Twitter Launches Keyword Targeting in Timelines

Twitter has tweaked the way it deals with advertising, enabling promoted tweets to be placed in users' timelines based on recently used keywords.

Users won't notice a great difference. Ads won't be shown more frequently in timelines and and users can still dismiss promoted tweets they don’t find relevant, said Nipoon Malhotra, product manager for Twitter, in a blog post.

Keyword targeting should enable advertisers to more effectively target their campaigns.

Twitter advertisers will be able to specify the keywords they wish to initiate a promoted tweet, as well as specifying the geographic location, gender, and client being used, to reach their audience, Malhotra added.

Here's what it looks like:

The service has already been trialed by a number of firms, including Everything Everywhere, Microsoft Japan, Walgreens, and GoPro.

Previously, Twitter had enabled advertisers to target promoted tweets around a range of broad topics, but today's changes will enable them to focus in more closely on their intended targets.

According to Malhotra, the early testers reported the use of keyword targeting had shown “users were significantly more likely to engage with promoted tweets using keyword targeting in timeline than other forms of targeting in the timeline.” As an example, GoPro had close to 2 million impressions with engagement rates "as high as 11 percent."

The move comes as Twitter looks for better ways to make money from its platform. While Twitter has grown rapidly, with tens of millions of users, it relies on advertisers for the bulk of its revenues.

This article was originally published on V3.

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Need A Google Alerts Replacement? Meet Talkwalker

With Google Alerts�coming�under fire as being broken,�an impressive new service has stepped up to appeal to those seeking an alternative:�Talkwalker.

Luxembourg-based Talkwalker is a social media monitoring company that has now released its own keyword-based alerts resource.�The free service utilizes Google’s Web, news, and blog databases and delivers alerts by email or RSS.

So, are Talkwalker Alerts�the Google Alerts replacement many are looking for?

I spent a few hours running several alerts and at this point I’m both optimistic and even impressed.

A few initial�impressions follow.

Interface & Registration

The look, feel, and features of Talkwalker Alerts are nearly identical to Google’s alerts�service.

Keyword alerts are available for “everything,” news, blogs, and/or discussions. They can be delivered “as it happens” or “once a day.” You can also limit by language and how many results are received:

Simply enter your email and you’re done.

The alert management page also appears nearly identical to Google Alerts. Here you can modify an alert query, grab the RSS URL, delete alerts, and other management tasks.

Overall, the learning curve is minute for those who have use Google’s alert tool. That’s good news for users and Talkwalker.

By the way, Talkwalker also makes it easy to import your current Google alerts.

But Do They Work?

I’ve only been using the service for a few hours, and I need to do more testing, but given the fact that I’ve had issues with the frequency and timeliness of Google Alerts for a long time (long before the current discussion got underway) several of the alerts I created did trigger with new material in a very timely manner.

So, for this reason alone, Talkwalker Alerts are worth being aware of and perhaps taking a look at to see if they meet your needs.

Some Examples

With the alert queries I setup I asked to receive “everything” via email as “soon as it happens.”�In one case, I received an alert and learned about two relevant articles (via the Google News database) that were both less than one hour old.

Impressive.

What about new web pages?

In my view, the key to making a usable alert for web content is the ability to make them as specific as possible (if/when required) to avoid irrelevant material caused by language ambiguity, spam sites, etc. This also means taking advantage of advanced search syntax.

Here, Talkwalker is either having some opening day jitters and/or needs some more work. I ran a search for a single keyword and used two pieces of advanced syntax site: and filetype:.

The good news is that Talkwalker found a couple of new items but the advanced syntax was not applied.

So, either advanced syntax does not work (hopefully this will change) or there was a glitch since another alert I created used the site: operator and returned a correct result.

Whatever the case, Talkwalker does need to add some help and documentation as soon as possible.

Nothing Is Perfect

One issue I have with this service is similar to an issue with Google Alerts. �I know I’m not being alerted to material, and in some cases, a lot of material. If you’re tracking yourself, a competitor, an issue important to you, missing something can cause a lot of problems.

Sure, no alert service, even the ones that cost big money are perfect, but trusting you’re seeing all relevant material in a timely manner is crucial. I do my best to solve this by having a number of alerting tools and services working for me.

Trust is likely not an issue for everyone but nevertheless it needs to be considered.

Running a Google search and limiting by time period and sorting by date can clue you into some of this material.

For example, an alert I created should show a steady flow of new material being added all the time. However, the email alert I received only has one result and it’s ten days old.

There are a lot of reasons why this might be happening and hopefully the Talkwalker team will work to improve the service, something that Google hasn’t been doing for a long time.

Final Thoughts

Overall, it’s great to see this service emerge.

While it’s far from perfect (what is?) and given that is has only been available for a few hours, I’m both optimistic and impressed especially when it comes to the news portion of the service. To receive an email with links to relevant and current news stories, in some cases, less than one hour old, is good reason to offer kudos to Talkwalker.

In about three hours of testing, all five of my alerts have triggered for a total of 15 alert messages, some listing�multiple�relevant and very timely items.

Measuring Your Link Building with Google Analytics

In the past, link building was less about bringing people straight to your site and more about making sure Google rank your site as high as possible.

These days, many link building methods focus on tactics that bring people straight to your site as well as helping Google understand that you should rank well for related terms. So, following on from Julie Joyce’s post on 3 Ways to Measure Link Building ROI, I’d like expand on ways that you can use Google Analytics to measure link building.

This post will assume that the link building you're doing is the type that has the potential to generate traffic directly from the links, rather than only through improving rankings. I’m not going to go in to detail about any of these techniques; there are plenty of great resources on this blog and others to help you with that.

Google Analytics is all about traffic – where it came from, what it led to on site and how much value this generated. The main focus for analyzing link building will be referral traffic data. You build a link, people use it to get to your site, you measure the value of this. But there is a lot more to it than just looking at this basic data.

This post will cover how to use Advanced Segments to your advantage, Multi-Channel Funnels for improved attribution figures, campaign tagging for easier analysis, a free custom report and how to easily use the API for exporting and combining data.

Basic Analysis

Firstly, let’s head to the Referrals data in Google Analytics.

Here we can see how many visits external websites brought to the site. Alongside this is interaction data such as pages per visit and time on site to help you understand the type of users coming from the site. By clicking the goal and ecommerce buttons above the graph you can also see how well these sites have performed with regards to conversions.

I’ve created a Custom Report to help you analyze these metrics, just sign in to Google Analytics, click this link, and choose which profile to apply the report to and enjoy the data:

All of this information can help you reach a decision as to whether the effort you went to for each link was worth it. However, you are like to wonder how much of the referral traffic can be attributed to link building, links gained naturally and social media.

You will need to decide at this stage whether you count traffic from naturally gained links and from social media as link building or whether you separate these out. You could argue the case either way, so it may be best to break it down based on whether you have separate marketing budgets for social, link building off site and creating link worthy content on site.

If there are three different budgets you will want to break them down, if it’s all under the same roof then you can analyze everything together. To break the three sections down we will use Advanced Segments.

Advanced Segments

Advanced segments enable data to be shown based on a set of instructions, be it, ‘traffic from Twitter’, ‘visits with more than 1 conversion’ or ‘visits from users in London’.

We have the following three sections to break down:

Social mediaNatural linksLink building

Of these, natural links is the hardest to identify and know which referring sites belong in this category. However, logic dictates that if we set up a filter to include all known social media sites, and another to include all known link building sites, we can then exclude these from the third advanced segment to leave only the natural links.

Link Building Advanced Segment

To create a segment that will only show traffic from the sites that you have targeted through link building follow these steps:

Click Advanced Segments+ New Custom SegmentName itSelect IncludeChoose Source in the green boxChange Containing to Matching RegExpFill box with all link building domains, putting a pipe between each and a backslash infront of any dot or hyphen, like so:

Searchenginewatch\.com|bbc\.co\.uk|other\-link\-building\-website\.com

The pipe means ‘or’ and the backslash means leave this as a standard character rather than matching a regular expression character.

Once this is set up and applied to the relevant Google Analytics profile, you will have filtered all data shown throughout all reports to only show data that included visits from your link building sites.

Social Media Advanced Segment

To create a social media only segment follow the steps above, but instead of filling it with link building sites we need to be using social media sites here. Like so:

facebook\.com|twitter\.com|linkedin|del\.icio\.us|delicious\.com|technorati|digg\.com|hootsuite|stumbleupon|
netvibes|bloglines|faves\.com|aim\.com|friendfeed|blinklist|fark|furl|msplinks|myspace|bit\.ly|tr\.im|cli\.gs|
zi\.ma|poprl|tinyurl|ow\.ly|reddit|plus\.url\.google\.com|^t\.co|m\.facebook\.com|tweetdeck|youtube|
ycombinator|flickr|popurls|myspace|pinterest\.com

Or, as I’ve already built it, you can apply this segment to your chosen profile just by clicking this link.

You may want to edit the sites in this profile, just remember to cancel out any characters with a backslash and you may need to start very short URLs with a carat (^) to prevent them matching other sites that end with the same text (see t.co for details!).

Natural Link Advanced Segment

So now that we have those two set up we can copy out the text used in each and then use these as excludes in another new segment, as shown in this image:

These three segments can all be applied together to help you compare the different results or individually to help you focus in on the performance of each method. Try applying them to different reports throughout Google Analytics for different insights.

For example, the Ecommerce report will show you the money you are generating from each segment, the location and language reports might show that you’re attracting a more diverse demographic than you expected.

