Posts Tagged ‘online advertising’

You must make the move to measurable media today

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

With the economy in the tank, there are a lot of people who are understandably worried about their businesses and their jobs. Companies that rely on marketing for revenue are especially concerned; historically, marketing budgets are among the first to be cut when there is a downturn. In the dotcom bust early this century, the slicing of marketing budgets directly contributed to the demise of several publications, including one that I worked for at the time.

I have said this before, and I will say it again now – if you are a media company that relies on advertising for revenue, you need to start offering a performance-based, ROI-based media option today.

If you don’t believe me, let’s look to someone who knows something about online advertising – Google CEO Eric Schmidt. Google just announced their earnings for the third quarter of 2008, and in the press release, Schmidt said this:

“The measurability and ROI of search-based advertising remain key assets for Google.”

Measurablility and ROI-based marketing programs are what are going to be the key assets to get Google through the hard time. I say, why not follow the leader?

Long live the media brand

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

I just posted my latest article on The Industry StandardWhat The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and CNN are doing wrong.

It has already been well-documented that online media is eating away at print revenue. Take The New York Times for example. According to Scott Karp, from “May 2006 to May 2007, print ad revenue for the News Media Group decline $19.2 million or 14.4%, dwarfing the $2.8 million increase in online ad revenue.”

Broadcast revenue is also on the decline. According to Nielsen Media Research, although National Cable TV and Spanish-Language TV were up slightly, Network TV and Spot TV Markets were down significantly in 2007.

The good news for print and TV is that they’ve moved to the Web. Now they just have to figure out how to do it right.

Print and television brands are some of the most well-known in the world. Just think of the names – The New York Times. CNN. The Washington Post. NBC. It would be difficult to find someone who doesn’t recognize at least one of those companies. And the audiences have followed the brands online. According to the data (see chart, below), many mainstream print and TV outlets have huge – and growing – online audiences.

Compete data for print media sites online

In my opinion, building an audience is the biggest challenge to overcome online. The second is producing content that anyone cares about. So these companies are more than half-way there. If they can just get their business models figured out, they just might have a shot at not only surviving, but thriving.

Online advertising moving to interactive & measurable formats

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

MeasureJust saw a story this morning about Carat’s advertising outlook for 2009. Even though they are revising their forecast down to reflect the weak economy, they are raising their forecast for online advertising from 23.3% to 23.7% in 2008. For 2009, they are predicting that online advertising will grow 18.6%, vs. earlier estimates of 17.8% growth.

The most interesting bit in the article, however, is this:

[Jerry Buhlmann, CEO of Aegis Media] said the growth in online’s ad spending share has less to do with the growth of consumer use of online media, and more to do with a secular shift within the advertising industry that is driving marketers and agencies toward media that deliver measurable returns on advertising investments.

“With search now central to the planning and execution of any campaign, online media brings a greater level of accountability not just to itself but to TV, print and other forms of advertising,” he said. “This is why we are predicting further strong growth for internet, even when advertisers are cautious in many of the other sectors.” (bold and italics mine)

This shift to performance-based media, sometimes called ROI advertising, is going to continue until most (if not all) advertising is based on performance metrics. Not only is search advertising going to continue its phenomenal growth in leading this sector, but lead generation is going to continue to grow quickly. Joining them will be other media that traditionally have not been measured but will move in that direction, including video and even print.

Marketers have always headed in the direction of measurable media programs. Just think of the 1-800 numbers that can be traced back to specific ads. With money tight, even more dollars will be adjusted to go to these programs that can prove they are worth the money they cost to run.

Photo by aussiegall

Types of online advertising

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

My cousin Jay (hi Jay!) is in the process of building and launching his own online business, and he sent me a note this week (OK, he sent it two weeks ago, I’ve been busy!!) asking me about online advertising and how it works. I ended up writing him a fairly long-winded email in response, but I thought that there were enough nuggets in the message to make it worth re-posting.

Offline advertising

Here is a (somewhat edited) version of the email that I sent him. Please forgive me for the rough format.

The most basic type of Internet advertising (which is sometimes called “online media” or just “media”) is the standard banner ad. The banner ad has been around for years and was pretty much the first type of advertising that was sold online. When banners first went up, they got high click-through rates and companies could charge high fees for them, but the rates have dropped significantly over time. Banner advertising is usually sold based on a CPM (cost per thousand) basis calculated against page views. CPMs vary depending on the market that you’re in – consumer markets get a lower CPM than B2B markets – and they range usually anywhere from $10-$40 (approximately). The reasons that B2B audiences can charge a higher CPM is that there is the assumption that they are reaching a “higher qualified” more “high-value” audience. To sell this type of advertising, you’ll need quite a bit of traffic, and some information for potential advertisers about the type and quality of audience you reach. Demographics, reach, influence, etc. will all help. In the consumer market, advertisers are looking for a lot of reach – meaning high numbers of page views. Also, to run banner advertising on your site, you’ll need some kind of third-party ad server (a company that serves the ads and measures delivery and click-through for you), such as Doubleclick/DART. Also, it’s probably worth mentioning that “banner” advertising has evolved to include all kinds of ad sizes and types, such as skyscrapers & leaderboards (refers to ad sizes), interstitials (the type of ads that pop up as you go from page to page on a website), overlays, etc.
 
