Archive for May, 2008

Raiders Of The Lost ROI
May 29, 2008

by Zephrin Lasker

If Indiana Jones was an online marketer in our times, he would undoubtedly have been asked to embark on a quest for the medium that delivered the greatest return on investment.

The mission wouldn’t be an easy one. It would take him through the crumbling ruins of failed campaigns littered with the victims of ever falling click-through rates and increasingly expensive search keywords. Indy would find that when it comes to delivering returns, online advertising has largely failed to live up to its promise.

Take the poster child of online advertising– the banner ad. Over the last few years, click-through rates on banners have dropped from 0.50% to plumb the depths of the 0.05% – 0.10% range. Even if one factors in the so called “view-through” conversions, it is clear that this method is ridiculously cost inefficient.

It’s no wonder that so many advertisers find traditional banner-landing page campaigns to be wasteful.

Even publishers have suffered at the hands of the non-performing banner. A Pub-matic study published last month found that the prices paid for online ads bought through ad networks dropped 23 percent from March to April 2008.

These falling returns for both publishers and advertisers can help explain why a recent IBM research study found that two-thirds of senior marketers expect 20 percent of ad revenue to move away from impression-based sales, in favor of action-based models within three years.

It also helps explain why 2007 saw a paradigm shift for the industry, with spending on performance based pricing models exceed that on display (IAB PWC 2007 Internet Spending Report).

“So what’s the problem?”  Indy would have asked. “Surely advertisers can leverage these performance based models to increase their ROI?”

That’s what we all thought. By enabling advertisers to pay only for clicks and not impressions, search engine marketing would allow marketers to generate increased returns and make this economic downturn different from the last, banner-filled one.

Sadly, this has not happened. Sure, search engine marketing has been a definite step-up from online banner advertising in terms of increasing ROI, but the returns have not been nearly enough.

To put it simply, due to increased competition, search keywords have become very expensive. A 2007 Doubleclick Performics Search trends Report shows that there were nearly six times as many keywords with a cost per click (CPC) of more than $1 in January of 2007 than the prior year. The cost per keyword increased by 33% and the cost per click rose by as much as 55%.

And to really rub it in, a substantial portion of the clicks were the direct result of fraud. According to Click Forensics, the overall click fraud rate for the pay-per-click (PPC) industry was up 15% over 2006 levels.

With online banner advertising less responsive than the DMV on a bad day, and search engine marketing producing increasingly diminishing returns, what is the online marketer to do?

We should do what Indy would have done. Cut to the chase.

Marketers need quality leads to build responsive e-newsletter lists, member loyalty programs, direct-marketing efforts or for their sales force. This is why so many banner and search campaigns are deployed for the purpose of lead generation.

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Be a Savvy Realtor through Effective Online Strategies
May 27, 2008

For most real estate professionals the business climate has changed dramatically. Whereas for several years, simple presence in the field was a license to be successful and earn a significant living, today a much better strategy needs to be utilized, just to stay on the playing field.

In an e-commerce environment the focus or goal of a website is encouraging the site visitor to buy something. Since that approach is not likely to work for real estate transactions, the most critical objective is to capture the contact information from a visitor so that a pipeline of prospects can be developed. While the gist of this article is about utilizing the Internet to help locate qualified prospects (buyers or sellers), I think it’s also important to mention that leads arising from the web will still need to be worked effectively.

Building a pipeline begins with attaining both a phone number and an e-mail address from someone. If you have a traditional direct mail program in place, then a street address is vital as well. While direct mail can still be of value, e-mails can be powerful, better targeted and less expensive. For example, by grouping your prospect base into categories (like single family vs. condo buyers or buyers vs. sellers), you can send out e-mails that are tightly aligned with someone’s interests. You will experience a much better response rate by segmenting in this manner.

Here are a few more ideas to boost the effectiveness of your website/online lead generation efforts.

