Net Prophet – Digital Royalty

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The digital event of the year played off in the beautiful city of Cape Town. Net Prophet was hosted in the impressive Artscape Theater on a rainy Wednesday morning. The rain couldn’t keep away the die-hard digital fans wanting to hear what the best in the industry had to say. It played host to some of the best digital minds in South Africa, and not to mention some international flavours such as Jody Ford (Vice President of Marketing at eBay) and infamous co-founder of the controversial WikiLeaks website, Julian Assange. This certainly got me excited.

Right off the bat, we were impressed by the amount of people that attended the event. It seemed like the who’s who of the digital world came out in force. The VIP access gave us the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the speakers. I ended up exchanging some words with Jody Ford from eBay for a couple of minutes about his talk regarding eCommerce and where the market is going. As TrafficBrand deals with various eCommerce clients, this was especially useful for us.

julian-assange

The topic of the day was definitely mobile and how luck can play an important role in having success in any industry. It was clear that mobile is growing at a very high rate, on all digital platforms. Especially the development of apps seems like the way to go if you want to make a quick buck, but not so much for Aaron Marshall of Potluck. After years of struggling, testing, borrowing money and finally moving to Cape Town from the United States, he and his dedicated team developed a great app called Over. There is a misconception that apps are a quick and easy way to get noticed. In Aaron’s case, it took them 3 years to get his app out, and now it is doing great. So when you want to take on apps, make sure that is unique and well thought through, because it can easily get lost in the thousands of apps lying around in app stores.

Another interesting speaker was Simon Dingle. He took the conference from a different angle when he started speaking about human behavior and how this tied in with the digital culture as well as the way in which information through operating system have also influenced the way we search and look for information.

Speakers that got the crowd at the edge of their seats were definitely Rob Stokes from Quirk (which was recently sold for a whopping R68 million) and Julian Assange from WikiLeaks.

All in all, Net Prophet was the event to be at. We hope to catch you there next year. For more information about the event, please follow the link below.

http://www.netprophet.org.za/

 

Digital Marketing Collective #DMCSA

The Digital Marketing Collective (DMC) Event began towards the end of last year. The brain child of three digital marketing guru’s – our own Jan Boshoff, C6 Consulting’s Riaan Carstens and TMI’s Pete Brooke-Summers.

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The creators of DMC wanted to create an event that focused on the world of Digital Marketing. Their goal is to create an environment where we can get the digital marketing industry talking and learning from each other. A mixture of senior and junior professionals and representatives meeting regularly together to network and learn more about the every changing digital marketing sphere.

Past guest speakers have included Luke McKend (Country Director at Google South Africa) and Jacqui Boyd (Sales Director, South Africa at Vserv.mobi), Sean Riley (CEO at Ad:Dynamo), Athar Naser (Head of Juice Content), Jon Ratcliffe (Google Agency Lead South Africa), James McKay (MD at Quirk CPT) and Nicolle Harding (Vice-President of the Mobile Marketing Association South Africa).

The next event is on Thursday 15 May at the Grand Daddy Hotel in Cape Town. This month we have our co-creator Rian Carstens speaking on the differences in digital marketing in South Africa versus markets like Europe & the US. He will focus on what we can learn from these markets as well as how what works there doesn’t always mean it will work here.

Register here

Follow #DMCSA for event updates on the day.

Google Tag Manager – It all starts here

FirstMarketers rejoice because the clever individuals at Google have managed to pull off yet another one of those ingenious stunts, this takes the form of a tag manager. A place where you as the marketer can implement and manage campaign tags without waiting in agony for your script to be implemented. We all know that it can sometimes take a very long time for IT departments to notice there is campaign script lying around. Now marketers have the freedom to implement those tags without the extra hassle. Without further ado, let’s get started….

Google Tag Manager (GTM) is a platform to manage and implement tags to your website without the hassle of changing the web script. You simply identify your tag and then give it a rule when to fire (more on that in a later blog).  I am going to take you through the steps on how to kick-start your very first adventure into this platform.

 

Step 1 – Create an account

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Once you have entered the Google Tag Manager website, you will have to sign up using your gmail account. Once you have signed in, it will take you through a series of steps to make it even more convenient for you as a user. This ensures you navigate through the site in the correct order. They have also added a hit and tips block on the side to help you when you run into difficulty.

Give your account a name. Through a single Google account, you can create and manage many different GTM (Google Tag Manager) client accounts. Just as you will find a list of your client accounts in Google Analytics and Google AdWords, you will find one in your GTM accounts. I like the consistency from Google, as this ensures familiarity throughout all their platforms.

Step 2 – Create a container

Always name the container after the website you want to place the tags in e.g. www.example.com. A container serves as a holding area where all your tags will be located for the specific website. Google has made a couple of tag templates available from the get go e.g. Universal Analysis, AdWords Conversion Tracking and Custom HTML tags to name a few. Because GTM is desktop and mobile app friendly, you have to choose one after naming your container. We are discussing the web version in this blog, but will have a blog up soon for creating a profile for mobile apps. Once you have selected the ‘Web Pages’ option, it will give you an option to add domains (optional) and also to select your time zone.

 

Step 2 ½ – Container Snippet

A container snippet is provided with each container that is created. It is vital to add this container snippet after the opening <body/> tag on every page of your site. The snippet will look something like this-

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Hint – WordPress will need you to install a simple plugin. Further instructions on how to install the container snippet into your WorkPress, please follow this link – http://goo.gl/HA0v4R (Also a link to download the plugin)

 

Step 3 – Adding Tags 

Now that the GTM code snippet is implemented on all pages of your website the next step is to fill up that empty container. As there are so many different tags at your disposal, we will be covering the different tag types in my next blog. To add a new tag, you have to click on a big red button that says ‘New’ as seen below. This will give you a drop down box, where you will click on tag (other options are rule and Macro).

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This was a basic instruction manual on how to navigate your way through the first part of becoming a tag master. If you would like to know more about Google Tag Manager, please see the video below. And if you would like to create your own profile, then follow this link and follow my easy steps – https://www.google.com/tagmanager/

Some other great posts:

Matthias Wobrock – Container Tags Can Save Time and Resources

Simo Ahava’s Blog – The Container Snippet: GTM Secrets Revealed

Justin Cutroni – Analytics Talk: Bye Bye JavaScript! Auto Event Tracking with Google Tag Manager

 

Gmail Sponsored Promotions

Google is an ever evolving and changing brand. Their recent endeavor – Gmail Sponsored Promotions (GSP) was rolled out in Beta in 2013. This year Google has launched it in South Africa and has us excited with the opportunities it presents. Previously you could target an audience on Gmail through the Google Display Network. However, with GSP this is all changing.

GSP’s appear in the promotions tab of your Gmail account. They look like an email but are still highlighted as an ad. Studies have shown that this format has a  higher CTR of 20% compared to the previous Gmail text ads. Users are more open to receiving ads in this format as they are already in“consumer mode”. Part of most people’s daily routine is checking mails. Now, you can reach users at this crucial time. There are approximately 2.6 million Gmail users in South Africa that can be targeted with GSP. GSP is a very useful format if you want to reach new and existing customers. The interface is available on all devices which means you can reach as many people as possible on all screens. The useful format allows you to embed lead forms, videos and a call to action. So that you can captivate your audience through a GSP.

When you click on the subject line of the GSP, it expands exactly like an email does. In this format you have the option to either:

  • Save to inbox – the ad shall be saved to your inbox as a normal email would.
  • Dismiss – users have the freedom of choice to stop seeing this ad.
  • Forward – Send the mail onto a friend.  Free traffic!

There is also a teaser ad on the right side of the email to further push the brand .The ad only gets shown a maximum of 10 times per 30 day period. This means you get optimal exposure but don’t overdo it with your customers. The ads are very transparent and Google gives you the option to never see that ad again by simply just dismissing it or clicking the “x”.

You can target your specified audience based on gender, age and interests. This is all done via demographic and interest targeting. You can also target popular keywords in a user’s inbox, certain domains (e.g. if a user receives a daily Groupon newsletter –  Groupon competitors could target the Groupon domain to take advantage of this traffic) purchases, email lists and jobs. This specific targeting means that you can target exactly who and what you want.

There are a few other points to consider when using this new format.  GSP is done through a separate dashboard: www.google.com/ads/gsp. You need to link this dashboard to your AdWords account to track your conversions. Also GSP’s are invoiced separately to AdWords. Lastly creative needs to be done with HTML which presents a challenge if you don’t have a developer on your team. However, Google is willing to assist with this.

All in all a great addition to Google’s highly targeted advertising platforms.

Conversion Tracking for Facebook Ads

One element that justifies any marketing budget towards digital media is measurement and being able to prove Return on Ad Spend (R.O.A.S). There are many ways to track and measure ad performance, but conversion tracking is easy for most people to understand. In simple terms, Conversion Tracking is when a piece of web code is placed on the confirmation page of your website, normally the “Thank you for purchasing/enquiring/subscribing” page. This code only renders after the desired action on the website has been completed, therefore a successful and accurate conversion is recorded. The conversion can then be attributed right down to a specific ad or keyword and in most cases is a powerful metric for determining campaign success.

Google AdWords conversion tracking has been available for a few years, but very recently Facebook woke up and gave all Facebook advertisers access to conversion tracking for ‘off-Facebook’ ads. These are ads that direct people away from Facebook and onto a different web address (i.e. your landing page/website). We have tested Facebook Conversion Tracking and it works much the same as Google AdWords:

To generate a Conversion Pixel, simply navigate to the Facebook Ads Manager and select “Conversion Tracking” on the left hand side.

Facebook-Conversion-Tracking

Then click “Create Conversion Pixel” in a green button on the far right, give it a name and select the conversion category.

Facebook-Conversion-Tracking-Pixel

A Java Script code will be generated after you create the conversion pixel, copy this code and place it on the confirmation page of your website (instructions for your developer), then join all the dots in your Facebook Ads Manager by linking your ads to the Conversion Pixel (edit your ad, tick the Conversion Tracking box and select the corresponding Conversion Pixel). Next you’re ready to check the tracking status of your Conversion Pixel. This can be done by visiting the conversion page where the code was placed, thereafter in your Facebook Ads Manager, the tracking status should be updated to, “Active” (people who have visited the conversion page within the last 24 hours). The Facebook Conversion Pixel will only report conversions that happened as a result from clicking on a Facebook ad.

Along with conversion tracking, Facebook offers Optimised CPM bidding for conversion driven campaigns, not only focusing on clicks. Optimised CPM bidding will dynamically adjust your bids in order to capture the highest-value impressions that are most likely to convert, in-line with your campaign goals and hence delivering the best possible ROI. It is said that Optimised CPM campaigns will deliver better returns than CPC or CPM campaigns, but standard CPC or CPM bidding is still available for the automated skeptics.

Our tests over the last four weeks have converted post click and at a reasonable cost. Conversions fall under “Actions” in your Facebook reports, so you can run an “Actions by Impression Time” report and filter down to ad level, you’ll find your Pixel name under the “Action Type” column (post impression/click). Conversion tracking allows you to determine which ad delivered the highest ROI, so you can make data driven decisions regarding campaign or website optimisation.

It can be argued that users who are on Facebook, want to stay on Facebook and that purchase intent is much lower on Facebook, so why send people to a website? I think it all depends on the objectives and strategy of the campaign. At least now there is an additional way to attribute return from ‘off-Facebook’ ads.

Bid Management: Rule-Based vs. Portfolio

If you are working on sizeable search marketing campaigns you are probably well aware that managing bids for thousands of keywords manually becomes impossible to do efficiently. You need rules and algorithms to adjust bids for you and act and react to changes in the marketplace according to your predefined strategy. Adobe even thinks that “it is the models and algorithms that distinguish the players in this space.”

Adobe offers a variety of resources for search marketers in their online search centre, and among them a comprehensive white paper on portfolio-based bid management algorithms. Portfolio optimization stands in contrast to rule-based bid management. A rule-based keyword bid system would look at every single keyword mostly siloed from the rest of the campaign. For instance, you could sell DVDs online, and you could set the maximum amount you want to pay for a conversion to $20. Your system would take care of not stretching this limit for any of the keywords you are using. If the search term “harry potter dvd” would convert at around $21, your system would simply decrease the bid on this keyword or pause it. There is nothing wrong with that and this method would assure that “harry potter dvd” is converting at an acceptable cost. However, the portfolio approach says that this is thinking too short. Your overall performance might actually be better if you take advantage of the maximum amount of “harry potter” traffic, even if this means paying more for these conversions than you are willing to, and in turn making up for this with other keywords in your account that are converting more cheaply, and thus at the end of the day arriving at a higher ROI and conversion numbers than with a rule-based strategy. That means that a portfolio approach will look at all possible combinations of bids across all the keywords in your account, and then choose the best combination to maximize the overall outcome. It is clear that an extremely sophisticated and fast algorithm is needed to continuously adjust bids across a large account, as there are countless variables from position to CPC and CTR to be considered and all keywords need to be regarded as part of an ecosystem.

The portfolio approach can theoretically work very well – if not best – for campaigns with clearly defined goals and target margins and a predetermined schedule that is not constantly being changed or switched around. Note that there is also a cost involved whenever you connect to the Google AdWords API.

If you would like to read more about portfolio-based bid management, we highly recommend you give to Adobe white paper linked here a read.

Social Media Revolution 4 – Infographic Video 2012

Erik Qualman releases an annual video packed with stats and figures that he gathers for his writing. From the latest Social Media Revolution 4 video, some takeaways were:

  • 20% of Google searches are new (not searched for before), every day.
  • Social Media is the number 1 activity on the web, yet Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Google are not welcome in China.
  • The Ford Explorer launch on Facebook generated more traffic than a Super Bowl ad.
  • A new member joins LinkedIn every 2 seconds.
  • 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube, every minute.
  • 97% of Pinterest fans are woman.
  • Babies are being named, Facebook, Twitter, Hashtag  << that’s just nuts! or revolutionary?
  • 53% of people on twitter recommend products in their tweets.

