When Ad Targeting Goes Wrong

There are times when ad targeting just goes wrong, no matter how targeted you think you get. For example, a recent ad that I saw for a Brookstone, selling drones as Father’s Day gifts, showed up on a local Dallas news website. Brookstone was obviously targeting the keyword “drone” and since “drone” was in the headline of the news article, it was displayed. [Read more…]

Adnimation Ad Network Uses Animated Ads, Claims Higher CTR

Adnimation is a new Cost Per Click (CPC) ad network that uses animated ads and claims that there’s a significantly higher CTR. I’ve decided to try running the Adnimation ads here on my site as a test. You’ve probably already seen them running. I’ve also documented the signup process for publishers like me. First, a little bit about what Adnimation is, and how it works.

Adnimation combines animation (animated ads) with relevant content from advertisers. The network is “safe” to run in conjunction with Google AdSense. They work on both desktops and mobile. I don’t want to critical here, but on the Adnimation site, they mention the fact that their ads work on both “web and mobile”: [Read more…]

Google AdWords Ad or Extended Knowledge Graph Card Showing Up in Google Search Results

Just recently, Joe Hall spotted a Google search result that, according to him, looks weird. It appears to me as though it’s just a new version of a Google AdWords ad that is being used in this case. And Google appears to be testing this new ad format. But according to Mark Traphagen, it’s actually a version of the knowledge graph card that Google is testing.

Take a look at the search for “who is lookup” in Google.

Note that whois is misspelled in the search query: [Read more…]

How to Be Your Own Ad Agency

Sure we’d all like our small businesses to grow exponentially. We’d all like to hit that million-dollar mark and keep climbing, but the truth is that most of us won’t — and that’s OK. You don’t have to run a million-dollar business to be successful. Plenty of us are content to keep our businesses small, turn a nice profit and keep things on a more personal level.

 photo ad_agency_zps4288fb6d.jpg

Of course, some of us will achieve the big time, and that’s great. But it certainly won’t happen overnight. That said, all startups and long-term small businesses need to learn how to operate within their means. As you know, any small business owner gets good really quick in terms of wearing multiple hats. But it’s gets tiring. With that in mind, we periodically reassess what we’re doing and try and figure out ways to lessen the load…to delegate.

Should You Consider Hiring an Ad Agency?

One common area small business owners often try to outsource is advertising. In some instances, this makes sense. But in many cases, it’s not the best move. As far as I’m concerned, you shouldn’t be trying to hire an ad agency unless you are making more money than you can handle. Look, hiring an ad agency isn’t cheap. Yes, a good agency will end up paying for itself tenfold, but can you really afford that initial investment at this time?

You Can Be Your Own Ad Agency

If you don’t have the income to hire an ad agency, have no fear. You likely have what it takes to do it yourself. Here are a few tips to set you up for success:

 photo target_roi_zpsbc284160.jpg

1.Know your target market—What’s the purpose of advertising? Obviously, the intended end result is more clients and higher profit margins, right? Well, in order to achieve that result, you need to make sure you are marketing to the right people. So the question you need to answer before all else is, who should you be marketing to? If you don’t have a specific ideal customer in mind your ad campaigns will have no direction. And lack of direction equals fail.

2.Set your goal—Once you have identified your target customer, it’s time to set a goal. What do you wish to achieve with your advertising. Yeah, like we said above, you certainly want to boost your client base and profit margin. But how will you get there? What goals do you need to set along the way? For example, with your first campaign, maybe you want to try and reach a new audience for the first time. Maybe you just want to establish yourself as a true competitor in your marketplace. Perhaps you want pre-existing customers to return? Start general and then get more specific.

3.Put together an ad budget—Before you decide what sort of advertising you’re going to do, you need to have a firm idea of what kind of money you can spend. You don’t want to sink all your money into a single ad only to find out you can’t afford anything else! Get the numbers down on paper, and then you can formulate a plan that will work with your finances.

4.Figure out what medium makes the most sense for you—The medium that you use really depends on your target market. For example, if you’re looking to market to 20-year-old college students, a direct-mail campaign might not be your best bet. You might want to look into various types of online advertising such as Google or Facebook ads.

On the other hand, maybe you need to do some B2B advertising. Well, Facebook might not be the way to go. Instead, you might look into various types of mail outs. You can even cut money by printing them yourself through an online printing company.

5.Consider subcontractors—Of course, like we said, you do wear a lot of hats. So just because you’re acting as your own ad man doesn’t mean you can’t contract bits and pieces. By hiring freelancers, you can benefit from specialized expertise. And usually it comes at a much cheaper rate than that of an ad agency. For example, maybe you’d benefit from a professional copywriter putting together that magazine ad. Or perhaps you need a graphic designer to put together your mail out postcard. Whatever the case, you can find good freelancers all over the web on sites such as Elance.com.

