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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Google’s Marketing Toolbox – 20 Free (OR Nearly Free) Google Marketing Products

Blogger Website

In their quest to dominate our entire internet experience, it is no wonder that Google wants to be a 1 stop shop for marketers – given that we pay the bills.

Digital Marketing Lab has summarised the Google tools that we know are out there for marketers to use. If we have missed any please add them below.

Site Resources & Tools

Site Resource and ToolsGoogle Analyticswww.google.com/analytics/

Google Analytics provides a complete website analysis tool to track site performance. Over the years Google has built on the basics to provide a sophisticated web analytics tools which offers conversion analysis, site overlay analysis, custom reporting creation tools and benchmarking along with all of the standard reporting metrics to measure site performance.

Website Optimiserwww.google.com/websiteoptimizer

Website optimizer provides a tool to conduct A/B and multi-variant testing on your website to improve conversion of landing pages. The website optimiser has been built with in-depth but visual/easy to read reporting to make informed decisions based on tests results.

Google Site Searchhttp://www.google.com/sitesearch/

Google site search provides web owners with the ability to create a simple onsite search function to enable users to search onsite content. This is one of the Google products which incurs a charge – however pricing starts from as low as $100 per year.

Google Custom Searchhttp://www.google.com/coop/cse/

Google custom search is a more sophisticated search function which enables websites to aggregate search results from a variety of other sites/sources. This function is free however search results will also appear with paid ads included, however for a fee of $100 per year search results will appear with no ads.

Google Maps Site ResourceGoogle Mapswww.code.google.com/apis/maps/

The Google API for Google Maps allows organisations to plug Google Maps into their websites. The API allows you to customise maps to feature a range of content/information to enhance your users experience.

Google AdSensehttps://www.google.com/adsense

Google AdSense enables website owners to publish relevant advertising content on sites and earn revenue from Google by doing so. The sites added to AdSense are part of the Google Content Network.

Search Tools

Google Toolbarwww.toolbar.google.com/

The Google Toolbar is a browser application which displays the PageRank of the particular page a user is viewing on a site.

Google Webmaster Toolwww.google.com/webmasters/tools/

The Google Webmaster Tool provides you with the ability to view detailed information as to see how Google perceives your site to be performing. The kind of data available includes site errors, top performing keywords your site is ranking for in SERPs and actual positions, internal/external linking data, along with the ability to upload an XML site map.

Google Trend Site ResourceGoogle Trendswww.google.com/trends

Google Trends provides “hot trends” for the top 100 terms searched in the US (so not that useful for Aussies) but it can also provide trends for particular websites across the world. With the tool you can view the growth of Twitter over the past few years and identify similar sites in that category which can lead to new marketing opportunities.

Google Keyword Researchhttps://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

The Google Adwords Keyword Tool provides you with a keyword research tool for both SEO and PPC campaign research. The tool provides keyword volumes for the previous month, plus graphical representation of keyword traffic over the past 12 months.

Google Insights – www.google.com/insights/search

Google Insights provides a tool to gauge keyword trends, determine where the search volumes are more/less prevalent across a given country, the type of content search being conducted ie image / video, local etc and a host of other information.

AdWords Editorwww.google.com/intl/en/adwordseditor/

Whilst the Google AdWords program is a paid resource, the AdWords editor provides an offline campaign tool which makes the creation of PPC campaigns, light work. Once completed the data can be uploaded into your Google AdWords account.

Social Media Tools

Blogger WebsiteBloggerwww.blogger.com

Bought by Google in 2003, Blogger is one of the leading free blogging tools on the market. Blogger provides the ability to upload everything from text to images and videos and even the ability to blog via your mobile phone.

Google Alertswww.google.com/alerts

Google Alerts provides an email alert service based on a query or topic. The alert service can be utilised to identify online reputation issues, track community discussions and even track competitor activity.

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Top 20 Most Interesting Australian Digital Statistics For 2009 So Far

Search Engine Marketing

Trying to locate Australian specific internet usage and user behaviour trends is often difficult. With a lot of new research circulating the web, Digital Marketing Lab has summarised the top 20 most interesting Australian Digital trends/stats which have been recorded in the first quarter of 2009. If you have any others that we have missed please feel free to add them.