If this method appeals to you and you want to take it further, later on you'll discover how to create custom channel groupings in Multi Channel Funnel reports.

Campaign Tagging

If you don’t have referral data that is easy to break down you may want to consider using custom tagging on links that you build; adding information to help you identify them in Google Analytics. This would be done through the use of the URL Builder Tool which allows you to choose the campaign name, source, medium and other information for your URLs before you use them in link building or other campaigns.

The URL builder is a way to put together the campaign tracking data in the format that Google can use it. You would take the URL:

http://www.mysite.com/awesome-infographic

and make it relevant to the site you are promoting it on:

http://www.mysite.com/awesome-infographic?utm_source=www.link-building-site.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=link-building

You might be familiar with this method from tracking other campaigns, but why shouldn’t it also be applied to link building? Obviously there is a limit to how much you can add tracking to and I’ve not investigated whether it has an impact on the quality of the link, but if it can help you evaluate the investment in resources and budget then it’s got a high chance of being useful!

Multi Channel Funnels

* Images in this section have been edited to protect actual data

In order to understand the bigger picture of your link building it can be beneficial to know how links have assisted conversions that they have not been attributed to it. Google Analytics uses first click attribution; this means that if a user has come to your site having searched for your product organically, then is encouraged to come back and make a purchase following a link you have built, the conversion is shown as organic.

So does your link building assist conversions at all?

The best way to find out is to take your link building advanced segment from before and use the regular expression to create custom channel groupings, like so:

Navigate to Top Conversion Report Above the data click Other Select Copy Basic Channel Grouping, rename Edit ‘Referral’ to be link building sites Add a new rule for your natural links (excluding the same data as above)

To reverse this and show the natural links you need to exclude the link building sources and ensure that remaining referral data is caught:

It may also be good to keep the social analysis consistent by editing the default social segment to include the sites you identified for your advanced segment.

So after a few short tweaks you will now have a report looking something like this:

Now, I like the path analysis for showing you the journey that users take, but if your site has many different journeys (as is common) the Assisted Conversions report will be better for you. The custom channel grouping that you just created can be applied to this report and will show you results like so:

This separated out the data for both assisted and last interaction conversions, both of which would never be understood if you relied only on the standard reports in Google Analytics.

API Export Fun

When working on a link building campaign, you will want to know both the traffic generated and how strong the promoted page of your site becomes. To do this you can export your traffic data from Google Analytics and combine it alongside link and social metrics.

If you haven't used the Google analytics API before, start by using SEO Tools for Excel, which makes it simple to export from Google Analytics as well as Majestic SEO and other tools.

Using this tool has created the following report to help analyze the full picture surrounding content marketing within a link building project:

This kind of analysis helps you bring everything together and understand not just the value of the traffic but the benefit that your link building has had in strengthening the link profile and social visibility of your pages.

Concluding Thoughts

As with many aspects of SEO, there is no single method that answers everything. There are different routes that you can take to analyze the value of link building and each project will require its own approach.

The ideas above are here to help you dig a bit deeper next time someone asks you what value the link building has brought, on top of the methods that Julie identified.

Title image source: jkfid/Flickr

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Social, SEO & Content: How to Create a Potent Integrated Marketing Campaign

How much time and money should a business invest in social media? That was the initial question posed by Matt Bailey (@mattbaileysays) as he began his 4 Steps to Building an Integrated Online Marketing Campaign session at SES New York last week.

If this is the first question you’re asking, it’s the wrong one, said the SES board member and president of Site Logic Marketing. If you're attempting to develop a successful strategic marketing plan, then it’s imperative to stand back, and re-evaluate two things. Your:

Marketing PlanContent Development Plan

Re-evaluating these higher-level items will show you how social media, SEO, analytics, blogging, and content development can work together synergistically to aid in online marketing success.

The main thing that successful businesses do can be summed up in one word: Plan. Failing to plan will only prevent you from executing a strategy, as you will be too busy reacting to what is wrong.

Asking the Right Questions

Before you start to deep dive into planning and executing your strategy, you must make sure you know the answers to two critical questions about your business:

How do you make money as a company?Why do you make money in those ways?

Answering these questions will help you define proper goals while also helping you to define your intentions and goals within social media.

How Do You Organize Your Online Marketing?

This is bigger than just social media, so you’ve got to outline how all channels can effectively work together to get your message across successfully. Four ways to organize your message are:

Narrative: Narrative is creating the story around your brand or product that will best communicate with your consumers.Development: Once you have your story outlined, the next thing is to develop the right message and then develop it to the right people in the way they wish to digest the content.Interaction: Talks about how will you interact with your consumers across all platforms. Blogging, email and social media are all different mediums and should be messaging should be unique to those platformsPlanning: Developing content calendars and looking at trends should be a part of your marketing activities. This is done so can you deliver timely content to your consumer when that topic or idea is in the top of mind.Blogging Benefits

Blogs (if you’re doing it right) are a more active type of medium versus your website, as the messaging on your website tends to be more static and doesn't get updated as often.

Many benefits come about from utilizing blogging as a marketing medium. Not only do you have control over the message and data, but it also has benefits from an SEO perspective.

Using your blog to promote calls to action and build your email list is another great benefit for having a blog. Several other benefits include:

Increase your SEO effortsBuild for Long-Tail ContentCommunity and Market EducationCommunicate High Trust ContentBuild Lists, Conversions and ReachBuild Brand Value and EquityEmail Benefits

Email is another marketing channel that people don’t tend to really focus on. Email is a great way to segment your customers and market directly to their interests, but you must build the lists first.

Capturing emails within your blog is a great conversion goal you can use. Email consumption is increasing overall and mobile devices are part of this occurrence, as most people primarily use their mobile devices to check their email.

Another reason email marketing is a great is that’s where a lot of your consumers are hanging out, especially first thing in the morning. Bailey mentioned that “Subscribers, Fans, & Followers Exclusive Research Helps Marketers Use Email + Facebook + Twitter” was a great resource to gain further insight in how to further succeed in collaborating with social media and email marketing.

Social Media Tips & Facts

Bailey also mentioned that while social media is a great addition to your marketing plan, it should be considered like all other marketing efforts. Each site is used differently and not all are alike.

Here are some tips and facts around various platforms:

YouTube

It’s portable. You can create a video, upload it, then promote it easily to other platforms like Facebook and Twitter.It helps out with search engine optimization. Since YouTube is owned by Google, creating video content and optimizing it for terms you wish to rank for, will only help your search efforts. Your YouTube video will have a better chance of being ranked at the top of the page (provided it’s properly optimized) versus your website.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a good social media platform, but once again isn't for everyone. The ideal Pinterest strategy is highly visual and highly segmented.Efforts must be specific and be about a certain topic for it to be successful.

Linkedin

If you’re in B2B, then you should be doing LinkedIn.Linkedin is the most affluent membership as the users either have jobs or are looking for jobs.

Twitter

Twitter is a great place to get opinions about your brand from your followers.Great way to get ideas from your consumers and discover what they want to hear about.Immediacy is a huge benefit that comes with this platform.

Facebook

It’s about the conversation so let your consumer’s voice be heard.Ask them to share their stories, photos, and opinions to gain insight into what they want.4 Tips for the Planning Phase

The more you plan your marketing efforts, the only more success you will have. Here are four tips Bailey shared with the planning phase for marketing strategies.

Rely on your SEOs: Get keywords from that that people are looking for to get to your site or blog. Search data is more than trying to rank but getting ideas for what people want to know.Build a long-term and daily content plan.Long-Term Content Plan: Use Google Trends to compare products and primary searches.Daily Content Plan: What trend terms are big the past 7 days and figure out what is trending right now that your company can take advantage of.Create a publishing schedule so you can see what content is going live when. The key is to plan your marketing according to your content.Measure your efforts to see what was successful and learn to make more money.

If you put effort into planning your marketing and content strategy you will have a higher success rate and also continue to execute based on a strategy, versus reacting to what is wrong due to lack of organization.

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User Data, Mobile Explosion, Death of SEO – SEM Trends in 2008

We recently ran a Reader Poll asking what the hot search marketing trends will be for 2008. The new year is here and we now have good enough sample of votes cast (78) to share what Online Marketing Blog readers are thinking:

 What will be the big stories in search marketing in 2008?

* Heavier Integration of User Data and Personalized Search in Standard Results (21%)
* Mobile Search Explodes (15%)
* Death of SEO as we know it (13%)
* Social Media Marketing Explodes (12%)
* Social Media Marketing Jumps the Shark (8%)
* Google Winning/Losing Market Share in a Big Way (6%)
* Social Networks as Search Platforms (6%)
* Record Search Marketing Budget Levels (5%)
* Increasing Searcher Sophistication (4%)
* New Paid Search Channels (4%)
* Search Engine Consolidation (3%)
* Death of Universal Search (3%)
* "Real" Solutions to Click Fraud (1%)
* Search Marketing Agency Consolidation (0%)

Forbes.com CEO Spanfeller Attacks Google, Stumbles Into His Own Cesspool

Another publisher is complaining that Google isn’t giving them their “fair share” — this time Forbes CEO Jim Spanfeller. Google makes $60 million off the Forbes brand, he claims (with no proof), and boosting “quality publishers” like Forbes would help Eric Schmidt’s web sewage problem. This is from the publication that sells paid links that helps the sewage rise in Google?

