- Online Marketing
A new article from eMarketer about QR codes and their slow but continuous integration into marketing programs.
Half of smartphone users have now scanned a QR code at least once, according to research from Chadwick Martin Bailey, but findings suggest marketers have still not proven their value to consumers.
As QR codes pop up in more places, awareness of them is growing, and many users seem to learn what they do before learning what they are called. Chadwick Martin Bailey found that while just 21% of internet users surveyed had heard of QR codes before, more than four in five knew one when they saw one.
QR codes are becoming hard to miss, even for those without a smartphone. Data from mobile marketing firm Nellymoser indicates that well over 90% of the top 100 magazines in the US have featured at least one mobile barcode since May 2011; as recently as November 2010, just 9% had. The proportion of ad pages in those magazines that now feature mobile barcodes hovers around 5%.
That doesn’t even touch on the presence of QR codes in outdoor advertising, in-store signage and packaging, or business cards—all among the top places smartphone users have scanned QR codes from, according to Chadwick Martin Bailey. With QR codes seemingly all around them, smartphone users’ top reason to scan one was out of simple curiosity (46%), followed by the hope for more information (41%).
GitHub: Software description: a software to manage books in the computer (C#). →
Another great article on the effects that technology on online marketing.
The number of paid search clicks being made by tablet and smartphone users has soared over the last six months, new figures show. Mobile and tablet users accounted for ten per cent of all US search ad clicks in the fourth quarter of last year, representing a doubling in click share since Q3.
Furthermore, the research from Marin Software, shows the click through rate (CTR) of search ads served on tablets was 38 per cent higher than the CTR of ads on desktops. The US Online Advertising Report is made of key findings from the firm’s Global Online Advertising Index, which is itself comprised of data from more than 1,000 large advertisers and agencies.
“In Q4 2011, we saw paid search marketers allocate a larger portion of budgets to mobile devices than ever before,” said Matt Lawson, vice-president of marketing and partnerships at Marin Software.
“Given the favourable performance characteristics of mobile advertising today, we expect this trend to continue as advertising dollars begin to chase consumer behaviour.”
However, research from Econsultancy has shown that 70 per cent of firms have not optimised their website for tablet and smartphone use, while 84 per cent are not designing marketing emails for mobile.
The Marin Software report also found that across Google, Yahoo! and Bing, paid search spend increased 35 per cent, while click volume increased 56 per cent. Most importantly for brands using mobile advertising, CTR increased 23 per cent and cost per click (CPC) decreased 14 per cent during Q4 2011 compared to the same period a year ago.
According to the authors: “The combination of improving CTRs and declining CPC, point to significant efficiency gains for advertisers over the past year.”
In addition, search advertisers on Google saw a 48 per cent increase in clicks compared to last year, without an accompanying increase in impressions. CTR on Google also increased 48 per cent, while CPC decreased seven per cent. The authors say this suggests large-scale advertisers were able to realise “efficiency gains through improved matching and more effective bidding”.
This week Google started rolling outGoogle Search Plus Your World, which — besides being the worst case of bad branding in a long time — will cause Google a lot of problems. Searchers will go elsewhere and governments will complain. Here is why.
The idea behind Google Search Plus Your World (let’s call it +World, shall we?) is good.
Personalized and social search
Google has presented personalized search results for a long time, using data from your Google GMail account (if you have one) and your web history. Google has been using these data to build you a kind of personality or interest profile, making it easier for them to deliver search results that are of interest to you personally.
If you are a computer geek, searches for “apple” are therefore more likely to bring up results on the computer company, rather than the fruit or the music company of the Beatles.
Google has also tried to enrich search results with real time data frome the social web. For at time it did, for instance, include twitter messages (tweets), which devlivered information about what is happening right now. This was definitely a good idea.
+World is an attempt to combine the two and add personalized social data to the search engine results. That should be a recipe for success. Instead we believe Google is facing a PR disaster. You see, the implementation of +World is bad, very bad.
Twitter and Facebook not on board
It is not all Google’s fault. The fact that Twitter and Google could not reach an agreement on the delivery of tweets to search results, makes it hard for Google to add Twitter data. Twitter has actually added a rel=”nofollow” tag to links in tweets, efficiently forbidding Google to follow and use those links in its algorithm.
Much of Facebook is also off limit for Google. In other words: There are strict limits to what kind of data Google can fetch from the two most popular social services in the world.
There is nothing to stop them from linking to personal profiles on Facebook and Twitter, though.
