I lot of people wrote or called me asking what the Titanic item that I outbid billionaire Steve Forbes looked like. So, here's the Titanic coal item. The original post is below.
So, if you haven't figured out by now I'm a huge Bruce Springsteen fan and have been for a long time (1983). However, with Bruce's change in music direction to a folksy one with the release of the We Shall Overcome:The Seeger Sessions, I found myself on the outside looking in on this Springsteen period. Gone are the rushes to the store to buy the CD before its official release, the endless games of trying to score good tickets, and the hours spent on my favorite Springsteen fan site Greasylake. Almost all of my friends feel the same way and then I started wondering, what impact this change in direction has had on the rest of Springsteen's fan base. So, I went about this the way I could using whatever online data I could find at my fingertips.
My first visit was to Google Trends to see what the search activity looks like. However, because the data only goes back to 2004, I can't see what the long term trend looks like. However, judging from what is there, it looks like Bruce's trend has been level except for the Vote for Change Tour and the recent spike around the Seeger Sessions. One thing you can see is that the recent spike is not as large as the VFC one and now looks like he is returning to normal levels.
Next visit was to Alexa to look at reach of the three best sites - Greasylake, Backstreets.com, and brucespringsteen.net. The Alexa data was a little more interesting because I can track back to 2002. What does it show? Well for Greasylake, Backstreets, and brucespringsteen.net it shows a drop off in traffic with the most pronounced dip on backstreets.com which looks like a Roger Clemens split-finger fastball falling off the table.
Ok, so the traffic is definitely lower on all of the main sites and one could assume so is the search activity. However, I was still missing the final piece of the puzzle which was whether there was a change in the fan base.
Enter my final stop which was Bill Tancer over at Hitwise. I asked Bill to take a look at the data hoping he was a Springsteen fan (or at least a casual fan) and you know what, Bill published a great report over at his blog called Springsteen: The Boss Goes Folksy. I won't steal Bill's thunder too much, but he looked at Backstreets.com's website visitor profile from last year and compared it to this year. He found that Springsteen's fan base has indeed shifted from an Urban Core profile to an Elite Suburban/Midtown Mix. Very interesting.
So, traffic is down across the board as is search activity for the change in music direction. Also, it appears that the current fan base is not made up of the working class people and is more elitist. My guess is that the activity drop-off was probably planned, but what shocked me the most was the shift to the elite suburban mix due to folk music. I guess the people that enjoy folk music are not the down to earth people you would have guess and instead seem to have a lot of money. Hmmm, I wonder what their political profile would be???
On Saturday, Mary, the kids, and I went to an event at the Forbes Estate in Bedminster NJ for the ForbesLife Magazine and we had an absolute blast. There were hot air balloon rides for us, great BBQ food, sponsors, and a silent auction to benefit the Salvation Army. Plus, we were able to walk the grounds, see the Forbes motorcycle collection, and the kids were able to play with some of the outdoor toys. Even with the heat it was a great day.
During the silent auction Steve Forbes bid on 3 items and only one of them I showed an interest in which was a signed framed collector's collage of a piece of coal from the Titanic with Robert Ballard's signature who discovered the wreckage. So, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to stake my meager earnings versus Mr. Forbes. As time went on I was the only one with a bid against him and I ended up winning the item.
I couldn't resist walking up to him and apologizing for outbidding him which he replied - "oh, I just did that to get the bidding going." Yes readers, I already knew that, but how many of you have proof that you got into a bidding war with and as my son said after meeting him, a billionaire and WON!!!
I also couldn't resist asking him who he thinks the front runner is for the 2008 election and he replied with a smile, John McCain. I then followed up and asked him what he thinks McCain's chances are and he said pretty good as long as he can overcome any resistance from the republican base (all just fun and hardly an endorsement).
Thanks for the good times Mr. Forbes and hopefully we didn't ruin your front (or was it back) lawn. Anytime you are up my way, feel free to stop by my home in Long Valley and check out the framed Titanic coal in my den. I'll even put a couple of Chester Meat Market porterhouse steaks on the grill for us to share.
I know I have an OnlineGuy post, but I just watched this video on how to create your own Ghetto BigMac for around $1 and it is AWESOME. It consists of ordering a double cheese burger with special sauce, onions and a sesame seed bun and then slapping some fries on it. I'm sure McDonalds is having a fit. This might make me order a burger there for the first time in 2 years.