I’ve already dissected some of the misconceptions that Spanfeller and other publishers have about Google in my Sorry, Tom Curley: Don�t Expect A Google Ranking Boost For The AP post from last week. This time, I’ll do a counterpoint to points in Spanfeller’s article over at PaidContent.org.

Spanfeller: For some time there have been murmurings about the relative value generated by Google� vs. the parasitical nature of its business model. In short, is Google being disproportionally compensated for what is fundamentally other people�s work?

Counterpoint: Google sends Forbes and other publishers millions of visits for free. Usually smaller publishers complain if for some reason they lose that traffic due to a ranking change. Newspapers and magazine publishers seem unique in being upset that getting all those free visitors simply isn’t enough. Perhaps Google itself isn’t being properly compensated?

Spanfeller: There is a strong case to be made that Google is indeed getting a bigger piece of the pie than it deserves. It certainly feels that way to content-producing companies when the advertising cycle is in a trough (as it is now) and the advertising lifeblood for branded professional journalism seems to be shrinking by the day. But is there substance to this feeling beyond the pain of lower ad dollars?

Counterpoint: Print publications have had 15 years to find a business model in a world that was moving digital. They haven’t gotten there. Google didn’t even exist when they first started having these pains, but it’s their bane now? These publications also seemed more than happy to fritter away the past three years or so of rising online ad revenues without planning for the inevitable downturns in ad cycles.

Spanfeller: Let�s consider some basic issues, all of which have been discussed in the industry for some time. First off, does the last click get too much credit? Just about everyone I talk with these days agrees that it does. Google is by far the biggest winner in this ill-conceived metric, and by selling branded keywords to the highest bidder, the company is, in fact, working hard to maximize it.

Counterpoint: Somehow I suspect the vast majority of people who search for your brand, Forbes, aren’t clicking on paid ads that show up. Most of them instead are almost certainly clicking on your free listing. Isn’t Forbes by far the winner in those last clicks?

How about an illustration:

Here’s the rundown on each item I’ve numbered:

(1) This is the free listing that you have on Google for your own name. Right there at the top, which survey after survey will tell you is where the majority of people click. How much did you pay for that? Right, nothing.

(2) This is someone selling your freaking magazine. You know, the thing that if its circulation rises, you do better?

Now I can agree, this is annoying if you prefer to sell direct. You might not want to have some third-party competing with you on your own name. Usually smart publishers concerned about this ensure that their official affiliates are barred from doing so. If it’s not an official affiliate, then sorry, the law in the US still seems to allow ads to be triggered from branded terms. You just can’t use the brand name in the text (and these folks are trying to get around that with the whole “Frbs” thing.

Maybe Google should make nice with you and other brand holders by disallowing branded terms from triggering ads, despite legal cases. Might be a good PR move. But then again, you’re not the boss of the word “Forbes.” Sorry, you’re not. You have protected trademark rights relating to it. But if someone’s not passing themselves off as you — or if someone else out there has a “Forbes” brand — they have rights too.

Hey, perhaps Google should never allow the word “iPhone” to be a trigger word for ads that aren’t from Apple. Then the next time my iPhone breaks, and I want someone to fix it, Apple can be the sole advertiser listed — even if others might do the job better and cheaper.

Maybe I have an old Forbes magazine collection that I want to sell. Forbes should have the right to prevent me from advertising this fact?

Or hey, you know sometimes people don’t like companies like McDonald’s. We should prevent them from running ads that might point to content explaining their issues with those companies. Let’s make it a big huge brandfest, shall we?

By the way, you really want to poke at Google about branded terms. Pick a better target — complain that there’s an essential unfairness that Google allows brand terms as trigger words except for Google itself.

(3) Hey, you got me. No idea why these folks think running an ad against “Forbes” makes sense. But who exactly were you losing to the Forbes web site that decided instead that Atlanta real estate was for them? This is also a good time to mention that not everyone who enters “Forbes” actually wants to go to your web site (though most of them probably do — and probably do get there, as I said)

(4) That’s you! It’s your own ad, for your newsletters. Now let me understand this. Google’s sending you tons of traffic for free, but that’s not enough — so you’re buying ads at Google. If you’re buying ads on Google, then hopefully you’re making money off that traffic. And if you are, I gotta believe you’re making money off all those free people Google sends to you each day. How much, would you say? Oh, and free SEO tip. Perhaps if you spent a little time ensuring pages in your online store had even the basics of SEO applied, like unique page titles, Google probably would send you more traffic directly there for free.

Spanfeller: For the most part, a marketer�s top-producing search terms incorporate its brand name … where value chains are muddied beyond recognition�is when Google makes marketers buy their own brand name so that their competitors will not … All of the value of “brand advertising” is discounted as consumers take action on that advertising by using their search bars to navigate to the marketer�s web site. I have been told that in many cases over 90% of search spending by large-brand advertisers is targeted at keywords that are themselves (or have incorporated within them) the actual name of the brand.

Counterpoint: I’m sorry, did a horde of heavily armed Googlers break into the Forbes ivory tower and force you at gunpoint to buy your brand name? I don’t think so. And looking today, just who are your competitors showing up that you’re so concerned about?

Let’s stick with real life rather than the theoretical debate:

How many visitors per day make it to your web site searching for “Forbes” and other terms incorporating that word? Hundreds? Thousands? Hundreds of thousands? You know the answer — let’s have it.How many people does it take until you’d feel you were getting a fair shake?What do your own search marketers tell you why they are buying ads for your own brand. Is it really just because they worry about competitors, or might it be that because Forbes wants to push particular revenue-generating assets in front of Google’s audience — and also because search marketers have long reported that a paid ad for your name in conjunction with that nice free link Google gives you makes for better results.

By the way, if your brand is really so big, why are all those consumers so stupid as to not simply enter your URL into the address bar of their browser?

Spanfeller: Search is not really all that great at the moment, a comment repeated time and again by much more astute folks then me. This is especially true when looking for high-quality professionally created content. This is not to say that user-generated content or ecommerce options or product specs should not be returned in search results, simply that there is clearly a better way to showcase the different paths an end user might be pursuing. The idea that everyone is forced into trying to “game” the system so that they get their “fair” (or sometimes not so fair) share is testament to how terribly wrong this entire process has become.

For all the discussion about the vaunted search algorithms, is there any consideration for paid journalism over or even separate from ecommerce options or user-generated blogs and the like?

Counterpoint: Yes, let’s go with the anecdotes. I suppose the economy is picking up now, because I’ve heard a bunch of people tell me they’re feeling better about it. Why don’t you cite that in Forbes?

The reality is that we have no dependable stats on whether search has improved or gotten worse. But I do have my suspicions when a publisher who believes he has “high-quality professional created content” tells me that it’s “especially true” that their publications aren’t being well served.

As for that separate place you want, my jaw dropped when I read that. You have it. Google has all that high-quality professionally created content in a super-secret place, but I’ll reveal its location now. It’s called Google News. Only you and about 5,000 or so other publications get in. For free. Special privileges (see Google�s Love For Newspapers & How Little They Appreciate It). Did you send Google the thank you note yet?

As for different paths to showcase different type of content, here’s a newsflash. Google has what’s called universal search, where they actually segment things into groups like news, products and user-generated content (blog). Sort of what you’re wishing for, except that wish came true back in 2007.

Spanfeller: When a colleague in the industry recently famously went to find information about the not-too-distant hostilities in the Gaza Strip, and did not get an actual professionally created journalistic result until the third page, something is wrong.

Counterpoint: Gosh, did that colleague get any searches right? Maybe most of the time? Or are they commonly having this issue?

Spanfeller: At Forbes.com, we have estimated that Google makes roughly $60 million a year directing folks to our site. And by the way, 40 percent of those dollars are derived from the search terms of Forbes, Forbes.com or Forbes Magazine�simple navigation. Seems like a very nice chunk of change for simply being there.

Seriously, $60 million? Based on what? How on earth did you estimate this? Did you examine how many ads run against any search involving “Forbes?” Did you then magically discover which ones actually got clicks? When you did that, how did you figure out the cost of those ads, when each price is calculated in real-time based on what the advertiser is willing to spend as well as their account history. You want to put a figure out there like that, make it more than a throwaway talking point. Publish it in Forbes itself, as an investigative piece. Because that’s what it would take to get a really reliable number, if such a thing could be arrived it at all from outside Google.

Oh, after you calculate that — then use the average price paid per click, multiple that by all the branded terms that send Forbes traffic for free from Google. Then tell me which is higher. My guess? The free traffic far outweighs the paid traffic you think Google has sucked from you.

Spanfeller: If this inequity of support continues along these lines, we will see a continuing destruction of our journalistic enterprises�enterprises that are one of the core building blocks of our democracy.

Counterpoint: Again, print publications where in trouble before we had Google, but now you’ve got scapegoat to blame for more than a decade of failing to grapple with your fundamental business problems. And let’s add a dash of Google undermining democracy to stoke the fires.

By the way, why is it just Google? I mean, Yahoo sends sites a lot of traffic, too. Yahoo News has a bigger audience than Google News. Yahoo operates pretty much the same as Google. And Microsoft wants to do the same. Why don’t you have an Axis Of Evil Search Engines?

Spanfeller: Last year, while addressing the magazine publishers and editors of the MPA at the Google Campus, Eric Schmidt suggested that the web was a “cesspool” and that it was up to the major journalistic brands to clean it up. Well Eric, in a great many ways, Google has helped to create that cesspool, and as such I would hope that it can be part of the solution.

