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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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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The Long & Short of It – Paid Search That Is

Google Adwords

Over the past few weeks there has been a floury of industry talk surrounding AdWords including Google’s immediate and long term plans. Now a staple part of the digital strategy diet – AdWords it seems that despite its success Google is continuing its innovation assault on paid search to keep buzz going and to give us new and exciting opportunities in the short, medium and long term.

So what are they are what is the verdict?

Short Term

Google opportunities is a new tab which has been beta tested in the US and is now being rolled out to Australia and the UK as the next stage of testing. The tool provides advertisers with additional ideas for keywords that could be targeting complete with search volumes., as well as budget suggestions.

Verdict?

I have taken it for a little test drive and I would have to say this hasn’t rocked my paid search world. The tool provides similar functionality to the old campaign optimiser tool however is a little less labour intensive providing suggestions for an entire campaign rather having to optimise each ad group one at a time. In addition it demonstrates how many additional clicks you could achieve if you increased your budget to a certain level. The big difference however is that this tool has a prominent position in the main navigation which provides Google with more opportunity to recommend campaign changes to increase advertiser spend. On a more positive note however I am led to believe that this is just the start of a larger set of new tools that will help advertisers streamline campaign management.

Google AdwordsMedium Term

Google knew the opportunity that video presented before many of us. Their purchase of YouTube and introduction of universal search demonstrated that Google was able to foresee how big the video opportunity would be and now they are taking it one step further. In the US Google is currently beta testing video ads in AdWords search results for the entertainment sector. The new AdWords feature remains in closed beta however Google intentions are clear.

Verdict?

This is definitely a good move for Google. The online advertising industry is far more dynamic than it was 5 years ago and Google knows it must move with the times and offer more interactive inventory to its standard search results . If organic search provides blended formats – why shouldn’t paid search? In addition as the next stage of the online advertising industry will be social advertising (whereby users can share advertising messages with friends) Google needs to provide more interactive ad units that will entice users to engage in such an activity. This is definitely just the beginning and I believe there will be a lot of innovation by Google in this area in the next 12 months.

Long Term

At a recent conference in the US, discussion focused on the long term possibilities of paid search. It is believed that eventually we will see a move away from a model of keyword targeting to a model whereby advertisers provide Google with a summary of product or service offering, pricing and product descriptions and it will do the rest. Whilst this is very early days, possibly at least 5 years away, such conclusions come at a time where keyword portfolio’s have been shown to be continually expanding from changes in search behaviour, making the optimisation process even more arduous. Thus Google knows to stay competitive it must make ease of use simpler for advertisers.

Verdict?

In principle something has to change as keyword portfolio management is becoming increasingly difficult. Obviously however until semantic search becomes a reality such a concept is not feasible. One thing though is for sure, given the rapid pace of digital, there is no doubt that in 5 years time paid search will take on a completely different form to maintain relevance in this dynamic space.
What do you think about the latest Google paid search innovations? Would like to know your thought.

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Is your PPC ROI Cutting the Mustard?

Pay Per Click Advertising

With competition driving keyword inflation and marketing budgets falling improving ROI is the hottest topic around for PPC.

As I commenced managing my first PPC campaign a number of years ago, it is interesting to witness the impact competition has had on keyword inflation over time. So just how much is it?

Over the past 2 years alone the average CPC for one campaign I have managed has increased by 150%. Surprisingly whilst keyword costs the keywords quality score has improved and the position has remained nearly identical. All of which has happened in a category which has a moderate level of competition – thus I cannot imagine the rate of keyword inflation in categories such as travel.

This is slightly concerning in a time where Australian organisations are yet to fully embrace the digital phenomenon, so it is not unrealistic to conceive that keyword inflation will continue to grow at a similar rate over the next 18 months.

Thus what is more important than ever is for marketers to become more strategic in their campaign management to lower CPCs and improve ROI to get more bang from the paid search buck.

Here are my top tips to improve campaign ROI;

1. Negative Keyword Matching In particular one of the key issues with broad match keywords is Google will match “similar keywords” to the original query ie if I am targeting spring water, Google will also serve ads to a user searching on mineral water which are 2 very different products. Thus by refining your negative keywords list PPC marketers can maximise ad serving to its most relevant audience.

To understand the exact queries that are driving users to a site – utilise the “search query performance report” in the Google AdWords Report centre. This report enables campaign managers to identify the queries driving traffic to a site which are inappropriate and can be added to a negative keyword list.

If a significant portion of your keyword portfolio is set to “broad match”, it is extremely important to refine your campaign with a long list of negative keywords on an ongoing basis. Whilst broad match keywords are useful to ensure broad coverage across your product or service category, it can also lead to a significant portion of unqualified users visiting your site – decreasing campaign ROI.

