Amid all the excitement over Facebook/Skype’s big announcement last Wednesday, a slight groan could be heard in digital marketing offices from New York to New Guinea. OK maybe New Guinea is a stretch but I’m sure you catch my drift. According to an email distributed by a Facebook spokesperson, marketers looking to conduct video chats through their Pages or hold group powwows with users are out of luck. In the grand scheme of engagement things, this is not exactly the dawning of the marketing apocalypse. Facebook has given digital professionals plenty of tools to work their branding mojo. Aligning with Skype could be the social network’s way of optimizing for its original audience, which has felt somewhat neglected by Facebook as it has grown into an online marketing juggernaut. Still, it will be interesting to see how long it will take savvy marketers and branding officers to get around any Facebook/Skype limitations.
Perhaps the more important development to come out of Camp Zuck is that private chats and messaging cant be used for Facebook ad targeting. Last year, Facebook couldn’t go a week without experiencing some privacy headache. In June, many users scoffed at Facebook’s Facial Recognition app, which instantly tagged photos of friends by matching faces within its exponentially large facial database. By partnering with an online video chat platform like Skype, Facebook may be strategically attempting to right the Facial Recognition fail as it simultaneously expands its offerings to its 750 million strong user base.
It will be a while before we are able to measure the success of this partnership for loyal users and yes, ultimately, marketers. Will it force digital insiders to reevaluate their overall ad targeting approach? Will it make Skype a more viable corporate go to? Maybe marketers can hold video chats on their personal Facebook pages and come to their own conclusions.
Last week, Google rolled out it’s latest attempt to socialize. With Google +1, the search giant is hoping to generate as much love as Facebook’s Like feature. So what is Google +1 and why should you care?
Google +1 is designed to drive SEO and PPC search results in much the same way as the Like. Likes are becoming an increasing important part of any search campaign. Depending on your industry and the scope of your competition, Likes can improve your SERPS results making it a desired search element. Google +1 is looking to take this a step further by extending its feature’s sphere of influence. And it begins at the click.
When a Facebook users Likes a product, service or post, it’s clout is undeniable but somewhat limited in that only a user’s friend network will see it. This is the opening that Google is hoping to take advantage of. Google +1 will come up on Google search results making the rating available to anyone accessing Google.
The potential for Google +1 to be a success is high but it has a significant hurdle to overcome – Facebook. Facebook has proved to be two steps ahead of the game in social space. Google +1 is a good first step towards leveling the playing field but does anyone doubt the social network will respond with something even more innovative and engaging?
An interesting 107 character tweet came through Twitter last week. It did what a tweet is supposed to do – it got my attention. It stated that a definitive calculation determining the value of a Facebook fan exists. So I bit and clicked on the Business Insider link. According to Hitwise and the social media company Techlightenment, 1 fan = 20 extra website visits. At first, I thought ‘That’s cool.’ Then about 10 seconds later I said to myself, ‘So what?’
Driving website traffic is an important indicator of business performance and brand awareness. For instance, it’s always nice to see Google Analytics reports showing an increase in visits to this blog. However, when it comes to this equation, the ratio is a little problematic.
Facebook is a valuable marketing tool for driving product interest and sales often by promotional means; i.e. discount offers, free trials, daily deals subscriptions. For consumers looking to get bang for their buck, becoming a fan might be a short-term means to a short-term end – the one time sale. Where is the long-term customer value to deliver repeated sales? Also, while this measurement is a step in the right direction, a more worthwhile stat would be something like this – 1 fan = 20 extra website visits = 5 extra sales.
It’s becoming an old social story. Having fans is nice. Having fans that bolster website visits is good. Having fans that boost visits to your website and drive ROI increases should be the ultimate goal.
Fluctuating economies often force highly competitive industries to reevaluate their customer acquisition methods. The “save first” phenomenon, the new consumer mentality, is understandable but it could potentially put a crimp in desired sales. The advent of the savvier, more value conscious consumer is placing a renewed emphasis on audience-specific targeting as a means of driving revenue increases within the industry. Audience-specific targeting is particularly effective because it identifies and attracts prospective customers who have expressed interest and show a high propensity for customer conversion.