Thanks to my friend Art who told me I may have a career with these stories (I doubt it but I have fun), I'll try and make this a weekly post. Anyway, back to our hero who finds himself in a conversation with his account rep whom he has known for many years.
OnlineGuy - Look you know how much we've liked your work over the years, but lately the quality has started to slip.
CluelessAE - Really I hadn't noticed a problem.
OnlineGuy - We'll we had a new price point for our Widget and instead of showing the price going down, you had it going up. Then nobody caught it, we trafficked it, and it went live.
CluelessAE - Well you guys do the trafficking so you should have caught it.
OnlineGuy - Ummm, no but lets not harp on that. The big problem was that my CMO caught the ad live on YouGoogle and remember she had problems with your agency going back a few months when the email QA suffered.
CluelessAE - Well, you took us off of email so I don't understand why you are bringing this up again.
OnlineGuy - Right. Well, I'm giving you a heads up that we are going to start an agency review.
CluelessAE - What?
OnlineGuy - Yes. She has had enough of the mistakes. We love the work and the creatives, but their are too many errors. However, we want you in the pitch process as one of the finalists.
CluelessAE - I doubt it. The incumbents never win, we'll probably pass on this.
OnlineGuy - Look I'm not supposed to say this, but we just want you to come back in and fix the QA of the ads. That's it. You don't even need creative work, just a plan for putting back on the good staff and correcting errors.
CluelessAE - You guys are serious, you really are going to a RFP? I don't know, incumbents never win. Look instead of doing that how about we put a new QA manager on the account? Things will get better you'll see.
OnlineGuy - We've already tried that. Look she is pissed at me and said "you can't defend these guys any more. This time they made you and your team look bad."
CluelessAE - Well, at least let us help you write the RFP.....
Widely reported all over the internet, Google is providing visibility into the number of fraudulent clicks and the click fraud % which I think is a good first step.
If you run a campaign or account performance report, you can generate the overall click fraud number. However, I wish they went a step further and provided the data at the keyword level because Google knows as well as any advertiser that there are probably some words that provide the majority of clicks; these fraudulent clicks are the ones that Google figures out and doesn't charge the advertisers. I wonder how much Google misses.
So, I decided to check the search campaigns I manage, including my own and here's what I found. The period is from January 1st through July 24th and remember Google did not charge for the fraud clicks it identifies:
That's it. Good luck with your click fraud data. I really wish they added in click fraud data by keyword..
Eric (links to articles below)
Two interesting article from the past week that I doubt you read. One was from the Personal Democracy Forum that critiqued myGOP pages and the second was from the LATimes that looked at the future of political advertising including podcasting, viral marketing, and wireless marketing. Both of these articles got me thinking about which way things are going to go heading into 2008. I'll share my views in a second, but let me comment on the two first so you can get a feel for where I'm heading.
The critique of myGOP is a little off base because it bases the entire argument around how much money has been raised. First of all, it is a little too early to judge whether it is a success or failure because as we head into August everyone but political junkies take some time off. Second, myGOP is a little more than just raising money. It is a place for people to build communities, socially interact, push GOP/RNC messages, and communicate with the friends and family. Sure it is probably geared toward younger folks, but I think as a platform it is heading in the right Web 2.0 direction and more likely what you'll see heading into 2008.
The LATimes article on the other hand was filled with a lot of ideas that are probably far off into the horizon. Podcasting, maybe if you want to listen to messages, but wireless mobile marketing? That sounds like just the ticket to wireless spam. Can you imagine getting a call or a video stream while you are sitting down to eat? As someone that marketed wireless service for AT&T, it is all about instant gratification and instant on. You want to send a wireless message, it should be when you are ready for people to take action - like GET OUT AND VOTE FOR ME. Raising donations, downloadable video, etc on your wireless phone is probably a lot further out for most voters especially with the aging of America.
