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In a way, online marketing has come full circle. In the early days, you wrote articles and published them. That was it. Yeah, you might have purchased a banner ad on a related niche website, but were those really effective?

No matter how effective those early banner ads were (not very), you could always count on well-written and well-placed articles.

Over time, the definition of content has changed. In those early days of the Internet, pretty much all content was articles. You might have had graphics on your website, but they couldn’t be search engine optimized. So articles were the real content.

What happened?

The Internet grew, photos and videos became popular as the technology to implement them online improved, and millions of websites sprung up in every niche imaginable. The leading online advertising model became PPC advertising. It was very effective if you did it right. It still is.

But, there are many Internet users who developed ad blindness. It’s a very real phenomenon that causes people to ignore ads – even if they’re effective in every way.

It’s hard to ignore native advertising.

Native advertising is content that doesn’t look like content. If it does look like content, then it’s so effective that users will still click to view it even knowing that it’s an ad. It’s content even if it’s advertising. The reason this works is because users really care about great content, even if it’s advertising.

You can’t hardly turn the TV on any more without hearing a tweet mentioned or see a Twitter account plugged. Major news outlets have Twitter accounts, and news is often first announced on Twitter. But that’s not enough for Twitter. They want to push further.

Twitter Amplify is Twitter’s advertising program, and they’ve announced some new partners:

  • A&E (@AETV)
  • theAudience
  • Bloomberg TV (@BloombergTV)
  • Clear Channel (@ClearChannel)
  • Conde Nast (@CondeNastCorp)
  • Discovery (@Discovery)
  • Major League Baseball (@mlbdotcom)
  • National Cinemedia (@NCMonline)
  • New York Magazine (@NYMag)
  • PGA Tour (@PGATOUR)
  • PMC (@Variety)
  • Time Inc. (@Time_Inc)
  • VEVO (@VEVO)
  • Warner Music (@warnermusic)
  • WWE (@WWE)
  • VICE (@VICE)

Twitter calls these partnerships two-screen partnerships. Brands promote themselves through Promoted Tweets to remind viewers to tune into their TVs at the appropriate times to view their favorite shows and programming. And then the shows often tweet during the airings as well as immediately before and after.

Everything from news programs to sports can be seen on Twitter’s new Amplify.

So how can you turn this into a marketing opportunity for your business? You could contact Twitter and ask how you can participate in the Twitter Amplify program. If it works out, you could expand your audience and reach new people through Twitter and your TV screen.

Initially, sponsored tweets on Twitter were open only to big corporations. Now, they’re open to everyone. You can take advantage of Twitter’s self-service advertising platform in two ways:

  • Promoted Accounts – Ever see those “Who To Follow” lists in your Twitter sidebar? If so, then that’s what I’m talking about. You can have your account show up in that list for people that you target based on demographics you choose. Get more targeted followers for your business and capitalize on them.
  • Promoted Tweets – The other way to use Twitter’s self-service advertising platform is to promote individual tweets. These are also based on demographic data you input based on your preferences. The difference is that your promoted tweet will appear in the Twitter streams of the people who match your targeting preferences.

This is a new opportunity for small businesses looking to capitalize on Twitter. You can keep tweeting for free and hope to get a response from your followers, or you can reach Twitter accounts based on your preferences. These may be followers or not, but they’ll be targeted based on criteria you define.

I think now is the time to jump on this bandwagon. It is likely that the cost of Twitter advertising will increase as demand increases. At least, initially. What you’ll pay for promoted tweets two years from now may not be what you’ll pay today.

Facebook has a new tool. It’s called “Lookalike Audience.”

If you are a Facebook advertiser, then you can create a custom demographic. Facebook then gives you the option to add a lookalike audience to your PPC advertising campaign. This lookalike audience will consist of Facebook users who match the demographic criteria of your custom audience who are also not fans of your Facebook brand page.

Convenient, eh?

I think so. This is a step forward for Facebook advertisers because it means that you can actually reach more targeted customers. More easily. More quickly. More cost effectively.

You can then turn those customers, with click throughs, into Facebook fans for your page. A certain percentage of those will then see your Facebook content and be able to interact with it. It’s a great way to grow your fan base, market your products or services, and increase your conversions.

