Dec 03 2014

SEM and Targeted Display. Two worlds collide. And the results are awesome.

I recently had the privilege of speaking to the at AZIMA (Arizona Internet Marketing Association) about Search Engine Marketing and Targeted Display. With several years in SEM and a couple of years studying and working closely with Targeted Display, it was felt that I might have a unique perspective on two digital strategies that are normally in competition with one another.

Enjoy “SEM and Targeted Display. Two worlds collide. And the results are awesome.”

david at azima 11

 

Complete transcript:

MODERATOR:  Okay.  Well, tonight we have with us David McBee from Simpli.fi and what I really love about David is the fact that he has seen the light and  [00:14]  Maybe I didn’t say that right.  But, David’s journey with search is an interesting one. He’s going to tell us the story here, but you know, those Yellow Pages?  Those books?  Those were actually the first search engine, right?  That was the old school way. You cracked open a Yellow Page book and we called that, in the old days, search engine evolution and you were spending money on Yellow Pages and Google search engine evolution [00:41], but he’s now talking about targeted displays and for a search guy to talk about display is a big, big deal.  So, welcome, David.

DAVID:  Thank you.  Hello.  I’m just going to get right to it because I have a lot of stuff. They said I needed to get this done in 45 minutes and it’s going to be tight, but I have so much to share with you, so I’m just going to jump right into this.  This is a little bit about my history and I think it’s relevant because two things:  number one, you need to know where I came from to understand the perspective that I have on search and targeted display and how they work together. And, number two, you didn’t really come out to see me. You came to hear about the topics, so this is just a moment to understand why you should listen to this guy in the first place.

I did start in Yellow Pages. I kind of hated it.  I mean, I loved working with the business owners, right? I loved helping them with their businesses, but even 10, 11 years ago, I was like already gravitating towards internet products.  So, when the Yellow Pages companies started getting eating away by internet, I was all over that.  And nobody went to school to learn how to do Google, right?  And so, I became a consummate student of it and, therefore, ended up teaching all the rest of the print reps about the internet projects. So, they made me the training manager and everything was very exciting and then all the Yellow Pages internet products kind of sucked. Anybody experience that?  Was anybody doing that back then?  Right?  And so, I left and I went looking for bigger, better internet companies. I went to a couple of companies in New York and I’ve sold SEO and I’ve sold pay-per-click and the whole gamut and I loved it and I was doing great although I have to admit that before I started doing SEO, I had hair.  So, you’ve gotten that phone call, “Why am I not on page 1 anymore?”  I don’t have those calls anymore.  I love that.  About a year and a half ago, Simpli.fi called me. And, if you don’t know Simpli.fi, Simpli.fi is a programmatic targeted display technology.  So, we…My mother’s like, “What does that mean?” I’m like, “You know those ads that follow you around?  We do that. Those creepy, stalker ads.  That’s our technology, right?”  So, that’s where I’ve been for the last year and a half.  And they hired me to train people to sell this particular product that I didn’t know anything about.  The reason they hired me is because I have this gift for translating what I call internet gobbledygook into stuff anybody can understand.  And so, my goal for you guys tonight is to try and do that.  Now, for those of you who are a little more savvy, the first 12 minutes of this presentation are going to be pretty miserable because we have to go over some definitions, but I want to make sure that we’re all on the same page, so bear with me through that part and we’ll get into the good part.  Also, I didn’t bring any cards, so there’s my contact information.  Or, you can just Google David McBee.  I’m number one for my own name as we all should be, right?  Although I will say this:  this morning I got a Google Alert that David McBee in Georgia went to prison.  So, if you find that guy. That is not me. That is…that is totally true.  Okay. So, let’s do a couple of quick definitions. First one:  obviously, what is search engine marketing?  Now, some people think search engine marketing is pay-per-click; some people think it’s SEO.  For the purposes of tonight, it’s the combination of the two. It’s any strategy that one would use to get on the first page of Google. I know you guys know that, so we’re going to move right along. Real quick:  SEO, obviously, showing up here in the free section. Everybody knows all the great SEO tactics like optimizing your HTML; buying bad backlinks.  No, we don’t do that.  Building backlinks, right?  That’s better.  Great content creation. Lots of Google +’s.  That helps a lot, doesn’t it?  I will say this:  I was doing a little research here and I discovered an article that said 96% of all searches end up in the free section. How do you guys feel about that? Do you feel like that’s accurate?  Or, it might have been 94% and I thought, “Man, that seems like a lot.”  But then, I realized that most of the stuff we Google, there’s no reason to click on an ad, right?

[05:01]