So, where do I see things going heading into 2008. I think we are going back to the future. I think campaigns are going to embrace the internet not just as a test bed to hit a certain segment, but as a viable alternative and sometimes as a compliment to offline advertising. Look, not all voters are glued online. Certain segments (think baby boomers and older) still watch the local news program; others like myself wouldn't be caught dead unless they are waiting to catch a rerun of Seinfeld at 11PM. Youth voters will be into podcasting, wireless downloads, MySpace (ugh) pages, etc. I know one thing about politicians after working with major campaigns for 7 months, they are experts at segmenting their lists. So here's what I think you'll see going into 2008:
1) A merger of offline and online ads so that online doesn't look like a bunch of 12 year olds put the ads together. The ads will be in sync and will have streaming video.
2) More emphasis on social marketing either in the form of myGOP pages or Wikis where people can have an ongoing conversation.
3) Greater emphasis on the role of left and right wing bloggers to sway opinion and push out controlled content, even if they are paid.
4) Basic blocking and tackling on online advertising including search, targeted banners buys, and email. There are several campaigns that we have live that are quite large and we are just beginning to understand the ROI metrics behind a political online buy.
5) More links between email CRM and online advertising including more micro/behavioral targeting.
Wireless political marketing, I think you'll be waiting along time for that just as the online brokerage industry is still waiting on wireless stock trading to take off. Search, banner, email, brand awareness are what you'll see more of heading into 2008. Who knows, maybe a presidential campaign will spend 10% of their media buy on the internet.
Here you go fans, some of my favorite links from the past few days.
Ok, so I've been reading Mark Cuban's blog for a while and I usually find his non-basketball posts interesting especially the one he posted the other day called The Movie Business Challenge. The post starts off with this line "This is an open challenge. You come up with a solution, you get a job. Seriously." and continues with the challenge:
"Only HDNet takes more time out my day than trying to solve this problem. Its the holy grail of the movie business. How do you get people out of the house to see your movie without spending a fortune. How can you convince 5 million people to give up their weekend and go to a theater to see a specific movie without spending 60mm dollars."
I have to admit I was interested enough, not to get a job, but just to throw my hat in the ring to see if I can come out with a reasonable solution (more on my solution later). The first comment came in soon after the post on 7/23 at 10:41 PM and I checked in at #30 on 7/24 at 12:26 AM. Well now as of 7/24 at 9:49 PM he has over 300 comments. Now I'm not saying my post was pure genius, but I at least gave it some thought and tried to keep it short. However, most of the 300 comments are pure garbage (you can surf through them) and I sure hope he has some good people going through them and weeding out the more serious responses if they were posted there at all.
So, Cuban turns the apprentice model on its ear and turns to his blog community for ideas which is what I think is pure genius. What does he lose? Nothing but wading through the comments. And, I'm sure those comments are going to grow as more people spread the news of the post.
Why would people make a post if they have a good idea? Well for me I took the tact of a resume post figuring there will be a lot of traffic and if I can make the next cut, if there is such a thing, then I'll flesh out my idea some more. Otherwise, I didn't waste too much time. Think you can come up with an idea? Mine had a mix of upgrading Hollywood Stock Exchange, with an Amazon targeting model and a eBay movie rating system.
Eric (my solution continues on the link below).
Back by popular demand, the Adventures of Online Guy returns this time in a battle of life and death between himself and DM Gal. DM Gal of course reports to the villain from the previous adventure, Trad Gal.
DMGal - Hey online guy. We need to talk about your tracking.
OnlineGuy - Hold on a second. I need to finish this report.
DMGal - No we need to talk now especially before you publish that crappy report. We need to talk about your tracking and how you are stealing my widget sales.
OnlineGuy - Steal your widget sales? Listen, I haven't stolen anything unless of course if you count the time I rang up organic bananas as regular bananas in the self check out line.
DMGal - No you are stealing sales. You are counting all sales including what you call latent as yours. And, your latent sales are mine because I dropped a direct mail piece in the last month.
OnlineGuy - Look, just because I can count people that view or clicked on an ad and then within the next 30 days make a widget sale, doesn't mean I should ignore. Besides, what makes you think they are your sales? I spoke with my friend Barry over in customer care and they are still waiting for the first 10 calls from your crappy direct mail piece.
DMGal - Well because it isn't fair. You don't know for sure they bought a widget because of your advertising.
OnlineGuy - Well they clicked on an ad, went to our website which my group runs, and made a sale. Sounds like it belongs to me. Besides, maybe if your direct mail piece included a call action besides an inbound telemarketing number you could have counted more sales.