Instead Google has decided to make use of its own social network, Google+. If you have a Google+ account, you will now find a lot of links to Google+ posts and pages in your search results. (If you don’t, your soon will +World is being rolled out, but is not yet fully launched.)
When I search for “search engine marketing”, for instance, one of the top search results is a link I posted to a Pandia Wrap-up in December, which is in no way useful. Then there are a lot of links to other Google+ posts that may or may not be relevant to my search.
Phil Bailey and Danny Sullivan correctly point out that this favorisation of Google+ even appears if you turn of personalized search/+World. Instead of much more relevant links to content rich twitter and Facebook pages, you get links to less useful Google+ pages.
By adding several Google+ links to the search engine result pages, Google is in effect deluting the quality of search results, making the search engine less attractive for searchers. As Gizmodo put it: Google Just Made Bing the Best Search Engine
Allowing comments on your website is a great way to allow people to engage with you, your site, and your products. The unfortunate aspect of comments are the spam messages created as replies to post on your site.
Every day I have a 10 minute process that I go through on every website that I own, cleaning out the spammed back links. This example is 1 weeks worth of spammed back links to just one site of mine. You can see all of the comments over the course of one month. 99.9% of all comments waiting in the moderator control panel on this wordpress site are all spam placed by other people in order to create a back link to their respective site.
Often times my customers tell me that they are going to pay for back links, or their in a review of their current SEO status we discover back links created in this format. With the nature of Google’s Algorithm, poor back links not only hurt the destination site but the site the back link is posted from.
I have recently consulted with a company in Sacramento CA about this topic specifically. This customer was paying an SEO firm out of the bay area, one thousand dollars a month for Search Engine Optimization. The company wasn’t showing up on any keyword terms. It took just a few steps to establish one of the possible reasons the site didn’t show up. They had over 1,400 inbound links to the site, from site that had nothing to do with the companies offerings.
After spending more than 20 hours trying to clean up the back links, and allowing over a month for the changes to be noticed, the customers MOZ rank climbed over 2 points, and the sites SERPs were impacted positively on over 20 keyword terms.
In conclusion, it’s more important today than ever before to use quality SEO companies like Denver Media, or 29 Prime, to do your companies SEO. It’s also noteworthy to not be fooled into thinking that a $5 offer on some website will benefit your SEO in any positive way.
If you are concerned about your companies current SEO efforts please contact Chris at 720.427.3707 for a free consultation.
This past weekend, I had a friend call call me to talk about his latest SEO scheme. It was this topic specifically, he had paid five dollars for a back link program from .edu domains. I had advised him that paying for back links from a website that had nothing to do with his business wouldn’t benefit him very much after Google’s 30 pack update on January 5th. Google has become very wise to back links and the spamming that is associated with them.
On the heals of that conversation Search Engine Watch posted the following article.
The process has already started, and as a publisher you need to make sure you are adapting your marketing strategy to line up, or get left behind.
Google made the link building algorithm popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It was a revolution in its time because it provided search engines with a method for identifying the most important web pages for a given topic. However, as has been well documented, spammers have assaulted the algorithm with a wide variety of methods for buying links or creating them in other ways that don’t work for the algorithms.
Even if you generate all your links in a pure white hat way, through reaching out to site owners and requesting them without compensation, or are doing high quality guest posts, you aren’t necessarily generating the best possible signal for search engines. Certainly this type of link building done properly would not be a violation of the Webmaster Guidelines, but from the perspective of the search engines it also doesn’t represent a groundswell of opinion raving about your product. It still means something, but it is brute force driven through your efforts, rather than resulting from the enthusiasm of your audience.
I don’t believe that search engines will penalize people who link build this way, but I think they will value the link profile that is manually built less than one that obtains unsolicited endorsements from the web.
Prior to the emergence of Google, links weren’t a ranking factor in a significant search engine. At that time, any unpaid links were implemented solely based on merit, because the publisher had no other reason to link to someone else’s page. Even paid ads were based on the advertiser valuing the traffic from the target site enough to be willing to pay for it, since there was no other benefit – so these too went to highly relevant pages as a rule.
Short and simple: links were a better quality signal when the world didn’t know that they were a signal. But, those days are gone.
The search engines are constantly in search of additional signals to help provide better data on the best results to return for a given query, and to make it harder for spammers to succeed in ranking lower quality sites (lower quality than others that are available on the web). The increase in the use of social signals by the engines has been a part of that effort.
However, social signals are relatively noisy. As I documented in “Social Signals and SEO: Focus on Authority,” the number of people on the major social sites that are actively recommending sites/content is still a relatively small percentage of the population.