Online Behaviour

1. Aussies spend a total of 16.1 hours per week on the internet – Nielsen Online
2. Australians now spend one-third of their leisure time online – The Digital World, Digital Life Survey
3. Australian internet users are ditching desktop computers in favour of wireless technology with laptop ownership jumping from 49% to 63% by the end of 2008 – Nielsen Online.
4. Australians who shopped online in February 2009 spent an average of $760 compared to the global average of $3160. – The Digital World, Digital Life Survey

Search Marketing

Search Engine Marketing5. Top 3 search terms in Google at present are find a job, how to write a resume and how to survive the recession – AustralianIT
6. Google Australia search volumes have risen 20% from January 2008 to January 2009 – Search Engine Room
7. Google’s Marketshare reached 89.6% in February 2009 with Yahoo at 2% – Hitwise Australia
8. Australian search success is 71.1 per cent in February of 2009 from 70.1 per cent in February of 2008. Search success is measured by if a user goes to conduct another search straight after visiting the page from search results. – AustralianIT

Mobile Marketing

9. 97 per cent of Australians surveyed used their mobile phone for more than just voice. – m.Net Corporation
10. 31 per cent of Australian mobile users have used their mobile phone to make a purchase like movie tickets – m.Net Corporation
11. Mobile advertising growth is poised to treble in 2009 with Telsyte forecasting that mobile advertising spend will grow to $20 million this year – Digital Media

Social Media

Social Media Marketing12. 1 in 2 Aussies are now using a social network – The Digital World, Digital Life Survey
13. On average Australians are registered with 2.7 social networks – .2 higher than the global average of memberships on social networking sites – The Digital World, Digital Life Survey
14. Australian Twitter Subscribers Reached 250,000 in February 2009, up from 149,000 in January – Ninemsn
15. 7.5 million Australians visited consumer-generated media websites in January 2009, up 17 per cent on 2008. This compares to 8.3 million Australian visitors to the news/information mainstream media that month. – Nielsen Online
16. More than 5 million (1/4 of Aust popn) visited Facebook in January (up 100 per cent on 2008) & 2.4 million MySpace (-17 per cent) – Nielsen Online
17. Many Australians (83%) are aware of virtual worlds such as SecondLife., but only 26% have viewed or contributed to these sites – The Digital World, Digital Life Survey
18. 2.3 million Australians visited blogger blogs which is up 21% on 2008 – Nielsen Online
19. CGC has become a mainstream activity for Australian internet users with 57% admitting to publishing opinions online – Nielsen Online CGM Report
20. One in three (36%) Australians have friends or contacts that they met online with whom they regularly communicate demonstrating the impact of Web 2.0 on online relationships – The Digital World, Digital Life Survey

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Launch of Digital Marketing Lab’s “How To” SEO Guide

SEO Guide ProductDigital Marketing Lab is pleased to announce the launch of its first how to guide, in what we hope to be a series of practical guides for Australian marketers.

The 50 page guide has been written by an Australian marketer for marketers. It delivers a practical in-depth overview to assist beginners to intermediate level SEO marketers with a non technical way to learn about organic search.

The guide is priced at $25 + GST. However Australian client side marketers who complete our 5 minute SEO survey will receive $10 off.

If you are interested in purchasing the guide, marketing@digitalmarketinglab.com.au. Payment methods include direct deposit or paypal.

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A Closer Look At A Social Opportunity

Social Media Marketing

March has been dominated by Australian research reports suggesting that we Aussies have an obsession with social media.

Which sites are most popular?

According to Alexa, social media sites are dominating the top 100 Australian sites. In particular 20% of sites within the top 20, are of a social media kind.

Here is a summary of the results;
Facebook Position 3
YouTube Position 6
MySpace Position 11
Flickr Position 18
Bebo Position 21
Photobucket Position 32
Friendster Position 81
Twitter Position 89

A closer look

Social networking sites are definitely a winner with the Australian population. According to the Digital Life Survey one in every two Australians use social networking sites. In particular consumption is as high as 91% for those between the age of 15 – 19. In addition on average Australian’s are members of 2.7 different social networking sites which is above the world average of 2.5.

Facebook & MySpace continue to dominate the landscape with Facebook attracting 4,682,000 unique visitors in December 2008, compared with just 2,362,000 for MySpace. However investment in Australia by Friendster, shows dedication and aspirations for growth thus this is one to watch.

Twitter is also definitely a surprise – with all of the hype around the site it is surprising that it has only just snuck into the Top 100.

But I wouldn’t discount it just yet. From January to February 2009 Twitter’s Australian user base has grown by 100,000 (67%) moving it to the mainstream. Given this growth it is no doubt Twitter will have significant reach by years end.

Social Networking Sites 2009Are brands doing enough with social media?

