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My Best Of 2012

This year I watched 85 movies
Best Movies: Drive, Hot Coffee, Chronicle, Looper, Cabin In The Woods, Headhunters, 50/50, The People vs George Lucas
Worst Movies: Red Tails, Take This Waltz

I watched 158 episodes of TV
Best show: Breaking Bad
Funniest: Modern Family, Runner Up: Workaholics

Read 32 Books
Best books: Republic Lost, So Good They Can’t Ignore You, War Of Art, Travis Chase Trilogy (The Breach, Ghost Country, Deep Sky), The Master Switch
I Read 9 graphic novels
Best Graphic novels: Criminal Vol 1, Locke & Key Vol 5, Richard Stark’s Parker: The Score

Best Concert: Andrew WK @ The Bluebird, Runner Up: NoFX @ Fillmore

Best Trip: Dirt Biking in Moab

Best Albums: Masked Intruder/ST, Classics Of Love/ST, White Wires/WWIII

Best Music Discovery: Downtown Struts

Biggest Miracle: Barely missing a car accident in the snow sliding between a car and a bus

Most Stressful: Swimming 500 meters in open water during my first Triathlon

Biggest Bummer: All fireworks on 4th of July canceled due to forest fires in Colorado

Most Patriotic: Going to Obama rally at University of Colorado

Biggest DIY Project: Re-tiling shower in the bathroom

Best Purchase: Suzuki GZ250 Motorcycle

Biggest Purchase: A house

Best Fix: Replaced windshield wiper reservoir in Nissan Sentra

Best Discovery: Flushable wipes

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Zach’s Worst/Best Of 2011

Happy New Year! Its time to look back on what happened in 2011:

Best Purchase: Eagle Creek Belt – The buckle is plastic which allows me to go through security without taking off my belt.
Best Books: Start With Why – A revelation on the importance of purpose.  Anything You Want – Brings fresh air to business and entrepreneurialism books  Practical Wisdom – A concept so true it made me mad.
Best Graphic Novel: Locke & Key – Awesome art and page-turning suspense.
Best Movies: Time Crimes – Time travel twists that made my head spin for days afterward. The Fighter – I love boxing movies. Following – Why did it take me so long to see this great Christoper Nolan movie?
Best Doc: Inside Job - Also so true it made me mad.
Best Albums: Mariachi El Bronx – II, Swingin’ Utters – Here Under Protest, Dead To Me – Moscow Penny Ante
Best Band Discovery: Smoking Popes
Best Concert: Off With Their Heads / Dead To Me @ Marquis Theater Denver
Biggest Bummer: Ball hitting my glove and then going over the fence for a grand slam in softball game
Biggest Time Suck: Watching all six seasons of Dexter
Best New Skill: Making delicious salsa
Best Hike: Angels Landing, Zion National Park
Hardest Hike: Longs Peak, Colorado
Coldest Moment: Swimming in mountain lake water at Tough Mudder race in Beaver Creek
Most Traumatic: Two year old daughter knocking out her front tooth on the book shelf
Most Stressful: Trying to keep water level down with sewer water backing up in the basement. Most Stressful Runner Up: Getting flat tire on the way to the airport
Most Exciting: Launching Minimalist Tees
Best Moment: Second daughter being born

Books Read: 19
Snowboarding : 6 times
Blog Posts: 34
Movies Watched: 111

In 2012 I plan on also tracking the amount of times I go out to eat and what I buy (not just where I buy like the bank does).

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My Vision Of The Future Internet TV

My vision for what the future internet TV interface will look like has five main parts: your own digital content library, niche and main stream show subscriptions, library of streaming content like Netflix, instant streaming rentals and live TV.
Anything you have ever purchased and downloaded will be available to view including your own home videos. People like to buy movies to add to their collection and this collection will be available alongside all the other streaming and live content.
I love the idea of any content creators/publishers being able to make a channel that has multiple ways to monazite. I envision a scenario where the publisher can give the content away and share in the advertising revenue or offer a cheaper paid subscription with limited ads or a higher subscription with no ads. Big Hollywood channels will be right next to home made amature channels, anyone can create and sell their content in the form of subscriptions. There will be subscriptions that are very niche like a snowboard video channel and subscriptions for main stream  prime time TV shows, as well as subscriptions for aggregators of content that is curated from all over. Content will be as long as it needs to be from seconds long to hours.
Pay per view rentals will also be available in the interface. Click to rent any new movie releases just like iTunes and Amazon does. And live TV if you want to see it as it releases. Live TV like a sports games could also be recorded and added to your watch later queue. And different levels of streaming content that can be browsed like on Netflix instant watch.
Laid on top of all of this is a stream format that includes your social networks. So you can send videos to friends, rate and comment on all the content you watch. The stream will show videos friends have sent to you, new episodes of shows you subscribe to, recommendations based on past viewed content and reminders of content you watched but didn’t finish – like a movie you started watching on your ipad is then pulled into your stream to finish watching on TV.
Below is what I envision the interface will look like. The stream in the middle, sponsored ads in the right column and your owned content library and subscriptions in the left column.