Take advantage of the two main opportunities on search engines: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing. SEO, also know as organic or natural search is the process by which a site is designed to be aligned with the algorithms of the engines. Key ingredients include robust content, search-engine-friendly architecture and effective linking strategies. Each major search engine has a paid component to their search results as well. This involves paying for site visitors on a “per click” basis. There are a series of variable that need to be considered when starting a campaign. These include keyword selection, geography (where do you want your listing to show up), bid strategy (how aggressive do you

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Microsoft pays web shoppers to use its search engine as a starting point
May 23, 2008

Microsoft Corp. has embarked on a campaign to make its Live Search search engine a stronger competitor to Google, starting with a program that offers rebates to consumers who make purchases after searching for a product on Live Search.

“If we’re able to demonstrate a way to reward consumers for their behavior and build up loyalty, that will impact the search engine people use in the space of commerce and over time will impact the search engine people use outside of commerce,” says Brad Goldberg, general manager of Microsoft Live Search, which was launched in 2006 as the successor to Windows Live Search and MSN Search.

The Live Search cashback program was launched yesterday with 700 online retailers offering discounts on 10 million items. For instance, Tiger Direct is offering 5% off of a Canon digital camera and Backcountry.com 12% off on a bicycling jersey. Among the other e-commerce companies participating in the Microsoft program are eBay, Barnes & Noble, Zappos.com, Circuit City, Overstock.com, Home Depot and Sears.

Microsoft will rebate the amount of the discount to consumers once their rebate balances exceed $5, sending it via check, direct deposit to a bank account or to a PayPal account. Microsoft will wait 60 days from the purchase to send rebates to allow for returns and deter fraud.

“We believe search can offer much more value to consumers and advertiser than it does today, and we see Live Search cashback as an important opportunity to deliver additional value,” Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said yesterday in introducing the initiative at a company-sponsored advertising conference. “Our goal is to make Live Search the most rewarding commercial search destination on the web. Live Search cashback will help advertisers drive more online sales while giving consumers a new way to stretch their dollars.”

Gates made clear that this was just the first step in making Live Search a stronger competitor among search engines, with more innovations to come that will make Live Search more useful for web users searching for entertainment, looking for information or browsing.

Microsoft is also going after Google by offering online retailers a cost-per-action model—the retailer only pays if the customer makes a purchase—rather than the cost-per-click model that has made Google rich from collecting payments every time someone clicks on an ad on a Google search results page. Cost per action is easier to measure and avoids the problems of click fraud associated with pay-per-click advertising, Goldberg says.

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torrance web design
May 22, 2008

Microsoft launches advertisements on mobiles in battle with Google

Microsoft has opened a new front in the battle with Google, the search engine group, in the increasingly ferocious struggle for control of the online services market.

The software giant has said that users of its popular e-mail and instant messaging tools on mobile phones will display advertisements for the first time. Those using Windows Live on phones will also see ads.

Mobile telephony is regarded as an increasingly important component of the digital advertising market as new devices, such as Apple’s iPhone, improve the use of web-based services.

While it represents a small part of spending on digital advertising, it has significant potential because of the ability for advertising to be coupled with location using GPS.

In theory, mobile users could be targeted with an advertisement as they come into the vicinity of a particular vendor.

According to a M:Metrics, which tracks use of the mobile internet, 62 per cent of search queries by UK mobiles are performed by Google, compared with 7 per cent performed by MIcrosoft’s Windows Live search.

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Website Designer California
May 21, 2008

“The Future Of Internet Marketing” Key Topic for Panel of Industry Thought Leaders

TAOW, the agency that has defined modern marketing, is bringing together some of the industry’s most influential thought-leaders for a panel discussion on the future of Internet marketing. Lessons In Social Advertising (L.I.S.A.) conference is the first forum dedicated to social media marketing- an emerging new field dedicated to marketing strategies used to reach the growing demographic of social network site users.

The L.I.S.A. conference will take place in four U.S. cities including Portland, Oregon (May 28th), Los Angeles (June 11th), San Francisco (June 18th) and New York (June 24th). The partial list of panelists includes such industry luminaries as:

  • Procter & Gamble – Deborah Schultz, strategic adviser for social media
  • SplashCast Media – Michael Berkley, founder and CEO
  • Adweek – Brian Morrissey, digital editor
  • Goodby Silverstein – Heshem Bajwa, director of digital planning
  • MediaForge – Anthony Zitom, CEO

The moderator for the San Francisco event will be Pete Cashmore, CEO of Mashable, a leading social networking blog. Additional moderators and panelists will be announced as they are confirmed.