An article recently published on the Sydney Morning Herald website stated that Corporate Australia must try harder to tap into social tools. However if you are new to social media this can be somewhat daunting.

Some words to the wise;

For those fairly new to social media, a good place to start is to listen. Traditional marketing is dominated by one way dialogue and Web 2.0 has opened the channels of communication BUT before engaging in conversation start by observing. Through observation an organisation can gauge the key theme’s emerging on both their brand and in the industry and also determine where online your brand is being discussed. From there you can map the type of content being discussed and the key sites being utilised to discuss your industry/brand. This will then allow you to create a strategy for areas which require the most attention or where you can create the biggest impact.

Not Just Another Channel

If you do wish to delve into social media marketing it is important to understand the different dynamics of this channel and not to simply use the channel to push marketing messages. The very nature of social media is the facilitation of conversations and relationships thus it is important to ensure there is mutual benefit derived for both parties.

Know what you are getting yourself into

It is important that organisations considering social media marketing, are prepared to invest time in this area. Social media marketing is not a short term strategy, it takes time to build trust and relationships with your target market and this is not usually gained overnight.

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Is Email Marketing Dying a Slow Death?

Email Marketing Death

In recent months Australians true love of social media has been revealed. In March 2009 Nielson released their latest Australian online research which demonstrated 6.5 million Australians now belong to at least 1 social network.

However perhaps the most interesting finding was that Australians usage of social networking sites has now outstripped email marketing. In particular it is the younger demographics who are shunning email for a more personalised, instantaneous and interactive communication experience.

Email Marketing – The Issues in Detail

Mismatch Between Push & Pull of Email Marketing

With the economic downturn driving down budgets, marketers are doing more with email given its low cost. This is creating a widening gap as consumers are using email less but businesses are driving more. Net result – lower response rates and increasing user disengagement.

Email marketingWhy Log In?

Traditionally email was a great way to keep in touch with our friends and family – however there is no shortage of sites providing a rich interactive experience to do this. These new channels are resulting in increased separation between personal and professional communication tools. As a result in private time users will spend more time dipping in and out of their inboxes (like a letterbox) to quickly retrieve information of importance rather than spending lengthy amounts of time staying in touch with their loved ones.

ESPs Are Evolving

Faced by decreasing relevance, ESPs such as Yahoo understand the shift in social behaviour and are re-inventing the inbox. Yahoo is doing this is by providing the new smarter inbox function enabling filtering emails into a priority inbox from regular contacts with whom the user exchanges mail with. Yahoo is also integrating updates from connections to provide a more interactive tool.

Rivals Hotmail have also created network functionality to integrate with properties across their Windows Live portfolio.

But is this change too little, too late for ESPs? Do we need another network to interact with our friends – or will the latest changes by ESPs be the demise of social networks?

Timing is KeyWhat does this mean for email marketing?

Despite the changing landscape, email still has a good shelf-life for marketers, but marketers must evolve. How?

Timing is key – As email user behaviour in and out of work hours will now differ significantly – it is now more important than ever to measure the most effective time to be sending email.

What Engagement – Organisations must extend their email program to be a more interactive as opposed to traditional one way dialogue. This could be through encouraging end users to contribute new ideas, feedback or even be involved in content generation for distribution which is more inline with the participative web. In addition and where relevant organisations should look to integrate email with social media and use new features such as video email to differentiate

Control & Preferences – Now more than ever marketers need to give people more control over when and how they consume email content, making the end user more likely to consume email communication.

Do you have any other thoughts or ideas for email marketers to evolve? If so comment below;

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Is SEO Destroying Your Brand?

SEO Fail

In recent years so much emphasis has been placed on improving a site’s search engine visibility but sometimes at the detriment of the brand.

Just why is SEO ruining brands?

Over the past few years SEO has been plunged into the driver’s seat, whilst aspects like user experience have been compromised. Website copy has been the sacrificial lamb for SEOs in their pursuit of rankings. Whilst title tags and meta descriptions have been stuffed more than a Xmas Turkey. And lets not forget the impact of a site usability as users are directed to the additional SEO page’s which has been added to the site and provide users with no real value to the users thirst for information.

Why is SEO resulting in compromising other site objectives?

1. Lack of control internally; In some organisations the job of SEO sits with the IT department. Whilst SEO is somewhat technical, it is difficult to ensure your brand’s key messages are effectively communicated when it is left to those who code rather than manage a brand.