Future Internet TV Interface

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The Most Important Metric In Facebook Insights

..is daily likes and comments, or post feedback, which are the daily number of likes and comments made on news feed stories posted by your page.
The reason I think this is the most important metric is because getting more fans on Facebook is just a means to an end. On Facebook, the magic happens when brands activate their fans in ways that inspire them to share those messages with their friends. Advertisers spend millions of dollars on elaborately conceived advertising campaigns, yet often what really makes up a consumer’s mind is not only simple but also free: a word-of-mouth recommendation from a trusted source – and that’s the power that Facebook has, and what you should be measuring.

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When someone likes your content they endorse it for all their friends to see which holds all the benefits of the above study. So don’t just focus on getting more and more likes, also focus on nurturing those fans with an end of recommending you to their friends.

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What Is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is finding keywords with the right balance between relevance and popularity to use towards getting your web page more targeted visitors. Keywords that are very specific and relevant tend to have less competition and therefore, are easier to rank higher for. Broad and generic keywords are searched for more often and therefore, are more popular and harder to rank higher for.

The perfect keyword is somewhere in between – very relevant to your site and also a popular search query. How do you know when you have chosen the right keyword to use for optimizing on your site? You don’t. You’ll always have to wonder what the opportunity cost is for ranking for one word instead of a different word. It’s my opinion that you shouldn’t focus on any more than 3 keywords per page to try and rank. When you get past three you’re spreading your page thin. When doing keyword research I think its important to remember the end goal is more customers, not just more visitors. It makes more sense to me to have more pages that rank well for very relevant keywords rather than a couple pages that rank well for popular keywords.

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Zach’s Best Of 2010

My yearly best of, in no particular order:

Best Books I Read in 2010
Web Analytics 2.0 – Avinash Kaushik
Ignore Everybody – Hugh MacLeod
Rebel without a Crew – Robert Rodriguez
Switch – Chip Heath
Cognitive Surplus – Clay Shirky

Best Movies I Saw in 2010
District 9
Anvil: The Story of Anvil
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Art & Copy
Moon
Inception
In Bruges
Scott Pilgrim vs The World
Shutter Island
Exit Through The Gift Shop

Best Songs I Heard in 2010
Laundry Room – Avett Brothers
Never Say Die – Bouncing Souls
Swim Until You Can’t See Land – Frightened Rabbit
The Diamond Church Street Choir – The Gaslight Anthem
Satisfied Mind – Johnny Cash
What Are You Willing To Loose – Lucero
Steve Don’t Party No More – Mean Jeans
Excuses – The Morning Benders
The Eyes Of Death – Off With Their Heads
Answer To Yourself – The Soft Pack
Cut Throat – Varsity Weirdos
As We Enter – Nas & Damian Marley
We Are Sex Bob-Omb – Sex Bob-Omb
End In Sight – Knucklehead
Sleigh Bells – Rill Rill

Highlights:
Best date night – Aziz Ansari @ Comedy Works in Denver
Biggest drag: Thought I fixed a leaky pipe but instead it it leaked for 4 months and caused $1,500 in damage
Scariest moment: Almost driving off a cliff in a VW van on the road to Hana in Maui
Best Concert: Off With Their Heads @ 3 Kings in Denver
Best Purchase – Townhouse in Boulder
Suckiest moment: Getting my first tooth filling

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year! Thanks for reading!

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Quantifying Display Ads Success

Display advertising, or advertising with text ads on Google’s content network, brings with it a different mind set than paid search. Display doesn’t work very well for direct response but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t useful for something. What are some more ways to quantify the success of display ads besides conversions (which typically have high cost per conversion) and number of  impressions (which may or may not have even been seen if it was below the fold or ignored altogether)?

