Google wants technology to “step out of the way” as developers integrate it into everyday life. That’s per Timothy Jordan, developer advocate on Project Glass, speaking to i/o Conference attendees Thursday. It means major changes in online advertising for agencies and those developing apps and utilities, but what do brands need to know?
Executives at traditional brands are aware of the shifts in advertising, said Bob Goodman, senior vice president and director of user experience at Arnold Worldwide. “They can’t afford to ignore it,” he said. “They’re all looking for help in understanding what it means for them and how to improve on connecting with consumers.”
In Google’s world, search and paid search continue to support apps and utilities as the underlying technology, the reference design. Consumers won’t type a query, but rather indicate or imply the need for information through clicks on photos or interactions with contextual content.
A click turns into a conversation and every page becomes a form of search, Goodman said. “You may not perceive yourself as performing a search, but rather navigating through content during your everyday life,” he said. “Marketers need to think more about the assets they can leverage to make use of content.”
Brands need to broaden their notion of the meanings of “advertising” and “media.” Technologies like Google Glass and Google Now, as well as apps like Google Maps, transition the ad industry into the era of content-driven advertising. Content in multiple forms that can move across screens with contextual relevance will become crucial to the way brands reach consumers. Google isn’t the only engine moving in this direction. Bing and Yahoo have begun to make changes too, but they have yet to become as vocal.
That transition began when Google served the first answers to queries in the search results, rather than required searchers to click on the link that took them to a page, according to Raymond James Analyst Aaron Kessler. Ultimately, Google gets paid for sending traffic to other sites, so they will likely want to continue using that model, he said. It allows Google to move farther down the funnel to offer information similar to travel comparison sites. You can make a similar argument for other publishers, he said, pointing to Facebook’s recent Atlas acquisition to improve attribution tracking.
Krishna Subramanian, CMO at Velti, said the next generation of online advertising points to multiscreen advertising, which will lower acquisition costs for gaining new customers. “Google Glass will provide the location-based data that gets tied back into ad targeting,” he said. “People initially talked about serving coupons to a consumer standing in front of a Starbucks, but the real value will become tying together all the data to identify the daily path they travel and the frequency in which they do it.
In an update on the early progress of the transition to enhanced campaigns last night, Sridhar Ramaswamy, SVP, Ads and Commerce at Google — and the lead on enhanced campaigns — said that close to two million campaigns have been set to enhanced. That’s up from 1.5 million Google quoted on the first quarter earnings call on April 18.
Results From Early Adopters
Based on positive case studies from clothing retailer American Apparel, financial services provider Woodbridge Structured Funding, and an unnamed luxury shopping brand among others, Ramaswamy says early adopters of enhanced campaigns are seeing better conversion rates and lower costs-per-click, while saving time on management.
Ramaswamy was also keen to point out that several companies that had not bothered with mobile targeting in the past are now driving calls and conversions from mobile ads. The new phone call conversion metric now available in the AdWords UI allows companies to capture call conversions. Ramaswamy says that, on average, total conversions reported in AdWords have risen 150% for those advertisers tracking click-to-call conversions.
A classifieds website in France now sees one-third of its traffic and conversions coming from mobile. With the mobile bid adjustment set at 125%, CPA has remained steady. Woodbridge Structured Funding, also with a 125% mobile bid adjustment, has doubled leads from smartphone calls.
No More Big Feature Updates Before July 22
Given the recent introductions of Upgrade Center and ad group level mobile bid adjustments, several companies have been waiting to transition to enhanced campaigns in the event other new features are announced. I asked Ramaswamy if other changes are coming and if those companies should continue to wait.
Not surprisingly, his answer was, “No,” companies should transition now and not wait until the last minute. “I’m pretty confident that the feature set that we have now will fully support the migration,” he stated, and continued saying it’s unlikely there will be any other large features introduced before the July 22nd migration date. His advice: “Migrate now instead of waiting to fight for time later.”
The Great Tablet Debate
One of the biggest objections to enhanced campaigns from advertisers has been the loss of tablet targeting. Tablets and desktops are now combined, and only smartphones can be bid on separately. Ramaswamy said Google does not have any case studies on companies that had been running legacy tablet-only campaigns and have now transitioned to enhanced campaigns, but would look into getting some.
