Five digital marketing stories you need to read now

Due to the fact that there are so many interesting stories to report on in the digital space this week we’re putting five interesting articles into one post. Here are the most important digital marketing stories you need to read this week:

Online Video Advertising Moves Front and Center

The process of buying video ads has become increasingly complex, with more websites, ad networks, exchanges, and demand-side platforms (DSPs) than ever before, according to a new eMarketer report, Buying Online Video Advertising: Making the Most of Your Budget. But buying online video ad space is, at its core, similar to buying traditional TV advertising. For advertisers, it starts with knowing how to reach their target audience mixed with a good grasp of brand objectives and how they shift at different stages.

Read more here.

How Much Retargeting is Too Much?

Once upon a time, online advertising exposed users to new products and services. But now many users find themselves chased around the Internet by just a handful of brands at a time. Welcome to the Re-targeting Era.

On the surface, retargeting makes perfect sense. The biggest weakness of display versus search is display doesn’t have very good intent signals. Someone who has shopped at an e-commerce site like Zappos that’s a much better signal than the fact she is reading an article about fashion.

Read more here

Seven core principles digital marketers forget

We’d like to think that no matter what you have, money or brains or both, inbound marketing is the only kind of marketing that works today. Inbound marketing, by the way, has a lot to do with digital marketing.

If you are a digital marketer, you are probably forgetting a few marketing principles. Here are some of them…

Read more here

FTC Begins Probe of Google’s Display-Ad Business

The Federal Trade Commission has begun to examine complaints by rivals of Google Inc. that the Internet giant abused its power in the market for selling online-graphical and video ads, according to people briefed on the matter.

The inquiry comes just months after the agency ended its years long antitrust probe of Google’s Web-search engine and search-advertising business.

Read more here

EU Online Ad Market Surpasses $24.3bn in Value

The AdEx Benchmark research revealed that online was the best performer in the advertising market with an overall growth of 11.5% in 2012. Europe continues its strong growth curve in both early adopter and emerging markets. Diversity of online advertising was a strong contributor to ongoing European growth in spite of continuing macroeconomic volatility.

Read more here

Check back next week for the best in digital media and marketing news.

Are ads ruining website design development?

Your website design should be responsive

Responsive design is the hot topic in website design. We live in a world with desktops, tablets of various screen sizes and smartphones with even more variety in screen size. What this means is that regardless of resolution or screen size, the content will adapt.

This setup is great for publishers and readers as they get their content unfortunately the problem comes in with adverts. If you consider an iPhone has a screen resolution of 1136 by 640 resolution it’s tough to imagine how a typical 300 by 600 leader board advert would fit only to screen regardless of responsive design. Unfortunately, ad technology just hasn’t kept up with web code when it comes to responsive design.

As a result, publishers taking the responsive route are having to resort to workarounds to get different ad units on their pages. One method is often called a swap€ and basically involves using javascript to switch out ad tags based on the size of the device viewing a site. Mashable and The Onion have taken this approach, but it usually involves little more than stripping out ads that are too large to render on mobile sites, as opposed to inserting mobile optimized ones. Google is rumored to be working on a solution to address this issue, but so far details so far are scarce.

For the moment, therefore, publishers are forced to use workarounds like the swap method, or to only serve 300 x 250 ads that render well on most devices. Then again, maybe that’€™s not such as bad thing. To date, publishers have generated little revenue from mobile banners, largely because there’€™s been little demand for them from advertisers. 300 x 250 ads, meanwhile, continue to sell relatively well, and can be served using any ad server.

Either way one thing is clear: For ad-supported sites, moving to responsive isn’t as simple a decision as it may first appear. Yet many are doing it, creating a growing need for solutions to help them serve ads to their properties.

Mobile marketing translates to sales

The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), in partnership with IHS Global Insight, studied US mobile marketing expenditures and their impact on sales for the €œMobile Marketing Impact Study, released in May. The study found that this year spending on mobile marketing including mobile advertising, mobile customer-relationship management and mobile direct-response marketing on non-mobile media €”will reach $10.46 billion. By 2015, spending on the channel will approach $20 billion.

