Sunday, May 16, 2010

Utilizing mobile banners ads? Do you have a mobile ready destination?

As having a line item for mobile in the media plan is becoming more and more common/required by the management, it is very important to have an end to end mobile experience. It is a very bad user experience if the banners appearing on mobile phones are being used to drive users to a desktop website.

One thing that is for sure is that your site will experience a very high bounce rate (users will leave the site as soon as they land). OR if you still notice that the users are taking actions, be assured that if you update your destination website to a mobile based website, you will see a huge jump in performance.

Driving users to a desktop based application will also take a long time to load the website, which can be frustrating as well.

All the issues mentioned above, will not only lead to bad user experience but can also lead to a negative impact on your brand. Essentially, users click on banners to get more information about your brand but due the website not optimized for the mobile they will not be able to get any information that they are seeking.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mobile Applications vs. the Mobile Web

The question of using mobile applications vs. the mobile web is getting a lot of attention recently. One of the key questions that need to be answered is – “Is there a fundamental difference in how the users make use of these two sub-channels within mobile devices?”
Based on my knowledge from industry trends, newsletters, talking with experts – the mobile applications are utilized by users who know exactly what they need to do. Example: Paying bills, making a purchase from Amazon, ordering tacos from Chipotle, connecting with a friend on Facebook, looking for recipes, playing music for your toddler etc. On the other end, users utilize the mobile web to search for new things. Example: finding a FAO Schwarz store in NYC, trying to learn more about a new product, trying to find a customer service number.
Thus, net net – Mobile web is more useful for searching the web vs. the Mobile Applications are used by used when they know exactly what they need to do.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Launching an Mobile App and Keeping it alive

Most of the major marketers already have a mobile device app or are working on getting one live soon. The marketers should think very seriously on why they want to launch an application on the mobile devices. Does it fit the overall strategy of the campaign, brand. How will they be able to maintain it?

Most of the successful applications like Fandango, Facebook, Chipotle, and Amazon have provided a medium for users to utilize the mobile web in their day to day life. For example: Fandango, Chipotle and Amazon have made e-commerce easy. They have literally provided transactions on users fingertips. This shows how mobile devices are helping drive mobile commerce or mobile retailing. Facebook, as most of you know has exploded in terms of the user base with the mobile technology – revolution in social networking.

One more important point to think about before launching an application is how the application will survive in this world of new applications launching every day. Like any other marketing program – the mobile application also needs to be kept upto date, refreshed with new features, content etc. If the user is going to go through the exact same experience multiple times, the chances of the user re-visiting the application are slim. Even if it is a mobile commerce application, the user feedback needs to be addressed in a very pro-active fashion.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Use of bloggers for social media: Social Influencers

Many advertisers are starting to use bloggers to write specific articles about their company to help increase the awareness or product advocacy. But the key question is how to find these bloggers.

There are a few key common rules that should be followed to find relevant social influencers for your brand:

  1. Read what he/she writes about – A blogger will typically not change his/her topic, if he/she doesn't write regarding your brand or industry, move on.
  2. Make initial contacts: Post comments/links of their blog to catch their attention
  3. Reach out to the person for advice or questions on how you can improve your business
  4. Provide incentives example: Free visit to your plant, samples of your new product etc

Also, please don't feel that a marketer needs to connect with each and every blogger who writes relevant posts. A blogger with a very small following and who doesn't update often is not that important vs. a blogger who has a huge following and provides update every often. These bloggers are similar to the media companies. Consider being close, connected to the bigger companies or bloggers who have the biggest impact.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Measuring Reach of Paid Advertising on Facebook

As social media programs are getting more and more popular, it is important to understand how to measure the effect of the paid advertising. In this post, I will like to talk about the basic concept of reach, as ad exposure or reach is the first step in the game of placing ads.

Typical, Facebook campaigns are done to increase the fan base of a particular page or brand. In these campaigns, there are three types of ad impressions placed on Facebook:

  1. Paid Media – Paid ads with the message of "Become a Fan" of the particular brand
  2. Earned/Paid Media – Paid ads with the message of "Become a Fan" but with the social element showing a blurb with the name of a few of your friends who are fans of the particular brand. Since, these ads have the social component these are classified within the earned media category as well.
  3. Earned Media – These are the instances of ads which show the list of friends who are fans of the brand and have a link below "Become a Fan". Since, the advertiser didn't pay for these impressions, these types of ads or impressions are termed as Earned Media.