As Google has maintained since February, he says the need for tablet targeting is “as much a matter of perception as it is a kind of reality,” and most advertisers did not split out tablets, in part because it was too complicated to set up and manage separate campaigns. His replies won’t come as a surprise to anyone who has been following this issue and asking Google to revert back to device targeting available in legacy campaigns.
Google has consistently said that while savvy marketers did see tablets as a predictor of demographics in the early days of the iPad, tablets are now a mainstream device, and those differentiators between tablet and desktop activity have largely disappeared. Nothing has changed, publicly at least, on that position.
Advertisers Of All Sizes Have Been Migrating
Ramaswamy says advertisers across the board have been transitioning to enhanced. Many large advertisers who rely on the API exclusively were among the earliest adopters. Google is also seeing mid- and small-level advertisers transition quickly, as well. Ramaswamy said they track the migration data by advertiser type internally, but would not be making that information publicly available.
Has your company made the transition yet? If so, what kind of results are you seeing?
Correction: This article originally stated that total conversions have risen 150% with the inclusion of click-to-call conversions and has been corrected to state that the increase is an average seen in AdWords reporting by those advertisers tracking phone call conversions.
If you use TweetDeck as a dashboard for your Facebook activity, that will end Tuesday. On May 7, as promised, TweetDeck will discontinue support for Facebook feeds.
The removal of Facebook support has been planned for some time. In early March, the service publicly said it would stop supporting Facebook at the same time it abandoned its mobile apps, turning exclusively to web- and desktop-based apps. Then in late April, it gave a date: May 7.
Starting Tuesday, TweetDeck users who don’t remove their Facebook columns from their dashboards will have those columns removed for them. At the same time, TweetDeck AIR, TweetDeck for Android and TweetDeck for iPhone will all disappear from their respective app stores.
SEE ALSO: TweetDeck Update Adds Keyboard Shortcuts and More
TweetDeck’s transition from a social network aggregation tool to a service exclusively for Twitter power users is a consequence of Twitter acquiring the company in early 2011. Since then TweetDeck has shifted its focus to its web experience, desktop apps and browser extensions , leaving aggregation to other services such as HootSuite .
While it’s been known for a while that TweetDeck would scrap Facebook support, the news is catching some users by surprise, judging by discussion on Twitter:
Are you bummed that TweetDeck is sunsetting Facebook support? Share your reaction in the comments.
Google+ is finding its way into every Google product and AdWords is no exception. Starting today, AdWords advertisers can easily highlight their Google+ follower counts in their enhanced campaigns. On average, Google says, ads with these follower counts have “a 5-10% higher click-through rate” than regular ads.
The company, is seems, tested these new ads with the help of a number of major brands, including Red Bull, National Geographic and H&M. Here is what these ads look like:
To be eligible to show these annotations, businesses need to have a Google+ page with a verified URL and the Google+ page needs to have “recent, high-quality posts and a significant number of followers, meaning 100 for most businesses.” These new social annotations are automatic for all enhanced campaigns and won’t incur any additional cost.
Showing follower counts in ads isn’t totally new, of course. Google launched its “social extensions” for AdWords last year. Those, however, have to be set up at the campaign level while this new integration into enhanced campaigns is automatic.
Enhanced In-App Ad Targeting
Enhanced campaigns, it is worth stressing, are still a pretty new feature in AdWords and the focus here is on creating ads that can businesses can run on desktop and mobile without the need to set up multiple campaigns.
With today’s release, Google is also making some general improvements to these enhanced campaigns. Specifically, it’s making it easier to target in-app ads “based on people’s context like location, time of day and device, with enhanced campaigns.”
SEO 2013, as Forrester Research put it recently at SMX, “If you want to wow the search engines, you have to wow your customers. Build a site that they want and can use.”
Here’s a simple truth: People like pretty things. Consumers’ penchant for good-looking images, websites, graphics and other media is largely responsible for the rise of visual content marketing: Infographics are one of the fastest rising content types and Brafton is constantly reporting on cross-web updates that reward companies for highly visual content (ie: the new News Feed). Visual media is great for users, but marketers who have always valued content for SEO may struggle to leverage images for search visibility.
