Widget spend to grow

March 19, 2008

Widgets are gaining some serious traction! U.S. companies have spent approx $15m on widget based campaigns in 2007 and that is projected to grow to $40m in 2008.

That spend reflects only 2.5% of the total amount that is projected to be spent on social network advertising in the next year. Now that’s quite low, I believe this is because so many widget campaigns have been so poorly executed in the past year and corporates are having difficulty seeing the potential ROI in comparison to traditional banner advertising and more brand led efforts (such as sponsored pages and profiles).

I stick by my earlier prediction that 2008 will be the year of the widget; if portability, engagement and usefulness are all kept in mind then a widget campaign can serve both branding and conversion. For more on my thoughts on widgets see this post.

For more on widget spend visit eMarketer.

Every click counts!

February 25, 2008

As we’ve all known for a long time measuring the success of online ad campaigns based on the last-click is not really representative of how engaging your advert or link is to users.

Finally Microsoft have announced a solution that may be the beginning of the end for these old advertising techniques.

Engagement Mapping will allow campaigns to be attributed to every click in the journey of a user, one suspects that means they will attribute percentages of sales to each click to end up with a weighted user journey.

This is good news and great progress but what is needed now is a tracking tool that will allow conversions to be tracked in this way across channels such as affiliates, paid search and banners and attribute sales correctly. Only then will online marketers really understand the ROI each channel is delivering.

Marketing Sherpa has quizzed 420 top digital marketing experts about what they feel are the most effective methods for advertising online and which give the best ROI.

Search engine optimisation came top, this is not surprising as the ROI is incredible. Some changes take such little effort and can return such amazing gains that SEO will always be the top in a survey like this.

Second came behavioural targeting for adverts, slightly more surprising this one as I wasn’t aware the technology was quite there yet to get a better ROI than other ways of advertising such as paid search.

Paid search (or PPC) showed quite a drop in confidence in delivering ROI, however marketers said that the biggest increase in budgets would be in the paid search arena.

And the biggest trend in measurement for this year was voted to be the integration of search and email analytics with your standard onsite analytics thus completing the tracking of the customer journey. Integrating offline and online campaign tracking came second here, now that’s a holy grail and I don’t believe will be truly possible for a year or so longer.

Interesting study; more available here.

A study by ComScore, Tacoda (behavioural ad network) and Starcom has turned up some not wholly unexpected results regarding the profile of users who are frequent ad clickers in the U.S. online population.

It turns out that measuring your banner campaigns performance on click through rates may not actually signify brand engagement to the level that you’ve been expecting.

There is a small group of consumers out there who account for the vast majority of all banner click throughs. These heavy handed individuals make up just 6% of the online population in the U.S. and yet they account for 50% of all display ad clicks. Worse still, this small group is not fully representative of the public at large, rather it is made up on predominantly users between the ages 25-44 and with a household income of less than $40k. These people spend a lot more time online than the rest of the internet population but at the same time their spending online does not proportionately reflect this heavy usage.

What does this mean for marketers? Well, it could suggest that good click through rates do not correlate strongly with good brand awareness for the ads subject.

Time to diversify! Banners have their place, best used as a response mechanism to attempt to acquire or convert users, and that means best measured for effectiveness using other metrics than click throughs. Conversion rate and acquisition numbers are a far more accurate measure of success. A brand specific measure may prove to be engagement and their are now ways to measure engagement with banners and online adverts. Diversifying your online spend into other mediums is key, making sure you are represented well in search, more viral types of advertising and offline will have a better overall effect on your brand equity.

It’s up to web people to educate your marketing departments, many of you will have understood or suspected this for a long time!

Hat tip to Josh at Read Write Web for his write up regarding this link that I’d never come across before. It’s a demo of an analytics tool aimed at web 2.0 and AJAX websites.

With the death of the page view as the all important metric of the analyst there has appeared a need to be able to measure users engagement with a website rather than just how many pages they viewed.

The rise of AJAX has been a major player in this with whole websites sometimes being a single screen which makes many calls to databases and servers in order to refresh itself multiple times in a users visit. Thus devaluing the page view completely.

The demo shows a novel way to gauge a users engagement by measuring in time how long segments of the page stay in the browser viewing pane. This isn’t perfect by a long way but it’s a sign of how analytics tools will have to work in the future as websites get more difficult to measure and marketeers and management get more demanding in their hunt for data to help understand their users.

Also really interesting is the demo of a tool to measure users engagement with a banner advert. I can’t wait till metrics like this exist as they may help marketers see that throwing money into display advertising is not the way forward anymore.

What I’d really like to see is mouse interaction data on pages as well. It surely is possible to collect the data on the X and Y coordinates and it’s a good hint as to what area of the screen a user is actually focused on (users tend to hover the mouse over what interests them). It’s great to know that the item you’re interested in is within view but how do you know that users are actually looking at it? Short of installing eyetracking as defacto in PC’s we may never answer questions like that!

Google to get DoubleClick??

December 20, 2007

Bloomberg are reporting that Google may well get what it wants and secure the DoubleClick acquisition it’s been looking for.

About time too! It’s been going on for far too long now, it makes sense to just get it over with, there are far bigger threats to our online privacy than this merger. Every other major player has managed to buy an advertising network this year, so why not Google too?

This is coming too late for some though. Viacom have just signed a deal to move over to Microsoft, away from DoubleClick. Perhaps they would have stayed if Google had the reigns?

Techrunch carried a post the other day highlighting the way publishers have little control over what adverts Google Adsense puts on their websites, using an example of the U.S. baseball/steroid drama. It’s always been a bit of an issue for publishers that they could end up carrying advertising that isn’t really suitable for their content, and as usual Google have an answer.

Google’s just announced the Ad Review Center. This allows publishers to review the ads targeted for your site and lets them ensure they get suitable content related adverts. This should help publishers increase their revenue from Adsense as any adverts that are totally unrelated to their content are more likely to get clicks. Feedback from the publishers will make its way back to the advertisers as well, thus allowing advertisers to target ads better and get hopefully more qualified referrals.

The NY Times technology blog surmises that this could reduce Googles revenue but I highly doubt that as this could encourage wider take up of Adsense by those who’ve found it poorly targeted in the past.

It’s another added value tool from Google that makes Adsense still the most viable ad serving solution for small publishers everywhere.