PPC to Guide PPC?

Goodbye Google Keyword Planner, Hello Keyword Research Using PPC

Did you sigh when you heard Google is revoking free access to its Keyword Planner? Your first reaction was probably like mine: Google is sticking it to SEOs, once again.

What are we going to do?

Of course, we could invest in a third-party tool. Some of those tools might help fill the gap, but they are expensive and only as good as their sample size.

And that got me thinking: If I would have to pay for a keyword research tool anyway, why not use pay-per-click (PPC) advertising for my keyword research? If I create a small PPC campaign, I can get keyword data and several other advantages, too.

So, in this article, I will show you how I’ve done keyword research using Google’s Keyword Planner; and, in contrast, what the advantages are of using a small PPC campaign to do keyword research instead.

PPC can help me identify new keywords

When you use the Keyword Planner (or a third-party keyword tool), you start by brainstorming a list of potential words.

Typically, this is what I’ve done:

  1. I brainstorm a list. I will get the client’s (or my boss’s) input, too. From there I try to think of synonyms for this keyword. Let’s say my keyword is “widgets”; they could also be referred to as “doohickeys” or “whatchamacallits.”
  2. I then try to find words that modify the original keywords. Here, I’m looking for long-tail opportunities. I ask myself, “What kinds of ways would someone want to use what I have to offer?” This could be modifiers like color. It could be solutions like “services” or even “solutions.” I might add geographical modifiers, too. A couple of great tools to help identify modifiers are ubersuggest or keyword.io.
  3. I try to organize all these on an Excel sheet. Each column contains rows of synonyms. I try to add modifiers in adjacent columns, with mutually exclusive modifiers in each row. I do this so I can take several columns to mergewords.com to assemble these lists into all the possible variations.

That’s a lot of work. It can take me a couple of hours to do. Even after all that time, I usually find that I’ve missed a few things. Sometimes, I miss some obvious things.

A small PPC campaign could automate that process. All I need to do is try a couple of keywords. Now, contrary to a regular PPC campaign, in our case the broader, the better. Still, I’d start the process with a Modified Broad Match phrase, not Broad Match. The point is to identify possible phrases, so Exact Match wouldn’t be particularly useful. Phrase Match could help identify those modifiers I mentioned, but it won’t produce the variations we want to see.

Once I start to get some clicks on my campaign, I’ll get the search queries that accompanied the clicks. These search queries aren’t guesses: They are actual phrases potential customers have entered while looking for me or my offering. Sure, it took me longer to get this data from PPC than from the Keyword Planner, but the data is better.

PPC can help me compare search terms

Now that you know how people are looking for you, you need to know which phrases they use more frequently. Knowing that helps establish your priorities and your opportunities.

You could use the Keyword Planner to compare terms against each other. From there you can find whether a potential customer is looking for one phrase more than another. You can also discover how customers are more likely to search for your services.

That’s not all you want to know, though. Just because people search for a phrase doesn’t mean they want what you’re offering. And so, for each phrase, I apply a formula to Google’s provided search data:

Volume x Competition x Estimated CPC = Opportunity

(Warning: Some math content to follow.)

Again, some people look only at the search volume number. That’s limited: Just because a lot of people search for a phrase doesn’t mean they are interested in what my company has to offer.

I need to know both the number of searches (volume) for a phrase and how competitive it is. I like to think about Google’s competition number (a number between 0 and 1) as a percentage: It represents the percentage of searches companies believe are relevant to their services. If a phrase has a competition number of 0.1, I speculate that 10% of those searches are relevant. Likewise, if a phrase has a competition number of 0.9, you might say businesses are interested in 90% of the searches. When I multiply the number of searches and the competition number, I get the number of relevant searches.

I also like to consider how many businesses want traffic from a phrase. If companies are willing to pay $5 per click for one phrase but $0.50 a click for another, clearly they want the first more. The theory: if they’re paying for it, it must be paying off for then. When I multiply the CPC number with the resulting fraction of relevant searches, I will have combined all these factors together. I call the resulting number the “Opportunity.”

That’s where things get interesting. Take this as an example:

In our example, twice as many people are looking for “widgets” than “blue widgets.” Since the latter is more competitive and companies are willing to pay twice as much for a click, it has a greater opportunity for me, too. So does “spinning blue widgets”: only one-tenth of the search volume, but people are willing to pay three-times as much per click. Don’t overlook that opportunity.

If you apply this formula to all your terms, you’ll see that some phrases with a lot of search volume provide less opportunity than phrases with more CPC. I don’t just want clicks; I want customers. Applying the “Volume x Competition x Estimated CPC” formula helps show me where the keyword opportunities exist.

Of course, if you’ve set up a small PPC campaign, you’ve already got all this information. With each keyword, your PPC campaign will tell you…

  • Impressions. It’s important to remember that Impressions and Search Volume represent different things. There will always be more search impressions (number of people searching for your phrase) than people who see your ad. It still serves the same purpose: giving you an idea of which phrase people look for most.
  • Competitiveness. Rather than rely on Google’s estimated CPC data, you’ll know for sure. In fact, in some small campaigns, you might not be able to bid enough for your ads to show up. If that’s the case, you know it’s a very competitive phrase.

