washing machine and dryer within the next 12 months.  I have a price range in mind but, other than that, I am completely clueless about which make and model I should purchase. I visit a series of retailer websites to research, but spend my time clicking through product pages just reading product specs. In the end, I’m left without knowing what factors I should consider when selecting my washer and dryer and I’m no better off than when I entered the product consideration cycle.

Imagine how helpful it would be if the retailer presented me with a short video to help me understand what to consider when making my purchase. Sounds simple, but most retailers do not take this step. For the few retailers that offer this video resource—ABT for example—they are missing an opportunity to monetize the video with short pre-roll content or sponsorships. Retailers and brands have an opportunity to reach me as a shopper and have a large brand impact, during a valuable time – when I am in the purchase consideration mode.

Another opportunity can be found in the next place a consumer is most likely to turn if they can’t find what they’re looking for: Search. If a consumer is already exhibiting purchase intent and site search produces video results (such as a branded product video), there is no greater efficiency for a brand message to affect a sale.

Follow the Money Like a Publisher

Video advertising revenue is no joke. Take AOL. They haven’t exactly been a model of success in the past several years, but they posted their biggest revenue growth in the past 10 years this last Q4. Their purchase of and the subsequent revenue results show that the purchase and sale of online video through real-time bidding pays off.

For the retailers worried about demand, stop. Demand for quality video advertising opportunities has never been higher. The ability to purchase video programmatically (like AOL has with allows advertisers to leverage publisher first-party data in order to get in front of their targets when they are likely to be in-market for a specific product or category of products… a true goldmine for an advertiser and a major revenue opportunity for the retailer.

AOL isn’t the only publisher to cash in on video advertising. Amazon just announced a partnership with technology partner FreeWheel that could be the first step toward creating their own video ad network. With Amazon’s huge product listings and their current use of product page video, it is somewhat surprising that it has taken them this long.

The real question for more traditional brick-and-mortar retailers is: How long will you wait to follow the money and begin thinking like a publisher?

Stretching 60-Second Ads to Weeks of Brand Exposure

2014 February 5
by Path to Purchase

First off, a hearty congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks for their dominating performance, impeccable defense and impressive offense. (The only place where Broncos dominated was on Twitter.)


Like most Americans whose teams didn’t make it to the Super Bowl, we were sitting on the edge of our seats waiting for the next commercial break. Was that a dream or did the 80s seriously just rob RadioShack?

Just a decade ago, Super Bowl ads used to have a limited shelf life. Viewers would laugh and get back to the game. Trade and business publications would highlight the best ads later, but that was pretty much it.

Now, Super Bowl ads live long beyond their 30–60 seconds, even before the ads air. This year, many ads were released online before the game and many more had teasers encouraging fans to tune in for the event. Budweiser’s full “Best Buds” spot was uploaded the 29th of January and Oikos’ Full House reunion had already taken over brand conversations on social media.


Social Media for Brand Exposure

In addition to early releases, brands realized the critical role social media would play in extending the value of their 30 seconds of airtime before and after the game. (In fact, Newcastle realized this and skipped the $4 million spot altogether.) Brand exposure tactics included:

  • Hashtags: #AmericaIsBeautiful, #UpForWhatever, #SaluteASolider … the list goes on. But #EsuranceSave30 probably won the day
  • Early Release: While it certainly lengthened the amount of brand exposure, it sort of took the surprise out of the commercial breaks during the game
  • Shazam: Determined not to throw in the towel, Shazam (an online music service) partnered with brands to give away free music downloads and product information for users who “tagged” during the game and commercial broadcasts


Twitter Scores 24.9 Million Tweets During the Game

From 6:20–10:10 p.m. EST, users sent more than 24.9 million tweets about the program (up from 24.1 million last year).  Other insane social stats from Super Bowl XLVIII include:

  • When Percy Harvin returned the first kickoff in the first quarter, users sent 381,605 tweets a minute [Twitter]
  • DiGiornio, about two hours into the game, sent the following tweet, which was retweeted 17,458 times [Twitter]

  • Esurance’s post-game commercial resulted in 301,400 tweets in the minute it aired [The Wrap]
  • Coca-Cola’s spots (“It’s Beautiful” and “Going All the Way”) won the night with 169,013 social media mentions [AdAge]
  • 50 million Facebook users had more than 185 million interactions during Super Bowl Sunday [Facebook]

Will any advertisement this year go down in history like Apple’s “1984” or “Mean Joe Green” from Coca-Cola? It’s hard to say. What is easy to say, though, is that the ads of today — and tomorrow — will be just the opening remark in a relationship with consumers. Brand exposure will be drawn out over a series of interaction, instead of just one funny and expensive ad.

