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Should We Ditch Digital Ads?

It’s time to rethink how we measure the effectiveness of digital ads.

Ray Hennessey

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Digital ad spending continues (unsurprisingly) to grow faster as a percentage of the total ad market than other categories. Research firm eMarketer says budgets for digital ads will hit $42.5 billion in 2013 and jump to $60.4 billion in 2017.

You would think, with all the data available and all that money being shelled out, it would be easy to see whether digital advertising campaigns work.

After all, you have click-through rates, page traffic and online sales to use to put together a matrix of numbers to decide whether it was worth it to buy a display ad, or something of that ilk.

But, actually, we might be looking at the wrong numbers, or, at the very least, looking at the right numbers wrongly.

A working paper from three researchers who once worked together crunching numbers at Yahoo suggests we need to reset how we view tradition metrics used to judge effectiveness.

Here are the three problems with our current approach, according to the authors, Randall Lewis and David Reiley, now at Google, and Justin Rao, now at Microsoft:

1. Just because people don’t click doesn’t mean they don’t buy.

If you are looking at click-through rates of ads, and matching that to sales, you are missing a big audience: The customers who see your ad, think about it, and then buy later, often in a physical retail location.

Leaving out these customers often underestimates the effectiveness of your ad campaign. Trouble is, these are a bit tougher to capture, but the authors note there, with the incorporation of some third-party measurements, it is getting easier to figure how many of these buyers are out there.

2. Just because they click doesn’t mean they bought something because of the ad.

When you look at click-through rates, you generally shout “Huzzah” when you can directly tie a click on the ad directly to a purchase. The ad agency pops a cork, saying it was clearly their creative that did the trick.

The marketer assumes it is the quality of the product. The host site pats itself on the back for having such wonderful associated content, it just makes readers want to spend.

All may be fooling themselves. Sometimes people just want to buy stuff. So they search for stuff. And then they happen upon your ad and see and easy way to do it. They were buying anyway. You got lucky.

3. Just because you have data doesn’t mean they don’t suck.

Well, the authors didn’t quite put it that way.

Instead, they said, “(M)ore sophisticated models that do compare exposed to unexposed users to establish a baseline purchase rate typically rely on natural, endogenous advertising exposure and can easily generate biased estimates due to unobserved heterogeneity.”

While at Yahoo, the authors found that studies of buyers vs. non-buyers were put together wrong, with a lot of bad data and noise.

So, what is a marketer to do? Well, many ways, click-through rates are already being discounted in many ad buys. Last year, researchers from Hewlett-Packard, using their own digital display ads for printers, found that click-through rates were too random to be used as a metric for effectiveness. Instead, they only used them to compare whether one set of creative did better than another – and even then they admitted they didn’t entirely trust the numbers.

That leaves other approaches, like gauging reach, engagement, brand awareness, traffic to your site, and stuff like that. These are often more difficult, and more expensive, to monitor, than the cheap-and-easy click-through, but they have an advantage: The data actually may be useful.

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Looking Into Google Pay-Per-Click Advertising? Here Are the Basics

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Do you think that digital marketing works for your business and why? Let us know in the comments section below…

Ray Hennessey is editorial director of Entrepreneur.com. Previously, he was director of business news at the FOX Business Network, where he managed day-to-day editorial operations for the channel. Before joining FOX News in 2007, Ray spent a decade at Dow Jones in a variety of positons, notably editor of SmartMoney.com and news editor for Dow Jones Newswires. For six years, he authored the IPO Outlook column for The Wall Street Journal and appeared daily on CNBC television. He was also a regular on-air contributor to CBS News.

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Online Marketing

Crisis Management: Fail To Prepare, Prepare To Fail

The secret to a successful reputational risk management programme depends on leaders’ ability to move with agility as they respond to the immediacy and uncertainty of social media-fuelled crises.

Jordan Rittenberry

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The always-evolving communications environment has intricately linked reputation management with the digital world, and executives must now realise that brand perception functions more like a real-time trading desk with 24/7 news, social media and online conversations shaping brand perception without the participation of organisations.

Put simply, managing your reputation must be an active, ongoing strategic investment that starts well before any risk or crisis begins. Plans and procedures will prove useless if introduced as a crisis erupts. Preparedness planning needs to start at executive level with reputation management practices being built into the fibre of every business at every level.