DMGal - Ummmm
OnlineGuy - And, don't forget I begged you to include an URL and your agency refused saying they didn't like the look of it in the piece. Maybe you should yell at them for a bad creatives and lousy targeting.
DMGal - well, <cough> maybe I could talk....
OnlineGuy - How about the next time you drop a DM piece we create a unique, short URL for your traffic and then you can get credit for any latent sales that visit the page. Also, we should discuss targeting strategy.....
So, my family vacation in Avalon, NJ is over and that's the reason for the infrequent posts over the last two weeks. We had internet access courtesy of my Verizon Wireless phone after a work around, but my wife thought I was on the laptop too much so I couldn't make a lot of posts. However, it did give me a chance to think about formats for this website and why people come here to read what I have to say.
First thing I noticed when I didn't make a lot of posts was that instead of the 150-200 page view per day I normally received, I dropped down to 50 -100 page views. Those 50 page views were mostly a result of people googling (notice the use of the verb) on subjects and not the people that normally come to the website by directly typing in the url. Thank goodness for good content.
Then I went to Wegmans today which is a really upscale super market with one located in Bridgewater, NJ. It is not upscale because of the everyday goods that you can purchase, but the first few sections that include a butcher, fish market, bakery, sushi, kosher foods, and etc. So, besides the food, you also notice the self promotion of being the 1st or 2nd best place to work. Then it dawned on me that even Wegman s knows the value of content. Sure Wegmans content comes in the form of food and the people that work there, but it is their form of content. So what does this mean to my website. Well a lot.
That's it. Thanks for hanging in there with me over the past two weeks. Welcome back.
Thanks to Bill Tancer from Hitwise, he once again published a list of Google's most used URLs and surprise it really is all about search or almost 90%. All of those neat tools that Google puts out like Finance, Checkout, Spreadsheets, etc are not moving the needle just yet. Also, Google's share of the US internet market is hovering around 4.2% which is quite an achievement.
Why is this interesting? Well, just the other day Yahoo's stock got pounded and one of the prime reasons sited was the delay of their much needed upgrade to their search platform. You can read all about it in the WSJ article called Yahoo Tumbles on Earnings.
Does Yahoo need to upgrade their search platform? Most definitely. However, as you read through that article you can see how much importance the analysts put on the upgrade. I'm not sure that's quite fair. Sure the platform can be upgraded but as long as you know your way around it, it really isn't that bad. And, it is not like the platform today is stopping advertisers from running good campaigns in there.
They have a much tougher editorial review than Google's; I've personally had campaigns rejected that then required manual review to get approval. It is just not PPC advertisers that drive usage of a search platform, it is the overall search results returned and Yahoo still maintains very stringent editorial review to keep up the quality.
That's it. Sorry about the infrequent posts, but we've been down at our shore house in Avalon and Mary doesn't like me on the computer all of the time!!
In the article called How Vonage Funds Spyware, Ben Edelman proves how Vonage's massive, and as I've written before, wasteful online advertising campaign is funding spyware companies. According to Ben Edelman:
Now I'm sure that Vonage does not want to be involved with these spyware companies. However, with the amount of money I'm guessing that they pay per month, they need to do a much better job of controlling this. In the posts I referenced above, they are not doing a very good job on ROI for the advertising dollars and that was before their IPO that raised money for even more advertising.
Look, I have run very large online campaigns - not $20 million per month - but very large and I was never accused of being involved with spyware companies. Sure you have to watch where you appear in content, PPC networks, and CPA vendors but there is no excuse for not having a good handle on where your ads are appearing. The money they are spending and the lack of visibility into this just fuels spyware companies.
Come on Vonage, you can do better than this. Here's what I would do if I was running that campaign:
Regarding point 5 above, if this means that there is a maximum threshold you can spend per month in banner advertising that is less than the money you are wasting today, then that's ok. Personally, I believe that each company has a point of advertising diminishing returns and with the amount of money you've been spending over the past few years, I'm sure you can figure out what that amount is. So, scale it back instead of wasting money. Try spending it in other ways - more creative advertising (online or offline), CRM, promotions, anything else but pouring money down the spyware toilet.
You have enough $$$ to force more visibility. So use your marketing $$$ and clout to change the game. That is what I did with a lot less money.
