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The Battle Of Google V. Amazon

Proposed by Ari Kaufman

As Google Chairman, and former CEO, Eric Schmidt recently explained, “Many people think our main competition is Bing or Yahoo. But, really, our biggest search competitor is Amazon. People don’t think of Amazon as search, but if you are looking for something to buy, you are more often than not looking for it on Amazon.” (Business Insider, October 2014)

Over the last year, Google has introduced a series of pieces to its proverbial puzzle, perhaps even its master plan. Google will soon evolve from a search engine, into a monetization platform for online and in-home commerce. Most of all, Google will disintermediate retailers and brands both online and in the physical world.

A gigantic puzzle piece is Google Express, with which the goliath company transitions from the virtual world to the physical world, and walks directly into your home. Google Express offers consumers the opportunity to shop online and receive same-day delivery.

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Accepting the BIAKelsey GOLOCAL Award

go-local-logo-agendaThis past week, at The BIAKelsey Leading in Local conference in Atlanta, Kelsey distributed its new GOLOCAL awards in three categories – Sales/ Revenue, Innovation and Strategic use of digital marketing.  Nearly forty entrants were considered for these three categories and three finalists in each category were brought to Atlanta for the announcement of the winners.

Placeable was a finalist in the Strategic use of digital marketing for the successful partnership with AAA CarolinasHeather Mcbrien of AAA Carolinas and I represented the team and I presented an overview of what we had accomplished together to the audience, which included empowering AAA Carolinas to emerge as a fierce competitor in their local markets across all three of their primary business units (car care, travel and insurance).  These results included:

  • Indexing some 1200 authoritative local landing pages for 230 locations
  • Generating 800% increase in organic traffic
  • Producing 35K new visitors per month
  • 25% conversion rate on all unique visits to phone calls, registrations and appointments

Included in Heather’s description of some of the softer benefits that have been generated by our campaigns together was that of the decrease in the number of tire kickers that have been generated.  Specifically, Heather described that the quality of leads generated are now far more qualified and in active transaction mode as opposed to window-shopping. Continue reading

Local Retailers Win When They Optimize for Local Search

modifiedA related article entitled “Local Search Marketing, Accuracy Trumps Distribution” may be viewed on CMO.com

Retail success has long been largely dependent on physical location. Selecting commercial space requires consideration of many factors including demographics, socio-economics, competitive proximity, traffic patterns and more.  Multi-location retailers apply a great deal of strategy when opening a store.  Mall retailers will swap locations when premium space becomes available so that they are more visible to consumers passing by.

Today, however, location means more than capturing the passer-by.  Location also means being found by the digital searcher.  70% of consumers research local products and services on a desktop and then use their mobile device to get where they want to go.  A consumer that has decided to visit your store is in buy-mode.  Will they find you?  Did you take steps to ensure that a consumer would know that you changed locations in the mall?  Will your store be located where the “X” marked the spot?  Is the premium location really premium if a consumer shows up at the doorstep of another business instead of yours?  How much revenue will you miss out on?

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Unlock the power of location data (part II – sample case study)

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In August of this year, LocationInsight rebranded as Placeable to strategically align the mission of the company with driving enterprise advertisers to become placeable. Following suit, we have released several case studies that demonstrate the results that enterprise advertisers have experienced after becoming placeable.

A national consumer insurance company client had a huge problem with citation conflict and low search engine confidence. They were experiencing poor ranking for all of their locations. Continue reading

Time to Make Dirty Data Placeable

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The December 2012 Cost of Bad Location Data Report from Yext shared that 43% of business listings are wrong and 14% are just plain missing. As a result, US businesses lose over $10B in sales every year. Each and every day, people look for places on Google Maps and are directed to the wrong location. This poor user experience translates into lost revenue for stores

Local search marketing for location-based advertisers drives people from online to the physical store, but the process of optimizing for local search is not simple. There are many key influencers that impact the performance of location-based brands in local search, especially when you consider web, mobile and social to all be part of the equation. Not only do consumers sit at a desk and conduct local searches, they do it on mobile devices. They do it within social networks like Facebook or on Foursquare. Local search is conducted directly on maps and through locators. IYP’s are a channel for local search as well. The value of these channels to a consumer may be directly attributed to the accuracy of the information provided to them. Continue reading

What’s happened to Local Search? Where did we go wrong?