Counterpoint: Let’s all help, starting with Forbes itself. Forbes has long been known in the SEO world for doing things against Google’s webmaster guidelines, which are explicitly meant to help clean that cesspool. To put it bluntly, Forbes has been pissing in the pool. Some light reading for you, documenting how Forbes has sold links or hosted less than high quality content on its web site:

Google�s PageRank Update Goes After Paid Links?Shining a Light on The Dark Arts of Search Engine OptimizationUpdate: Forbes Takes Down Their Paid LinksForbes.com Gets a Handjob?Forbes former “wrongful death attorney” page

But a picture’s worth a thousand words they say:

Look here on your wine page:

Did Forbes have any of its professional journalists review these “resources” before providing anchor text-rich links to them? I’m guessing not, and that’s an issue. But first, another example:

I assume these links are sold, since they’re labeled “Advertisement.” These are “straight links,” as are the ones in the first example. This means they aren’t delivered in Javascript or in some other way that would prevent them from passing along credit from your quality site to theirs. Effectively, they are a way someone has bought a vote on your site that these two links are relevant for the words “World Currencies” and “Forex.”

Now in the future, if you search on Google for world currencies, and you get this page full of ads from Business.com ranking tops, please don’t whine that Google should trust in the big brands to sort out the cesspool. We in the SEO space know well that some of those same big brands use the authority of their web sites to enrich themselves, rather than to save democracy.

For more, see related discussion on Techmeme.

Postscript: I’m aware that in doing the counterpoints, I probably come off as a Google fanboy. I’m not. I just like balance and accuracy, and I didn’t feel I got either in Spanfeller’s piece.

Google is far from perfect and has plenty of problems, which I’ve also covered (see today’s Why Hasn�t Google Cleared, Fired Or Suspended Accused AdWords Employee? or my Google: Master Of Closing The Loop? as just two examples of this.

Unfortunately, watching the newspaper and magazine publishers attack Google for their woes is like watching a Keystones Cops movie. They bumble about, puff themselves up with arrogance that they occupy some lofty position while simultaneously put their hands out for a Google bailout.

If they’re going to attack Google, then I want an attack that’s organized, that can’t be so easily shot full of holes and which warrants serious attention. Or I want them to stop attacking Google so it can be attacked, when it deserves it, on far more serious issues without such distraction.

More important, I love journalism and want to see the publishers waste less time looking for someone to blame for the industry’s problems and instead finding new solutions. And no, I hardly see Google as the main reason they’re having issues, though given the rhetoric over the past few weeks, it seems to be the chief boogeyman.

Will QR Codes Gain Mass Adoption?

QR Code on Moscone Center San Francisco during SES 2010

QR codes are getting quite a bit of buzz lately and as a self-professed marketing nerd, I find them to be a clever way to connect mobile consumers with online digital content. There have been some pretty creative implementations of�QR codes for promotions and mobile marketing too. You can put them anywhere printing is possible and even places it’s not.

A few interesting places I’ve seen them besides normal print advertising include: side of a building, t-shirts,�tattoos and turning Central Park in NYC into a huge board game.

But as creative and interesting QR codes are, I’m a bit skeptical in terms of mass adoption. For some reason, I can’t imagine consumer behavior changing to start scanning codes for things when they could just search or enter a URL. There’s also the technology that needs to be adopted by more devices.

Granted, I was a bit skeptical of Foursquare and Twitter too, but also Google Wave and Second Life.

What do you think?

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Feel free to elaborate why you think QR codes will be a hit or flop with the mass market in the comments below. Let’s see who can change my mind.

Thanks to Matt Dickman for the tweet that inspired this post

4 Ways to Help Consumers Discover Your Mobile App

Image via CNNMoney 

There are nearly 1 million apps available in the app store and 1 billion of them are being downloaded every month. This makes app discovery a lot more challenging for developers, perhaps an even tougher mountain to climb than creating the app itself.

For SEOs, app discovery is juicy new territory to break in to.

Here’s a glance at some of the global mobile stats for 2012:

1.2 billion mobile Web users worldwideIn the US 25 percent of mobile Web users are mobile-onlySmartphones represent 31.8 percent of all handsets shipped since February 20121 in 4 mobile apps once downloaded, are never used again

The app landscape is expanding rapidly, but its current lagging point when compared to non-mobile platforms, is search capability. Mobile marketing is becoming more competitive and to increase app visibility, brands with a mobile strategy should strongly consider implementing optimization strategies for ranking and maintaining a user-base through social media.

Here are 4 ways you can break through the gated app stores:

1. App Store Optimization

Is App Store Optimization (ASO) ”the new SEO”? Many new factors are influencing app store results and Apple's recent acquisition of Chomp, the app discovery engine, as well as Google Play’s use of Google+ endorsements to influence app store rankings are evidence of a significant change in how users discover apps.

Peter van der Graaf shared some great tips on app store optimization with key recommendations for optimizing five important mobile app search elements:

App Name: Include a relevant key search phrase to your app name (e.g., Unblock me: [Puzzle game]). Tip: Apps starting by a letter closest to ‘A’ may also get better display.App Publisher: Include keywords associated with publisher name (e.g., Zynga: [Social Games Services]).Keywords and Description: Include keyword rich descriptions, meta descriptions text, images and video.Installs: Track number of installs and uninstalls to learn why people do or don't like your app.Ratings and Reviews: Ask for feedback and get reviews on websites, blogs, forums.

One popular method for ensuring that an app’s user base is actively providing reviews is scripts like Appirater, which automatically prompts the user with a message asking for a review. This message can be launched based on specific conditions (e.g., a user has had the app for 30 days and launched it at least 15 times).

Mobiledevvhq is another interesting service to look into. They tout themselves as the SEOmoz for mobile and have created a series of iTunes/Google Play compatible ASO tools to track rankings and help position important keyword results in the app store.

Here is a screenshot of their dashboard:

2. Social Media

Social media channels are a great way to increase awareness and engage users. Promoting through Twitter and Facebook as well as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can help amplify the reach of your mobile app.

Three avenues you can take are:

Facebook ConnectTwitter Promoted TweetsMobile PPCFacebook Connect

Integrating Facebook Connect to mobile applications is a key way of generating free advertising via the news feed. Developers can get people talking about their app with Facebook friends directly on their platform and increase engagement for the application.

Promoted Tweets

image via Hootsuite 

Twitter has announced that it is slowly beginning to rollout Promoted Tweets for mobile and will use a variety of signals to determine which Promoted Tweets are relevant to users. These will be based on who/what the chooser decides to follow, how they interact with a Tweet, what they retweet, and more.

Build a following on Twitter and connect with other mobile developers. There are members-only Twitter groups for mobile game developers to help each other promote apps and spread the word about sales and promotions. Cross promotion works!

Mobile PPC

A well-optimized paid mobile advertising plan via pay-par-click can increase your visibility and rate of conversion. Mobile users are more likely to click on ads than their desktop counterparts, mainly because they are using their phones when seeking services, like restaurant recommendations, products reviews etc.

3. Blogger Outreach

Traditional blogger outreach is still a very powerful avenue in the mobile promotion space. A favorable review on a popular blog can spike and sustain downloads quite dramatically.

Some major mobile review blogs include:

Touch ArcadeAppStormArs TechnicaAppoliciousAppGamer.netAndroidTappAndroinica4. Chomp Paid Keyword Search

Chomp is a popular app discovery search engine that claims (Digg’s) Kevin Rose as well as Ashton Kutcher among its board of advisors. Chomp is redefining app search with auto search suggestion capabilities and search based on function rather than just names. There is a good chance that Chomp will eventually become a new version of the app store.

Chomp offers keyword rankings and monthly reports with detailing search query trends, free vs. paid ratio, price ratios and popular categories. The most promising feature of chomp.com is Chomp Search Ads. Along with keyword analytics, paid keyword search is available to promote apps based on specified queries.

Chomp recommends search terms, which subscribers can bid on. They can set up campaigns choosing bid price and budget.

ASO: The Future of SEO?

The global app market will be worth an estimated $174 billion by 2017, according to Global Industry Analysts. App store optimization will be an integral factor affecting visibility and growth in the ever-expanding mobile market.

SEO is already playing an important role in the improvement of app search and will continue to be refined to meet the demands of a mobile user-base. As ASO tools become increasingly available to developers, they will be able to improve the experience for mobile, working off a set rigorous performance metrics that can measure a wealth of user information.

This will help app developers identify how to better engage and retain their app user-base and use this rich data to create better upgrades and apps in the future.

The SEW Annual Feedback Survey
Complete our survey and be entered to win a Platinum Pass to an SES Conference of your choice + 3 runner-up prizes of a $50 Amazon Gift Card. Your feedback is important. Please submit your responses by Friday, April 26. Complete the survey at http://sewat.ch/12t5ZPl.

Yahoo Confirms 2,000 Employees Getting the Axe

After several days of rumors, first reported by AllThingsD, Yahoo confirmed this morning that it’s restructuring and laying off 2,000 employees:

Today, the company will begin the process of informing employees about these changes. As part of that effort, approximately 2,000 people will be notified of job elimination or phased transition.

Yahoo! expects to realize approximately $375 million of annualized savings upon completion of all employee transitions. The company currently expects to recognize the majority of an estimated $125 to $145 million pretax cash charge relating to employee severance in its second quarter financial results. The company may incur additional charges in connection with this action . . .