What’s that movie that she was in or, you know, what time does the park open?  Or, whatever.  Those are things that we tend to search for that an ad wouldn’t be a good solution. So then, I looked at search engine marketing or pay-per-click and this is where I really built my career.  In this space.  And, I always told people…They’d be like, “David, nobody clicks on those. I never clicked. I go right past those.”  You guys have heard that, right?  I found the greatest stat ever. It’s by WordStream and they said that 67% of keywords with commercial intent get clicked in the paid section.  If you sell PPC, that is…I’m putting that on the back of the car, right?  That is hot.  So, this is what I’m talking about when I’m talking search engine marketing.  Any questions?  We good?  Move along, David. We got that part.  Targeted display, however, gets a little more complicated. There’s lots of definitions out there about what targeted display is.  It’s also called retargeting or programmatic display, right?  So, let’s spend a little bit of time talking about how Simpli.fi does it and how a lot of folks in our industry do it.  Now, I’m just talking about surfing the web and seeing ads.  Here I am surfing the web.  By the way, I am a Kansas City native. Barbeque is in my blood. If you cut me open, that’s what will come out. We used bandaids for bacon.  And, this is an ad that follows me around. I’m happy to say, I do buy my wife flowers on occasion and FTD stalks me because of it. This is what I’m talking about with targeted display. We’ve all had this happen, right?  Here I am again checking out the iPhone 6. Do I want the Plus? Do I want the 6? And FTD targets me again. Now, I’m often asked, “Hey, David.  How about that Harley Davidson ad there?  Is that one retargeting you?”  Why do you think I’m buying the flowers?  So, here are the strategies:  Number One:  Geotargeting.  Now, of course, geotargeting exists in  pay-per-click, too, right?  But, in display, basically what it means is this:  We’re going to put your ad in front of people as they surf the web–whatever sites they go to in a geographic area. It can be a city. It can be a zip code.  It can be whatever.  That’s not terribly targeted, but it is geotargeted. Now, that might be good for a new drycleaner, or a grocery store, or a restaurant. Something that people don’t search for a lot, but that they want their ads showing up on the display ads. So, that’s geotargeting.  That’s one tactic. That’s the easiest, simplest one.  The next one is site retargeting.  This is probably what you’re impression of targeted display is, right?  Raise your hand if you’ve ever been to a website and then left and then saw ads for that website. We’ve all been stalked by these, right?  And, it’s almost all site retargeting and it’s very, very powerful.  The reason it’s so hot right now. The reason it’s so big is because 97% of first-time visitors to a website will leave without contacting you.  Ninety-seven percent.  So, you spend all this money on pay-per-click to get all these people to your site and guess what?  Ninety-seven out of 100 of them leave.  How painful is that.  Here’s my friend,  Dr. Cobb. He’s a pediatric dentist in my hometown of Olathe, Kansas, and he does pay-per -click. He does social media. He has this great Facebook page. You know, they take pictures of the kids with moustaches and the moms see that and he has a great reputation, so he gets a lot of word of mouth business.  Does this sound like some of your clients?  But 97 out of every 100 that get to him leave and they don’t take any action. So, when they leave and they surf the rest of the web and they go to TMZ or ABC Family or any of these sites that sell display ads, and they don’t sell out, they go put them out on the real time bidding market, we can put his ad in front of them again and again and again. You know what’s cool about that?  We can bring about 26% of those visitors back. So, right there…Right there’s a little spoiler.  If you’re already doing pay-per-click and you’re talking to a business about retargeting, right there is a good reason to continue doing it. To do them both.  Now, the third tactic is search retargeting. Now, search retargeting—just like it sounds like—is based on the searches that we do. Where do we mostly search?  Google, right?  Raise your hand if you searched Google today.  We all do this. Now, those searches that we do on Google, they don’t share those any more, do they?  Remember in October when Google went to 100% secure search and everyone in SEO went, ahhhhh!  That affected a lot of data companies as well. That was a lot of data off the radar, but guess what? I’m going to paint this picture of a Google search being the very beginning of a real search.

[10:00]

A true robust search, if you will. Google searches are the beginning like the tip of an iceberg. So, here I am.  This search is “teach kids to floss”.  Now,  if you do that, the number one and number two results are WebMD and BabyCenter.  So, you click on WebMD, you go to this wonderful site and they have an article about brushing and flossing children’s teeth.  We’ve all had this experience, right? Maybe not this exact search, but there’s something else on that page that’s intriguing and it’s WebMD’s very own search box, right there at the top.  Lots of sites have that, don’t they? In fact, almost every site we visit has its own kind of search. So, when a person goes here and types in “importance of flossing baby teeth” because they want to learn more about what WebMD has to say on the subject, that data can get captured. WebMD, and I can’t speak to WebMD specifically, but companies like that monetize their sites by selling that data. So, even if Google doesn’t sell their search data, there’s still a ton of search data available through searches like this and it’s not just WebMD, Discovery Fit and Health, BabyCenter, About.com, these are all examples of that. Now, you may not think, “Oh, I don’t do those searches very often,” and that’s okay. But, we tend to have about 3,000 search…pieces of search data on almost every browser in North America, so there’s a lot of this search going on.  And, in fact, the other way that we get search data, is through what I call a vertical search engine.  Now, a vertical search engine exists because we’ve gotten smart about how the web works. If you’re going to book a flight right now, who’s going to Google that?  We don’t Google it, do we? We just skip Google and go where? What sites would you go to?

AUDIENCE:  Kayak.