UntitledLocal is mainstream. You’re no longer cutting edge or ahead of the curve when you use buzz words like “local search”, “hyper-local” or even the super cool acronym, “SoLoMo” (which seems like more of an emerging neighborhood than a search term to me). Look at the agendas for upcoming trade show conferences such as SMX, where entire days are structured around local

25% of every search on Google is a local query and that number jumps to nearly 45% when you combine mobile with desktop. 56% of mobile usage is search, and half of all mobile-search is local.

Digital media has become consumed with local. Especially search. Not just for SMB, but for national brands. Having multiple locations and information about each of those locations are recognized assets across the industry. Continue reading

Advertiser Control Over Ad Spend and The Swinging Pendulum

There is big pendulum swinging over who controls spend in Online Media.  The economy has taken a swinging nose-dive and everyone is looking for signs of fall-out.  One thing that is for certain, Advertisers are aggressively taking back control over their spend.  There will be budget cuts of 15% of more across the board in Q4.  The place where those cuts are starting is anyplace where an ROI can’t directly be derived.  If a publisher can’t prove a return they will lose the spend.  Response-based advertising is probably the most insulated area of the industry.  This means a push from CPM towards CPC and CPA, even for display.  Advertisers will be driving the pricing models and publishers will have to buckle in order to sell inventory.  With less money to spend, more pressure to perform, hundreds of publishers and networks competing for the reduced dollars at hand…advantage advertisers.

Here is the story…

My good friend, Jonathan Ewert says that every four years there is a great big pendulum that swings in our industry.  On the end of that ball is the influence factor over who controls the dollars in Online Media.


In the late 90s it was clearly the advertisers who had the control.  As they began to test the new medium and brought dollars to the internet in increasing amounts, advertisers tested all kinds of mechanisms that the publisher could come up with.  But it was the advertiser that dictated what measured performance, what the price they would pay and what services they expected in terms of campaign management and reporting.


Then the pendulum swung in the other direct – towards the publisher – as online media shifted from “new media” to internet advertising.  “Standards and policies” were written.  Publishers started driving pricing; and ad server utilization, campaign management provisions and acceptable reporting became organized and structured according to what Publishers were willing to provide.  Advertisers had to start working with what was available, throwing more resources and time at managing the diversity that clients were demanding which made the process of managing internet advertising increasingly more expensive.


Competition for inventory rose steadily once again following the recoil of the bust and price inflation followed.  The explosion of ad networks broadened advertisers’ options and the result was a drastic overload on resource requirements to manage just a single campaign.


While all of this was going on, Search outpaced display as advertisers began to recognize the value of response-based advertising and Google’s climb to the top of Everest was off to the races.


Fast-forward to the beginning of 2008 and you had topped-off CPMs, somewhere between 200 and 400 ad networks (depending on who is counting) and Google controlling 60+ % of the addressable Query stream on the Internet – 90% collectively controlled by Google, Yahoo and MSN. 


Throughout the first-half of 2008, prices hit all time highs in search as traffic growth online slowed and competition for popular keywords rose.  CPMs for targeted quality display inventory trumped the last four years and publishers began to push to reclaim inventory from the networks that had been previously aggregating and watering down their value.


Then the big ball started to swing.  With the advertiser no longer able to increase spend in search without compromising ROI and publishers reclaiming display inventory in order to elevate CPMs, something had to change.  Additional factors at play, aggravating the situation, was the continued consolidation of search (think Google’s increasing share of the Market – the Yahoo deal, Google running on ASK, etc.), the intense-resource demand on advertisers associated with managing disparate data sources, and publishers trying to push CPMs while a massive number of networks commoditize eyeballs. All of this equates to the advertisers almost hitting a breaking point.


