Oren Netzer, who founded DoubleVerify in 2008, believes he can bring programmatic targeting capabilities to paid-search advertising -- allowing marketers to measure, analyze and target campaigns using hundreds of new data points to target potentially new customers. More than two years ago, he began a journey to bring precise targeting technology into search advertising and organic optimization through a startup called cClearly, and recently signed on Elite SEM to allow the agency's clients to use the platform. The idea came to Netzer after Google introduced secure search, where the engine began encrypting search results and removing data from the equation. "Originally we thought it would focus on organic search, but realized it could make a huge impact in paid search," Netzer says. "The panel of 50 million consumers we built allows us to see past secure search and can see the search terms before they get encrypted." cClearly's technology targets potential new customers in search queries using data and predictive analytics, along with a priority panel of about 50 million search terms, whereas retargeting platforms focus on targeting consumers who previously visited the brand's or the retailer's Web site. Methods like Customer Match and retargeting can reach people who are in market for a specific item, but they are limited to consumers who are already known to the brand. Netzer says the ad-tech industry copied the automated buying and targeting practices of search for video, display and other media, but leapfrogged the capabilities. Now he's bringing those learnings back to search by building two new ways to target consumers through keywords and audience segments. The technology integrates with Google AdWords and Microsoft Bing Ads, and can also work with bid management systems from companies like Kenshoo, or Marin Software. Predictive technology analyzes the searches and suggests the best-performing keywords or audiences. It also considers contextual words used in queries such as "open" and "best," and determines the words that should appear in campaigns based on where competitors' keywords ranks in organic results. Targeting can become more precise by analyzing conversational phrases and using automation and data, he says. Search queries continue to become longer, especially with the rise of voice search. Netzer says 80% of search volume and conversions comes from long tail search queries, but less than 20% of the marketer’s attention and time is spent on the conversational terms. The audience segment can measure the types that perform best to target paid-search advertising campaigns accordingly. The technology geo-codes hundreds of audience data points to the ZIP-code level such as demographics, financial, location, behavior, lifestyle. Then the platform scores each past performance to see what types of audiences perform best. The technology can recommend new targeting or bid modification by ZIP code.
Females tend to rely more on word of mouth and social media for online digital video discovery, while males are more likely to turn to recommendations and search, at 69% vs. 29%, respectively, according to recent Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) data. This may explain why Google's YouTube April 2016 Ad Leaderboard seems to focus on authenticity vs. aspirations. The research study -- the 2016 Original Digital Video Study -- published by the IAB and produced by GfK surveyed more than 1,900 consumers. It shows regular viewers of original video programming grew to 63 million in 2016, up from 45 million in 2013. Across all viewing devices, today’s viewers of original digital video prefer this type of content to all TV programming, even surpassing prime-time television for the first time. The IAB study also shows that a greater percentage of the overall original digital video audience tend to remember ads in original video today more than they did a year ago, 38% vs. 29%.Younger adults, ages 18 to 34 years old, are twice as likely as adults 35 and up to watch made-for-digital content, with males in the age group leading the way. Authentic themes continue to overtake authenticity in online video ads, a focus for winners highlighted in the April 2016 YouTube Ad Leaderboard, which ranks the most watched advertisements for the month. Despite the IAB's growth estimate numbers in original digital video programming, views of advertisements continue to fall since February on YouTube. In April, YouTube estimates 37.8 million views and 42.8 million minutes of watch time for the 10 ads on the Leaderboard. While April's numbers fell from March 2016 views, a Google spokesperson said February views focused on Super Bowl ads, forcing a spike for the month. "April had a lot of strong performing ads, but there wasn't a breakout hit that made the list such as Always #LikeAGirl did in March," per the spokesperson. In March 2016, YouTube estimates 65.5 million views and 75.6 million minutes of watch time for the 10 ads on the Leaderboard. In February 2016, those numbers jumped to 136.4 million views and 80 million minutes of watch time for the 10 ads on the Leaderboard. The April 2016 YouTube Ad Leaderboard showcases humor and authenticity. Organic Valley highlights what a real women's morning looks like rather than using the metaphoric picture of a working woman waking in the morning to eat a healthy breakfast of organic fruit. Nike and Gatorade salute retiring sports stars Kobe Bryant and Peyton Manning. Notably, Apple also takes four spots on the Leaderboard this month. The one created by the agency TBWA\Media Arts Lab and media agency OMD focuses on Siri's capabilities with Apple TV to support voice search on television.
