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Facebook. The new form of political advertising.

November 16, 2016

*  Citigroup Inc. projects that spending on political ads on Facebook Inc. could surpass spending on Alphabet Inc.’s Google this year, reversing the historical pattern. This is no small accomplishment, considering how powerful search advertising remains, as a conduit for motivated donors and volunteers.

This reflects both Facebook’s vast reach and the tools it offers advertisers to target ever-narrower segments of its users. For campaigns striving to get supporters to the polls, as well as change minds, this ability to “micro-target” is manna from heaven. As with conventional advertising, it is now happening with unprecedented scale and precision in politics.

Even Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump, who once called data “overrated” as a political tool, appears to have seen the light. One day in August, his campaign sprayed ads at Facebook users that led to 100,000 different webpages, each micro-targeted at a different segment of voters, said Brad Parscale, Mr. Trump’s digital director and head of San Antonio-based digital advertising firm Giles-Parscale. Hillary Clinton’s campaign is using similar tactics, said a campaign official.

In an ideal world, campaigns would poll every voter in America, then craft strategies to persuade undecideds and motivate supporters to go to the polls, said Sasha Issenberg, a journalist who has written about the science of winning campaigns. Campaigns haven’t reached this point yet, but they are coming close.

Cambridge Analytica LLC, a data-science firm known for its psychological profiles of voters, is now working with Mr. Trump, after working with Sen. Ted Cruz during the primaries. Chief Data Officer Alexander Tayler says the firm has a database of 220 million U.S. adults with 4,000 to 5,000 data points on each. Cambridge Analytica can connect this database to vast quantities of other data—from voter-registration records to databases of shopping patterns and gun ownership—from consumer data brokers such as Experian PLC and Acxiom Corp.

Facebook has made similar tools accessible to anyone with a credit card. The social network’s role in influencing political attitudes has been much discussed. But Facebook’s increasingly important role as a campaign advertising medium has gotten much less attention.

“Everybody thought 2008 was the Facebook election, but I’d argue 2016 is the Facebook election,” says Zac Moffatt, former digital director for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and co-founder of political consultancy Targeted Victory. “Facebook’s real value is in its size and scale. … It’s that you can hit three out of four Americans on one platform.”

Several Facebook moves to help advertisers target their audience more precisely appeal particularly to political campaigns. Its “custom audiences” tool allows advertisers to reach a specified list of users, such as a group of supporters; both the Obama and Romney campaigns used custom audiences in 2012. Facebook also allows advertisers, including even local campaigns, to plug in data from data brokers, just as Cambridge Analytica and other firms do. And its “lookalike audiences” allows advertisers to reach people who are like those in a known group. Think of a Spotify service for finding potential supporters who look like known supporters.

Analysts from Borrell Associates estimate that about $1 billion will be spent on digital ads this election cycle. 

That is still a fraction of the $4.4 billion Kantar’s Campaign Media and Analysis Group expects to be spent on TV, but the digital total is up more than threefold from 2012.

The spending, and candidates’ ability to target Facebook ads with different messages to different voters, worry Cathy O’Neil, author of “Weapons of Math Destruction,” a book about the dangers of ceding control to opaque algorithms.

“What’s efficient for campaigns is to decide what bit of information is given to a given voter on Facebook and Google,” said Ms. O’Neil. “But in that case what is efficient for campaigns is inefficient for democracy.”

Politicians, and their aides, are plunging ahead, however. “Conventional political wisdom has been destroyed by data science and the hard quantities of facts,” said Mr. Tayler, of Cambridge Analytica.

Microtargeting is important, according to the same Clinton campaign official, who cautions, however, that targeting can’t replace a candidate’s message and isn’t as powerful as conversations with friends and neighbors.

Mr. Issenberg, the journalist, says the value of targeting lies in making campaign spending more efficient. If Mrs. Clinton has $100 million to spend on a digital ad budget, efficient targeting could free up $10 million, and commensurate volunteer and campaign staff hours, to spend on something else. In a tight race, such small benefits could lead to a few thousand votes in key states, and could swing the election.

* By CHRISTOPHER MIMS - October 2, 2016


Digital vs. Offset Printing

May 03, 2016

Two of the most common commercial printing technologies in use today are “Offset” and “Digital” printing — and one of the most common questions in printing is, “When should I use them?” So let's compare the two, apples to apples.


