The digital media budget continues to grow year over year. With targeting and reporting getting better every year we see bigger budgets and the competition continues to be fierce among vendors and publishers to get these dollars as they shift from other media.
The above could be a sentence from any time in the last few years, but one thing has not changed since the first transaction in history. You get what you pay for. We tend to forget that when it comes to media and the clamor to buy the latest or the newest innovation or the most detailed reporting package and all at the cheapest price is hurting the digital media buy.
Lately, I’ve been seeing more pop-ups than usual, more inventory below the fold and at the very bottom of the page and fake pre-roll loading on what I consider to be legitimate websites. All in the quest to get the most inventory at the cheapest price.
The ad to the right is a great example. The company that served this ad is a “trading desk” that touts their ability to drive traffic and get their CPC price down from a respectable $1.08 to $.049 in a case study on their site. You know why they can get the cost per click that low? Because inventory like the space to the right is basically free.
We could deliver inventory like this for you all day, too! We could serve millions and millions of ads for your brand and stretch your ad budget to deliver quantities of impressions and clicks that would blow your mind. But, we will remind you that you get what you pay for. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
We aren’t going to claim that every ad we buy appears above the fold and we never serve ads at the bottom of a page like this one, but it isn’t our strategy. When we buy inventory, we are measuring its performance and delivery in ways that tell us where and when that ad appeared. If we’re delivering clicks but no conversions, we know immediately something is wrong with the campaign (or the landing page. Sometimes it’s a horrible landing page).
The bottom line is buyer beware. Don’t be seduced (I say this way too much) by fancy proprietary software, amazing slide shows with graphs you dream of presenting to your CMO and promises to get you the reach and share of voice beyond your dreams for half the cost.
Paid search is an integral part of media and, for some, the latest enhancements to Google Adwords will enable them to provide a deeper dive into targeting and measurement of those campaigns. It’s also a great way for Google to try and get more of your media budget by claiming highly relevant targeting.
Adwords new features allow you target smartphone users near your physical location with different ads than someone at home on their PC searching for your business. Smart move for retailers, restaurants and places with physical locations. The best example is a user searching for a retail item. Let’s say a person is walking around a shopping district and decides to search for “men’s dress shoes.” Google can deliver an ad for a shoe store nearby, provide walking directions, click to call and even a special offer, whereas if a user stuck in the office may search for “men’s dress shoes” the same retailer could deliver an ad with a link to their e-commerce page of men’s dress shoes.
While not revolutionary, it can have its uses. For those businesses trying to do search on their own without the help of a Google Adwords Certified Partner or Individual it will add another level of complexity and opportunity to waste budget on multiple bidding options that may put a business owner chasing the wrong goal.
Google’s dominance in the world of search continues to improve relevancy of search results and this enhancement shows they are considering how we live use our smartphones and how we use search differently depending on our location, our device and the time of day. As search matures, these types of enhancements continue to refine results.
We have clients that want our help in promoting their online reviews, in getting more online reviews and calming their frustrations at a competitor that is bribing people to get good reviews. For small to mid-size businesses we have seen the importance of online reviews obtain a hyper-inflated sense of importance.
This is partly our own fault. We have discussed organic search results and building your online presence and that includes user reviews and how they are indexed on search engines. Now that we have so many businesses using them in their marketing strategy and more people are relying on them for vacations, car purchases and even where to get the best cup of joe in town we are a victim of our own success.
Business owners with poor reviews are frustrated and angry at the injustice of how they are at the top of search results, they accuse competitors of planting fake reviews and wonder how we can promote better reviews to show up first. We have to argue against spending money with companies like Yelp! that are not an ally of the business owner and now we
have another threat to the legitimacy of online reviews.
Brad Newman in Los Angeles (of course) has the brilliant idea to sell “Reviewer Cards” to people so they can show a business as soon as they enter that they are an online reviewer and will be writing a review of their business encounter. This is the worst idea ever. It’s a shakedown. Plain and simple. A threat, mafiaso style.
For instance, Newman brags about getting his request for half-off a hotel room when he mentioned that he would be writing a review of his experience. He also mentions that he was able to skip a long line at a Chicago restaurant by whipping out his ReviewerCard.