Social media is supplanting search as the go-to source for discovering content, according results of a survey of active online users conducted by Publicis’ Mediavest | Spark unit and BuzzFeed. The study, which was conducted by Forrester Consulting, surveyed 1,500 18- to 55-year-olds, and found social media is replacing search as the dominant means they use to find media content. A majority of the respondents identified social media as their “most preferred source” for reading, viewing or listening to content about topics they care about. The report, which did not provide percentages on the findings, said “young Millennials (ages 18-24) are “twice as likely to get news from social media than 35- to 55-year-olds. “The typical young Millennial follows an average of 121 publishers across social media networks,” reads the report, noting that is, “nearly three times as many as 35- to 55-year-olds follow. Fifty-seven percent will follow their favorite publishers across platforms.” Conversely, the study found that three out of four Millennials will “unfollow” publishers if they don’t like their social content. In terms of devices, the study found Millennials spend 45% more time consuming news on their smartphones compared with 35- to 55-year-olds and are 15% more likely to value news delivered in a format that optimized for their mobile devices.
Google will no longer allow ads for high-interest, short-term loans to appear in paid-search results, the company said today. "Research has shown that these loans can result in unaffordable payment and high default rates for users so we will be updating our policies globally to reflect that," Global Product Policy Director David Graff said today in a blog post. With the move, ads for payday loans will join ads for guns, drugs, and illicit activity on Google's blacklist. Google's new policy, which goes into effect on July 13, will prohibit paid ads for loans with a repayment date within 60 days. In the U.S., Google also is banning ads for loans with interest rates of 36% or more. Google will still show links for payday lenders in the organic search results. The company's new policy was cheered by the Conference on Civil and Human Rights and other advocacy groups, who argued to Google that payday loans exploit financially vulnerable people. Alvaro Bedoya, executive director of Georgetown Law's Center on Privacy & Technology, adds that the companies behind payday loan ads wrongly exploit personal data provided by users. He says Google's move reflects a principle that people who provide sensitive information to companies they trust shouldn't be harmed as a result. In October, the Upturn Report "Led Astray" explored the connections between search ads, lead generators and high-interest loans. That report illustrated how a search query that indicated financial distress -- like “need money to pay bills” -- could lead to a financially disastrous loan. The report outlined how ads for short-term loans led to landing pages operated by lead-generation companies that asked users for detailed personal information -- including income -- and then sold that information to other companies. Yahoo and Microsoft's Bing still allow payday loan ads.
Americans assigned a value of nearly $1,200 per year to the free, ad-supported services and content they access via digital media and more than 85% said they preferred to keep the current model in place vs. paying for the same content and services directly. Those are the top line findings of a survey conducted online among 1,004 U.S. adults April 19 and 20 by Zogby Analytics for the Digital Advertising Alliance. Equally significant in the self-reported findings is the fact that three-quarters of the respondents said they would reduce the amount of time they spend online “a great deal” if they had to pay to access those content and services. Encouragingly, 80% of respondents said they found ads “useful,” especially ones promoting movies and TV shows (43% of respondents citing), technology/devices (37%), clothing (36%), local restaurants (34%), groceries (33%), phone and Internet services (32%) and travel (30%).
On the cusp of the 2016-17 upfront media-buying marketplace, influential Wall Street analyst Brian Wieser has updated his advertising forecast based on “frothy” first-quarter demand. Wieser’s upgrade comes as so-called “scatter” market conditions had already been tightening, which is always a strong bellwether for the upfront marketplace, which in turn is a leading indicator for ad demand for the year ahead. “Bottom line: first quarter 2016 was another strong quarter for advertising in the United States, with industry-wide growth among media owners of around +6%, much as we saw during the fourth quarter of 2015,” Wieser writes in a report sent Pivotal Research Group investors early this morning. Wieser, however, offers a caveat that “underlying economic growth” still indicates that total advertising growth should climb only 1% for 2016, “suggesting an eventual slowdown and the possibility that recent quarters will represent difficult comparables in future periods.” Even so, Wieser says the ad economy expansion that has taken place during the fourth quarter of 2015 and the first quarter of 2016 was “substantially higher than what we would expect to see” relative to the growth of key economic indicators such as personal consumption and industrial production. If a “deceleration” of ad spending should occur, Wieser predicts it likely would not happen until “much further into the second half of the year, if at all during 2016.” That bodes well for 2016-17 upfront market conditions, because brands and agencies tend to make greater upfront commitments to TV networks and digital platforms when they perceive there are strong overall market conditions, partly because upfront deals also provide options to cancel ad commitments if market conditions change later in the year.