In a recent Webmaster Central video, one site owner asked Matt Cutts about SEO value from visual content. The site owner pointed out rich graphics and images have given him a lower bounce rate, longer dwell time and more conversions. Even as a visual update to his site improved core success, he was concerned about reaching search audiences, asking:
“Will Google have an issue with the lack of textual content on the site?” – inquiring webmaster
The short answer from Matt Cutts is yes:
“Google does still want text.” – Matt Cutts
Still, Cutts recognized the user demand for images – and isn’t SEO about what’s good for users? He proposed two solutions.
1. Include text content around images. He referred to alt image titles as an example.
Your site might have more user interaction, time on site, conversions – all that stuff – because it’s prettier. We see that better design can help people use and enjoy your site more.
Depending on the type of graphic being used, Brafton also recommends adding accompanying or contextual text in the form of blogs that analyze or explain an infographic, captions that describe a photo, transcripts that let video viewers jump to the insight they most want, etc. (For more information on accompanying text for infographic strategies, check out our related white paper or review our video marketing guide for tips on the SEO side of video content.)
2. Make “really pretty text.” Cutts recommended Google web fonts as a resource for sites to find visually appealing options for text.
Cutts candidly explained that sites shouldn’t move to all images if they’re considering SEO: “At this point, I wouldn’t count on Google being able to do OCR (optical character recognition) of all the images on your site.” He suggested great website design through appealing fonts is a good middle ground for a site that is “pretty but still indexable.”
It may seem what’s good for users and what’s good for search are at odds if Google can’t crawl images. Still, marketers should consider that Cutts took the time to answer this query precisely because Google wants to find ways to reward sites that create good user experiences. His statement that Google can’t do OCR at this point may suggest the search engine is working to adapt its algorithms according to what’s good for users, instead of demanding marketers adapt their sites according to what’s simplest for Google.
Earlier this month at SMX, Cutts and Bing’s Duane Forrester agreed that user experience is increasingly important to SEO. As Forrester put it, “If you want to wow the search engines, you have to wow your customers. Build a site that they want and can use.”
SEO Audits: What to Expect
One of the challenges that plagues the search marketing industry is a lack of standards around the quality and scope of work. Different agencies and consultants will use similar words to describe very different deliverables and processes. One of the most abused of these is the SEO Audit.
Clients have told me bitter tales of ghosts of “audits” past that didn’t live up to expectations, like the big-brand shoe retailer that paid $10,000 over three months’ time for a two-page Word document containing weak, tactical recommendations. I thought my client was exaggerating for effect until he emailed me the product. To protect their investment, businesses need to understand what to expect from an SEO audit and which questions to ask to ensure they’ll receive the quality and scope required.
What Is an SEO Audit?
An audit commonly begins a search marketing engagement with a client. The goal is to identify the challenges and opportunities the client’s sites have for improving their SEO performance to drive more brand impressions, visits and conversions. The input is a client’s web analytics, access to search tools like Webmaster Tools, the client’s own site and the search results themselves. When combined with SEO knowledge and experience, the SEO professional has what he or she needs to analyze the site and document a strategy to improve organic search performance.
A complete SEO audit will have at least three sections: (a) analyzing the challenges and opportunities for a site’s technical aspects, (b) keywords and content, and (c) link authority. Sometimes these are split into separate audit documents, but no audit project can be considered complete without covering all three areas because they’re all interconnected. Hundreds of ranking factors combine to form each search engine’s algorithms. As a result, thousands of decisions of all different sizes come together across those three areas of SEO — technical, content, and authority — to impact a site’s organic search performance according to those algorithms. For example, content relies on technical elements like platform configuration, architectural structure and others to amplify keyword signals and boost rankings. For link authority to be beneficial there has to be some sort of keyword signal to amplify. Ignoring one area leaves the other areas weaker – and in some extreme cases completely crippled – as a result.
The analysis documented in an audit is critically important for a couple of reasons. The first reason is trust: A detailed analysis of the current situation builds trust in the work done between the client team and the SEO professional. Also, because SEO is a combination of marketing and development disciplines, the client team needs to understand the underlying issues that impact SEO performance. Without this educational aspect of the audit, the team may implement a tactic to improve SEO today but undo its good work by making the same decisions tomorrow that caused the SEO issue in the first place.