Offset, or conventional printing, has changed little since the original steam powered offset press was first developed in 1906. It involves a mechanical process of applying layers of ink to paper with a series of rollers. Each roller has its own specified ink – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black — or CMYK. As each of these rollers pass over the page, they transfer ink and build layers of colors, resulting in complete images and text on the page. Additionally, specialized colors called Pantones or PMS colors can be added to the layout if very specific colors are needed, for instance in a logo.


Digital printing eliminates the numerous steps involved in the offset printing process, such as creating films and plates for ink rollers. Most digital presses today apply ink in a single pass from a single ink head, similar to common inkjet printers found in homes and offices.


Many different considerations will determine which method is best, such as quantity, timing, and size of the printed piece. Offset printing is commonly used for higher quantity, larger format jobs while digital printing is best applied to smaller format, lesser quantity print runs. NEPN's production department takes all these variables and more into consideration to determine the best possible printing method for each job.


Offset Printing Pros

  • Larger Runs A print quantity of over 500 units is typically well suited for offset printing.

  • Larger Format For instance, a 40″ press can accommodate a flat page size of approx. 25″ x 38″.

  • Specialized Colors & Techniques Offset presses can print PMS colors and utilize gloss/dull varnishes for added texture.  Additionally, multiple press “heads” allow for an infinite array of colors and printing techniques.


Offset Printing Cons

  • More costly and time consuming A typical offset press requires at least two pressmen to run a job, plus added maintenance, setup, printing plates and specialized inks, which result in higher print costs and increased turn around time.


Digital Printing Pros

  • Small Runs Any print quantity under 500 units is typically well suited for a digital press.

  • Variable Data Digital presses can print customized copy on each individual piece, such as names and addresses for postcards.

  • Cheap and Fast Less setup and maintenance (no films/plates) results in cheaper pricing and quicker turns.


Digital Printing Cons

  • Limited Size Most digital presses can only accommodate press sheets of up to 18″ x 12″.

  • No PMS Colors Digital presses cannot print Pantones, though in recent years, they have become much more apt at closely matching PMS colors.

  • Lower Quality The print quality from digital presses is not as refined as offset.


Knowing which type of printing is best for a given project can save money and headaches. So next time you quote the job know the difference between the proccesses. Utilizing the right technology makes the most "cents".

Why Trade Shows are important for your small business.

February 25, 2016

How can you promote your small business to hundreds of potential new customers? Where can you forge new contacts and service providers for your developing company? One of the best strategies for a growing company to market products and services to a large specified group of potential customers is by exhibiting at a trade show. Each year, thousands of trade shows across the country offer opportunities for buyers and sellers to meet face-to-face. The beauty of a trade show is that you can share your product or service with a pre-selected audience while investigating the competition and building relationships with new customers. 


Exhibiting at a Trade Show Isn't Cheap.


Many small business owners have found that participating at trade shows can be an expensive marketing tool. Before this investment is made, an estimated cost of the trade show should be calculated, including the booth or table fee, display materials, marketing literature, promotional items or door prizes, and staffing. If the cost is within your specified marketing budget, the following ten steps can help make your trade show experience a success:


1. Decide your goals.


What are the goals you'd like to accomplish at a trade show? Is it to meet people, to close some sales, or to simply get names and e-mail addresses on your mailing list? What product or service are you planning to promote? Determining what your goals are will help you decide what trade show will give you the most return for your investment.


2. Does the trade show meet your specific goals?


Research the trade show to make sure it will be attracting your target audience. Talk with the people who are putting on the trade show and find out if it meets your goals. How many trade shows have they done in the past and how successful were they? If possible, contact people who have participated in the trade show in the past to find out how the show worked, or didn't work, for them.


3. Promote the show to your customers.


Although it is important to make sure the trade show is going to be well publicized, you will get more mileage from the event if you invite your own customers and prospects to attend. A simple mailer to your clients is a great way to get people in the door. Many times the trade show will supply you with mailers or postcards, which helps keep your budget in check. You could also develop an interesting angle to motivate customers to attend, such as a demo or special event at your booth, or the promise of receiving a free gift. 


