With Rich Pins, Pinterest Begins Working Better With Brands

Pinterest has received its first significant update with how pinned images appear on the website. Called “Rich Pins”, these images that are pinned contain a host of more information right from the originating image site, such as product purchase information or ingredient listings for recipes.

Pinterest has detailed several types of pins that have added information on them, including product pins, recipe pins, and movie pins. But this move is really seen as Pinterest working better with brands who get their products pinned frequently, and gives Pinterest users who see those pinned images better information about where the product can be found and purchased.

This should hopefully also help the issues of some product images being uploaded directly or from a site that later removes the image, making it difficult for people to track down more information about the product in the image.

Pinterest has a huge number of big name brands who were part of this launch, including eBay, Walmart, Sephora, and Target.

While the new Rich Pins don't seem to be directly monetized, it does raise the question of whether we will see these types of product pins somehow result in revenue being earned by Pinterest. They have had a few rough attempts at monetizing that caused pushback from pinners, but as a business model, Pinterest will need to look at how to earn revenue from their business.

If you're a website owner who gets many of their images pinned, you can include specific meta tags to those image pages to have that information included on the Pinterest pin pages. You can find the developer information page for Rich Pins here and test them with the validator.

If you have pins that have been previously pinned to Pinterest, those images can be converted to rich pins retroactively once you have included the meta tag information on the originating pages.

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Analyzing & Accounting for Search Partners

Search partners are search engines that syndicate Google's AdWords ads. These websites aren't large enough to build their own ad serving platform, and don't have enough users to attract advertisers to it.

Without wanting to sound overly harsh: if you had an extra hour to spend on your pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, would you use it building an Ask.com campaign or optimizing Google? There's no contest.

Too Many Search Partners!

The search partner network is blind. That means that you can't see in advance which sites your ads will run on, you can't see performance per site when your ads are running, and you can't remove poorly performing sites from your campaigns.

That's bad, and it's wildly different from what we expect in the rest of AdWords, where transparency and control are the orders of the day.

Why is it a Problem?

The search partner network is not terrible. Not by a long shot. Although you can expect lower click-through rates (CTRs) than you'd get on Google, you may well find your CPA to be as good as Google, sometimes better.

But not every site will work well, and it's tricky to know how to optimize it. Tricky, but not impossible.

Step 1: Learn

Using Google Analytics you can easily track your traffic from search partners, site by site. This data is neither perfect nor easily actionable, but the more you know...

Set up this Google Analytics filter to get a profile that will tell you exactly what traffic is coming from which search partner.

Depending what kind of website you're running, you may be surprised at the results. There are websites in the search partner network that are not search engines.

Take a look at any popular Amazon product page. What you'll see is a selection of links somewhere in the middle, titled "Customers Viewing This Page May Be Interested in These Sponsored Links." These are AdWords Search Partner ads.

"But wait," I can hear you shout. "There is no search query on this page!"

You're right. Sneaky devils. They're taking the product name (which is likely to be some long title including a short description and maybe a product code) and sending that to Google as a search query. If your keywords are in phrase or broad match, and include part of that product title, you could be in trouble.

You'll see a keyword that usually gets 2,000 impressions per day suddenly shoot to 20,000 impressions in a day. That's not a surge in search activity, that's Amazon.

Other major sites are in this network too: eBay and Gumtree (in the UK) spring to mind. Each of these can have an enormous impact on your campaign.

Step 2: Act

First of all you need to see how much of a force in your campaigns the search partner network is. To do this keyword by keyword you'll need to use the "Top vs Other" segment.

If you identify keywords with crazy search volumes from the search partner network, you've got to discover why.

Check your search query reports for that keyword. What you might see is some ridiculous unlikely search query that gets loads of traffic.

These situations are common, and need common sense applied by the campaign manager. If you see a search query which doesn't seem likely to be that popular, it's probably not. It could be a product name, or a page title, or a navigation breadcrumb. You'll see all of these and more sent to Google as search queries.

One simple rule of thumb applies when taking action: if it looks ridiculous, it's ridiculous. Stop it.

Use exact match negatives to block specific instances of your ads appearing on the search partner network.

How Much Work is This?

I won't lie, proper management of the search partner network isn't trivial. Nor should it be. By removing almost all control Google has tricked us into thinking it doesn't need monitoring or management. But now that we have these tools at our disposal, we should use them.

Perform regular checks of your search query reports looking for ridiculousness, and cut those from your campaign. Your account will thank you for it.