If affiliate marketing is part of your paid-search strategy, there is a 29% chance that one of your affiliates is stealing your most valuable Web traffic by way of hijacking URLs. In Part Two of this series, you will learn more about who this harms and how to stop the theft. Who is this harming? One might argue that whether a prospective customer clicks on your ad or your affiliate’s ad, ultimately you benefit from the lead and the sale. In reality, it’s a bit more complicated. Hijacking not only costs you more for a desired action such as a lead -- it wastes your search engine marketing (SEM) team’s time trying to pinpoint why their campaigns’ performance is being negatively impacted. When ads are hijacked, the impact can go beyond losing traffic and conversions. The competition to win impressions and clicks from your affiliates drives up keyword costs so you end up competing against the marketplace and the affiliate who hijacked your domain. Not only would you be paying higher cost-per-click rates -- you will be paying the difference between the costs of your own lead generation and what you are compensating your Affiliate per conversion/lead/sale, which is likely significantly higher. Finally, when affiliates hijack your domain, they steal your brand and you lose control of your identity and message. Whether the hijacker is an affiliate and simply is seeking financial compensation or it’s an organization in pursuit of your customers to divulge personal information, your brand is at risk. The players and their roles It is difficult to stop URL hijacking because it may not always be clear how it’s happening and who is responsible for policing the process. Detection may require third-party monitoring tools (such as The Search Monitor), which identify such things as incorrect tracking URLs, mismatches between your Web site and the landing page, and affiliate links within the redirect. When it comes to URL hijacking, multiple parties bear some of the responsibility for correcting this problem. •Google - Created and operates AdWords, the largest online advertising platform in the world. Because URL hijacking happens, one might say there are chinks in AdWords’ armor. Google gets paid from the brand or the affiliate, so Google may not see a problem. Many believe they should better protect clients, by alerting advertisers that there is more than one active account serving ads using your domain. Some advertisers use more than one account, but this alone would protect the vast majority of advertisers using the platform (This should become a practice for all search engines, not just Google). •Brands - Use Google to drive leads and sales. Engage agencies and create affiliate programs to help increase leads/sales. Ultimately, brands write the policies for their affiliate programs and are responsible for their enforcement. They must first recognize the problem before they can stop it. •Brand agency - Manage brand domains and search engine marketing programs. Like their brand clients, they must recognize the problem before it can be stopped. •Affiliate agency – Manage the affiliate programs for brands. They develop and enforce affiliate program policies and procedures and should proactively communicate to affiliates about the ethics and/or legality of URL hijacking. •Affiliates - Join affiliate programs with a sole focus on making money by driving leads and sales to the brand. They are subject to terms and conditions, but their loyalty may be to their bottom line and not the brand. How to protect your brand Several parties are responsible for URL hijacking. You need to proactively protect your brand and the investment in your agency’s SEM efforts. Start with these five things: 1. Don’t rely on AdWords reports – The reports only give you part of the performance picture and rarely reveal the necessary details to catch a hijacker. 2. Use third-party tools to monitor – These provide alerting and auto-submission features to fire off complaints directly to search engines and to affiliate networks that allow you to proactively monitor for hijacking activity before it costs time, money and brand value. 3. Branded keyword restrictions – clearly identify which keywords are off limits to your affiliates. 4. Actively enforce terms, conditions, and policies. You created the policies, so monitor frequently and enforce them quickly. 5. Recruit expertise – if you don’t have the internal expertise to monitor your paid-search activities, find an expert who can. Don’t be a victim As long as terms and conditions are set, there is someone who is responsible for URL hijacking. Affiliates are aware of this strategy and make the conscious choice to engage in the practice and prey on the ignorance of the client and affiliate agency. The strategy is only fair if an affiliate that intends to use an advertiser’s URL/domain and its landing pages (which is also their domain) communicates its intentions to the client and confirms whether this practice is acceptable. Affiliates are affiliates, and they know when they are cheating the system and duping the brands to achieve financial benefits. This is why there is a name for this practice. It’s important that you and your agency avoid becoming the victim. Preventing URL hijacking is really up to you. Be proactive by putting in place the tools, expertise and guidelines that will constantly monitor and enforce your policies while protecting your brand.
