Category Archives: digital advertising

Facebook: A Local News Company

 

facebook

Let’s not get carried away, Facebook is still the world’s second most visited internet site (after YouTube.) But no one can deny that the past two years have been bumpy for the leading social media company. Privacy scandals, post-2016 election revelations of Facebook’s failure to more forcefully counter the sharing of ”false news,” and an unpopular change to Facebook’s algorithms have all contributed to user defections and declining site visits.

Indeed even if some of the decline in traffic to Facebook is actually due to their users spending more time on other apps, Facebook’s Instagram and Messenger for example, Facebook’s much publicized announcement yesterday to invest in local journalism is as much about the priorities of Facebook’s core businesses, as it is an attempt to make amends for recent missteps.

First, what exactly are we talking about here? Facebook is granting over $300 million to a select group of journalism nonprofit partners including the Pulitzer Center, the American Journalism Project, the Local Media Association and several others. The grants are to fund the hiring of journalists to focus on local news and content as well as the development of technology for better ”storytelling and newsgathering.” Here’s a roundup of reporting on the story:

The Street

Axios

Editor & Publisher

Reuters

Second, why invest in local news and content? Because it is the backbone of social media sites, especially Facebook. Nearly half of Facebook users get news on the site and about half of those users share or comment on the news. In short, news is vital to Facebook’s audience engagement and community building.

Third, why are news audiences important? Aside from the fact that publications need subscribers and readers, news consumers tend to be better educated and have average to above-average household incomes. Advertisers value print publications and digital news platforms because they are ”trusted environments” for their brands. But social media users have said they tend to not have as much trust in the news they find on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. Without trusted content, Facebook smartly knows they’ll have a harder time attracting advertisers and developing new revenue streams. Given that news consumers are most likely to trust strong local journalism, Facebook’s investments in local news production is a straightforward play for increasing trust, increasing engagement and increasing revenues.

 

Contributor: Jim Jinks

 

 

 

 

 

Performance Metrics: PPC vs. PPCall

metrics screenshot

For ecommerce and direct-to-consumer advertisers and marketing managers, we know there’s no shortage of metrics or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to ponder and occupy our time.

Close or Conversion Rate

Cost Per Click (CPC)

Click Thru Rate (CTR)

Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)

Abandonment Rate

Cost Per Thousand (CPM)

Ad Cost/Conversion (ACoS)

Lifetime Value (LTV)

Pay Per Click (PPC)

The majority of these metrics or KPIs are online or ecommerce focused, of course. As we all know, marketing dollars have increasingly gravitated toward digital media in large part due to its measurability. But at Mediabids we specialize in lead generation via print publications and platforms. In other words, we bring ecommerce-like metrics to offline commerce.

Several of the KPIs in our industry -performance-based print advertising- are just like those in digital marketing; namely LTV, CPA and conversion rate to name a few. But our ”click” is an actual customer call and our ”conversion” refers to a customer call being long enough to be a ”qualified call” – meaning the customer is normally speaking with the advertiser’s call center for one-minute or longer. We use unique phone numbers and URLs to track response to our client’s advertising. Whereas the heart of digital media is pay per click (PPC), the core of our industry is pay per call (PPCall.)
amazon ppc

Many may be surprised (or not) to know that Amazon has emerged as one of the largest pay per click platforms in digital advertising. Amazon.com adds campaigns and new consumers every day. In fact, Amazon merchants currently enjoy a 10% average conversion rate -the highest in PPC advertising, so more and more advertisers are moving budget from Google and Facebook to Amazon PPC.

This got us thinking. How does Mediabids’ pay per call advertising compare with the industry leading pay per click platform? How does PPC compare to PPCall?

The following Amazon stats come from a recent PPC Den Podcast [”Amazon PPC Advertising Stats”] done by the guys at Adbadger.com. Click the link to check it out. The Mediabids PPCall stats are directly from our platform.