Yahoo currently has about 14,000 employees. The company hasn’t indicated where the axe will fall. However AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher (based on her inside informants) speculates that layoffs will be across the board but hit several areas in particular:

The layoffs, which will touch all units of the company, are expected to hit hardest in the product division, which is headed by Blake Irving . . .

But the fate of two key parts of the soon-to-be-blown-apart unit � Yahoo�s advertising technology businesses, Right Media and APT, and its search business � is still being contemplated . . . Also set to be hard hit are Yahoo�s local businesses, as well as its marketing and research divisions . . .

Swisher further speculates that current Yahoo search chief Shashi Seth “is likely to run consumer products,” which will house whatever remains of Yahoo’s search business. It’s pretty clear, however, that whatever efforts Yahoo had been making around search innovation will be greatly diminished now if not entirely eliminated.

We’ll have to wait to see what remains of Yahoo after the dust settles — but it’s looking like not much. Oh the humanity.

Public domain image via US government archives.�

Related Entries

Will Pending Layoffs Put Final Nail In Yahoo Search?A Search Eulogy For YahooWhat’s Yahoo’s “Plan B” For Search?It’s Finally Official, Microsoft & Yahoo Make A Deal, Yahoo Gives Up On SearchYahoo, Microsoft Close Search DealYahoo, Once King Of Keyword Research Tools, Now Recommends Others (Including Google’s)Revisionist History: Bartz Claims Yahoo Was Never A Search Engine

Online Marketing News: Google Updates, Email Marketing Insights & Content Marketing Success

 

7 Step Framework Demonstrates Core Elements of Successful Content Marketing Strategies

There is no silver bullet in content marketing, yet there are core, common elements to successful content marketing strategies, says Content Marketing Institute. They’ve shared their content marketing framework to help marketers increase their own chances of success, along with a whitepaper expanding upon each of their seven identified elements. See The CMI Content Marketing Framework: 7 Building Blocks to Success for more.

Businesses Plan to Spend More on Email Marketing in 2013

A new report from iContact found that 56% of businesses surveyed plan to increase their email marketing in 2013. Just 1% said they plan on cutting back. Other key findings from their survey of SMBs with revenue between $1 million and $50 million include:

88% have at least one employee managing email content78% are confident they can maximize the potential of email marketing42% said spam filters preventing emails from reaching subscribers are a problem79% plan to improve their email layout and design

Download the full report from iContact for more insights, or see their corresponding infographic here.

Improvements to Google Analytics Real-Time Reports

Google announced four changes this week to their GA real-time reports, allowing marketers to see more of what is happening on their site at any given moment.

Google Analytics users can now:

Analyze�Events�in real-timeBreakdown real-time by Desktop/Tablet/Mobile trafficCreate shortcuts to your favorite real-time segmentsCompare real-time filtered data against overall real-time data

The team at Google announced, “Stay tuned for continued improvements to real-time, a growing area of importance for your digital marketing.”

Facebook Updates Ads Manager

Facebook announced Ads Manager updates on Tuesday, designed to help marketers more easily identify which user actions drive specific advertising goals. The changes should make it easier to determine campaign ROI, Facebook said. The updates were made in response to advertiser feedback.

Emails with Social Share Buttons have Higher CTRs [Study]

Emails with social share buttons have a 158% higher click-through-rate than those without, according to a GetResponse study. Still, just 29.6% of marketers use them.

Image from MarketingCharts.com

Among those who do, Facebook Share buttons are most popular, with 99% of marketers including them in their email campaigns. Twitter buttons are used by 99%, while LinkedIn buttons are present on 68.1% of emails with social share buttons.

Twitter Revenue Forecast Approaching $1 Billion

eMarketer has had to revise their Twitter revenue forecast, in light of the social media company’s unanticipated success in social advertising. In 2014, Twitter should take in $950 million, according to the latest estimate. One year ago, eMarketer predicted 2014 revenue of $582.8 million for Twitter; in September, they upped their estimate to $807.5 million. By 2015, they say, Twitter’s annual revenue will skyrocket to $1.33 billion.

Coming Up in the @TopRank Community

Tune in to the @toprank Twitter feed Tuesday, April 9th at 2:45pm ET (11:45am PT) for highlights from Lee Odden’s Social Media World presentation, How to Integrate Blogging with Content Marketing that Inspires Action.

Piwik Open Source Analytics: A Primer

For many people, web analytics on a budget means Google Analytics. There are many log file analyzers that help the do-it-yourselfers. However, they merely report the data. They often don't provide the analysis tools to make the data meaningful information.

Piwik is a web analytics package that aims to be a free software alternative to Google Analytics. Like Google, it allows you to place Javascript code within your site to collect visitor page views and other events.

However, unlike Google and other remote-hosted analytics services, it also comes with its own analytics collection server that runs on your website's server. This means you control the data collected.

Privacy in Web Analytics

Privacy is a fundamental point in the Piwik project. Changes to Google's privacy policy have many people rethinking the idea of "going Google." Piwik is on a mission to put users in control. All data collected remains on your server, stored within your MySQL database.

Piwik respects privacy so much that there are built-in privacy settings that allow you to anonymize visitor IP addresses and even delete raw visitor data – while still keeping your reports archived in a manner where you can still filter them. There's even code you can place on your site that would allow visitors to opt-out of Analytics tracking and a plug-in that complies with visitors' Do Not Track preferences.

Free, but Feature Rich

Open Source and Free Software have come a long way. Just because Piwik is free doesn't mean it isn't chock full of features.

Piwik offered real-time analytics reports long before Google Analytics. The interface allows for individualized reports to be exported in a variety of formats or emailed automatically.

While this is not a definitive list, here are some major features Piwik has that compares it to other top-billing web analytics packages:

Multiple Website support - complete with mini-dashboardFiltering of IPs, page parameters, currencyGoal & Revenue TrackingURL Tracking Parameter SupportAutomatic tracking of downloads without taggingAutomatic tracking of Outlinks (URLs people left your site for)Custom VariablesFull API supportSegmentation (through API only for now)Custom dot, bar and pie graphs, tag clouds and sparklinesCustomizable DashboardSupport for multiple users with varying access levelsReport export to PDF, Excel, XML, JSON and various other text-based files

There's also a roadmap of features coming soon in version 2.0, due out this year. These features include:

Page speed reports and load time analysisA graphical UI for implementing segmentationLog file analysis includesImproved site search trackingImproved AdWords campaign trackingMany other UI enhancementsGive it a Spin

Piwik offers an online, live demo so you can kick the tires and get a feel for how it works. It is based on anonymous access, so some features aren't available. However, you can see how multiple sites operate and how nearly all the reporting works, including the real-time reports.

Piwik is easy to install. All it requires is standard FTP access and the ability to create a database.

If your hosting provider allows you access to phpmyadmin and file uploading, you're all set. The set-up process takes about five minutes in seven, quick, web-based steps. In fact, if you're familiar with a self-hosted WordPress setup and/or upgrade process, the Piwik processes are nearly identical.

Piwik is Free Software

The differences between open source and free software are relatively subtle to the average user, but quite dramatic to the developers. Regardless, this means free, quality software for you to use. And, in turn, software that you can study, modify, change, and redistribute to clients, if you feel so inclined.

Is your data and your users' privacy a concern for you? With a focus on privacy and keeping data safe, will you be checking out Piwik? Do you already use it? Do you have questions? Drop a comment below and tell us!

Harnessing the $9+ Billion Social and Mobile Ad Potential
In partnership with Moontoast, ClickZ presents the "Ultimate Guide to Social Rich Media Advertising". Social rich media advertising offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity for brands and agencies to target consumers with interests that match the virtues and values of their products. Download your free guide today!

SEO Tactics for App Stores, Mobile App Website Pages & Local Markets

The world of mobile apps is foreign territory to most online marketers.

Developing apps require different skills than traditional website development. Mobile app creation forces marketers to understand the limitations of different platforms, devices, and tracking.

Once an app is developed and ready for download, the biggest challenge, just like with websites, is to get users to find it, or even know of its existence.

Your app is one of a million, with 700,000 available in Apple’s App Store, and an equal number in Google Play.

Traditional SEO Tactics to Improve App Discoverability

Users can discover and find apps in two ways: searches through the app stores as well as searches on search engines. Optimizing mobile apps to be more easily discovered by users isn’t that different from optimizing a website for that same purpose.

The two SEO elements to focus on for mobile apps and the app stores are content and links.

SEO for websites primarily includes three things;

Getting your site crawled.Optimizing the content.Building authority through links and social media endorsements.

The SEO difference for mobile apps is that the page on which the app lives is what needs to be optimized, not the app itself. Search engines don’t crawl inside mobile apps to learn what it is or why people want to download it. The content on the page around the mobile app needs to provide the context to give relevant cues for what the app is about.

An app usually has two pages to optimize: the app store page and a marketing page on the business’s website.

Optimizing for App Stores

The descriptive content submitted with the app is vital to the app’s success in the app store when submitting an app to app stores.

The title of the app determines the URL and title tag of the web page the app is hosted on. Choose a title for the app that reflects the brand and also the app’s function. This allows your app to be found by your brand name as well as the purpose of the app if brand isn’t top of mind for the user.

The category an app is submitted to is also important for better visibility in searches. A lot of times an app can fit into several categories. If there is no one best fit, choose the category that best fits the app’s purpose but also contains the least number of competing apps.

The keyword field influences the search results because there is far less text to indicate relevance of an app than there is for a traditional web page. Just as Google and major search engines frown on keyword stuffing on websites, stuffing the keyword field with unrelated keywords can get an app rejected from app stores, so play fair – stick with descriptive keywords that are relevant to the purpose of the app.