Attribution continues to pull at marketers like a child begging for attention, but too many shrug off the request because it becomes complicated trying to attribute media across channels -- for most, anyway. Not for Alex Otrezov, senior director of paid-search operations at Hotwire. Otrezov says Hotwire can run up to seven attribution models simultaneously from a list that includes Last Interaction, Last non-Direct Click, Last AdWords Click, First Interaction, Linear, Time Decay, and Position. "If you cannot track the consumer it doesn't matter how much data you have, it's useless," Otrezov said. The first step to success in mobile is segmenting and using first-party data, Otrezov said, because brands have it. It's there. Hotwire pulls its mobile transactions by location and found that people get off the plane and reserve a car as they walk toward the car rental terminal. Allow the marketplace and the consumer to dictate the attribution model -- not the finance team or other groups within the company, Otrezov told attendees at last week's MediaPost Search Insider Summit. Looking across channels is important. "On average in the travel industry, the consumer cuts across about eight or nine touchpoints before converting," he said. "If they look a month in advance, it could be 30 touchpoints." Hotwire gets about 75% of its site traffic from mobile devices, but the year-over-year percentage continues to rise rapidly as consumers become more comfortable with making decisions on smaller screens. Most convert within zero to three days. These are people at airports or tourist areas. Otrezov offers a few other bits of advice, including an analysis of the overall performance of keywords to see how many and which ones consumers actually use to come through to the site. Remarketing lists for search ads also can help marketers bid on a specific consumer who has visited the site. If they have been exposed to one of the products it's a big deal to get them back to the site based on the information, he said. One major consideration when building campaigns for mobile, he said, is to focus on the lifetime value of the customer, and to come up with a number because that will give the brand a competitive edge.
I told someone recently that I feel like Rick Astley. You know, the guy that had the monster hit “Never Gonna Give You Up” in 1987 and is still trading on it almost 30 years later? He even enjoyed a brief resurgence of viral fame in 2007 when the world discovered what it meant to be “Rickrolled.” My “Never Gonna Give You Up” is the Golden Triangle eye-tracking study we released in 2005. It’s my one-hit wonder (to be fair to Astley, he did have a couple other hits, but you get the idea). And yes, I’m still talking about it. The Golden Triangle, as we identified it, existed because people were drawn to look at the number-one organic listing. That’s an important thing to keep in mind. In today’s world of ad blockers and teeth-gnashing about the future of advertising, there is probably no purer or more controllable environment than the search results page. Creativity is stripped to the bare minimum. Ads have to be highly relevant and non-promotional in nature. Interaction is restricted to the few seconds required to scan and click. If there was anywhere ads might be tolerated, it's on the search results page. But… If we fully trusted ads -- especially ones as benign as those that show up on search results -- there would have been no Golden Triangle. It only existed because we needed to see that top organic result. Dragging our eyes down to it formed one side of the triangle. Fast-forward almost 10 years. The current incarnation of my old company, Mediative, released a follow-up two years ago. While the Golden Triangle had definitely morphed into a more linear scan, the motivation remained: People wanted to scan down to see at least one organic listing. They didn’t trust ads then. They don’t trust ads now. Google has used this need to anchor our scanning with the top organic listing to introduce a greater variety of results into the top “hot zone” -- where scanning is the greatest. Now, depending on the search, there is likely to be at least a full screen of various results -- including ads, local listings, reviews or news items -- before your eyes hit that top organic Web result. Yet we seem to be persistent in our need to see it. Most people still make the effort to scroll down, find it and assess its relevance. It should be noted that all of the above refers to desktop search. But almost a year ago, Google announced that -- for the first time ever -- more searches happened on a mobile device than on a desktop. Mediative just released a new eye-tracking study (Note: I was not involved at all with this one). This time, the company dove into scan patterns on mobile devices. Given the limited real estate and the fact that for many popular searches, you would have to consciously scroll down at least a couple times to see the first organic result, did users become more accepting of ads? Nope. They just scanned further down! The study’s first finding was that the #1 organic listing still captures the most click activity, but it takes users almost twice as long to find it compared to a desktop. The study’s second finding was that although organic is still important, position matters more than ever. Users will make the effort to find the top organic result. Once they do, they’ll generally scan the top four results -- but if they find nothing relevant, they probably won’t scan much further. In the study, 92.6% of the clicks happened above the fourth organic listing. On a desktop, 84% of the clicks happened above the number 4 listing. The third finding shows an interesting paradox that is emerging on mobile devices: We’re carrying our search habits from the desktop over with us -- especially our need to see at least one organic listing. The average time to scan the top sponsored listing was only .36 seconds, meaning that people checked it out immediately after orienting themselves to the mobile results page -- but for those that clicked the listing, the average time to click was 5.95 seconds. That’s almost 50% longer than the average time to click on a desktop search. When organic results are pushed down the page because of other content, it’s taking us longer before we feel confident enough to make our choice. We still need to anchor our relevancy assessment with that top organic result, and that’s causing us to be less efficient in our mobile searches than we are on the desktop. The study also indicated that these behaviors could be in flux. We may be adapting our search strategies for mobile devices, but we’re not quite there yet. I’ll pick things up there in next week’s column. This column was originally published in Online Spin on April 26, 2016.