Acquiring the right data is essential for driving results before, during and after the program. Advertisers need to first establish who their primary target audience is and how they want to engage them (Call Center, Postal Mail, and email) in order to implement a plan for growth and efficiency. This is where creativity meets communication. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) initiatives like user-friendly surveys and opt in sign-up forms can help steer programs toward the right target audience based on age, location and behavior. The more you know, the more likely it is that you can provide the right message to the right consumer, ultimately increasing your conversion rate.
Also, messaging has to be relevant. To maximize their marketing spend, advertisers should leverage a data acquisition program experienced in driving results across a wide range of verticals. Taking this approach will alleviate targeting concerns mainly because the program has shown it can deliver pertinent messaging while disqualifying customers that do not fit your desired demographics.
Obviously messaging is vital but having robust technology in place to maximize deliverability, efficiency and validation is also essential. Advanced tech fortifies your CRM efforts not only building your database of engaged users but categorizing them as “New to File” eliminating waste from your program. This streamlines your re-contacting strategies and ensures that consumers who have responded to offers will no longer receive emails. Too often, marketing efforts are concentrated on the potential customer, not existing consumers who have been loyal to a brand. This step will help build confidence with your current database of users and properly organize new consumers.
Economic uncertainty makes continually hitting your target map of potential customers extremely important. After all, consumers aren’t the only ones who have to be mindful of spend.
They say, whoever they are, that opposites attract. Usually this cliche is used when referring to romantic relationships. And there is a lot of truth to that. But what works to strengthen personal bonds could also be applied to empowering business strategies. Take Search and Display Advertising for instance.
In Search, consumers have the control. They are looking for a product or service. They want what you have and they usually want it yesterday. In contrast, display ads try to pull consumers in when they are doing other things like checking email or watching a talking dog on YouTube. Until recently, display wasn’t an overwhelmingly desired performance channel because its premise involved engaging the disengaged. But with the emergence of robust ad networks and the advent of real-time bidding technology that puts price predictability on par with paid search, display is witnessing a dramatic rise. In fact, according to eMarketer, display will eclipse search as the largest online spending category by 2015.
So that’s great for display but why should search care? As display becomes an increasingly efficient and effective channel to leverage, brands currently lacking an online presence will test the waters and join the digital ad revolution. Success in display ultimately means that your brand has an audience that’s eager to be tapped. Search will help them find you. Think about it. Would Google and Facebook be so heavily invested in display if its future and its future impact on search didn’t seem so rosy?
Affiliates have grown weary of threats made in recent years by legislators looking to regulate the marketplace. The insistence that legal protections must be implemented to protect consumers is due in large part to the influx of shady, fly by night newbies infiltrating the space. Unfortunately for reputable affiliate marketers who already adhere to best practices, the bad often outshines the good. In the interest of easy political wins, pundits on the state and national level have been pushing the passing of the Affiliate Nexus Law. Proponents of the law insist it will even out the playing field by imposing the same sales and use tax obligations on both out-of-state retailers and small businesses with a physical storefront presence within a given state. Though that is framed to sound plausible and logical, it is misleading and potentially devastating to small businesses who will likely have to either close shops or drastically downsize.
Last week, the Performance Marketing Association took a definitive stand against the newly enacted law in Illinois by suing the Illinois Department of Revenue. And it is a stance that is long overdue. Apparently other performance marketers with a social presence feel the same. The hashtag #NoAdTax was trending well on Twitter and the press release PMA was widely distributed. It is too early to predict the long-term ramifications of the PMA’s actions, namely whether it will stave off future law passage. But the PMA has certainly energized its base of affiliates and publishers. And for that alone they should be lauded, appreciated and cited as champions of the performance marketer.
Businesses are leveraging Twitter in increasing numbers. We are well past the point of social media managers tweeting random thoughts to attract followers. Tweeting has become a sophisticated marketing art form with offers and promotions sent in 140 character bursts in the hopes of driving conversions. But there is a risk in over-promising and under-delivering. And that can lead to the wrong kind of brand awareness.
For instance, several weeks ago a company that shall remain nameless reached out to the MediaWhiz twitter feed offering free snacks in exchange for a simple reply to their hashtag. Who doesn’t love free swag? The reply was sent and the waiting game began. We’re still waiting. Not good.
Now if you’d like to play devil’s advocate you could make the point that the entire office was not promised free iPads. Fair enough. But the end result is no less damaging to the company tweeting the promotion. Whenever I think of this brand, I am left feeling let down. The likelihood that I’ll purchase a product from this company is extremely low. And that’s all because of a tweet that literally failed to deliver the goods. That’s something all brands should keep top of mind the next time they take to Twitter.