That same article also documented how using social media’s “wisdom of the crowd” (showing the most liked articles) was something that Bing tried, but then later removed. I believe that this happened because using social media mentions as votes in the same way that links were used did not really work, even in the limited fashion that Bing tried it.
I expect that for many categories of searches search engines will weight sites that show multiple types of signals more than those that show only one. Back in July I wrote about “The Dangers of a One Dimensional Link Building Plan.” However, in addition to not doing one type of link building, you should also be careful to not use old-fashioned link building as your only method for promoting the site. Find a way to get the web to generate other signals about what you are doing!
The first key is to focus on where your audience is (what sites they visit, what videos they watch, whose columns they read, …). Think like a pre-Internet marketer would when trying to decide how to spend their ad dollars. Ranking signals can be generated by both your potential customers and the publishers of the content on the web that they visit.
Potential customers can create signals by:
There are a lot more methods than these few!
Publishers of the content that your audience consumes can generate signals as well, in the form of good old-fashioned links. So what are the ways to encourage the generation these types of signals?
As per my recent columns, you should certainly focus on authority, and seek to become an authority. Even if you aren’t yet an authority yourself, you can do things to get your name out there to start getting exposure to authorities and to build visibility with others. Here are a few specific ideas on how you can do that:
Regardless of where you are in the process of building your own authority, do some things to attract positive attention to your website. Participating in discussions online is a great place to start. Participating in offline discussions that you can use to help drive online interactions is also a great thing to do.
The key is to create great signals in addition to the links that your site attracts.
Wikipedia: algorithm definition: a procedure for solving a mathematical problem (as of finding the greatest common divisor) in a finite number of steps that frequently involves repetition of an operation; ”’broadly”’. →
Mashable posted another great article about marketing trends for 2012.
As new technologies emerge that seek to bridge the real world with the digital, the offline-to-online marketing learning curve only gets steeper.
For instance, what is the future of the QR code, and should we prepare to be wowed by augmented reality? Read on for my mobile marketing predictions of 2012.
The Good: We’ll witness the disappearance of non-standard formats, an exponential rise in capable mobile devices, and a steady march toward improved calls-to-action spurred by more accountable analytics.
The Bad: Even though the arrival of native QR scanning in Android and/or iOS would be a boon for mainstream adoption, the move would elbow out increasingly popular third-party scanning apps and draw the ire of developers.
The Ugly: Overwhelmed by the variety of QR uses in marketing campaigns, bad “carpenters” keep blaming their tools, and repeat simple mistakes that disappoint many first-time consumer scanners.
Whether you love or hate QR codes, they’ll become progressively more ubiquitous and useful as they mature from hype to marketing line item.
The Good: Thanks to the exponential rise of capable mobile devices, a few AR campaigns will successfully break through to capture mainstream imaginations. And despite the highly proprietary nature of most AR, efforts like Aurasma‘s will continue striving to build scalable platforms.
The Bad: Similar to QR’s initial reception, the wider availability of easy AR creation tools will result in many more uninspired efforts, disappointing first-time users. The situation is further exacerbated by the broad definition of what “augmented reality” is and by uncertain consumer expectations.
The Ugly: The challenge of consistently retaining consumer attention beyond initial novelty (especially if a leading provider doesn’t emerge) threatens to relegate AR marketing to a modern flop.
In the absence of a dominant AR mobile marketing app, a plurality of contenders will fight to attain precious network effects, all the while searching for the “sticky” use cases and supporting performance metrics that result in repeat usage.
The Good: Even though mobile wallets have held the spotlight, competition among providers hastens hardware penetration for mobile marketing opportunities, like the ability to swap SIM cards for NFC in lieu of upgrading one’s entire device. Early campaigns will appear in tandem with QR codes.
The Bad: Total NFC mobile penetration will remain below critical mass for mainstream deployments, constraining good campaigns to tightly focused areas, while exposing poorly conceived campaigns with less reach to critical scorn.
The Ugly: As competition escalates among mobile wallet hopefuls like Google Wallet, ISIS, and their respectively exclusive carriers, cross-compatibility of NFC standards across mobile devices will be threatened.
The competitive landscape of mobile payments in 2012 will play a large role in either accelerating or forestalling NFC’s mobile marketing future.
These days, most business owners and entrepreneurs are aware that they need to incorporate the internet and its associated strategies to remain competitive and indeed, simply to remain in business at all. However, after years at the cutting edge of internet marketing and assisting clients from small business to multi-national corporate organisations, I am still surprised just how many of them consider their internet strategies to be separate from their business’ marketing strategy and, indeed their overall business plan.
