Making Online Campaigns Live Long Term

Too often marketing campaigns that brands create are too short lived online. It takes too many resources to do an initial push and drive traffic to landing pages that will just eventually be torn down. There are instances where this makes senses, like a valentines day themed promotional page but most of the time it’s costly, risks losing followers and squanders potential.

I think there are three reasons that campaigns are forgotten so soon – online is treated like a physical retail store with limited space, too many campaigns live on social media which is inherently fleeting and traditional marketing departments incorrectly assume that if it doesn’t take off at launch it never will.

An advertising campaign in a physical store is different – there is limited space and a store can have only one look at a time so you better make it the latest and greatest. Online you have infinite space for unlimited landing page designs and concepts. Why limit yourself with arbitrary end dates?

A campaign that involves inviting people to pin to Pinterest, “tweet to win”, upload to Instagram, create a board at Polyvore or interact with a Facebook status update has a ticking expiration date the moment it’s posted (studies show social media lasts on average as little as 3 hours). To get the most out of a campaign build it in on your owned domain where it can have a long life, use social to let people know about it initially and then let people continually discover it as time goes on.

Not everyone is interested in a campaign at the same time. For most things we all fall into the mass market, we wait to see what the reviews say, what makes the best-of lists, becomes cheap and is widely adopted. But each of us is an early adopter for some specific category or genre. I am the first in line for Tim Armstrong’s latest but am the biggest laggard for the latest cool restaurant. The problem is that brands obsess only about the launch and as soon as its launched they’re off to the next sexy thing.

  • It takes time to gain inbound links and crawl up in search rank, Google is designed to work in favor of content that sticks around.
  • More time will give you an opportunity to collect data and from new insights.
  • Use broader keywords in the content with a more evergreen perspective in mind.
  • Give those early adopters on social media time to recommend it to the masses who choose to wait and haven’t decided to take the leap yet.
Life Span Of A Link From This Site

Life Span Of A Link From This Site

Just because something doesn’t take off right away doesnt mean its not worth sticking with – especially online, it doesn’t take much effort to design something to last.

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It’s Never Been More Important To Own Your Own Site

John Scalzi explains it so well:

“So, let’s go back to 1998. You’re a new writer and you want to establish a permanent residency online. Which would be wiser: Having your own site at your own domain, or putting up a site at GeoCities? It’s 2001, same drill: Which is wiser: Having your own domain, or creating a site on AOL servers?
2003: Your own domain, or a Friendster page?
2007: Your own domain, or a MySpace page?
(Hindsight is a useful thing.)
And now it’s 2011 and the choice is one’s own domain or a page on Facebook. Guess which I think you should do.”

Yet brands still continue to promote their facebook and twitter pages over their own domains. In every published media and commercial are vague hastags of company taglines. “Like Us On Facebook!” (BTW this is not a compelling call to action) messages are still predominantly shown over domain names.

Ever since Facebook launched EdgeRank it has become a very bad option in trying to keep customers looped in. Since Facebook wants you to be as engaged as possible whenever you visit, they use an algorithm to decide what would be the most relevant content for you to see. So it is not possible to reach people who have explicitly pressed “Like” to receive your updates, unless you want to pay Facebook for more reach.
Going forward you really can no longer make any claims or give incentives to people about receiving timely updates via facebook because you can only reach 10% – 15% of them with every post.  Dangerous Minds has written a very good post on why “putting a lot of energy into building a Facebook presence is a sucker’s game”.

These kinds of changes in social media that put more control in the hands of the company rather than in the hands of the user is a trend that isn’t about to slow down. Warren Ellis reports that the first cycle of social media is coming to an end:

“This may be the end of the cycle that began with Friendster and Livejournal. Not the end of social media, by any means, obviously. But it feels like this is the point at where the current systems seize up for a bit. Perhaps not even in ways that most people will notice. But social media seems now to be clearly calcifying into Big Media, with Big Media problems like cable-style carriage disputes.”

Your own site gives you credibility, control, analytics and the ability to collect information from visitors and choose how you want to communicate with them. Use social media as the spokes to which your personal site is the hub.

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Amazon Is Quickly Becoming The Comparison Shopping Engine Leader

Amazon is huge and only getting bigger. As Amazon continues to grow it also is becoming the largest shopping engine online for advertisers. As Google remains the search engine for all information and sometimes shopping, Amazon is exclusively for shopping. It’s no surprise that advertising on Amazon is very efficient.

Amazon Product Ads allow advertisers to load their product feed into Amazon and advertise their products alongside Amazon’s and their marketplace partner’s inventory on a cost-per-click basis. The ads show up not looking like ads at all in search results, below product detail pages, in side columns and in their own product pages and all drive customers away from Amazon and directly to the advertiser’s site.