US mobile marketing spend by type:

Looking at the stats we can see see that in 2013 alone over $10 billion will be spent on mobile. The question remains: what sort of ROI can advertisers expect from their money?

There is no question that as mobile and tablet advertising help companies achieve their brand goals, and thereby drive sales, it is spurring bigger outlays. InsightExpress found that in 2013, mobile and tablet advertising got strong results across brand health metrics, raising ad awareness, purchase intent and brand favorability. Tablets performed particularly well.

effect of mobile and tablet marketing on brand metrics in the US


It’s not just brand awareness the $10 billion spent on mobile will translate to an economy-wide impact of $216.9 billion in sales in 2013, according to the MMA’s projections, rising to $401 billion in sales in 2015, a ratio of about $1 in mobile spending to $20 in sales, also known as the marketing impact ratio (MIR). The study noted the seeming lack of diminishing returns for mobile investment. As companies spent more money on mobile marketing, their MIR did not decrease.

As mobile investment grows to around $19 billion is 2015 it will be interesting to see whether the 1:20 ratio continues. Until then, mobile is a great investment.


Get the tracking right on your mobile marketing

You will find that for most of your mobile marketing efforts you can get the answers through simple Google Analytics tracking. With traffic getting to company websites more and more from mobile devices, it is starting to play a huge role in driving affiliate marketing sales and in generating leads.

Take a bit of time to read up on goal conversion as well as event tracking. It will help you to create a clear picture of tracking through your whole funnel and in the end help you to improve your ROIs. Digital marketing rides on the back of numbers. Analytics give you those numbers. You will be foolish not to use it as you grow your empire in the mobile world!

Five common fallacies related to banner advertising

Here at OfferForge we keep hearing about the “death of the banner” but our theory is that the banner is only really starting to gain some traction as an interesting model. We’d be the next Google if we could give you an exact reason that banner advertising hasn’t worked historically but we’re seeing all sorts of exciting new banner types and creative worldwide.

There are unfortunately still a high level of misunderstanding and misleading information about banners adverts and their effectiveness. Here are five assumptions and the truth behind them:

  • Over 5.3 trillion display ads were served to U.S. users last year. This number is huge! Except … 23.5 trillion TV commercials were “served” in the U.S. last year, if you add up 314 million American adults and children, each watching on average 1,560 hours of TV annually.
  • The typical internet user is served 1,707 banners each month.  And … the typical U.S. consumer watches 3,200 minutes of TV commercials each month, or about 6,000 TV ads. Still think banners are oversaturating the market?
  • The 468 x 60 banner has a 0.04 percent click-through rate. Again this is a horrendous number except TV spots have a 0.05 percent response rate. Billboards have a lower, 0.03 percent response rate. Radio fares best at about 0.13 percent, but the truth is, responses to all advertising are low.
  • You’re more likely to survive a plane crash than click on a banner ad. This is proof that stats can easily mislead. The logic problem is based on the plane already having crashed. In this situation yes, you are more likely than 4 out of 10,000 to survive (vs. a comparable banner click rate of 0.04 percent). Fortunately your odds of being on a plane crash in the first place, in which at least one person dies, is 1 in 3.4 million. It’s not even a fair comparison.
  • Thirty-four percent of people don’t trust banner ads at all. Well, 35 percent of Americans think dinosaurs roamed the Earth at the same time as humans. And, hey, did you know 50 percent of people have an IQ below 100? What am I to make of this?

For every digital media stat touted by an expert there is context and often different results. Our recommendation is to use the mediums that work for you; whether Facebook, ad networks such as OfferForge or even a radio advert.

If not banner advertising, then what?

If you are opting for variation you might want to consider adding links in your text as well. You can add in the affiliate marketing links seamlessly into your text. These links are can quite possibly generate more clicks than banners in some instances.

The text links are however not the only option you should use a the preference depends on your visitor. Serve them both and you should have a decent chance of generating some leads and sales and boosting your affiliate marketing income.

