Tag Archives: strategy

getting native ads right

There are so many ways websites can generate revenue through ads, personally, like many people I find 99% of them irritating, but as an advertiser I also know the importance they have for businesses selling and buying the spaces. 

With the rise of ad-blockers the focus on making creative work harder and better has never been more prevalent and one of the biggest digital marketing trends continuing this year are custom-made native ads, designed to appear as part of a website’s standard content.

Beyond just the aesthetics, native ads are also created to integrate seamlessly into the functionality of the site, which means they impact the customer journey, particularly if the buyer is taking over a lot of space. This can have a negative effect especially if the branding isn’t clear, which is often the case as they normally contain content relevant to the site rather than an explicit ad message. 

Native ads aren’t necessarily immune to ad blockers, the execution of them varies greatly but fundamentally they are not published as the site’s editorial so the tech is still ad serving. You only have to block ads on Forbes to see this happening, and those native ads are created for Forbes.

So how do you create a good native ad?

First and foremost, think about the behavior you’re targeting on the site through the content you choose rather than the demographic. For example, if it’s an automotive site, create refreshing content relevant to the cars or consideration process of buying a car, not the ‘ABC1’ you might be hoping will see it and be distracted by your set of golf clubs because you’ve assumed as a demographic that’s what he wants to see instead.

Secondly, don’t be deceptive in the customer journey. Native ads are generally accepted more than traditional ads because they are more trusted, this is because of the relevancy not just at first view level but of the journey in totality. Don’t abuse this, keep your click destination as relevant as the core content. 

Finally, keep it considered and polished. Native ads aren’t a home for any old crap, brand metrics show that they are considered to be more premium from discovery through to purchase. Stay true to the above  points and you will see a greater halo effect on your brand without having to be shouty about your brand presence. 

Simple really; know what your audience want to see, make it worth them seeing and follow that thought through to purchase. 

Stick to these principles and avoid the display pondweed caught in the ad blocker net.

Don’t be this guy…Polar-Bear-in-Fishing-Net-MAIN

image found on the daily mail. thank you

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Content meets Commerce

I was presenting to the CEO of a leading global brand a couple of weeks ago, and was once again starkly reminded of just how divided so many businesses are from the advances in today’s (and tomorrow’s) technology.

One moment we were talking about the fact they still don’t have a cross platform infrastructure allowing them to take content to wherever their consumers are, and the next we were talking about closing the gap and speeding ahead with a technology solution based around Artificial Intelligence. A conversation which leaped around the room; rest assured the irony was not lost on me.

Sat at the table were two generations in ages, yet about six in technological terms.

The fact still remains though, that beyond theory and strategy, businesses across the world are still divided by their operational set up; one half mainly serving commerce and the other, marketing to consumers, and it is in this divide that nearly every client I speak to, struggles to truly step ahead. With one team tracking sales and demand, the other tracking website visits and consumer comments, it’s not surprising really.

To succeed as a brand and truly deliver a holistic experience touching every point of the digital journey a consumer goes on, can no longer be about great content on one side, and a commerce platform on the other… brands must provide the glue in the middle.

I believe this ‘glue’ lies within three key initiatives:

  1. Board members steering the middle management teams
  2. The commerce and marketing sides of the business coming together to provide a service that meets in the middle
  3. Content that differentiates and adds value

I also believe the biggest failure of brands being able to do this, stems from a lack of collaborative belief and belief in collaboration.

In other news, these guys produce super cool content… and this is a cool picture.

Cool Content

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Beware the fold

Belief: The page fold is an impenetrable force that blocks the user from moving down the page.

Truth: Less than 3% of users have been unable to reach the content they want easily because of the fold.*

 

The ‘fold’, for those of you wondering what on earth I’m mildly ranting about, is a term that we digital marketers refer to as the bit of the webpage that sits on your screen before you have to scroll.

I have spent years selling solutions to clients that emphasise how critical it is to make sure your key CTA is above the fold, don’t go below the fold NO! Danger zone, make sure you clearly explain to the user that they have to click if they want to move or scroll down… don’t leave it to them to work it out!

Well, you’ll be glad to hear, technology has moved on considerably in the last few years. Phew. Now though, it would seem that we aforementioned digital marketers have done such a good job of explaining the fold to our clients, that we now have the huge task to explain that the fold no longer really matters.

 

Why?

Because; we have stacks of user testing that tells us that they don’t mind scrolling. JGI, you’ll see.

Because; long pages often give us the info we want without clicking through to seven different areas of the site.

Because; eye tracking software tells us that the eye runs in an ‘F’ formation quickly first and then guess what? Yep, down the page.

Because; users are used to keeping a mouse over the scroll bar and, wait for it, they know the size of the scroll bar is indicative to how long the page will be.

Because; actually users want to be encouraged by the fact that content is clustered in ways relevant to them and, finally…

Because; we have so many beautiful and rich ways of displaying content now, that it’s less about getting them straight to the CTA that the business cares about, and more about giving them the information they want in an easily digestible way to enable them to make the right decision.

It’s not about the linear journey anymore; click homepage, see CTA for more info, click through to product overview page, click for more info, click through to product detail page… (you get the idea).

And if you still don’t believe me, look at these guys bold enough to laugh in the face of the fold:

VW: http://beetle.com/ (love this site)

Nike: http://www.nikebetterworld.com/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/

NY Times Magazine: http://www.nytimes.com

Now go and be scroll free and happy…

This image is from a book by Scott McCloud, I recommend his stuff, check it out here.