“The ROI of social media is that your business will exist in 5 years”. That statement sparking any opinions yet? If you have a Facebook page or YouTube channel and want to amplify your content, expand reach, grow subscribers, increase Views or Likes, give us a shout or learn more about PPC.

Year End Party 2012 – Amazing Race

The Traffic Brand team put on their funky attire for our end of year party last Friday. We were split up into three teams and competed in an Amazing Race around the mini-peninsula. Starting in the Company’s Gardens in town, we completed a few fun team building exercises – we solved the human knot in no time and think we’re all a bit closer (literally) after that. From here the adventure started as we had specific tasks to complete around the CBD, these included bargaining with flower sellers on Adderley Street to get the biggest bunch of Proteas for R10, selling items to people around Green Market Square and retrieving specific information from historical buildings & statues.

From town, we boarded the Hop on, hop off red bus (one team successfully ran after the bus and caught it at a red light, the driver let them on and they avoided the 20 minute penalty) to Kirstenbosch, where we had a bunch of information to find. After lots of running around and laughing, we got back on the bus and headed towards Hout Bay, where a few individual challenges and more team building exercises were enjoyed on the beach. For the last leg of the race, we hopped back on the red bus to the V&A Waterfront where we had to complete a rowing challenge on the canals in front of the One & Only Hotel – beautiful!

The race was concluded at Quay Four for lunch and the winning team, “The Jokers” were announced, it was a very close race! From here, we headed to Mandy’s house for a relaxed and social evening – the drinks, food and great conversation flowed all night. Here are some photo’s of the epic day:

We learnt new things about each other, ourselves, our magnificent city and had loads of fun!

GoMo: Mobile is no longer the future… it's NOW

Three reasons why you need to go MOBILE*:

  • 63% of South African smartphone users access the Internet from their phone every day
  • Almost 50% of South Africans use smartphones each month for shopping
  • 53% of South Africans have seen an ad on their mobile device

GoMo – Is a Google initiative aiming to help business create mobile-friendly websites.

  • The Mobile Meter will show you how you current site looks on a smartphone
  • Enter in your current website’s url and see how it looks on a mobile device
  • Conducts a quick test and then makes suggestions and recommendations on how your website could be optimised for mobile devices.
  • Provides good examples of mobile sites for inspiration
  • Also provides a list of mobile site developers who can assist you with creating a better mobile experience

Related Posts:

 

*Stats from Get Mobile: Mobilise your site now (http://www.howtogomo.com/za/d/)

 

AdWords Impression Share Changes

How many times are your Exact match keywords triggering an ad instead of a Broad or Phrase? How many Impressions are you losing because your daily budget ran out early or your bids/quality score weren’t high enough? All questions that “Impression Share (IS)” metrics in Google AdWords can help answer for advertisers. Google’s “Analyse Competition” tool shows competitive insights, but IS metrics are perhaps a little more accurate to gauge performance against your competitors in a Google AdWords auction (showing an ad, an impression). Impression Share is calculated by the number of impressions received, divided by the estimated number of impressions you could have received – based on your targeting settings (keywords, locations, languages etc), approval statuses, bids and Quality Scores – Google says Impression Share changes are coming!

Originally you only had four IS columns, namely: IS, Lost IS (budget), Lost IS (Rank), Exact Match IS. You’ll notice historical data is no longer available before October 2012, this is to enable the new IS column transition, all new data will go as far back as 1 October 2012. The changes below are set to arrive immediately for some advertisers or by February 2013 for everyone!

What are the Changes?

  1. Distinct Search and Display Columns. New columns separating Search and Display IS.
  2. “Hour of Day” Segmentation. Evaluate ad coverage by segmented time “Dimensions”.
  3. Filters, Charts and Rules. Apply filters, automated rules and graphs using IS metrics.
  4. Accuracy. Improvements to the calculation of IS.

The new columns are simply Search and Display variations for each original column, as above – Now here’s a question: Can you tell us why there’s no Exact Match IS for Display? comment and WIN a massive, virtual high-five!

Source | More Source

Remarketing 2012: Bigger, Better, Faster, More

Elaborating further on Lauren’s excellent blog post about the changes that have come to Google AdWords’ Remarketing feature, I would like to take the time to explain the possibilities that have arisen for marketers a bit more.

Along with Google AdWords and Analytics becoming more intertwined – for instance, if your, you can now use basic metrics such as bounce rate and pages per visit with your automated campaign rules – Google has recently made a number of significant changes to the way Remarketing campaigns are set up and managed. This has also dramatically increased the functionality of this advertising method.

As mentioned by Lauren in her post, you no longer need to create a code for every Remarketing list you would like to work with. If you use Google Analytics, you can now simply modify your tracking script on all pages of your site in order to be able to distribute the so-called “DoubleClick cookie”. This process is described here:

https://support.google.com/analytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&utm_id=ad&answer=2444872

Google suggests you also update your privacy policy if you decide to use this feature.

With this done, you can now set up and specify all kinds of Remarketing lists directly from Google Analytics. You can find this feature under the “Admin” tab. It will no longer be necessary to create individual codes for every audience you would like to remarket to, making life much easier for your IT department, web developer or client.

A few clarifications up-front:

  • Old audience lists cannot be converted to this rule-based method.
  • You can use old lists and new lists together, and even combine them in custom combinations.
  • There is no need to replace the old lists, but it can make life easier in the long run.
  • After you have created a list, you still need to wait for it to distribute at least 100 cookies before ads will start showing for this list.
  • Once you have saved a list in Analytics, it will automatically be imported into AdWords.

There are now four general types of Remarketing lists you can create. You can remarket to all visitors of your site, specify just a page or section (e.g. safari.com/tanzania, or your shopping cart), remarket to visitors who have converted on one of your Analytics goals, or you can build a list with the help of Analytics visitor segments. Especially the option to use goals to make your Remarketing even more targeted is very powerful. If you choose to set up a list via visitor segments, you can either work with the “Dimension & Metric Filter” or the “Sequence Filter”. ‘It sounds complicated at first, but I you have a little bit of experience with Google Analytics it shouldn’t take you long to understand. A dimension list could be “all organic visitors that have spent more than $100”, for example. The “Sequence Filter” lets you even use storylines in your advertising. You can remarket to users who came to your site via an E-Mail newsletter first, and then on a later stage visited your site via a specific search campaign. The possibilities are nearly limitless!

It is also very useful that Analytics will now calculate the number of users your lists would have at this point in time on the fly. As mentioned above, note that in any case you will still need to accumulate users after the list has been set up. However, this can give you a great idea if the audience you have in mind will be large enough for you to make crafting an individual campaign for them worthwile.

Compare Dates Comes to Google AdWords

As an online marketer it is essential to be able to easily compare your data between two date ranges. Knowing if your campaign experiment or test has improved results or not and having a clear understanding of account performance between two date ranges is often critical when making educated decisions with regards to campaign optimisation.

Google Analytics always had date range comparison options

Unlike Analytics, Google AdWords has previously only ever allowed advertisers to select a set group of possible dates (this month, last month, last 7 days etc) with only one customisable option. Today, we noticed that Google has finally added a “Compare Dates” feature to the date range options in AdWords. Now allowing advertisers to choose/compare two custom date ranges and data is also displayed in your AdWords performance graphs. Now you can see at a glance the stats between two date ranges, instead of switching back and forth or exporting and arranging the data. Custom date ranges seem to remain saved when switching between accounts in your MCC.

Now available in Google AdWords
Performance Graph illustrates data between date ranges

Well done Google AdWords, we take our hats off to you on this one. Been waiting ages for it.

Welcoming Google Tag Manager

This is really just an extension from a previous article published on these pages, Container Tags Can Save You Time and Resources, but now has an official home among Google’s products. Google has officially launched Tag Manager, a one-stop-shop for managing all your marketing tracking scripts/codes. This is a massive step forward for marketers that will dramatically simplify and speed up the process of inserting tracking code on a website, because traditionally you would be required to generate a unique tracking script and deploy for each property you wanted to track/measure. Now, using Google Tag Manager, you can generate one script, have it implemented once and then customise it as you go, all from one interface on the agency side. This works for all AdWords conversion scripts, Analytics and remarketing scripts. Watch the video for an introduction of how you would set up a container and add tracking scripts.

“Google Tag Manager took one big chunk of time out of the tagging process. What took 2 weeks now takes less than a day—sometimes just hours. We, the campaign managers, now make the call on which tags to use, and we can implement the tags ourselves.”

“Google Tag Manager just makes business sense. Why would we want to manually add hundreds of tags for our pages?” 

source

YouTube TrueView Ads [Study]

YouTube TrueView video ads offer a pricing model that is based on user engagement, only paying for interested viewers. This creates a win-win scenario for both advertiser and YouTube user. Impressions are free, just the same as a Pay Per Click model, advertisers are only charged when a users selects to watch a video ad, or watches the pre roll ad for more than 30 seconds or to the end of the video, whichever comes first. Guarantee that your budget is spent on an interested audience.

Google recently announced that TrueView ads are now available on mobile devices, but why is this significant? Lets take a quick look at some mobile YouTube stats from last year: more than 20% of global YouTube views came from mobile devices, YouTube is available on over 350 million mobile devices and roughly 3 hours of video was uploaded to YouTube per minute from a mobile device. The basic notion is that mobile traffic on YouTube was never monetised before and now allows advertisers to further expand campaigns across multiple screens; increasing reach, recall and conversions. AdWords for Video means that advertising campaigns across Google networks can all be managed in one interface, bringing YouTube and Google AdWords advertising together.

Mobile In-Stream TrueView Ad – source

Study: How do people respond to TrueView Ads?

Some of you may know that there are four types of TrueView ads, but if I mention the pre roll ad that plays before your video, you probably know exactly what I am referring to and I’d probably be correct in assuming you hate those ads, yes? Interestingly, a study done by Google in the US with a sample size of 1600+ people shows different:

  • Only 10% of people will always skip these ads.
  • 8/10 viewers prefer TrueView ads to standard in-stream YouTube ads.
  • 8/10 thought the “Skip” button was clear, which means people don’t have to think too hard, they know they can skip.
  • 9/10 viewers thought TrueView ads create a better video viewing environment.
  • Curiosity is the main reason users choose to watch an ad, therefore sparking interest in the first 5 seconds (before they skip) is key to driving viewership.
  • Viewers are likely to skip ads they have seen before, which is good for not wasting ad budget.

Find the above study, here.

Based on these findings and the results we have experienced with TrueView ads, they are certainly NOT hated by all and can be very effective. The same targeting is available on YouTube as with the Google Display Network, remarketing lists can be created from YouTube ads and we’re able to set a frequency cap, which limits the amount of times the same person will see an ad per day. These ads lead to follow-on views which increases overall view counts and keeps people engaged with your brand, or as Google says, “buy one, get one free”. We can also direct interested viewers to a desired landing page from a ‘call to action’ banner that is overlayed within the advertised video, great for direct response campaigns and these clicks are at no extra cost to the video view. So, if you have video content that you’d like to promote, try YouTube TrueView Ads or give us a shout.

Recent Changes to Remarketing

Remarketing is a very useful AdWords tool for targeting users who have already been your site but did not complete the desired action (eg. A newsletter sign up or a product purchase). There are various methods for using Remarketing to work for your campaign objectives. Please see my previous post on the basics of Remarketing.

Earlier this month, Google made some changes to how marketers are able to use this feature. The first change allows for Remarketing lists to be created and managed within Google Analytics, allowing for deeper analysis of these ads. This can be found in the Admin section under “Remarketing Lists”.

The second change is the ability to create various Remarketing lists using one piece of code instead of many.
Before, if you wanted to separate ad messages according to the page category that the user was browsing before they left the site, a unique code for each of those categories would have to be generated and implemented within the corresponding webpage. For example, if you have a site selling shoes, you would have to have a unique code for running shoes, a unique code for boots etc., in order to be able to deliver Remarketing ads specific to those shoe types.

Now, only one Remarketing code needs to be generated and implemented across all pages of the site. Some accounts may already have this code automatically generated. If you have this, it will be found under the “Audiences” tab, within the shared library, named “Main List”. If your account does not have this pre-generated list, then click ‘New audience’. Select ‘Remarketing list’ and then ‘define a list of site visitors by placing a new tag on selected pages’. Select the ‘+New tag’ button, name your remarketing list as ‘Main List’.

When the code of this Main List has been implemented across the site, you will then be ready to create category-based lists. From the Audiences tab, select ‘New audience’ > ‘Remarketing List’. Then select ‘Define a list of site visitors based on the selection below’. You can then create a list defined by the contents of the URL. For example, if you want to create a list for all users who viewed running shoes on your site, you would select all URL’s containing the term “runningshoes”. This method is therefore dependant on the URL structure of your site.

If you have already been using Remarketing, you can continue to use the old method, but some changes will need to be made in order to be able to use this new feature. See an explanation from Google on these changes here.

This new way of Remarketing has the obvious benefit of not having to deal with too many separate pieces of code, which can get especially complex when emailing to clients with explanations on implementation. It is also a time saver in that you would no longer need to keep adding additional code when there are changes to landing pages and promoted products.

Image source.

 

State of Mobile in Africa

Some holistic perspective on the state of mobile in Africa, mobile’s development into 2012 and just how massive mobile internet access in Africa is, here are some facts from the video:

  • Africa is just over 30.2 million km² – home to more than 1 billion people
  • Speaking more than 1000 languages, we’re the most multilingual content.
  • Average Sub-Saharan woman touches her hair 37 times a day, she touches her phone 82 times a day.
  • In 1994, Nigeria had 100 000 land lines, internet access was zero.
  • 1994 – The first mobile network launched in Africa.
  • First phone weighed in at 0.5kg’s and cost $2000.
  • 2012, mobile penetration in Africa has risen to 65%!
  • There are more mobile phones in Uganda, than there are light bulbs.
  • “Africa is the 2nd largest and fastest growing mobile market in the world”.
  • Smartphones out sell computers 4:1.
  • Price of a mobile device in 2012 is under $80
  • 50% of Africa’s connectivity to the internet is mobile.
  • Infrastructure development up from $335 million in 2009, estimated at 1.5 billion in 2015.
  • Mobile is driving Africa: 6/10 fastest growing economies, GDP up 5%.
  • 50% of Africa’s population is younger than 20 years old << scary.