So, I logged on this morning to check on Google for my mother (every day on vacation I get the question of how is Google doing - $403.50) and I noticed that Yahoo Finance has a slightly new look. The new Finance page has links to videos, new charting, enhancements to the message boards, and the ability to download a widget to put charting on your website (see below).
First with the video. I haven't been able to view them because I'm on a slower connection speed ever since I migrated to our shore house, but I think streaming video for financial news is a great move. As a 5 year veteran of financial services, everyone has TV programs regarding the financial markets, so bundling Yahoo's news and quotes with video is a good move. According to CNET, the videos are from ABC.com, Forbes.com, CNN.com, and Smartmoney and are picked by editors. Nice move especially for the smaller content plays like Forbes and ABC.
The charting changes are especially welcome, because I personally used Yahoo for charts. Now you can add in competitors, customize the date range, as well as add in events. Nice. Nothing real earth shattering, but pretty decent if you are researching a stock in Yahoo.
Finally, the most abrupt change was to the message boards which is really Yahoo! Finance's key differentiator, if you are into them. In fact, when you hit a link to read the boards, you get a landing page introducing you to the changes. The changes include rating the posts, sorting on ratings, easier to follow exchanges, and better search. These are all welcome changes, although there are already complaints from heavy users. Besides getting used to the interface (look change is good), I'm sure they are upset when it comes to the ratings. Now, all of these crappy posts can be filtered out and they can lose their audience.
I say it is about time Yahoo made changes to the boards. Look, I'd never advocate buying or selling a stock based on the information there, but it is useful tool to see what other are saying - kind of like a virtual water cooler. Now, with one click you can get rid of lower rated posts. Sure, someone will figure out how to game it, but now it will take a few friends to increase your rating. The community at large will take care of the filter.
Finally, all of the changes kept the advertisers in mind with plenty of positions, buttons, and creative units. I think it is a welcome change, especially the upgraded message boards. Nicely done Richard K.
CMO of Widget Co - Ok, let's get the meeting started to discuss promoting the New Widget 100. First, let's go around the table and see how everyone is making progress. Traditional Gal, you go first.
Trad Gal - Ok we have billion dollars to spend on TV commercials starting Tuesday night on Nascar and hundreds of millions of dollars to spend on print started with Monday's the Mall Street Journal.
Online Guy - Why are we advertising in print again?
Trad Gal - Well through research from our traditional agency we know that a significant portion of the people that we think may buy the New Widget 100 also read the Mall Street Journal. Besides, really big CEO reads it everyday and he wants to see our ads.
CMO - Why online guy? You have any issues with that?
Online Guy - Well yes. The last time we ran print ads we saw no impact on any INTERNET metrics or any sales metrics. Seems like a waste to me.
CMO - Well we've always run it there and besides you know how our executives like the newspaper. Enough of this because we are running short on time. Trad Gal, how are you going to measure the billions we are spending.
Trad Gal - We are going to spend about $150K to do three waves of pre, post, postal and any other kind of brand studies we can think of in about 200 markets so we can measure the impact and the the unaided brand awareness. Plus, I already met with finance over cocktails last night and they agreed to setup the finance tracking so that we can take credit for any changes in our numbers. Finally, hoping Online Guy can give me credit for any impacts he sees.
Online Guy - Err, I'll have to look at the data week over week, look at click rates, conversion rates, promotion code tracking, visits to the websites, and...
CMO - Well can you do it by tomorrow? You know how important this is to me.
Online Guy - It will take some time. You know I have a lot of data to go through, plus my own...
CMO - Great. How are are doing in PR....Events.....Branches.....(same scenario repeats itself until we get to online). Ok Online Guy what's your plan and quick we only have 5 minutes left until our PR agency takes us out to lunch.
Online Guy - Well I have a few hundred thousand to spend on paid search, Yahoo, and...
Trad Gal - Paid search? What about all of that click fraud I've been reading about.
CMO - Trad Gal we don't have time for this right now. Online Guy, Trad Girl is right, can you cut back on your overall budget by about 25% and still hit your same objectives.
Online Guy - Well wait a minute I haven't even gone through the rest of my plan and no, I can't....
CMO - Great, great. Look I have to run to lunch. Sorry to cut you off, but you are out of time. Just make sure you can track everything that we need, especially the TV advertising. We wouldn't want to waste any money on online advertising.