Thus, measuring reach from all these impressions is not an easy task. It is impossible to measure it using third party ad servers like DoubleClick as the Earned Media is not served via any ad servers. It will be interesting to find out if Facebook can provide information on the number "Earned Media" impressions served for a particular brand. The next step will be to provide the number of unique impressions seen by each user; this will be the reach from the earned media impressions.

Another way of estimating this reach is based on the number of users who become fans from the paid media. On an average, each user might have 50 friends (this is not an accurate number, just for calculation purposes) thus, if a campaign generated 200 fans, the additional impressions generated will be 200*50 = 10,000. However, then some of the users who are exposed to these 10,000 impressions will become fans, thus generating more earned media. Thus, it is a cycle which goes on – beauty of social media. A good estimate will be to use 3 iterations in social environment like Facebook.

A recent study by Facebook and Nielsen shows that the Earned media impressions are the most impactful in driving awareness, ad recall and also purchase intent. Thus, it is very critical to drive these impressions. Though less in volume, these are the ones which have the biggest bang for the buck.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Social Media

The key objectives of Social Media are to listen, answer consumer's questions, embrace the thoughts and respond.

Respond to convert the negative sentiment into positive. React fast enough to negate any crisis like the McAfee anti-virus situation, a few days ago. McAfee reacted really fast by apologizing for the issue that helped control a negative impact on their brand. Do not wait like Dell, a few years ago when the battery explosion issue was out in social networks. Dell responded by saying it is a single isolated incident but then in a few days, the entire internet was full of complaints.

Embrace your user's opinions and then present it to the world, like Microsoft. Microsoft is utilizing this strategy in the "Windows 7 was my idea" campaign.

Each of the above mentioned tactic probably needs to use a different platform – Facebook, Twitter, Consumer forums, Review sites etc.

How to measure the impact of social media activities?

Some of the key metrics (monitored over time) that can be used to measure the impact of social media are:

  1. Brand mentions vs. competitors
  2. Brand attribute mentions with the brand
  3. Sentiment
  4. Correlate the changes in mentions or brand attributes to media/PR efforts

There are a few tools in the industry which can help gather the above metrics like Radian6, Nielsen Buzz. These tools might have additional widgets, reports which can provide additional insights about your brand.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

How to prevent ads from appearing at places where you don’t want

In the previous post, I mentioned how verification companies can help monitor where your ads are appearing. But that is a cure to the problem after the fact; your ad already appeared on inappropriate section of the internet.

There are services available which prevent your ad from appearing at pre-determined section of the internet.

Companies have the technology to monitor the section of the internet where the ad is about to be served and stop it if it is not appropriate. These companies have very extensive algorithm which rates almost all the pages on the internet and then use this rating to make the decision of preventing the ad to be served.

Essentially, they create a firewall in between the publisher and the consumer before the ad is served.

I haven't used these technologies but feel that using them will really make the publishers accountable in terms of content and geographical location. It gives more and more control in markets/agencies hands.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Do you know where your Ads are?

As advertisers and media agencies, we sign the Insertion Orders (IOs) and then assume that the publishers are placing our ads at the correct placement and also targeting the right audience.

What goes on in reality? Obviously, a certain percentage of these ads end up in areas of the Internet where it doesn't make any sense (Adult content, areas not relevant to the brand etc) or might get served below the fold or even get served to out of the country audience.

What if you are an e-tailer in UK and your deal of the week ads are being served to people in India or USA or Brazil. It's a waste of media i.e. waste of money. There will hardly be anyone in India, USA or Brazil looking to buy from your online store in UK.

Similarly, if you are a technology company targeting your ads towards gamers but your ads appear within parenting section. The likelihood of conversion in parenting section are really slim.

There are now audit services available that can audit your online media buys and tell you exactly where your ads are being served. Are your ads being served to an international audience, are your ads being served in the areas that are not relevant.

DoubleVerify is a service which can provide you this information. They claim to have relationships with majority of the publishers and seem to be well known. It seems to be pretty simple to use them if you use third party ad-serving like DoubleClick, Atlas.