We are the Mobile Generation and the future looks bright for Africa.

Container Tags Can Save Time and Resources

It is a well-known issue for digital advertising agencies and expert PPC and analytics agencies in particular – tracking and tagging the right events and conversions on a client’s site by implementing the right scripts to accurately measure the success of marketing initiatives, page traffic and site usage. The problem I am referring to that can arise is not the actual tracking software, but the correct setup on the client side.

If you provide paid search marketing, you will often require your client to implement the AdWords conversion code somewhere on their site to track how many leads or sales have been generated by your campaigns. So far so good – you will contact your client, who will forward the request to their IT, who will implement the script for you and ideally it will work as intented. If the script has not been correctly placed, you will have to repeat this procedure. The larger a client, the longer it can take to forward your request through all the necessary instances. Now you also want to remarket certain sections of the site by placing individual scripts on pages of these sections and showing users who have looked at washing mashines different ads than users who have demonstrated interest in high-end gaming PCs. You will have to explain your exact requirements to the client again, who will have to execute the implementation of the needed scripts for you. This costs both you and the client time, resources, and therefore money. If you are offering web analytics advice and implementation, the list goes on .. events want to be tracked, user behaviour measured, e-commerce scripts enabled and tracking scripts amended. Every time a change is needed a new communication process will have to be initiated.

Container tags can take care of this issue for you. A number of different vendors with varying service and pricing models have come up over the last year. These so-called tag management solutions provide you with a JavaScript tag similar to any other tag you would use for Google AdWords or Analytics. However, this tag can contain numerous other tags which you can specify and edit at any given time using a web interface. So you would simply ask your client to implement one single tag across their whole site, and you can take care of the rest. You can include AdWords, Analytics and any other scripts you need in this tag – it empowers you to immediately make changes when needed and to always stay on top of tracking traffic and conversions in the correct way. I think that all of these systems provide you with the possibility to only place certain tags on certain pages you define, and many allow you to pull data from the HTML of a page (or, better, data layers – see reference below for more on this topic) and amend your tracking accordingly (great for instance if you are using Google Analytics e-commerce tracking).

There are of course also downsides to using container tags for your tracking. If you would like to read up on these and find out more about tag management, I highly recommend Google’s Justin Cutroni’s concise and highly informative article on the state and possible implementations of tag management here: http://cutroni.com/blog/2012/05/14/make-analytics-better-with-tag-management-and-a-data-layer/

AdWords Labels Allows You To Customize Your Data

AdWords labels is a nifty new feature allowing you to organise your account’s keywords, ads, ad groups and campaigns into your own custom groupings. This allows you to quickly filter and report on the data that’s of most interest to you. It also allows you to see how the custom categories you’ve created are performing relative to each other and the unlabeled entities in your account.

Example:

Phil is an online retailer selling a large variety of shoes in South Africa. He’s AdWords account has campaigns targeting 3 different regions (Western Cape, KZN and Gauteng). Within each campaign he has separate ad groups for generic and brand keywords. His structure (e.g. – Cape Town – Sneakers – Generic and – KZN – Sneakers – Generic) means that he has the same ads and keywords spread across different parts of this account. By applying a label “sneakers”  he can now easily sort his account or quickly run a labels report to see how well “sneakers” related keywords are performing in terms of sales across all three regions.

He can also now compare the performance of different types of shoes he is selling across these regions.


Labels can be used to organize your campaign elements in a way that you choose. Report on brand keyword performance versus all other non-branded keyword performance. You can measure how ads that mention “20% off” versus ads that mention “Save up to 25%” perform. You could also simply label your best performing keywords across ad groups in order to quickly review them. AdWords labels is a simple, yet handy tool have for any campaign manager’s tool box.

Source: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2012/04/slice-and-dice-your-data-using-adwords.html

 


 

 

Toyota Launch Etios – Smile TVC

The new Toyota Etios has arrived in South Africa. Much like the smiling grille of the car, the campaign is centered around being “here to make you smile” and incentivises people to share fun content to earn smile rewards in the form of airtime, cash vouchers and music tracks. They created a unique test drive experience for potential customer and installed hidden cameras to record their reactions.

Put a smile on your dial, earn smile rewards, visit the Etios website!

TrueView Video Ads Bring AdWords and YouTube Together

In the attempt to get more small and medium AdWords advertisers to try video and to simultaneously expand and improve the targeting options on YouTube and the Google Display Network (GDN), Google video ad formats and targeting options have received a significant update.

The first big change is that most of these video ads will no longer be charged for per click, but per view. A view counts as either a full watch of the video, or, in the case that it is longer than thirty seconds, a view of the first thirty seconds of the video. This will clearly make the video ad formats more lucrative for advertisers, as they will only be charged for potentially interested viewers. Users who skip their ads won’t leave a dent in the advertisers’ marketing budgets. Video ads will now also receive a sort of “quality score” similar to search ads that can, for instance, determine their position on the YouTube search results page along with the bid. This also adds a dimension of ‘engagement’ to the video ad model. Google thinks advertisers will aim for shorter, high quality clips more than ever to assure good scores, which would also be a definite win for the users.

The second big change is that you can manage all this from within AdWords now. You will also get additional metrics (such as view rate, thumb impressions and video impressions) and will be able to search for your YouTube videos from the AdWords interface to easily upload them. First and foremost, however, you will have access to AdWords’ highly sophisticated targeting methods. You can now target users by audiences consisting of interest categories, topics, content keywords or YouTube search keywords, for instance. This should make video advertising much more efficient.

The four ad formats promoted as “TrueView” video ads are as follows:

  • In-search (previously known as promoted videos, showing on the YouTube SERP and targeting YouTube search keywords)
  • In-stream (videos that show within a video – mostly up front, but can also be shown in the middle or at the end – and that can be skipped after five seconds)
  • In-slate (this is a new format where users will be shown a selection of three videos, and can choose the one they want to watch before proceeding to the actual video they came for – this will be more “opt-in” than in-stream ads, as the user is given a choice, however note that with this format the advertiser will already be charged for the click of the video)
  • In-display (these ads can show on YouTube or the GDN – for instance as a promotion on the right hand side of a YouTube video that is currently being watched)

Thinking about getting your advertising YouTube-ready? Remember that rich-media ads are becoming more important and effective than static banners in many cases and that YouTube is in fact the second largest search engine in the world. Two good reasons to give these new formats a try! Visit http://www.youtube.com/advertise/trueview.html for more!

Google Educates by Teaching Search

Google Search is becoming the only encyclopedia needed to find information, images, videos and just about anything, all online. Google decided it would be a good idea to educate students/people who wanted to better understand the power of search as an everyday tool to empower ourselves and recently launched their new website, Search Education. Shoppers and customers have become more intelligent in their purchasing decisions, as they are able to research, learn and compare options online before hand. Most people type in keywords and click search, without knowing all the additional search features available, if this sounds like you, go ahead and take a ‘Search Lesson‘.

 

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Our New Website – Before & After

After months of extensive brainstorming, tearing apart briefs and doing monkey dances around different ideas, we are finally ready for zen and present our fresh new look. A big thank you to our amazing team, our design and development partners and you for being so patient.

Before
After

The same clean look has been applied to our Twitter and Facebook profiles too. Have a look, browse the website and please feel free to send us your valuable feedback.

The Mobile Movement, A Study on Smartphone Consumers

Google released a teaser video on Tuesday, of a study they conducted in the US on adult smartphone users. Yesterday the full report was released to the public and the statistics are not surprisingly incredible! Mobile is personal and accessable to us almost anywhere. 70% of people use their smartphone when shopping in-store to seek further product information, comparitive prices or to purchase. The use of smartphones whilst shopping has become our new best friend and an integral part of the multi-channel purchase process, which leads to immediate responses. As much as 39% of users purchase within a few hours of seeking information on their mobile device. 61% of users called the business and 59% visited the business after “accessing local content” via smartphones. In total, 9 out of 10 mobile searchers have led to consumers taking action and this could mean increased revenue for your business!

Has your company got a mobile friendly website or mobile ecommerce store? Is your advertising reaching local and interested consumers on a mobile medium? 71% of of mobile users conduct a search due to a mobile ad they saw. Mobile search and banner ads are seen by 82% of mobile users and half of those who see an ad (search and display), take action. We simply cannot ignore reaching our customers on mobile devices any longer. Please see our services page to find out how we can help increase your brand equity and ROI from mobile advertising.

Go on, click here to see the full report!

Happy Birthday Mandy

On behalf of the Traffic Brand team, we would like to wish Mandy Schreiber a very Happy Birthday for today! Her laughter can be heard from a mile away and anyone who has had the priviledge, will know that Mandy’s presence lights up any room. She is our “boss lady” at Traffic Brand, but we love her for always being practical, honest, funny, part crazy and most importantly very knowledgeable about the online marketing industry. Happy Birthday PurpleWhizzBall, this is Mandy’s username for just about everything, including skype.

We bought Mandy one balloon for every year that she has explored earth. She calls this the “purple forrest” and it was a very cool way to welcome her into the office and set the mood this morning.

We recently welcomed Caryn to the team as Office Manager and it seems her talent extends into baking too! She created a freaking “purplewhizzball” cake! … and it looked and tasted fantastic. “Caryn’s Custom Cakes” has a nice ring to it!

The “PurpleWhizzBall” before we lit it up!

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MANDY!!

Enhanced Cost Per Click (CPC)

The question of whether to let AdWords handle your budget for you in the name of conversion goals is a tough one to answer. Do we trust these features? Are they more effective than manual bidding practices? When a typical online marketer asks these questions they will probably be thinking of Conversion Optimizer, and the available Enhanced CPC feature can often be overlooked.

How Does Enhanced CPC Work?

Each time an ad is activated, the maximum CPC on keywords or placements will be automatically increased or decreased, based on the chances of a conversion being achieved. The following variables are considered to predict the conversion rate:

  • Location
  • Browser
  • Language settings
  • Time of day
  • Day of week
  • Words in search query
  • Match type
  • Historical performance

Bids can be increased by up to 30%, and there is no limit to decreases.

Initially, Enhanced CPC will take effect on 50% of the auctions entered into. After gaining enough data to analyse performance of the feature one of two further steps will be taken. If it has been found that it has not benefited performance of the campaign, it will reduce its effect, but will not stop running entirely. If it has had a positive impact on the campaign, it will start to modify bids on up to 75% of auctions entered into, and if positive impact on modified bids continues 100% of the auctions will be affected by Enhanced CPC. There is no notification given when the feature starts to modify more than 50% of the auctions.

How is Enhanced CPC Enabled?

Activation within a campaign that has conversion tracking is simple. Within your AdWords account, go to Bidding and budget section under the campaign Settings tab and click “edit”. Then check the box under Enhanced CPC that is labelled “Use my conversion tracking data and bid to optimize for conversions”.

It can also be activated within AdWords Editor on the Campaigns tab, by selecting the drop down under Enhanced CPC to change from “Disabled” to “Enabled”.

How Does it Differ to Conversion Optimizer?

Enhanced CPC gives marketers more control, as they can override bid manually or use external bid management systems, whereas Conversion Optimizer does not allow continued management of CPC bids.

Conversion Optimizer is not limited to the 30% rise in bids that Enhanced CPC is. Conversion Optimizer lets you set a target CPA which it will work towards. Enhanced CPC does not take into account this goal.

Where Conversion Optimizer can only be implemented if the campaign has received 15 conversions within the past 30 days, Enhanced CPC does not have this requirement.

Who Should Use Enhanced CPC?

The feature appears to be a useful tool for experienced marketers who would like to benefit from automated bid management to maximise conversion rates, but retain the ability to control the bid themselves as well.

Because, unlike Conversion Optimizer, a campaign does not have to meet certain conversion requirements before it can be implemented, consideration must be taken into account as to whether the campaign is suitable for Enhanced CPC to be running. Enabling it on a campaign that is young or unstable could have no effect or negative results.

As with any automated feature (like Conversion Optimizer and Automated Rules), careful analysis is needed to ensure that the business KPI’s are not being affected negatively – particularly traffic received, as the limitless decreasing of bids may see it dwindle.

How are you performing against AdWords competitors?

The next best thing if you weren’t able to dive right into your competitors account would be to know how you are performing against them. Google’s real time bidding (RTB) model means that advertisers cannot pay for a guaranteed position in the ad auction. It is a real time impression determined from a keyword entry when searching on say Google.co.za. Our ads are not alone on the results page and we all know that others are able to bid on similar keywords to ours, but can we find out how well our campaigns are doing in relation to our competition?

Yes we can and the Analyze Competition tool provides some valuable insights for all Google search advertisers. You can find the Analyze Competition tool under the Opportunities tab on the AdWords interface.

How does it work? The Analyze Competition tool divides your account into categories based on actual search terms, keywords, ad’s and landing pages that are active in your account. It then uses a two week timeline to aggregate and average all data collected in your set of categories. Comparative information in AdWords is displayed on an eye pleasing bar graph and is easy to interpret. The bar graph will illustrate how well your campaigns are performing against the industry average in your particular categories.

You can filter results to show a report for: impressions, clicks, CTR’s and average position (best view all). See where you rank up per category and subcategory displayed in segments, such as: bottom of range, median, average or top of range. Data per category (emergency services) is available in sub categories (fire, police, rescue, NSRI) that are relevant to your account for further insights. Filter right down to view results on each subcategory, specific targeted locations and see relevant search terms that may not exist in your account. If you wish, you can add these keywords directly from the Analyze Competition tool into your intended Adgroup.

Using this Google AdWords tool can help indentify areas in your account that are underperforming and need optimisation. It is unfortunately a fact that even having an account in tip-top-shape, if the competition increases there are more players bidding and they play a role in determining our Cost Per Click’s. This tool will help you establish a benchmark in relation to your competitors and highlight opportunites for your account, but always keep in mind your campaign goals and Key Performance Indicators. I’m watching you! Kind of!