Google Shopping still dominates in terms of volume but Amazon is catching up. From what I can see year over year across all accounts, revenue from Amazon Product Ads grew in the triple digits. Not only is it growing in revenue but it’s conversion rate is much higher than Google’s. This makes sense because any user that’s already on Amazon and searching is automatically a very motivated buyer–as opposed to someone on Google who may just be searching for information.

How long before Amazon is the portal for all shopping online – whether you’re buying from Amazon or just shopping for anything online? Google has long held the status of being the starting point for people shopping online but I think they should be very concerned with Amazon beginning to be the ones to hold that mantle.

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Keyword Match Type Parity

Using broad match as your keyword discovery tool will help you expand the keywords in your account and once you have found good performing keywords its smart to add them as phrase and exact match too. With the same keyword on broad, phrase and exact match, results can be segmented based on match type and optimization strategies can be implemented for each keyword.

With a big account its easy to lose track of keywords that are active in broad match but not exact or phrase. Vlookup is one way to do this and another is using Google Analytics.

In Google Analytics go to Advertising > Keywords and then in the upper right hand corner of the data table click the Pivot button. Then pivot by Match Type and for the pivot metrics you can choose visits and revenue to see how efficient they are.

Pivot data in Google Analytics

Download the report in CSV (to add more rows than 500 look for rowCount%3D in the URL and add the amount of rows you want after the D) and sort visits descending under the broad match column and then filter the exact match column to only show 0. Now you can see the keywords that are driving revenue in broad but not in exact. Add these keywords as exact for more insight and flexibility.

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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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Paid Search Device Targeted Keyword Parity Using VLOOKUP

It’s smart to build out separate campaigns targeted to mobile and tablet devices exclusively, as this can lead to much higher efficiency, but the problem is keeping all of these duplicate campaigns up to date with your desktop campaigns. You may add new keywords that perform well on desktop but neglect to add them to mobile and tablet. using the VLookup function in excel you can easily discover which keywords are paused or absent from one device to the next.

1. Download all  your active keywords from your desktop campaigns (for my explanation put the keywords in column A).

2. Download all active keywords from your tablet campaigns and put them in a second tab on the desktop Excel worksheet (keywords also in column A).

3. Add a third tab on the desktop worksheet where you paste all of the keywords from the desktop account in the A column.

4. On tab three In the B column use the VLookup function so that it looks like this: =VLOOKUP(desktop_keywords!A1,tablet_keywords!A:A,1,0). What this function is saying is – take the keyword in cell A1 from the list of active keywords on desktop and then look at all the active tablet keywords in column A – if you find it, put it in this column, if not put #N/A.

5. After the function is put into place in column B, you can see the keyword that exists on desktop in column A and if there is a #N/A next to it in column B, you’ll know its not active on tablet.

6. Now you can sort by #N/A and take add all those keywords to your tablet campaigns.

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False Proxies In Online Marketing

Seth Godin wrote a post explaining:

“Sometimes, we can’t measure what we need, so we invent a proxy, something that’s much easier to measure and stands in as an approximation…You’ve already guessed the problem. Once you find the simple proxy and decide to make it go up, there are lots of available tactics that have nothing at all to do with improving the very thing you set out to achieve in the first place. When we fall in love with a proxy, we spend our time improving the proxy instead of focusing on our original (more important) goal instead.Gaming the system is never the goal. The goal is the goal.”

Online marketing is rife with false proxies.

1. Increase the amount of Likes/Followers+1s you have.
The goals associated to social media are typically hard to measure: strengthen the connection you have with our fans, allow for better customer satisfaction, enhance memory of your product offering, hold more of your customer’s attention. When you use the amount of  Likes/Followers/+1s to act as a proxy for those goals you end up using every technique out there to beg/cajole/lead/mislead people into pressing that button.  Social media strategies end up being self obsessed and include lame stuff like sweepstakes, polls and posting your latest press release – all of which give you the oposite of what you really want.

2. Increase visits
You want your site to grow but an obsession with more and more visits is an unhealthy one. Its like a drug addiction which will keep you working on sensational controversies or clever images, or other link bait that keeps the fly by night traffic coming back. If instead you engage your existing users far more deeply and Increase their participation, their devotion and their interconnection you can turn them into ambassadors, charged with the idea of bring you traffic that is focused, traffic with intent.

3. Increase page views per visit
You want to know how much people like your site but page views per visit is not the way to measure it. Focusing on the false proxy of page views per visit will lead you to become one of those awful content sites that reloads every page in a photo slideshow so you can maximize ad impressions – simultaneously maximizing how much people despise your site.