Sound familiar? Of course this meeting was made up and never occurred when I was working in corporate America. What it does illustrate is one of my new pet peeves with advertising today. Why is online advertising held to such a higher standard when it comes to metrics?
Well, it seems that Google's CEO Eric Schmidt has gotten Mark Cuban fired up over comments Schmidt made on click fraud. Now, I've written numerous times on how to protect yourself versus click fraud by tracking your post click action and minimizing the use of content targeting where the real fraud occurs. So, when I read Cuban's post I was not too sympathetic, but through his ranting and raving he has a point.
Sure the examples he gives for Chevy and Disney are bad examples because those companies could care less about the fraud because they are not tracking through to a post-click action. They know there is fraud, but assume that it is the cheapest way to buy traffic, so the only thing finding fraud would do would be to stretch their ad dollars. However, when I stumbled across this post courtesy of John Battelle's blog, I have a slightly different view.
According to this ZDnet article called Google CEO on click fraud: let it happen, it seems that Google is going to rely on good old fashioned economics to filter out click fraud, assuming that a savvy advertisers will drop their bids down when they know they have a problem. Now, while this is essentially the strategy that I've been outlining, the big companies that Cuban mentioned will pay the click fraud and move on. Who benefits from this? Google and any other PPC advertiser in their revenue and stock price.
Now I always thought that Google would take this seriously, but according to the ZDNet post, Google engineers think it is "great fun to try and get ahead of click fraud." So, while my comments are still the same, I think Google should make fighting click fraud a priority and not something to play around with.
Google and Yahoo, up until recently, were the only companies I would run PPC advertising with. In the past, PPC resulted in a lot of clicks and no conversions as my experience with Gator showed. I usually avoided them. CPA won't fix this problem because you need a lot of "A" to make it work for both sides of the advertising equation. The only way to solve this is to put Google's Engineers on the job instead of trying to deploy another version of Microsoft Excel. Otherwise, Google will end up swallowed up by a click fraud Gator.
So, it is time for my annual summer vacation in Avalon NJ and I had a problem. I thought we were renting a home with broadband access, but my wife selected one without it. I need broadband access because unlike past vacations when I worked for corporate America, I'm planning on working through part of the vacation. So, I decided to bite the bullet and look for some equipment to connect my laptop to my Treo 700W with Verizon's Wireless Broadband access.
My first problem was I could no longer find any links to pick up the equipment. Plus, I read somewhere that Verizon disabled a feature on the phone to prevent connecting to it to save on usage. That's the first problem. I'm already paying for broadband access with a phone totaling $180 per month (includes 2 family plans). So, with the monthly access for broadband and voice minutes you'd think they would love for me to use the networks. Not so. I am still upset by that; that's some customer service. Can you hear me now? I'm a pissed off, high paying customer.
So I figured out a work around, by searching for DUN Treo700W in Google and it took me to a link for PDANet software that allows you to connect your laptop to your Treo 700W's wireless broadband access using nothing more than your cable.
It cost me $34, but this work around is great. Unlike the reviews, I've yet to surf at DSL speeds, most likely due to my locations, but right now I'm connected at 2.4M/s which isn't bad. I can get email and browse most web pages, but it is a little slow to render some pages. Plus, video is spotty so it is not worth watching.
It is too bad that Verizon disabled the link. Why shouldn't I be allowed to surf the wireless broadband network? Don't I already pay enough for service? Now, I paid some group of programmers $34 to reactivate my access. At least the internet community came up with a solution. Can you hear me now? Wise up Verizon.
Here's today's marketing rapid fire. There were so many interesting articles out there, so here goes:
Do you think that right before the last T-Rex died that he knew it was over or did it just become a pre-historic ostrich, sticking his head in the dirt that would soon become our oil? That's what I think when I read this article over at MediaPost called ABC Looks Beyond Upfront to DVR, Commercial Ratings Issues which includes an interview with ABC's President of Advertising Sales Mike Shaw.
Does anyone really believe this strategy of forcing people to watch ads? I guess Mike Shaw can't wait for Phillips to build a TV that is commercial proof. My guess is he would give it away to boost sales. Seriously, do you know anyone that doesn't ignore or fast forward through commercials unless they are being aired on the SuperBowl?