If you are interested in running banner ads on your site, but you don’t want to have to sell the ads yourself, there are a lot of third-party ad networks that will use your available inventory (pages on your site) to run their ads, and you get a percentage of any revenue generated. This is a good option for early in a business when you don’t have the sales staff and technology resources available to do serious selling. Blue Lithium, Tribal Fusion and Casale Media are some companies that do this.
 
If you don’t have the page views that you need to sell straight banner ads on a CPM basis, you might try to sell a site “sponsorship.” This is often harder to sell (especially these days) because with sponsorships you aren’t necessarily guaranteeing page views or any other measurable metric (although you could guarantee those things), but instead you are offering companies the chance to have exclusivity or sponsorship of a specific section of your site. Sponsorships can get complicated, but you can basically cook up any kind of arrangement that you can think of.
 
Google AdSense is a great way for publishers (and Websites) to get started with online advertising. It’s easy to sign up for an account, and by setting things up and “playing with” Google’s tools and going through the training, you’ll pick up a lot of the online advertising terminology and best practices. It’s also the kind of thing that you can set up and forget – so it will just run and serve on every page of your site without a lot of interference. I run Google AdSense on many of my sites, and it does produce revenue – again, the higher the value the keyword and the more page views you have on your site, the more money that you’ll make. On the flip side (from the advertiser’s perspective) most marketers who do online promotion use Google AdSense (although when you use it to advertise, it’s called AdWords), primarily because it’s a type of “performance-based media” that shows advertisers/marketers immediate “ROI.” These two terms you will see again and again with online advertising, as the trend with online marketing moves to media that has measurable results. The other great thing about Google AdSense is that it will help you quickly be able to track your monthly traffic and page views and what your traffic is “worth.” So if you’re doing financial modeling you can include that data for potential investors.
 
Another ROI-based type of online advertising is lead generation. Lead generation is when an advertiser/marketer pays you money to know more about specific members of your audience than just that they “viewed” an ad. With lead generation, advertisers usually get contact information (either email, phone, mailing address or all three), and other pieces of data that they consider to be valuable. With lead generation, companies are able to get anywhere from $10-$200 PER LEAD (as opposed to the $10 CPMs that I mentioned earlier), because the companies are willing to pay to know specifically who their potential customers are, and for the ability to market to them in the future. Lead generation works best on a site where users need to register to access data/services/etc. 

 

A variation on lead generation is co-registration, which is where a company that collects registration data can add a question or a check box on their registration form asking “would you like to receive information from X company?” If the user checks that box, they are “co-registered” for both your site and the other company’s site, as well.
 
ONE WORD OF CAUTION ABOUT ONLINE ADVERTISING AS A BUSINESS MODEL. (This was applicable to Jay, but might be relevant to you as well, so I’m leaving it here.) Since you are building a site that requires users to enter a lot of data, fill out forms and generally interact with the site a great deal in order for the site to be successful, you will need to think very carefully about on which pages it makes sense to have advertising. For example, running Google AdSense is fine on an information page (a page that someone gets to and might realize that they are in the wrong place), but putting Google AdSense on a registration page, where it might distract a potential registrant from completing a form, is not the best idea. In that instance, getting them to complete the reg form is probably worth far more than having them click that Google AdSense link.

 

I hope that this helps someone out there! If you have any questions, please feel free to post them below and I’ll try to answer.

Internet advertising numbers for 2007 – higher than predicted

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

In October, I posted the Internet Advertising Bureau’s estimates for U.S. online ad revenue for 2007; at the time, they were predicting $20 billion to $21 billion.

According to the numbers released today (which I saw first in TechCrunch), the IAB’s preliminary estimate for 2007 is that Internet advertising hit $21.1 billion in the U.S. – just slightly higher than they initially predicted.

TechCrunch also reports on the estimated numbers from a couple other sources:

Kelsey Group: $22.5 billion
IDC: $25.5 billion

Does audience size matter?

Monday, December 31st, 2007

I have been thinking about this post from Robert Scoble since I read it yesterday. (Go read it now.) In the post, Scoble makes three pretty strong points:

First,

“In the past few years I’ve had some success building audiences, but I found that that’s not really what’s important. It’s not what advertisers REALLY care about.”

He goes on to ask “What do they really care about?” and answers his own question by saying that advertisers care about content: that you get content that no one else does, that it causes conversations to happen, that your content gets noticed in the niche that you’re covering, and that it gets the most authoritative links back to it.

His second point:

“It’s not the size of your audience that matters. It’s WHO is in the audience that matters.”

