Study: Marketers Don’t Understand Social Media ROI

Simply Measured has recently published the results of a new study that provides a lot of information and insight into the way marketers are using social media. The study looked at things such as what marketers hope to get out of social media programs, where they feel they are successful and where their struggles are.

Measuring Social Media Effectiveness

One key area that the study covered is how effective a social media campaign really is.  When asking marketers what the most challenging part of running these types of advertising campaigns, there were quite a few interesting answers.  You can see the results from the chart below.

As you can see, measuring the return on investment for this type of marketing is clearly the most difficult thing for marketers. While this is a big problem for marketers, there are others that may be even harder to overcome.  Tying social activities and business outcomes, for example, is often going to be a bigger challenge, even though fewer people are reporting that as a problem.  This may be because this issue is either a big concern or not at all.

Some companies, for example, naturally fit in with social media so tying their activities to their business outcomes is very simple.  Other companies, however, don’t naturally fit into a social media platform. This can make it more difficult to get the results you’re looking for or even plan out an effective strategy (which is the third most difficult area according to the study).

Social Media Marketing Goals

Setting proper goals is a big part of running a social media campaign.  If you don’t have the right goals in place, you’ll never be able to accurately access the return on investment.  For 71% of brands in the study, building a stronger brand awareness is their number one goal.  This makes since because social media is an ideal place to do just that.

Driving website traffic came in second place with just 48% of businesses reporting that as a ‘top three goal.’  You can see how the different companies in the survey responded to this question in the chart below:

There are certainly quite a few different goals listed here and getting a good understanding of them all is important.  While the question only asks about the top three goals, most marketers will have many other things in mind when developing a social media strategy as well.  Getting the best results out of each campaign will rely heavily on understanding the most important areas that you’re looking to make progress.

If you are interested in learning more about marketers and social media, you can view the entire report by clicking HERE.  You will undoubtedly find a lot of useful information that can help you develop a better and more successful long term social media strategy for your brand.

US Digital Ad Revenue Jumps 19% in First Half of 2015

The IAB has released the data they have for digital ad revenue for the first half of 2015 and it is certainly looking good.  The total revenue is up 19% over this period and for the first time ever, the second quarter revenue actually beat the fourth quarter revenue from the previous year.  This is a significant sign as it shows just how much growth there was and that we can expect a very good fourth quarter for the year.

There is really no sign of this growth ending either, which will be encouraging for many digital marketers.  Of course, as this continues, the cost of ads will continue to go up as well, which marketers may not be as pleased with.  The fact is, however, that digital advertising has been shown to provide such a high and predictable return on investment (when done properly) that most savvy marketers will be more than happy to continue focusing their marketing dollars in this direction.

The biggest boost, according to the report, came from mobile which was up by over 50%.  Mobile ads pulled in $8.2 Billion for the first half of the year, which is a 54% jump.   Mobile now accounts for about 30% of all the interactive ad revenue for the first two quarters of the year, which is huge (it was just 23% for the 2nd quarter of 2014).

The mobile ads are primarily broken up between search and display ads, but display is pulling ahead.  In 2014 display ads accounted for 47% of mobile and search was 51%.  In the first half of 2015, however, display accounts for 52% and search just 44%.  If this trend continues we’ll see a far higher investment into display ads, which is something that website owners can take advantage of.

The reason for this is likely due to the fact that more and more people are using mobile devices to actually browse the web rather than just search for specific pieces of information.  As people continue to spend more time on mobile devices they will continue to see more advertisements from display networks.

Social media ads are another area where a significant amount of growth is being seen.  This, of course, is not surprising at all.  Social ad revenue went up significant and account for about 16% of the total ad revenue.  As more and more social networks continue to expand and improve their advertising options this growth is almost certainly going to continue.

Overall the report from the IAB looks very good for most marketers.  The second half of the year is also looking good with a lot of potential for the holiday season.  If you’d like to see the entire report, it can be downloaded HERE.

Poker Affiliate World Officially Changes Name to Online Affiliate World

Poker Affiliate World has been in business since 2005 and has been considered one of the best and most trusted gabling based online affiliate marketing services.  They have over 12,000 affiliates in their network.  These members have earned over $23,000,000 since the company was founded.    The company, which is owned by iBus Media, felt that their name has been holding them back and have now taken steps to remedy that issue.