Too busy to read the article? How about these kernels of wisdom:
Look I'm getting sick just typing those quotes. It is a warped sense of strategy. Why not handcuff people to their couches and force them to watch lousy commercials so ABC can sell at a premium. Look, people avoid ads all of the time even without having to skip them. People read books, get something to drink, and even surf the internet.
Whether you are selling advertising space on TV, radio, or the internet it is all about content. If the content is better than you'll have an audience and if the ads are interesting people will pay attention. The fact is people have been ignoring ads for years, it is only now that marketers can measure how often they are being skipped, so that cats out of the bag.
Welcome to the digital enabled world of 2006. Perhaps someone should remind ABC that you need to adapt or you'll end up in someone's fuel tank.
Ugh - there is even more information and posts on click fraud. I guess people like to pile on when they think they have someone on the ropes like they think they have Google. All of this is emanating from the Outsell report I mentioned in yesterday's article on click fraud.
Take for example this post written over at ClickZ called Report: Advertisers Turned Off By Click Fraud, Reduce Spending and it bases that title on the survey contained in the study that said that as many as 27% of advertisers would reduce their spending. Wow that seems like a lot and if that happens surely that would impact Google's sales right? And, if it impacted Google's sales then you would seem some hit in stock price right? You know what? The market blew that off as well as you should.
Speaking of that ClickZ article, it goes on to discuss CPA (cost per acquisition or action) marketing and that it could replace CPC advertising and goes onto mention that Google is testing CPA.
For certain advertisers CPA will work, for others it is no holy grail. I bought a TON of CPA deals while I was Managing Director of Channel Marketing for Harrisdirect. The key to CPA deals are that they: a) deliver enough volume to you and b) deliver enough money to the advertiser. CPA deals are not about screwing over the advertisers, because you know what happens if your campaign doesn't perform? You guessed it true believers, you get dropped in favor of something else. I'm proud to say that my CPA deals were never renegotiated and the only reason I stopped any was due to a low amount of sales from the particular site.
You think you have Google on the ropes with click fraud and CPA deals? You don't. If your CPA deal doesn't deliver the underlying minimum CPM (yes I wrote CPM) that Google expects, you'll get dropped faster than you can spell MSN.
Wow more information out there on click fraud. It might make you want to run away from search engine marketing and put more of your money, as Steve Rubel wrote, into PR. I think this is just playing on marketers fears because if the only thing you are measuring is clicks to your website then you really open up yourself to click fraud.
The research and advisory firm, Outsell released a study called Click Fraud Reaches $1.3 Billion, Dictates End of Don't Ask, Don't Tell Era that is is all over the internet. I couldn't access the report because it required a paid subscription, but CNET has a nice writeup if you are interested called Study: Click fraud could threaten pay-per-click model. Me? I don't want to waste any time reading these articles, instead I'd rather waste my time commenting on them :-)
Why don't I care? Sure there is click fraud. If you have ever advertised on a pay-per-click basis, paid search or otherwise, you know you have to pay attention. If you just track clicks, then you are sure to drive yourself crazy because all you are doing is paying for clickers - YAHOO!!
Read this and read it again if you don't understand this. If you EVER run a PPC campaign then you MUST track some post-click action. It could be email sign-ups, political donations, online brokerage accounts, and etc. You may choose not to optimize on post click actions, but not tracking them is a waste of your money, the equivalent of buying Vonage's IPO offering (oops - I was trying to stop taking shots at them. Oh well).
A trick you can use is to turn down content to a minimum amount. On our political campaigns, unless they convert, content is either off or set at 10 cents per click. I don't remember exactly what we did at my former brokerage company, but I do know Megan W. and I discussed it quite often. I have two older posts, one on click fraud and one on Yahoo click fraud that you can read for more details.
Should you pay attention to this? It depends on how your campaign is doing and what kind of conversion rates you are generating. If it is in your allowable cost, then go find some other advertising tactic that is going awry. Just because the internet is the only advertising vehicle that gives you complete visibility, doesn't mean you should stop advertising on PPC because you know there is some fraud. Do you really know how much money you are wasting on other advertising programs? How's your print ad doing driving sales? You really have no idea do you....
Once again, time for online marketing rapid fire.
Ok, it is the 4th of July so why shouldn't I participate in a little celebration on my site. Don't worry, I'll keep this short.
