Commentary

Kosher Ham's Jewdar Tell-All

It's one of the most critical, controversial issues of our time. It's been the subject of morecolumns than MySpace. Even the Talmud, the great repository of Jewish debate and wisdom, is at a loss to comment on it. Yes, in what's undoubtedly the greatest miracle since the time the Maccabees kept their temple menorah burning with a small jar of oil, the gift of Jewdar continues to shed light on how marketers are targeting their ads.

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.

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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...

Bracket 1

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.

Bracket 2

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.

Bracket 3

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.

Bracket 4

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.

10 comments about "Kosher Ham's Jewdar Tell-All".
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  1. Jonathan Graber from Three Pillars Recruiting, December 8, 2009 at 12:07 p.m.

    As a Jew in the industry, I thought this was hilarious! Thanks for a great article!

  2. Linda Lopez from Independent, December 8, 2009 at 12:46 p.m.

    Funny article -- interesting, too! I got 50% in the trials, missing the mark with New York and Seinfeld. Ah, well... what can you expect from someone named Lopez?

  3. David Locke from American Express, December 8, 2009 at 12:47 p.m.

    The data about Phish might be skewed due to the fact that the band is currently in the midst of their reunion tour. They may be a bit more top of mind than Matisyahu plus there is the psychological aspect of people feeling all warm and fuzzy towards anything Phish after having them away so long.

  4. Roy Moskowitz from Reciprocal Results, December 8, 2009 at 1:21 p.m.

    Phish recorded a version of the Jewish prayer Aveenu Malkanu on one of their live albums, although it wasn't available on Itunes the last time I checked.

  5. David Berkowitz from MRY, December 8, 2009 at 3 p.m.

    Thanks everyone, and more detailed analysis on Phish's holy hold on Jewdar is always welcome.

  6. Melissa Trosterman from Nielsen Business Media, December 8, 2009 at 5:22 p.m.

    ditto- great read! there's always been somethig about jewish boys, sleepaway camp, & phish...

    FYI Phish also recorded "Yerushalayim Shel Zahav" at the end of the studio album Hoist.

    A good list of live Avenu Malkenyu performences is here: http://www.phantasytour.com/phish/songs.cgi?songID=23

  7. Greg Hall from Yebol, December 8, 2009 at 5:29 p.m.

    Gefilte Phishe? Take a page out of Bob Brinker's Radio Ad playbook.

  8. Bonnie Zaben from AC Lion, December 9, 2009 at 12:49 p.m.

    Hmm, think it's time for the Jewish food contest--Matzaballs vs Chicken Noodle soup. or, to keep it timely, Latkes vs Blintzes.

    and, I can't resist: Gefilte Fish vs Phish.

  9. Cathy Taylor from MediaPost, December 9, 2009 at 5:32 p.m.

    And here I thought Phish was made for aging WASPs from Connecticut longing for the Grateful Dead. But what do I know?

  10. Abbie Fink from HMA Public Relations, December 17, 2009 at 1:20 p.m.

    Talk about target marketing!

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