You Can Do It—Just Stay Consistent

You can be your own ad agency. Just remember, don’t be afraid to ask for help form professionals. And once you have a plan in place. Stay consistent! 

Why QR Codes are Important for Websites?

Why are QR Codes important for websites? Why should your website have a QR Code? QR codes help make your websites mobile aware. With smart phones taking over online operations, it is imperative that you make your site as user friendly or mobile friendly as possible. QR codes in websites will let your mobile instantly access websites without encountering the cumbersome process of entering the URL in the tiny mobile web browser.

QR codes are currently used to store a wealth of information such as product descriptions, user manuals, advertisements, business card information, boarding pass information etc.

With the usage of QR codes, you can give your potential customers access to right information easily on their mobile device by easily scanning the QR Code from print media or computer screen. With the competition in e-business, making the product information available to the consumers in these tiny codes will be very, consumers are going to go after products that give them more detailed information in an easily accessible manner.

In the last century we saw an online revolution with many businesses being clinched online. An online presence is now imperative even if you are thinking only of a local coffee shop. However this century is going to see a whole new revolution – the mobile revolution as more and more business transactions go mobile.

The question you need to ask yourself is, ‘Does your business website lacking mobile accessibility?’.

An interesting tool to make your website “Mobile Aware” quickly and easily is QRSpider. You will be able to generate a matching button for your website and start using it instantly. With less than 2 minutes your existing website can have a QR code integrated with it. QRSpider is smart enough to identify the current web page URL and generate the QR code for the URL. So your users can easily scan the code to their mobile or tablet device.

There are many QR code scanner apps available for Apple iPhone® and Android phones.

Overstock.com Coliseum New Home of Oakland Raiders and A’s; Deal Will Help Their Search Engine Rankings


According to reports, The Oakland-Alameda Coliseum Authority announced a deal to rename the home stadium of the Raiders and A’s as Overstock.com Coliseum. The agreement with the Internet retailer will run for six years at a cost of $7.2 million. But did you know that this deal also will include text links, which will ultimately help Overstock.com’s organic search engine rankings in Google?

Based on my previous extensive link building and link research, it is inevitable: whenever a company buys the naming rights to a public stadium where events are held and tickets are sold, the site’s search engine rankings always go up. Why? Because the name of the public venue is changed to include the company’s name. And the name of the stadium will start showing up whenever the venue is mentioned–like on Ticketmaster.com, LiveNation.com, and on news web sites that cover events at the stadium. Those sites are influential, and they will link out to Overstock.com. Which, in turn, will help their organic, or natural search engine rankings.

So, not only did Overstock.com purchase the naming rights to a stadium–they also have just purchased a bunch of text link ads to their web site. Sure, I am being a little overly dramatic here in stating that. But really, honestly, spending $7.2 million on the naming rights also comes with privileges–the mention of your company name, but also links from other web sites to your web site.

As you might recall, Overstock.com was recently under fire and technically penalized by Google for artificially boosting their search engine rankings. They bought links to their web site that helped them rank better in Google.

And we have recently learned that Overstock.com is no longer penalized in Google. But now, after all of this, Overstock.com has purchased the naming rights to the Oakland Raiders and the Oakland A’s stadium, now to be called Overstock.com Stadium. I don’t have a problem with that–that is a great move by Overstock.com. Just keep in mind that the deal also includes text links.

Chitika Settles with FTC Over Behavioral Ad Targeting

Chitika has reached a settlement with the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) over online advertising. The complaint by the FTC was about behavioral ad targeting. Individuals could opt out of Chitika’s behavioral ad targeting. Apparently Chitika had mistakenly set the opt out to 10 days rather than 10 years.

Chitika offers a search-targeted advertising solution to web publishers. They deliver interactive text ads relevant to what your users are searching for. Many web publishers (web site owners) consider Chitika an alternative to the Google AdSense program.

According to ClickZ, “The FTC alleges that the company’s opt-out cookies were set to expire after 10 days, rendering them useless at that point. As a result of the settlement, the company within 30 days is required to provide a tool enabling opt-out from collecting data that could be tied to a user or includes a unique identifier. The tool must enable opt-out through no more than one click, and it must maintain opt-outs for a minimum of five years.”

Prior to March 1, 2010, an error in Chitika’s opt-out process mistakenly set opt outs to expire in 10 days rather than the intended 10 years. Since March 1, 2010, Chitika’s option to opt out of any behavioral targeting is a 10-year opt-out.