In the affiliate space, publishers who are a part of a network agree to place a page of their offers in their registration paths. For publishers, there are two major benefits to participating in a network – 1. Offer money-savings deals to consumers. 2. Develop an additional revenue stream for the publisher’s web site. The approach has its supporters. But is running a program exclusively through a network really the best, most value driven method for generating leads and conversions for advertisers? Is there a better way?
Advertisers and publishers who utilize a marketing agent/broker to navigate the ad placement waters benefit from a unique value proposition. Marketing agents/brokers provide a strong level of format control. They provide strong format control. Additionally, marketing agents/brokers encourage complete market optimization. Network run campaigns often lack the experience and expertise required to continually optimize and test offers, transfer data and implement creative. And there is no guarantee that a publisher will opt to become part of a specific network, potentially making the additional time and effort put in by the client advertiser an exercise in futility.
Another unique benefit to utilizing a marketing agent is the agents’ ability to broker media buys on single sites and network sites. Marketing agents/brokers understand the market in-depth. They are not hamstrung by any specific commitment to a publisher revenue number. Rather, they are committed to finding the right site for the advertiser. It bears repeating that marketing agents/brokers identify trends before they become trends. They are able to expertly analyze, evaluate and optimize ads, across the entire market leading to new revenue streams and maximum profitability.
As you weigh the pros and cons of network and broker service, it is important to consider that in online performance marketing, being able to continuously improve a campaign and proactively adapt to trends are crucial to short-term and long-term success. Marketing agents/brokers have a keen grasp of the strengths and weaknesses among affiliate networks. They understand best practices, compliance issues and effective targeting initiatives. Most importantly, marketing agents/brokers utilize these high level proficiencies to drive consistent, profitable results that go beyond the limits of a specific network positively impacting the total online marketplace.
Powered by technological innovation, Apple ended Google’s four year reign as most valued global brand last week, according to Millward Brown’s Brandz 2011 report. Apple’s brand value skyrocketed 84% in 2010 while Google’s lost 2%. Google’s slight drop-off should stave off warnings of its imminent demise. But Apple’s surge to the top speaks to something vital to not only remaining competitive in the digital space but dominating the field – continuous improvement.
With the iPod, iPhone and iPad, Apple has mastered the art of never settling. By leading the charge on emerging platforms, they have captured the collective imagination and fascination of the public. Team Steve Jobs has done a great job, cheesy pun intended, of building a relationship with his customers based on trust and mutual respect. He knows what people want and people believe he will always deliver. To that end, Apple is ahead of challenger brands and has had the foresight to appreciate the significance of performance-based media solutions.
Jobs’ commitment to audience engagement, product and campaign testing and continuous overall improvement is the strategic approach driving social success. Apple’s ascent should be a lesson for brands looking to improve their brand value and brand equity.
Social media and display advertising are strengthening an already robust revenue driving relationship. Facebook’s ad network eclipsed the billion dollar mark in 2010 and according to some industry experts it is poised to generate over six billion in profits. Facebook’s profile and user-based targeting practices are primarily responsible for its high level of performance. If a user “likes” Kim Kardashian, that user is likely to have ads for her E! Televisions Shows or clothing line displayed on the Facebook page. This is one example of effective targeting. Online advertising networks adhere to similar guidelines to drive positive results for their campaigns. It seems to be a successful model, right? Senator Alan Lowenthal of the California State Senate seems to think otherwise.
Lowenthal is leading the charge for a Do Not Track bill in the state, legislation that would require CA online companies to provide an opt-out privacy option for potential customers. Haven’t we been here before? The quick answer is yes. In 2010, many politicians carried the torch for more stringent privacy regulation. Ultimately nearly every proposed bill flopped or lost steam. Why? Here are two big reasons touched on earlier – social media and massive revenues. People on social networks are all about sharing information. They “like” musicians, retail stores, moves and even commercials. They tweet about fashion, entertainment and anything they deem important. They are willingly giving up their privacy to drive the conversation. And in driving the conversation, they are supplying digital advertisers with data to use not for vague, underhanded purposes but to deliver highly relevant, cost-efficient ads to them.
And then there are the billion dollar revenues generated through display advertising and social media. These are not potential profits. These are real deal figures. California is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. Wouldn’t it behoove Lowenthal to start backing the money maker and cease and desist with the politicking?