With the world becoming more mobile friendly, the number of mobile users continues to rise. Instead of searching for a brand on their desktop and purchasing through a traditional website, many consumers are making quick searches via their smartphones and making instant purchase decisions on mobile sites and apps.
The era of t-commerce has officially arrived. And it brings with it massive opportunities – and challenges – for digital marketers.
The Growth of the Tablet Market
Tablet traffic has played a strong role in the growth of mobile commerce and it is consistently growing. In one report tablet click-through rates were 65% higher when compared to desktops. In another report click-through rates on tablets outperformed smartphones by 250%.
Although smartphones currently generate approximately double the revenue ($16.4 billion) with mobile apps when compared to tablets ($8.8 billion), if tablet usage continues to increase it is likely that tablets will generate more revenue in mobile apps in the near future. (more…)
One of the hottest trends in online marketing is native advertising. While not necessarily a new concept — the relatively old-school advertorial has been around for decades — it has seen a resurgence in the current content marketing era. Recent examples of native advertising can be seen with Google’s paid search results, YouTube’s sponsored videos and, to a lesser extent, trending topics on Twitter.
Content marketing has led to innovative forms of online advertising. With the online user experience key to a successful marketing campaign, this non-disruptive form of online advertising will continue to capture marketers’ addition — and advertising dollars — in 2013.
Native Advertising: The Basics
Native advertising is considered one of the newest forms of online marketing.
According to a September 2012 article in Mashable, the term didn’t take root until famed start-up investor Fred Wilson told an audience at OMMA Global in early 2012 about “native monetization” for Web properties, which he described as ads that were “unique and native to the experience” of a website.
Dan Greenberg, the CEO of Sharethrough, is credited with coining the actual term “native advertising.” Here’s Greenberg’s definition: “Native advertising is a form of media that’s built into the actual visual design and where the ads are part of the content.”
What separates native advertising from the equally hot trend of content marketing is a matter of debate. John LoGioco, SVP and general manager of content at Outbrain, recently told Mashable that the two are pretty much the same. “Native advertising seems to be the thing that most are able to hang on to and get it.”
What Makes for Great Native Ads
At its best, native advertising blends seamlessly with the editorial content of a website while providing content that is valuable to the target audience. Below is an example of native advertising on Twitter.
Leveraging the brand-building powers of search engine optimization requires a different set of best practices than those commonly used in traditional SEO strategies. In general best practices for SEO brand building include assessing the current state of the brand, identifying sentiment issues, building engaging on-site content and creating off-site branded content assets.
Step 1: Assess the Current State of the Brand The first step in utilizing an SEO campaign for brand-building is to assess the current state of the brand. Is this an already recognizable brand or a challenger brand looking to breakthrough? If the brand is not yet well known, SEO should be leveraged to build brand awareness and influence. The focus will be on-site. If the brand is well-known and already has a strong presence, organic branding efforts should be focused on best practices for protecting and enhancing the reputation of the brand. The focus in this case will be off-site.
Step 2: Increase Quantity and Position of Non-Branded Search Queries Building a challenger brand relies primarily on increasing the quantity and position of relevant non-branded search queries for which the site ranks, and secondarily on saturating the relevant channel with branded content. Determine the most relevant search phrases and build unique content around each to go on-site. Look at the competitors’ content that is ranking for those keywords and take a different angle with your own content. Once the content is published, build authority through links and social signals. This will lead to higher rankings which therefore will position your brand in front of a wider audience. Take a similar approach with off-site content by publishing to popular, relevant sites that already have authority to saturate the web with brand messaging.
Reality check: The proposed Do Not Track legislation won’t kill online advertising. It may hamper innovation and cause financial hardship for businesses that thrive on online consumer-data tracking, but it won’t kill a $31 billion industry.
Not all see it this way, of course. 33Across CMO Allie Kline recently called on marketers to “fight [the] anti-tracking forces.” It’s a call to action growing with increasing alarm in the digital media and online publishing industries.
That argument, which my MediaWhiz colleagues and I respect, comes about 10 years too late. Some form of anti-tracking legislation is inevitable given the industry’s size and influence. How marketers, publishers and advertisers respond to this legislation will determine whether the industry retains its sizable influence on consumers’ purchasing habits.
Despite my above statements, I am against anti-tracking legislation. It will create numerous barriers for advertisers, brands and agencies. The ability to track consumers’ online purchasing habits and deliver targeted ads based on data collected is a cornerstone of e-commerce.