The secret to a successful reputational risk management programme depends on leaders’ ability to move with agility as they respond to the immediacy and uncertainty of social media-fuelled crises, which cannot be overstated as social media gaffes are occurring faster than we can write case studies to learn from them.

Establishing a preparedness programme

Handling a reputational challenge or crisis effectively starts with recognising the warning signs early. With an established programme, guidelines and procedures in place, your organisation can keep its finger on the pulse of conversations. This allows you to begin what’s known as the OODA loop (observe, orient, decide and act), quickly and nimbly during a crisis.

Recent data shows that 28% of crises spread globally within one hour. The very action of participating in a crisis exercise helps build “muscle memory” and organisations that effectively navigate a crisis are ones with detailed crisis management plans that they are familiar with.

Establishing protocols and systems ahead of a crisis, and then testing and training on them provides discipline and structure.

If the first time you’re reading through a crisis plan is during an operational or reputational crisis, you’re going to be behind the curve and with the pace of today’s digital age, it will be hard to recover.

Related: 10 Laws Of Social Media Marketing

Building a digital foundation

In times of crisis, reaching out to those who count the most to your organisation is critically important. This goes beyond determining who has the most followers on social media as people often confuse influence with reach. The former can be defined as the degree to which someone can inspire others to do something.

To prepare, first identify core groups ahead of time: loyal fans, industry influencers, key opinion makers such as journalists and bloggers, and those who aren’t fans. Knowing potentially negative influencers such as those who might be sceptics or critics is equally important as knowing positive influencers.

Consider online monitoring to be your first line of defence to gauge messages about your organisation. When set up in advance, this monitoring provides an understanding of your overall perception and it allows you to adjust quickly to conversational trends.

There is no “one size fits all” content strategy for a crisis. The sooner you can identify and engage with those who matter, the sooner you can begin tackling the situation directly.

Taking control

When you’re at the centre of an unfolding risk, you must demonstrate a strong voice to counteract the forces of social and traditional media that will quickly shape the narrative. Press releases and news conferences are insufficient to meet expectations for content that exists online.

Leveraging strategic content within the context of a crisis forces you to question how you are engaging your key stakeholders and audience beyond a simple text response.

Your owned media properties, particularly your website and social channels, serve as critical tools to provide information that frames the issue from your perspective, addresses misinformation and, if necessary, apologises for a situation with a clear action plan.

Related: Why Your Business’ Social Media Marketing Strategy Is Probably Wrong

Our goal, as a leading communications marketing agency, isn’t to teach an organisation how to simply tweet through a crisis. Rather, we expect our clients to walk away with first-hand experience of working under rapid-fire crisis conditions that mimic an accurate scenario.

There’s a great deal of nuance around effective crisis and reputation management, including what corporate responses are suitable for different crises. Don’t go it alone. Invest in a partner, which has a deep understanding of the complex variables that have a long-term impact on the public perception of your organisation.


Five variables to address ahead of a crisis

  1. Who have we maintained consistent relationships with? You must make friends before you need them. Develop a list of important online and traditional stakeholders and maintain steady communications with this group during the quiet times.
  2. What is your threshold for who is influential? Be aware of the fact that there are people who reside outside your list of key stakeholders who are nevertheless influential and could have an impact on your business.
  3. How quickly does a conversation need to build up steam to warrant a response? The internet and social media now reflect thousands of smaller voices who can find each other and amplify a message. Recognising how conversations gain critical velocity is imperative to gauge when to respond and a crisis partner can help in this scenario.
  4. What is the timing of your response? You don’t always have all the answers and that’s okay. Often, a community just wants to know that you’re listening to them.
  5. Where will you publish a response and notify stakeholders? Sometimes, a response on Twitter, or Facebook proves sufficient, although other platforms such as a website or a blog helps to frame issues more comprehensively. A crisis partner will help determine the best way forward.

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Online Marketing

Why You Should Sort Your Social Media Policy (Like NOW!)

Strong social media policies are needed to prevent such behaviours and should always be considered when setting up and expanding your business.

Entrepreneur

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With 2 billion active users on Facebook alone, sharing our toils, tribulations and triumphs online is becoming second nature. There are, however, downsides to the rise of social media. Habits online have the potential to affect your work and your business if not monitored appropriately.

Recent research combining a survey of 2,000 UK respondents and analysis of work-related Twitter posts has highlighted the behaviours of employees online that could lead to damage for the businesses who employ them. Strong social media policies are needed to prevent such behaviours and should always be considered when setting up and expanding your business.