DAVID:  Kayak. Travelocity, right?  Hipmunk.  And, those guys can sell and monetize that data.  Right here, you can see, this guy from Kansas City wants to go to Key West and maybe I’ll start seeing ads for Key West.  I saw ads for Scottsdale for the last two weeks. After I booked my flight and stuff, somebody knew I was here. So, there’s no hiding from the internet. CNet.  It’s a technology site. Whenever I want to learn stuff about new phones or cameras, I skip Google. I go straight to CNet.  DIY Network for the do-it-yourselfer.  Lawyers.com, Cars.com, Realtor.com.  These vertical search engines—they capture your search data and they resell it to databrokers and that’s another way that you’re leaving digital fingerprints that you can get targeted online. The fourth way is keyword contextual.  You say, “Well, David, I don’t use those little search boxes very often. I don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re full of it.”  Okay.  What about this? You’re surfing your Facebook and your friend posts a link to something cool.  You click on it. In this case, it’s a link to “Why should my child start flossing her teeth?”  This is something I’ve been interested in the whole time, right?  I click on it. I go to this page and I read the content.  I didn’t do a search. I didn’t leave any kind of search fingerprint, did I?  But, now Parents.com knows that this user is reading this content and they attach that to me and now they have information about my interests.  Just based on what I was reading. So, be careful what you read.  And, it’s not just a site like Parents.com.  It could be any site. HowStuffWorks.com, if you guys know this site, they talk about everything under the sun. It has nothing to do with children or babies or flossing, generally speaking, but this article was.  And so, just the content on the page and the fact that I visited and spent some time on this page tells the users about me and they can target you based on that.  Fifth way:  category contextual. Category contextual is less about searches, less about the keywords that we’re reading and more about the pages that we’re visiting. Now, this is…this is way less targeted. This is more like classic advertising. Here’s an ad for protein bars by Gatorade and they’ve put it on ESPN. Would you guys agree that that ad makes sense? Right?  Raise your hand if you’re eaten a granola bar or a protein bar in the last month? Anybody?  Now, keep your hand raised if you searched for that at all.  Right?  So, Gatorade isn’t going to have much luck using the tactics I’ve talked about, are they? So, instead, they say, “Well, let’s find the right sites.  The sites that make sense for a protein bar.” This is like a local sports bar advertising on SportsTalk radio.  Or, a local funeral home advertising in the obituaries. It just logically makes sense to place the ad where it belongs and that’s a different kind of targeting. Another example of that is this restaurant advertising on OpenTable.  We all eat.

[15:00]

We all go out to eat all the time, but we don’t exhibit a lot of search behavior that shows that we want to go eat, so why should we use those other tactics? Instead, let’s just put our restaurant on sites that have to do with food and eating and entertainment and it makes sense. Alright. Moving along. We blend these tactics. Can you use one of them solely? Absolutely. Do we recommend it? No.  A good targeted display campaign uses all of these tactics so that they can reach people at different points in the purchase cycle.  So, when I say targeted display for the rest of this evening, I’m talking about something, some kind of tactic right there being the reason that you saw an ad.  Everybody with met?  We good?  Alright. Cool.

Now, let’s get to how they’re different—how they butt heads and how they work together and the first one is time.  Opportunity. How much opportunity do you have to reach good prospects?  Let’s find out. Here’s a Google search for pediatric dentist in Kansas City.  How long would you guys say that a search like this takes?  Just shout out.

AUDIENCE:   One second.

DAVID: One second. Five seconds.

AUDIENCE: Twenty seconds.

DAVID: Twenty seconds. Right? I mean, we go to Google; we search; we click something. We’re not there very long, are we? Would you guys say that 10 seconds is a fair estimate for about how long we spend on Google? We all agree with that?  Okay, cool.   How many Google searches do we do in a day?

AUDIENCE:  (inaudible)

DAVID: Now, this group is a little skewed, right?  We probably do 10, 20, 30 searches a day.  ComScore says the average person is searching Google 120 times a month. So, that’s only 4 searches a day.  Of course, that…that’s my mother, right? Who calls me and says, “Hey, what movie was this person in?”  I’m like, “Ask your phone. You don’t even have to dial it. Just…just hold that button for 2 seconds. She will tell you.”  So…So, let’s say the average person is 4 searches, but for easy math, because I’m not a math guy, let’s say we do 10 searches a day.  That means that we’re on Google for 100 seconds a day.  We spend less than 2 minutes a day on this monster, boheamouth site that we are so focused on. Our business owners say, “David, I want to be on page 1 of Google.” I’m like, “Fantastic.  We’ve got 2 minutes wrapped up. How much time do you spend on the internet?”  “I hadn’t thought of that.”  Two minutes. Most of us don’t think about this. Now, I’m not minimizing the value of those 2 minutes. Those are two very important minutes. Are they not? That’s when a person’s right there and they’re searching. They want what they want, but the average person is actually spending about 5 hours a day plugged into some kind of device. You see them driving down the road on their Facebook, right?  My…my wife checks Facebook in line at the grocery store. The other day, I caught her doing it while she was brushing her teeth. I’m like, “Put the phone down for 5 seconds.” We are plugged in. You know what that means? Lots and lots of opportunity because the worldwide web is free, isn’t it?  It is funded by advertisements for pizza and The Hampton. It’s funded by advertisements to Walt Disney World and, what is that, some kind of cable or ComCast. So, every time we surf and go to the web and surf and look around and plug into our phones and our devices, we’re seeing ads all the time. Imagine if you could go back in time and talk to a business owner fifteen years ago and tell them, “People are going to be plugged into these things five hours a day. Would you like to advertise on them?” They’d be like, “Yes! Of course, I would.”  Here I am on Facebook and Jimmy John’s is putting an ad in front of me. We checked Facebook yet? Anybody checked it today? Of course we did.  It’s an opportunity. We spend way more time on Facebook than we do on Google.  Here’s a USAToday, an ad for Jeep tires targeting me.  Okay, so…so, speaking just about the amount of opportunity to get your ad in front of eyeballs, I think it’s fair to say that there’s some advantages to display.

Let’s recap.  With SEM, you get about 2 minutes a day. With targeted display, we’re talking about as much as 5 hours a day to get in front of people. In my opinion, targeted display wins that one but, that doesn’t mean I would give up SEM because combined, they’re awesome.

[20:00]

You’re getting in those 5 hours and then when they’re searching for your product or service, then you’re really getting them. That’s when you’re setting the hook.   Okay, so that’s time. That’s opportunity.