Facebook moves into big data with their new ad technology

As part of his questions to analysts at last weeks Facebook Q1 2013 earnings call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg focused heavily on one theme: Facebook’s new Big Data capabilities.

For years the Facebook advertising play has been simple: take a subset of the 1 billion odd users and send advertising directly to them. However, for marketers to remain interested even more specific targeting is required

Here are some of Facebook’s new big data offerings

Launched new advertising products such as Lookalike Audiences, Managed Custom Audiences, and Partner Categories, which help marketers improve their targeting capabilities on Facebook.

Partnered with Datalogix, Epsilon, Acxiom, and BlueKai to enable marketers to incorporate off Facebook purchasing data in order to deliver more relevant ads to users.

Enhanced ability to measure advertiser ROI on digital media across the internet through our acquisition of the Atlas Advertising Suite.

The first two points underplay what Facebook is up to. Most people have no idea what Datalogix, Epsilon, Acxiom and Bluekai actually do. Insiders, however, know that Facebook alliances with these companies give it one of the most powerful consumer databases on the planet.

Epsilon has data on 300 million company loyalty card members worldwide, and a data-bank on 250 million consumers in the U.S.

Acxiom has “a comprehensive national database covering more than 126 million households and 190 million individuals.”

Datalogix says, “Our database contains more than $1 trillion in offline purchase-based data and we’re able to covert this data, and any CRM data, into an online universe.”

The data stored in these companies tends to be anonymized or “hashed.” They are not able to identify Jane Smith, shoe-shopper from Montclair, N.J., as an individual. But they are able to identify thousands of Janes who shop for shoes in any zip code you want, in aggregate.

All this is now paired with Facebook’s own data — profiles of 1 billion-plus users who are all happily documenting the minutiae of their lives, and their shopping, on Facebook.

These partnerships are great but the real meat in the Facebook plan is yet to even begin. Atlas is a gigantic internet ad server, previously owned by Microsoft. It’s like the plumbing of the web: It serves up ads all over the web and takes a cut from any advertiser using its services. Atlas carries between 10% and 15% of all ads for buyers on the web, according to LeadLedger. It is second in size only to Google’s DoubleClick ad server.

Most people have yet to digest that fact: Facebook is now the second biggest web ad server to Google. The deal closed recently, and Facebook has yet to report the revenue impact of Atlas in its own numbers.

A lot of people assumed that Facebook bought Atlas because it wanted to create an off-Facebook ad network, maybe one in which Facebook data could be used to enhance targeting through Atlas. But that’s not the primary goal for Atlas. Facebook has been quite clear about why it acquired Atlas from Microsoft: It wants the data Atlas can provide.

Ultimately Zuckerberg wants Facebook to be able to tell advertisers how their ads perform even when consumers are offline, and haven’t been anywhere near Facebook prior to going shopping:

In the conference call he was quoted as saying: “We believe the Atlas platform will help us demonstrate even more clearly the connection between ad impressions and purchases. We could help marketers measure the effectiveness of their ad impressions better not just on Facebook, but across the entire internet.”

Most ordinary Facebook users don’t realise how ambitious these plans are. If you bought something with a credit or debit card in the last couple of years, you’re probably in Facebook’s data pool right now.

As advertising technologists we can’t help but be excited and scared as human beings how much Facebook and Google know about us!

Are Google keywords less effective than they should be?

A recent report from eBay has proposed the fact that Google advertising is less effective for longer term users of the internet than previously thought. The research report presents results from a series of large-scale field experiments done at eBay that are designed to detect the causal effectiveness of paid search advertisements.

The high level results show that brand-keyword ads have no short-term benefits, and that returns from all other keywords are a fraction of conventional estimates. The report found that new and infrequent users are positively influenced by ads but that existing loyal users whose purchasing behavior is not influenced by paid search account for most of the advertising expenses, resulting in average returns that are negative. This suggests companies are wasting their money targeting ads at existing customers.