And his third point:

“I never talk…about how large my audience will be. No, instead, we’re talking about who we want on the show for the first week. How can we make the quality better? Who is out there who is doing innovative stuff that we can learn from?…How can we take our art further? How come bloggers never obsess about THAT?”

There is a lot going on in this article, but first and foremost I have to disagree that advertisers don’t care about audience size. All you have to do is look at how advertising is sold online to know that they do, in fact, care very much about audience size. CPM (cost per thousand) is the standard measurement for online media sales. Just check out the advertising pages for CNET or PCMag.com  or CMP (all technology publishing companies). What is the first statistic that’s listed? Unique visitors per month. Second statistic? Unique page views per month.

Having worked for both Ziff Davis and IDG, two of the biggest technology publishers in the world, I know that when technology marketers are buying online advertising packages, the easiest question to ask – and the first one out of their mouths – is size of audience. They always want to know traffic stats and reach. In that market, advertisers do care about how big the audience is. And I think that this is only magnified in the consumer markets (with audiences like the one that Perez Hilton reaches), where there is no way to measure audience except by size.

And (this is still hard for me to swallow even though I’ve believed it for a long time), most advertisers do NOT care about how good the content is. I am just being honest here. Most technology marketers and advertisers do not pay attention to the content, or know how good or not good it is in and of itself. Instead, they measure content “goodness” quantitatively – by how big the audience is that is reading the content, and by who that audience is.

Which leads me to the part of Scoble’s article in which he was dead on accurate – advertisers do care about how targeted the audience is, WHO is in the audience. I believe that this is actually the statistic that matters the most to online advertisers.

Take another look at those advertising pages that I linked to earlier. There are some pretty strong arguments made by the publications that they have the specific audiences that advertisers are looking for. I believe that this trend of advertisers trying to reach the specific individual – with the right title, job function, industry and size of company – instead of reaching just a whole lot of people and hoping that the message has an impact, will continue. This desire to reach the RIGHT audience is why new models of online advertising are emerging, such as lead generation, in which a company will pay $100 PER LEAD as long as they are targeting the right person with their message. Scoble is reaching the audience that his advertisers want to reach – so the size of his audience isn’t as important. And this is why sites like Perez Hilton, which have to rely on audience size (because they are reaching a disparate consumer market) are going to have a hard time selling advertising by any measurement except audience size.

As far as content is concerned, I have already made the point that I don’t believe that advertisers care as much about quality content as Scoble claims that they do. I wish that they did, but I’ve been in this industry long enough to realize that they really just don’t. They like the latest and greatest thing – because it’s good for their brand to be associated with that innovative content – but advertisers aren’t content specialists and just really don’t have a good understanding of quality content.

HOWEVER – and this is a really big however – I think that Scoble is writing from the perspective of a content producer, not an advertiser. And his point is RIGHT ON that content producers MUST CARE MORE about their content than their audience size. Because without good, innovative, cutting-edge content, content producers will never draw the type of audience that they need to get advertisers. Scoble says that the right question is “how can we take our art further?” And I agree that is the right question for a content producer.

A summary of Internet advertising statistics

Friday, October 12th, 2007


statisticsThis week while writing about Internet advertising I came across quite a few statistics – it seems like many of the market research firms may have been timing the release of their data to coincide with the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) Annual Conference being held in Arizona. Here’s a roundup and links to the highlights:

IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report: Internet advertising revenues in the U.S. totaled nearly $10 billion for the first six months of 2007, with Q1 accounting for approximately $4.9 billion and Q2 totaling approximately $5.1 billion; Internet advertising revenues for the first six months of 2007 increased 26.4% from the same period in 2006; Search revenue accounted for 40% of 2007 second-quarter revenues; 2007 revenues for Internet advertising estimated to hit $20-21 billion.

Marketing & Media Ecosystem 2010 study by ANA & Booz Allen Hamilton: 90% percent of marketers plan to increase their digital marketing spending by 2010; only 24% of the 250 survey respondents think their organizations are digitally savvy; barriers to making bigger digital investments are insufficient metrics (62%), lack of organization support (51%) and lack of experience in new media (59%).

Forrester Research’s U.S. Interactive Marketing Forecast 2007-2012: marketing spend will grow to $61 billion by 2012, an increase driven by marketers who will leverage a distribution of channels rather than pour new spends into a single place; Interactive marketing will top $61 billion By 2012; Search marketing will triple in five years; Social media will drive emerging channels to $10.6 billion by 2012.

eMarketer: Online advertising will hit $21.7 billion in 2007, surpassing radio for the first time ever; $44 billion for Internet advertising by 2011.

Data Centre of China Internet: China’s internet advertising sector is expected to increase by 53.07% in 2007.

And this isn’t a statistic, but Steve Ballmer, president of Microsoft had this to say at the ANA Conference, as reported by CNET: “In world search and advertising, Google is the leader; we’re an aspirant. We have a lot of work to do in search and advertising.”

~ Stairs & Railing ~