With a small PPC campaign, you’ll get all this data without the extra steps you’d need if you were using the Keyword Planner.

PPC can help me estimate conversion rates

The point of any search campaign, whether PPC or SEO, is more leads—not just more visits. One of the biggest problems with SEO is estimating which phrase will produce those customers. You take a month (or so) to create a landing page, optimize the content, add images, build links (don’t forget internal links). Later, you find out that even though you rank No. 1, you aren’t getting any new customers from it. (Insert sad trombone sound here.)

PPC can more quickly estimate conversion rate. As an added benefit of doing keyword research through your PPC campaign, you’ll find out which phrases are more likely to produce leads. Now you know where to put your SEO efforts.

In fact, your small PPC campaign could even deliver you leads. Keyword Planner never did that for me! I doubt any third-party tool would make that promise, either.

PPC can test your messaging

Now that you know the keywords your customers are using, it’s time to put them into action. It’s time to write the landing page.

Ever had a hard time writing a landing page? What should you say? What will convince a customer to use your product or service? Even if you hire good writers, they will need some guidance.

This is where keyword research with PPC can be helpful. When you run your campaign, test some ad copy. Which one produces more clicks? Which one produces more conversions? That’s the message your potential customers resonate with. Write your landing page accordingly.

Keyword research with PPC helps with your messaging; that’s something keyword tools simply don’t offer.

Can you afford keyword research with PPC?

You might think you can’t afford to use PPC for keyword research, but don’t discount the idea. I’m not (necessarily) suggesting that you try a full-force PPC campaign. I spent just $100 over one month (my space is competitive and expensive) and learned the following:

  • What phrases people use to look for me. You know there are a lot of marketing buzzwords out there; I was able to thin those out to only the productive ones.
  • Some great long-tail keywords. I added them to my site.
  • Which keywords produced not only volume but also conversions.
  • What messages resonated with my customers; they weren’t what I expected.

Now, it wasn’t a gangbusters campaign. I didn’t become an overnight millionaire. It did produce enough benefit (I grew my email list 20%) that I continued the campaign after the test. In a way, the little campaign paid for itself.

Google will always have a love-hate relationship with SEOs. Don’t be discouraged. Don’t get angry. You can still strike back. You could simply use Bing Ads for your PPC keyword research. That’s what I did.


click to see the

original article by David Zimmerman

January 3, 2017

Psychographics Current Key to B2B

Are Psychographics The Next Big Breakthrough In B2B Demand Generation?

As we look to planning for 2017, one emerging trend that is really beginning to excite many marketers I’ve spoken with (myself included!) is the technological advances that will let B2B marketers target customers based on psychographics and likely behaviors.

Say goodbye to title/role/function-based targeting and hello to mobilizer-targeting.

As background, recall the research that CEB has done into customer stakeholders who are in some form or fashion involved in purchase decisions. The upshot is, your marketing and sales efforts ought to target Mobilizers—customer stakeholders who are especially good at driving change and building consensus within their organizations. You want to avoid wasting time with what we call Talkers (who will engage with your content and sellers’ all day long, but won’t actually be able to advance a deal) and Blockers (those who put status quo above all else).

We know from that research, published in The Challenger Customer, that Mobilizers defy a simple title/role/function description. In fact, you’re more likely to get a Talker or a Blocker than you are a Mobilizer if you just grabbed a group of decision-makers who share the same title/role/function.

Traditionally, the best that B2B marketers could really do with their targeting efforts has been to target title/role/function. Based on the data point above, that’s far from ideal. Lots of wasted effort and resources, some of which counter-productive. On a good day, B2B marketers can bring in wisps of “intent” based on observed behavior to identify those prospects who might be in the market for your solution. However, even then you can end up engaging customers who are out there learning and dreaming, but not able to actually help you get the deal done.

But here’s the exciting part: there are some groundbreaking marketing technology players who are pushing the envelope on identifying the psychographic “signature” of prospects who would be more likely to mobilize (and not just talk). And, I’ve been tinkering with our data to pressure test the underlying ideas.

Recommended by Forbes

My early view is that psychographic targeting in B2B shows real promise. Specifically, we’re talking about examining the digital and social footprint that customer stakeholders lay down every day through their comings-and-goings online and in social media. Couple that with, in some cases, natural-language processing that can parse written (and even spoken) language a hundred different ways. All with the idea of finding little clues that signify a customer’s likelihood to be a Mobilizer.

The underlying hypothesis here is that Mobilizers show up in subtly different ways—their social profile is nuanced, or they use different turns of phrase and language—than Talkers and Blockers. It seems to take deep analytics to spot these clues, but our early research here is promising.