*Source: Independent eye tracker survey across a sample of 800 people of varied skill sets. 

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What makes a good launch strategy?

Products flop all the time, fact.

Ok, maybe a negative start to a blog post but mulling over the recent failure that was Google Wave and deciding the over demonstrated, under communicated approach to launch it didn’t help, I decided to consider what makes a product launch successful.

One of the most common mal-practices is not targeting the right consumers. By not focusing on who you’re trying to engage specifically and aiming at a generic platform you weaken your strategy. So rule number one is (hopefully not surprisingly) understand your core market.

I’m assuming at this stage your product is tailored specifically to your core market and that you have based it upon insights and research from the start (if you haven’t, maybe consider this more before going any further).

So next up, what is the USP for your product? How will buying this product improve your consumers’ life? How can you emotionally connect with your consumer to inspire them to buy this product?

The answers to these questions will form your message; it’s likely you’ve thought of this as you develop the product but, tip number three is really about keeping the message consistent.

Every ad you serve, page you create, email you send, needs to deliver this message. Keep it clear, concise and constant.

So you’ve got that bit nailed, next you need to think about when, where and how you’re going to wow your audience with this amazing unique message. Where are your audience and how can you get the message to them (note I haven’t said how you can get them to the message). Map out your landscape and look at the best touch points to deliver your message.

And remember, once you have launched the product into market, there is no turning back so make sure you get it right or you’ll join the Coors bottled water, Cocaine energy drink and Bic underwear failures pile.

Who? What? I hear you say… my point exactly.

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Search Marketing explained

Last year the search marketing industry was worth £2.15 billion.

That sounds like quite a bit of money doesn’t it, especially if you don’t really understand what it is and why it’s an integral part of your marketing mix.

Most brands/ businesses have now understood that the internet is here to stay and that if they are going to survive they need to have a presence in front of their consumers online. So, let’s take a quick look at what it’s all about and how to get the most out of search for your objectives.

So what is search media?

Search is not just about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and PPC (Pay Per Click), in fact there are many aspects to a search campaign which, could further include; Google content placement targeting (otherwise known as GDN – Google Display Networks), Search Affiliates (networks of websites that you can place media on through a partner), Universal Search (which includes news feeds, video and images), Search re-targeting (specifically targeting those that have already engaged with one of your ads), Social Search, Mobile search, Live search… the list goes on.

That sounds interesting I hear you say but what does that actually mean? The bottom line is by adding search to your marketing mix YOU WILL strengthen your online presence, increase your visibility and in turn increase your business revenue.

And what makes a good plan?

At the offset you need to have a clear objective, do you want to increase awareness or generate sales leads for example. Quite often the conversion is the most important aspect of a plan but also the part that is given least attention. If you have a search plan that doesn’t complete the whole journey then you will likely end up spending money on traffic but losing money on conversions.

Ensure that your plan includes detailed cost breakdown and an attribution of value to each stage of clicks along the user journey. It should have detailed audience demographics and targeting information. If you have an agency doing the plan, interrogate the drop off rates and conversion rates for each stage of the journey, challenge how they will maintain visibility against competitors and ask about their management and optimisation. It’s all very well getting a campaign up and running but the internet bidding world is fierce and you need to stay on top of it.

It’s also a good idea to test your creative whether Ad copy, display or further along the user journey on your landing pages. Try a couple of versions; this is known as A/B or multivariate testing. Which creative performs better? You may find one gets higher CTR but the other drives more actions, work to get the message right for your user.

How do you maximise on your return.

Businesses are shifting their spend to be more weighted towards digital with a focus on PPC and SEO but most are still keen to see more spent on search media in general. Feedback shows that they feel they have an at least adequate return for spend due to its track-ability and therefore accountability.

But is adequate enough? Hardly, continually challenge the cost to conversion, what are you paying per click and how many clicks are you getting (CPC to CTR), are you scaling the spend in line with the reach, unlike some traditional media planning models, online search is very manageable and controllable so take advantage. Always remember to review against your original objectives; what did you decide was going to deem this campaign successful? Is it?

Is that it?

Hopefully that gives you a basic understanding of what search marketing is about but remember it’s a constant cycle:

Plan, Challenge, Review, Optimise, Plan, Challenge, Review, Optimise, Plan, Challenge… you get the idea.

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Is social media right for my brand?

I get asked this A LOT!

Today was no exception. Social media has fundamentally altered online marketing by opening up the way that consumers can share information, create information and ultimately therefore, add or take, value from that information.

Your brand is no longer in your control online, the conversation is happening but the question clients are afraid to answer is whether they should be a part if it…

The hype that surrounds social media can make it difficult to distinguish which factors will effectively integrate into your overall strategy, but with the right strategy in place it can revolutionise how you communicate with your consumers.

The key to success is the approach. Setting up a Twitter page or Facebook page and asking people to follow your brand or ‘like’ you won’t work. To effectively cut through all the noise your brand needs an informed social media strategy.

Carefully considered insights, best practice case studies and real-time monitoring of your brands buzz will help inform how to implement the most effective social media activity in line with your wider marketing plan. With ongoing monitoring of the conversations sparked online you can then build upon this to inform your brand decisions moving forwards, this information has proved invaluable to thousands of brands already.

I will say again though it does need to be planned, failure to effectively target your consumers can leave you open to ridicule across the web, so I guess my answer is; Social Media can be right for your brand if planned and implemented in line with a relevant and considered strategy. Don’t just jump on the bandwagon for the sake of it.

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