Not only does that reek of “Don’t you know who I am?” but it’s flat tacky. Newman probably smacks his gum at funerals.
This egomaniac is doing business owners a favor and he doesn’t realize it at all. I would instruct business owners presented this card to immediately refuse service to the individual and kick them out of their establishment. As anyone that’s ever watched a good mob movie, the minute you give in the shakedown they come after you for more and more.
First, they may want an upgrade to a better room but soon they’ll be demanding comped meals and the presidential suite for their good review of your fictional hotel.
If this catches on, we will be thrilled to report on the death of the legitimate online review. No one will believe a review from a holder of a “Reviewer Card” because they know it was a bribe and since they are super users, their reviews will have greater prominence and so the whole premise of online reviews will be undermined.
As it stands, online reviews are an important part of a businesses success. Without confidence they weren’t bought and paid for or bribed for, the entire concept is not only flawed, but failed.
Keep it up, jerkwad. You’re about to ruin it for everybody.
I read an article this morning on HuffingtonPost about that horrible dentist who fired his assistant because she was too beautiful and he got distracted. While this story is very strange for so many reasons (But, maybe it’s why I have been fired from so many jobs…it’s becoming clear to me now) the reason I was moved to write you was to remind you that Yelp is not a friend to the business community.
In a local Austin story, a horrible man said something horrible about the Newtown shootings on his private facebook page. It was made public and went viral. The man owned a Thai Restaurant and so people flocked to Yelp to write horrible reviews about the restaurant even though they had never had a morsel of its food. Again, the man could indeed be horrible (or dumb) but the reviews had nothing to do with his restaurant. The restaurant closed and with it all the employees lost a job, and if it was your client you’d lost a client (dumb and/or bigoted, but a client nonetheless).
For these reasons, we advise our clients to avoid spending advertising dollars on Yelp. We advise them to be members of the Better Business Bureau and to spend money on Search Engine Marketing and optimizing their site for better search results.
Online reviews are important, but we wouldn’t reward a child for a tantrum so why should our clients reward Yelp with media dollars when their users throw tantrums and they do nothing? Reviews show up in search results and are powerful influencers in driving traffic to a business. Google reviews are tied to your Google search results, map page, phone number and appear (in some instances) way above your own homepage.
People who use reviews have learned how to spot fake reviews written by the company or discount awful reviews posted by people that only post negative reviews or clearly had one bad experience. For that reason, we tell clients not to get to afraid of the one bad review.
It is possible to reply to reviews with a strategic response because it isn’t a conversation…you get one chance to make a reply on some review sites. So instead of wasting that space to say, “We’re sorry, please call us to help correct the situation.” A business owner should reply, “We reached out to this customer. We strive to provide good customer service because we aren’t in business to drive customers away. We regret a bad experience, but we’re confident that most of our customers appreciate our delicious meatballs and dancing waiters!”
In other words, take reviews seriously but not too much! There’s bigger fish to fry.
Surely when Facebook went public we realized that they must have a solid revenue strategy in place. Surprisingly, they didn’t seem to have a cohesive strategy and stumbled. First with their lack of mobile strategy and later as advertisers fled the service due to non-performance in the tiny ineffective ad unit options.
Slowly, all that is changing. Now, the question is “Will brands stand for the changes that now cost them what was once free and will the changes be any more effective than what they were getting for free?” So far the resounding answer is “NO.” The complaint among agency folks I have most often heard is “Our facebook campaigns don’t work. The ROI is well below our goals and we just don’t find the value in a new page like to make it worth our while.” All of this is shocking because Facebook has some of the best abilities to target our audience in the market. They simply weren’t capitalizing on it correctly.
In a push to grow revenue after a dismal earnings report boy have things changed. The rumblings started at Oglivy when they noticed their facebook engagement flew off a cliff around the end of September. Investigations revealed a change in the algorithm for brand pages and their posts. Newsfeeds were suddenly missing out on facebook updates from brands and engagement dropped 50% or more from usual reach.
About the same time, Facebook introduced yet a new set of rules for their brand customers. In order to ensure your fans that have already liked your page (suggesting they don’t mind engaging with you or seeing your updates) you now have to pay to “promote” that post. The amount of each promotion is based on what percentage of your fans you want to see your page.