Internet marketing does not exist separately to your other business lead generation and customer service models. It should co-exist and complement every other marketing exercise you do. Similarly, there is little point having a fantastic and highly effective lead generation strategy to your website, if you fail to pick up the phone when all your new clients call to buy from you. Believe it or not, I have seen this happen.
When it comes to devising your business plan and incorporating internet marketing as part of it, it pays to go back and revisit the basics in business, as these indeed are important. Revisiting the basic business formula will help you determine which online strategies to use.
The most basic aim of business – any business – is to make a profit. If yours doesn’t aim to make a profit, then it’s not a business, it’s a hobby or a charity. Simple as that. Notice I said aim to make a profit. Obviously not all businesses do make a profit.
I like to consider that business consists of five main elements:
As long as you concentrate on these five elements to your business, you should expect a profit at the end of the month. When we put them together, what we come up with is in effect the formula for running a successful business.
If we take the number of leads we get each month and multiply that by the conversion rate, we get we get the number of customers we have. Then, by multiplying this number by the average number of transactions they each do and multiply that number by the average number of dollars they spend, we arrive at our total average turnover. Then, by multiplying that number by the margin, we get our profit.
This is what that formula looks like:
Leads x Conversion Rate = Customers x No. of Transactions x Average Dollar Sale = Turnover x Margin = Profit.
By concentrating on and improving each of the elements to this basic formula, you will dramatically improve your eventual profit. How you go about doing that depends largely upon your own personal desires as well as the industry you are operating in. For instance, you may not enjoy door knocking, so don’t use this strategy to gain more leads. Similarly, you wouldn’t use TV advertising if you wanted to reach dog owners in your suburb. Nor would you consider using Google AdWords if you wanted to reach pensioners who played Bingo in your neighbourhood.
This is the formula you need to always keep in mind when planning, carrying out and monitoring your internet marketing strategy, that forms part of your business plan. Ask yourself how your internet marketing is affecting the number of clients placING enquiries, whether they buy from you and the amount they spend each time.
This is exactly what I did when I first become involved in the world of internet marketing to grow my own business. My first experience with pay-per-click (PPC) marketing was during my efforts to ramp up bookings for my corporate magic business. At the time, I was using the traditional methods to market my business and reach my target market, such as the local print directory for Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, visits to agents, sending out flyers as well as anything else I could conjure up to generate bookings so I could feed my family and pay the bills. My marketing efforts were having a small impact on my bottom line, so much so that I wasn’t able to survive. Then I came across the Yahoo Search Marketing Platform and everything changed. Within a month of putting ads up on the search engines my business was profitable! Almost immediately I began generating a steady flow of enquiries and bookings and best of all I didn’t need to knock on doors or lick stamps. All I needed to do was wait!
GitHub: Software description: a software to manage books in the computer (C#). →
(Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s command center routinely monitors dozens of popular websites, including Facebook, Twitter, Hulu, WikiLeaks and news and gossip sites including the Huffington Post and Drudge Report, according to a government document.
A “privacy compliance review” issued by DHS last November says that since at least June 2010, its national operations center has been operating a “Social Networking/Media Capability” which involves regular monitoring of “publicly available online forums, blogs, public websites and message boards.”
The purpose of the monitoring, says the government document, is to “collect information used in providing situational awareness and establishing a common operating picture.”
The document adds, using more plain language, that such monitoring is designed to help DHS and its numerous agencies, which include the U.S. Secret Service and Federal Emergency Management Agency, to manage government responses to such events as the 2010 earthquake and aftermath in Haiti and security and border control related to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia.
A DHS official familiar with the monitoring program said that it was intended purely to enable command center officials to keep in touch with various Internet-era media so that they were aware of major, developing events to which the Department or its agencies might have to respond.
The document outlining the monitoring program says that all the websites which the command center will be monitoring were “publicly available and… all use of data published via social media sites was solely to provide more accurate situational awareness, a more complete common operating pictures, and more timely information for decision makers…”
The DHS official said that under the program’s rules, the department would not keep permanent copies of the internet traffic it monitors. However, the document outlining the program does say that the operations center “will retain information for no more than five years.”
The monitoring scheme also features a five-page list, attached to the privacy review document, of websites the Department’s command center expected to be monitoring.
These include social networking sites Facebook and My Space – though there is a parenthetical notice that My Space only affords a “limited search” capability – and more than a dozen sites that monitor, aggregate and enable searches of Twitter messages and exchanges.