 

amazon ppc vs mediabids ppcall

  • Amazon’s global reach is well over 2 billion site visitors per month. At Mediabids our affiliate publications total in the hundreds of millions of print circulation per month. It goes without saying that on any given day our advertisers are reaching far fewer potential customers than sellers on Amazon. Nevertheless, the average campaign on Amazon generates 185 clicks a day while we generate an average of 48 gross calls per day. So on a per thousand basis, Mediabids’ performance-based print advertising is far more effective at generating response than even the best digital PPC platform.
  • Conversions per day, per campaign are very similar – 18 on Amazon and 17 for Mediabids. Admittedly this isn’t a true apples-to-apples comparison but the similarity is notable.
  • As you can see our average conversion to a qualified call (42%) is 4x higher than the average conversion rate of a campaign on Amazon (10%.) Alternatively, the average cost per call ($13.60) is significantly higher than the average cost per click ($1.01.) Important to note here that this relatively low average cost per click for Amazon does mask the much higher PPC rates in the more popular categories. But pay per call rates, given the higher operating costs, simply demands higher advertiser payouts per call. Also, again, the comparison of cost per click and cost per call isn’t a pure comparison. But the purchase intent and value of a customer actually picking-up the phone to call about a product or service is very high. It demands much more of the customer than a simple click on a digital button. A phone call also gives the advertiser an enormous opportunity to leave a lasting good impression on customers in a way that just isn’t possible through a site experience.
  • The average daily spend per campaign is also not that far off – $186 on Amazon vs. $231 for PPCall. Given the disparity in the per click and per call costs one might expect the difference in the average daily spend per campaign to be greater.
  • Lastly the advertising cost of sale (ACoS) is also more competitive than one might imagine. Our $13.60 ACoS would go up some with the inclusion of sales data from our advertisers but given the benefits to the advertiser of direct interaction with customers, the marginally higher ACoS is justifiable.

So there you have it – PPC vs. PPCall. PPClick will generate a higher volume of activity (though less efficient) but the conversion and cost metrics are more similar with PPCall than not.

Contributor: Jim Jinks

2016 Holiday Gift Guides – Publishers Monetize Audiences with Affiliate Links

christmas shoppingTis the season to scour the internet’s Holiday Gift Guides for the best presents for all the friends and family on your shopping list this year.

Publications have found a new way to monetize their audiences by producing content with shopping recommendations utilizing affiliate links.

Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing in which the advertiser rewards an “affiliate” (aka publisher – online or otherwise) for each sale driven by that affiliate’s own marketing efforts.

So in other words, when you see a Gift Guide with clickable links published by the New York Times and you end up purchasing a product they recommend, that advertiser will give the publisher a percent of the sale to reward their efforts.

Instagram has made many of their “influencers” rich through affiliate networks such as RStyle, LIKEtoKNOW.it, ShareASale, Impact Radius, and others. This has long been popular among bloggers and independent website publishers as well. Though there are ongoing issues with disclosure and there may be more regulations in the future, this revenue stream is likely here to stay.

Now, many publications are getting into the game. The New York Times launched a beautiful interactive Gift Guide with dozens of product recommendations divided by category. This comes as no surprise following their acquisition of The Wirecutter, an online consumer guide which publishes in-depth product reviews.

 

The NYT includes the following disclosure (if you know where to look for it). But for many readers of the NYT unfamiliar with this type of advertising, it certainly further blurs the lines between editorial and advertising.

The gifts included in this guide were chosen solely by The New York Times. Our editorial content, including that by Wirecutter, which recently became a part of the company, is not influenced by advertisers or affiliate partnerships.

Through a third party, we may receive commissions on sales made on the linked sites. When our editors and writers make selections, they do not know what products may generate a commission, or what that commission might be, and payments play no part in their decisions.

Similarly, New York Magazine has a recommendation page called The Strategist. Real Simple has many holiday gift guides available as well, and I’m sure most magazines are building these types of pages now, if they haven’t already. Wired, The Atlantic, Chicago Tribune, LA Times, the list goes on and on.