Effective on October 20th, 2015 Poker Affiliate World is now rebranded as Online Affiliate World.  The move will allow them much more flexibility in the types of affiliate programs they have.  Along with the announcement of the rebranding they have confirmed that they are already working on adding a number of new partners that their affiliates will be able to promote in the near future.

Viktorija Antanaviciute, who is the Online Affiliate World head for iBus Media said in the announcement that this rebranding will allow them to work with the larger variety of different publishers.  She went on to say, “Our growth will continue with poker and casino programs but we are moving forward with a strong focus on sports, daily fantasy sports, finance and trading.”

Whether they will expand further into other types of industries is not clear at this point.  This is obviously a very big change for the company so they are likely trying to just take it one big step at a time.  The new name, however, will allow them to add any type of affiliate programs that they feel would be profitable down the road.

The most important thing for the company, they said, is making sure that the affiliates who promote their products will continue to have an excellent experience.  The affiliates will soon have access to a variety of other programs that they can promote and increase their profits.

There is no word on what the actual affiliates think of this move, but it is very likely that they will be very happy about having the additional opportunities.  Affiliates almost always need to be promoting offers from multiple different affiliate networks in order to maximize their earnings.  Being able to earn more through one network will be a good opportunity for many affiliates.

Whether you’re already an affiliate for Online Affiliate World or not, it is good to be aware of this move from the company.  The rebranding seems to be a big move after a series of other improvements over the course of the year.  This includes a major redesign of their website earlier this year that helped make it easier and cleaner for all the affiliates involved in their program.

Key Survey Provides Marketers with Insight to Effective Techniques

When it comes to marketing, few things can be more valuable than having a good understanding of what will work best with your particular audience.  Learning which types of marketing techniques will bring in new customers and which ones will drive them away.  This is why a recent survey from Fractl and Moz is so interesting.  The survey asked over 1000 consumers a variety of questions about how they learn about products and decide what to buy.

While the survey is somewhat generic in that it does not break things down based on types of products, age groups or other demographics, it does provide some very valuable information.  Taking some time to read through the questions that were asked and the responses given can be very helpful to any marketer looking to improve the effectiveness of their ad campaigns.  With that in mind, let’s go over a few of the most interesting questions from the survey and their results.

Have You Done Any of the Following in the Last Week?

This question is quite interesting because it shows what types of activities people are doing when considering making a purchase.  As you’ll see in the chart below, most people are using search engines to find information.  Interestingly, the second most popular option is ‘read an article online.’ This is almost certainly an article read after doing a search, so the reality is that search is critical for both of the top two results.   See the chart from the study here:

How do You Learn More about a Company or Product?

This is another great question and one that can give you valuable insight into your potential customers.  Once again, we see that doing online searches and visiting company website are right at the top.  The key here is to make sure you have the best possible information right on your website so consumers find it when they need it:

What is an Effective Way for a Company to Attract Your Business?

Here is a very direct question and really gets right to the point.  If you know how your consumers are looking to be marketed to, you can make sure you are meeting them where they are so to speak.  Sending consumers discounts, coupons and free items is clearly a very effective option according to the chart below.  After those two, however, search results are one again key to attracting business.  Go through this chart and see which areas you are currently engaging in and which ones you can make improvements on:

You can see the full report HERE if you’re interested in learning more about the results of the survey.  It has a lot of valuable information that you can use to make immediate improvements to your overall marketing strategy.  No matter what type of product or service you are promoting, this can be a very helpful bit of information to take your marketing efforts to the next level.

B2B Advertising Showing Massive Growth in Surprising Area

All marketers know that Facebook has quickly become one of the largest ad networks on the Internet.  In addition, Facebook has a massive amount of information on all their users, which means they can offer very targeted advertising opportunities.  Something that most other networks simply can’t offer.  This detailed information makes Facebook a great option for anyone who is looking to market their products or services to individual consumers.

That is why many people were surprised to read that Facebook’s B2B ads are growing at twice the rate of other segments.  This is according to a survey from AdRoll.  The B2B marketing budget for this year is expected to be approximately $77 billion of which Facebook only brings in a small fraction (Facebook’s total revenue is around $12 billion).

With this in mind, Facebook will almost certainly be making even more of an effort going forward to attract more B2B advertising clients. Over the past year they have been able to successfully grow this part of their advertisement client profile quite significantly so it seems likely that this will continue through the next year and well beyond.