Among blogs and aggregators on the list are ABC News’ investigative blog “The Blotter;” blogs that cover bird flu; several blogs related to news and activity along U.S. borders (DHS runs border and immigration agencies); blogs that cover drug trafficking and cybercrime; and websites that follow wildfires in Los Angeles and hurricanes.
News and gossip sites on the monitoring list include popular destinations such as the Drudge Report, Huffington Post and “NY Times Lede Blog”, as well as more focused techie fare such as the Wired blogs “Threat Level” and “Danger Room.” Numerous blogs related to terrorism and security are also on the list.
Technology evolves so quickly that it’s difficult to say what 2012 will hold for us. However, there is one concept that I believe will not only transform the advertising and communications landscape, but keep it fluid in order to keep up with the dynamism of the economy and technology – integration.
Innovation within the online advertising sphere has increased exponentially over the past few years. 2012 will be about integration, better understanding of the use of new media and using the various media options together to better reach and communicate with consumers.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to define advertising in terms of channels. It is not the channel through which we consume advertising that is important but rather the content we choose to consume that is important.
After years of ‘channels’ competing to deliver impressions, it seems 2012 will finally be the year that video advertising delivered telephonically or via broadcast transmissions, satellite or fibre optics will co-exist and complement each other.
Video advertising has a strong and healthy future – one only needs to look at the massive success brands have achieved by projecting their advertising into the ether through portals such as YouTube – Old Spice, VW and Nike, to name but a few.
I believe 2012 will be the year when content is embraced and when it is accepted that technology simply provides a means to generate a viewing audience.
It is largely expected that the digital (including mobile) and experiential sectors will yield great future growth. During 2011, we saw a gradual move by clients back to full-service integrated agencies, especially those incorporating digital and experiential in their overall offering.
Such diversity within agencies is being heralded as the answer to agency survival – without the complete erosion of the entire industry.
We have seen the social media sphere explode in the past year and expect to see it becoming increasingly integrated into our marketing strategies.
According to Dreamgrow.com, social media marketing will not be a separate activity but rather one facet of an overall marketing plan. Much like SEO or email marketing, social media will be another valuable tool in the box.
I believe we will also see large-scale integration of social media content into digital properties. Brands will use social media and user-generated content (UGC) to get closer to customers.
The annual trends forecast speaks of a “new normal”, whereby more brands in more categories will open up entry points for extremely cost-sensitive consumers. Marketers will find new opportunities in creating stripped-down offerings, smaller sizes and otherwise, more accessible products and services.
Also highlighted as one of many trends for 2012 is that some corporations are shifting their business models to integrate social issues as part of their core strategies. The aim is to create shared value, a concept that reflects the growing belief that generating a profit and achieving social progress are not mutually exclusive goals.
Mobile advertising is continuously growing as more people use smart phones and depend on their mobile phones for just about every source of entertainment. As mobile advertising grows and matures, it seems to be undergoing the same evolution that online advertising once went through as well. However, it seems that mobile advertising is going through such an evolution at an accelerate rate, much faster than online advertising.
One of the recent developments has been a launch of private advertisement exchanges which help publishers work with some of the top brand advertisers and create an arena in which both parties are able to do business with one another.
Medialets, a mobile media advertising firm, is launching Medialets Private Marketplace, which is a platform that allows advertisers to plan out and buy from the collection of top publishers off of the Midealets’ services instead of having to go toward the traditional advertising networks instead. This marketplace was designed with convenience in mind because it makes it easier for those who buy ads to purchase certain impressions and know exactly where their advertisements will be placed.
In the meantime, publishers will have the opportunity to sell much more of their inventory, aside from direct sales and they will still have control over which brands they plan to buy. The publishers will be able to set a specific price for impression and make sure they are associated with some of the top quality brands. At least 40 premium publishers are already signed up on Medialets Private Marketplace with plans of selling inventory.
The CEO of Medialets, Eric Litman, has said, “The intent is this helps publisher hold onto the value of their inventory better because inventory is fully transparent to buyers. Advertisers know they’re buying on one publication as opposed to another, and it allows publications to distinguish themselves rather than being aggregated.”
During the month of December, Nexage managed to launch a private advertisement exchange for mobile which is supposed to help the premium publishers with selling inventory and selecting certain brand advertisers. Because private mobile advertisement exchanges are taking place, it shows that mobile advertising is definitely maturing and growing. Online advertising tools are being easily utilized for mobile advertising as well.
GitHub: Software description: a software to manage books in the computer (C#). →