The Hidden (in Plain Sight) Persuaders
This article in the NY Times threadlinked above talks about word of mouth marketing a la BzzAgent where normal everyday people can sign up to become a "buzz agent" and quietly and unobtrusively market the company's clients products by just using them, taking them to parties or whatever.
The example given is one of some chicken sausages that on 4th July weekend this year were taken by hordes of secret buzz agents to BBQ's and parties all over the US.
Isn't this the same thing as the Blog "Product Placement" Scheme?
It seems to me that this is exactly the same as the Blogger Affiliates that get paid to talk up products in their popular blogs.
There's a massive hoohah surrounding this as some bloggers take up arms against the scheme for various reasons including the fact that it commercializes blogs at all, disclosure issues and more. In the post linked above I've voiced my scorn of the scheme aswell and added my voice to the angry throng :)
However, reading the NYT article gave me pause for thought. I've not solidified that thought into any coherent opinion as yet but imagine this: That a scheme like that be opened to all bloggers - as widespread as adsense is now. Pick products suited to your blog and write about them...
It's just affiliate marketing of course, but with the right kind of spin and heavy marketing it could provide a real winner for companies wanting to target the online word of mouth which is blogging.
Clicks Up - Clicks Down - Trend bites
If you're using Adwords for your affiliate programs you might well be familiar with this scenario, member Havok2004 describes how when he starts a campaign, more often than not it does incredibly well for the first few days then fizzles out to nothing...
You have to wade through some obvious waffle but AdwordsAdvisor, a Google AW rep and a few other knowledgable folks are in the discussion so it's certainly worth a peak.
nick3131 has something to say about the problem that may bear looking into:
No youre not the first person to see great sales the first couple of days and then everything goes to #*$!. You're suffering from the same thing that alot of other affiliate bidders suffer from, and its non diversifying ads. Beleive it or not people are way more likely to buy something they have never seen before. So the first days that your ads are run chances are the people who are clicking on your ads have never encountered that product. But as the time goes on you have alot of the same people clicking on your ads. To make matters worse someone else just picked up on what youre selling, now youre competing with yourself. SO chances are that visitor who was once totally new to your product already has seen the product but only clicked on your ad because it was new to him. If you've ever shopped online you tend to go through different merchants before making a purchase. Well if they are landing on the same exact merchant from a different ad, guess what, thats bad for conversions.
Im not a PPC guy so i only understand the basics however, i know we have PPC Heavy Hitters in here so perhaps one of them can give an educated opinion on this here at TW?
The David Beckham Effect Spotted in the Wild
"Interesting how one contextual advertising program can make such an impact. And no, I am not going to admit how many domain names I have registered because I thought it would be perfect for a content site with AdSense :)"
So we have adsense impacting the domain market, not too much of a leap of faith to connect it to sandbox too, imho.
Forbes Ditches Embedded Text Ads After Complaints From Editors
Forbes have dropped the embedded text ads from vibrant media - The IntelliTXT ads work much the same as adsense but instead of clearly marked ads the contextual ad links appear in the body of a web pages main content.
This will be an enormous blow to Vibrant, Forbes were their largest and highest profile client.
Apparently the Forbes editorial staff have been complaining about the practice of mixing ads in editorial, cant say i blame them..
Video Newsletter Gets High Viral Pass-Along & Unusually Strong Clicks
FC has an article about a firm specializing in video news letters in conjunction with thier clients traditional email news letters.
They report a 24-35% CTR from the email sent out that contains the link to the 3min video and FC reports that the fact that the "reading population" accounts for less than 10% of us makes this a more than viable option to cover a wider audience and get your message out there.
Drenik hired a local video production crew and had their trained scriptwriters turn the long newsletters into video scripts for an average three-minute video. He tells the scriptwriters which are the hottest stories so they know what to focus on and what to cut.
The final approved script includes camera angles and videographer direction in addition to the words to be read. (See sample below.)