2. AdGroup Refinement Overtime keywords are added to AdGroups, which can result in the ad text becoming less targeted and relevant to a users search query. Similar to the creation of an initial campaign strategy, review AdGroups and group keywords into new sub-themes which can be used as a basis to create new ad groups. By doing so campaign managers can create more targeted ad text and improve keyword quality scores – thus reducing CPCs.

After creating AdGroups, PPC marketers often overlook the opportunity to further refine their AdGroup strategy by segmenting AdGroups into smaller more relevant subsets of keywords and ad text.

3. ROAS Based Campaign SegmentationBy grouping AdGroups into 3 categories, high, moderate and low return, and creating separate campaigns, campaign managers can allocating a higher proportion of ad spend towards the keywords that generate the highest return.

With limited budgets it is important to allocate funding based on the best performing AdGroups and keywords. As budgets are set at the campaign level it is difficult to allocate funding towards AdGroups that are performing better than others. Thus rather than simply segmenting your campaigns by site or product type – consider segmenting campaigns based on ROAS.

4. Day Parting & Bid Multiplier

Ad SpendNot all days were created equal when is comes to online consumer purchases. For example according to ComScore, consumers are 30% more likely to purchase a holiday on Monday or Tuesday thus using strategies to improve exposure and click-throughs on these given days can improve ROI.

Google AdWords provides campaign managers with 2 key tools to optimise campaigns on higher / lower conversion days. Ad Scheduling allows campaign managers to schedule when ads should and shouldn’t appear, whilst bid multiplier enables marketers to bid above or below the maximum CPC by setting a percentage increase or decrease on bids for given days / times.

5. Testing

Like many other marketing mediums, the importance of testing is integral to improve ROI. Apart from the more obvious elements to test such as ad text and landing pages, trial testing various keyword match types such as phrase or exact match along with keyword positions.

Google offers a position preference function to enable campaign managers to specify ads to be shown in a preferred position. It is important to note that Google does not guarantee position placement preferences because of factors related to the bidding process. However it can be a useful tool to improve campaign performance as many organisations have found better ROI when ads are shown in a given position. When conducting tests, ensure tests results are statistically significant before decisions are made on how to proceed, one tool to help you with the following is – http://splittester.com/.

Do you have any other tips to improve ROI on PPC? Share them below.

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Your Business Case For Search – Aussie Trends & Statistics

Social Networking Trends

Whether you are starting out in search, have an existing strategy you want to expand or are trying to sell search marketing to your clients, a good business case is essential. Australian statistics and trends to do this are essential but often difficult and very time consuming to come by.

I know that scouring the internet to find this information is not effective use of your time so I have done it for you. In this latest post I have also included some commentary on what impact these statistics have on your search strategy.

Search Market Share in Australia

1) Google – 91%
2) Ninemsn / Live – 3.9%
3) Yahoo – 3.15%
(Source: Hitwise Australia, April 09)

What does this mean? It is obvious that your SEO efforts should concentrate on ranking in Google, however do not discount Ninemsn & Yahoo for PPC as they can be a good low cost/competition channel for PPC advertising.

Searches Per Month
ComScore data released in September 2008 demonstrates how Australians search volume compares to our AsiaPacific counterparts. Every month nearly 10,000,000 Australian searches are conducted, which is 115 searches per user – the highest in the entire Asia Pacific region. This demonstrates the dependence Australians have on search engines as a gateway to the internet.

Search Growth
Many brands have still been slow to adopt Digital and continue to plough marketing expenditure into offline activities. Australians increasing reliance on search engines to research purchase decisions is evident in the growth in search volume overall and across key sectors.

Key Statistics Overall

Australian research by Outrider Australia released in December 2009 showed 80% of consumers use online research to inform their purchase decision.

Whilst Google announced January 2008 to January 2009 experienced a 20% growth in overall search traffic in Australia.

Sectors in Detail

Travel PlanningFinancial Services
Online Research Dependence;
45% of insurance purchases, and 44% of finance decisions are researched online.
12 month increase in Search Volume;
– 74% increase in banks and financial services (Nov 07 – Nov 08)
– 24% rise in credit card searches (Dec 07 – Dec 08)

Travel
Online Research Dependence;
Of those researching a travel decision 79% used online channels to do so.
12 month increase in Search Volume; 37% increase in travel related searches (Dec 07 – Dec 08)

Retail
Online Research Dependence;
Monash’s Australian Centre for Retail Studies has found that 50 per cent of Australian shoppers research their retail purchases online before they get to the store to buy.

Automotive
Online Research Dependence;
46% of potential car buyers head to the internet to conduct research related to their purchase decisions.
12 month increase in Search Volume “Automotive deals” achieved a 24% increase in search traffic (Dec 07 – Dec 08)

Real Estate
Online Research Dependence;
Nielsen online research in 2008 demonstrated just under 9 in 10 property buyers head to the internet for research & 85% for renters.
12 month increase in Search Volume: 41% increase in real estate related search volumes (Dec 07 – Dec 08)

Keyword Searches

At what stage of the purchase cycle are users searching;
Outrider Australia research showed overall search engines are used throughout the consumer research process with 27% conducting keyword searches midway through, and 9% search just prior to purchase.