Which One Is the Second Screen Again?

2014 January 31
by Path to Purchase

The winter season is time for event TV. Between football, the Olympics, awards shows and the frigid weather, television chatter after programs and during commercials is at its height. With widespread smartphone ownership and growing tablet ownership in the U.S., many consumers are tuned in to their second screen as much as the first one.

Today, we don’t have to wait until we get to the office or call a friend to discuss what happened during last night’s game. Our social circles are just an arm’s length away on Twitter or Facebook. The average viewer is sitting in front of the TV with a smartphone or tablet on their lap, participating in the conversation in real-time. This practice, called “omniscreening,” is on the rise: According to the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), 66% of people use at least one other device while watching TV.

Advertisers have been capitalizing on the concept of the second screen ever since Audi was the first company to use a hashtag in their 2011 Super Bowl commercial.  What was then seen as groundbreaking is now commonplace. Shiv Singh, PepsiCo’s global head of digital, remarked on the shift at the Mobile World Conference, “In the future, no TV advertisement will be just a self-contained narrative. They will be trailers into deeper branded digital experiences.”

Traditionally, the tablet was seen as complementary to the television.  But now, the line is blurred. During the 2012 presidential debate, Twitter was abuzz, sending 6.5 million tweets over the 90-minute period (more than 72,000 tweets in a second). When Jay-Z, Kanye West, Frank Ocean and The Dream won best rap collaboration at the 2014 Grammys, users were sending 116,400 tweets a minute. The second screen is not something to take lightly.

But marketers are taking notice. According to the 2013 ANA/Nielsen Survey:

  • 95% of the media sellers, marketers and agencies who responded rated multi-screen campaigns as “Somewhat” or “Very Important”
  • 25% of respondents attributed 50% or more of their media spend on integrated, multi-screen campaigns
  • By 2016, 46% expect integrated, multi-screen campaigns to take up 50% or more of their media spending
  • 82% of respondents ranked traditional TV as “Somewhat” or “Very Important,” while 86% ranked mobile phones the same way
  • By 2016, most respondents expect the second screen to eclipse traditional television

 Second Screen


With their potential to accompany live programming, industry experts seem to think that “second screens” — tablets, smartphones, computers— will become more important that the “first screen,” or traditional TV. Looking ahead, maybe “first” and “second” screen are misnomers: one leads to the other, and vice versa. For example, a hashtag in a commercial may take the user to chatter about a campaign microsite. A status on a news feed might inspire a viewer to check out the season premiere of a show their friends say they are going to watch.

Only time will tell how the relationship between viewers and screens will evolve, but one thing is certainly clear now: It is getting much harder to define which one is actually the second screen.

Digital Ads Make a Real Impact for In-Market Car Shoppers

2014 January 24
by Path to Purchase

More than a quarter million car people visit Detroit’s Cobo Hall to see 700+ automobiles, including 50 new releases, during the North American Auto Show. It’s heaven for enthusiasts (and in-market car shoppers) and the biggest show in the business for the automotive industry.

Photo Courtesy

For advertisers, the auto show is the third in January’s trifecta of major trade shows (on the heels of CES and NRF). Automobiles, advertising and America have always had a strong connection, both in print and on television – from the 1950s jingle suggesting you “See the USA in your Chevrolet” to Volkswagen’s ground-breaking “Think Small” and “Lemon” ads in the 1960s and its more recent “The Force” campaign last year.

As advertising has advanced in the digital age, so have automakers. With the North American Auto Show as the backdrop, new research points to the efficacy of digital/social media advertising programs for car brands.

Facebook Works—Especially for Car Shoppers “in the Funnel.”