Then the economy took a swinging nose-dive and everyone started to run around asking themselves what is the fall-out result for online advertising.  Is this the next bust?  Here come the layoffs.  How many VC-backed companies are going to go under which have promised huge returns with no revenues to prove it?  One thing that is for certain, Advertisers are aggressively taking back control over their spend.


You can figure there will be 15% cuts in budgets across the board in Q4.  At least that is what some of the larger advertisers are talking about and that is what some of the networks are already hearing.  The place where those cuts are starting is anyplace where an ROI can’t directly be derived.  Lookout publishers – if you can’t prove a return you’re going to lose spend. 


Response-based advertising is probably the most insulated area of the industry over the next 2 to 4 quarters given our economic environment.  Advertisers have to advertise to keep generating business, but branding online is going to suffer.  This means a push from CPM towards CPC and CPA, even for display.  Advertisers will be driving the pricing models and publishers will have to buckle in order to sell inventory. 


Furthermore, diversification of spend across less expensive, higher-returning publishers and networks will also draw attention.  This means that advertisers who have hit the asymptote of their returns on Google or the major display ad networks – when spending a dollar no longer returns $1.50 but now returns $1.25 – will start to look elsewhere to maintain their margins.  With smaller budgets to spend, ROI pressure will become intense.  We may even begin to see performance-based commissions between advertisers and agencies as competition for control over the spend increases between agencies.  Certainly this will be a likely case in the SEM arena.


So the pendulum, which started to swing in the beginning of Q2, went full tilt when the market dove.  Advertisers now hold the cards and publishers and networks that recognize the truth will step up and work with them to maximize the value of their relationships given the pressures present in the economy. 


With less money to spend, more pressure to perform, hundreds of publishers and networks competing for the reduced dollars at hand…advantage advertisers.

Behavioral Targeting and Reducing Ad Spend? Nah

Robert Moskowitz introduces a piece on iMediaConnection reflecting industry insiders weighing in on whether behavioral targeting enables advertisers to spend less while getting better results.  It’s a light a fluffy piece, citing insight from Bill Gross at Revenue Science, Emily Reilly at Jupiter Research and Dave Hallerman at eMarketer.  The gist of it all is that Behavioral targeting allows an advertiser to ‘get more for their money,’ insinuating that they could reach goals with less dollars. 


 


Of course that assumption is off.  When budgets are set, advertisers will spend those dollars whether performance is better or worse.  Subsequent budget planning will be based on those results.  Therefore if an advertiser can get more accomplished with fewer dollars, they will just get even more accomplished with the budgets that were planned.  Kudos! 


 


Online spend is on the rise.  If it is becoming more efficient to generate better quality results through BT, then spend will likely increase to generate even more results. 


 


Of course, the flip side is that publishers are on to this as well and the cost of BT is on the rise as well!  Publishers are not making the money on BT that they had hoped.  It requires a lot of $0.30 CPM impressions to get that $30 CPM BT impression served so the net is not great.  Therefore there are additional fees being slapped on the advertiser and there are net fees being included as well to raise the cost and justify the capability for the publishers.

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David Smith and The Medium is the Metric for Online Ads

Fantastic!  When David Smith steps up and writes an article, people should listen.  If you have the opportunity to attend a venue where he is speaking, you should make it your business to sit in on his session.


 


Earlier I posted an entry about when to blog and when to publish.  David should always, always publish.  He is not about self-promotion but rather call-to-action.  Although he never admits it, MediaSmith strives to meet or exceed all the demands that he places on us as agencies, advertisers and vendors servicing the industry.


 


In today’s iMediaConnection, David wrote “The Medium is the Metric for Online Adsand he pulled out all the stops. 