In addition, research also found that the majority of those using a search engine first conducted a generic (or unbranded) keyword search.

What does this mean? It demonstrates the need to be within the users decision set early on, as searches diminish closer to purchase. It is important to rank for the 2 and 3 phrase terms not just those in the long tail – as longer tail terms are usually within the latter phases of the search cycle. The research also demonstrates the need for big brands to ensure that they are within the decision set – as relying on awareness alone will not guarantee a sale.

Click Share In Australia it is believed that approximately 18% of clicks go to paid search, whilst 82% goes to natural search. Enough said about why both PPC & SEO are important to be used in combination.

It’s in the long-tail Identifying Australian statistics for growth in search length has been difficult thus US statistics are detailed below. Industry experts have indicated that Australia is following the global trend of users adopting longer search terms to source the information they are looking for.

What does this mean? The long tail growth demonstrates the need for an integrated PPC & SEO program. Some organisations adopt an either/or approach however the 2 strategies should work in combination. It is too costly to optimise your site for all long tail search terms thus it is important to adopt a comprehensive PPC strategy.

Browser Searching

Browser SearchWeb users are adopting the Google search box as a browser and this is evident in the top global searches for 2008, all of which were brand names.

The top global search terms for the year of 2008 were;
myspace
craigslist
ebay
youtube and
myspace.com

What does this mean? As users become lazier it is important that you are bidding on your own brand to ensure you are not losing traffic to competitors. Whilst organisations can not bid on trademark brand names, they can bid on non trademarked brand names and other brand related terms.

Search Types

Local Searches Are Now 12% of All Searches,
According to a study by ComScore, local searches are growing at a faster pace than regular Web searches. Year over year, local search volume grew by 58% (vs. 21% for regular search) for a total of 15.7 billion searches. This represents 12% of all searches at the top 5 search portals.”

What does this mean? Is your site optimised for local search? Is your site submitted to the Google Local business centre. Local search will continue to increase as the adoption of mobile internet grows. Google is heavily investing in serving users with local results – demonstrated by its latest change in local maps which serves users information based on IPs so it is important that you understand local search and adapt your site/content accordingly.

If you have any other market information to share please do so by commenting below.

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Google Content Network – Why Its Now All That

If you have used PPC for a while, chances are you have dabbled in the past with the “content network/placement” with little success. If so you are not alone.

In the past the Google Content network provided limited campaign control, lack of advertising format options and a large but somewhat hit and miss mix of sites which left marketers with another under performing Ad Network.

Over the past few years Google has invested significant efforts into this network particularly through acquisition of partner sites to now offer an array of ad formats and new advertising alternatives which will provide other advertising networks a run for their money.

Digital Marketing Lab has reviewed the Google placement network to bring you the Pro’s & Cons of the new and improved Google network.

Pros

Media Placement & Format Options
Ad Placement

The Google network is not limited to text based advertising.

Google has been working extremely hard to get advertisers to offer various advertising formats. Australian sites such as TheAge, Sydney Morning Herald & The Brisbane Times are just some of the sites which are offering image and video advertising opportunities.

With the rise of rich media, Google has been quick to ensure it has dynamic ad inventory to provide advertisers with the flexibility to choose the most appropriate format for their message. Google’s acquisition of video giant YouTube has also opened up a plethora of opportunities for video content sponsorship and in video branding.

The growing popularity of other online media has also lead Google to innovate by offering;
– Feed Placements
– In Game Placements
– Mobile Placements

Small Fish in Big Pond

Never before could small businesses dream of advertising with some of the majors and even if they did they would be facing high CPMs. Google’s network allows cost per click advertising in various formats and for all budgets making it accessible to advertisers of all sizes.

Cons

Positioning
Ad Positioning

Ad positioning may still be an issue on the network with some of the prime inventory sold through other networks / through internal media sales teams thus it is difficult to ensure effective placement.

Big Budgets – Big Losers

For big advertisers who can command significant reductions in rate cards, the CPA/CPC may not be as favourable on the Google network and the reporting may not be to the depth required to effectively manage these campaigns.

Niche Advertising

For niche advertisers the content network may not provide the depth of inventory needed by the advertiser – resulting in low impression rates/visitors and lack of sites to project the message.

What’s next

With social networks providing competition for Google through behavioural advertising, Google just announced its new behavioural targeting product. In mid March the internet giant announced its beta testing of behavioural advertising. Google is able to offer behavioural advertising through utilising cookies to track web users across its content network.

For more details on Google’s behavioural targeting click here http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/03/making-ads-more-interesting.html

The verdict

Google is definitely shaping up to provide a strong advertising network, in its pursuit for internet domination. The content network is definitely worth further investigation by brands in Australia to determine its application as part of an advertising strategy. I would continue to watch this space as I am sure there is much more to come from Google.

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