 

Buying print advertising, for years we’ve seen publications try to maintain “church and state” separation between their editorial recommendations and the revenue generated from their advertisers. But there are huge monetary opportunities from affiliate advertising revenue in providing product recommendations to loyal readers.

Sometimes we describe what we do here at Mediabids with per response advertising (or performance marketing) as affiliate advertising since many e-commerce companies are already familiar with affiliate programs and do these types of campaigns online. Supplementing their online affiliate campaigns with a print campaign is a great way for advertisers to reach a new and desirable audience. Likewise, it benefits publications by bringing revenue back to print through advertisers that wouldn’t otherwise consider the medium.

For publications looking to add an alternate revenue stream, or if you’re an advertiser interested in reaching new consumers…call Mediabids today at 860-379-9602.

Hey Gannett, Why Buy More Papers?

networks

As of this writing, it’s quite possible that Gannett has bought Tronc (a.k.a. Tribune Publishing.) As many media watchers know, Gannett has made a series of offers to Tronc this year. Based on a report from Politico Media today, the deal appears to be all but announced.

Whether you’re inside or outside the media business you may be wondering why exactly Gannett is in such a hurry to snap up Tronc, one of the country’s largest metro newspaper publishers. One thing is for sure, it’s not necessarily about publishing more print newspapers.

Newspapers and journalism have been in the midst of a great deal of industry upheaval and change for the past decade. The future of newspaper publishing isn’t about growing print circulation. Rather, the future is about digital (meaning video, really) content distribution to a valued audience of reliable news and content consumers. Metro newspaper publishers are aiming to deepen their relationships, and drive revenue, by providing their loyal news consumers with more content overall and more mobile-friendly content, to be precise.

Tronc owns the Chicago Tribune, the LA Times, the San Diego Union Tribune, the Orlando Sentinel, the South Florida Sun Sentinel and several other large metro papers. In other words Tronc has audiences in several top ten media markets. According to ComScore, Tronc’s online audience exceeds that of the Washington Post and nearly matches Disney. As you might expect, these are among the largest audiences on the web.

Gannett is already the largest newspaper publisher in the county. The purchase of Tronc, with it’s large online audiences, content distribution network and investments in video production,  position Gannett to be a major player in the future of content, information and entertainment. A future that is, more or less, already here.

Post by Jim Jinks

Advertising is Dead

cemetery

I’m sure on a Monday morning, at the beginning of a long week of anticipated sales and prospecting, the last thing anyone would want to read is that their industry is ”dead.” I’ll admit ”Advertising is Dead” is a strange title for a post, especially given that Mediabids is in the advertising business and our last blog post title happened to be  ”6 great ads that prove print isn’t dead.” Obviously advertising isn’t dead but the way many people still think of advertising -meaning the way many of your clients still think of advertising- is very much dead. This is particularly true at the local SMB level where advertising for the purposes of reach (i.e. to get the word out or simply build awareness) is very much dead.

As we all know, digital has been disrupting the advertising business for many years now. To date, the greatest disruption has been to the newspaper and magazine business but lately the bigger story is the disruption in local TV and radio. SMBs have increasingly relied on digital advertising channels – first it was local search ads and now it’s search plus social media advertising. Why?

It’s not that fewer people can be reached by local TV and radio, quite the opposite.

It’s not that local TV and radio have lost all their considerable powers to influence an audience.

It’s not necessarily about the cost of creating TV and radio spots (although for some SMBs this may be an excuse they frequently give to media sales people.)

It’s also not even about the cost of buying local TV or radio time (although it’s not inexpensive.) If advertisers could better measure the impact of local TV and radio, the sticker price would be less of an issue. In other words, what advertisers don’t want to pay for is the unknowns.

Earlier this year, eMarketer announced that digital display ad spending would exceed search spending for the first time. In 2016, digital display ad spending is projected to increase 23% while search spending would grow another 10% this year. The reasons for the growth in digital display are several: the improvement in the user-experience online (or UX as the fancy people call it); the explosion in smart phone adoption; and perhaps most importantly, the ability to better qualify (and CONVERT) traffic and customers through the use of video, rich media and native advertising online.