Even though GM famously split (and got back together with) Facebook over the effectiveness of their advertising, comScore just released new research that Facebook has a tremendous effect on shoppers in the sales funnel:

• Website visits rose 37%
• Model page visits rose 50%
• Brand searches rose 11%
• Competitor searches dropped 3%
• Competitor model searches dropped 14%

Digital Ads Carry Tremendous Influence Locally and Nationally

In advance of the North American Auto Show, IAB released these stats trumpeting how vital digital advertising is for auto-makers:

• In-market car shoppers are 71% more likely to be swayed by digital ads for cars than the general population
• 29% of regular and occasional online researchers looked up cars before buying in person
• Social media was 79% more likely to sway car shoppers than casual browsers
• Most car shoppers use desktops and laptops to research potential vehicles
• But 75% of auto intenders own a smartphone
• Crossover and truck shoppers are more likely to comparison shop using their smartphone
• In-market car shoppers love streaming: 69% reported regularly watching online videos/TV

Automakers aren’t abandoning traditional media any time soon. But they are certainly paying more attention to digital advertising and social media.

Beyond Watches, TVs and Cars: Advertising Opportunities at CES

2014 January 14
by Path to Purchase

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) isn’t just the time to ogle over the latest tech — this is where early trends in technology and consumer concerns emerge for the year ahead. The big hits of CES 2014 could present major advertising opportunities for advertisers in 2014.

Smartphone Accessories Promise New Insights, If They Ever Catch On

CES was all about wearable tech, but, as TechCrunch’s Darrell Etherington pointed out, the potential trend has two hurdles to overcome before it becomes the next technological revolution. First, companies such as LG and Samsung have to convince consumers that devices like Lifeband Touch or Gear are immediately as useful as the smartphone it pairs with. Second, while any marketer would love to get their hands on the kind of lifestyle data these devices promise, the consumer is probably much less interested in sharing that information.

Still, if tech companies can navigate the minefield of consumer privacy, wearable technology promises information on everything that can be connected to a smartphone. The advertising opportunities that come with lifestyle-connected and location-based data are limitless.

Your Car Will Soon Have an App for That

Google kicked off CES with the announcement of the Open Automotive Alliance, which will partner car companies like Audi, GM, Honda, Hyundai and NVIDIA with tech companies to standardize Android as an in-car operating system. Ford’s AppLink promises drivers and passengers voice control over popular Apple and Android apps like NPR, Spotify and TuneIn.

And, although the Detroit Auto Show hadn’t started yet, automakers such as Audi and BMW flaunted their latest autonomous car prototypes.

On the same vein of wearable tech, autonomous and smartphone-connected cars have a few speed bumps before they can get into high gear.


Even though the Google car has logged more than 150,000 miles with only two minor accidents (both caused by human error), consumers are still skeptical of these highly sophisticated operating systems.


The Government Accountability Office reported to Congress that, though companies with car-based GPS tech are taking steps to protect consumer privacy, most consumers don’t recognize how much of data is shared with third parties. As autonomous cars get closer to market, the issue will certainly come up again.

Advertising on the Road

Pandora announced in-car advertising solutions with a slew of major brands on-board. Car companies, however, are cautious to jump on advertising opportunities that might be seen as too disruptive to the driving experience. For luxury brands like Audi and Mercedes-Benz, advertising through a car doesn’t “add value” to their customer’s experience.

The 4K TV That Stole the Show

Just when you thought TV resolution couldn’t get any higher, 4K televisions became the big buzzword for TV execs at CES. With a higher frame rate and wider color range, manufacturers, media networks and advertisers alike are going to have to adapt to new requirements of the technology. Even if widespread adoption is still a couple years off, advertisers should be preparing to take on the latest height of image definition.

CES overflowed potential advertising opportunities. But it’s up the marketer to figure out how to best use these new mediums.

A Big 2013 Promises an Even Bigger 2014 — Triad Year in Review

2014 January 9
by Path to Purchase

The start of the new year is an opportunity to reflect on the last. A look back reminds us of the strides we have taken as individuals, as a company or as an industry. With that in mind, we want to review the biggest stories from the past year, and look forward to the year to come:

Advertising on Social Media: NBD for Users, Huge Opportunity for Retailers

Initially controversial advertising on platforms like Gmail and Facebook is now a commonplace and lucrative practices for retailers, brands and the platforms alike. Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter all leveraged their massive audience to build relationships with advertisers and users. Instagram’s early results were promising, with audiences recalling up to 32% of sponsored posts, and it is already flexing its muscles to see if it can scoop up brand dollars destined for television advertising. Pinterest has developed partnerships with major retailers such as Nordstrom to determine which items should be included in its stores and Twitter debuted ad targeting based on “broad match” keywords.

