Marketing

Virtual waiting lines + gamification

While I've been online for a bunch of years I am always fascinated how offline ideas, now used online, work.

My favorite one, that I recently discovered,  is this virtual waiting list for a newsletter. On the example below, 60k+ people are supposedly on the waiting list. I guess it is more difficult to get this very important newsletter than meeting the pope!

But that's not all. Like in real life,  I can be an ahole and jump the waiting list. In this case  I can tweet FB or do other stuff to jump the line. I  wonder if you could reverse engineer that and bring the same waitinglist and gamification concept back to the offline world. 

Anyways..if you are interested in doing the same, Waitlisted does it for you. 




SEO Best-Kept Secrets

Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco was definitely one of the best conferences that I attended. Some 3 hour sessions reminded me of university back in the day. Most sessions were targeted to advanced users and the usual SEO 101 / Web Analytics 101 / PPC 101 were almost completely absent. Unfortunately I missed a few great sessions, but here's a must-read presentation (Powerpoint) of Best-kept Secrets to Search Engine Optimization Success: the Art and the Science.

Stephen Spencer from Netconcepts really pulled it off and his presentation alone was worth the conference pass.

Google Ad manager vs. OpenX (OpenAds)

Just saw this morning that Google launched a new Ad management tool called Admanager. It's definitely an interesting move by Google and it will most probably serve most Webmasters as long as it's free. So far I haven't had a chance to test it, but since I worked on a few adservers and Openads in my life, I can tell that OpenX has still a good stand in the business. Here my reasons: 1. OpenX can be modified in any way. It can be used as an ad exchange place, mobile adserver or in any other possible way.

2. OpenX is free, while Google's admanager is going to charge a commission

4. Privacy issues - Google will drive the majority of most websites organic and paid traffic. At the same time it will pay the webmasters for their traffic (Adsense) and eventually even analyze it (Google Analytics / Google Optimizer). Do we really want to put all eggs in one basket?

5. OpenX is independent from third party advertisers and is open to any Non-Google network.

6. I cannot proof it, but Google will certainly push their Adsense and Doubleclick advertising clients ( quote: "AdSense integration (optional):Consistently deliver the highest-paying ad by enabling AdSense.":-) )

7. Google's Admanager won't allow direct sign on for new advertisers. Openads offers plugins which allow also small webmasters to sell ads directly.

On the negative side I believe OpenX is not very user friendly and the hosted solution is overdue. OpenAds also lacks a clean interface and a more simple version would certainly serve most users.

Overall I wished Openads would use it's current distribution network and build a stronger community where webmasters could work together and possibly market themselves together (kind of like an exchange marketplace).

It's not about going against Google, but Openads needs to support and build it's community to compete with the Google borg.

Search Engine Strategies New York

Just a reminder that SES New York will take place between the 17th and 20th March.

Here are some sessions, that I probably will attend (and maybe cover):

March 17th

- Search around the world Asia and Pacific

- Web Analytics: Measuring Success  or Mobile Local Search: Finding the Way

March 18th 

- Domaining & Address Bar-Driven Traffic

- Search Advertising Goes Mobile

Maybe also Search Engine Friendly Design

March 19th

- Social Media Marketing - What is it and What is it Good For?

- Successful Tactics for Social Media Optimization (SMO)

March 20th

Trends in Mobile Search or Video Search Optimization

Internet Marketers NY Charity Party

Just saw over at Gray Wolf, that the Internet Marketers NY host another Charity Party (I just wonder why I never tried to get to join the IM NY...it seemed like a great

place to chat ). Their party last year was a lot of fun and pretty much every single

top-notch SEM /SEO was there. If you are interested joining the party, show up on

Tues. 3/18/08 at the Black Finn NY, at 218 East 53rd Street at 8pm. Because

it's for charity (only $40 per person), I certainly will be there for some time.

People are moving online faster than dollars are

Julie over at Venturebeat wrote a great articles about the "Trends in online advertising": "The gap is widening between the proportion of people online, and the proportion of ad dollars spent online: People are moving online faster than dollars are, and that will continue for a while (latest Comscore stats here). It’s still too hard to buy digital media ads, and too easy to buy millions of eyeballs on broadcast. Sean Finnegan, former chief executive of Omnicom Media Group Digital (more on that in a minute), says one challenge “is for a brand marketer to get a single or sequential messaging to the multiple touch points out there. That does implicate [people who create the ads themselves]. Agencies can no longer rely on that single 30-second spot [ad on television]. There have to be hundreds of iterations of it. Then you get into the buying part.”"