Let’s move on to the purchase funnel.  The users that we are trying to reach are at all different levels of the purchase funnel and, of course, by the purchase funnel, I’m talking about people who are unaware of your product. People who are ready to buy it. Now, I’m going to take you through a scenario that happened to me over the last few months. My wife came to me and she said, “My back hurts. I really think we need a new bed.” And, she was right. We had the two dips, you know?  I’d like to say there was one dip in the middle, but I’ve been married 16 years, so…So, I did a search for “best mattress” and, as you can imagine, that gave me these results.  Now, at this point in my shopping experience, do you think I was ready to click on one of those paid ads and go buy a mattress? No. At this point, I needed more information. So, I skipped right past them and I went down to this one which is ConsumerReports.com. I click on it, I go to ConsumerReports. Just reading that content alone put digital fingerprints out there for me, didn’t it? Somebody now knows this clown needs a mattress.  And then, I went ahead and used that search box to see what else they had and I started looking for more specific things because the mattress buying guide talked all about TempurPedic and SleepNumber and airmattresses and all this stuff, so here I am leaving digital fingerprints all over the place.  I go back to Google because we do that, right?  We go back to Google. I found this one was WebMD.  It’s like…It’s like my event is sponsored by WebMD.  That took me here to the best mattresses for a better night’s sleep and I did another search:  “best mattress for back pain”.  Still not ready to buy.  I’m learning.  In fact, I got on Facebook. I talked to some friends and some time went by. And we make major purchases, do we make them quickly? When you go buy a car, do you just go buy it? When you decide to go back to school, do you just pick a school?  “Oh, the first one on Google. Yay! I’ll go there.”  No. You take some time. You do a lot of research and I left a lot more digital fingerprints than I’m showing you, but some time went by and as I’m surfing the web—and, if you haven’t figured it out, I’m kind of a superhero nut.  I saw some ads for TempurPedic.  And, to be fair, this isn’t the exact screenshot I saw.  Okay.  Those of you being picky, but I did actually see these ads, grabbed them and I’ve mocked them up for you.  Then, I’m on another site and I saw ads for Sleep Number. To be honest, I saw a ton of ads for Sleep Number and TempurPedic.  Tons. I saw ads for iComfort. I saw ads on my Facebook page for TempurPedic.  I saw ads for, what is that? Posturpedic. I mean, these mattress companies were very aggressive. They really wanted my business. Even on my iPad, I saw a Sleep Number ad. In fact, when I was in L.A., this truck was following me around.

(laughter)

DAVID:  I:  That actually happened. Obviously, they’re not targeting me, but I was like, “Oh, my god. I’ve got to get a picture of that!”  And, then a Sleep Number ad came on the radio. I swear to god. It was freaking me out. So, here I am halfway down the purchase funnel and I’m getting bombarded by all these display ads and I figure, “Okay, you really can’t buy a mattress on the internet, can you?”  You’ve got to go lay on a mattress to know what you want.  So, I go back to Google and what do you think I searched? Something generic like “mattresses”?  No. At this point, I had a better idea about what I wanted, so I typed in “TempurPedic dealer in Kansas City”.  Now, if you’re running a search engine marketing campaign for a TempurPedic dealer, that’s the kind of search you want me to do, isn’t it?  Because when I got to this page, all I see is TempurPedic dealers. There’s no sign of Sleep Number or Posturpedic there, is there? And, how much does a brand search cost? They’re all less expensive aren’t they? And, a lot of the times, they rank number one in organic.  So, if you can influence me to search a brand keyword, you’re really done your job.  I also searched for Sleep Number stores in Kansas City.  So, I went out and I checked them both out, laid down on them, bought a TempurPedic. Hurt my back for a month.  They take a while to break in, the guy says. I don’t know.  Alright. So, here’s the search engine funnel.  Or, the purchase funnel. I’m sorry.  Let’s look and see where search engine marketing fits into this. At the top of the funnel is awareness.  So, if no one knows your product or business exists, are they searching for it?

[25:00]

No, there’s no way to create awareness with search.  That’s like putting an ad in the Yellow Pages for something no one’s ever heard of.  You just don’t look for it. But, there are these searches that happen early on in the purchase funnel. Remember, my search for best mattresses? Now, if you haven’t heard the phrase “head keywords”, it’s the opposite of a long-tail keyword and they’re words like “furniture”, or “truck” or “plumber”.  Now, if you run search engine marketing campaigns, are these highly profitable? Are these really good  converting keywords? No. Not at all. So, search engine marketing may or may not be the best strategy for reaching somebody in that spot, but it can get in front of them, and then, as you gain interest and you lean down towards the bottom of the funnel, you’re still really not…Search just really can’t in front of you until you get to the bottom and then you have that long-tail keyword like “antique loveseat” or “2011 Ford F150” and that’s where search really kicks butt, isn’t it?  That’s where SEM needs to be playing.  But, like I said with TempurPedic, if you can get me to do one of these, a brand search? It’s always a better experience. That is the very, very closest I’m going to be to buying your product.  Now, let’s look at the same funnel with display.  With display, even if I don’t know your product exists, you can put it in front of me, can’t you?  You guys heard of the little tile things?  Have you guys seen these? They connect to your iPhone and you can put it on your backpack or your bike and you’re supposed to be able to find something. They don’t work, but I bought one. I didn’t know they existed. I wasn’t going to search for that, but I saw the display ads for them. They were targeting me.  And then, search retargeting, those same head keywords—they start to leave those little fingerprints. The content that I’m reading…Or, the kinds of pages that I’m visiting—the content that I’m reading?  All along the purchase funnel, there are opportunities to get your ad in front of me the whole way.  And then, at the bottom is search retargeting and there’s a much smaller window, but then, I go to your site, I leave your site and site retargeting can get me.  So, I…I contend that in the purchase funnel, display plays a very, very powerful role in the branding and getting your message out there and influencing the searches that you’re going to do.  So, let’s recap them. With search engine marketing, you reach users who are searching for information as they start their shopping journey. Those may or may not be the right people you want to get in front of at that time and people who are ready to buy. With display, you get them all across the way and so my biased opinion? I’m going to give targeted display this one, but  I say combine them and that’s even better. The cool thing is, even though I’m this new world of display, I’ve still got one toe over here going “search is still awesome”.