The description field is the largest area of the page and acts like the main content on a web page. As with traditional SEO for websites, the description for the app should be written for the target audience and be optimized with relevant keywords.

Linking the app store page to the official app page on your website, and reciprocating that link from the website back to the app store page, will reassure the user that they’ve found the official app from the brand, not a fake or parody app.

Optimizing for Mobile App Pages on Websites

The app should also have a page on your corporate website for cross-promotion and linking.

For example, somewhere in the app description you should provide a link to the your desktop website. The website should also link back to the destination of the mobile app in the app store(s). Linking between the app store and the website boosts the app’s SEO value and also confirms that the app is authentic, not an imposter.

Other than cross-linking with the app store and using specific metadata attributes, optimizing the content on the page that the app lives on is no different from optimizing content on any other page on your website.

Optimizing for Local Markets

Although the United States app store market is the largest revenue opportunity, users from other countries can benefit from an app that supports their native language and country. Just last week, Apple sent its developers an email reminding them of the importance of localizing apps and marketing material:

The process of doing this is called localization. Apple offers clear steps to help app developers internationalize and localize apps to capture the opportunity of more revenue, by attending to the native user experience of other countries worldwide.

When investing resources in localizing your app, be sure to know your target audience. It would be a waste of resources to localize for every country and language.

A recent Flurry study found that usage for a particular category of app is different based on countries. Find out which countries your app is most popular in to determine the biggest impact for your localization efforts.

For example, in China more people use action game apps versus music game apps, but in Japan it’s the exact opposite.

You do have to consider the incremental downloads and revenue you can gain from internationalization and localization strategies, but initial studies are showing that localization will be a smart investment for expanding your app installs and revenue internationally.

 Learn More: Optimizing for App Stores & Discoverability App Store OptimizationApp Store Optimization: 8 Tips for Higher RankingsA Hands-on Approach to App Store Optimization4 Ways to Help Consumers Discover Your Mobile App

Harnessing the $9+ Billion Social and Mobile Ad Potential
In partnership with Moontoast, ClickZ presents the "Ultimate Guide to Social Rich Media Advertising". Social rich media advertising offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity for brands and agencies to target consumers with interests that match the virtues and values of their products. Download your free guide today!

Best of the Web Launches ProListing Ahead of 19th Birthday Celebration

Best of the Web, a directory of all the content on the web, turns 19 on April 20.

SEW spoke with BOTW president and founder Greg Harnett about his company’s upcoming birthday, how the industry has evolved since its founding, and where BOTW is going.

SEW: Can you just sum up briefly what Best of the Web is, for those who might be unfamiliar with it?

Greg Hartnett: At Best of the Web, our goal is to review and categorize all of the information on the Internet. It's a pretty lofty project. Every day, our team of editors scours the web and places quality content into the most relevant category at BOTW. Users of BOTW can be assured that the sites they find are great resources, with no spam or irrelevant sites.

Each listing is reviewed by a human being to assure that the sites adhere to our quality guidelines. That commitment lends a certain authority to BOTW. This is an opportunity for site owners and online marketers to let users — both human and spiders — know that their site has met our editorial review standards and can be trusted to provide quality content.

SEW: How has the company evolved since it launched 19 years ago?

GH: We continue to introduce new offerings as the content on the web evolves. When blogs hit the scene, we launched the BOTW Blog Directory to help bloggers connect with an audience. As search became more localized, we built and launched BOTW Local to help users find information on millions of businesses throughout the U.S.

We built BOTW UK to bring our web directory services to users and site owners in the UK. And as social exploded, we introduced social networking profiles to the web directory listings to give site owners a broader reach to their online presence.

SEW: Where do you see the industry moving next?

GH: Authorship and authority continue to gain traction as quality indicators, and social signals are playing a growing role in search. Mobile and tablet use also continue to accelerate, while apps are pulling people away from the Internet completely.

None of these trends are going away, and BOTW plans on serving these new kinds of users. We continue to keep our eyes on these trends and decide how we can provide services accordingly.

SEW: Are there any new products in the works?

GH: We are undertaking an overhaul of our Local product. We need to step up our offering to stay competitive in the Local space, so we are redoing a lot of the categorization and making big improvements to the search functionality.

We have a few more changes in the works but they're not far enough along the development cycle to discuss at length. We will also launch a new product, as is our tradition, to celebrate the company’s birthday.

SEW: Tell me more.

GH: Each year on our birthday, we have a huge sale, and announce a new service timed around the birthday celebration. This year, we are offering 50 percent off all BOTW offerings. The sale is only good on Monday, April 22; our birthday falls on a Saturday this year, so we made the sale on the Monday instead.

As for the new product, we are also pleased to announce the introduction of the BOTW ProListing, which will enable site owners to add three pieces of featured content to their web directory listings.

Content marketing has grown in importance in today's search environment and even the best marketers know that just because you publish it doesn't mean people are going to engage with it. BOTW ProListing aims to help you get your content seen, crawled, and shared.

You can change content as often as you like, at one fixed cost per month. So each time you create a new piece of killer content, you can go in and add it to your web directory listing, to get noticed as quickly as possible.

By the way, users who sign up on Monday April 22nd will only pay $9.85 per month for the service, compared to a regular monthly price of $19.70.

SEW: What gave rise to ProListing?

GH: It was an idea we started using internally for sites added by our editors. After getting a ton of user requests for them, we decided to launch ProListing for everyone. Feedback from users thus far is great and we are very excited about the new launch.

SEW: Can you share some of the hardest lessons you have learned in this business?

GH: One thing I’ve learned is that shortcuts don't work in the long run. Building something that can stand the test of time takes time itself. There are no shortcuts that work, period.

Secondly, I have learned to stick to what I am good at. We have failed spectacularly in areas that are outside of our core competencies.

SEW: Can you give me an example?

GH: We launched the BOTW Media Network about seven years ago, a network of blogs publishing content on approximately 60 topics. It was a huge bust, and I personally had to fire almost 100 people in one day.

We tried doing a few different lead generation sites in some fairly competitive areas, a total fail that lost us hundreds of thousands of dollars. I'm pretty sure that we'll try and fail again. That's what business is about.

The lesson? Just because you see other people succeeding at something doesn't mean you are necessarily a good fit for that product. Stick to what you are good at, and make sure you surround yourself with passionate, intelligent people.

SEW: Thanks so much for your time, Greg.

GH: It was a pleasure!

Harnessing the $9+ Billion Social and Mobile Ad Potential
In partnership with Moontoast, ClickZ presents the "Ultimate Guide to Social Rich Media Advertising". Social rich media advertising offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity for brands and agencies to target consumers with interests that match the virtues and values of their products. Download your free guide today!

Google Glass eBay Auction Hits $90,000 Before Being Removed

Google Glass turned up on auction site eBay yesterday. The augmented reality eyewear apparently fetched bids of more than $95,000, according to Forbes, showing that the product is in high demand. 

The listing, which reached $90,100.00 (as seen in the screenshot above) after receiving 28 bids, was canceled due to Google's Glass terms and conditions.

The seller, one "Ed from Philadelphia," wasn't happy about this. He wrote:

The auction is being removed, due to finding out that Google Glass cannot be resold once obtained.

Since I have not received anything other than confirmation from Google that I have been selected for the #ifihadglass contest, I was not given the terms of service agreement that those who received the first batch did indicating the device could not be resold.

So, all of you who apparently have no life aside from posting in forums about this auction can sleep well tonight knowing that the glasses will not be sold.

Sorry for being a recent college graduate that was hoping I could possibly resell my Google Glasses to help pay down my student debt. Yes, I am everything that's evil in the world. Anyway, nothing to see here anymore. Take a screen shot, it will last longer!

Google didn't contact him or force him to cancel the auction, however. Ed said he removed the listing "voluntarilty" because he "didn't want to jeopardize my getting a pair of Glass," he told Forbes, after learning of the terms of service, which state: 

If you resell, loan, transfer, or give your device to any other person without Google’s authorization, Google reserves the right to deactivate the Device, and neither you nor the unauthorized person using the Device will be entitled to any refund, product support, or product warranty.

Nevertheless, the auction proves that people are willing to pay a lot of money to get their hands on Google Glass.

Google took the wraps off its Glass specifications on Tuesday, and has started shipping its first developer prototypes of the augmented reality eyewear. The firm has posted the Google Glass specifications on its support website, and they include, in case anyone was worried, "adjustable nose pads".

The spectacles' resolution is equivalent to that of a 25 inch HD screen eight feet away. It can also take photos at 5MP resolution and record 720p video.

Harnessing the $9+ Billion Social and Mobile Ad Potential
In partnership with Moontoast, ClickZ presents the "Ultimate Guide to Social Rich Media Advertising". Social rich media advertising offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity for brands and agencies to target consumers with interests that match the virtues and values of their products. Download your free guide today!

The Critically Important Role of Bing Ads in Search Marketing

It was one of those moments in time I bet many Microsoft executives would like to revisit. The day they decided that Bing Ads (formerly known as Microsoft adCenter) had to be different from AdWords.

We all know the outcome, using a mixture of familiar terms with different meanings led to advertiser confusion, which in turn led marketers to bad decisions and poor results, which is why so many marketers cut back on Bing Ads, or even stopped marketing on Bing Ads altogether.