With this type of intelligence in-hand, B2B marketers will be able to drop the title/role/function-based targeting and shift to a much more precise approach. They’ll be able to deliver content to audiences that are far more likely to drive change and build consensus around change in their organizations. Pair that with the kind of content that actually engages Mobilizers (not thought leadership, but Commercial Insight-based content that teaches the customer something new about their business they haven’t considered or appreciated before), and you’ve got yourself a recipe for much more effective B2B demand generation.


Patrick Spenner wrote this for Forbes. See the original article and great graphics.



User Intent & Voice Search Will Dominate in 2017

SEO trends to prepare for in 2017

What’s on the horizon for search engine optimization (SEO) practitioners in the coming year?

Search engine optimization is evolving at lightning speed. As 2016 begins to wind down, it is time to examine the digital marketing landscape for the upcoming year.

There have been numerous developments in SEO over the past 10 months. A lot of the prominent trends of 2016 will continue and grow in 2017. As Google’s algorithm updates constantly keep business owners on their toes, several other trends are expected to take shape in 2017.

Here are a few things look out for in the ensuing months:

Optimization for user intent

Although keywords are still important, typing in simple words yields simple results. Consumers today know exactly what they’re looking for, and search engines are getting much better at identifying user intent. Therefore, users are now entering full queries or phrases in search engines, which gather data and heuristics to provide results more effectively.

In 2017, brands will need to place value on optimizing their digital content based on intent rather than specific keywords. For your SEO strategy, it will be critical to:

  1. Investigate. What are users searching for that brings them to your page? What questions do they want your content to answer?
  2. Optimize. Once you have gathered your research data and found areas that need work, make the changes needed to boost ratings. Based on your research, tell the consumer’s story by altering content to reflect the reader’s experience.
  3. Adjust. Keep up with analytics to see what’s working and what isn’t so you can update accordingly.

More rich answers and snippets

We all turn to Google for answers. In response to our queries, Google will often display the required information directly in search results, along with other helpful websites, videos, movie or event information, reviews or specific dates.

Structured data markup (often referred to as “schema markup”) can help website owners achieve these enhanced listings on search engine results pages (SERPs). This markup works to assist search engines in understanding website content, allowing them to display that information in a way that is helpful for users.

For example, let’s say you ask Google for instructions for cooking meatloaf. The SERP features a rich answer (also known as a “direct answer” or “featured snippet”), followed by search listings that contain rich snippets relevant to recipes, such as reviews, ratings, cook time and calorie information.


According to a study by Stone Temple Consulting, the volume of rich answers appearing in search results has nearly doubled from 2014 to 2016. If this trend continues, we’re likely to see an even greater number in the coming years.

Adding structured data markup to your website can increase your chances of having an enhanced SERP listing, being featured in a rich answer, or (in the case of branded searches) having a knowledge panel appear.

Users love quick access to useful information like this, so do yourself a favor and consider implementing schema markup for your website in 2017, if you haven’t already.

Cross-channel marketing

Cross-channel and multi-channel marketing sound similar, but in actuality, they are very different. Multi-channel simply means establishing a presence on more than one platform. Cross-channel means you are using several channels to market your brand in an integrated way. For example, if users are browsing products on a mobile app but decide not to buy, you can send them targeted ads based on their searches via email or social media.

Multi-channel marketing is by no means a new phenomenon. Cross-channel marketing, however, is like an extension of it. The primary goal of cross-channel marketing is to create a consistent brand presence across multiple channels so that users can move seamlessly between devices and platforms to make a purchase.

According to Econsultancy’s fourth annual Cross-Channel Marketing Report, 73 percent of respondents claimed that cross-channel marketing had a significant impact on increased conversion rates. However, it is only effective if you know your target audience and their consumption habits. The big challenges that businesses face in this process include:

  • knowing what the right message is
  • finding the right time to release it
  • using the correct channel

Although there are several tools and resources to help, cross-channel marketing is still in the infancy stages, even with the widespread adoption of mobile devices. Consumers today are more connected than ever, and the need for quality cross-channel marketing will continue to be in high demand throughout 2017.

Increased mobile growth

Mobile accessibility has reshaped SEO over the past few years. Mobile search is growing at a rapid pace and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down in the future. Traffic distribution has been shifting away from desktop and moving towards mobile devices, and many websites are already getting the majority of their traffic from mobile devices.

In May 2015, Google reported that mobile searches had surpassed desktop searches on its search engine. Since then, the company has taken many steps which signal that mobile, not desktop, should be considered as the default user experience. In fact, Google recently announced that it has begun experiments to make its index mobile-first.

Mobile optimization is already extremely important in SEO strategies. However, it will prove to be mandatory in 2017.

Voice search is the next big thing

Voice search has been an ongoing project in the tech industry for a few years now. In the process of working out the kinks, it has become one of the fastest-growing search options. The appeal is undeniable. It’s hands-free, fast and futuristic.

As technology improves with each update, the error rate of voice search plummets. In his keynote speech at SMX West 2016, Google’s director of conversational search, Behshad Behzadi, noted that the speech recognition error rate has been reduced from around 25 percent two years ago to just 8 percent today.