In fact,

According to Inside Facebook, advertisers in the beta are seeing lower costs per action than with traditional targeting options.

Lower costs per action translates into higher profits. With this tool you can increase your conversions, lower your costs per action, and increase your profit margin – all while expanding your reach in a sensible cost effective manner. What more could you want?

What would it take to complete your online presence? Do you know?

First, let’s define “online presence.” What is it? Do you need a website to be online? If you don’t have a website and you engage in social media marketing, do you have an online presence?

Regarding the website question, you don’t need a website to be online. It’s preferable, of course, if you are doing any marketing for your company, but any presence you have online constitutes an online presence. That means if the only thing you do is listen, then you have an online presence.

But that’s not a complete presence.

So what does a complete online presence look like? Ostensibly, I’d say a complete online presence has several characteristics that include:

  1. >A website as a basic hub of your online activity
  2. Regular, valuable content
  3. Targeted search engine optimization
  4. An e-mail marketing strategy
  5. A social media marketing strategy
  6. Video and/or mobile content
  7. Online advertising strategy
  8. Analytics
  9. Competitive intelligence and research

These do not have to be in any particular order, but a complete online presence would include each of these elements. Your tactical marketing might consist of one or two of these pieces working in tandem toward a miniature goal. Your overall strategy, however, should include a plan for each one of these elements as you work toward a broader, more significant goal for your business.

Do you have a total marketing plan for your business? Are you working toward a complete online presence? If not, why not?

A recent study shows that marketers and ad agencies are pretty close in their ideas about certain marketing tactics like online advertising, video marketing, blog content, and mobile.

I’m really not surprised by these results. I assume that online advertising is a reference to display advertising, but the study doesn’t say. I suppose it could also refer to pay per click marketing. Either way, it seems that ad agencies, and particularly marketers, see a lot of value in this tactic.

More importantly, video marketing has seen a sharp increase among both marketers and ad agencies. A full 12% more marketers are investing in video production while 7% more ad agencies are recommending it. No wonder. It’s an effective way to market online in 2012.

Mobile marketing has taken a huge leap. 30% more marketers are marketing through mobile and 10% more ad agencies are recommending it.

But what about blog content marketing? 1% fewer marketers are using blogs and 1% fewer ad agencies are recommending it. I wonder why. When you consider the SEO benefits of blog content, the long term reputation management benefits, and the branding benefits that blogging has to offer, I wonder why more ad agencies aren’t recommending blog management and why aren’t more marketers going that route?

It could be a perception that the blogosphere is oversaturated, but even if so, it’s quite effective in terms of driving traffic and engagement for brands that are using it. Video is good, mobile is good, and advertising is good, but so is blogging. What are your thoughts?

What’s it mean when paid search spending takes a dip? It could mean any number of things, but I think in this case it could mean that advertisers are beginning to figure out the right mix of their advertising needs.

I’m talking about numbers from the fourth quarter last year. Some interesting tidbits:

  • Overall ad spending went up for the year and down for the quarter
  • Internet display advertising spend was up 5.5% for the year and down 5.9% in the fourth quarter
  • Television advertising went up in both periods
  • Magazine, newspaper, and radio ad spending went down for both periods
  • Auto advertisers are spending the most
  • Both Amazon and eBay are spending less on advertising

But I think the most interesting thing from this study is that paid search spending was down both for the year and for the quarter in 2011. But why?

Maybe advertisers diverted a part of their ad spend budget to other channels – for instance, network TV and network radio. The ad spend for network TV rose 7.7% in the fourth quarter and declined 2% for the year. However, network radio advertising increased 4.3% in the fourth quarter while going up 2.7% for the year. Paid search advertising, on the other hand, went down 6.4% and 2.8%, respectively.

Advertisers have always been a fickle bunch. You never know where the money is going to go until it gets there. One thing for sure: radio print advertising is on the decline overall. Television advertising likely won’t go anywhere any time soon. But Internet advertising is still new enough that it stays in a state of flux. There are always new advertisers willing to give it a try and the old advertisers are still trying to figure out how to fit it into their budget optimally.

If you are an advertiser and you are trying to figure out where paid search fits into your overall ad budget, give us call. We’ve been doing this a long time.