Related: 5 Tips To Generate Sales Leads Through Social Media

The Risks of Social Media

Lost Working Hours

The average person now spends 25 hours a week online, with almost two hours a day (116 minutes) being used to browse social media platforms.

With so much time being spent online it’s almost inevitable that people will habitually reach for their phone to check Facebook during the working day. The survey research suggests the average person spends 52 minutes procrastinating every day, with most of this time being spent on social media.

Across the working year this amounts to 225 hours lost per employee, a total of 7 billion lost hours from the UK working population of 32,344,000. Failing to set clear boundaries of when employees can use social media in the workplace may cost you a lot in the long term.

Employee Posts

15% of employees say that they have previously shared something negative about their work online, and a further 5% said they would do so in the future. This means that one in five workers think it is acceptable to take to social media to air their grievances with their company.

The volume of tweets found in Twitter analysis that contain negative work-related phrases illustrates how widespread the problem of employees complaining online is. In 2017, 8,186 tweets containing phrases such as #ihatemyjob, #worksucks and #hatework were sent, a 43% rise on the volume of similar posts in 2015.

Related: Make Sense Of Social Media In 60 Minutes

It is not only negative posts from employees that pose a risk to your business – they might also be inadvertently sharing confidential information. Off-hand comments on social media about what they have done with their day may lead your employees to unintentionally reveal information about a client, future plans or other information that you would not want in the public forum.

This could result in lost business if a client feels their security has been compromised or may give your competitors important insight into your working practices, which they can use to their advantage. A clear policy on what is acceptable to post in relation to work will help prevent these risks.

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How Can a Social Media Policy Help?

Social media policies should be issued and explained to all employees. Their purpose is to ensure proper usage of social media, in a way which will not negatively impact on your business.

A social media policy can set out when usage of the platforms is appropriate and what employees can share with regards to your company. The policy may not guarantee adherence, but it does allow you to set out proper practice to all your workers in a clear, accessible format, which can be regularly consulted.

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Is Your Content Golden Enough?

Take a breather for a while and read our ‘gold-to’ guide for best digital practice in business.

So Interactive

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Leading digital researcher, GroupM, suggested in their annual ‘State of the Digital’ report that marketers should convey a brand message “within the first second” of every social video. Not to take the shine off your expectations, but if today’s CMO’s don’t level up and grab consumers’ attention on-play, your video is going straight to the dump heap. No stickiness, no interest, no shares no thumb stopping. Nothing. Nichts. Nada.

Golden content is what we strive for: Videos, podcasts and solid written content with that Midas touch; content that will seize that first second and shake the shares out of it. Take a breather for a while and read our ‘gold-to’ guide for best digital practice in business:

1. Hold it Before You Load It

You know what you want to sell, and you have a strong message to go. Stop right there. Before you dive for the upload button, do the 5-point sense check first:

  • Is this post too long, too short, too strong, too soft?
  • Will the post deliver better results on Facebook / Instagram / Twitter or YouTube?
  • Do I want audience engagement or audience awareness
  • What do I want to get out of this post?
  • What do I want my audience to feel and/or do with this post?

When you’ve answered these questions, and you’re clear about the what’s and how’s then, by all means, take that upload button and give it horns.

Related: How Content Marketing Adds Real Value To Your Customers’ Lives

2. Get off The Island: Let Video, Audio & Lit Work Together

One of the great benefits of digital is the opportunity to collaborate your communication in the same post, using audio, visual and literature, to get your message across. When you create a podcast, use your literature platform to support the podcast, with a strong rationale, call to action or written article.

Same applies to video: You should have a transcript or article supporting that video, to better land your message. And if you’re featuring written content as the star attraction (blogs aren’t dead, yet!) it will benefit greatly from keywords, images and diagrams that grab attention – or better yet, a throw forward to a film piece that adds juice. Golden content is not an island, it doesn’t need to live alone in order to make an impact.

3. Get The Experts On Board

From your social media to your online video it is vital that your brand is authentic and in a way that fully represents the values of your business, brand, and offering. Choose the right agency to help you create content that is truly Golden and help streamline that content to ensure it works holistically in delivering your brand message to your target audience.

Working with the right team can make all the difference when it comes to creating above average content that connects with your audience. Choose an agency with experience in creating content that is Golden. Speak to So Interactive for expert advice on creating golden content for your brand.

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