DNT legislation will make online ads less relevant, forcing potentially unforeseeable changes – not to mention increased costs — in the digital ecosystem. This will adversely affect consumers’ online experiences in ways few proponents are willing to admit. Despite these glaring issues, the enactment of DNT legislation will not destroy online advertising.
While I do not wish to see legislation enacted, I believe it would force marketers to be more creative in their campaigns. It may foster the development of closer connections and opt-ins between brands and consumers. This, in turn, will deliver more detailed customer data and more successful purchase paths. There are just two reasons why DNT won’t kill online advertising. The first has to do with the industry’s continual innovation. The second requires marketers to take a hard look at their own actions.
Marketers love to create new terms to explain their work. From “brand advocacy” to CPA, CPM, CPE and the myriad of acronyms that fill the digital marketing landscape, we’ll turn almost any new business practice into a marketable term.
What, then, to call the phenomenon of once beloved — or, at least, begrudgingly tolerated — affiliates being shunned by the very industry that fervently embraced them? As the performance marketing industry matures, and as brands seek more sophisticated and legitimate agencies and affiliates to manage their online marketing campaigns, are we entering a period of “Online Darwinism”?
I believe that is exactly what is occurring in performance marketing.
With apologies to Charles Darwin and his Theory of Evolution, my embrace of the Online Darwinism Theory, a concept I developed after watching so many affiliates drop like flies in recent months, encapsulates my views of the evolution of digital media and the revolution in digital media providers.
This theory reasons that reputable and ethical affiliate marketers will survive while unscrupulous ones will go the way of the dodo. There will be more business for great companies that evolve wisely based on clear, measurable objectives that meet clients’ digital-media challenges. Media pricing will become more realistic as delusional “get-rich-quick” companies continue to exit. All of which leads to more accurate and strategic planning for advertisers who have marketing dollars to spend.
Dramatic changes have occurred over the last decade in the digital media and online marketing industries. From email and display advertising, the focus shifted to search and pop-ups; co-reg, incent and paid search got their due focus, and now, everyone’s mind (and marketing spend) is on social media. Encircling these changes was the evolution of smartphones, followed by the rise of the tablet.
The Digital Age forced marketers to slowly evolve to find people wherever they consume media. Increasingly, this has been within digital mediums and decreasingly via print, radio, TV and other offline channels.
Life has become a giant skip button. Marketers must engage the consumer precisely in the moment and at the right spot. (more…)
Earlier this week Twitter unveiled its new Discover tab, which the social network claimed in a blog post will make it “easy to discover information that matters to you without having to follow additional accounts.” The news received a lukewarm reception in the blogosphere with PCWorld calling the changes a “double-edged sword … that involves some degree of privacy infringement — or at least erosion.” Others in the tech media and blogosphere expressed similar apathy about its value to brands and marketers.
To get some deeper insight into what the Discover tab will really means for digital marketers, I sat down with Steve Goldner, senior director of social media for MediaWhiz, and head of the agency’s social media practice. Steve works with a broad range of major clients in developing their social media strategies and campaigns, and he expressed hope for a new level of insight from Twitter regarding what consumers are saying about brands and the ability to more finely target key brand advocates.
When influential people die before their time, the natural reaction is a mixture of sadness over the passing, awe at the person’s accomplishments and envy wishing it was you who made such a lasting impression. In the days and weeks ahead, there will be an onslaught of personal reflections on Steve Jobs. We will no doubt read a blog from someone claiming to be his 5th grade math teacher who could sense his preternatural brilliance build with every square root equation solved. There will be tweets and Facebook posts from neighbors, acquaintances, perhaps even the new owner of the garage from which Jobs built his first computer. These remembrances and tributes will be heartfelt with a sprinkling of self-indulgence, as if six degrees of separation will inspire them to works of staggering genius. And apart from the revolutionary products and services Steve Jobs created – iTunes, Pixar, the iPod, iPhone and iPad – perhaps it is this desire to be part of something truly innovative, to dream bigger than most human minds can grasp, to truly change the world that is at the heart of the Steve Jobs legacy.
In time, there will be autocratic recollections of Steve Jobs. This is also human nature, the need to bring people down a peg. These remembrances, too, will stem from sadness, awe and envy for the likelihood of their being another Steve Jobs, a genuine game-changing visionary, is indeterminate.
Whether the coming remembrances of Steve Jobs stem from childhood, adulthood or Apple fanhood, whether they are praiseworthy or steeped in jealousy, there is no doubt that the universal reflection will be on his greatness, his unparalled acumen, and his standing as a true immortal.
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.
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.