As I said, advertising in terms of reach is dead. But advertising in terms of conversion, as the eMarketer article suggests, is booming. It’s all about conversion now, especially at the SMB level. Automakers, soft drinks and snack makers, national quick-serve chains and some retailers still need big reach to drive people into store locations. However, many SMBs are much more interested in the conversion of digital traffic to paying customers. This means a mix of media that allow SMBs to qualify callers and site visitors -such as digital display, search, email, social media and PRINT.

Yes, I subtly added print advertising to the list.

It’s true. Print advertising still has a big role to play in our increasingly digital first world, especially for the SMB market.

At Mediabids, our advertisers have conversion rates that are well into double digits (the average is about 40%.) So advertising, as we have long known it, is dead. But what advertisers want from their investment in advertising hasn’t changed much at all – they want to pay for customers at a cost-effective rate. This means that digital and print advertising is most relevant and still kicking.

Post by Jim Jinks

 

The Sales & Marketing Lessons of Clinton-Trump 2016

trump

By all accounts, this has been the strangest Presidential election season ever; the competent but distrusted former First Lady (not to mention U.S. Senator and Secretary of State) versus the blunt, narcissistic, racist and misogynist TV personality/real estate developer with outlandish ideas and a serious lack of policy knowledge. Oh, by the way, they happen to be the two most unpopular candidates ever to run for President – by a wide margin! What are the odds?

Given that there’s a lot of marketing that goes into politics and campaigning, it has always been a little odd to me that political campaigning is somewhat walled off from the rest of the advertising/marketing industry. Aside from the relatively famous Tuesday Team – including Hal Riney, Phil Dusenberry, Jerry Della Famina and others- I can’t say I recall big name ad agency people crossing over to work on Presidential elections. The Tuesday Team, by the way, is heralded primarily for doing Reagan’s ”It’s Morning in America,” one of the most famous Presidential campaign spots ever -see it here.

Fast forwarding a bit to 2016, here are recent spots from Team Hillary and Team Trump:

Hillary -Who We Are

The message is basically together we’ll go far. If we are divided we are less successful and less safe. The images are mostly of the faces of voters that form Hillary’s coalition – minorities and women.

Trump-America Soaring

The message from Trump is that he will bring back manufacturing jobs. The return of these jobs – particularly in the steel industry- will ”make America great again.” Like Hillary, the imagery is of the base -white, working class men.

The irony is that both of these spots are speaking to the fears and aspirations of the working and middle-class. In other words, this election is basically between two similar but sort of different brands -Coke versus Pepsi or Home Depot versus Lowes or Costco versus Sams Club. As many as 20% of voters are still undecided in this election. This high percentage, after over a year of campaigning, speaks to how, through the lens of the voter, these two candidates are not all that different. In short, the working and middle-class are not entirely convinced which horse may ultimately pull them across the finish line. Trump is a master showman and promoter. His skills may well win him the Presidency.

Given Trump’s lack of experience in politics and lack of policy knowledge, and that his target audience is not all that different (at least in terms of class) from Hillary’s, Trump’s success points to a few solid sales and marketing lessons to be learned:

  1. Customers value competence and they want to know your product or service is trustworthy but they don’t want to be preached to or patronized. Believe it or not, competence has been getting equated with ”more of the same” and ”part of the system” in this election. Know your stuff but respect your buyers intelligence. In Hillary’s case, many often feel like she’s condescending (although this probably says more about the voter than Hillary.)
  2. Unfortunately, style does often beat substance. If you don’t have confidence and a belief in yourself, your customer will not have confidence and belief in what your selling. Trump often makes statements that are complete nonsense but he says them confidently and doesn’t back down. I’m not suggesting one be dishonest but confidence is important.
  3. Somehow, at all costs, try to make a connection. People want to do business with people they like. Trump is a billionaire who got his start with a million dollar loan from his father. He’s hardly a self-made man and he literally lives the ”Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” Yet, working-class guys that have led very hard lives feel like Trump speaks their language. Trump has described himself as the working-class billionaire. He’s made the connection and they’re buying.