 


He gave us illustrations for why digital research is taking a quantum leap with Quantcast.  Dwarfing what ComScore and NetRatings have to offer, Quantcast provides insight into millions of websites.  Forget @Plan which is a front to DoubleClick’s publisher database.  Quantcast is considered to be the next, new and potentially most accurate source of secondary publishers in the industry.  Ad servers should be integrating with them, and agencies should be taking a long hard look at providing access to it for their media planners.  Currently, they measure 20 million web sites and growing exponentially.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that you abandon Comscore, not yet.  Soon they will not just be about the secondary web sites, but the primaries too.  Their model is primary about getting publishers to post tags on their sites so they get tracked, but if they continue to get traction that won’t be an issue.  Watch these guys.  I am. 


 


David also brings up Blackfoot several times.  David has been working with Martin Wesley and the team at Blackfoot for a couple of years.  I have known Blackfoot and have watched them grow-up from a one-room office to the organization that they are today.  Blackfoot offers cutting-edge analytics software and people like David Smith have been experimenting with it from the days when it was based entirely on processes.  While still involving teams of analysts, Blackfoot’s Analytix is a composite compilation of disparate sources of data.  Accomplished through a team of manual processes, this service model produces analysis capabilities that rival the comprehension capacity of the top-5% intellect in the industry.  Dumb-it-down and you still have huge insight into the holistic marketing initiatives for an advertiser.  A lot of data for making decisions.


 


The call for dashboard views has been David’s MO since I first met him last year.  As I mentioned in my January 10th, 2007 post, Improve Your Stats, Don’t Over Analyze, Make Decisions and Execute I have not been in contact with David in quite some time.  But when we last spoke, it was about his search for a holistic digital dashboard that provided a top-down view over every aspect of an advertiser’s campaign.  David has a vision for how an agency should be managed, and if you are a client I sincerely believe that you will benefit from his desire to control every aspect of the campaign – if not personally then as an agency.  A need to see how each medium correlates together into a series of results helps David determine the interaction between them.  And he is confident that those relationships can be seen and subsequently decisions can be made that will be affected by that insight.


 


In this article, David glosses over the utilization of site-side analytics, Coremetrics, WebSideStory, WebTrends and Omniture.  I think this is where the insight falls short.  Perhaps David is unaware of what we’re doing with first party integrations of first party ad serving and first party site-side analytics.  Other ad servers are conducting cookie synchronizations.  DoubleClick and Omniture for example is the best example that I can think of.  It’s historical and laborious.  A DoubleClick ad serving cookie and the data associated with the acquisition marketing campaign can be synchronized with the site side analytics third party cookie in the rears.  Real-time decision-making is not achieved but insight into navigation patterns, entry points that extend to the advertising campaign and placement to eCommerce patterns are measurable.


 


TruEffect’s patent-pending DirectServe™ offers first party cookie synchronization with the WebSideStory first party cookie.  So in fact it is real-time and is a direct pass through, and not a synchronization at all.  Poor choice of words on my part.  It is an integration of commonly-threaded technologies.  The ad serving knowledge flows through to the site side analytics engine.  Both use the clients first party cookie and so decisions are made in real-time.  Reactionary. 


 


So listen up David, this aspect of your challenge to the industry has already met.  And we’re working with the other companies mentioned to complete the offering across the industry.


 


Funny, a year ago David wrote an article entitled “Where’s My Dashboard? and I contacted him to introduce him to TruAdvertiser.xls™ the holistic ad server built within Microsoft Excel.  It integratable with accounting platforms and pulls in disparate sources of data.  We didn’t move forward together but it was a great series of conversations.  Maybe it is time for us to chat again and introduce the topic of DirectServe™.  I think that we’re doing things that he is unaware of.  Hey David, give me a call.


 


Reactionary with Insight.