The following is Chitika’s prepared statement about the settlement:

This morning Chitika, Inc. reached a settlement with the FTC regarding online ad targeting. Chitika places the utmost importance on the privacy of online users. The company believes the agreement will help it continue to place a premium on privacy as its advertising network continues to expand.

— Chitika does not collect and has never collected any personally identifiable information (PII) for ad targeting purposes.
— Since March 1, 2010, Chitika’s option to opt out of any behavioral targeting is a 10-year opt-out.
— Prior to March 1, 2010, an error in Chitika’s opt-out process mistakenly set opt outs to expire in 10 days rather than the intended 10 years.
— The FTC brought this bug to Chitika’s attention in February, 2010; on March 1, the company had fixed it to opt out users for ten years.
— May 2008 through February 2010, the period during which our opt-out process was affected by this bug, Chitika received an average of 30 opt-out requests per month across our international network compared to over 450 million monthly unique users.

Chitika believes very strongly in Internet users’ privacy. Its advertising network is built on the idea that you can protect privacy by never collecting PII and actually have a better, more efficient ad product.

“Personally identifiable information is of no interest to me whatsoever,” says Chitika CEO and founder Venkat Kolluri. “Our advertisements only worry about what you want, not who you are.”

Chitika’s targeting consists of data such as browser, search engine, and search keywords, all of which allow the company to provide the most appropriate possible advertisements without collecting any data which could be used to identify an individual user. The company continues to believe that non-PII data is a targeting method that is best for not only users, but also advertisers and publishers.

Top 10 People Who Influence What Americans Buy

As the effects of the global recession linger, consumers are changing the way they shop, becoming more budget-conscious, eco-aware and cause-oriented, while paying greater attention to what, why and from who they are buying. Arnold Worldwide has named the top ten public figures, across entertainment, business and politics, who are helping to promote the era of “mindful spending.”

Andrew Benett, Global CEO of Arnold Worldwide and Global Chief Strategy Officer of Havas Worldwide, describes the downfall of hyperconsumption and the rise of “the new consumer” in his forthcoming book, Consumed: Rethinking Business in an Era of Mindful Spending (Palgrave Macmillan, July 2010), co-authored by Ann O’Reilly, Content Director of the Euro RSCG Worldwide Knowledge Exchange.

Despite the fact that glitz and abundance are alive and well in mainstream media (think: Bravo’s The Real Housewives and E!’s Keeping Up with the Kardashians), there is a fast-growing set of Americans who reject excess and artificiality in favor of authenticity, substance and interconnectedness. In fact, according to a groundbreaking survey of 5,700 adults in seven countries conducted for Consumed, nearly 80 percent of Americans feel society is becoming too shallow and believe most of us would be better off if we lived more simply.

“For the last two decades, Americans believed bigger was better—from the size of our houses to our cars to the amount of food on our dinner plates. But the economic recession, coupled with other factors like the green movement, is fundamentally changing American attitudes,” said Benett. “Instead of super-sizing, we’re ‘right-sizing’ and re-evaluating what’s important in life. We’re saving more, wasting less, and giving back.”

Benett further states: “Mindful consumers are taking a closer look at what we truly need and adjusting our shopping behaviors accordingly. As part of that, we are embracing brands that uphold these new ideals, brands that provide quality and value in their services and products, but are also environmentally friendly and socially responsible.”

In recognition of the new book Consumed, here is a list of ten public figures who embrace qualities of the mindful consumer, such as a commitment to sustainability efforts, a focus on giving, and a more thoughtful approach to consumption:

Rappers are not always known for their humility, generosity and environmentally conscious attitudes; Ludacris isn’t your average rapper. Through The Ludacris Foundation, he has donated $1.5 million to support youth-oriented, grassroots organizations and devoted more than 5,000 hours of service, all while paying special attention to his hometown of Atlanta. Did we mention that Ludacris owns a hybrid and is installing solar panels on his home?

Suze Orman
While the financial market collapsed, Orman’s stock rose as she convinced people what NOT to buy during the economic recession. She is viewed as a trusted financial expert, helping Americans become fiscally responsible through her television show, eight consecutive New York Times bestsellers, and frequent guest spots on a range of programs from Oprah to The Biggest Loser.

Indra K. Nooyi
As the CEO of PepsiCo, Nooyi wants those of us who indulge in sugary beverages to feel a little better about it. She’s championing “performance with a purpose” within the organization, which is focused on creating more wholesome products and increasing sustainability practices. As part of this effort, the company has launched The Pepsi Refresh Project. The socially driven campaign allows individuals and organizations to post their philanthropic ideas on refresheverything.com, where the general public votes for their favorite initiatives to be funded. To help support the project, which will give away more than $20 million this year, the company passed on airing a Super Bowl ad.