If Your Focus isn’t Mobile, You’re Doing it Wrong

Mobile will drive nearly all digital-advertising growth in 2014. eMarketer predicts mobile ad spending will hit $14.97 billion by the end of the year, increase at a rate of 56% over 2013. Expectations for desktops are not so high: desktop ad spending it expected to tick up 0.41%. Mobile traffic and shopping exploded over the 2013 Holiday season, making up:

• Nearly 40% of Black Friday online traffic [IBM]
• 21.8% of all online Black Friday sales [IBM]
• 31.7% of all Cyber Monday traffic [IBM]
• 17% of all Cyber Monday [IBM]
• $940 million in sales on Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday [Business Insider]
• 48% of all online traffic on Christmas Day [IBM]
• 29% of all online sales on Christmas Day [IBM]

Digital Advertising Accounts for 1 in 5 Ad Dollars Worldwide

Digital ad spending in 2013 was predicted to reach $117.6 billion out of the $517.1 billion spent on advertising worldwide. Again, investment in mobile ads and broader adoption is accredited for the growth. With consumers moving away from traditional media, all industries have increased their mobile budget.

emarketer mobile ad spending

A Cardinal Year for Triad Retail Media

It’s not often you hear of a company maintaining remarkable growth in their ninth year, but that’s exactly what Triad Retail Media did in 2013. Here’s a peek at our year, by the numbers:

150 new team members joined TRM.
2 new offices were opened. (We now have teams located in San Francisco, CA and Leeds, UK.)
1 major office move, when our corporate headquarters and its 300+ staff members moved to our new digs in St. Petersburg, FL.
3 listings on the Inc.500|5000 (most recently this past year)
1st rank by the Business Journal when listing Florida’s Largest Advertising and Marketing Agencies.

Big year? We’d say so. 2013 saw many great developments for our employees, our company and our industry, and we look to continue that momentum in 2014.

What Sponsored Posts Mean for the Future of Branding on Instagram

2013 December 11
by Heath Fogelman


If you didn’t bat an eye, you’re either a regular for tea at the Plaza or have no problem with the arrival of paid advertising on Instagram.”“The First Instagram Ads ‘Worked,’ But What do Brands do Now?”, Jeff Beer, Fast Company Co.Create

If this artfully placed watch with tea and macaroons looks like a professionally produced Instagram photo, that’s because it is. This was the first of many sponsored posts on the social photo network and, even though the image is more refined than the average Instagram photo, it wouldn’t look tremendously out of place on in the right user feed.

Maybe that’s why, when Instagram quietly announced it would be launching sponsored posts, its 150 million active users accepted them without much fuss. Instead of inspiring tremendous outcry, like Facebook’s launch of sponsored posts, sponsored posts have been relatively well-received. Lauren Tetuan, group digital media director, Deutsch LA said, “For the Michael Kors ad, if you look at all the negative comments, a lot were just against any ads while others were complaining about having this luxury brand in their feed. I think initially the criticism will be of ads in general, but more important is targeting the right people.”, a social media metrics company, looked at the efficacy of the Michael Kors ad: In just 18 hours, the post had nearly 218,000 likes, more than 4 times what the company receives on its non-sponsored Instagram page, translating to a global reach of 6.15 million views and 33,000 new followers, more than 6 times its unsponsored results.  Since the initial ad, major brands including Levi’s, Lexus and Ben and Jerry’s have followed suit, tapping Instagram as a platform for their branding efforts.

Instagram is a perfect platform for brands featuring visual items, but it also can provide critical insights to target users. And the generally positive feedback—compared to the outcry when Gmail (2004) and Facebook started placing ads in users’ feeds  (2006)—show that, in the past decade, consumers have grown much more comfortable with being targeted with relevant content.

The mostly quiet acceptance of sponsored posts on Instagram is a sign of a larger shift in the relationship between consumers and advertisers. Content-powered engagement, like stellar photos to draw in a photo-crazed user population, is more important now than ever. But finding the right audience is even more crucial.

Sponsored posts for a fancy watch would mean next to nothing to a school-aged user who lacks the brand recognition or means to appreciate the advertisement. A sponsored post for a bridal salon would be meaningless to a feed that a user has dedicated to trucks, fast cars and sports. User acceptance (or resignation) is just the first step. The goal now should be to blend into feeds —let the only indication of a sponsored post be the onsite disclaimer — but still stand out.