We’re in a new era of health consumerism. Patients are making informed decisions about their own health and demanding better access and communication from healthcare providers. While the industry is making strides in providing such communication through technology like patient portals, providing patients with electronic access to their own records, marketing these new achievements to attract patients is still falling short. To attract “health-sumers,” it’s helpful to look at what traditional retailers have been doing for years to get customers to walk through the front door. Local search optimization, conversion and measurement of web-to-store traffic are the primary tools of the digital-savvy retailer. It is known as web-to-store and healthcare practices should apply these lessons to increase web-to-walk-in for their own organizations. Why look to web-to-store? Consider this:
Euro 2016 is just a month away and three of the four UK "home" nations will be taking part. For Wales and Northern Ireland, the theme for fans seems to be enjoy the experience while it lasts. For England it will be the usual fooling ourselves into thinking we stand a chance by building up our heroes before slating them as they fail to live up to our expectations. One set of researchers, however, believes the tournament will at least see second screening crowned as an engaging channel to reach people through as the tournament unfolds. Marketing technology company RadiumOne's research predicts that two in three Britons will watch Euro 2016 and use an Internet-connected device at the same time. Furthermore, 60% of fans will share content onlne and nearly half of those sharing tournament content online will do so three or four times every day. The top activities, which will be carried out by roughly one in four fans during games, include checking social for match-related comments, posting comments, and messaging friends about the game as well as searching for information about the match and wider tournament. Three in four will be using smartphones, although perhaps surprisingly, 60% will have a tablet and 64% will have a laptop by their side -- presumably meaning most will have a choice of both small or medium screen for their football banter. Now, I have to be very clear that I have not been totally sucked in by the second-screening excitement. In fact, there was some great research published recently that suggested what we all suspect is true. Second screening happens, but not during compelling shows. When you're engrossed in one of the big dramas during which an advertiser wants to reach out to you, the chances are you're wondering who the killer is or what the next plot twist will be that is going to unfold. Put simply, when the content is compelling, there is virtually no second screening. However, much as i remain to be convinced about the power of second screening, there is the caveat that some television content lends itself to messaging and checking each others' views. Talent shows and reality programming are good examples. Probably the best must be watching sports, particularly football, or soccer if you prefer. There is not a game that goes by without me looking up what friends are saying about a game, what pundits are predicting about the next half and searching to find out where the guy in defence for the other side used to play. It's what sports fans do. We look things up, express opinions, and best of all, rub it in should our team win and run away from the mobile if we lose. So, I'm willing to give second-screen evangelists a break on this one because it just makes perfect sense that social media and messaging apps will peak around each game and the same for search. There will be some social winners there -- and to put my neck on the line, expect to see Paddy Power hit the nail on the head with a couple of posts that will go viral and possibly get the bookmaker accused of bad taste at some stage. So, yes, there will be many more people that usual going to social and messaging apps but I'm not entirely sure how much extra opportunity this will offer brands. People will generally be sharing pundits' comments or commenting on the game to friends, so the opportunity for direct response will be pretty minimal. Perhaps there's an opportunity to get some sports-related content shared, perhaps with some brand awareness building for companies wanting to be associated with the sport. Basically, however, advertisers are still going to have to realise they are getting in between football fans finding out more about the game and sharing banter with one another. There's an opportunity there but i wouldn't want to overstate it, unless, of course, you're Adidas or Nike and a star has just scored wearing your equipment. Other than that, people will not be out there looking for new things to buy or subscriptions to sign up for. The second screening will create more views to advertise against but don't expect an audience on the verge of making some big decisions other than who's turn it is to get the beers in and whether the boss will notice we've all "caught a cold" on the afternoon when England plays Wales.