The reason many people don’t realize that Facebook is becoming such a major player in the B2B advertising area is that it simply isn’t as ‘sexy’ a topic.  The numbers aren’t as easy to understand, especially for those who aren’t also deep into this industry.  Since Facebook is constantly releasing ‘news worthy’ updates and changes, most people don’t really look close into this part of their business.

The fact is, however, that B2B could very well begin to generate a majority share of their revenue in the not too distant future.  There is a massive amount of opportunity for Facebook and they are clearly working hard to take advantage of it.

Of course, Facebook will continue to work on attracting B2C advertisers as well.  This has been where they initially found a lot of success and with the shift toward mobile they are doing even better than most competitors.  This is because Facebook is a naturally mobile platform, unlike many other ad networks.

No matter how Facebook grows in the coming years, marketers need to be aware of how they can take advantage of Facebook advertising opportunities.  This will almost certainly be an area where you can enjoy a great return on investment whether you’re looking to make direct sales or simply bring your company more attention from other businesses.

Facebook Provides Some Clarity on “Reactions” for Marketers

After Facebook confirmed that they will be adding “Reactions” emoji to their social media platform there has been a lot of rumors and questions by people.  Many marketers wanted to know just how these ‘reactions’ would influence what is seen in the News Feed and what type of impact it might have on promotional posts on the platform.  Facebook has finally come out with at least a little bit more information about the topic.

Facebook’s Product Manger, Chris Tosswill, wrote about this new feature, “Our goal is to show you the stories that matter most to you in News Feed.  Initially, just as we do when someone likes a post, if someone uses a Reaction, we will infer they want to see more of that type of post.  We will spend time learning from this initial rollout and iterate based on findings in the future.”

So, this means that even if someone uses a ‘Sad’ or ‘Angry’ reaction, it will still result in the user seeing more posts that are similar to the one they reacted to.

The system is rolling out in Ireland and Spain now and will start out with six emoji reactions, which are: Love, Haha, Yay, Wow, Sad and Angry.  This is on top of the existing ‘like’ button that has long been there.  This initial rollout will have these options on all posts including friends, advertisements, posts, pages and more.

Tosswill went on to write about this topic saying, “We see this as an opportunity for businesses and publishers to better understand how people are responding to their content on Facebook.  During this test, Page owners will be able to see Reactions to all of their posts on Page insights.  Reactions will have the same impact on ad delivery as Likes do.  We will spend time learning from this initial test and use that feedback to improve.”

While it is still far too early to know how people will be using these reactions (other than in a very obvious way).  Will people click on ‘Sad’ on things they would like to see less of?  Perhaps, but not necessarily.  If a family pet dies, the proper reaction from friends would be ‘sad’ but they undoubtedly still want to hear about such news in their feed so they can support their friends.

Over time, Facebook will almost certainly make adjustments to how it uses the data when creating each user’s News Feed.  In addition, as marketers gain access to the information about how people are using Reactions on their posts, they will be able to tailor their posts to get the responses they want.

There is no rollout date for Reactions in other markets yet, but it is likely going to be in the next several months.

Google Announces Significant Change to Display Network

When it comes to digital advertising, there is no name bigger than Google.  With millions of people relying on them for online advertising it is important to keep a close eye on all their activities.  That is why the announcement from the VP of product management of the Google Display Network, Brad Bender was so important.  When speaking at the SMX East conference in New York he said, “I’m pleased to announce that GDN is moving to 100% viewable.  We’re going to migrate all of the CPMs in the system to viewable CPMs.  All advertisers will be able to see viewable metrics so they can make better decisions.”

This is a move meant to address the issue that many marketers have complained about.  They would pay for a set amount of displayed ads, but would be charged for ads that were never actually seen.  These ads would load on tabs that were not active or would load on a page below the ‘fold’ so people couldn’t see them.  In fact, Google has said that about 56% of online display ads are never seen at all, and that is those that are actually loaded.

Google has taken steps to help protect marketers from this issue in the past.  In the speech he confirmed that last year alone Google did not charge advertisers for about 70 billion ad impressions.  These ad impressions occurred, but since they were not seen they did not have to be paid for.  That is, however, only a fraction of the total number of ads that were not seen according to many people’s estimates.

The move by Google will improve the overall results for marketers, and will help to build advertiser confidence in their display network.  It could also make people more likely to buy straight CPM ad campaigns rather than going with click focused options, which have long been the more popular choice.