 

A Buyer’s World: A Vision of Future Shopping

“The consumer has gone mobile. They absorb, share and create content on the fly, which now defines how they make and evaluate their buying decisions.” Brett St. Clair, Head of Google Mobile South Africa

Smartphones, comparison sites, group buying and social networks are changing our shopping habits. We become all seeing and all knowing. We have the information we require available at all times.
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The digital advertisers’ toolbox is evolving at the same pace. Google has just recently given us remarketing and interest-based targeting – now, rather than targeting pages that we know talk about surfing, we can identify actual surfers and follow them around the web with our wetsuit ads. It is astounding that the vision of the Semantic Web, an improved, more natural and knowledgeable form of the current Internet that does not simply process search queries and render sites, but understands the meaning behind users’ words and intentions and responds accordingly, is being brought to fruition by online advertisers who see the potential digital has over traditional media and push boundaries to better understand consumers in order to sell their products more efficiently.

And it is much needed. In today’s scenario, you really have to be visible and relevant to attract. Attention and engagement are the marketing gold of now. Besides, mobile phones are the first devices in the history of advertising consumers truly carry in their pockets twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and the rise of smartphones multiplies the options advertisers have to reach them.
So where does this all lead to? Let’s have a look into the future, ten years from now.

The radio starts playing your favourite song, and you wake up. It is connected to your Outlook calendar and your Google+ profile and has chosen the time and tune according to your schedule and preferences. Tired, you make your way to the breakfast table and pour a bowl of Coco Pops – you love Coco Pops! The display on the fridge tells you that they are currently on discount at Checkers, and that there is a Groupon deal for Sushi two of your friends already bought.

The cereals were tasty and nutritious, but you are still feeling the need for a quick snack on the way to work. While crossing the street, a FourSquare message pops up: get a free croissant with your coffee at the bakery around the corner when signing in today. A good coffee is just what you needed to get this day started. The salesperson welcomes you with your FourSquare name. Back on your way, you notice a man with a pair of pants you really think are great. You take a quick snapshot, and your phone instantly directs you to the shops where you can buy them. You order the same ones, in a different colour, on the go. The shop will find out what your measurements are from your personal information on a shopping cloud network.

It’s 6 PM and work is done for the day. Now it’s time for grocery shopping. You walk into the supermarket, scanning bread, butter and milk with your phone, and place the goods in your cart. The phone tells you that the milk is of local produce – thank you for supporting the local farmers – and tells you that this is the ninth bottle you have bought of this brand. If you buy another one, you will get the next one for free. Then you run into a friend. You take a funny picture with him, which is automatically tagged and uploaded into the Google+ circle you have placed this friend in. It reads: “Taken at Pick n Pay Garden’s Centre – Your Supermarket of Note in Cape Town. +1 Pick n Pay here.”

In the electronics section, a nice surprise awaits. “The price of the digital camera you have looked at on Amazon has been reduced.” The arrows on your phone display point you to the right shelf. You scan the camera and find out that one of your Facebook friends – a guy you happen to know is a great photographer – has also bought this camera. You quickly browse through some of his pictures, and decide to buy it. Leaving the shop, you swipe your phone at the scanner. “Thank you for your payment. Have a nice day.” You have to hurry. Your phone tells you that you have a date in an hour.

I hope you enjoyed my vision of the future consumer. Feel free to agree, disagree or think things further in the comment section!

Google Ad Innovations: Campaign Insights

Search has always been the primary advertising medium in the Google stable and the main revenue generator for them. Yet it seems that Google has been working hard on taking Display advertising to the next level. By providing users with meaningful, relevant, targeted ads and giving digital advertisers all the measurement metrics they need to ensure their campaigns remain in tip top shape and achieve the maximum ROI possible.

There are many predictions on the forthcoming success that lies in the path of Display advertising in terms of growth and success. I personally believe that one should not only consider Search advertising when venturing online, but to definitely include Display also, do both.

The Billboards of the future are here and their reach and impact on the information highway can be measured.  Thanks to Google Ad Innovations and Campaign Insights now, even more so.

I’ve often wondered what effect my Display campaigns (banner advertising) run in Adwords, had on my Search advertising campaigns. Did it have any effect on people who saw the banners, but did not click on them? Did it perhaps drive more searches towards my brand campaigns? What was the true value of the view through conversions and how accurate or significant are they in terms of the Display campaigns.

To gain insights to these questions would allow me to be able to accurately judge the full impact of Display, in the Google advertising module. With Google’s Campaign Insights I can do just that.

Campaign Insights:  How it works according to Google.

Using a test and control method, Campaign Insights compares the behaviour of users exposed to a display campaign on the Google Display Network with a group not exposed to the campaign. Using this data, campaign insights can show the incremental impact on the following metrics:

  • Brand site visit or category site visits
  • Brand searches, category searches or generic searches.

The test and control methodology ensures that the calculated lift is attributable exclusively to the display campaign, even if offline campaigns such as TV or radio ads are also in place. Additionally the methodology factors in past browsing behaviours so that we can track impact of the campaign versus what a user would have done anyway.

For a detailed explanation of how the methodology is applied please see the video. This feature’s availability is currently limited.

Getting More With Remarketing

Remarketing has become a necessity for most PPC accounts. It is an AdWords feature that was introduced last year, which enables marketers to re-capture user who have been to their site. This means that a user’s first visit need not be their last, and marketers get another chance to entice them to convert.

Setting up a remarketing list can be done by selecting “Remarketing Lists” under the Audiences tab. Most online marketers will already have tried this targeting feature, but for those who are unaware of how it works, it adds the cookie ID of a user who visits the site is added to the remarketing list by means of a generated code snippet. This allows ads to be targeted to those users when they have left the site and continued to browse on the Google Display Network. The number of days that a cookie is stored on the list can be decided on by the creator of remarketing list. This opens the opportunity to relay different messages for different lengths of time that a user has been away from the site.

Getting More With Remarketing

Taking it a step further, it is possible to remarket only those users that have visited the site, but did not convert. This prevents an already-converted customer from being targeted with your ads and possibly annoying them, as they have already done what you wanted them to. This is done by creating a negative remarketing list of users who have been to the conversion page (this list will collect cookies from users who have converted by means of code being placed on the conversion confirmation page). This list must then be added as a negative list by expanding “Negative Audiences” under the Audiences tab, and adding the list. Now all users who have converted will be excluded from the remarketing campaign.

Remarketing can also be used for new customer acquisitions. If it is the goal of an account to attract more unique visitors, negative remarketing can be a useful tool. This is utilised by creating a remarketing list targeted to all who visit the website, so the code must be placed on all entry pages. This list can then be added as a negative audience to all display campaigns that have a unique visitor objective. This basically excludes everyone who has already visited the website, and display budget can be more ensured to attain uniques.

Remarketing is a dynamic targeting tool that can be altered in various ways in order to meet account goals and has become an essential feature to use for all online marketers.

Why Should You Advertise on Facebook?

Many marketers view Facebook ads in the same light as the Google Display Network. These advertising messages are not as accurate as people actively searching for your product or service, but they both target relevant users. Last month Facebook’s online population exceeded a staggering 677 million users. 50% of these Facebook users log on to Facebook daily, have an average of 130 friends and spend around 55 minutes on Facebook per day. An active audience this size is reason enough to consider advertising on Facebook, but let’s go a little further.

Facebook is unique in that it does not target users based on relevant website content or keywords, but user generated profile information. Facebook allows people to “Like” website content, Facebook pages or groups, links and just about anything where there is a “Like” button present. Accompanied to this Facebook knows your location, marital status, education, birth date and demographic details. All this information can be used to target ads to a relevant target audience. In short, Facebook targets people and not website content or keywords. Yes, some people don’t fill in all their profile details, but an IP address can still be used to target based on location and you ultimately want to serve ads to a user who is likely to engage with your message.

Why Should You Advertise on Facebook

You can advertise your website, but lower bounce rates and community development can be achieved when advertising something on Facebook (directing users to a Facebook page, customised app, event or group). Keeping users on Facbeook after they click an ad and getting them to like your brand, means you can remarket to them in the form of status updates, pictures, links and conversation. Facebook serves ads in a social environment and they really have made the most of this by adding social context to ads. If your friend likes what an ad is advertising, this is then displayed on their profile page, the home page and under the ad when you see it. Research has proven that we are more likely to act based on peer recommendation rather than advertisement. Think about it; are you more likely to try a new restaurant based on a friend’s suggestion or an ad you saw on a website? Google has started moving in this direction with the recent release of the +1 button, but Facebook is way ahead of the pack in this regard. With so much time spent on the site, the social influence on ads can result in many people engaging with your brand from just one person clicking through and “Liking”. This is known as social amplification and increases your reach virally.

Ad real estate on Facebook is available on profile pages, in apps, photo albums and a few other areas within the platform. Impressions are free, just like search, with a Pay Per Click pricing model. This means great exposure for your brand from a manageable budget. So where is the ROI or considered conversion? A questionable topic, but Facebook is improving its reporting centre and targeting parameters as the ad platform develops. Recent studies prove that Facebook increases overall conversions, but they are not attributed to a last click conversion. Many people who click a Facebook ad first, eventually end up searching for your brand and convert at a later stage. Business dependant of course, but the above is reason why we believe you should be advertising on Facebook. If you have a question or would like more information, please leave us a comment below or contact us.

Google Analytics V5 – What's Hot, What's Not

It’s already been a year and a half since Google last gave their free web analytics software Google Analytics a major overhaul. Now, version 5 has finally been made available to everyone. As Google Analytics is the web analytics solution most website owners and search marketers alike use – after all, it is hosted, completely free and can easily be integrated with AdWords – we would like to take you through the most important changes that come along with this new, shiny model and tell you how the new interface looks and feels like.

The layout of Analytics has actually gone through some pretty drastic changes. Quick links can now bring you straight from your account overview page to content or goal reports of each of your individual account profiles. You will now find a navigation bar including a “Home” button, a “My Site” tab containing your usual reports and the intelligence functionalities (which have been separated from each other), and the “Custom Reports” section on top of your reporting interface. The Custom Reports have been spiced up with a flat table view that I think will turn out to be really practical if you want to look at combined metrics like campaign/landing page or keyword/ad position. You can also add filters to your custom reports so that you won’t have to apply advanced segments to reports you would like to be broken down further anymore. The administration settings for each profile can now be accessed directly from the reporting interface by clicking the gear-wheel button in the top right corner.

With regards to your dashboard – you can now create multiple dashboards, which is a definite improvement, and to top that off even select different chart and display types for data you want to see. You now have much more flexibility here. However, all this data can still only be presented for one particular date range. It would be much better if you could customize time ranges for each individual report. You might not want to see your geo report broken down by hour of day, but your goal conversion rate. And how awesome would it be to combine various profiles in one dashboard?

Some reports that hadn’t been used a lot have been stripped out. “Traffic Sources” have become “Incoming Sources”. Motion charts are now available right in the reports. Maybe someone might actually start using them? Some reports include funky visualizations now – you can, for instance, generate term clouds of your data. “Goals” and “E-Commerce” are now combined under “Conversions”, which makes a lot of sense. And, hooray, you will now be able to set events as goals. Previously, only URLs and interaction metrics (time on site and pages viewed) were available to be specified as goals. “AdWords” gets a more prominent spot within the “Traffic Sources” reports.

Generally, it has become easier to segment data. You also don’t have to have “All Visits” preselected if you want to look at one particular traffic source only when using your advanced segments anymore. So the UI is all new and pretty, looking more corporate, and the colours are more settled. A few additions will make working with your Analytics data easier and help you find out what you need to know faster. All buttons and navigation options look smaller and cleaner – plenty of space for future additions and reports. One big minus though – exporting reports into PDF format is no longer possible.

All in all, a step forward, even though there are more cosmetic than actual content changes. You can dive down into the depths of your data much easier now, which is great. The UI and UX designers have certainly done their job, and a lot of customer feedback has been taken seriously. Many little changes and additions will make Google Analytics more fun again. On the other hand, when it comes to reporting and customizing your dashboard, Google Analytics, despite of certain improvements, is still a little bit.

There are a couple of Google webinars for ad agencies coming up that help you get to grips with the new Analytics version. Highly recommended!
http://adwordsagency.blogspot.com/2011/04/analytics-for-agencies-how-agencies-can.html

Does Google's +1 Button Affect Advertisers?

Google is finally making a social move in the right direction. Past experiments (Wave and Buzz) left a sour taste in many people’s mouths as the value was questionable. It is no secret that users are more influenced by other humans rather than an algorithm, so adding social signals to search results makes complete sense. The plus one button will be added to organic and paid search results. The +1 buttons will not change the way Google calculate quality score, however users may be more inclinded to click on ads due to personalised annotations that increase user interaction with the ad (similar to ad extensions), therefore increasing click through rates, which will directly influence quality scores.

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Ad with+1 button
Does Google's +1 Button Affect Advertisers_2
Ad that has been +1'ed

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Google mentions that it plans to make the +1 button available for publishers too. This means people can reccommend your web pages for Google search results without leaving your website. Sign up to add the +1 button to your website.

The new and socially attractive +1 buttons will be rolling out on Google.com and only in English to start with. The +1 buttons will not be visible on Internet Explorer 7 or earlier versions of IE. The button will also not be visible to people that are not signed into a Google account, although there is talk that Google will consider allowing access via a Twitter log-in. Google say there is no need to make any changes to campaign strategy for the +1 button and that advertisers should, “Think of +1 buttons as an enhancement that can help already successful search campaigns perform even better.”

We look forward to seeing the +1 buttons in South Africa. Learn More.

Image source.

Joke: Apparently you will not be able to +1 chucknorris.com, because he can’t get any more awesome!

Paid Ads Looking More Organic

New Blue Pins

Location extensions became available to AdWords advertisers two years ago as a means to give specific information about the location of the business being advertised. (Read more about location extensions)

The new blue pin that was launched in February 2011 is a new feature on certain ads with location extensions that appear in the top 3 ad positions.  In addition, it will only be triggered if there is a Local Universal map the right side of the search results page. If there is no map, only the standard location extension will be shown.  Whereas before a plus box was used to indicate location extensions, the address is now displayed automatically if other Google Places Listings appear within the top 10 results.