The goal for voice search in 2017 is to go above and beyond voice recognition and evolve into voice understanding. This involves several changes with respect to:

  • previous searches
  • location-based context
  • context based on frequently used apps
  • personalized information
  • keyword research based on spoken queries

There’s no denying that voice search is a one of the biggest trends of the digital age. With massive improvements to Siri, Google Now and Cortana, SEO marketers would be wise to closely examine voice innovation and think beyond text-based queries in 2017.

Closing thoughts

The year 2017 will be a big year all around. Users are becoming increasingly connected and engaged with the content they consume. It is very important for SEO marketers to factor these upcoming trends into the bigger picture in order to be prepared to take on future challenges.


See the original article:


by Pratik Dholakiya


Orange Pants to 10K Instagram Followers: vineyard vines

My Washington Post piece.  Excellent work by I.S. Dunklin [Darden ’17] and Matt Loftus [Darden ’16] on this case.

‘Brotherhood of the Traveling Pants’ gives Vineyard Vines a social-media boost

The big idea: Shep and Ian Murray started selling neckties out of their Jeep on Martha’s Vineyard in 1998. After selling 800 ties in one weekend, the brothers knew they had an idea worth pursuing. By 2014, their company, Vineyard Vines, had 55 clothing stores in the United States and had partnered with more than 600 licensed retailers. Traditional preppy brands such as L.L. Bean were struggling to remain relevant in comparison. Since its inception, Vineyard Vines had featured consumer-generated content in its catalogues and on its website, showing the authenticity of the brand and the people who wore it and reinforcing its “Every day should feel this good” slogan. The rise of social media further enabled customers and fans to submit content, and the Murray brothers wanted to leverage this in a meaningful way.

The scenario: Vineyard Vines had built a strong online presence, but reaching younger consumers required cutting edge digital marketing. If done well, social media could catapult the Vineyard Vines brand — and its revenue — higher. The question: How?

The resolution: In the spring of 2014, some Davidson College buddies attended a horse race, and one wore “alarmingly” bright orange pants. The pants were then borrowed without permission and traded among many friends. Each pursued increasingly adventurous activities while wearing them and sent photos to the owner. They called themselves “The Brotherhood of the Traveling Pants,” a reference to the popular teen novel and movie “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.” To prolong the joke, they created a dedicated Instagram account to chronicle the journey.

The Brotherhood contacted Vineyard Vines, the maker of the pants, to see whether the company would trade additional pairs for marketing material posted on its Instagram account.

The social-media team loved the idea and asked the Brotherhood to be part of its marketing campaign for the summer of 2014. The Brotherhood agreed under the condition that Vineyard Vines assist them in completing the last leg of the John Frankel Memorial Scholarship, established in honor of a friend from Davidson. The friends needed $23,000 more to endow the $250,000 scholarship.

The Brotherhood continued to post pictures to the @brotherhoodofthetravelingpants Instagram account that showed the friends wearing Vineyard Vines pants while water skiing, golfing, fishing and surfing. The social-media team featured its favorite pictures on Vineyard Vines’ Instagram account, tagging @brotherhoodofthetravelingpants in the pictures and comments. By the end of the summer, Vineyard Vines saw increased Instagram traction and a 300 percent boost in men’s pants sales year-over-year. Vineyard Vines donated custom ties for the Brotherhood to sell for $85 apiece, which closed the scholarship funding gap.

The lesson: Many social-media platforms represent relatively low-cost ways to build a community with customers. This Instagram effort allowed Vineyard Vines to associate the brand in customers’ minds with areas of interest tangentially related to the pair of critter pants or bluefish tie that a customer might buy. Customers experienced relatable content through the Brotherhood’s Instagram account. And the association with a memorial scholarship endeavor kept the brand authentic.

This valuable partnership also benefited the Brotherhood. In one summer, @brotherhoodofthetravelingpants gained “influencer” status, at 10,000 followers. Sometimes it’s hard to ignore a guy in bright blue pants barefoot water-skiing. One member of the Brotherhood, when asked whether there had been any downside to the project, replied, “Well, sometimes it would be nice to wear shorts.”

— Meghan R. Murray

Murray, who is not related to the founders of Vineyard Vines, is a digital marketing consultant and an adjunct instructor at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.

See at the Washington Post, part of the Case in Point series December 3, 2016



Authenticity and Crowdsourced News Have Made Snap a Dominant Player

Great NYT piece about Snapchat’s dominance.

While We Weren’t Looking, Snapchat Revolutionized Social Networks

Snap Inc., the parent company of the popular photo-messaging and storytelling app Snapchat, is having a productive autumn.

A couple of weeks ago, Snap filed confidential documents for a coming stock offering that could value the firm at $30 billion, which would make it one of the largest initial public offerings in recent years. Around the same time, it began selling Spectacles, sunglasses that can record video clips, which have become one of the most sought-after gadgets of the season.

And yet, even when it’s grabbing headlines, it often seems as if Snap gets little respect.