“The trend is clear. A growing number of young people are spending an increasing amount of time on MySpace, Facebook and other social networking sites,” said Cashmore. “If marketers are to be successful in reaching this demographic they must find a way to gain viable presence on these sites.”

“The lackluster effectiveness of traditional on-line advertising has been a major catalyst for new thinking in the area of Internet marketing. In the U.S one-in-four Internet users are using a social networking site. Those that ignore this trend will be left behind,” said B. Scott Taylor, president of TAOW. “L.I.S.A will offer in-depth discussions on the latest findings and the most current thinking on this topic from today’s most influential leaders in the field.”

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Torrance Website Designer
May 20, 2008

Online Search Ads Faring Better Than Expensive Displays

In the past few years, Web publishers have made a big bet on booming online advertising revenues. But the economic slowdown may be throwing a wrench into those plans.

While search advertising remains strong, there are signs that the growth in online advertising — particularly in more elaborate display ads — is slowing down. In the past few weeks, major online-advertising players, like Yahoo and Time Warner, have posted mixed results.

And online publishers may be getting less money for the ad space they do sell. The prices paid for online ads bought through ad networks dropped 23 percent from March to April, according to PubMatic, an advertising-technology company in Palo Alto, Calif., that runs an online-pricing index. Large Web publishers fared the worst in PubMatic’s study, with the prices they received through networks dropping 52 percent.

These are only preliminary results, and the economy could turn around more quickly than anyone expected even a month ago. But, these numbers must be worrisome for Web portals, newspaper publishers and news media companies like CBS (which announced a $1.8 billion deal last week to buy CNet Networks) looking to expand their revenues from high-priced display advertising, like graphics-heavy banners and column ads.

“The weakest form, the one that’s most susceptible to a downturn — and this is what we’re seeing — is display advertising,” said Jeffrey Lindsay, senior analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Company.

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Affordable Website Designer in Torrance
May 19, 2008

Tech tools help small firms succeed

After Hurricane Katrina lashed the Gulf Coast in 2005, small businesses such as the Silk Road Collection antique store in New Orleans had little hope of surviving. Tourists and local customers had vanished, and it would take years for the city to rebuild.

Donald St. Pierre, the owner of Silk Road, and his business and life partner, Robert Turner, feared that they might have to close the shop. They couldn’t land government or bank loans, and their personal savings were keeping the business afloat.

But then Turner attended a small-business, e-commerce seminar co-sponsored by Internet giant Yahoo and AT&T. After the disaster, it was like tech manna from heaven.

Yahoo offered free online small-business services. E-commerce firm Solid Cactus designed a professional-looking Web site (www.silkroadcollection.com). Google provided free online software to analyze Internet traffic to Silk Road’s Web site. And online marketing firm Constant Contact created an e-newsletter for thousands of customers. Total cost: $5,000.

The impact has been dramatic. Silk Road’s total sales in 2007 grew to $201,000, up 23 percent from the year before. This year, sales are up 19 percent, with online and foreign sales an increasing percentage of the total take. Now, Silk Road is adding a travel blog and online videos so customers can view products as if they were at the store.

“Technology has been a tremendous tool,” St. Pierre said. “The tourists weren’t coming to us, so we had to reach out to millions of tourists.”

Added Turner, “It’s been a godsend for us.”

Owners geek out

St. Pierre, Turner and millions of U.S. small-business owners are geeking out in the digital bazaar. As online commerce grows and technology gets cheaper and easier to use, small firms — especially mom-and-pop shops that had shied away from technology — are using tech tools more than ever to sell goods, market themselves and run their operations. Technology used for years by tech-savvy “early adopters” and big companies now is hitting small businesses on Main Street USA.

In earlier years, setting up a vast business technology infrastructure required millions of dollars, affordable mainly for just big and midsize corporations.