DoubleVerify provides you screenshots of your ads in inappropriate content, international traffic, below the fold ads, multiple impressions on the same page. All this information can be used by advertisers or media agencies to renegotiate the media buy with the publishers. Net net bringing additional savings to your client or your own business.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Improve your SEO rankings

There are a few key elements which can help in improving your SEO rankings. This post will talk about a few of the key things necessary for improving and also helping your site getting indexed by major search engines like Google, Yahoo!, Bing.

  1. URL: Make sure that the URL is short and friendly to read. Including keywords within the URL, it is easy to index these pages. For example:
  2. Web site design: It is known that if frames are used within the pages, it is not a good user experience and also hard for the search engines to index the content.
  3. Navigation: Avoid flash based navigation categories. Search Engines are not able to go and read the content within flash, causing issues and lower SEO rankings. It is a known best practice to use the navigation lists as HTML links.
  4. Link similar pages: If you know that users will be reading similar pages, link them to each other.
  5. Add keywords within the content: Make sure there are a lot of keywords within the content of the website; this enforces that the site is about a particular search engine category.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Using Web Analytics data to understand the user behavior

There is a lot of data available in the web analytics platforms like Omniture, Webtrends etc. One of the key reports is the click-stream report. Having access to raw data can help understand the differences in the site browsing behavior in the first visit vs. the second vs. subsequent visits.

Analyzing the above mentioned data can help understand the patterns where in the process do the users' drop-off the website before converting. Also, how different is the behavior from first to the second to subsequent. This information can be used in multiple ways:

  1. Optimize the site content – make the content more easily accessible that the users are reading in the later visits
  2. Using cookie tracking – optimize how the site is presented to the users in the first visit vs. subsequent visits

These small changes can definitely lead to high conversions rates especially for e-commerce sites.

This technique can also be used in the way how ads are served to users who have dropped off the process before converting. Dynamic ad serving companies like Tumri and Teracent can be used to change the color, messaging to first visit vs. a user who has been to the web site.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Promoted Tweets – Twitter Paid Ads

Twitter just announced today it will be starting advertising in form of paid tweets. These tweets will be known as Promoted Tweets.

From a targeting perspective, it is a great opportunity for Twitter to start text mining the current tweets or conversations and then serve the ads. This can become a very well targeted advertising network based on conversations, user profiles etc.

For example: Many companies have twitter handles which promote/provide information about their products. Thus, profiling the users based on their interest and posts will be a great way to target ads.

Instead of relying on any 3rd or 4th party database to profile users, Twitter has the ability to segment users based on its in house data – the past and current tweets.

It will be interesting from a measurement perspective, to measure how these ads will work.

I hope to see some webinars or research papers coming up soon on Twitter ads.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Audience Segments

A lot of technology companies like Bizo, Audience Science are helping advertisers target the valuable user segments. These companies have access to huge databases containing information about these users. This information can be used to target B2B users for example – industry segment, functional area, size of companies.

Information to these companies comes from registration information at various places over the internet. Based on the cookie tracking, these users can then later be found & targeted with the ads on other sites throughout the internet like Yahoo!, MSN etc.

It does seem like a simple ad network but with what I will like to stress is that these networks have the information about these users. Of course, this information might not be a 100% accurate but it is still better than using an ad network to target users with no information except their behavior a.k.a. BT (behavior targeting).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Increasing acquistion share from Online Channel

I bumped into a marketing professional and he mentioned that one of the objectives of his product was to increase online use of the tool on his website. My first question was - how are you driving traffic to the website i.e. display vs. search vs. others. His response was - "We are not driving traffic to the website via any online advertising". My jaw dropped....

I thought how is he planning to achieve his goal? By asking the current users who use the tool to use it more OR by asking them to sign-in with a differnet name everyday? None of these are going to help achieve his objective.

I drew a funnel and explained you need more people to enter the funnel, that is how your usage with increase i.e. new customers. Your current customers can help increase by word of mouth efforts but that might not be enough to reach your goal.

Thus, if you are trying to increase usage of online tools or increase sign-ups on you website - have a strong marketing program which drives users to the website that is easy to navigate.