In addition to analysis, an audit needs to contain a strategy to improve SEO and next steps to implement that strategy. Here we come back to the three elements of SEO. The strategy needs to address technical, content and authority opportunities in proportion to their value, with particular focus on the areas that will have the largest impact on the SEO performance of the site. Sounds reasonable, right?
Note the difference between a strategy and what might be called an SEO task list, which contains a list of recommended tasks to complete. Without the strategy, a task list conveys no priorities or comprehensive plan of action. Tasks may be taken or not, either way, because there is no sense of the importance each plays in the overall SEO strategy. However, without the task list the strategy is just a fluffy ideal that’s difficult to translate to actions.
Clearly, an SEO audit requires both a strategy and a prioritized action plan. The strategy builds off of the analysis to identify how the client can capitalize on the opportunities to improve their organic search brand impressions, visits and conversions. And the prioritized action plan breaks the strategy down into discreet projects or deliverables that can be put to an agreed upon timeline and executed against.
Did you know?
Google AdWords is rolling out enhanced campaigns to help businesses more simply and smartly manage your ad campaigns in today’s multi-device world.
Why enhanced campaigns?
… People are constantly connected and moving from one device to another to communicate, shop and stay entertained. In fact, a recent study of multi-device consumers found that 90% move sequentially between several screens to accomplish a task. There’s also a proliferation of new devices — PCs, laptops, tablets, smartphones, hybrid devices, mini-tablets, televisions, and more. And there are many more digital screens and devices to come, with the lines between them continuing to blur. For example, as devices converge, consumer behaviors on tablets and desktops are becoming very similar.
This creates great opportunities for businesses, but can also make marketing more complex and time-consuming.
With enhanced campaigns, instead of having to cobble together and compare several separate campaigns, reports and ad extensions to do this, the pizza restaurant can easily manage all of this in one single place. Enhanced campaigns help you reach people with the right ads, based on their context like location, time of day and device type, across all devices without having to set up and manage several separate campaigns.
Enhanced campaigns will most certainly improve conversions (ROI) in a multi-screen world, although transitioning may involve some initial changes.
We borrowed this tagline from Honda, How Can We Help?
When the yellow pages got delivered each year we used them as weights to hold doors open (or targets for darts). It’s not surprising that once Google and her competitors quasi-perfected their search algorithms that phone books replaced Duraflames in most homes, and “Googling” became a verb.
Now in addition to laptop “Googling” we are transfixed on searching all day long on our mobiles and tablets. Looking for a popular, highly rated Thai restaurant downtown San Francisco, turn to your Google Search app on your android. Need a new tire in a hurry, ask Siri (the underlying brain of Siri is Search) where the nearest Sears is located. And truly one of the greatest benefits of modern Search technology is the ability to locate and select a healthcare provider whether in your local neighborhood or on vacation.
The ability to easily find and connect with a healthcare provider or doctor should be simple, right? One would hope. Siri, “I need a podiatrist in San Francisco. As a consumer you are looking for options. And in the shoes of the healthcare provider you want to make darn sure you are being served up by Google or Siri as a viable option for treatment and doctor visibility. Imagine being on either side of this worse case scenario: you were the only podiatrist in Irvine but lacked a website – or had a website that was not properly search engine optimized (SEO); or, you were a prospective patient but couldn’t locate a podiatrist within 50 miles of where you painfully stood. Lose lose.
Thankfully – and strategically – the healthcare industry is rapidly leveraging digital marketing solutions, especially SEO to make finding a solutions provider or individual doctor, much easier, and faster.
Below is a great article that I came across on Mashable.com that re-affirms my point that healthcare providers are getting smarter with the tactics they are taking to ensure prospective patients can find them. So if you ever need a podiatrist, ask Siri, and she’ll direct you to a doctor that not only graduated from medical school but is also proving to be pretty smart in gaining you as her next patient.
When 9-11 happened eleven years ago in New York, social media was nothing compared to today. We were forced to stop putting ourselves first and truly connect with people to work through this tragedy together…unified. What would the impact have been 11 years ago if social media were around? Life moves fast…very fast but days like today help us to slow down look around and remember what its all about , because it can all be gone in the blink of an eye.