The unfortunate thing is that in reality search campaigns running on the Yahoo Bing Network often yield better ROAS than those run on Google AdWords, but due to lower volume, Bing Ads has often been labeled as a "nice to have".

Because Bing was so different from AdWords, it required lots of different processes, additional learning was required, and unfortunately time is the biggest constraint on PPC teams. So Bing has suffered terribly and hasn't received their fair share of the ad pie.

Strike that, Reverse it

Last year the Bing Ads team, realizing what was happening, made the wise decision to reverse the path of trying to be different and instead opted to become more like AdWords. And what a year it was for the Bing Ads team.

The frequency at which Bing released "parity" updates to their platform was like nothing I have ever seen from Microsoft. It seems as though there was a significant update every month.

One of those updates was to change the rules of engagement between Google and all AdWords API users. Microsoft decided to let Bing Ads users import their Google AdWords accounts directly into Bing Ads.

This was a bold move, to say the least. Why? Because at the time, The Google AdWords API terms of service specifically forbid "co-mingling" of AdWords data with third party services. In other words, it was illegal to use the API to try to manage Bing Ads alongside AdWords.

Platforms like Kenshoo, Marin Software, and Acquisio found creative ways to help users without breaking that rule, but were in fact unable to deliver a platform that would let users compare data from both search engines and make decisions for budget allocation based on relative success of ads running on both platforms. Microsoft had the resources to challenge Google and thankfully for all of us, they did.

As this was happening, the FTC was ruling on whether Google was acting like a monopoly. The API terms were one of the points of the hearing and as a sign of good faith, Google agreed to make changes to allow co-mingling of data – clearing the way for a new era of innovation for performance marketing software companies, which will benefit marketers tremendously.

Starting with those who use AdWords import function in Bing Ads, as Bing Ads has mostly reached parity with AdWords, importing campaigns into Bing Ads can be a matter of minutes, not days.

Parity with AdWords in an Enhanced Campaign World?

As Google announced the structural shift to enhanced campaigns I was curious to see how Bing Ads team would react. So much work has gone into reaching and maintaining parity with Google AdWords, it was hard to imagine Bing Ads wouldn't follow AdWords and force users down the same new structure.

But the forced migration to Enhanced Campaigns has angered many savvy marketers who know that the loss of control over targeting will mean less profit. What would Bing Ads do?

Well, the team at Bing Ads announced that they will replicate Google's enhanced campaigns functionality, hence maintaining Google AdWords parity. But rather than simply replicating AdWords functionality, Bing Ads went one step further and will give advertisers the choice to migrate to enhanced campaigns or to keep the old structure intact.

“At Bing Ads, we believe very strongly in giving advertisers the tools and flexibility to control their spending, target the most relevant audiences, and ensure they can get the best return on investment. We do not believe bundling mobile, desktop and tablet advertising together in an opaque manner is in the best interests of our customers,” Bing said.

This is great news for everyone.

For those smaller advertisers who have limited time to work in Bing Ads this is great news because the work they will invest in their Google enhanced campaigns will be importable "as is" into Bing Ads.

For those advertisers with larger budgets and who require more control, this is great news, as they will be able to continue to deploy campaigns with device and carrier specific targeting for example. Further, this shows that while it's important for Bing Ads to keep up with Google to facilitate the flow of ad spend across AdWords and Bing Ads, it does not mean they will stop innovating – which is great news, because to improve their share of search budgets they will need to be creative and to add more value to marketers.

Final Thoughts

Bing Ads has a lot of potential besides just search. They have tremendous reach into almost everyone's lives through Windows 8, Office and Xbox, as well as to a lesser extent, Windows Phone.

Also, there is their partnership with Facebook. One can only hope that one day soon they will unleash this massive proprietary asset and turn it into an ad network to threaten Google's marketplace hegemony. Because that would be a real game changer. And we all need more quality ad opportunities to drive performance.

Bing Ads is critically important to the Performance Marketing world because it can help optimize results today, and most likely they could be a huge part of the performance marketing ecosystem tomorrow, but more importantly, Google needs Bing Ads to be successful, as they are the only reason Google cannot be called a monopoly, which nobody wants to see happen – not even Google themselves.

Harnessing the $9+ Billion Social and Mobile Ad Potential
In partnership with Moontoast, ClickZ presents the "Ultimate Guide to Social Rich Media Advertising". Social rich media advertising offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity for brands and agencies to target consumers with interests that match the virtues and values of their products. Download your free guide today!

An Interactive Marketing Evening on the Future of Content: Tips, Team Building & Upcoming Trends

On Wednesday evening in downtown Minneapolis, marketers gathered to hear the answer to a burning question: #whatthefoc? (AKA what is the future of content?)

The Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association (MIMA) hosted the sold-out Future of Content event, with speaker Lee Odden, TopRank Online Marketing CEO and the author of Optimize, aiming to point attendees in the right direction.

Marketers know content is important; in fact, 78% of CMOs think custom media represents the future of marketing.�How has content changed how we view marketing today and more importantly, how can we prepare for the future? These highlights from The Future of Content with Lee Odden should shed some light on the issue:

Ask yourself 3 questions about your existing content strategy.

Odden instructed the audience to ask themselves three questions about their business:

Do you have content?Do you have fans?Does your brand have a story to tell?

If�you answered yes to these questions � then you�re ready to get started preparing for the future of content, he said.

Those lacking any type of content may be struggling with creativity, budget, resources, or any other of the myriad of reasons people put content on the back burner. It’s critical at this point, though, that brands are able to reach out to customers and prospects not only with the advertising messages they want to get across, but with content that addresses the needs of their users. �The first step in the creation of great content, Odden said, is understanding your customer’s journey from discovery, to consideration, to purchase and beyond.

(In fact, he recently spoke at SES New York on the ability to generate creative content at scale; those working towards a content strategy may find that presentation a great place to start.)

Odden went on to discuss three critical questions which will impact your content strategy moving forward.�

1: What do we really mean by content?

This is a tricky question and content thought leaders are divided. Odden recently polled marketers on the definition of content and received a wide variety of responses.

According to one marketer, “Content is a compilation of information, ideas, and messages that are translated into some kind of written, visual, or audible format for others to consume.” Another believes it is “something that provides information to the viewer/reader/etc.” Yet another respondent defines content as “Original and opinion-charged copy with a focused message and personalized voice.”

At a basic level, content is something that motivates a user to take action, Odden explained. What does your content cause your audience to do? He recommends marketers get started by analyzing the customer information journey.

Develop and plan good content so that the customer is able to discover, consume and ultimately act on the information with which they’ve been presented. Consider how your target audience:

Discovers.�Think about how your customer finds content. Create information that is good enough to share, because social network recommendations are becoming as important as Google when it comes to discovery.

Consumes.�Rather than just focusing on utility, differentiate yourself through stories that connect with the customer on an emotional level and encourage them to consume content by fostering a personal connection with your brand.

Acts.�Create content with the objective of driving a profitable customer action.

2: How are content teams structured in organizations?

Lee Odden refers to Altimeter’s Content Marketing Maturity Model as a starting point for brands in examining the state of their existing content strategy.

The key functions of a content team are:

Strategy DevelopmentCreation �& ManagementOptimization, Aggregation and CurationConversation & ListeningMeasurement &� Learning

Content impacts an organization on all levels, but companies�have very different strategies and organizational hierarchies, especially in this newer and oft-misunderstood industry.

Whether barely getting started or moving towards a refined content strategy, all companies must examine how their content teams should be structured.

The future of content means creating a team which can fulfill all of these functions. �Content teams should be organized by function, rather than siloed by subject matter. Brands will need to learn to identify inefficiencies, as well as opportunities for improved performance. You may not have a dedicated resource for each of these roles, but as the content world continues to advance, they must be filled with skilled practitioners in order to achieve your status as a high performance content organization.

3. What content marketing trends are emerging?

Now that you�ve considered how to create content and how to structure your content team, you can begin to position your company to take advantage of upcoming�trends in content. Here are the content trends Odden told the audience to expect and prepare for:

Converged Media: �Creating a consistent source of digital media across platforms, including paid (ads) , owned (corporate content) and earned media (organic) is becoming increasingly important. Customers want to have a consistent experience wherever they interact with your content.

Storytelling & Media 360: Creating �your brand story is vital in connecting with your customers. That brand story should filter across all channels, mobile, TV, print, display ads, corporate content, etc.

Visual: Consumers are 44% more likely to engage with brands if they post pictures than any other media. Creating the type of content that your consumers want to view is going to increase your�share-ability.

Adaptive � Real-time: �Content which takes advantage of trending topics. The example of the Oreo campaign �You can still dunk in the dark� is a great example. Capitalizing on stories your audience is interested is a great strategy.

Utility: Creating content that is useful for your core audience is still going to be key to companies in the future. Brands should focus less on content that is about them and more on what they can offer to their audience.

Human/Humor: We know that most audiences like to laugh. Smart brands create content which resonates with the human side of their audience through humor.

Collaborative: Content will become more collaborative in the future. Collaboration between customers and companies, within the customer community or between brands makes content more valuable and more�share-able. Social media makes collaboration easier than ever and this will continue to impact the future of content.

Co-Creation: Co-created content gives social incentives for the people who helped create the content to promote it.� Co-creation is smart because it aids in amplification and interest within a piece of content.

Mobile: �Mobile continues to grow� at a rapid rate and will have a huge impact on content strategy moving forward.� Not only does� mobile offer a lot of utility for the user, it�s the platform that they are using most frequently throughout their day. �You can do anything from a mobile device � rent a car, file your taxes, order room services or request a taxi pickup. �This makes mobile a very important piece of the content puzzle.