Good times ahead of us? You bet.....but mobile advertising still seems to be not in anybody's mind.

Proximic - The Adsense killer

Proximic, a Munich startup, has signed a deal with Ebay's Shopping.com and Yahoo's Shopping network to serve contextual ads on their platforms. If you have never heard of Proximic, here the corporate info from their company homepage: "The Proximic Platform is an open contextual ecosystem to connect publishers, bloggers and end-users by delivering related news, articles, background information and ads in a better way."

What's really great is that any(!) web publisher can post the Proximic widget on their site. I am also glad that finally somebody understood where Google's weakest link is: It's what a surprise Adsense.

At this point any company will have a very hard time to build a better search engine or a better Adwords tool. Google is an amazing brand and people adapted to Google search and tools.

Google Adsense however is a product that is still far from being perfect. The contextual ads are pretty much on target, but the cut, that Google keeps (about 30-50% commission), is something that is just too much in the several billion dollar online advertising industry.

A smart startup like Proximic could pay out 80-90% of the advertisers spent and still take a decent profit home.

An "open advertising market" is something publishers and advertisers are looking for. I am a relatively big search advertiser as well as an Adsense client and since I gave up seeing Microsoft or Yahoo coming up with an Adwords killer, I would be more than happy to have some real alternatives to Adsense.

I hope that Proximic is able to sign on a lot of publishers and advertisers.

Mobile Advergaming= another way to make you buy "great" products

It's tough to follow trends and the current speed of innovations in the advertising business. Every week a new adserver company gets bought (or funded), Facebook or some other social network launches a new way to target their user base,  a new location based advertising solution comes up or a new word like "mobile advergaming" is invented. Burger King is one of the first to start developing Mobile games and working on their mobile advergaming efforts:

Burger king mobile advergaming

"The company has opted to create games rather than buy ads within games because it perceives more brand value can be generated by creating better user experiences, the alternative being that it fight for shared space alongside other brands. "

My question regarding all these new ways of advertising is the following: When does the average human get tired of ads? When do we notice, that the viral video that we are watching is created by a company, that specializes on that? When do we understand that not only the Myspace profile but also the Facebook recommendation are fake? Is the "average human" smart enough to notice that they are just used to generate revenue or are we all so "naive", that we keep buying the products, that have seen and heard of?

The answer is probably yes. Advertising works great and the perception of advertising for the average human is so large, that it pays off to target people in every way possible.

I am not really surprised, that I caught myself ordering a cool Dutch brewed Heineken instead of a real delicious, much better German beer :-)

Advertising outside the box

Today the  NYC marathon took place right in front of my building again and ING spent a low 7 figure amount in order to be part of this amazing event. 

I guess 7 figures is a little bit too much for most of our advertising budgets. Here a video on how to target users with offline advertising. I am astonished how relatively cheap it is and I am really curious if it makes sense to allocate some of the overprized Adwords budget into some smart offline advertising:

[flash] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Za_ra3VBuE4 [/flash]

Blogrush clone took no longer than 5 days

I am shocked and amazed again: Blogrush, the blog traffic network or however you want to call this, started only a few days ago. Today already it's first clone in Germany came up: Blogspeed.de :-) Darn...why do so many German software engineers waste their time cloning US products? It's not even proven that Blogrush works and if you are able to develop a clone within 5 days..why wouldn't you come up with your own great idea. So far CTR are horrible and if in 2-3 weeks there is no improvement, the first users (incl. me) will drop Blogrush in a second.

Blogrush stats - Would you keep it?

I've just checked the numbers for over-hyped Blogrush and I am not sure if I should keep the service up and running. Here are my current stats: Blogrush stats

Everybody can see that the CTR is extremely low and I doubt that with changing the colors (Blogrush Flavors) the widget drives more Clicks.

The Blogrush idea is not bad, but the Blogrush widget looks too much like an ad and most blogs run it in the lower right corner of the sidebar.

I highly doubt that CTR will significantly go up (even with all the little tricks) unless the widget becomes more and more customizable (e.g. like Adsense).

So not sure what to do right now. It slows down the site, it does not really drive a lot of traffic and I doubt that it gives much value to the readers of this blog . Would you keep Blogrush on your site?