SEO Marketing Techniques2. Lack of knowledge;
Many marketers still leave the specifics of their SEO strategy to their agency without knowledge of what they are doing. If you cannot answer the basic questions such as those below then alarm bells should be ringing;
– Which keywords are you targeting
– Where are your site links placed
– How are my title tags written

Marketers would never let their agency release an advert they hadn’t seen, or distribute a Press Release without their approval, so why do they let the SEO agency do what they want?

3. Lack of accountability; Unfortunately SEO agencies have been too focused on delivering rankings and not focussed enough on driving conversion. The SEO discipline is too far removed from the other areas of marketing and SEOs themselves are too 1 dimensional. It’s time for SEOs to understand the bigger picture and how their SEO efforts fit into the larger strategy.

So how can you ensure it’s not happening to your brand?

1. Ask for transparency; No marketer should stand for an SEO agency who will not reveal the secrets which get a site to rank. It’s your site and your brand and no external party should be entrusted with that much responsibility.
2. Be educated; Marketers must increase their knowledge of SEO, not to become experts but to have enough knowledge to ask their agency the right questions.
3. Take back the power; The IT department is there to support the organisations infrastructure not to implement SEO. It is important that the marketing department plays an active role in the creation and execution of such a strategy.

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4 Digital Weeks In Review – March

Stats, Stats & More Stats

Finally Australian statistics are becoming far easier to come by for marketers to make informed decisions. This month has been packed with stats for us to sink our teeth into.

Nielson Online conducted a survey of 2000 Australians, major findings are;
– Australians over the age of 16 spend 16.1 hours per week online, which is greater than TV, radio, newspaper & mobile phone consumption.
– Australian population has become more wired than even with ownership of desktop computers declining by 10% as consumers move towards wireless solutions such as laptops.

The Digital World, Digital Life survey conducted in 16 countries found;
In Australia one in two Australians use social networking sites
On average Australian’s are members of 2.7 different social networking sites which is above the world average of 2.5.
Awareness of web 2.0 is high, but interaction is still in its infancy compared to the rest of the world. Only 13% have contributed to blogs, 6% contributed to wiki’s and 26% viewed/contributed to virtual worlds.

Social Media AdvertisingNokia Australian “Comes With Music Announcement”

– On the 20th of March the Comes With Music Nokia 5800, is set to change the way consumers explore and enjoy music – according to Emile Baak, General Manager, Nokia Australia and New Zealand.

With internet usage growing rapidly in the mobile market, we are set for an interesting year as the big brands battle it out for market share. These trends will further accelerate the uptake of mobile internet as new features such as “direct music download services” and application centres that can be used on the go are introduced by handset manufacturers.

Google Behavioural Ad Targeting

Google has launched behavioural targeting on its YouTube and partner sites. The ads are part of what they call their “interest based advertising” enabling advertisers to target based on consumer interests. The site is currently being beta tested but advertisers are keen for this to be rolled out on a wider scale. From a consumer perspective, Google will be collating information through cookies but users do have the ability to opt out of the service.

So what does this mean for Digital Marketers; More access to low cost ad inventory reducing cost of entry for SMEs. In addition struggling platforms will be further squeezed to compete in the marketplace which is good news for client side marketers.

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5 Key Considerations When Choosing a Digital Agency

1. Who has got your back?

How many times have the “big wigs” rolled in to present you with a proposal to win your account. Only to find when it is all said and done that you’re just another unimportant client handled by one of the many account coordinators.

When selecting a digital agency – whether that be search, online advertising or mobile marketing it is important to understand who will be managing your account and in particular what their level of experience is.

You should also consider if the agency is best placed in the field to handle your account. With the online being so diverse, it is difficult for an agency to excel in every area of online – so drill down and find out what their true specialisations are.

2. Validating Their Track Record

Client logo’s and case studies are often presented during the pitch phase, but what is of key importance is to go beyond the information presented. It is important to;

1) Understand the outcomes achieved and what role the agency played within the process
2) Determine whether or not the client is still working with the agency, and if not why not
3) Not take their word for it, speak with some of their clients directly about the information presented within the case studies and the overall level of service.

3. Size Does Matter

An age old rule to choosing an agency is to match the size of your organisation/budget with an agency of a similar size/used to working with similar sized budgets. If you are a small to medium sized organisation chances are you will not be a priority to a large agency – thus will not receive the attention your account deserves.

Terms and Conditions4. Transparency

One of the key benefits of online marketing is measurability – but will your online agency be open and transparent with your account. For example on the paid search side will they provide log ins to your Google account so you can see what is going on? On the organic search side will they be honest about the techniques that they are adopting and on the email marketing do you have the ability to log in and see real live stats? Will your agency provide you with the transparency to understand what their resources are spending their time on – after all you are paying them by the hour.

