How Offline Activity Presents Online Opportunity

Masterchef Australia

It is often said that retailers are yet to quantify the link between online browsing and offline purchases and it is these trends that are hindering investment in digital. However a similar relationship exists between offline activities and their ability to drive online visitors and conversions and I am not talking about in traditional offline campaigns.

Popular TV series like Masterchef are capturing audiences offline and their love and excitement of this show is being translate into online activity. However is your brand taking advantage of the hype?

How MasterChef Is Driving Online Activity

The latest series of Masterchef has taken Australia by storm with 1.69 million people tuning into the premier of the series. But it isn’t just this 1½ hour slot that people are tuning into daily. Search trends show that at present the terms “MasterChef” & “Master Chef” are attracting 400,000 searches per month online alone.

What is however interesting is when overlaying monthly trends with generic terms like recipes it is clear that increases in food related searches mirror that of searches for the Masterchef show. Combine this with a simple Twitter search for the term Masterchef and it is easy to see just how hooked Australians really are. However whilst this seems like an obvious trend, it seems few are translating this into their online strategy.

Translating Trends Into Traffic

Not every show on TV presents a MasterChef opportunity however following the trends could prove very lucrative online for many organisations who operate in a field related to the latest hit TV show.

At present I believe there is probably 2 or 3 opportunities going by the wayside – MasterChef being one of them. And whilst Coles seems to own the branding rights on MasterChef, there are still many online opportunities to take advantage of – particularly if you were one of Coles biggest rivals. One of the other notable opportunities would be Underbelly which had 2.2 million people tune in to its series premier. Such programs could drive searches and interest in Australian crimes movies and books which could prove particularly beneficial for brands such as Borders.

Online Tactics Not For The Faint Hearted

Online TVWhilst planning tactics and initiatives around popular shows is not a completely new, this is not only relevant to offline TV activity. The rise of social media has meant that real time search is becoming increasingly more important as consumers react to their surroundings and move online for instant information gratification related to shows or events or world news.

Earlier this year I covered this very topic in an article about real time search and highlighted how Amazon re-acted to Michael Jacksons demise – with a full micro-site and digital strategy up within hours of his death. As a result of their swift action Amazon had cashed in on the opportunity before their competitors had even considered how to leverage the opportunity.

To build strategies around “pop search & social media culture” is of course not an easy task and requires flexibility in systems, processes and also a change in mindset for planning and reacting to news and fads. However those that do will gain a distinct advantage over their competitors in the coming years and are more likely to gain an advantage over their competitors online.

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All a flutter about Twitter Promoted Tweets?

We have all heard the news, Twitter has launched a long awaited revenue/advertising model – Promoted Tweets. The first phase of trials have begun with a handful of brands that have embraced Twitter including Virgin America, Best Buys, Sony & Starbucks to name a few.

But is it the next Google Paid Search, or is everyone getting a flutter about nothing?

How do Promoted Tweets Work?

Without re-gurgitation all of the press circulating about the product, I will highlight some of the interesting innovations they claim to have made with their product (obviously as I have not tested it as an advertiser thus I cannot comment on this from first hand experience).

Promoted Tweets* Ads that form part of the conversation; Twitter’s ethos of building a great user experience has been at the centre of their strategy to date and they have used this to help guide their ad strategy. Rather than disrupt the user experience promoted tweets aim to naturally form part of the conversation. Twitter’s first step is to deliver promoted tweets at the top of search results however overtime Twitter plans to display “relevant Promoted Tweets in your timelines in a way that is useful to you.” – according to Biz Stone

* User Behaviour; Twitter’s promoted tweet system analyses user interaction to help determine whether or not to show these ads to the user moving forward. To quote Biz Stone;
We strongly believe that Promoted Tweets should be useful to you. We’ll attempt to measure whether the Tweets resonate with users and stop showing Promoted Tweets that don’t resonate. For it to resonate with a user they must reply to it, favorite it, or re-tweet it, if not the Promoted Tweet will disappear.

When is it occurring?

I have taken a quick poke around to catch a glimpse of when and how the ads are being triggered. I conducted several searches related to Starbucks and also Virgin America (that users might search on within Twitter) to gain an understanding of when they are featured. In particular however I want to highlight 2 of the outcomes of this experiment;

1. Coffee & Guns – Starbucks Promoted Tweets
One of the most topical issues for Starbucks at the moment is that related to people being allowed to carry guns within their stores. Their Facebook page features a lot of discussion around the topic as does Google news. This is obviously a very topical discussion as a search on Twitter will quickly reveal a lot of Twitter activity – however I note that the ad that is served by the new Promoted Tweets feature is irrelevant.