4. Seek media exposure.


Tradeshows usually attract numerous media outlets. Work in advance to organize interviews with key industry editors in order to, not only get your name in print, but also develop an ongoing relationship with important media representatives. You can even make it easy for reporters by delivering your story in advance, along with press releases, media kits, customer testimonials, etc. Have those materials on-hand the day of the event and have a staff member prepped for interviews.


5. Visit other trade shows.


Observing other trade show participants can give you ideas for your upcoming event. Observe the displays, how the people work their booths and attract people to come visit, the giveaways, etc. 


6. Prepare your booth display and materials.


Your booth or display table should reflect the quality and professionalism of your products and services. There are many companies that develop trade show booths, so shop around before committing to a price. The booth should be eye-catching - something attendees can see from 15 to 20 feet away. Samples of your work, photographs, testimonial letters, press clippings, etc. can help give your booth credibility. The booth will probably be your biggest expense, but it is also the most important.

Make sure to also have the appropriate sales materials available to distribute to potential customers. In that many trade show attendees make a habit of taking something from each booth, regardless of whether they are actually interested, have a relatively inexpensive piece available for the taking, and a more costly brochure behind the table for serious prospects.


7. Prepare your staff.


Prepare in advance what your staff will say when people come by your booth. Your staff should be prepared to give a quick description of what you do, what services you offer, and information on the product or program you're promoting.Begin with one good qualifying question your staff can ask to see if the person they are speaking with is a prospect. Then, write out a script so that your staff is prepared to answer questions. 


8. Have some way to capture names, addresses and e-mails.


The easiest way to capture contact information of attendees is by enticing them with a drawing. Set up a give-a-way and allow attendees to drop their business card in a fish bowl, or fill out a sign-up sheet for a free gift.


9. Network your company to other exhibitors.


Go out of your way to initiate relationships with other exhibitors. They may need your products and services or be in a position to refer you to others. Also, you might find a new source of customer leads or potential business partners for your company. 


10. Follow-up with all of your leads.


Remember that making a trade show experience a success doesn't end when the trade show is finished; a trade show is a source of leads, not clients. Follow up on all of your leads with phone calls, and put the names on your newsletter, direct mail and/or e-mail list. 

2016 Campaign Booklet

January 13, 2016

It feels like we just ended the 2015 municipal elections and now we're thinking about 2016! Well the fact of the matter is that it's right around the corner. And to make it flow even easier than we do now, we've created a campaign booklet with everything you need to know and do to make your political campaign a success. From graphic requirements to printing and mailings, we've got it covered. Think of it as an educational tool to keep your campaign on track.


So contact us today to receive this free, useful campaign tool!

What's your angle?

January 04, 2016

Who doesn’t love a surprise at this time of year? Well, researchers from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in France certainly do, so they’ve created a new kind of inkjet printing technique that produces images that appear different depending on the viewing angle.


The team had been playing around with halftone printing—where tiny dots of cyan, magenta and yellow make a seemingly continuous image from a distance—onto different materials. They noticed that when they used the technique on metallic sheets, the resulting colors varied slightly depending on the viewing angle. That’s because, according to the researchers: 

“Ink lines perpendicular to the incoming light create a large shadow and appear as “strong colors. Ink lines parallel to the incoming light do not induce a shadow and appear as “weak colors”. When the print is rotated by 90 degrees, strong colors become weak and weak colors become strong.”

Interestingly, it only works on metallic sheets. Paper diffuses the light too much for the effect to be noticeable. 


Instead of simply giving a gallic shrug and moving on, though, the team pondered how they could use the phenomenon in a practical way. So they set to creating an algorithm that allows them to use the changing color trick to superimpose two images that still make sense when the viewing angle changes. The result allows them to print images using a normal inkjet printer that neatly change color when spun 90 degrees. The team reckons that the trick could be used to manufacture new kinds of security images, for passports and credit cards.

7 rising logo design trends for 2016

January 02, 2016

Create a cutting-edge logo with these enlightening design predictions for 2016.

When it comes to creating brand identities, any designer worth their salt will tell you that there isn't one single recipe on how to design the perfect logo. As well as being influenced by a company's message and products, logos also have to factor in trends that develop year-to-year. Check out what you need to know from this interesting blog from CREATIVE BLOQ.

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