Ellen DeGeneres
Comedienne, actress, author, CoverGirl spokesmodel, American Idol judge, talk-show host, and wife. . . Ellen DeGeneres does it all. Using her large media presence, she exposes audience members to different charities including Feeding America and the American Red Cross. DeGeneres conceals her wealth with ordinary clothes and a gracious attitude, influencing a legion of supporters through her television shows and brand sponsorships.

Taylor Swift
Unlike her flashy counterparts, such as Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga, there’s something genuine and down-to-earth about Swift that makes her stand out among the tween, teenage and young adult set. With her poised demeanor, saccharine pop-country crossover songs, humanitarian efforts for numerous charities, and penchant for affordable clothing—including her line of Walmart-sold sundresses that start at $14—this young superstar personifies the mindset of a new generation who want to feel good, look good and do good with (age-appropriate) style.

Warren Buffett
The world’s third-wealthiest person, Buffet is famously known for both his mindful spending and philanthropy. America’s foremost investor still owns the modest home bought in 1958, receives a salary of approximately $100,000 and rarely makes extravagant purchases. Most recently, Buffet auctioned off a lunch with himself that sold for $2.63 million, which will support Glide Foundation, a homeless organization based in San Francisco.

Oprah Winfrey
As proven time and again, the mere mention of a product by Oprah will make it a bestseller. Her personal integrity, philanthropic efforts and ability to connect with the masses will help her stay one of America’s favorite trendsetters long after her talk show ends in 2011. Up next: Oprah will start the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), further exploring issues surrounding empowerment, spirit, human relationships and giving back.

Stephen F. Quinn
More than three-quarters of Americans shop at Walmart every year, so whether you’re a fan or not, the retailer has influence. As Walmart’s CMO, Quinn’s leadership on sustainability efforts has a huge impact. He helped initiate strict environmental standards including high efficiency store designs, reusable bags, recycling programs and the installation of solar panels. In addition, Walmart is helping shoppers go green by introducing more energy-efficient products; locally grown produce; and the Sustainability Index, an initiative that, in the company’s own words, is “helping to create a more transparent supply chain, driving product innovation and ultimately providing our customers with information they need to assess products’ sustainability.”

Mark Zuckerberg
Zuckerberg makes the list not because he is particularly mindful, but because the platform he created is making savvier shoppers out of all of us. With more than 400 million active users worldwide, Facebook has become an interactive consumer haven. With the simple update of a status feed, users can get product recommendations from the most trusted source: friends and family. Plus, the platform provides a voice to grassroots organizations that want to galvanize people around the world quickly and efficiently. Brands like Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Disney are realizing the platform’s potential by generating huge fan followings, making it a marketer’s paradise. And with Zuckerberg’s influence over Internet privacy policies, he is literally changing the way we shop.

Michelle Obama
With the grace of Jackie and the aspirations of Eleanor, Michelle has captivated Americans. When the First Lady donned J.Crew fashions at public appearances such as The Jay Leno Show, it spiked the retailer’s clothing sales, website traffic and brand awareness. However, it is Obama’s efforts to end childhood obesity with initiatives like “Let’s Move” and the White House vegetable garden that are inspiring a nation. She is influencing (and, in some cases, incentivizing) politicians, business leaders, nonprofits, parents and the rest of us to think about what we consume.

WebVisible Contest to Award Free Local Online Advertising to Small Businesses

WebVisible has recently launched a nationwide contest and a new original Web video series – both calling attention to the still-vast divide that separates consumers looking for local products or services and the very businesses they’re seeking.

From the business owner whose daughter is helping her learn to use “Happy Face” (aka, Facebook), to the one who doesn’t believe people go online to look for a barber, it’s clear – there’s still a Great Divide. View the series premiere here: http://www.youtube.com/greatdividemovie.

WebVisible will unveil a new episode of this landmark documentary series every few weeks. Later installments will follow small business owners, telling their stories and offering a day-in-the-life glimpse into what it means to run a small business in today’s Internet economy. A dentist, florist, lawyer, restaurant owner, barber, eyelash salon owner, garbage hauler and others invited WebVisible and its camera crew behind the scenes to discuss the challenges of “being found” by consumers today. Each episode will showcase a different component of online advertising – mobile, social, search and more.

The Great Divide Watch & Win Contest gives U.S.-based small businesses two chances to win three months of free advertising services through WebVisible, valued at $1,500 for each winner (new customers only).