5. Have you read the fine print?

If you do decide to use the agency make sure you are aware of where the intellectual property lies. For example if you want to move your paid search account, does your agency own your keywords and the bidding strategies? Does your agency have a conflict policy to ensure your digital agency does not work with competing brands?

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Online Analytics – Measure Relevancy In A Changing Marketplace

Website Visitor Analytics

Web user behaviour is changing and topics like content portability and offsite engagement are receiving more attention from marketers. But all the new opportunities that have come with the Web 2.0 phenomenon, has bought the inherent problem of measurability.

One of the key strengths to the online channel has always been its accountability – and thus this once very transparent channel is now facing a bumpy road ahead.

Exploring the complexities

So just what are some of the complexities of online measurement and what is the advice out in the market?

Engagement measurements not eyeballs are the flavour of 2009. But just how are the experts defining engagement? The first difficulty the web analytics experts must contend with is standardisation of how to effectively measure this concept. Forrester Research defines engagement as 4 I’s Interaction, Involvement, Intimacy & Influence whilst another definition has been proposed by an analytics expert which is 8 parameters and includes clicks, recency, duration, brand, feedback, interaction, loyalty and subscriptions.

Visitor EngagementBut do engagement measurements onsite and offsite differ and just how complex is it to measure engagement? I spoke to one of Australia’s leading digital agencies on the topic. “Measuring visitor engagement is complex. Measuring onsite and offsite engagement is hard particularly with the unpredictability of visitor behaviour online and offline whilst interacting with your brand. Engagement as a metric in itself does not exist in web analytics tools. Based on the measurement goal, the web analyst can manually calculate an engagement index from a combination of different metrics such as conversions, average sessions, latency or recency of the visit. However this does not provide us with a 360 degree view of onsite and offsite engagement” says Joan Tsepofat, Lead Analyst at Next Digital.

Despite a lack of clear guidelines, one thing is certain, qualitative feedback will play a much bigger role. As marketers start to grapple with new measures such as these there will be increased focus on usability, as well as focus groups and surveys to gather qualitative insight – whose role had been somewhat diminished by web analytics in years gone by.

As identified by Forrester, influence is a key measure particularly in the measurement of offline conversations and brand engagement. The old saying of “its not what you know, its who you know” is definitely important on the web. Social networking and micro-blogging conversations are virally distributing brand related conversations and measurements across the web but it is those who have the largest audience of followers that will have the greatest impact and influence. But to attempt to follow these conversations and aggregate the information in a meaningful way to measure buzz is not an easy task. One organisation who has started to respond to the need for marketers to track offsite conversations which consider influence is Hubspot – but this area is still relatively new and the next 1 – 2 years will be the defining years of the next generation web measurement.

Search Engine MarketingOn the measurement front, search is another area that is becoming increasingly complex to measure. Rankings as a measure is dead with the increasing importance of on personalised, blended and local search. So should search marketers focus on search traffic as a metric? This on its own will of course not provide the complete picture as search traffic may be growing at a lower rate than overall search volume is growing – thus competitive data sets will be of increasing importance. Joan Tsepofat highlights the need for business to invest into web analytics to help measure search traffic. Closely examining your traffic sources such as organic versus paid search traffic or other referring sources will assist you to better understand the performance of your search marketing activities. Similarly, web analytics should be the key to measuring the effectiveness of your search engine optimisation efforts” And what about brand interaction which is starts from search results and occurs offsite – how should this be measured?

Web measurement is obviously experiencing the growing pains of web 2.0. Senior executives must start to take a holistic view of engagement and begin to focus on what’s happening offsite along with onsite from an engagement perspective.

So what do we do?

1. Focus on what is important to your business. Whilst buzz and engagement is occurring – this is the same problem inherent with measuring brands in an offline world – so you need to determine how much time you can afford to invest based on the return. Don’t get too caught up in over-analysing and start by identifying some basic measures ie popularity of your site through social bookmarks or feedback about your brand and use this to demonstrate the value of your new activities.

2. Make sure when you are creating integrated online campaigns, that your agency is beginning to address some of the new challenges in measurement and not leaving this part to your organisation.

3. If you have the budget, consider increasing the number of tools you utilise to measure online performance. Web-analytics is just one piece of the puzzle and competitive data sets like Hitwise can provide competitive data to benchmark your site. Even if you don’t have the budget to invest in tools, usability sessions and online surveys can be conducted at low cost to understand how interactive and engaging your site is.

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