Search & Social Integration: �Integrating your search and social strategies will become even more vital in the future. Given the increasing impact of Google+ in search results, and the importance of the social network in buying decisions means that social must be an important part of the amplification of your content.

In order to be successful in the future, brands must understand where content fits into their organization and moreover, in their customer’s purchasing journey. They can then structure their content teams accordingly. �Content marketing allows brands to connect with their audience in increasingly meaningful ways and this is a trend that will only continue to grow, allowing that relationship to deepen.

Brand content strategies must evolve, to the point they are creating content that resonates with their target audience and is optimized for their specific discovery, consumption and action.

How are you preparing for the future of content? Share your thoughts and tips in the comments.

Best of the Web Launches ProListing Ahead of 19th Birthday Celebration

Best of the Web, a directory of all the content on the web, turns 19 on April 20.

SEW spoke with BOTW president and founder Greg Harnett about his company’s upcoming birthday, how the industry has evolved since its founding, and where BOTW is going.

SEW: Can you just sum up briefly what Best of the Web is, for those who might be unfamiliar with it?

Greg Hartnett: At Best of the Web, our goal is to review and categorize all of the information on the Internet. It's a pretty lofty project. Every day, our team of editors scours the web and places quality content into the most relevant category at BOTW. Users of BOTW can be assured that the sites they find are great resources, with no spam or irrelevant sites.

Each listing is reviewed by a human being to assure that the sites adhere to our quality guidelines. That commitment lends a certain authority to BOTW. This is an opportunity for site owners and online marketers to let users — both human and spiders — know that their site has met our editorial review standards and can be trusted to provide quality content.

SEW: How has the company evolved since it launched 19 years ago?

GH: We continue to introduce new offerings as the content on the web evolves. When blogs hit the scene, we launched the BOTW Blog Directory to help bloggers connect with an audience. As search became more localized, we built and launched BOTW Local to help users find information on millions of businesses throughout the U.S.

We built BOTW UK to bring our web directory services to users and site owners in the UK. And as social exploded, we introduced social networking profiles to the web directory listings to give site owners a broader reach to their online presence.

SEW: Where do you see the industry moving next?

GH: Authorship and authority continue to gain traction as quality indicators, and social signals are playing a growing role in search. Mobile and tablet use also continue to accelerate, while apps are pulling people away from the Internet completely.

None of these trends are going away, and BOTW plans on serving these new kinds of users. We continue to keep our eyes on these trends and decide how we can provide services accordingly.

SEW: Are there any new products in the works?

GH: We are undertaking an overhaul of our Local product. We need to step up our offering to stay competitive in the Local space, so we are redoing a lot of the categorization and making big improvements to the search functionality.

We have a few more changes in the works but they're not far enough along the development cycle to discuss at length. We will also launch a new product, as is our tradition, to celebrate the company’s birthday.

SEW: Tell me more.

GH: Each year on our birthday, we have a huge sale, and announce a new service timed around the birthday celebration. This year, we are offering 50 percent off all BOTW offerings. The sale is only good on Monday, April 22; our birthday falls on a Saturday this year, so we made the sale on the Monday instead.

As for the new product, we are also pleased to announce the introduction of the BOTW ProListing, which will enable site owners to add three pieces of featured content to their web directory listings.

Content marketing has grown in importance in today's search environment and even the best marketers know that just because you publish it doesn't mean people are going to engage with it. BOTW ProListing aims to help you get your content seen, crawled, and shared.

You can change content as often as you like, at one fixed cost per month. So each time you create a new piece of killer content, you can go in and add it to your web directory listing, to get noticed as quickly as possible.

By the way, users who sign up on Monday April 22nd will only pay $9.85 per month for the service, compared to a regular monthly price of $19.70.

SEW: What gave rise to ProListing?

GH: It was an idea we started using internally for sites added by our editors. After getting a ton of user requests for them, we decided to launch ProListing for everyone. Feedback from users thus far is great and we are very excited about the new launch.

SEW: Can you share some of the hardest lessons you have learned in this business?

GH: One thing I’ve learned is that shortcuts don't work in the long run. Building something that can stand the test of time takes time itself. There are no shortcuts that work, period.

Secondly, I have learned to stick to what I am good at. We have failed spectacularly in areas that are outside of our core competencies.

SEW: Can you give me an example?

GH: We launched the BOTW Media Network about seven years ago, a network of blogs publishing content on approximately 60 topics. It was a huge bust, and I personally had to fire almost 100 people in one day.

We tried doing a few different lead generation sites in some fairly competitive areas, a total fail that lost us hundreds of thousands of dollars. I'm pretty sure that we'll try and fail again. That's what business is about.

The lesson? Just because you see other people succeeding at something doesn't mean you are necessarily a good fit for that product. Stick to what you are good at, and make sure you surround yourself with passionate, intelligent people.

SEW: Thanks so much for your time, Greg.

GH: It was a pleasure!

Harnessing the $9+ Billion Social and Mobile Ad Potential
In partnership with Moontoast, ClickZ presents the "Ultimate Guide to Social Rich Media Advertising". Social rich media advertising offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity for brands and agencies to target consumers with interests that match the virtues and values of their products. Download your free guide today!

Will the Qubits Crowdfunding Campaign Succeed?

Mark Burginger, the creator of Qubits Toy with an appearance on ABC Shark Tank, has a great product and some momentum behind him. On the surface, his new Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign is touching all the bases with a working product, video, intriguing backstory, some recent media coverage, support from friends, and contributions from the general pubic early in the campaign cycle.

Like many Do-It-Yourself practitioners (DIYers), Mark is relatively new to crowdfunding and admits he’s not a professional marketer. He also has a busy life as an accomplished architect, family and recent move from Oregon to Florida. But Mark is a hardworking entrepreneur with a history of Qubits sales and a 2.0 strategy that includes high-quality, affordable manufacturing in the United States right in NASA’s backyard where suppliers are getting creative to stay in business.

Campaign Assessment to Date

I talked with Mark last week about what he believes is working to move his Qubits campaign toward a successful outcome. We also candidly discussed some areas that should have been addressed before launch and needed improvement.

Here’s a checklist organized by strengths and weaknesses at the time of the campaign launch in January:

Strengths:

Design, animation and prototype work to present the Qubits 2.0 product via the campaign and prepare for manufacturing Initial content drafts for various websites, social channels and email outreach Some traditional media outreach early in the campaign that generated coverage in the Orlando Sentinel and Seminole Chronicle daily papers Some outreach to friends and bloggers that generated posts, contributions, social sharing and traffic as seen below in these two charts:

Weaknesses:

The initial video was not ideal for a crowdfunding pitch; content was not clear, audio was too low and Mark was not present in the original video. (An updated video now addresses these issues.) Initial campaign content included typos and read like a draft Not enough outreach to relevant bloggers and traditional media before the campaign launched (this is difficult to do) Orchestrate Community Engagement, Early

It’s fair to say that crowdfunding campaigns operate in real-time with tweaking throughout the campaign based on feedback from the community, lack of action or results, and some experimentation. But many crowdfunding campaigns fail or don’t perform as well as they could because of a lack of advance planning from a go-to-market perspective. Further, many DIYers operate on shoestring budgets or choose to cut corners in critical areas like video production, PR strategy, and media research and engagement.

With the increasing number of crowdfunding campaigns on the web – each one needs to stand out and this often requires outside experts in their fields to help with campaign planning and execution.

The Qubits campaign received support from a number of entrepreneurs and Shark Tank contestants including Rebecca Rescate of CitiKitty, Daniel Rensing of The Smart Baker, Steve Gadlin of I Want to Draw a Cat for You, Gary Gagnon of ReKixx, Kelly Lambrakis of Funny Face Friends, James Russell of Aqua Fire Pit, and Robert Merlino of Shark Tank Blog. This was a result of established relationships and engagement via a private Shark Tank Entrepreneurs group on Facebook. Birds of a feather flock together.

$100,000 in 10 Days?

Not yet for Qubits. But Tim Ferriss, author of "The 4-Hour Workweek", and Mike Del Ponte, co-founder of a new consumer product called Soma, recently blogged about Mike’s very successful Kickstarter campaign that raised nearly $150,000 and concluded on January 11. This particular campaign was one of the fastest on record to receive $100,000 in 10 days.

A post by Mike and Tim provide a wealth of tips, best practices and free templates for downloading – highly recommended for crowdfunding campaings on any platform. I won't repeat their content here, but want to share a few takeaways from Soma’s success and other campaign experience:

Create an exceptional product and story around it.Be proactive and do heavy lifting before the campaign goes live.Empower people and make it easy for them to share and support the campaign.Qubits’ Future?

It’s possible the Qubits campaign will generate $100,000 of contributions (pre-orders) in the month remaining from publication of this article. This possibility is what makes crowdfunding so exciting for entrepreneurs and fun for supporters to watch from the sidelines.

Whether or not Mark achieves the $9,000 goal, his team will move forward with plans to start production of Qubits 2.0 in February 2013. Let’s have some fun!

Harnessing the $9+ Billion Social and Mobile Ad Potential
In partnership with Moontoast, ClickZ presents the "Ultimate Guide to Social Rich Media Advertising". Social rich media advertising offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity for brands and agencies to target consumers with interests that match the virtues and values of their products. Download your free guide today!