The team selects and hires a local TV anchor or TV reporter to moonlight on the side as the official video newsletter presenter. They try to match personality to the brand personality of the company that will be sending out the newsletter. They also look for stability -- is this an on-air personality who'll be staying in the area for a while so they can be counted on for the long haul?
Then final edited video is transferred into a format which can be streamed from a Web site. Drenik insisted on a format that did not require the use of a player, because he knew it might be a hump some newsletter recipients are unwilling to pass over. Getting the information had to be as easy as turning on your TV, with no possible tech challenges.
It's good stuff, check it out at the threadlink above...
Msn, Yahoo/inktomi/overture Trusted Feed, And what happens to Organic Crawl data
This is an interesting thread, as it shows that even in the minds of some of the more experienced practitioners such as Jill Whalen and ProjectPHP their still exists a degree of uncertainy and cloudiness when it comes to this PFI program. The main question is whether or not you reappear once your budget has expired, based upon your original 'natural' crawl position. Lots of 'possibly's', and 'should's' from David at Trellian, along with a few helpful suggestions.
Sitematch was launched back in May sometime. At the time I read various threads at WMW from confused webmasters grappling to get to grips with whether it was a good or a bad thing.
If you submitted to sitematch, what would be the position once your budget was exhausted.
Would sitematch be the kiss of death for an affiliate content website.
What about a site that had an INK penalty, would they be considered under this scheme, would they be included whilst their budget was active this wmw thread threw up all sorts of issues.
I haven't really looked at Sitematch for a while, I dont know if its changed, improved or gotten worse even. At this moment in time, natural crawls (for me at least) seem to cut the mustard, I don't see a need or requirement for it and I don't entirely trust it either. Can anyone point to a definitive position? Is sitematch dead in the water, or has it undergone some mysterious not very well publicised rebirth?
New Applications for Behavioral Targeting
There have been a couple of good posts about behavioral targeting today, i've linked to Jupiter analyst Gary Steins one. The other is this clickz piece by Dave Morgan.
Behavioral Targeting is in a pretty interesting space right now--it has becoming a category in its own right. That means:
More than a few vendors have developed sophisticated systems
Publishers of note are integrated the systems
The challenges--such as audience standardization--have been identified and solutions are making their way into the marketplace
Now that the systems are in place, its time for them to be used. That is, time for advertisers to begin to not only understand how the systems work, but also what they can be used for.
Dave points out that the the figure for marketers using behavioral targeting in 2004 is around 16% which seems high to me but he also says, on the subject of: Has behavioral targeting arrived yet?
My answer and those of most people I talk to are the same: No. Today's behavioral targeting applications are still a long way from fulfilling that elusive promise we all signed up for in helping build the marketers' "perfect medium."
and goes on to point out the major disciplines in BT that should see growth in 2005:
News just in - Viewpoint is to aquire Unicast - a serious development in the ad biz.
Here's the press release
Marking the first true consolidation in the Rich Media space, Viewpoint Corporation is pleased to announce that it has reached an agreement to acquire Unicast Communications Corporation. The acquisition creates the first company that offers advertisers, agencies and Web publishers every major form of online advertising - from video to Macromedia Flash™, streaming to pre-cached, full-screen to in-page, interactive 3D to high-resolution 2D - all with full creative and campaign management and next-generation tracking and reporting.
Viewpoint currently serve MSN, Yahoo and AOL - there is a pdf to download here
Blogs: Fad or Marketing Medium of the Future?
Linked above is a piece over at adage via stece rubel on blogging. It's really only telling us, threadwatchers, what we know already: That we dont know for sure, but for now, blogging works well (both in seo and general marketing online).
It's a good excuse to talk about it a little bit though if you're so inclined :)
What do you think? - Are blogs here to stay or will they quickly be replaced with other communications media?
Slowly but surely the admen and prguys are moving in on Search. Time to start circling the wagons has probably been and gone...