We've been TiVoing the Revolution on The History Channel and really enjoy watching it. One of the episodes featured the military campaign of 1776 and that's the one that got me a little misty eyed and I couldn't go to bed until it ended (yes I do know how the war turns out). You see, in the span of about 45 days George Washington and the Continental Army rise from the dead that was the falling of two forts in NYC/NJ to win the 1st Battle of Trenton preserving the Army and our independence.
The British and Washington knew how important the Continental Army was to our independence and without it, we'd go crawling back to Great Britain. Sure, the Declaration of Independence announced to the world about our birth as a country, but it is Washington and the Army that delivered it.
In mid-November 1776, Washington loses New York by suffering a terrible defeat at Fort Washington, losing almost 3,000 troops. A few days later Fort Lee falls to the same British Army of regulars and Hessian's giving them the key to the lower part of the Hudson River and NYC (you do remember how important rivers were for travel and communication). Washington and what's left of the Continental Army retreat all the way down through NJ to PA. British General Howe doesn't pursue because as the History Channel puts it "Convinced that the Americans were thoroughly beaten and that the Continental Congress would sue for peace, Howe did not pursue Washington, but merely established several outposts in New Jersey and settled down in winter quarters to wait for spring." Total defeat of the Army and the surrender of the new nation seemed within reach. but Howe underestimated Washington's resolve and his ability to keep the end goal in sight.
As any American school girl knows, George Washington and the ragtag group of men and boys that formed the Continental Army re-crossed the Delaware River on Christmas Day 1776, not even 45 days after the defeat of NYC and surprised the Hessians in Trenton. The British lost almost 1,000 men and the overwhelming victory proves to the Continental Congress that the army can defeat British regulars and increased re-enlistments.
George Washington kept the Declaration of Independence from becoming just another piece of paper by keeping his eye on the end game. Even after suffering a terrible defeat, Washington was still able to shift tactics and bring home a victory. How many of us in our jobs, when a project goes wrong, could use this leadership lesson to keep our eyes on the end goal and fix a strategy when something does not go according to plan. How about if you are in a dead-end job and you are stuck for just a little while longer.
Or, as my friend Frank B. says, "when god gives you lemons, make some lemonade." That's exactly what Washington did in a span of 45 days to make sure the newly formed country saw its first birthday. And oh how that lemonade tastes with a couple of hot-dogs and fireworks.
We just had our MSN adCenter account turned on by Microsoft for our Connell Donatelli political advertising search clients and I absolutely love the platform. Now, between MSN, Google, and Yahoo we can offer our political campaigns over 90% coverage in the search market and give them a competitive advantage over their adversaries (see screen shot for Dick DeVos for Governor results).
Unlike Yahoo! Search, the search platform is very easy to use and does not require much in the way of advanced training. The reports and graphs are also very easy to use as is the radio button targeting available for every account. The CPCs also seem to be lower and as I mentioned above, there is little to no political competition right now. The only drawbacks with MSN Search are that we now have to use excel spreadsheets to create holistic search results, it doesn't work well if you use FireFox as your browser, and their bad advertising. Yes, I wrote their bad advertising.
For the last two days, they've been running this full page ad in the WSJ, that with a quick glance, does more to promote Google then it does MSN. The quick view of the ad, assuming you don't read the lengthy copy, says "She found your furniture ad on Google" and then right below in big bold font it says "+57%". So, to the quick flip in the paper it looks like Google increased your viewership of your ad by 57%.
Whenever I reviewed print ads, much to the chagrin of the ad agency, I always rejected any cute copy/layout like this. Most people don't take the time to read the copy, no matter how poetic it reads when the copy writer reviews it for you. So all you are left with, as my old AT&T Division Manager Vinny R. used to say, are call-out buttons, johnson boxes and big bold print. This ad suffers from this kind of cute copy and advertising that agencies love and my guess is does little to nothing in driving traffic to the platform.
Not only that, one has to wonder what is the point of running a $100K print ad campaign in the WSJ. Sure there is a wide audience and you hit a lot of CXOs there, but their audience, the agencies and internet marketing managers, would probably be more receptive to B2B online advertising, say on ClickZ. Plus, my experience shows that print advertising has no impact on any web metrics whatsoever.
The MSN adCenter platform is great. The only problems with it are more volume and their offline advertising campaign. Hmm, me thinks the two are related somehow.
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