Twitter Ads

Another topical issue is that of Fairtrade coffee which when searched provides the same irrelevant ads.
This example whilst showing there is more work to do, does present a potential opportunity of the promoted tweet. Topical issues spread through social networks like wildfire. For brand who need to regain their voice in such circumstances like the “guns issue in starbucks” it could provide the platform to connect with their audience and the influencers.

The Verdict

It is obvious that the Twitter ad network is still in its infancy, although given that it has taken this long to develop a revenue model, I am sure the advertising industry was expecting something more exceptional. From the initial searching I conducted across not just Starbucks but other brands, it seems that at best these ads are relevant on a brand basis but not contextually targeted at all.

Unlike search advertising, Twitter’s new ad network has the potential to provide a very unique offering. Its underlying approach makes sense in a social environment ie factoring in user engagement and also attempting to integrate ads in the conversation rather than disrupt the user experience, however more work still needs to be done. In particular as real time search is increasing in size, a real time search strategy will become increasingly important for organisations.

At present 600 million Twitter searches are conducted every month and Twitter needs to provide brands with an opportunity to actively leverage this search volume in a useful way which does not currently exist (from what I have seen). They must do this however whilst building promoted tweets into the natural Twitter stream.

What are your thoughts on Twitters new advertising platform – would love to hear from others on this topic

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4 New Mobile, Video & Paid Search Tools & Innovations

Paid Search Marketing

Every day a new tool or innovation hits the market and sometimes it is difficult to keep up with them all. The performance advertising market, obviously dominated by Google, is one of the areas receiving a lot of attention and investment at present, thus I felt it appropriate to share some of the latest developments and new innovations in the sector in the past month alone.

1) Google Innovations Lab & Remarketing Tool

iAd Apple Mobile AdvertisingPaid search innovation for Google is increasing at a rapid pace as Facebook is set to nab $2 billion in advertising revenue from the search giant in the next 2 years. This combined with keyword inflation which is diminishing advertiser value is testing Google’s ability to continue to grow ad revenue. One way Google is attempting to drive innovation is through Google’s Innovations Lab. The lab provides a sneak peak into some of the new formats Google is offering, along with the ability to provide Google with feedback on the new formats. In particular one interesting new format is the Google remarketing tool – which allows advertisers to remarket to consumers by delivering tailored messages based on user onsite interaction.

For more information visit: http://www.google.com/ads/innovations/remarketing.html

2) Mobile Phone Application Targeting – Google & Apple

In February Google announced its new mobile app targeting in Australia, which allows advertisers to target specific mobile apps through their content network. However it seems that a not so likely competitor is set to take it to the search giant in the mobile advertising space. Apple is expected to launch its ad network on the 7th of April – likely to be termed iAd. At this stage it is unclear if the network will provide app advertising, or other ad formats on the iPhone however what is clear is that with mobile search and advertising still growing the battle to own the mobile advertising market is sure to be a battle of the titans.

3) YouTube In Video Display Ads

Although invideo ads were introduced onto the YouTube scene in 2007, YouTube has released a new tool through Google AdWords to allow advertisers to create animated invideo advertising that enables advertisers to target users invideo in a few simple steps. These ads can be targeting according to demographics, content categories or even placed at a video-by-video level. The ads appear for several seconds part way through a video and fade away if they’re not clicked on. With video usage sharply increasing there is no doubt that new services such as these will see high take up rates in video advertising in the year/s to come.

For more information visit http://www.youtube.com/t/ads_invideo

Adwords Sales FunnelGoogle Search Funnels;

The age old argument of click attribution seems to be over – well at least Google thinks it is. Google has launched a new tool for Google AdWords customers to enable advertisers to attribute value across the search funnel not just attribute the conversion to the final click. There is no doubt Google’s latest tool has been built to demonstrate value from broader more expensive keywords to increase revenues however there is some definite advertiser benefit in here as well.

AdWords Search Funnels provide a set of reports to describe the ad click and impression behavior on Google that leads to a conversion. Some of these reports include the first and last click analysis as well as assisted conversions. Search funnels is available through accessing the conversions tab in the reporting module of AdWords.

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