Though Snapchat has overtaken Twitter in terms of daily users to become one of the most popular social networks in the world, it has not attracted the media attention that the 140-character platform earns, perhaps because journalists and presidential candidates don’t use it very much. Snapchat’s news division has become a popular and innovative source of information for young people, but it is rarely mentioned in the hand-wringing over how social media affected the presidential election.

This is all wrong. If you secretly harbor the idea that Snapchat is frivolous or somehow a fad, it’s time to re-examine your certainties. In fact, in various large and small ways, Snap has quietly become one of the world’s most innovative and influential consumer technology companies.

Snap, which is based far outside the Silicon Valley bubble, in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles, is pushing radically new ideas about how humans should interact with computers. It is pioneering a model of social networking that feels more intimate and authentic than the Facebook-led ideas that now dominate the online world. Snap’s software and hardware designs, as well as its marketing strategies, are more daring than much of what we’ve seen from tech giants, including Apple.

Snap’s business model, which depends on TV-style advertising that (so far) offers marketers fewer of the data-targeted options pioneered by web giants like Google, feels refreshingly novel. And perhaps most important, its model for entertainment and journalism values human editing and curation over stories selected by personalization algorithms — and thus represents a departure from the filtered, viral feeds that dominate much of the rest of the online news environment.

Snap is still relatively small; its 150 million daily user base pales in comparison to Facebook’s 1.2 billion, and its success is far from assured. In its novelty, it can sometimes veer toward the bizarre and inscrutable. And it’s not obvious that all of its advances are positive. (For instance, I’m not sure that it’s always better for our relationships to lose a record of our chats with friends.)

Yet it’s no wonder that Facebook and its subsidiaries appear obsessed with imitating Snap. As a font of ideas that many in the tech industry hadn’t considered before, Snap isn’t just popular, but also increasingly important.

“Regardless of what happens, they’ve reshaped the social media landscape,” said Joseph B. Bayer, a communications professor at Ohio State University who has studied Snapchat’s impact on how people communicate. “They’re making risky moves, trying to rethink what people want online as opposed to taking what’s already been done and adding a new flash.”

Techies value disruption, and it’s difficult to think of another online company that has shuffled the status quo as consistently as Snap has over the past few years.

Before Snapchat, the industry took for granted that everything users posted to the internet should remain there by default. Saving people’s data — and then constantly re-examining it to create new products and advertising — is the engine that supports behemoths like Google and Facebook.

At its founding in 2011, Snap pushed a new way: By default, the pictures posted through Snapchat are viewable for only a short time. At the time, it was a head-scratching idea, one that many assumed was good only for sexting. To the tech industry’s surprise, disappearing messages captivated users who had been afraid that their momentary digital actions might follow them around forever.

Snapchat’s “ephemeral” internet — which has since been imitated by lots of other companies, including, most recently, Instagram — did not just usher in a new idea for online privacy. It also altered what had once been considered a sacred law of online interaction: virality.

Every medium that has ever been popular online — from email to the web to social networks like Facebook — has been pervaded by things that are passed along from one user to another. This is not the case on Snapchat. Though Snapchat has introduced some limited means of forwarding people’s snaps, the short life of every snap means there is no obvious means for any single piece of content to become a viral hit within the app. There are no ice bucket challenges or Chewbacca moms or Macedonian teenagers pushing fake news on Shap.

There is, instead, a practiced authenticity. The biggest stars — even Kylie Jenner — get ahead by giving you deep access to their real lives. As a result, much of what you see on Snapchat feels less like a performance than on other networks. People aren’t fishing for likes and follows and reshares. For better or worse, they’re trying to be real.

The diminution of personalization algorithms and virality also plays into how Snapchat treats news. Snapchat’s primary format is called a Story, a slide show of a user’s video clips that are played in chronological order. This, too, is an innovation; before Snapchat, much online content, from blogs to tweets, was consumed in reverse chronological order, from the most recent to the oldest. Snapchat’s Stories, which have since been widely copied, ushered in a more natural order — start at the beginning and go from there.

A few years ago, insiders at Snapchat noticed that Stories were an ideal vehicle for relaying news. They could be crowdsourced: If a lot of people were at a concert or sporting event or somewhere that breaking news was occurring, a lot of them were likely to be snapping what was happening. If Snapchat offered them a way to submit their clips, it could spot the best ones and add them to a narrative compilation of the event.

While Silicon Valley was shunning editing and curation done by humans, and instead relying on computers to spot and disseminate news, Snapchat began hiring producers and reporters to assemble clips into in-depth pieces.

The company calls these Live Stories, and they have been transformative, unlike any other news presentation you can find online. Every day, Snapchat offers one or several stories about big and small events happening in the world, including football games, awards shows and serious news.

For instance, this summer, while the rest of the media were engulfed by Hurricane Trump, Snapchat’s news team spent days following the devastating floods in Louisiana. That in itself was unusual, but Snap’s presentation was also groundbreaking: Rather than showing the overhead shots or anchor stand-ups that are conventional on TV news, Snapchat offered video from inside people’s houses, from shelters, from schools. It mixed the macrostory of an impending natural disaster and the government’s response to it with the microtragedies of personal loss, and even the lighter moments of humor and boredom in between.