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“What If We Don’t Get Digital Advertising to Scale”: Eric Picard Thinks That It is Time to Grow Up and Run Agencies Efficiently


A-ha!  A call to action that makes me scream hallelujah!  Eric Picard is the director of advertising strategy and emerging media planning at Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions and wrote “What If We Don’t Get Digital Advertising to Scale? in ClickZ this mering.


 


Eric is reiterating the same set of complaints that he issued in a 2005 article.  Technology is not being properly leveraged to automate the management of online advertising so that we can be efficient!  “Digital advertising, both on the Internet and in traditional media, isn’t scaling. The buy and sell sides (advertisers and publishers) have neglected to get their platforms right in the advertising industry,” Eric Says. 


 


And is he right. 


 


Publisher tools do not effectively enable sellers of media to know what they have to sell and so they are leaving revenue on the table.  Inventory management is antiquated.  Sellers don’t know what is available to sell with respect to what other agents have reserved on their team.  Multiple proposals can’t properly reserve space with supervisory control over allocation the holding of available inventory.  Many of the major publishers are dissatisfied with their current vendors – i.e., everyone knows that AOL has never been happy with the DoubleClick relationship since its inception.


 


Advertiser tools fall short on many, many levels.  I have 20-30 postings on this blog alone that talk about inefficient workflow, the manual tasks of an ad server, the lack of integration with accounting tools, the single-entry steps of creating placements, the incongruence of ad server workflow and agency workflow, the monotony of a trafficker’s job and so on.


 


Managing online advertising is a rabbit hole that you pour money into if you are an agency.  The reason for this, online advertising has no infrastructure at most agencies.  It was never developed on a foundation upon which it could grow properly.


 


“There should be no reason for the vast number of agency or publisher staffers required to handle ad operations. There should be significantly more process automation and many fewer bodies to get the job done.”  Eric argues that out-sourced companies like “…Operative and Ad Operations Interactive exist because ad platforms don’t automate everything they can.”


 


In Maximize your Ad Traffickers’ Value, Re-Evaluate Their Time I argue that “…online advertising operations are comprised of band-aided techniques that have been slapped together over time, never organized or operationalized into an efficient set of procedures that maximize time and resources.”  In that article I present a product that automates the entire media planning, RFP, I/O, creative management, placement scheduling and reporting process.  It’s a self-promoting discussion I know.  TruAdvertiser.xls is a vendor solution that works.  It’s also built on Microsoft Excel which Eric Picard should like!  Maybe that article should have been called “Maximize Your Ad Traffickers Value with a Workflow Tool That Automates Their Job!


 


Anyway, while Eric’s sky is falling position is important.  The fact that he doesn’t even know about a Certified Microsoft Partner like TruEffect, that has a qualified solution to his stated issue is my problem.  But the problem itself is bigger than that.


 


Ad agencies are not addressing their problems of inefficient operations.  They are pushing the problem under the rug.  Well not quite.  They are outsourcing it and “…throwing bodies at the problem, [and having clients] …pay the bills,” as Eric put it.  That is not good business. 


 


Ad agencies should turn around and look at how they conduct their business and manage it better. 


 


Or maybe it is the client who should take the long hard look.  Maybe the client needs to stop and take the time to examine how their agency conducts itself.  Maybe if clients asked questions about how their agencies managed themselves, and their businesses, it would force the agency to look within and take action. 


 


Imagine if a mega-advertise took an audit of its agency’s operation?


 


If I have a $5M budget (small I know) I would want as much of that to go to media and the rest to go to my agencies profit so that they are rewarded.  I would want us both to win.  I would want to know that I am working with a smart partner.  If they manage their business well then I can have confidence that they will manage my business well.  If they take 15% of my budget for their fee and then pile on additional fees for outsourcing services, which they should be capable of handling, I would consider an agency with more competent capabilities.  I would expect an agency that can manage my business holistically, and efficiently.  This is not 2000, its 2007.  It’s time to grow up and run our businesses like it.  Online advertising is no longer new.


 


Reactionary with Insight.

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