Of course, we’ll have to wait and see how all of this plays out.  No matter what, this is a good move by Google since it will give markers more information and a better overall experience.

This change will be rolling out over the next couple weeks to all current and new advertisers using the Google Display Network.  If you use Google’s ad network, make sure you keep a close eye on the information you have available to see how it impacts your overall campaign.  It stands to reason that the adjustment on Google’s end will improve the overall return on investment for most marketers.

Don’t Worry – Most People Don’t Block Ads Anyway

With all the news about ad blocking that has been popping up over the past few weeks it is no surprise that many marketers are getting a little nervous.  While it is certainly a concern that needs to be thought about, it might not be as big of a problem as many people would expect.  According to a recent report from comScore and Sourcepoint the percentage of people who block ads is fairly low (though certainly not insignificant).  Interestingly, the number varies greatly based on what country the user is from.

For example, France has the highest overall blocking rate at about 27%.  That is certainly a large number, but when you think about the fact that it is the highest rate in the world it can be reassuring.  In the US, only about 9% of visitors to any given site will be blocking ads.  This is near the bottom of the list of the major countries looked at by the study.

Of course, the rate at which people block ads also changes based on how old they are.  Younger visitors typically block at much higher rates, which indicates that this may be a growing problem over time.  In the US, 16.2% of people aged 18-24 are using some type of ad blocker.  You can see the full breakdown of ad blocking by age and country in this chart provided by eMarketer:

When it comes to mobile blocking, the numbers are currently even lower.  Of course, that may change as more and more people upgrade to iOS9 where they can install ad blockers.  In the US, however, only .1% of  ad pages are blocked on mobile devices.  The highest percentage is in India with a full 9%.  You can see the mobile ad blocking rates by country in this chart (also from eMarketer).  Take note that this chart is from July of 2015.  We’ll definitely want to come back and look at this situation again in a few months.

There is no doubt that ad blocking is something of a concern for website owners and marketers of all types.  It reduces the overall inventory of ads available, which will cause the prices for each ad to go up over time.  In addition, if you own a site or service that relies on ad income, the more people that are blocking, the less money you can make.

For now, however, this type of data really shows that it is still not something to get too worked up over.  Even on PCs where ad blocking has been easy to get and install for years, less than a quarter of users actually install the blockers.  This is, hopefully, a good sign for the future of the digital advertising world.  As with all things, however, we’ll have to wait and see how these numbers play out over time.

Two New Products Launching from Google to Improve Ads

Google has recently announced that they are launching two new products to help improve their ads.  The products are designed to help marketers provide their customers with what they want, when they want it and where they need it. The products are called, “Customer Match” and “Universal App Campaigns.”

Customer Match

The first new product, Customer Match, is designed to allow marketers to reach out directly to the highest-value customers using Google Search, YouTube or gMail.  Using this product you will be able to easily upload your own list of email addresses, which can then allow Google Ad Network to target these users while they are signed in.  The targeting is done in a secure and privacy-safe way since the users can still opt out of being targeted like this if they choose.

The example provided in the announcement from Google states, “Let’s say you’re a travel brand.  You can now reach people who have joined your rewards program as they plan their next trip.  For example, when these rewards members search for ‘non-stop flights to New York” on Google.com, you can show relevant ads at the top of their search results on any device right when they’re looking to fly to New York.  And when those members are watching their favorite YouTube or catching up on gMail, you can show ads that inspire them to plan their next trip.”

In addition to targeting people on your existing email list, you can reach out to new customers who are similar to your existing ones based on Google’s massive amount of data.  This can help you to draw in new customers and further expand your email list.

Universal App Campaigns

The next new service, Universal App Campaigns, will allow app developers and marketers to launch a custom campaign that lets you connect directly to app users on search, Google Play, YouTube and the Google Display Network.  This will allow you to get your app in front of interested users no matter where they are or what they are doing.  This can help you to find the right audience for the app you are promoting.

Here is the example from the announcement by Google, “Let’s say you’ve built an adventure game.  With Universal App Campaigns, you have unparalleled reach: you can drive installs on YouTube, the platform with 1B+ users who watch hundreds of millions of hours of content every day.  Your ads can also reach specific audiences across 650k apps and 2M+ websites in the GDN.  And importantly, Universal App Campaigns tap into intent-rich searches like “adventure games” and “puzzle games” that are happening throughout the day on Google Search and Google Play so your app can be seen when people are looking to download something new.”