The pin looks just like the red pins that appear for Google Places results. The blue pin will also appear on the Local Universal map along with the Google Places pins. This new marker seems to be a way of making the paid ads stand out a bit more, since Google Places listings may have taken away some of the focus.

Paid-Ads-Looking-More-Organic

 

Looking More Like Organic

Other recent changes to paid search ads include limiting the Display URLs to lower case only, and headlines being extended to include the first description line. (Read more on extended ad headlines)

These changes, along with the new blue markers for certain ads with location extensions, all make the top 3 ad positions look a lot more like organic search results. No doubt this plays in Google’s favour, as users will probably be more inclined to click on these paid ads, as they are confused with organic results which they may have selected over obvious paid ads. This means more cash from PPC advertisers.

Paid ads looking more like organic results is of course a good thing for online advertisers. An increase in click through rates is probable. However, appearing in the top 3 results has become even more desirable, and this increased competitiveness of being on top is sure to drive up CPC’s (another benefit to Google).

Advertisers who wish to embrace these changes and make the most out of them will need to focus on making sure their ads are eligible to trigger these new ad formats. Another major area of attention is Quality Scores. With competition for the top 3 positions, on the rise, optimizing Quality Scores is more important now than ever in order to make being on top as affordable as possible.

Image source.

Preview Into New Blogger Features for 2011

It was a big year for Blogger in 2010, as they rolled out an improvement to the template designer, real time statistics and they improved spam filtering. This year, they have let on to some improvements that will be taking effect throughout 2011. They promise to redesign the dashboard with a more modern looking user interface, enhance the mobile experience and deliver smart content discovery. These only being the new features that they CAN speak about.

Some facts about Blogger from the video above are as follows:

  • 7 years ago Blogger had ±250 000 active readers.
  • Today Blogger has over 400 Million active readers.
  • Blogger is available in 50 different languages.
  • 75% of traffic comes from outside the United States.
  • Over half a Trillion words have been written on blogger, which equates to more than
  • 5.3 Million novels and
  • 250 000 words per minute.
  • Almost 5000 novels are written a day on Blogger.

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Preview Into New Blogger Features for 2011_1
The current Blogger dashboard (above)

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Preview Into New Blogger Features for 2011_2
The new Blogger dashboard (sneak peak)

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Source: Official Google Blog

Maximise on the New Looking Extended Headline AdWords Adverts

What do these new looking adverts mean for AdWords advertisers and users? The first description line of a text advert becomes an extension of the headline, divided by a hyphen. Is this a positive step for better performing adverts or a silent factor that could be negatively affecting your account performance? I don’t think Google would implement a new feature on their biggest revenue stream without having done their research to get more clicks.

Google says that higher click through rates have been achieved with this new layout. To me, PPC adverts are now starting to look more like natural search results. I’m interested to know how SEO experts feel about this change. It could be argued that the new headlines have the reverse effect and highlight or isolate the shorter headline adverts. Either way, the new extended headlines are definitively something to consider for your search advertising campaigns. The only requirement is that your advert has to have individual description lines one and two. What this means is your advert needs to be constructed in two separate sentences. Here is an example

New Headline:

Headline

Description line 1:       Mobile | PPC | Online Advertising.

Description line 2:       Get Fast Pay Per Click Results Now!

Original Display:

Headline

Description line 1:       Mobile, PPC and Online Advertising

Description line 2        With Profitable ROI. Call us Today!

Maximise-on-the-New-Looking-Extended-Headline-AdWords-Adverts

The benefit of this is that your adverts visibility looks more natural and eye catching. The overall proximity of the advert changes with the longer, bolded headline. We are now more educated after reading the headline text before our eyes drift further down the advert, or at least we should be! Now an enticing call to action, what a welcome! A clever idea now would be to add Sitelink Ad Extensions to present further interactive information as your second line of text (image above) above your display URL, but this is all only possible if you score in the top 3 advert positions.

Vuala, you have the perfect AdWords advert looking very natural, offering great value in terms of targeted user experience and increased click through rates, quality scores and sales. The only caution to advertisers is that the increase in click through rates should be accompanied by an increase in conversion rates for profitable return and to yield an overall increase in performance.

Try it, test it with AdWords Campaign Experiments on adverts with good traffic and let us know your findings for further discussion!

Google Instant Site Previews, Now For Mobile!

When Google released Instant Previews on SERP’s late last year, it enhanced the search experience and made usabililty more convenient in finding quality search results. This great feature has now been released for mobile devices running Android (2.2+) or iOS (4.0+). Simply click the magnifine glass on the right hand side of search results for a snap preview of the webpage. Nice feature is that after you click to preview, you can scroll across and instantly preview the other websites in one easy step. Then simply select the website that looks most relevant in the preview and enjoy. See Google Mobile for further instructions.

Source: Official Google Blog

Easy and efficient – testing changes with AdWords Campaign Experiments

Posted by Matthias Wobrock on 23 Feb 2011

Testing and marketing go hand in hand – if you sell a product or service, you want to know how to best reach your customers to generate as many sales as possible. This is where testing can help you. You might want to test different layouts of your brochure before sending a final version to all your subscribers, or optimize the text and images on your campaign landing page using Google Website Optimizer.  If it is not your site, but your AdWords campaign that you want to test, you have a new best friend in your AdWords tool box: the AdWords Campaign Experiments (in short: ACE).

 

While testing brochure designs or variations of a TV spot require you to carry out user studies and form experiment groups, testing online is free of charge, fast and efficient. Your website visitors will not even know that you are testing different versions of your campaign. Previously, the only way to test two different settings on an AdWords campaign, ad group or keyword was to use one version, and then the other, for a certain period of time each, and then compare the results – unless you wanted to go through a complex setup with two slightly distinct campaigns running on different schedules. Testing one version after the other is called sequential testing and can result in extremely flawed data. You can never be certain if your change is performing better or worse because of the actual changes made or external factors you cannot fully monitor or control – these could be seasonal effects, news articles, or even the weather in the destination you are advertising in. With ACE, Google will split traffic between your variations in real-time, and positive or negative external effects that might influence your campaign’s performance will affect both versions you are testing. Your final results will therefore still yield actionable data.

ACE gives you the functionality to experiment with any combination of bid, keyword, ad group or placement changes on the Google search and content network. It will help you make important campaign decisions based on the right information. To quote the words of famous web analyst Avinash Kaushik: “I wish I could put into words how much I love ACE. It is truly a blessing for anyone that does paid search marketing. So many companies large and small truly suck at doing AdWords properly […]. This sucking can be solved immediately and awesomely by using ACE.”

What will the impact of adding certain new keywords be? What if I changed the bids on my top keywords? How would my traffic numbers change when I used a different match type for some of the terms in this ad group? These are just a few examples of where ACE can shine. It helps you to better understand the impact of changes and lowers the risk of testing new advertising strategies. If your test didn’t bring the desired results, you can just end your experiment, and start a new one.

You can find the ACE feature under the campaign settings tab in the AdWords reporting interface, and most information on it in the announcement of ACE on the AdWords blog, Google’s official ACE page and in the ACE video tutorials.

There is one powerful experiment setup that is not documented that well. Ad group experiments allow you to not only test keyword bids or different keywords, but manifold other elements you might want to experiment with – for instance, your original ad group versus a range of more granular ad groups with similar keywords, or different sets of copy and banners. You will have to use ad group tests for this. Create copies of your existing ad groups, change every element you want to test on your copied groups, and start a campaign experiment with your original groups set to “control” and the new, copied ones set to “experiment”. I recommend that you don’t focus too much on CPCs and costs per conversion using this method (unless your new versions contain changes that might alter them directly) and more on your actual conversion rate, as click costs will naturally be lower on your control groups which have already been running for a while and have a positive account history paired with good quality scores.

Lastly, give your experiments time to run and try to not stop your experiments too early. You might experience ups and downs in the beginning that will eventually even out. The more data your experiment gathers, the more precise your result will be. Put some sophisticated math behind the changes you make to your AdWords campaigns, start a testing culture within your account or agency and you can be sure that you will be making just the right changes to your campaigns based on accurate data.

Think with Google: Insights and Statistics on 2010 Learnings

Statistics from the above video:

  • 89% of consumers started their holiday shopping online.
  • Portable PC shoppers do an average of 14 searches during their shopping process.
  • Consumers exposed to Home Page adverts on YouTube are 4 times more likely to: visit the advertisers website, search for the brand or watch the companies YouTube videos.
  • ±60% of moms search for coupons or special offers.
  • For every 10 application searches driven online, search drives another 4.5 offline (financial advertisers).
  • Over 70% of TV, movies and gaming fans visit sites on the Google Display Network everyday.
  • Google Display Network reaches more vehicle buyers than any other portal.
  • 25% of auto purchasers utilise mobile web while researching their new vehicle.
  • 75% of patients research their symptoms online before discussing them with their doctors.
  • 40% of travelers search for consumer reviews before booking their next trip.

Inside AdWords Blog:
http://adwords.blogspot.com/2011/02/think-with-google-what-we-learned-in.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+blogspot/ATHs+(Inside+AdWords)

Zeitgeist Young Minds

Another superb and socially responsible initiative from Google. The competition is called YoungMinds and the prize is open to 12 exceptionally talented, entrepreneural and motivated 18-24 year olds accross Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Winners will get to take part in the Zeitgeist event in London during May this year.

Apparently speakers such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Bill Clinton and Sir Richard Branson have all spoken at this event in the past. A great opportunity and to enter you simply need to upload your video to www.zeitgeistyoungminds.com, stating what is important to you and what you are doing to make a positive difference in the world. Good luck and even if you don’t get chosen, please continue to be good abassadors and keep inspiring each other to do better.

Google's Automated Rules in AdWords

This is a new feature in Adwords, still in the beta* stage of testing, which allows advertisers to schedule automated changes to specific parts of their accounts based on the criteria they specify. Sounds brilliant…Or so I thought when I first heard of i! But is it really?

The idea behind automated rules is to help advertisers who manage large accounts to save time by creating specific rules that will help manage these accounts more efficiently. They also allow advertisers who are constantly making manual changes to the accounts to automate these changes by creating rules.

So where and how, do we create these rules?

If and when it’s released, the automated rules button should appear within your Adwords account right next to the “Alerts” button. You can create automated rules on a campaign, ad group, keyword and ad level. Upon clicking the automate button a drop down menu appears that looks like this:

By selecting one of the options you will then be able to further customise your rule according to your specifications.

There is also a functionality that allows you to preview your newly created rule, recommended.

Sounds fantastic, but I am still not convinced!

Whilst researching and testing this nifty new innovation I came across a few limitations and concerns raised by others who were also using it, as part of the beta* testing done by Google. The following screen shots were taken from Search Engine Land and The Search Agents web sites.

*[Beta testing] Google allows certain clients the access to use their latest innovations and give feedback on their performance.

These are interesting points raised as to the limitations of this new, soon to be released feature in Adwords. Most of the concerns related to bidding and how dangerous it becomes when creating your own rules for adjusting bids. If the rules are created recklessly you could find yourself paying more for clicks than what you should be. I would advise that when it comes to bidding to rather stick to the right tool to do the job. Rather consider the bid optimizer function within Adwords to work out your bidding strategy. I think it would be imperative for Google to educate advertisers as to the possible pitfalls when creating rules for adjusting bids and give a detailed outline as to what the best practises are when using this feature. When I was using the feature, I found a lack of information on how best to operate it. I sincerely hope this will change before it’s released for mass consumption.

I think it would also be a good idea to enable advertisers to create rules on an account level. Let’s say I wanted an account paused once it has spent a certain amount of budget and reached a certain amount of conversions. Guess what, I can’t do this. Currently this can only be done at a campaign level. This means if I have 5 Campaigns in 1 account and wanted to stop my ads from running once the account has reached 50 conversions. The best I could do is, to limit my campaigns to 10 conversions each. This however doesn’t work as it would stop campaigns performing well within the account and may even stop me from getting my daily 50 conversion requirement. As I can’t predict where and in which campaigns my conversions will come from.

Will automated rules benefit advertisers?

Well when it comes to creating rules for changing bids I would NOT recommend applying them to well established accounts and keywords that have a significant amount of history. You do not want to mess up what has been working and optimized to perform well. I might use them with the utmost of caution on new keywords or new parts of existing accounts and monitor how the rules affect them.

I found that creating rules for budgets to be the safest way to go and a handy way of rewarding campaigns for doing well. Let’s say I set a rule that allows a specific campaign more budget if it reaches a certain amount of conversions at a favourable conversion rate. Then I would have saved myself some time and adjusted the budget when I needed to. I would avoid punishing campaigns for not performing well. Why? You can never tell when or where that next conversion is going to happen. If you create a rule to pause a campaign when it’s not converting but still spending. You might just loose out, as one more click could have resulted in a conversion.

I think that automated rules button is just another handy tool in the PPC optimization tool box, for Adwords advertisers. I look forward to the point where Google has ironed out all the wrinkles of this potentially great feature and it becomes a standard feature on the User Interface.

Google Art Project

Google never seizes to amaze us and this time they have created a virtual tour of seventeen of the world’s most renowned art galleries. The Art Project, powered by Google takes users right into the museums and allows close up visuals in high definition of over 1000 major pieces of art. The site navigation is fairly easy and the experience is very similar to Google Street View. Pick your favourite gallery and start exploring, click here to visit the website.

Watch the making of video on YouTube

Google's Gift for Small Business Owners Who Use Adwords

Google visited several areas in the USA and surprised small business owners with a massive gift to encourage further success and growth for 2011. They invested in these small business by providing them with these amazing gifts:

  • Brand new laptops and smart phones
  • 1 year worth of high speed broadband
  • 1 year of green environmental consulting
  • 1 year of professional accounting and tax services
  • A webmaster to get their websites performing at an optimum level
  • First $100 000 of advertising spend free for 2011

Preparing for Instant Search

Along with the roll out of Instant Search by Google on 8 September this year, came a big response from the SEM community. Many feared negative effects that it may or may not have on the way marketers would have to adjust their AdWords campaigns and budgets. Instant Search is not yet a feature on Google.co.za. This gives us an opportunity to study it and derive methods, if we decide necessary, in order to cope with the feature and maybe even take advantage of it.

