I've wanted to return to this for months, ever since Jeremy Bloom reached out to me in August about his business KosherHam.com, a humorous T-shirt site that claims, "Wearing anything else just isn't kosher." He even noted that my new BFF Perez Hilton has been spotted in his gear.
I was intrigued when Bloom said that he's been honing his Jewdar - in this context, the act of targeting Jews through advertising, specifically on Facebook - and that he'd be willing to share all his secrets with me. He wrote, "I am constantly behaviorally targeting different demos, but the most receptive audiences with some of the highest click-through rates and lowest CPMs seem to be Jews." He tests religiously, trying different subject lines, ad copy, targeting, and models and T-shirts in the photos.
He's able to reach Jews largely through the keywords field in Facebook's self-service ads that target users based on their interests. Facebook won't target users by religion specifically, but if they list "Jewish" or Jews" as interests, they're fair game. Bloom further targets users in major cities with large Jewish populations. This will inherently mean some non-Jews see the ads -- but hey, they're welcome to buy shirts too.
So what keywords does Bloom use to find Jews? The eclectic roster includes: Jew, Jewish, Hebrew, Israel, Hillel, Sigma Alpha Mu, Zeta Beta Tau, Annie Hall, Brooklyn, bagels, deli, Chinese food, Matisyahu, Phish, jam bands, being Jewish, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Seinfeld, Hebrew Hammer, Heeb Magazine, and Fiddler on the Roof. If you don't know what some of these mean or what they have to do with Judaism, you're probably out of the target demographic.
After perusing the list, I wondered how some of these would do head to head. Bloom indulged me and ran some trials in four different brackets: City, Comedian, Cuisine, and Music. Bids were set at 34 cents CPM. The top performing ads were those with the highest click-through rate (CTR) and lowest cost-per-click (CPC). And the winners are...
City: New York vs. Los Angeles
Subject Lines: NY Jews Love Kosherham, LA Jews Love Kosherham
Winner: LA gets the Oscar, with 18% CTR and 16 cents CPC, coasting past NY's 12% CTR and 23 cents CPC.
Comedian: Seinfeld vs. Woody Allen
Subject Lines: Seinfeld Fans Love Us, Woody Allen Fans Love Us
Winner: Woody Allen kvetches up the clicks, with 33% CTR and 8 cents CPC, while Seinfeld's 13% CTR and 21 cents CPC showed signs of shrinkage.
Cuisine: Bagels vs. Deli
Subject Lines: Shirts for Bagel Fanatics, Shirts for Deli Fanatics
Winner: Bagels win by a shmear, with 13% CTR and 19 cents CPC, overstuffing Deli's tournament-worst 6% CTR and 44 cents CPC.
Music: Phish vs. Matisyahu
Subject Lines: Shirts for Phish Fans, Shirts for Matisyahu Fans
Winner: Phish hoists up its tournament-best 55% and 5 cent CPC, out-jamming Matisyahu's 27% CTR and 10 cent CPC.
I asked Bloom if he could explain why Phish has so much mazel in hooking Phacebook -- er, Facebook -- users. He cited a number of reasons: the right age demographic, the loyal Phish fan base of liberal Jews, and the shared interests in certain botanical exploits reflected in Kosher Ham's apparel.
More importantly, I asked about conversion rates. It's great to get a lot of clicks, but do Jews on Facebook convert? (It's just getting too easy, sorry.) He says he was able to track a couple sales from the Phish ads directly, and he also notices spikes when running ads from people who go directly to KosherHam.com or search for it. With search, Google has performed especially well, as has AIM Search -- Boom thinks people find shirts they like and share them via instant message.
So it turns out Jewdar is a little easier to understand than the Zohar, Maimonedes' "Guide to the Perplexed," and my fourth-grade Hebrew teacher's accent. And it's not foolproof, as there are probably a few Woody Allen fans in New York who didn't go to a Jewish sleepaway camp. But if a guy can start a site called KosherHam and sell T-shirts about getting the munchies for unleavened bread to Jewish Phish fans on Facebook, I've got to think he's on to something.