There are a ton of Internet marketing tactics and strategies and more developing all the time, but they’re not all effective. The ones that are can take a while to produce benefits. PPC is the big exception.

Pay per click advertising is to the Internet what display advertising was to newspapers. You can pay for the right ad in the right paper and get it in front of the right audience. When you do, it’s pure gold.

News ads drove gobs and gobs of traffic to brick and mortar businesses because at its peak everyone in a community read the paper. The ad was seen by a large cross-section of community members. It was a numbers game, and the businesses who worked the numbers got paid handsomely. So too is PPC.

With pay per click advertising, you can write your ad, optimize it for your landing page, and activate it and get sales the same day. That’s not as likely with search engine optimization and social media.

Why is it likely with PPC?

Because 20% of search engine results pages traffic clicks on the PPC ads. If 1 million people search for a particular item that you have and you are advertising it through PPC, that 200,000 clicks. Divide that by the 5 top positions and there’s a potential 40,000 clicks for you.

Let’s say you only get 10,000 click-throughs. If 5% of them convert, that’s 500 new sales.

Your PPC ads go live the very day you create them. That means people will see them within minutes. If your landing page is optimized well and has a strong call to action, you’ll sales. You could see them today.

PPC, like all other things (on the Web and off) has evolved. And it continues to evolve. Google has largely been responsible for that evolution, but Facebook has played its part too. And it’s likely to evolve even more, but who knows who will be most influential in how that happens in the future?

One way that PPC has evolved is in the tools that advertisers use to track their campaigns. Both Google and Bing, and Facebook now, have tools that allow you to track your own PPC campaigns. But you might benefit more by using a third-party tool that you pay for. Especially if you run a lot of PPC campaigns on more than one platform.

PPC has evolved in other ways too. For instance, pay per click has morphed into pay per action. Advertisers can pay for user activity in a number of ways. Here are some of the more popular pay-per-advertising models:

  • Pay per lead
  • Pay per impression
  • Pay per view (for videos)
  • Pay per call (for mobile and phone actions)

You can expect some of these to expand as technology improves. Currently, pay per impression is generally expressed in terms of 1,000 impressions. But what will it be ten years from now?

Pay per click advertising has become one of the most effective branding and marketing channels online. Don’t expect it to stay the same. It will change. And mostly for the better.

In the 1980s, it was chic to buy a mailing list from a list broker who might promise that the list was targeted to a specific type of customer within a specific industry. You could call the list or use the list for direct mailing. Either way, you were spending money. And if you used the list and it brought you some business, then you were effectively buying targeted sales leads. You were buying customers.

Can you do the same thing online? Can you buy targeted sales leads or customers online? You sure can.

It’s called pay per click advertising. With PPC, it’s all about buying clicks. You bid on what a click is worth to you, write an ad that draws attention, point your link to a landing page, and snag the contact information from your prospect.

These types of leads are solid leads because they have responded to your calls to action. They responded to your ad. Then they responded to your landing page with a request for private information. If you use an autoresponder with a double opt-in process, then they’ve given you permission to contact them twice. They couldn’t spell it out for you any better.

So what do you do with those leads then? You market to them. Aggressively. Tell them what you have to offer and how much is costs. Sell them on the benefits. When you close a sale, it’s because you effectively bought a lead. A targeted lead.

One of the great truths about online marketing in general is that personal is more effective. Internet citizens do their best to avoid advertising. The old interruption form of advertising is shunned like the plague. Therefore, online advertisers have learned to make their ads look more like entertainment and less like advertising. During the “entertainment” they try to make a personal appeal to the hot buttons of their audience.

What makes online advertising, including PPC, effective is that personal connection – the feeling that a specific ad was written just for me. When you can make that personal connection then you can say that your advertising is working.

But how do you do that with PPC?

There are a number of ways to achieve the personal connection you want through PPC advertising. Here are a few tips:

  • Imagine that you are writing your ad for a specific person.
  • Narrow your keyword targeting down to the smallest denominator.
  • Remember that the purpose of your ad is to get the searcher to click on it and visit your landing page
  • Use personal pronouns such as “you” and other words that make the searcher feel valued

Your PPC ad should have a personal effect to it. Make sure yours are not impersonal and detached.