In addition to getting your app in front of the right people, it is also easier than ever to setup.  You just provide Google with your desired cost-per-install and they will take it from there.  They customize the campaign to get you the results you’re looking for.  They optimize the campaign in an ongoing way to get you the highest possible return on investment.

Whether you’ve used Google for advertising before or not, these two new options will certainly help you take your business to the next level.

Social Media & SEO – A Marketers Mystery

Many marketers spend a significant amount of time working on SEO and Social Media.  These are two essential marketing practices that can help bring in many new potential customers and take your business to the next level.  For most, these are two equally important efforts but they are entirely separate.

Figuring out how and why SEO and Social Media are interlinked, however, could help you to really get the best out of both of these strategies.  In fact, there was an article on Entrepreneur recently that covered this specific topic quite nicely.  It is linked below and well worth the read for anyone who is involved with digital marketing in any way.  Before you do that, however, I’d like to pull out a few key insights from the article and touch on them briefly.

Social Media & SEO – What’s the Link?

One of the first things the article discusses is the relationship that exists between SEO and social media.  It really illustrates the fact that while almost everyone agrees that a good social media campaign can have positive benefits on SEO, it is impossible to figure out what the true link between the two is.  There is a lot of debate about whether it is the activity on the social media, the number of followers, how much traffic is sent or something else entirely.

While nobody knows how or why social media can help your website rank better (and anyone who claims to know with any level of certainty should be looked at with caution), there is no doubt that the two are linked somehow.  Fortunately, just knowing that there is a real link between the two is enough in most cases.  The article digs into some of the more developed theories out there, and they are worth reading to get a better understanding.

Do You Need all Social Media?

Another important point that the post hinted at but did not address directly is that you may not need an account on every social media site.  Sure, all businesses should have a Facebook account.  Most should have a Twitter account as well.  Whether or not you want to invest the time or money into getting an account on all the other options like Google+, Pinterest and others, however, is a matter of priorities.

If your site doesn’t naturally fit into an image focused social media page like Pinterest, for example, it is likely best to just skip over that one and invest your time else ware.  As with all marketing, you need to balance your limited resources, whether that is time or money, to get the best results.  As long as you are active on the social media platforms you are on, you’ll see the SEO results you want.

Take a minute to read through the full article on Entrepreneur and see what you think.  Post your comments below and let us know about your SEO & Social Media strategy.  You can read the full article on Entrepreneur HERE.

Consumers Don’t Trust Online Video Ads

While I much prefer writing positive news about the online marketing industry, it is important to share ‘bad’ news as well.  According to a recent Nielsen study, most consumers don’t trust online video ads.  This is compared to 63% of consumers who say that they do trust ads that they see on television.  The survey asked over 30,000 consumers in 60 countries earlier this year.

The survey looked at a variety of different marketing methods to see which ones were the most effective.  Not surprisingly, word of mouth recommendations from friends or family ranked at the top with 80% trust levels.

They looked at other online advertising options as well.  The following is the full breakdown of how much people trusted any type of online ad:

  • Online Video Ads – 48% Trust
  • Online Search Ads – 47% Trust
  • Online Social Ads – 46% Trust
  • Online Mobile ads – 43% Trust

This is an interesting problem.  Most marketers look at the biggest challenge being getting their ads seen and clicked on.  According to this study, however, building trust may be an even more important task.  If people don’t trust what they are seeing, they are much less likely to make a purchase, even if they do click on the ad.

When you step back and think about it, there is no surprise about these results.  Most people don’t believe what they see on the internet because of the fact that there is so much false information out there.  It has almost become a joke in everyday conversation where people will make outrageous claims and then back it up by saying, ‘well, I read it on the Internet so it must be true.’

On top of this general lack in trust for online ads, you need to keep in mind that people are generally skeptical of advertisements in general.  Ads on TV have 63% trust, which is much higher than online, but still fairly low in the overall scheme of things.

As marketers it will be more important than ever to try to find ways to show ads that will not only grab the attention of viewers, but also help them to take that leap of faith.  Obviously this should start with always running an honest business and earning the trust of consumers over time.  Beyond that, however, there doesn’t seem to be any established strategy.

Take some time to think about how you can build trust with your customers and you’ll likely start seeing your conversion rates improve.