When a knife-wielding attacker went on a rampage at Ohio State University this week, Snapchat’s news story was similarly remarkable. Between scenes of government officials and students describing the attack, there were clips captured by students holed up in classrooms, expressing their fear and sense of bewilderment over what was going on. It wasn’t just an informative story, but it engendered a sense of empathy for its subjects that is rare in the news.

Snapchat has said that it thinks of itself as a camera company rather than a social network. This sounds like marketing puffery (after all, it only just started making its first actual camera, Spectacles), but I think its determination to set itself apart from the rest of the tech industry is important to note.

Snap can free itself from Silicon Valley’s accepted norms because it doesn’t think of itself as just another Silicon Valley tech company. It’s time we all started to see it that way, too.

see original article at NYT.com


Making Branded Video Content Work

Great infographic by AdWeek.  Shows us how consumers are open to branded content in video advertising.



Check out the original article at the AdWeek site; by Carrie Cummings.


Give me Online Video ROAS v CPA and ROI

Great eMarketer piece on how brand marketers measure digital video advertising. Brand Marketers need to value video advertising too. eMarketer report below, plus check out the original article (link at bottom) for great graphs.

How Brand Marketers Measure Digital Video Advertising

US brand marketers gauge how well, or otherwise, their digital video ads perform in a variety of different ways. Today, most measure digital video ad performance by looking at site traffic, June 2016 research indicates, but in the next year or two, more respondents want to be able to measure via cost per acquisition.

Brand and media consultancy Sequent Partners and Eyeview, a video marketing technology company, surveyed 202 US brand marketers who worked in the automotive, CPG, retail and travel industries. Respondents all worked for companies that currently buy digital video ads and are involved in their company’s media budget setting and allocation process.

Nearly three-quarters (71%) of brand marketers said they currently determine their digital video ad performance by watching site traffic. And more than half of respondents said they look at their return on investment (ROI). Brand metrics, as well as store traffic, are other ways they currently measure digital video advertising.

When asked how would they want to measure it in the next year or two, site traffic was still the top measurement mentioned. Indeed, 73% of respondents said they would want to measure it that way. Meanwhile, 38% of brand marketers said they would want to measure digital video ad performance by looking at the return on ad sales (ROAS). To compare, just 29% of respondents said they measure it that way today.

And one of the biggest differences was that nearly two-thirds of brand marketers said they would want to measure digital video ad performance by the cost per acquisition, order or sale. Only 40% of respondents said they do just that today.

Measuring effectiveness across devices and content platforms is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. June 2016 research from ad tech firm FreeWheel of ads on its network found that completion rates were better with larger screens and longer content. In Q1 2016, completion rates for US digital video ads on over-the-top (OTT) devices such as connected TVs were 93%, compared with 78% for smartphones and rates in between for tablets and desktops.

See original 11/14/16 article and great graphs at eMarketer



Specialization is Key in B2B

There’s A B2B Marketplace For That (Or There Soon Will Be)

One B2B marketplace trend that is gaining momentum is specialization. Niche players are creating more and better platforms to put buyers and sellers together, and receiving a small piece of each transaction in the process. I recently came across a niche marketplace platform that exemplifies this trend, and provides insights into how entrepreneurs with expertise in a given industry segment can succeed.

In sharp contrast to primarily B2C marketplaces, Thumbtack, TaskRabbit, and HomeAdvisor (all of which give customers access to a wide range of providers who can do just about anything), imagine, as an example, a B2B marketplace designed to connect telecom engineers with businesses needing telecom services. That’s a niche play, and it’s indicative of numerous specialized marketplaces that either exist already, or will be coming soon.

According to Malik Zakaria, Founder and CEO of Field Engineer, “In today’s economy it’s all about providing a scalable workforce.” While Field Engineer is an online marketplace that deals with one narrow segment (telecom engineers on demand), the success factors Zakaria describes could easily apply to any industry. Here are five points he talked about in a recent interview:

1. Minimize labor costs. There isn’t a business owner alive who wouldn’t be interested in the prospect of permanently driving down personnel-related expenditures. But minimizing labor costs often means relying on a skeleton crew, which could push current employees to burnout or make customers wait. And trying to hire the cheapest permanent staff possible can lead to subpar results and costly rework, not to mention severe customer dissatisfaction. Relying on a scalable, flexible workforce of prequalified providers through a marketplace can amount to significant savings for a company and its customers, while keeping quality high.

2. Reduce risk. Although hiring talent on a per-project basis is not new, for many companies, working with an unknown entity is simply not worth the risk. Traditional recruitment agencies can be costly, but they often justify the cost by qualifying and filtering candidates. How can a marketplace serve the same vetting function as a temp agency, while at the same time taking the cost of an intermediary out of the equation? “We knew this was something we had to deal with right upfront,” remembers Zakaria. “So we built into our process background checks, in-depth work history disclosures, and an online rating system. We also verify certifications that technicians claim to have received.”