 

What do you think about these lessons? If you have others, please share.

Post by Jim Jinks

Top Podcasts for a Better You

Head Phones

I have been one of those people, at times, that has been indifferent to the emergence of the digital age. I mean, I still read actual books…sometimes I even buy hardcover versions! I know. I know. What a Luddite, right?

But let’s be honest, unless you’re a big gamer, the internet has been -until the past few years- awash in advertising and A LOT of one-dimensional content that can be take it or leave it (there are many exceptions, of course.) In fact, among the most heavily visited sites on the old WWW have been newspaper sites -which is great, don’t get me wrong. But newspaper sites are hardly what all the fuss and promise of the internet has been about, until recently. As many of you likely already know, the latest generation of the internet (are we at 3.0 yet?) is about text, messaging and social media apps and accessing video and audio content. It’s the audio content (a.k.a. podcasts) that we’ll talk a bit more about here today.

Starting in 2015, especially with the popularity of Serial (from the makers of This American Life on NPR), podcasts have really begun to emerge. National Public Radio, the New York Times, Slate, ESPN and several other media outlets have really started to focus on podcast content, not to mention a myriad of other smaller players. After all, the production of podcasts doesn’t necessarily require much of an investment beyond a microphone, a server for storing the files and the time involved. As a media salesperson or an agency staffer, why should you care about podcasts?

Podcast audiences, generally speaking, are still relatively small so selling ad space in them or looking at them as a cornerstone of a media plan is a ways off..in terms of really being a part of the marketing conversation. But as a media seller or an agency staffer, the real value of podcasts to us is more basic – inspiration and education.

At the risk of sounding a little new age, listening to podcasts (like reading books or watching films) can help you be a better you. The exploration of ideas and hearing different perspectives on things that are happening in our world, will only help you -as a media seller- to make connections with others and -as an agency staffer- to be able to think of old problems in new ways. If you haven’t started to take some time for podcasts, the time is now. At the very least, if you’re still something of a Luddite like me, starting now you can still claim to be an early-adopter (even if it’s just barely the case.)

If you’re unsure of where to get started with podcasts, here are five from the worlds of journalism, business, culture, politics and entertainment to consider:

RadioLab

TED Radio Hour

The MOTH

SLATE Political Gabfest

WTF with Marc Maron

 

Post by Jim Jinks

 

Millennials & Boomers

Berlin Wall

I’m of the Gen-X generation. If you don’t really know what that means, don’t worry about it. Despite the fact that MTV, Ferris Bueller and the fall of the Berlin Wall happened on our watch, marketers are almost entirely consumed by the habits of the pre- and post Gen-X generations. You may know them by their more traditional labels – Baby Boomers and Millennials. In fact, based on how much time those of us in marketing and media spend thinking and talking about boomers and millennials, the Gen-X generation is a apparently a mere footnote of demography.  Yes, I’m a little annoyed about this, but I digress.

In print media organizations, especially, there’s a great deal of concern about how the media consumption habits of boomers and millennials differ. People with an axe to grind (digital, TV and radio media sellers, for example) are fond of saying that print’s audience is dying off….as if only older Americans read print. This is, of course, not the story.

The media consumption habits of millennials and boomers do differ, in some ways. But in terms of ”old” media, the differences are not all that significant. In other words, there’s no Berlin Wall separating the two largest generations of the past hundred years (just us Gen-Xers.)

Based on a recent study by Jacobs Media Strategies, these are the percentages of use (at least once per week) for each demographic:

Boomers – Radio (89%), Newspapers (86%) and TV (81%)

Millennials – Radio (80%), Newspapers (71%) and TV (72%)

Also, the Jacobs study reports that tablet, text and Smartphone usage are not all that different between these two groups.