4. Increase Ad clicks and impressions
You want your advertising to be successful but getting more clicks and impressions are not meters for success. Click through rate at least gives you an idea of how relevant your ad placement is. Really you want your ads to deliver a result – like sales.

A consistent theme with false proxies in online marketing is that they are conducive to short term gain and long term loss. The better metric to use for each goal is one that focuses on how well that metric affects the end goal, not just a means to that end.

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Arbitrage In Real Time DSP Display Advertising

Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) enable you to bid for individual ad impressions in real-time auctions across multiple ad exchanges. Instead of buying impressions in bulk from hand picked sites, you can use behavioral targeting data collected from cookies and data exchanges that determine the value of the impression and place a bid accordingly. This allows you to focus on the individuals that meet your advertising criteria rather than focusing on running ads across a site that meets your criteria.

There are opportunities for manipulation and arbitrage from the middle men in these transactions with display inventory. This is due to the large gaps in what advertisers are willing to bid and the fact that there is more inventory than there are advertisers looking for placements.

Take the following scenario for example:
An impression shows up for bid. It has the following attributes:

  1. Female
  2. 24 years old
  3. $60,000 income
  4. Orlando DMA
  5. Has kids
  6. Apparel Shopper
  7. Health club member
  8. Impression is 300×250 pixels
  9. Site category is entertainment

Four advertisers participate in the auction:
Advertiser 1: Pampers bids $1 because they want to sell her diapers as she fits in their new mom demographic.

Advertiser 2: Piperlime bids $10 because they know she has purchased from their site before and was recently at their site looking at clothes and she fits in their typical young female demographic.

Advertiser 3: 24 Hour Fitness bids $5 promoting their time sensitive campaign to promote their new gym in her local Orlando neighborhood.

The agency acting as the middleman handling these bids from the advertisers and deciding which one will get the placement have their own margin constraint and internal auction. There’s no reason that an agency using a DSP couldn’t withhold bids from its stable of advertisers so that only the top bid available for any advertiser for each impression would be placed. They want to take home the biggest markup on the media as possible. So if the publisher asks $4 for the impression then the agency will choose to place the Piperlime ad because they stand to make the most profit – the difference between $4 and $10, even if the 24 Hour Fitness ad is more relevant.

At the end of the day the advertiser may not care because the decisions of the agency are ultimately held to the goals of the advertiser, and if those goals are met who cares how much the agency takes? The problem is they are leaving volume and potentially higher quality placements/users on the table because the placement doesn’t meet the margin constraint that the agency has in place. Ask for this level of transparency from your real time bidding DSP agency and you likely won’t get it because they don’t want you to know how much they are serving their own interests before yours.

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Optimize Keywords With Top Vs Side Report

An ad that is shown in the top position usually has a much higher click through rate than an ad shown on the side. If you could get your highest performing keywords in the top position more often it can pay big dividends in volume and revenue.
How do you identify those keywords that aren’t showing up in the top position as often as they could and bid them to the top spot accordingly?

1. Download a keyword report for the last 30 days with the the Segment Top vs Side.

2. Create a pivot table with the data from the report and then build the pivot table like this.

This will allow you to see each keyword’s top and side metrics on one row.

3. Copy the new filtered table over into a new worksheet so you can add new columns and filters.

4. Make a new column Percent Of Conversions Top which takes the Total Sum Conversions divided by the Sum Of Impressions for Google Search: Top.

5. Make another new column Percent Of Impressions Top which takes the Total Sum Impressions divided by the Sum Of Impressions for Google Search: Top.

6. Now if you filter your new column Percent Of Conversions Top for greater than 50% and your Percent Of Impressions Top for less than 50% you’ll see the keywords that get more than 50% of their conversions from the top position but get less than 50% of their impressions from the top position.

7. Now if you take the difference between the Sum of Avg. CPC Top and Sum of Avg. CPC Other you will get the difference in (estimated) bid increase to get more of those impressions from the side to the top.

In the below screenshot the first keyword has 82% of its conversions coming from the top but only 28% of impressions coming from the top, and the difference between the average CPC of top and side is only $.07. So with a small bid increase this keyword could improve considerably.

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PPC Diminishing Returns

Paid search is subject to the law of diminishing marginal returns where the last dollar spent has a lower ROI than the first dollar spent because the most cost-effective keywords are always purchased first.

There are two constraints at work here: budget and search volume. With a limited budget you will bid on the highest returning ROI keywords first. When you have a high impression share on those keywords and more budget, you’ll start expanding into different keywords – inevitably you start bidding on keywords that have lower ROI. Revenue goes up but ROI goes down.

The challenge is to decide which is more important – more revenue or or more margin dollars. You can’t have both.

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