3. Help customers rapidly scale up (or down). When you have access to prequalified candidates at any location, they can hit the ground running and tackle problems without the need for lengthy training periods. Zakaria explains, “A specialized contractor can help your organization ramp up productivity by bringing with them the necessary skill set for the job. A full-time hire on the other hand, may take longer to become fully productive. And if your workload tapers off, you will avoid the dreadful experience of laying off employees.”

4. Offer the right expertise for each contract. Making use of a scalable workforce allows companies in all industries the luxury of picking and choosing the skill sets they need for any given project. If there isn’t yet a marketplace where you can find the experienced providers you are looking for, there soon will be, given the rate at which new online marketplaces are filling niche needs. If you see the need for such a marketplace, and have the needed expertise to create it, you could be the first mover in your specialty.

5. Do you bring providers onboard before customers, or vice versa? Here is the chicken-and-egg question: Should you get customers onboard to attract providers, or must you have providers before your marketplace can be a viable solution for customers? An excellent article describes how Uber, Airbnb, and Etsy attracted their first 1,000 customers. Field Engineer, now a couple of months into its launch, began by recruiting 1,000 providers, allowing it to transact its first $100,000 in customer contracts.

The marketplace trend of specialization is picking up steam. Entrepreneurs will be both consumers and creators of new niche marketplaces in the B2B space. Which role will you play?


See original at Forbes by Larry Myler


From Accelerated Mobile to RankBrain

The four pillars of the future of SEO

What does the future of search engine optimization have in store for us? Columnist Pratik Dholakiya looks at recent trends to explain the direction our industry is headed in.

SEO has come a long way from being all about on-page optimization, building backlinks and creating “relevant” content. When I read popular search engine blogs, I notice a definite trend: SEO is moving toward a more inclusive strategy that goes beyond new ways of link building or content marketing.

A huge part of present-day SEO practices is brand building and influencing search queries themselves, as opposed to starting with a truckload of keywords and creating content around them. Therefore, while links, keywords, content and site optimization remain the building blocks of SEO, the columns on which the edifice is being built are taking on a different appearance. Let’s see what these pillars are.

  1. RankBrain

Although RankBrain is the third most significant ranking factor in the Google algorithm, it is perhaps the most misunderstood one. The speculations and counter-speculations never seem to end.

Since RankBrain was one of the few algorithm updates that Google first revealed to a major news publication, it has caught and held onto the attention of the general tech-reading public, in addition to search engine marketers.

I personally believe Google’s admission that they fully don’t understand RankBrain. However, this doesn’t mask the fact that they’ve made great strides in using machine learning to entrust their prized search algorithm to it.

Additionally, we do have some idea about what RankBrain does not do. According to Gary Illyes and Andrey Lipattsev of Google, RankBrain does not act on your backlink profile, content quality or click-through rate. It only helps the algorithm interpret queries better and match them with relevant page content.

And since Google can do what it does best with less human intervention, industry leaders unanimously agreed that it will gain more significance. So it was no surprise when earlier this year, Jeff Dean revealed that RankBrain now processes every single Google search (that’s at least 63,000 a second) — up from barely 15 percent nine months before.

The future has already happened here.

But you cannot do anything about it: Gary Illyes said at SMX Advanced earlier this year that there is nothing one can do to optimize a website for RankBrain.

  1. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

In February 2016, Google integrated results from its Accelerated Mobile Pages project into its search results in the form of a “Top Stories” carousel in mobile results. Six months later, Google started displaying links to AMP pages in the main organic search results.

Today, Google has 150 million indexed AMP documents in its index, and, encouraged by mainstream adoption outside the publishing industry (including eBay and Bing), has just announced that users searching from mobile devices will be directed to the relevant AMP pages even if an equivalent app page exists.

However, the average Google user hardly knows the significance of an AMP result yet. In an informal survey conducted by Glenn Gabe, only three of 44 respondents could correctly identify what the AMP icon in the SERPs stood for. And they clearly prefer the “mobile-friendly” label over the cryptic “AMP” coupled with the lightning bolt.

This means Google’s decision is definitely in line with their aim of “bringing the mobile web on par with native apps and keeping Google relevant in the increasingly mobile-centric world we’re living in,” as we pointed out in an article on the E2M blog not long ago. AMP is here to stay (and become omnipresent), whether you like it or not.

  1. The Knowledge Graph & rich answers

Google’s Knowledge Graph, which it launched in 2012, is its slow but sure attempt to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible,” in line with their mission. In a nutshell, it’s Google’s attempt at scraping — sorry, replicating — Wikipedia:

The Knowledge Graph is a knowledge base used by Google to enhance its search engine’s search results with semantic-search information gathered from a wide variety of sources.

The “wide variety of sources” includes Wikidata (to which Google moved its Freebase data and actively contributes), Wikipedia and the CIA World Factbook.