Of course, the spread (15%) between boomers and millennials, for newspaper usage, is widest but it’s not that much different than radio and TV. My point is that the media habits of younger Americans and older Americans, on a macro level, are not that different and it’s untrue that newspaper readers are simply dying off.

But if you’re determined to claim that millennials are so different than the generations that have come before them, I will offer that in terms of podcasts, streaming video, streaming audio and social networks, millennials do use these media by a wide margin over boomers. However, it’s probably just a matter of time before boomers adopt more millennial-like media habits, with regard to these newer technologies. The rapid adoption of Smartphones and tablets among boomers, shows that sometimes old dogs can learn new tricks.

Post by Jim Jinks

 

 

 

 

Print Ads Are 100% Viewable

doodle Black And White Cute Cartoon Eyes

An article this morning on The Drum discussed concerns from advertisers over digital ad viewablity.

Digital advertising has drawn  a huge portion of ad dollars away from print over the past decade. Its transparency, click/conversion tracking capabilities, distribution potential as well as granular targeting have won over the minds of most marketers. But, digital advertising is not perfect, and advertisers are starting to have some serious concerns about how often their digital ads are actually seen.

According to Digiday, “up to 54 percent of (digital) ads aren’t viewable“. That means marketers are wasting up to half of their digital advertising budgets are ads that will never be seen by anyone.

In the course of this article, Robert Thompson, the CEO of News Corp. made a great point in favor of print ads –

“As I’ve said before and it’s worth emphasizing again, every print ad is 100% viewable.”

So true. Not only are print ads 100% viewable, but they’re also acted upon. From just the ads we place in print, we see thousands of phone calls a day. Print ads are less intrusive. Print ads have longevity. Print ads deserve a bigger place in the minds of marketers.

 

 

 

Top Marketers to Follow @Twitter

I started using Twitter, somewhat, back in 2011. It wasn’t until 2014 that I began to be more of a daily user and started to publish tweets on a regular basis. Twitter launched in 2006 so I was a relatively late adopter -perhaps I should have little to say- but it’s 2016 and especially if you’re a salesperson for a digital and/or print publisher, you really need to be using Twitter by now.

Twitter

It really is an invaluable tool for keeping up with the news of the day, especially in both the publishing and marketing industries. For one thing, your publication’s editorial department is using Twitter. Second, many of your clients are likely using Twitter and the advertising agency buyers you call on are for sure using Twitter. Why aren’t you?

In a less than scientific survey of media reps, these are the three most frequent reasons for not using Twitter:

  1. Why would I use it if I don’t know who to follow?
  2. I don’t think anyone would care what I tweet so why bother?
  3. I already get plenty of industry email newsletters…I don’t have time for Twitter!

Let’s start with #3.

Are you reading those industry email newsletters? If you’re following the knowledgeable people that actually aim to offer their audience valuable insights and support, then it’s relatively easy to glance at Twitter -here and there throughout the day- without it taking too much time or being disruptive to your workflow.

Regarding the second objection to Twitter (”I don’t think anyone would care what I tweet.”), you may be surprised at your own value to others in your industry so don’t hesitate to tweet out if you have an original thought or something to say. But also, no one is forcing you to tweet. You can use Twitter, and it is still valuable to you, even if you never ever respond or share anything on Twitter.

Now #1 is indeed a valid objection and I can relate. Twitter is a little intimidating at first, because after all, we don’t know what we don’t know. But for those of you ready to try something new and you’d appreciate a little help in taking the leap, here’s a few leading voices in marketing to consider following, be inspired by and perhaps learn from on Twitter:

@jeffbullas

@kimgarst

@jaybaer

@dharmesh

@JoePulizzi

Of course, there are at least forty other thought leaders one could follow. But once you get started you’ll learn quickly how to curate your own list.

Be well and good luck!

Post by Jim Jinks (@JimJinksCT and @Mediabids)