I really like looking at the Visitor Loyalty metric under Visitors in Google Analytics. Make a custom segment for just that display campaign and see how many return visits those ads created.

Google Analytics Display Segment

If this is the first time the visitor has visited the site the chances are slim that they are going to buy. But making something compelling enough to get them to come back should be looked at as a mini-win that leads that visitor down the conversion funnell. Look at the Visits With Conversions custom segment to get an idea of what the typical amount of visits to conversion is on your site. Let’s say its 4 visits, if your display campaign begins the visitor down that 4 visit funnel, that’s worth something.
This just goes to show the importance of giving the visitor some kind of hook on the landing page to invite them to interact with you again: you can teach them something, watch a video, engage in a conversation, subscribe to email, RSS or at least a cookie on their browser to send them a re-marketing message later.

Google Analytics Visitor Loyalty

When you look at display advertising this way, rather than only at direct response and conversions, you begin to ask the question of how much time and effort your business spends on pre-purchase transactions and how much you spend on trying to simply close the sale?

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Customer Insights From AdWords Remarketing

How much do you know about the interests of the visitors to your site? One of the cool things about doing remarketing through Google’s Display Network is that you can see the placements and impression counts on the sites that people visit after they visit your site. One quick, cool way to visualize this data is to make a word cloud based on the categories of those sites.
Using Wordle, I took the top 100 sites with the most impressions and used Google Ad Planner to get the the content category that Google gives each site in it’s description. I then took all those categories and pasted it into Wordle to get the word cloud you see above showing the most visited categories.
I could see this being helpful when it comes to coming up with content that visitors will find interesting, for example if your visitors are interested in news, you could inject more ways in which your product has to do with current events on your blog.
You could also take this customer profile and see how it compares to your competitors customer using comparison tools like Quantcast, AdPlanner or Compete.  See how your customers are different and capitalize on it by standing out and providing more personalized info. Any more ideas on how this data could be used?

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Basics Of SEO Infographic

Credit goes to a tweet by Avinash that made the basis of this post.
#1. Your content is relevant and it’s in the user’s language but not accessible to search engines. If it’s content designed in Flash or part of an image, the spiders can’t see it. Chances are good your metadata is in bad shape too. Ensure spiders can parse all content using Google Webmaster Tools by submitting a site map. Restrict duplication by using canonical tags. Use the same relevant content in page titles and anchor text. Make access to deep pages happen in as few clicks as possible.
#2. Your content is relevant and is accessible to search engines but not in the user’s language. If this is the case you are being too technical or too broad in your choice of keyword usage for titles and content. Put yourself in the shoes of the person searching for what you are writing, what words would they use to find your content? Use keyword tools to choose keywords that will garner more traffic. Don’t forget that enough long tail keywords, in aggregate, can potentially make up more traffic then the popular head keywords.
#3. Your content is in the user’s language and accessible to search engines but not relevant. This is the sorry state of the majority of sites out there trying to improve in organic ranking. The solution is to stop being a copycat and make something new. Answer specific questions, be original, be remarkable, be a teacher, be yourself.

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The 80/20 Rule Applied To PPC

The 80/20 rule, also knows as the Pareto Principle, means that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Applied to search engine marketing, it means that roughly 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your keywords.
A lot has been said on monetizing the long tail of search which I think is very valid. Spending the time on developing a long tail strategy can reap many benefits but it still doesn’t negate the fact that the “head” still makes most of the money. So if you had limited time and you want to see the biggest impacts the fastest, you should look at that juicy 20%, and optimize it first. Take the time to dive into Google Analytics with those high yielding campaigns, run bid experiments on keywords and try to do every little thing to optimize these campaigns first since they will give the most back.

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Identifying the 20%
Export a campaign report and then sort high to low by conversions. Do a little division in the cells next to clicks, impressions, cost and conversions to see the percent of the total each campaign contributes.

Analysis
In my example you can see that Campaign 1 contributes 33.8 % of total conversions for the account yet it has the lowest click through rate and it’s low impression share is almost all due to rank. There is some low hanging fruit to be had with this campaign by adding negative keywords, improving adtext and adjusting bids.
If you didn’t think to start working on the 20%, or most important first, you might be tempted to start working on Campaign 14 which has the highest cost/conversion. You may not realize that even though it is performing badly, it’s only contributing .4% of total spend. All the effort on that campaign would yield little help to the account as a whole.

The moral is work smarter not harder.

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