Typically, knowledge graph elements are in the form of boxes of structured information with links to authoritative sources of further information (not always, though). Common formats include the knowledge panel displayed on the right of a SERP and answer box, displayed on top of other organic results.

The number of queries that show ready answers in these formats continues to grow unabated, as ongoing studies from Stone Temple Consulting have shown. Currently, around 40 percent of Google queries display “rich answers,” which include featured snippets, but not knowledge panels:

Brand managers and marketers are increasingly looking to control the impression, conversation and queries that people have about them. Moving forward, one of the most effective ways to do that would be to try to influence what Google knows and has to say about you. Here are a couple of approaches from Propecta and Kapost that involve defining and connecting entities with markup, editing Wikipedia, and yes, not abandoning Google Plus.

  1. Real-time, integrated penalty filters

Now you see it, now you don’t. There it is! Oh, it isn’t. Google announced that they have finally updated Penguin (after what seemed like a never-ending wait of almost two years), noting that it is for the last time.

That’s because Penguin is now a real-time signal processed within Google’s search algorithm — data on your pages is refreshed every time Google re-crawls and re-indexes them.

A few months earlier, Google also integrated Panda into their main algorithm (though unlike Penguin, it does not update in real time).

Notice a pattern here? Google wants to make spam fighting a central, automated function of serving search results.

This is a very positive sign for website owners — cleaning up spammy backlinks and getting rid of poor-quality content will bring quick results. Marketers struggling to justify extra efforts to improve the quality of their websites will now be able to put their money where their mouth is.


It is clear that Google will focus on machine learning, understanding of semantics, connections and patterns and user experience in the future.

SEO at the moment is very closely tied to content marketing. While Google can interpret content and derive its relevance to search queries with a very high degree of success, it is constantly focused on making refinements to improve how timely, contextual and useful this content is to the searcher. The Knowledge Graph, rich answers, RankBrain and AMP all serve this purpose, while integrated penalties maintain the quality of results.


originally published 9/28/16 in Search Engine Land

check out the original article for great graphs



They Believe Content Shared by Someone They Trust

Straightforward and practical B2B + social media article by AJ Agarwal in Forbes:

The Real Truth About B2B Marketing And Social Media

Marketing in B2B requires an understanding of social media. Social media marketing and selling are constants for any business looking to grow themselves further. This is no different in a B2B design. You want to make sure your time is going to be dedicated to the right social network as a B2B. Here are some of the real truths behind which social media accounts you should be maintaining for your marketing strategy.

Facebook Is More Relevant To B2B Marketing Than Most Realize

One of the truths about B2B marketing is that Facebook is a staple no matter what niche you’re in. Much of the content out there will suggest that Twitter and LinkedIn are more relevant, but studies recently done showed otherwise.

The research asked people what channel they would turn to regarding a purchase. 24% of people answered that their decision would be used from looking at Facebook first. That means one in four people sought out Facebook specifically.

Furthermore, studies show that the average decision-maker uses Facebook around 18 days per month versus the 13 days per month using LinkedIn and Twitter. When making any decision, most people are more prone to go to their most-visited channels for the information first before heading elsewhere.

If Content Is Shared By Someone They Trust — They Believe It

Making yourself relevant on social media is imperative for a B2B looking to improve their marketing strategy. If you focus on getting content up on social media websites and can get the connections to help get exposure to that piece, then you will show as a more reputable company.

It’s important for a B2B to get to bloggers on LinkedIn and professionals on Facebook to help with promoting their products and writing quality content on it. A person is more likely to believe that they should select your company over another vendor based on the credibility of the information they find on all social media channels.

Research What Your Competitors Are Doing

It’s important to find the top performing brands in your niche and analyze their methods. See what they are doing to be successful and which platforms they are using to do this.

While Facebook might be the most-used of social media, this doesn’t mean that you won’t have a need to use marketing on other social media channels like LinkedIn and Twitter. Every social media has a different end-game that can help with improving your sales. Learning how they work specifically for your niche and how active those professionals are for your B2B decision will be imperative.

The successful vendors in your niche have already laid out a platform of success. Research it, learn it, and use it to your advantage to succeed. Look at where these vendors are going wrong and find ways to implement slight improvements to make your vendor more qualified and reputable.

Paid Advertisement On Social Media

Social media has also become a huge hit for paid advertisements. This is how many of these social media websites are able to stay running. This is an opportunity for any B2B looking to enhance their marketing strategy.

Knowing your audience is important for paid advertisement because it will maximize your conversions and bring in a better profit margin by lowering costs. You may not find it effective for your B2B marketing strategy to include paid advertisement for every social media connection. You may want to limit it to the one or two most successful for your niche that can really pull in more interest.

Keep Your Social Media Accounts Updated

In B2B marketing, social media has become a crucial part of the success. With the internet being a top source for most professionals to look into vendors, you want your internet presence to grow and flourish. Have some professionals share your work to build credibility for you and to help with gaining relevance to your own content on it.


see the original article by  AJ Agrawal, Forbes Contributor 10.3.16