Now, reporting. Measuring the results. How much fun is that with display? Spoil alert.  Display loses this one.  The average user response to ads. With search engine marketing, officially—and you guys have probably seen better numbers than this—it’s 2-7% of people will click on an ad they find on the search engine marketing page. Well, I’m talking about CTR, right?  Does that sound about right?  You guys get better than 7%?  I mean, that basically means that 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 out of every 100 people who see the ad will click on it and go to your site. That’s awesome. With display, it’s terrible. It’s like a .1.  That means like 1 in 1000 people will click on the ad and go to your site. By the way, I put that last one on there. It’s television. I don’t know how they figured that out, but the research I saw said that we see about 6,000 TV ads every month and we act on 3 of them. I don’t know if that’s true or not. I don’t know how they measure that.  Do they follow you around? I was at a bar the other night with my friend. We were drinking. We saw an ad for Dumb and Dumber 2.  We went and saw the movie.  By the way, don’t do that. It’s so, so terrible, but the television commercial worked on me. Now, I want to make a point here.  I didn’t click on that television commercial, did I? There’s no CTR on that television commercial was there? But, it still worked, didn’t it? They still got my $11 plus the $97 for popcorn.  So, let’s talk about people who click on display ads. This is what I call my pain slide. This slide says that you’re more likely to survive a plane crash than click on a display ad.  That you’re more  likely to get a full house when playing poker. You’re more likely to summit Mt. Everest or get into MIT than click on a display ad. Guess what? We don’t click on them.

[30:00]

People, generally speaking, don’t click on display ads.

AUDIENCE: Why do we use them?

DAVID:  Why do we keep using them?  I’m going to tell you. That’s fantastic! What’s this woman about to do? And, don’t say, “Get in her time machine and come home.”

(laughter)

DAVID: When you open the Yellow Pages, what’s the one thing you’re going to do?

AUDIENCE:  Make a phone call.

DAVID:  Make a phone call, right? That’s the only thing we do when we open the Yellow Pages. Nobody reads them for fun, do they? You know, flipping through that going, “Oh, that’s a good looking attorney.”  So, we know that if you open the Yellow Pages, you’re going to make a phone call. Everybody agree? Nod your heads.  Let me know I’m not alone up here. Alright.  Now, this woman’s hanging out reading a fashion magazine.  What’s she about to do?

AUDIENCE:  (inaudible)

DAVID:  Who knows, right?  What’s she going to…take a nap?  Go fix her car? Take…I don’t know what she’s going to do. Now, if there’s an ad in there for Kohl’s, is she going to run out and go to Kohl’s right now? Probably not. Is there a chance that in the future, she might go to Kohl’s?  That those ads influence her behavior? Absolutely. Is there a way to tie that back to that moment? Not really.  And, advertisers, before the internet came along, they actually used the “F” word a lot. It was called “faith”.  So, let’s translate this to the internet. Here’s a search that I did for power tops. Automatic tops on Jeep Wranglers. This is…this is my dream. I have a Jeep Wrangler and taking the top off’s a pain.  I want just a button.  Zzzz, right?  You know? So, I searched for that. Now, when you go to Google and you do a search like this, are you going to find the answer to your question on this page?  What do you have to do?  Everybody say it together:  Click, right? You have to click and if you’re running ads on this page, measuring the success of those ads based on the clicks, that’s a totally fair metric, isn’t it?  Just like when I sold Yellow Pages, putting a tracking phone number in the ad?  That was a very powerful way of proving the ad worked. The click has to happen for the ad to work. Nobody remembers the ad they didn’t click. There’s no branding value on this page, is there? So, I go to this page and I start reading about this folding top—this is after market, by the way—and I get excited about it and I’m reading about it and…You guys see that ad that’s sitting there right next to my article?  You think I’m going to click on it and go out and buy a bed right now? No. I’m reading about my Jeep right now. I don’t care about my wife’s sore back right this minute. I’m focused on me. It’s all about the Jeep, but somewhere in the corner of my mind, I’m seeing that ad and I’m feeling that branding.  And you know what? I’m going to go do a search for TempurPedic later. That is exactly what happened and when you go to TempurPedic’s website and you look at the Google Analytics, is it going to show that this happened? No. It’s going to show that I searched and clicked on the search, but this, my friends, influenced that search and it has…it gets no credit. It gets no credit for what it did. It’s kind of sad.  See, Yellow Pages, search engine marketing, they are an action based kind of advertising. You are expected to take an action, but display? It’s all visual. It impacts you for an action that you’re going to take later in your experience. By the way, when I said, “No one clicks on ads.” That’s not entirely true. About 8% of users of responsible for 85% of all the clicks on display ads.  I have a theory. Those are people trying to sell more display ads.

(laughter)

DAVID:  And teenagers. And old people. We just don’t.  All…All the data says that people over the age of 24 and under the age of 65 just aren’t clickers and yet, that’s who’s spending the money. That’s who’s buying the stuff. So, don’t focus on the clicks.  Display does impact search. Audience exposed to display advertising are more engaged with the advertiser’s site. In other words, if I see that TempurPedic ad and then I go search and I go to the site…Maybe I just go straight to the site, that user tends to spend more time on the site. It’s a better lead. One in five people who are exposed to display ads will search for that brand at some point. One in five. These come from the Online Publishers Association, by the way, and display increases brand searches by up to 38% after being up for just a month.