Join these leading experts in the public relations and search engine marketing industries to learn how you can gain better visibility for your brand, increase traffic to your Web site, stand out against the competition and further your sales strategies through search engine visibility techniques:
U.S. ADVERTISING EXPENDITURE TOTALS $102.4 BILLION FOR FIRST NINE MONTHS OF 2004
A new report from TNS Media tells of a dramatic rise in online ad spend in the first 9mts of this year over the same period in 2003:
Total advertising expenditure for the first nine months of 2004 increased 10.3 percent to $102.4 billion compared to the same time period in 2003
"Throughout 2004, the advertising market has experienced steady, healthy growth with increases in all three quarters," said Steven Fredericks, president and CEO of TNS Media Intelligence/CMR, a division of TNS, the world's second largest market information company. "As we forecasted earlier in the year, third quarter spending for the Olympics and the political season elevated the volume of overall dollars brought into the advertising market."
MarketingSherpa have an interesting article with JCPenny's Richard Last on convertion stats and techniques. Last year they did about $600M - within 2 more years they want 1BN
Tactic #1. Expand your metrics
If you're going to think outside the shoppers-to-conversions box, you need a new way to measure success. "It's a challenge going forward," notes Last. For example, "What are the levers that truly point to multi-channel success? We should understand the impact of conversions online vs. shop online and buy in-store, especially when she is buying other products in addition when she gets there."
Last's team has begun to focus not only on immediate conversions, but more on how to measure "if we helped her with her buying decision" with the ultimate purchase to follow in any channel. Currently they use the following tools prior to the launch of any major site change:
An in-house usability testing
An outside usability lab
A/B real-time testing on the site
Monitoring trends in fashion and style relevance
Talking with customers and with top selling associates in brick and mortar stores
And you thought AdSense had tough T&C's... you haven't seen Chitika
TW member Jenstar takes a close look at new contextual ad network Chitika that launched this month.
Some interesting things caught my eye when I took a peek at Chitika's terms and conditions. Things started to sound familiar... very familiar... So familiar, in fact, that it turns out Chitika decided to take the February 18, 2004 version of Google's AdSense terms, and use the entire "Prohibited uses" for themselves. What did they change? Google to Chitika, "ad unit" to "paid listing unit", and other minor specifics like that.
Makes for very interesting reading for contextual ad guys and girls..
Isn't Ppc Really The End Of The Line?
If you're selling competitive stuff like herbal products and only have a small site, is it worthwhile to even bother with regular SEO?
Torka has a great response which in part says:
I guess it depends on how long you plan to be in business. If you're talking about a business plan that spans years, a few months to get better "free" search engine ranking is a drop in the bucket. If, on the other hand, the business plan is for a "quick hit" followed by an equally quick exit, then PPC is definitely the only way to go.
Although Weblogs (blogs) are currently used by only a small number of online consumers, they've garnered a great deal of corporate attention because their readers and writers are highly influential. Forrester believes that blogging will grow in importance, and at a minimum, companies should monitor blogs to learn what is being said about their products and services.
From Charlene Li's blog.
Russell Beattie also made some notable comments about blogs, content & communicontent today..
Seems everytime i hit bloglines someone is saying somthing about corporate blogs these days...
Although this post does have some internal strife/bickering, there is some fantastic information on the downsides and strategies that can be used for Pay-per-Click advertising. Even a long-time user of PPC will find some tasty tidbits of information that can be put to use right away in this thread. Of particular interest are the lists of factors that can affect performance, and the measurement SEOs should be aware of to help calculate, track and learn from their SEO campaigns.
Press Releases for Link Development
Interesting topic over at wmw. The general concensus seems to be that the ROI on this strategy is poor but there are some excellent tips and recounted experiences on gaining backlinks from for example, contacting columnists directly. I'll leave you with this snippet from the excellent martinibuster:
Are Press Release Services a Waste of Money?
There is less certainty of a backlink when spending that $ on a PR service. I'm interested to know from anyone at WebmasterWorld who has had a positive experience submitting press releases to these services and generating a backlink. How about a temporary boost in traffic?
I have had some success, however, identifying the writers for columns dedicated to specific interest areas then writing them directly. This way, instead of your press release sitting over at the PR Service waiting to be found, you deliver the message straight to the scribe- which is where you want it to be.