What is Instant Search?

When searching on Google in the US, or when logged into a Google account in certain countries outside the US, the feature will predict your query and show result pages as you type.

Since results pages, probably containing paid search ads are being displayed as the user types, an issue is what is considered to be an impression, as the user is not necessarily looking for what Google is predicting for them. According to Google, the display of an ad will be counted as an impression id the user:

Presses “Enter”
Clicks on “Search”
Selects a prediction
Stays on the page for longer than 3 seconds
Clicks on a result
Clicks on a refinement (maps, news etc.)
Concerns

One of the most common concerns is effect on Quality Scores. If a user not necessarily searching for your product stalls on a result page for over 3 seconds, the number of impressions would be likely to increase, without an increase in clicks. This will have a negative impact on Click Through Rates, lowering Quality Scores.

Another major concern of Paid Search Marketers is the effect on long tail keywords, which usually have lower CPC’s and yield many conversions. Looking at the snapshot above, the user would be unlikely to complete their search query if they are looking for hotels if there are already ads displayed for hotels. This forces marketers to bid more aggressively on “Las Vegas” to compete, instead of “Las Vegas Pyramid Hotel”, for example. “Las Vegas” would obviously be an expensive term to bid on, and is likely to become even more expensive.

It would also be necessary to bid more aggressively on broad match types, in order to ensure your ads are displayed on terms that Google suggests to the user through instant search. Broad match is an expensive way of advertising on AdWords.

Advantages

So, it pretty much seems like Instant Search has been implemented for the sole purpose of sucking money out of those advertising on AdWords. There are, however, some subtle advantages to this feature.

Advertisers will be receiving free sub 3 second impressions. They are considered free, as they are not technically counted as impressions, therefore not affecting Quality Scores.

Since users will be exposed to more results, they are likely to be more informed when they click on your ad. More of these qualified visits could lead to an increase in conversion rates.

Results So Far

A great number of Search Engine Marketers in countries where Instant Search is a feature have carried out tests on user trends with regards to Instant Search and have recorded their findings.

A few weeks after Instant Search was launched, a UK Travel Blog released results from a study they carried out using eye movement detection technology. They came to the conclusion that no one noticed the instant result pages, and they went on to complete their search query as they normally would. Going by this information, no adjustment should be made to campaigns as Instant Search has no effect.

A global search marketing software developer and agency reported that average number of terms in their trigger keywords has decreased by 1.64%. One-term keywords have increased and two-term keywords have decreased. They observed there was no change from three+ terms, which indicates a shift from two-term keywords to one-term keywords, without the long tail being affected. An overall decline in impressions of 6.75% has been seen, but the amount of clicks has increased by 4.54%. This has resulted in a highly improved CTR.

More recently, a paid search management platform provider has released results that show Instant Search has had a significant effect on PPC campaigns. They noticed that impressions and clicks increased by 9.3%, and CPC’s decreased while overall campaign costs increased slightly. As opposed to fears of broad matches becoming more necessary, results showed that the opposite has happened. Impressions and clicks for phrase- and exact-match terms have increased by a higher percentage than that of broad-match since the implementation of Instant Search. This could be indicative of users becoming more engaged in Instant Search and pausing to click on ads that pop up mid-search. Instant Search may also be helping user to phrase queries, where they may have been unsure about what terms to search for results they wanted to see.

How to Prepare?

Studies show that the effects of Instant Search are not necessarily uniform for all Search Engine Marketers. At first it may appear that the new feature does not have much of an impact on user behaviour at all, but this is something that can change as people become more familiar with it. It would be a good idea for South African online marketers to think about ways that they can adapt their campaigns to cope with, or take advantage of, Instant Search when it does become a feature available on Google.co.za.

Some methods may include bidding on partial search phrases in order to place ads on each result page that a potential customer would likely see as they type a query for your product. Google suggest may become a useful keyword research tool. Users may be more likely to scroll between the predictions given, as clicking is not even necessary to see the results.

Depending on which reports you would like to follow, you might decide to increase the number of phrase- and exact-match keywords in your campaigns, or eliminate two-term keywords.

For the time being, the most important change that will be help campaigns when Instant Search arrives is to make ads more clear and concise, and focus on branding, as users will be seeing more ads in shorter increments of time. It is up to each marketer to analyse data for the weeks after Instant Search is implemented to see how it has affected their traffic and user behaviour and adjust campaigns accordingly. Note that this data should be filtered by Browser, as Google Instant is not supported on Internet Explorer versions below 8 and Firefox versions before 3.

http://blog.essentialtravel.co.uk/no-one-is-looking-at-google-instant.html

http://searchengineland.com/google-instants-impact-on-trigger-keywords-performance-in-paid-search-53744

http://ppcblog.com/does-google-instant-affect-your-ppc-campaigns/

Enhance Text Ads on Google Networks with Ad Extensions

Posted by Adam Mitchell on 17 Nov 2010

Google Ad Extensions offers PPC advertisers more opportunity to stand out with text adverts on desktop and mobile devices. Ad extensions such as: Location extensions (map), Sitelinks (additional page links), Product extensions (catalogue/shopping cart), Phone extensions (click to call) and recently announced Seller Rating extensions (consumer reviews) all make up the Ad extensions tab in AdWords. In South Africa we are only previewed to Location, Sitelinks and Phone Ad extentions, but this is a superb feature to increase your ads appeal.

Location extensions appear as a link under your text ad to an expandable window that leads to your Place page and website. Using a Google Places listing in conjunction with AdWords will optimise on appearance and usability of text ads. Location extensions allow you to promote very relevant information about your business such as the business name, address, contact number, pictures and consumer references as a simple added benefit to the standard four line text ads. Manually entered, static Location extensions require regional specific targeting in the settings tab to function effectively, but will show relevant extensions to users based on their geographic location which makes your ad more relevant.

Sitelinks allow advertisers to promote other pages on the website with four additional links appearing under your ad. This is really effective for dominating those brand terms and to showcase other areas of your site that the user might also enjoy. For example, a bank offering various financial services could use Sitelinks to promote all of them through one text ad. Chances are increased that the ad will relate to the users query and induce a click. This can improve click through rates, quality score, CPC’s and conversions. Sitelinks will however only work if you are advertising on a keyword that has the ability to appear in position one.

Phone extensions work on a click to call basis and can be extremely cost effective tracking metrics such as click to call’s and call duration. A direct conversion straight to the clients phone line. Google Voice allows synchronisation of all business telephone lines into one, which will be very handy when it’s available in South Africa. A Television show in the US made excellent use of Google Voice to inspire interaction from the audience with thoughts on the show, “leave us a message”. Explore the campaign site here and listen to people’s contributions.

Ad Extensions are measurable as per normal columns, but with two limitations in the Ad extensions tab. Data on individual Sitelinks is unavailable and shown as sets on campaign level. Clicks on the ad headline are not separated from clicks on Ad extensions, therefore this could exaggerate your reports if exporting data directly from the Ad extensions tab. To gather accurate data on our “ad extender” friends, make use of the “Segment” feature on the campaign and adgroup tabs in AdWords. From the Segment drop down menu, select the “click type” filter to view granular information on your Ad extensions, including clicks, CTR’s and conversions.

The financials are always important and this is my understanding of the costs related to Ad extensions. Clicks on Ad extensions are only charged for when the user clicks through from the search interface or display ad (not charged to expand windows), so be sure to also focus on your landing pages where users are not taken straight to your website (Place page). Enjoy and feel free to share any success or other related stories in the comments area below.

Is the new broad match the better broad?

Advertisers, please welcome a new match type to the well-established Google AdWords family of broad, phrase and exact. It answers to the rather clunky name “modified broad.” Technically, it’s just an operator represented through a plus symbol that you place in front of any term within a broad match keyword to further restrict its scope. Practically, however, it incorporates a completely new match type altogether.

While the broad match safari tour botswana might even recall an ad for a user’s search on “botswana trip” or “safari travel” occasionally, +safari tour +botswana will trigger neither one, but “safari trip bostwana” or “touring botswana safaris”. As you can already make out, applying the new modifier on your broad match keywords will make them significantly more precise.

How does it work exactly, though? If you haven’t heard of this modifier yet, you should first have a close look at this short but excellent introductory text on Google’s Ad Agency Solutions Blog.

You can settle the new broad match in between phrase match and a common broad match. While phrase won’t allow for any changes on the actual keyword terms, but only words to be added to the sequence (a phrase match house cape town would get a search on “holiday house cape town”), the modified broad will also recognize some variants of the actual keyword terms. These variations include misspellings (“capetown”), singular and plural (“houses”), abbreviations and acronyms (“ct”), and stemming (“housing”).

On the other hand, a modified broad won’t find synonyms and related terms (“holiday home” or “cape peninsula”), making it that much more manageable. Besides, a common broad might at times even drop entire terms off a query. You could advertise your south africa safari on broad and receive as unrelated searches as “south africa” and “african safari”. Picking up that your ads show for these terms is usually followed by frantic negative-matching.

The new broad match will not get you all the traffic the old broad can embrace, but will most likely send more relevant, precise and predictable search visits to your page – a smaller, slimmer broad match on steroids!

And you know that better click-throughs might mean higher quality scores that can improve your campaigns by lowering the cost of the clicks you receive. Besides, it will become easier for you to anticipate what your potential search visitors want.

Jan already pointed the low precision of a normal broad match out two years ago in his blog post “Broad – broader – totally unrelated”. The subsequent question is: is the new, modified broad match the better broad?

The answer is – it depends. For large campaigns that rely heavily on broad match keywords and need to capture all possible traffic, the slogan reads: keep the broad match, but a close eye on searches you show up for and your negative keyword list at the same time. For small campaigns or campaigns with limited budgets, you should consider replacing the common broad with its more focused brother.

Ad Words Agency Blog: New keyword feature rolling out globally
http://adwordsagency.blogspot.com/2010/07/new-keyword-targeting-feature-rolling.html

Help Us Feel It – Long Term!

Help us kit out the children of Lusaka Sundowns United Football Club.

It only costs R2,500 to sponsor a whole team with kit.

Your small contribution will make a huge difference.

Help keep the youth off the street and keep them playing football.

Please help us to feel it – LONG TERM!

For more information or to pledge assistance please contact Mandy Schreiber on:
021-480 4360 or email mandy(at)trafficbrand(dot)com

Nyanga-Youth-Development

 

More about Lusaka Sundowns Football & Youth Development…

Ayoba football fever has invoked hope and inspiration across all cultural and economic divides in South Africa over the past month and it is the perfect opportunity to really feel it – long term! The incredibly smooth 2010 World Cup has done us all proud and has exceeded the expectations of all South Africans and viewers the world over.

The uniting spirit that has swept across the country can too easily disappear in the post-world cup comedown and negative media tales of our challenges as a developing nation. Now is the time to harness this energy and contribute toward the healthy development of our nation’s youth.

Traffic Brand, a boutique online marketing agency based in Cape Town, visited a community of enthusiastic soccer players in Nyanga East this week. We donated 15 soccer balls to a small, grassroots club – The Lusaka Sundowns United Football Club – after being alerted to the great things they are doing by one of our employees and champion Vuvuzela blower, Joyce Kula. Joyce’s sons play for the Lusaka Sundowns. It was her gratefulness to club manager, Justice Madikane, for keeping her kids off the streets and for the enthusiasm it has inspired in her children, especially six year-old Sebosiso, that alerted us to their needs.

The club have one old set of soccer shirts which all 6 teams use. Most of the children do not have proper trainers let alone soccer boots so our very humble contribution of soccer balls is only a very small beginning.

Lusaka Sundowns need our help! They have 5 teams who need soccer jersey’s, socks and shorts and if we all contribute just a few items we can really make a difference to the youth of this community.

They practice on the grass on the side of the N2 and only have access to a proper field to play matches.

The whole community welcomed us into their space, invited us into their homes and the sheer joy that our small gesture inspired made us sincerely motivated to do more. We’ve been invited back to watch their next matches and we will certainly be there with Vuvuzelas in hand and a desire to cross illusionary cultural boundaries that exist just 20 minutes from the city!

But we’re a start-up company and we can’t sponsor everything that they need and we are asking you to help us kit out the team!

It won’t cost the earth but it’s value will be huge
Sponsorship of one team: R 2,500
(Includes jersey’s, shorts, socks, numbers and goalie outfit)
Sponsorships of all teams: R15,000

Even if you do not wish to come on board with our project, we urge you to find a football team that is in dire need of equipment and strike up a personal relationship with them to experience the far-reaching benefits that a small contribution can make.

PLEASE help us to achieve the goal of starting with this team and hopefully moving on to others. Donate one soccer ball if that’s all you can afford!

For more information or to pledge assistance please contact Mandy Schreiber on:
021-480 4360 or email mandy(at)trafficbrand(dot)com

The importance of website design & layout

Posted by Jan Boshoff on 4 Jun 2009

Unfortunately the most basic principles of web design are often overlooked when brainstorming the brief for a new website. In most cases this is due to the fact that the people creating the brief are doing so for the first time.

For example, imagine the owner of a guesthouse on the west coast decides that he or she would like to start marketing their property more effectively. First thing they should rightly do is get their website up to scratch if they already have one, or start a spec for a new one. It is highly likely that business owners like these would not have had any previous experience with the web and thus would not have a clear idea of what the basic requirements should be to convert traffic to a website into paying customers.

The problem we face as marketers is that we are often only contracted to become involved in the process once the website has already been designed and developed. A good brief is everything -I know from experience that if you submit a detailed and carefully considered brief, you will get a much better design in return. Because of the nature of our specific channel of marketing (Pay per Click or Google AdWords), it is of utmost importance to us that any website we attempt to market, has the basics right. Unfortunately, because of the problem outlined above, this is not always possible. Where we have been able to get involved in the design (or re-design) phase of a site, we have seen some remarkable results.

Recently we saw a significant increase in conversion rates immediately after a client changed the layout of their site. Without making any changes to our campaigns (other than destination url’s), we saw an increase in conversion rates of more than 1.6%.