To win, watch The Great Divide and answer this question in 140 characters or less: “What is the biggest challenge in growing your business?” Answers can be submitted online at http://www.webvisible.com/the-great-divide/contest.php or via WebVisible’s Twitter page at http://twitter.com/webvisible. Submit answers by 11:59 p.m. EDT, June 30.

“Some local business owners still don’t believe that consumers want to find them online – but today, even so-called ‘walk-in’ traffic is often driven by searches conducted on a mobile phone while walking down the street,” said Kirsten Mangers, WebVisible CEO. “Advertising has to follow audience, but when the audience moves at lightning speed from one search engine or iPhone app to the next, it’s hard to keep up. Small businesses are losing potential customers if they don’t make themselves visible in all the different places consumers are searching today. Our contest winners will gain much more than $1,500 in advertising – they’ll gain the new business that results from being visible to potential customers online.”

Two winners will be selected by WebVisible to receive a full-service package, including search engine advertising on Google, Yahoo!, and Bing, a call tracking number, and a multi-function landing page that includes video, form fill and SMS text lead delivery. WebVisible will provide the winning merchants with three months of search engine advertising with a $500/month budget. Existing WebVisible customers and employees or employee family members are not eligible.

Landmark Documentary Series Explores Small Business America
To kick off the contest, WebVisible is unveiling its new original Web series, The Great Divide, featuring real business owners and their real stories. In this documentary series, WebVisible explores The Great Divide – where small businesses and consumers fail to connect.

Last year, WebVisible partnered with Nielsen Online to reveal compelling data showing that consumers and business owners were using the Web to find local products and services, yet business owners were not fully embracing the Web as a marketing tool for their own businesses. Now, WebVisible has taken its cameras over the counters and into the factories, warehouses, shops and offices of small business America, to get total access into their lives, their struggles, their ideas and their insights into marketing their businesses and finding those elusive new customers.

The first episode, released today, poses the question: Where do consumers turn to find a business in today’s “local is wherever I am” environment? The Web? Yellow Pages? Mobile apps? Social networks? WebVisible’s cameras hit the streets of America, asking consumers how they are finding local businesses, and giving small business owners a chance to sound off about their own marketing efforts and examine how they’re evolving in this inter-connected, global marketplace.

“Our goal with The Great Divide Web series and contest is to shine a light on these issues in an entertaining way, and to take the mystique out of online advertising and simply help local businesses get found by their customers,” said Mangers.

WebVisible makes it easy for small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) to be found online, where and how customers are looking. The leading provider of local online marketing products and services since 2001, WebVisible was among the first to pioneer the use of search as a reliable, measurable avenue to connect directly with a buyer’s needs. The company has helped more than 100,000 SMB customers from more than 4,000 industries in 14 countries to create innovative and accountable Internet advertising campaigns. SMBs partner with WebVisible directly and through its many partner companies, including Intuit, AT&T, British Telecom and The New York Times Company. WebVisible is based in Irvine, California.

Report: Two Thirds of Small Businesses Plan to Increase Email and Social Media Marketing Spend in 2010

VerticalResponse recently did a survey to find out how small businesses planned on spending their marketing dollars in 2010. Over 800 small businesses were surveyed, each business having less than 500 employees. There were some vast differences between how money will be spent on email marketing and social media versus spending on banner advertising and search engine marketing (SEM).

From the survey, 74.1% of the survey participants are planning on increasing their use of email marketing while 68.3% plan on increasing their use of social media in 2010. These numbers are not that surprising since social media is a hot topic at the moment, and many companies are investigating ways to make use of social media like Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter among others. Email marketing continues to be a strong way to market products even for small businesses. Only 3.8% of the survey respondents stated that they did not plan to use email marketing at all in 2010, thus showing how valuable email marketing continues to be for the small business sector. The survey results for future usage of search engine marketing (SEM), and online banner advertising reflected an opposing future trend.

Future usage of online banner advertising for small businesses was not as promising with 54.2% of all survey respondents stating that they will not be doing online banner advertising in 2010. Of course, the survey results that showed only 23.8% stated that they did not wish to use search engine marketing (SEM) in 2010 are better numbers than those regarding banner advertising, but each set of of marketing data both reflect the idea that small businesses do not strongly view banner advertising, and SEM as prominant ways to promote their business. VerticleResponse stated that it is important for marketers to show how banner advertising, and SEM can be useful for small businesses.

From the look of things, one of the best ways to show small businesses the usefulness of banner advertising, and SEM is to point out that these advertising mediums can help drive traffic to their websites, and also help generate strong brand recognition within their prospective markets.

On a side note, 79.6% of the small businesses stated that they will not be using television marketing in 2010, while 72.7% do not plan on using radio advertising.