The logic of the Google research is interesting:

“[In the absence of paid search links] consumers simply substitute to organic search links [the results Google’s search algorithm brings back without companies having to pay],” said the report.

“The results show that almost all of the forgone click traffic and attributed sales were immediately captured by natural search,” the auction site found. Removal of these advertisements simply raised the prominence of the eBay natural search result.

However, one needs to consider that if users are clicking the top result whether there is an advert or an organic result it would be easy for a competitor to swoop in on your ad traffic if you decided to stop search engine marketing.

The report does discuss substitution to other channels and implications for advertising decisions in large firms and you can download the rest of the report here.

OfferForge interview John Beale of Cerebra

As part of our series on interviewing digital luminaries in South Africa we speak to John Beale from Cerebra The Best Social Media Marketer Of The Year at last years Bookmark Award. John speaks to us today about how ad networks and paid advertising link to social media and how everything interacts.

The best ways to optimise your contact forms

Contact forms are the make and break for many types of online businesses as well as offline businesses that use contact forms for lead generation. Insurance and travel companies have gotten their contact forms down to an art but how does it work and how should you use a contact form for a campaign once you’ve got traffic to your site? We found a great infographic on the topic at econsultancy for you to enjoy: how to optimize contact forms inforgraphic

What is an ad network?

As an ad network we occasionally get asked the question: “What is an ad network and why should our brand use one?” In this day and age where anyone with a vague level of literacy can become a publisher it’s important that the high quality publishers have an easy way to monetize their websites.

In essence with there being just too many websites out there for ad agencies to sit and listen to. This is why ad networks exist – so that agencies can buy huge amounts of advertising from a variety of websites all in one go. Ad networks are kind of like a supermarket of websites, which saves agencies the effort of having to go every individual website to know what they are about.

An ad network brings publishers and advertisers together

Think of an ad network from the perspective on an actors agent; they make sure the actor gets the best roles and the same applies to an ad network. This gives a publisher the opportunity to focus on their content rather than pounding the proverbial pavement in order to sell their site. Here at OfferForge you can even sign up to the network online without leaving the comfort of your chair. Publishers get easy access to the advertising collateral needed for their sites and can generate an affiliate marketing income right out of the blocks.

For an advertiser the benefits are fairly substantial as well. An established ad network with critical mass is a perfect vehicle to extend reach beyond what the top few properties provide. There is more to the internet than just a couple of key portals and a few top vertical content sites. In fact, the very essence of the internet is about fragmented sources of content. Not to say that top portals and sites don’t offer valuable advertising opportunities, they absolutely do. It is to say, that online marketing plans must extend beyond the top few to include the many other options that exist in order to fully maximize the opportunity that the internet offers. Ad networks offer un-duplicated, complementary reach to tens of millions of unique users, with inventory coming from unique sources through the aggregation of thousands of content rich niche sites. The quality of the sites that are working with the top ad networks has improved dramatically and most have adapted to brand requirements offering significant transparency. Furthermore, many of the niche sites within a network yield higher advertising impact as a result of less page clutter and passionate content interaction with the user. A typical consumer’s “favorites” list is made up of dozens of sites that touch their lifestyles and breed loyalty. The moral: target everyone on different types of websites.

The other benefit for advertisers: reducing waste. If you’re advertising on the top ten sites in your vertical you’re most likely going to have your target audience see your adverts on similar sites. This might be useful for getting your audience to see an advert but will eventually leave your audience with fatigue and indifference towards your brand. An ad network will spread your message across multiple sites using tracking technology to follow users through their online journey.

The big advantage of affiliate marketing as a way of lead generation or selling products online goes both ways. The advertiser ONLY pays for performance. This is different to having an under-performing sales person that you still need to pay a basic salary. Only when the successful leads are generated or the sales are made will the publisher get paid. The publisher only works through the one point of contact: the ad network. There is no need to try and follow up with loads of vendors on payments for commission earned. It is all done through a single interface. Affiliate marketing just works for all parties.

If you have any further questions contact us today for a smarter, faster way to get your message across.