This graph clearly shows when the changes were implemented

I have mentioned the basics a few times and consider the following (in no particular order) to be the bare minimum requirements before spending money on traffic to a site:

Call to action
Any site has to have a very clear way for a user to enquire, register, signup or buy something.
This button or normal link MUST stand out from the rest of the navigation and should always be visible, no matter which page the visitor is on.

Simplicity
Make it easy to convert.
“Contact us” forms should be short and neat, but still get the necessary information to distinguish between the serious enquiry and the noise.

Easy navigation
Visitors should be able to easily find their way back to where they entered the site.
Complicated navigation menu systems simply offer the visitor more things to do and click on other than convert.

Highlight your location, product or service
When someone finds your site via a search engine, chances are they searched for something like “camps bay guesthouse”. If you advertise on this term and a user clicks on your ad and arrives at your landing page, you need to assure the user that he or she arrived at the right place. The right place in this case being a guesthouse that is actually in Camps Bay.
The same applies for any product or service you might offer on your page.
The word here is relevancy…
Why you and not the next company, or property

You have paid for a user to be on your site. Now it is up to you to convince that user that you can do a better job than anyone else in providing him or her with what they are after.
If you have won any awards, make it very clear.
If possible, verify that you are the best or cheapest by adding third party verifications on your site.

Rates or prices
You need to have prices or price ranges on your site.
If you have specials, make it clear which products they are for or which date ranges they apply to, for instance: winter specials.
Image gallery

People really love to see what they are buying or where they are possibly going to.

Content
Content about your property, product or service may not be as important to the user as it is to the search engines.
In short, you can get traffic for much cheaper if you have relevant content on your site. Users might not read all of it, but search engines will love it.

Credibility

A neat and clean design in itself gives a lot of credibility to your brand.
Especially where there are personal details involved, users will want to feel that their information is in safe hands whether it is only an email address or credit card details.
Obviously where online payments are accepted, the security verifications from third parties are essential.
We find that if a site covers at least these basics, it has a much better chance of converting its visitors into paying customers.

The evolution of keyword length in search marketing

Posted by Matthias Wobrock on 28 May 2009

The evolution of keywords has progressed as users have become more specific in their requirements.

Our societies are rapidly being broken down into small areas of experts. People work in more specialised groups and more specific fields than ever before. The web supports this development, streamlining workflows and establishing world-wide connections to very specific information or niche areas of interest.

This trend can easily be applied to the commercial sector. If you view the web as a global marketplace, niche products also dispose of relevant sales potentials. Best practice example: Amazon. It achieves the majority of its profits through rare, long search term combinations. In the beginning of Search Engine Marketing (SEM), competition was relatively small. Today thousands of vendors offer essentially the same books, shoes or laptops and companies struggle to position themselves in terms of cost and creativity.

Expanded ranges make refined searches necessary in order to find the desired product. Additionally, internet users have become more skilled in using search engines and use more accurate terms to arrive at their destination faster. This development could even be partially owed to the relatively low precision of search engines. If “eBay Smartphone” does not bring the desired result, a search for “iphone 3g eBay app download” could do the trick.

Statistics not only show that the length of search terms is increasing (see bottom graph) but also that the percentage of searches with only one or two words decreases in relation to the total amount of searches. Searches consisting of 7 or 8 words are constantly increasing.

Interestingly, the number of total searches rises faster than the number of displayed paid ads, which means that the ad coverage on user’s searches is becoming a lot scarcer. Easy money if you manage to cover those complex search terms with your campaign.

From the first search for basic information to a more concrete purchase intention, search engine users may switch back and forth between generic expressions and long tail search terms. If you lose them on their course, you cannot influence their buying decision any longer. And if they use long tail keywords, they generally already have a more specific idea of the product they are looking to buy.

Bidding on long tail terms therefore offers two decisive advantages: on one hand, conversions are more likely due to the fact that the potential customer has already thrown a glance at a unique product. On the other hand, they are much easier and cheaper to rank for than general terms because the competition on that particular expression is a lot less: a better conversion rate for a lower cost.

However, these numerous keyword variants do not only need to be generated, but also managed, and their cost-effectiveness has to be proven. At Traffic Brand, for example, we use a custom-made system to identify and efficiently manage promising keywords to create additional value for our clients. We are prepared for this new trend and very curious to see how search engine usage will continue to change.

Economic crisis is good for online marketing

All the stats, research and opinion pieces I have read lately show that online marketing is rapidly gaining a bigger piece of the marketing. Personally I think the overriding factor that enables marketers to justify online spend while cutting back on offline spend is measurability and ROI, specifically identifiable ROI.

With online marketing campaigns, such as Google AdWords campaigns, we can track just about everything to do with each “click” and each “keyword” therefore being able to make daily, weekly and monthly changes that ensure that your budget is being spent in the places that actually deliver direct results.

If you you are selling a service and the actual transaction takes place via a differnet channel (i.e.therefore not trackable online) you would be wise to make sure that you develop a system that can also match the online leads/enquiries to actual sales.  Most online specialists will have some experience in this process and if asked should be able to offer valuable insight into how to set-up this process.

No more needs to be said about the value of tracking the advertising cost for each sale! A marketers dream!

This article by Paul Vecchiatto on ITWeb offers insight into the e-marketing boom despite the economic downturn:

http://www.itweb.co.za/sections/internet/2009/0903101038.asp?S=e-Business&A=EBU&O=FRGN

Representing Competitors in Google AdWords

When it comes to ethics and search marketing there are some very dubious lines that are and have been skewed by search marketing companies in South Africa owing mainly to the lack of knowledge of their clients.

That said, it is a rapidly expanding industry in this country and indeed worldwide and on the flip side there are some agencies making great efforts to improve the SEM (Search Engine Marketing) service that they offer to their clients. The nature of the South African entrepreneurial spirit also means that associated technology, tactics and angles are in hot pursuit as South Africa and specifically Cape Town positions itself as viable global ICT hot spot. The existing and potential foreign investment and outsourcing to South African SEM and ICT companies has far reaching effects for our economy and job creation. Furthermore, in terms of SEM, the nature of Google’s global system opens endless opportunities for local companies to represent themselves to foreign markets through a cost effective and measurable medium.

Google has not released figures of how much South African agencies collectively spend with Google on their clients’ behalf but if we take what our small agency spends for clients it must be many millions of dollars per annum and that is to err on the side of conservative estimation.

The problem facing the growth of this ‘heaving with potential’ industry is primarily a lack of skills in the arena. That will change in the not so distant future as companies like ourselves are forced to train graduates in the way of SEM. The more pressing issue is the fact that there are not enough specialist SEM companies to service the growing interest and need for fulfilling the requirements and needs of the local market. And this brings us back to the question of ethics.

Simply speaking it is counterproductive for an SEM company to represent clients who are competitors on some level. The very nature of the bidding system used on the Google Adwords system, for example, means that representing competitors causes the agency ends to bid their clients’ against each other. This in turn increases both clients advertising spend.

Turning away clients is not something any company wants to do but in certain instances it is vital in maintaining the trust of existing clients and maintaining a level of ethical marketing and advertising that would apply to offline agencies.

In terms of traditional advertising agencies, we wouldn’t find BMW and Mercedes serviced by the same creative agency now would we? And that’s without having to consider the added complication of directly increasing their respective advertising budgets!

We are having to turn away business because companies that are seeking our services are direct or indirect competitors of existing clients. Traffic Brand feels very strongly about maintaining honest relationships with our client base and is not willing to compromise these relationships for new business however tempting the associated income might be.

Sadly there will always be agencies that cross these lines. But as the industry expands and marketers become wise to the risk of entrusting their online campaigns to unprincipled organisations the demand for exclusivity will increase.

This begs the question of how we, as an industry, can responsibly expand the SEM services available to South African companies without compromising on ethics and without adding to our own competitors’ market share.

Geo-Targeting with AdWords

Posted by Jan on 7 Aug 2008

So you have targeted different countries for your campaigns to run in, but are still getting conversions from users outside of your targeted locations. Now what? Well, we recently had to go through a whole exercise to exclude a certain country from one of our campaigns…

Let’s look at an example that is just weird: If you are for instance targeting the US and the UK with your campaign, you would think that people browsing google.com or google.co.uk, regardless of where they are in the world, should not see your ads, unless they are actually in the US or UK, right? Wrong… You might have noticed that your ads will still appear on .co.uk, even if you’re browsing from SA, like me, but not on .com. It seems that for some reason Google will check your IP when browsing .com, but not when browsing .co.uk.

There are a few ways to get around this. You could move from location or country targeting, to custom or area targeting. For instance, you could turn off the actual country in your target list and then select the actual states in that country. This seems to work, but end up looking rather messy when you’re looking at your campaign setup. This functionality is not yet available for all countries either. The other option is to exclude ip ranges with the ip exclusion tool.

We are testing both options and will soon post our findings here.

Advertising with Limited Budgets

Posted by Jan on 20 Jun 2008

Most online marketing agencies don’t like to take on clients with advertising budgets of anything less than R20k per month. There are a number of reasons for that, but the fact is that there is a place for smaller companies, or companies with limited budgets in the search specific advertising space.

Firstly, can you really expect a South African based company to whom internet marketing is still to a large extend a relatively new concept, to immediately start spending R20k per month on some new unfamiliar marketing channel? It’s not always an easy task convincing people to look further than the traditional marketing avenues when there are new budget allocations involved…

Secondly, depending on which industry you’re trying to market and who you are targeting, you can in most cases, easily prove to a client that search marketing or more specific, paid search marketing, will work for them with a monthly budget of R6k to R10k. One of the best selling points of PPC marketing is the great ROI generated by the channel. This will ensure that clients who start off on small budgets will in time see how their investments are working for them and increase their budgets accordingly.

In short what I’m trying to say is that if you have a marketable product, search marketing can definitely work for your company, even if you don’t have a massive budget to start with.

Online Travel Focus

Posted by Mandy on 16 May 2008

Yes its been a while since we wrote on our blog! Tut Tut! But moving offices and other exciting changes had us running around like wild creatures for a few weeks. Things are settling into a manageable pace again so hopefully some more chatter from the Traffic Branders is on the cards.

I have also put some writing efforts into a new travel industry blog which has been consuming my words :). Online Travel Focus is a great new blog focussed on information and challenges facing the South African tourism industry’s online presence. It has some very informative topics and articles and provides a great resource for the web savvy travel industry experts to keep abreast with developments in the field.

Online Travel Focus is run by Paul Hobden who recently returned to South Africa after many years in the UK. Paul was also instrumental in hosting the successful Online Travel Summit last month. His focus on research and disseminating information for the wealth of local online travel companies promises to fill a much needed gap and I am sure that his expertise will add great value to our existing knowledge pool.

Who's who in the AdWords Zoo?


Posted by Jan on 12 Mar 2008

Last week, somebody from Google made a crucial mistake, which sparked a flurry of cross channel marketing attempts.

On Friday morning when I looked at my inbox, I found a mail from the Google Advertising Professional team which at first seemed like just another mail from them asking advertisers to participate in one of their online surveys. In this case, the survey was to help them gather information about a potential new proposal document for advertisers to use when pitching to clients.

After reading the mail I noticed that for some reason the sender left all the “to” addresses in the mail, visible to everyone. As you can imagine, this list could be quite valuable as it is a real list, with real advertisers and no fake or generated email addresses… Almost immediately one of the recipients replied with an attempt to advertise his own marketing company. Soon after that the original sender replied, apologising for the mistake and asking everybody to respect their fellow Adwords advertisers and not to use the list for their own marketing attempts. The apology did not help and quite a few emails rolled in after that, some of them even stating that this is an opportunity not to be missed. Most of the opportunists asked for referrals and offered rewards for them.

Personally I don’t think spamming the list is the right thing to do. I did however appreciate the opportunity to go and check out my competitors without much effort in finding them. It’s easy to find the company website by looking at the email addresses. Looking at their websites, you can quickly get a very good image of the companies and decide if you want to try and align yourself or partner with them or not.

My advice to the people who have the list is to use the list to find the companies you think would be good for you to partner with and then contact them via the appropriate channels and to stop spamming the list.

To summarise, I think it leaves a bad impression when you are supposed to be a credible search marketing company, but yet, make use of the first dodgy opportunity you get to market yourself… O yes, and of course it’s good to see that even somebody working for Google can make a mistake 🙂

Is Google becoming an Agency?

Posted by Jan on 12 Mar 2008

Yesterday, Google finalised their acquisition deal of DoubleClick, a company that offers an awesome range of online marketing products to advertisers, publishers and agencies.

One immediate question comes to mind:
What does it mean for all other agencies and Adwords advertisers?

In my opinion, it sure looks like Google is trying to position themselves as an agency. Just look at features on Adwords like the Conversion Optimizer, Budget Optimizer, etc. Now that they have a full blown campaign management system at their disposal, I think it might become increasingly difficult to sell bid and campaign management tools, etc as Google releases them for free on Adwords. This means that agencies will have to make greater effort to position themselves as marketing specialists and not just service providers with great tools. More companies will most likely do or try to do their marketing campaigns in-house.

If you take a step back and look at the internet and how it has become more user friendly over the past couple of years, especially with the immersion of web 2.0, one can start to see a trend. A few years ago, companies had to pay fortunes to get websites done for them and pay even more to have a content management system behind it. These days, with hundreds of web development tools, content management systems and blogs freely available, it has become much easier and cheaper to get your company online. I believe the same is happening with the marketing of these sites. It’s fast becoming much easier to effectively manage your own campaigns, etc. with the launch of every new product. The difference is that when you want an exceptional website or an exceptional marketing campaign, you still and will always need a specialist with passion for what he or she does, in order to make the project stand out from the rest.

In the long run I believe there will always be a need for specialist online marketing agencies as online marketing is not a science, but rather an art form, which needs a passionate artist to make it a big success.

Online vs. Desktop Apps

Posted by Jan on 29 Feb 2008

Although web applications are great and handy, many systems are still better in desktop format than web format. This is mainly due to speed and usability. Luckily, with web 2.0 this is changing rapidly and personally I can’t wait for the day that I don’t have to install anything other than an operating system on my machine. For now that won’t be possible, especially not here in SA.