[35:03]

Running an SEM campaign for somebody? Want to increase their brand searches? And those are inexpensive, aren’t they? That leaves you more money to do other stuff.  This can do it.  I’ve actually had business owners tell me things like, “Overall website traffic has increased significantly, but your click through rate is terrible.”  Hello?  Hello?  What changed?  Oh, we ran display ad for the last 90 days. That’s when your traffic went up? Guess what? That was me, baby. Or, how about this one. This is a true statement. Somebody flat out said, “Our brand name went from the 92nd most keyword,” –that’s bad news. Right there—to their 3rd most popular keyword. Now, why, my friends, all of a sudden did people start looking for you by name? Could it have anything to do with all those display ads that we’re showing people?  Oh, but your CTR was a .07%.  Who cares?  They’re showing up at your site. They’re looking for you by name. They’re getting there.  And so, we’ve got a couple of examples here. This was an advertiser that I was working with and he had a .07% CTR. He was really unhappy.  He had like a .3 with his local online paper and he had a .6 with his pay-per-click and he saw this and he just about came unglued.  I said, “Okay, I can’t prove to you all of these things that I’ve been telling you about people searching for you and coming to your site and all this increased traffic, but let’s just look at the folks who did click on your ads because that’s available in your analytics and let’s discover a few things about them,” and what we discovered was they had the lowest bounce rate of any of the traffic he had on his site. Lower even then people who typed in his URL and came straight to his site. The people who clicked on the display ads had a 34% bounce rate and they had the highest time on site at 7 minutes. This was a furniture store, by the way. So, the few people that are clicking the display ads? They are really, really good leads and when he got that information, he looked at it differently, he said, “Yeah, that makes sense. Let’s keep that.”  By the way, we looked at his .33 click through rate that he had with the other service and the bounce rate was 94%.  I’m like, “Okay. Well, great CTR.  Good for you.”  Here’s an attorney that we were working with and he was doing search engine marketing and he was having a lot of success with it. Very aggressive and he agreed to ad display. Now, notice I don’t ever say, “Take one away and replace it.” That’s an important point. He added display and he saw 127% increase to visits to his site and that was a year later.  So, this is year over year statistics for him. Page visits went up 20%. So, people who went to the site visited more pages of the site and time on site went up 268% and the only difference was he added targeted display.

So, let’s recap those, okay? Real quick:  search engine marketing – the CTR is a very reliable metric that really does prove that the campaign is working or not.  And, with targeted display, CTR is just one metric that we have to look at, but can be misleading or not.  View through metrics are implied by increased website visits; increased time on site; lower bounce rates, that kind of thing, so when it comes down to hardcore reporting and making the customer happy, I say search engine marketing wins every time because you’ve really got to have a theoretical conversation with a business owner to get them to buy into what I’ve just shared with you today, don’t you? And, that’s a hard conversation to have.  How we doing? Alright. Good.  By the way, combine them. It’s awesome.

Now, let’s talk about optimizing and forgive me for this part. I haven’t talked too much about my own company, Simpli.fi.  In this section, I will a little bit because Simpli.fi does things a little different than other targeted display companies, so forgive me in advance if it comes across that way, but it’s…it’s part of the story and I want you to know it.  Let’s pretend you guys run a Jeep dealership. You own a Jeep dealership and a sales rep comes to you and he says, “I want to sell you a targeted display campaign. Here’s what it looks like.  Mr. Business Owner, I’m going to put your ad in front of people who are what are called “auto intenders”.  And, he says to you, “Well, what does that mean?”  “Well, auto intenders are people whose online behavior has shown that they want to buy a car.  Well, what does that mean?  I don’t know any more than that?  That’s all I know because we bought this data from a third party. They packaged it up into this audience and that’s the audience I’m selling you, but I promise you, somebody in there wants to buy a Jeep. That’s a fair statement.

[40:00]

Now, when you look inside, here’s what you discovery:  Here are the things that actually put them in that audience.  A search for fuel efficient vehicles.  Not a Jeep. Reads news articles about safest mini-vans for kids. Probably not a Jeep buyer. Shops for car seats. That’s debatable. I shopped for car seats when I had a Jeep, so…Spends time on Cars.com. What were they searching for? I don’t know. Asks questions on  a Jeep forum. Oh! That’s a good one. Wait.  They might already have a Jeep. Okay.  So, we don’t know. Reads reviews that compare Toyotas and Hondas.  Well, if they’re comparing CRVs and RAV4s, maybe we can influence them with a Jeep ad.  Maybe. It’s hard to say. I don’t know. But, you get the idea?  These are behaviors that somebody said, “All these things have to do with in common, is they want to buy a car.”  So, they packaged them up.  Now, with search engine marketing, you don’t have to be that…that big of a blanket, do you?  You can pick and choose exactly the audience you want to put our ads in front of, right? You can say, “I want to be in front of people who have searched for Jeep Wrangler dealer.  I want to put my ad in front of people who are searching for four-door Jeeps and accessories and Jeep tops and Jeep dealership in Denver and 2014 Jeep…”  These are really good leads, aren’t they?  And so, you could say, “Well, David, all that stuff you’ve told me so far?  Now, you’ve kind of influenced me that it’s search that really gets in front of the right audience and display gets in front of everybody and a little bit of the right audience.” And, there’s some truth to that. That’s true of television and radio and billboards and every other kind of creative media, isn’t it?  But, there’s always some percentage of that audience that is willing to buy to make up for the part that isn’t.  It’s like buying that steak.  You know the steak’s going to have some fat on it, but that’s part of buying the product. Now, if you were to compare those two:  the auto intenders, the display side’s a little big foggy, isn’t it? You really can’t see who you’re putting your ad in front of. But, with search engine marketing, you know exactly who you’re putting your ad in front of.  And, in fact, with search engine marketing, you can optimize those really good keywords, right?  You’re like, “Well, search engine…or “Jeep dealership Denver” that’s our really good keyword. Let’s put more money towards that keyword, right?” With targeted display—with the audience segment, you really can’t do that. You just target the whole audience and if the audience doesn’t work, you know what you do? You throw it away and you buy a new one. You try that. Maybe this one has more Jeeps in it, I don’t know. And then, this is where Simpli.fi’s  a little bit different, okay?  Simpli.fi uses what’s called “unstructured data”.  We decided, when we got started, we didn’t want to buy our data from a third-party data broker. We went out and created the Simpli.fi data network which means we go out and buy all the data directly from those websites which means we don’t have to put it in a black box and not see it. We can actually look at it. We can put together the right kind of audience. It’s more customized. It’s a better mix. We can say, “This is our Jeep intenders audience.” Now, does that mean we’re not going to put keywords like “Honda” in there?  We’ll throw that word in and see what happens and if we get some clicks on it, okay, we’ll do more of that. We’re not going to specifically weed out phrases based on  what we think they should be. The data will tell us and that’s an advanced, customized audience.