Now, even tiny, cash-strapped firms can use so-called Web-hosting and other tech services offered online to small and midsize businesses by Yahoo, Intuit, Google, Microsoft and many others. Some are free. Others may cost $40 a month or tens of thousands of dollars altogether.

Just like big companies, small operations can design their own Web sites. They can sell and market online to millions of U.S. and global customers. They can conduct meetings and seminars over the Internet. They can use tech tools for accounting, shipping, inventory control and other nitty-gritty business functions.

“There’s a myth in Small Business America that you need to be a rocket scientist in order to use technology,” said Jimmy Duvall, director of e-commerce products for Yahoo. “We want to demystify that technology and bring it to the average merchant and small-business owner in an easy, approachable, digestible way.”

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Affordable Website Designer in Torrance
May 16, 2008

Digital marketing converts web traffic into clients

Online marketing surpasses traditional marketing practices. The ‘search engine optimisation’ and ‘pay per hit’ factors enhance customer building via Internet. Features like social networking helps business gain credibility among the users.

TODAY, ONLINE marketing industry is abuzz with ’search engine optimisation’ (SEO) and ’pay per click’ (PPC) strategies to get more traffic onto business websites. However, is the conversion rate of traffic into a solid customer base for these websites substantial?

Out of the many instruments with digital marketing, social networking is vital for the improvement of web traffic conversion rate. Based on the Web 2.0 platform, social communities and forums have become a huge rage amongst online users. The video, voice-and-text-chat enabled e-communities lead visitors towards becoming repeated visitors and then into community members.

With customisable user rooms, forums and categories, social networking can help businesses gain credibility and acceptance among the users.

Another significant online marketing tool is the business blog. It is highly recommended for promotion of a business and its website.

Some of its key benefits

  • Communicates news in time

  • Indexed in minimal time by the search engines, receives feedback (comments and reviews) from visitors and potential customers

  • Solves user queries

  • Publishes product’s or service’s pictures and videos

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Torrance Website Designer
May 15, 2008

Online affiliate marketing set to scale new heights

As online marketing budgets continue to grow, affiliate marketing becomes an indispensable component of Internet marketing strategies. The online marketing channel is constantly reaping benefits for investors worldwide.

GROWING ONLINE budgets as a consequence of online media consumption has helped in placing affiliate marketing much above other modes of online marketing. The cost effectiveness of affiliate marketing is constantly attracting online marketers who are serious about optimising the Return On Investment (ROI) opportunities presented by Internet. This is when ’search’ still holds the first place among all online marketing strategies.

Looking at the present statistics. It’s not difficult to predict with affirmation that this type of marketing is going to feature big on the online sales and marketing billboards in the coming times.

Reports have it that brand budgets on media like newspapers, magazines and TV have decreased more considerably than what was spent on them before. Marketing and finance heads now demand more explanation from key suppliers in advertising, thus place performance marketing and affiliate marketing under the limelight.

Meenakshi Wali, co-founder and business development head of Rupiz Ads stated that advertisers and agencies are constantly attracted towards the online advertising industry and true professionalism amidst the networks and online publishers has made affiliate marketing a highly attractive element to online sales and marketing blend.

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Los Angeles Custom Website Design
May 14, 2008

Google to Spread Social Tool Across The Web

Google has picked up the banner of the social Web by launching an initiative to bring features commonly found on social networks to Web sites of all kinds.

Released in a limited preview, Google Friend Connect will enable Web sites to integrate social features such as blogging and feedback forms without having to write the code as well as provide access to applications developed through the OpenSocial initiative.

“Site owners have been saying for a while that they would love to provide this functionality, but, frankly, it’s been too hard to add social features,” Mussie Shore, a product manager at Google, wrote in a company blog post.

Friend Connect will enable visitors to participating sites to view their friends’ activities across other social sites on the Web. Its the latest in a series of announcements from big-name Internet companies aiming to break down the walls that separate Web communities in a movement broadly known as data portability.

Last week, MySpace announced its Data Availability initiative to allow users to share their profiles with sites such as Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) and eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY).

Not to be outdone, Facebook announced Facebook Connect the next day, describing it as an extension of its API. It allows members can bring their identities to third-party sites.

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