I have long felt Facebook advertising is ineffectual and debated the cost of an actual “like” on the social media site and these additional costs and algorithm changes are only strengthening my position that until Facebook figures out an advertising model that works for both brands and their users we would advise against spending money here.
Facebook ought to know better than anyone else that when you give something away for free and then suddenly start charging for it you are going to feel quite the backlash.
Our paid search, display and video campaigns generate exponentially better results than any Facebook campaign we’ve ever spent money on.
In their savvy methods of tapping into the new narcissism of facebook users they have also generously offered individuals the opportunity to promote their own personal facebook status update for a cost of $7 per post. Let me just say that if any of my Facebook friends ever pay to promote a status on Facebook I will immediately delete them because they have proven themselves to be the most narcissistic and dumbest person I have personally met.
There isn’t a lot of longstanding jokes in the digital space, but the one about “this is the year of mobile” is definitely one of them. The truth is that last year we were reporting around 10% of online traffic came from mobile, and then around the middle of this year that number jumped to 20% of all online traffic. Now, multiple sources are saying the tablet and mobile explosion have set the stage for that to make a dramatic shift in 2013 to become the majority source of online traffic.
When folks like the Global Strategist for Google tells you about the investment they are making in mobile you tend to listen. I was blown away with some of the latest research and technology poised to take advantage of this shift to the mobile world we live in.
How will brands take advantage of mobile? Well, they surely will have to take notice of just how brands like hotels.com is proving they are ready for a mobile revolution. Today, most hotel reservations are made the day of or day before check-in and are made 1 to 5 miles from the hotel. This video shows how the site proved they are fast, mobile and ahead of the curve.
According to Google’s head of mobile strategy, Brendon Kraham, 67 percent of consumers are more likely to buy a product from a mobile-optimized site. In addition, he said that 57 percent of users say they won’t recommend a business with a mobile site that is poorly designed.
It seems like just yesterday we were convincing clients to have WAP sites just in case people came to their site from their phone. Now, we’re talking to clients about preparing full mobile strategies as fragmentation of the audience means we have to really focus on where our consumers are and how we are reaching them effectively.
Interesting stuff indeed!
During last night’s presidential debate the president mentioned how his grandmother relied on Social Security and Medicare as her safety net retirement plan. His grandmother that helped raise him passed away three days before he was elected president. Now, nothing in the above makes me think great mixers and appliances…so why is KitchenAid in the news today regarding politics?
Well, someone on their social media team was clearly using Tweetdeck and let their personal political views fly
This is the nightmare of everyone that uses Tweetdeck and manages multiple Twitter accounts. This PR problem from a corporate tweet isn’t the first and it won’t be the last. The content of the tweet, while insensitive and politically controversial, isn’t the issue from my point of view. The issue here is choosing the right people to be on your Twitter and social media teams, providing adequate training and managing them as seriously as you manage the engineers that build your amazing products. (Seriously, the mixer is my standard wedding gift. Brides are always very happy to see me at the wedding.)
The only course, publicly, that KitchenAid could take was to issue a retraction and apology.
Here’s the issue. Brands take to social media because it’s where their audience is and they want to reach them in new ways and engage with them and develop brand evangelists through social media. That’s all good stuff. But, the problem is they don’t take it seriously. A lot of brands have interns tweeting for them or adding it a laundry list of responsibilities for another employee that’s already overwhelmed. Or the worst part, is you don’t vet your vendor and you wind up hiring a group of people that wowed you with a beautiful proposal and fancy graphs and talk about their technology and you get impressed and sign a vendor contract.
We don’t manage Twitter accounts for our clients. We train them on how to take this seriously, how to engage with their users and mentor them in the curvy road of social media. It’s something we ask them to take seriously or just don’t do it. I’d rather they feel left out of Twitter than ruin the brand equity they have gained over generations of moms teaching their daughters to bake because some untrained and unprofessional employee/vendor decided to tweet something without thinking.
Yes, brands need to engage on social media. But, for the love of Pete…take it seriously. Here is one free tip from me to you, when you dedicate someone to be a Twitter user for your brand make it a requirement that they do not also have a personal twitter account. Their entire life of Twitter should only be on behalf of the brand. That way you’ll never get a tweet like this one.