So, let’s recap those.

If you’re talking search engine marketing, you’re talking about a very customized audience. Every single keyword can be your products, your services. You can put your ad exactly in front of the right person at the right time. With targeted display, you have to buy an audience segment of intenders and not really know what percentage of that is a good audience and what percentage is a waste. So, search engine marketing wins that one hands down. But wait, little Simpli.fi moment. Simpli.fi uses the unstructured data, so it’s almost like we married search engine marketing and display into a more customized audience meaning you get that 1-2 punch, right? When combined, they’re awesome.

And, he got done in 45 minutes. I was really cooking to make that happen.

[END OF RECORDING]

 

Dec 03 2014

Targeted Display without Google’s Search Data

Google is the king of search. Right? I think most people would agree with that statement.

What if I told you that Google may be the king of search, but may not be the king of search data?

Consider the following. Unlike Yahoo’s “life engine” or other sites that want you to spend a lot of time on their site, Google’s whole job is to get you to click a link and go away.  Based on my unofficial survey, asking this question to hundreds of people, it’s safe to say that the average user spends less than ten seconds doing a Google search.

ComScore states that the average user does 129 Google searches per month. That’s about four a day. If my ten-second estimate is correct, that means we’re spending less than one minute a day on Google search. Just for fun, let’s triple that number and agree that we’re doing ten to twelve searches every day and spending about three minutes on Google. With me so far?

According to emarketer.com, in 2013, average adults in the US spent roughly five hours per day online. If we’re spending less than five minutes on Google that means that we’re spending a lot of time online, NOT on Google.

Next question. How do we get around the internet? Do other sites have search bars? Sure. Look at Amazon, ZDNet, USA Today, Web MD, Travelocity, Parents.com, social media channels, every news site, blogs and forums. Search events take place on all of these sites all the time.

But search data comes from more than just typing a keyword into a search box. Consider how you get around the web – by clicking links. And every time you click a link from one page to another, you’re creating search data that tells the site a little about you. If I’m on CNET, reading an article about the iPhone, and click a link from that article that looks like this: best iPhone 5S and iPhone 5 cases, CNET now has data that associates me as a user with an interest in iPhone cases – simply because I clicked on that link.  You may even be able to assume that I own an iPhone 5 or 5S.

Not only that, every URL contains keyword relevant data. Every single page of every single site on the internet has its own unique URL. Each URL contains a structure, and that structure can be broken down into keyword data that identifies the main keyword content of the page. So as a user surfs the web, these URLs can be used to determine additional search data associated with the user. This URL from CNET tells us that the user has an interest in iPhone cases, no matter how this user arrived here. (A Google search? Maybe. A link from a Facebook friend? Possibly.)

Some URLs even contain actual search events, i.e. q=search event or s=search event. In this example taken from Parents.com, a search for “danger of high fever” in the search box results in a URL that contains information specific to the search event.

Sites that you visit collect this data. They use it to understand more about their site visitors and how they can make their site better. They use it to learn about their audience so they can create better content for future visits. This data is also helpful if they are selling advertising. They can tell potential advertisers about the audience they’ll get in front of by advertising with them.

Here’s something you may not know. Websites also sell this data as a way of monetizing their site traffic. Companies like Oracle’s Bluekai purchase this data from publishers, then package it into audience segments to resell to companies who do targeted display. Data vendors will mix both good and bad data together in order to continue to pay the vast publisher network they collect their data from.

I don’t have any hard stats for you that compare how much online search data there is compared to the billions of Google searches that take place every day. (It would take every website that collects and sells this data making their information public to come up with that stat.) But if you follow my simple logic about how much time is being spent on Google (<5 minutes/day) compared to how much time we are surfing the web (>5 hours/day), I think you’ll come to understand that Google may not be the king of search that people think it is.

I will say this for Google. It is often the first place that searches take place. Very few people could argue that Google is where we go when we want to do a search. Their name is a verb that means search for crying out loud.

But true research takes place on the rest of the internet – all your favorite news sites, tech sites, blogs, forums and social networks – those places where you’re spending the majority of your five hours online.  Targeted Display provider, Simpli.fi’s CEO, Frost Priealou said in a blog post “Google might be the primary search, but search behavior continues in other places as people start refining and narrowing their content options.”