Automated Bid Management Solutions - PPC 3

A while ago I started a small series on finding the right bid management (solution vs. agency). I leaned towards a bid management tool. I looked into Atlas, Bidhero, Clickable (still in beta) and some others, but never felt comfortable with it. If you also manage large campaigns, it might be worth it too listen to this free webcast:

Managing Large Paid Search Marketing Campaigns:

Tuesday, September 25, 2007 1:00 PM EDT (10:00 AM PDT) Speaker: Chris Sherman, Executive Editor

In this webcast, Chris Sherman will describe the kinds of bid management systems and services available and how they can be used effectively.

You'll learn:

  • How to monitor for and close costly bid "gaps" created by competitors
  • How to use tools to rapidly adjust bids in response to events or time changes
  • How tools can be used to fine-tune ROI and other metrics

Myspace in Wikipedia's footsteps?

Google loves Wikipedia and it is an old trick to add your site to the External links within your category (doesn't count for SEO, but gives a small amount of direct traffic). But did anybody notice, that Myspace pages popping up all over the Google search results within the last few days? I just noticed that Myspace ranks for top keywords with their User URLs (www.myspace.com/keyword.html) and the results are not really relevant (e.g. songs from bands, that have nothing to do with the product). Not sure why this suddenly happened, but it is very odd, especially that Myspace signed a major distribution partnership with Google. Maybe the 435 Myspace DMOZ entries effect the value of Myspace as well, maybe Google and Myspace just want to catch up on the Facebook hype, maybe something else?

Not sure if anybody can tell, but (if you haven't done so) make sure that you register your main keywords as User names with Myspace. It can save you a lot of money over the long term.

Pubmatic: Automatic Advertising Optimization

Pubmatic just launched today. It's a new advertising platform, that optimizes your campaigns by using different ad networks, which compete with each other. The system is setup to show the ads that work the best for you. Pubmatic will even change the colors of your contextual advertising in order to improve your

income. A small presentation on how it works can be found here:

[flash] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVW4Pwvtc7c [/flash]

The system looks very innovative and is certainly a great idea. Still for small publishers it most probably won't really work (at this stage), b/c the current ad

networks, that work with Pubmartic, need a minimum amount of traffic from your site. I also miss a few advertising/affiliate networks e.g. Auctionads, CJ, Linkshare, Contentlink....

Having said that, PubMatic is a startup that you should watch closely. It might have the ability to increase your advertising dollars significantly.

Blogrush = Free blog traffic

Blogrush launched today and is a pretty interesting way of attracting users to blogs. It is a simple widget, that you can add to your sidebar. This is how it looks: blogrush.jpg

The Blogrush platform works pretty much like a link exchange system combined with a free multi-level referral system. In order to explain the Blogrush system to you, it would take up too much time, even that it takes literally 5 min to throw the widget on a blog. Just watch this short video on the Blogrush homepage.

It will be interesting to see if it works. It kind of reminds me of the good old banner exchange days. I will post results later here.

Is Blue Lithium Yahoo's new analytics tool?

According to Scott Fulton, the recent Blue Lithium acquisition might be Yahoo's way of closing the analytics gap to Google. Scott  thoughts are very interesting and from the impression I had from various Yahoo events, I think he is pretty close with most of his

statements.

Yahoo finally stopped copying Google and instead goes it's own way: Yahoo has a huge portal with massive content, but it seemed that they

never focused on increasing the ROI for it's content.  Blue Lithium seems to be the right partner to monetize this content and their recent

study shows interesting results:

1. Ads on non-user generated content (non-UGC) sites perform better than UGC sites. 2. UGC sites provide a greater bang for the buck 3.  Non-UGC comScore 250 sites provide the best performance, with a comparable bang for the buck as compared to UGC.

 

Focus on positioning instead of pricing

"How much should we charge for our products / services?" is a question that a lot of  web analysts and online marketers ask themselves. But what they should ask themselves first is "Where do I position my business?". It's often overseen, but the way your online business is positioned will effect your customers evaluation process of your business. The "beer on the beach" study by economist Richard Thaler revealed that sunbathers pay up to $2.65 for a beer from a high-end hotel, but only $1.50 if it comes from a local store.

Obviously you can do some trending with your web analytics solution,  but you should never forget simple psychology and ask yourself the following questions when it comes to finding the right pricing: 1. What value does your service give to your customer?

2. Are you planning to offer your service as a low-end or premium-cost provider?

3. Would your customer buy your product/service even when he/she could get the exact same from someone else?

4.  How much do competitors charge?

And certainly a lot more. Feel free to add!