Fortunately bandwidth seems to be the only issue holding us back from achieving this complete online status. Take for instance bid management tools. When working with tons of data, i.e. thousands of keywords, it quickly becomes a nightmare to manage, search through or bulk edit your data online. In the case of DART Search for instance (last time I worked with it was about a year ago), we had to download our lists in excel format & then edit our data, and upload it again. Time consuming to say the least… Adwords editor is a good example of how Google actually acknowledges the fact that it is still much easier to work on your data through the use of a desktop app.

In my case, struggling to find or edit data due to waiting for a page to load, usually leads to postponing the task, which in most cases leads to postponing it indefinitely. This is one of the main reasons we developed our bid management system in a desktop application format. Another reason is the lack of connectivity when for instance travelling, but hopefully this will also change soon as airlines come on board.

The future for user applications and tools are definitely online though and Google is setting a good example with Google Docs, etc. Another great example is Vinny Lingham’s online website creation system, Yola, which could perhaps replace software like Dreamweaver, etc. in the future.

What is the continued obsession with Flash Sites?

Posted by Mandy on 27 Feb 2008

aaaarrrgghhh! Maybe you could get away with it if you had some direct satellite link to the bandwidth Gods…but please flashy people – have you never tried to surf the net in South Africa and had to wait 5 minutes for a site to open because it’s all flash-based? I beg you to do some more research in your chosen field. No-one’s denying that flash elements on a website look great and are super useful and there are some brilliantly designed flash websites that actually work and load quickly. You good developers are exempt from my rant! It’s the old school flash sites that show you the loading bar percentage process that are my particular gripe. It’s a fact. Our bandwidth speed and consistency in South Africa is a problem. A site that takes ages to load because of shoddy development work…well you can certainly count me out and tab me up with your other frustrated potential clients.

Does the South African Market understand Online Marketing?

Posted by Mandy on 21 Feb 2008

Of course there are several companies who have finally caught on to the worldwide trend of transferring a large percentage of marketing dollars to online channels. But as a whole I would say that there is still a severe lack of comprehensive understanding of the opportunities that online marketing and specifically PPC can offer South African companies.

I was pretty shocked yesterday when I spoke to the marketing director of one of the biggest car rental companies in South Africa when she said that she already has “an online strategy because she has a web designer”. EEK! Dangerous territory for a travel related company. Especially when the web is the preferred channel for 50% of UK users searching for financial and travel items. [Source: Equi-Media, February 2006] and that an industry study revealed that nearly 75% of travel buyers used search engines before making a purchase. [DoubleClick / Performics / comScore, “Search Before the Purchase”, March 2005].

Whether your travel company is an online operator or not it stands to reason that an effective online marketing strategy is vital to your survival.

I also spoke with someone who has an inside interest in one of the major food and beverage retailers in South Africa who was also at his wits end trying to convince the big marketing honchos of the need for and the effectiveness of search marketing.

It is amazing to me that anyone in marketing has no interest or understanding of online marketing channels. Even if they are over 50 and have to get their children to set-up their online banking profiles…one would think that on a professional level they would hire a young online marketing professional who could source and manage relevant agencies to establish their brand’s online profile.

These two incidents revealed to me just how much revenue and indeed national and international exposure big corporates in SA are missing out on.

It is my opinion that the South African companies who are already operating in the online space or who are considering including it in their marketing mix in the next year are going to have a massive advantage over their competitors who are too intimidated by online marketing to even consider its worth. These ostriches who bury their heads do not realise that online advertising is a multi-billion dollar industry already in the US and that every day they shy away from the leap to online is lost revenue and lost branding opportunities.

There has never been a more targeted channel that provides such massive opportunity for feedback on consumer preferences and purchasing habits. Wakey wakey Marketing head honchos!

The First Traffic Baby

Posted by Jan on 20 Feb 2008

Today marks the day that my son is two months old and I can’t help but wonder what the future holds…

Where will technology be in 5 to 10 years time when he starts using the internet? Will we still have offices to go to or will technology be so advanced that we don’t really need to waste money on office space or waste time on getting to the office? Will we have to leave our homes for anything? We already don’t. We can buy anything online and communicate with colleagues, clients, family and friends from the comfort of our homes. Our kids can even be educated from home if we prefer it that way. Personally I prefer getting out of the house and interacting with my colleagues, but it is great to have the facility to work from home when I need to.

South Africa is a bit behind when it comes to internet access, but things are changing and soon every household will be able to afford a broadband connection. Connections will become faster and cheaper and you know what that means for online marketers… That’s it, South Africa will become a huge target market in the very near future and I am very excited about the fact that Traffic Brand will be around to be a part of it. We have a few local clients and I can see that local traffic numbers are definitely picking up month after month as more and more users make their way online.

Back to my son: Some things I try to remember when I think about his future in South Africa is that technologies are constantly evolving, information is getting more available and accessible and in general, people (or at least the younger generation) have more options and choices. Then again, perhaps that has always been the case…

When to change Adcopy?


Posted by Jan on 14 Feb 2008

Everybody knows that it is extremely important to keep your adcopy fresh and updated, but at what point do you decide whether an ad is working or not working? The answer to this question is not a simple one and will be different across different industries. Different criteria will apply to different industries, but I have found that for us, the best way of deciding whether or not to change an ad, is to apply a set of rules or formulas to our ad performance reports.

I have come up with a simple set of rules that works well for us. It needs to be said that this formula should only be applied once a number of other checks have been done and you are absolutely sure that it is the ad that is the problem and not the keywords in the group, the bid price of the keywords, the positions you’re targeting, etc.

Once I am sure I need to change my ads, these are the formulas (adjusted for each client) I use to check for trouble areas:

Clicks > (a) AND Transactions = 0
Cost Per Transaction > (a)
Click Through Rate (b)

If any of the conditions above are TRUE, the ad needs to be changed.

Search marketing companies should always be looking at ways of improving their ads and this is just a guideline for determining which ads are not working, but it doesn’t mean that the rest of the ads for which the conditions are FALSE, can’t be improved on.

I would love to get input from anybody on this topic.

Yahoo's "Pay Per Chick" Ad Copy error on Google

Posted by Mandy on 8 Feb 2008

It’s hard to believe that the second biggest search engine (admittedly a distant second!) can make such a fundamental error in their Pay Per Click (PPC) ad copy. “Pay Per Chick” is certainly a new take on paid search! What is particularly embarrassing is that this really unfortunate typo appears on their competition’s website and further drives home the point that Google gets the superiority prize again and again.

I have actually emailed them to try and alleviate this embarrassing show of words but that was 2 days ago and the Ad still appears. I am assuming that this is an affiliate ad which brings up further points about whether brand management is at all possible if you open up your brand to PPC affiliate marketers.

Regardless of who is responsible for the writing of this Ad, as a pedantic editor (if you find spelling mistakes or errors on our website, please email us!) and writer I find it quite appalling that this kind of error occurs. It does, however, highlight one of my favourite pet subjects in the PPC arena. Most agencies will “wow” you with all sorts of statistics and metrics and numbers of clicks, impressions and conversions. Where most agencies fall short of a good paid search campaign, is their lack of attention to good Ad copy.

After all the geek-speak and lingo is thrown at you, its no wonder that clients of PPC agencies forget to discuss the core brand message that they aim to portray online. Good Ad copy that clearly states the sales or service offering and has a clear brand message is admittedly a challenge when we are reduced to 3 lines of 25, 35 and 35 characters. But it is entirely possible. Only when the agency works closely with the client to develop this message can the PPC industry truly claim to be advertisers. Just because we are using the Internet as a medium does not mean we can forget about the basic rules of advertising, marketing and brand identity.

Sorry Yahoo! this is not a great reflection on your marketing team or your affiliate marketers.

Cape Town Entrepreneur Meetup

Posted by Jan on 7 Feb 2008

Just came back from one of the Cape Town Entrepreneur Meetup sessions organised by Eric Edelstein.

This is a networking meeting for just about anyone and everyone from any kind of industry. We sat at the same table as an entertainer who also works in offline marketing for example…

It’s a great way to meet interesting people with interesting ideas. I definitely recommend this to anyone who is open to sharing and listening to new ideas.

How do power cuts affect South African SEM's?

Posted by Jan on 25 Jan 2008

With the recent power outages we’ve been experiencing here in SA, I felt it necessary to provide some info regarding its effects on South African search engine marketing companies.

Unless there’s a big team of staff members to keep busy and therefore lose money because of loss of productivity, there really isn’t much impact on the business compared to some other industries at all, especially from a client’s point of view. That is of course assuming that there’s minimal server downtime and that power is available for at least a couple of hours a day, which it has been. There is always the issue of websites not loading due to the servers being off and this can have a serious effect on businesses choosing to host their websites on SA servers. That being said, if the client is hosting with a professional enough company, they will hopefully by now have generators or ups systems in place to ensure the uptime of their clients’ websites.

Unfortunately as SEM’s, we’re not always in control over where our clients host their websites, but in general, if websites are hosted by professional local or overseas companies, the impact of power cuts on our ability to provide a service is minimal. This is largely due to the fact that search engines don’t stop showing ads because of power cuts in SA. Search campaigns don’t need constant monitoring by humans either. The downside to that is of course that if a website is affected and the campaign manager can’t access the internet, he or she can’t switch off the campaigns and it will inevitably cost someone some money…

To summarise: Your ads will continue showing, and if your website is up and running, it will continue to receive targeted traffic, whether the company responsible for managing the campaigns have power or not.

Broad, broader, totally unrelated…

Posted by Jan on 17 Jan 2008

Is Google trying too hard to think for advertisers?

Any search engine advertiser knows that there are very good reasons for knowing exactly what search terms users are really finding your ads for. There are quite a few ways of getting this information, which is not what this discussion is about, although I might delve into that another time… For now though, all I intend to discuss is Google’s way of trying to “help” advertisers by matching terms that Google sees as related, to the actual terms advertisers choose to bid on.

When looking at the actual phrases your ads are actually showing for, you might be very surprised and even shocked. Your ads could be appearing for terms or phrases you would never dream of bidding on and that have absolutely no relevancy to your site. Best of all is that you would never even be aware of it if you don’t check your data… As we all know, there are three types of keyword match types for advertisers to choose from, namely Broad, Phrase and Exact match. The aim of this discussion is not to teach anybody about keyword match types, but rather to delve into the “Broad” match type a little.

Before I go into my explanation of broad match types, I feel it is necessary to say something about why I even use broad type keywords: When launching a new campaign, there is absolutely no way of knowing exactly what the keywords are that people are using for your specific product. Not even the most extensive keyword research can give you all the words people in your target market are using. You can get a good indication using various available tools but in order to find out what people are really using, you have to make use of broad type keywords. Using broad types can be rewarding, but could be more damaging than anything else if you don’t know what you’re doing. Combine your gathered search phrase data with your various groups by adding relevant terms and adding irrelevant terms to your negative list and you have a winning recipe. How you do that is not to be disclosed here for now… (Most good advertisers will know exactly how to anyway!)

So, what I actually want to discuss is Google’s initiative to show your ads for terms you’re not specifically bidding on. Here’s an example of what I’m referring to: Say for instance you’ve got a website selling tennis equipment. On your site you have a tennis shoe section, for which you have created a specific adgroup with specific keywords and specific ads that go to specific relevant landing pages. You might have the term “tennis shoes” as a broad match type in your keyword list as it is absolutely related to your site and specifically this section. By having this key term in your list, you would also be able to pick up and gather new terms related to tennis shoes, which will help you build and expand your keyword list. The reason I say that you should check your data every day is because even if your ads aren’t supposed to, it might also show up for searches like “sport shoes” or anything to do with sport and shoes… In some cases this could be very helpful, which is obviously the reason Google is doing it, but in other cases, it can destroy your budget if you don’t pick it up. I know that very few advertisers even use negative match types, which makes me wonder, just how many millions of dollars are spent daily on clicks by totally unqualified traffic to websites across the internet. This Google technology is called “Expanded Keyword Matching” and is only intended to show your ads for searches that are still relevant to your terms, but as I’ve been saying, that is not always the case as what Google sees as relevant to your site, is not always the same as what you might see as relevant. On the other hand, it is also this very technology that helps advertisers who know how to use their data, build and expand their keyword lists.

So how do we use this to our advantage?
By simply using the data at our disposal to regularly add relevant terms to our keyword lists and even more regularly add irrelevant terms to our negative match keyword lists. Remember to make sure you know exactly how negative matching works before you start blocking traffic to your site though…

Jan's Birthday Cake

Posted by Mandy on 15 Jan 2008

OK I know its cheesy but we couldn’t help it! Jan is after all a Google expert so when faced with the choice of which fun cake to make to celebrate his birthday it simply had to be a Google cake.

The office was happy with the extreme chocolate and caramel centre and the lindt chocolate coating…no lunch was needed!

Take a look 🙂

What would a marketing company be without a Blog?

Posted by Mandy on 15 Jan 2008

One of the challenges of being at the forefront of the world’s fastest growing media industry is that you are expected to stay abreast with the wealth of knowledge and information that is spun around on the Internet about the Internet. This mass of information pertaining to emerging trends, online demographics, changing algorithms and a plethora of new and evolved ways of marketing and advertising online is phenomenal. What really interests me though is the way that the Internet has managed to create a certain comradery and sharing of information amongst competitors. Perhaps this is owed to the fact that with any new industry, sharing of information is essential to the overall lasting success of the emerging fledgling.

Hence we return back to my title…viva la Blog! Forums and Blog’s have become an essential part of any online marketer’s world (and of course across other social and business sectors as well) in terms of discussing trends and pointing each other to good resources. With the emergence of social media I did wonder if their lifespan would be jeopardised. However, it seems that in the total Internet “network of networks” there is a place for all of our offline world to find its place online and Blogs although part of the online furniture by now do, in my opinion, offer personality to your company and play an integral part in creating online communities of shared interest and information.

So there you have it. Traffic Brand has added one more to the Blog World! May it be informative, friendly and quirky…a little like us!