Again, I offer no hard evidence, but ask that you use common sense and think this through. Google search is “tip of the iceberg” – meaning that we begin our searches on Google, but then do the majority of our research on those sites that know much more about the subject matter that we are researching.

Consider a parent looking to send her daughter to college. She may search Google for “best colleges in Kansas”. Those results will lead her directly to some of those schools in Kansas, but may also lead her to education related message boards, forums, blogs, review sites, and articles about colleges in Kansas on her favorite news sites. As she travels from site to site, she creates search data that speaks to her interest in college. Of all of that search data, only the first search came from Google. Do we really need that particular search to know that this is a mother researching colleges for her daughter? Most of the time, no.

And because so many websites exist to make money, or at least many of them want to make money in order to support the site, most are willing to sell their data. Because of that, every user’s search data is available, and in great quantity – with or without Google search.

Additional reading:

Aug 22 2014

Three Ways to Measure the Success of Digital Advertising

If you haven’t already, please read How Google Set Standards That Other Online Advertising Channels Can’t Live Up To, before proceeding. This article is really a follow up to that one.

Okay, you’re back (or still here because you’ve already read that one) so… if we can’t measure digital advertising based on the click, then what? In the article I mention increased store traffic, increased phone calls and increased sales. But come on, it’s 2014. Surely there are some better ways of measuring the success of a digital campaign than what they used in 1971! Right?

“Isn’t that why I get all these reports, David? My social media manager is telling me we have a hundred new LIKES and my newspaper guy says I’ve got a .15 click through rate on the display campaign we are running on his dot-com, and that I should be excited about that. But I don’t know that any of that means the campaign is working!”

I feel your pain. I’ve been the guy telling you that your CTR is great and that you’ve got to trust that the campaign is working. But ultimately, no social media manager, no “internet marketing guy” – even one you trust, can tell you for sure that your advertising is working. ONLY YOU can know if you’re getting leads, if you’re making sales, if you’re getting value for your investment.

We can educate you on the statistics that indicate that things are working, but ultimately, you should take on some of that burden with how you measure your web traffic, and that’s what this article is about.

IMG_0584Side note rant: Heck, sometimes I wish I sold something like iPads. I could hand it to you and say “Look. If you put your finger here and pull back on the bird, it’ll fly at those rocks and knock down those pigs.” And if you put your finger on the glass and it doesn’t do that, we know it doesn’t work.

But no. Somehow I pursued a path in advertising. I get to say things like, “This is a good ad. We’re going to get it in front of a custom audience of people who are interested in your products and that should result in increased sales and profits for you.” But in the end, it’s still advertising. It’s still a risk. And while that can be frustrating, it can also be pretty awesome.

In the fifteen years I’ve been in this industry, I’ve seen a lot more success than failure. The internet has become an awesome tool for new customer acquisition, and new strategies are coming along every day. It’s very exciting.

Rant completed.

As for the three ways of measuring the success of digital advertising, these are metrics I’ve personally seen in many many campaigns that I feel are great indicators of success.

ONE: INCREASED WEB TRAFFIC

Simple but true. Look, if you’re getting an average of a thousand visitors a day to your website, and then you run a display campaign for a month*, and you start seeing that average increase to eleven hundred visitors a day, it’s fair to say that the display campaign lifted your overall web traffic by 10%. Depending on your conversion rates, or your ratio of web traffic to actual sales, this should allow you to calculate your ROI and determine if you need to invest more in the campaign, let it run longer, or cancel it.

* A month probably isn’t long enough to measure any kind of advertising. Prospects need to see your brand and message multiple times for the most impact. Ninety days is probably a better standard for a test.

TWO: INCREASED BRAND SEARCHES

One in five users exposed to display advertising conduct related searches for the advertised brands. (source: OPA) When we see advertising like display ads, we rarely take action on the ads at the time when we see them. Instead, the brand gets into our head and is recalled when we have a need for the product or when we have more time to do research. So if your display campaign (or social media or content marketing or infographic) is effective, your users will search for you by name when the time is right. So look at the keywords that are driving traffic to your site. Your name should be high on the list. (Note: Google no longer provides referring keywords on organic traffic. You must be doing PPC to get this information.)

BTW, this is awesome for two reasons. First, your website is almost always the first result for a search for you by name which means that you don’t have to pay for the click; and second, rarely will you share the Google results page with a bunch of your competitors when you are searched for by name.

THREE: HIGHER QUALITY WEB TRAFFIC

Set a benchmark before starting the campaign and then measure again in ninety days. Look for changes in (1) bounce rate (2) time on site and (3) number of pages visited.

A bounce occurs when a visitor comes to your website and leaves without visiting any other page. An average bounce rate is 40% (source: Google). Time on site and number of pages visited are pretty clear.

If you’re online advertising campaign is driving quality leads to your website, your bounce rate should decrease while time on site and number of pages visited increase.

Let’s say you’re very active on social media and you start getting lots of LIKES on your Facebook page. While that isn’t proof that the Facebook campaign is working, if you start to see that the users who are visiting your site are more engaged and interested in your business, this is a great indicator that the traffic that is coming from all that Facebook activity is of a higher caliber. The same is true for display advertising.

success-metrics

So look at your analytics. Look for increased web traffic, increased brand searches and higher quality web traffic, because these things, more than anything else, represent that more, quality prospects are checking you out. And isn’t that the first step in getting them through the door and selling them?

PS: Consider that if you’re call to action in your television, radio or newspaper ad is for the user to visit your website, these metrics could also be used to measure the success of those kinds of traditional medias. Cool!

Thanks for reading.

David McBee

 

[READ: Local Plumbing Company Uses Facebook to Generate Over $100,000 a Year]

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