Yahoo & Bing

These aren't Google search partners (although in the UK their traffic is low enough that they might as well be) but they have just introduced a similar problem: two networks, no control between them. You need to be able to make sure that your Google Analytics can track them correctly.

Follow these tips about Yahoo and Bing tracking, and try to keep an eye on which portions of traffic come from which search engine. If you get keywords behaving differently from one to the other, you've got a proxy for actual control.

Turn the keywords up or down that get traffic from one site rather than the other. This will give you back some performance.

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4 Ways Developers Can Reduce Data Noise to Create Great Local Search Experiences

With competing streams of data sources, developers must be able to filter data noise and distinguish accurate business points for local search results and other mapping features when they build mobile apps, social sites, or local directories.

Many biases, including advertising, influence the sanctity of a business listing's identity - commonly a business' name, address, and phone number (NAP) - creating a challenge for developers trying to use this information to create an engaging user experience.

When building mobile apps, social sites, or local search directories, an accurate set of local search business points must be used to build the foundational place index. App developers can then layer different types of data on that foundation without influencing the sanctity of the NAP.

Noisy or compromised data can sometimes present a challenge however. Some data becomes biased when companies develop a business identity with user-generated content, check-ins, and advertising.

Here are some best practices to follow when creating a location-based solution, app, and site that will help developers avoid the noise:

1. Supplement Advertising Content With Business Listings

Application developers often fall into the trap of solely using advertising listings to build their data set. While advertising listings can be a source of supplemental content, they shouldn't be used at the foundational level.

If an advertising listing is the basis for a business representation in an index, the listing and associated descriptive content could disappear if the business stops advertising.

2. Standardize Category Structure

A standard category schema allows for efficient browsing and sharing of content. Data needs to be either mapped to industry standards or segmented and shared through well-known categories.

While creating unique category names might enhance the presentation layer, content should be mapped to a universal classification system within the index.

Also, the presentation layer needs to be compatible with other data to give developers the ability to use all location data available including advertising, user-generated content, and more.

3. Don't Mistake Crowdsourced Data for Anchor Identities

Crowdsourcing local content is a way to generate content from multiple geographies and vertical industries, like restaurants and travel, but it has limitations.

If developers only access user-generated content it can be challenging to confirm that data sets are up-to-date, complete, and accurate because this content generally takes on user bias - and even mistakes including the wrong business name or insufficient address details.

Additionally, crowdsourced information doesn't usually produce a wealth of detail for less popular geographies and industries beyond entertainment, travel, and health/beauty.

Instead, app developers should access a set of normalized data to categorize a complete set of local businesses.

4. Tap a Widely Used Source of Business Listings

Tapping a repository of business listings that is widely used and accepted in the marketplace enables app developers to layer in other datasets.

It also allows for taking advantage of the diverse array of business data including name, address, and phone number details and descriptive content like Yelp reviews, Foursquare check-ins, and Groupon offers that are available in the local search ecosystem.


App developers who want to hone in on the value of local search should avoid business listings' noise and create a single and dynamic business identity for users starting with the business NAP. This includes understanding the strength of a business listing and the bias that might be influencing that listing (e.g., advertising, user-generated content, etc.).

If bias or mistakes aren't resolved, user experience of an app or site can be tarnished, affecting overall usage. By realizing the industry definition of points of interest and business listings, app developers will be able to better satisfy users and monetize their site or app.

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Yandex's New Interactive Snippets Allow Users to Take Actions From Search Results

Russian-based search engine Yandex announced a revolutionary way for users to interact with the search results, giving them the ability to buy movie tickets, check flight status, make restaurant reservations, pay bills and more, without ever leaving the results page or clicking through to a site.

“Islands” is the name Yandex gave to its interactive snippets, which evolved from the concept of rich snippets, and gives site owners the ability to add various functionality of their choosing.

“Islands has been designed to provide a new level of user experience, responding to web searches with solutions rather than just information,” Yandex said in a statement. “As such, it will speed up the link between searches and services, minimizing the risk of organizations losing business through lengthy search processes or complicated web pages.”

Yandex also said Islands puts the power in site owner’s hands, and that it “does not mean Yandex will decide what information appears on the search page; that will be determined by the website owner who will be able to choose whether he or she wants to include interactive snippets, and if so, what they should look like.”

That means, marketers and site owners will have to anticipate the needs of their users, and prioritize the most important actions in the search results through the use of Islands.

The following demonstrates the evolution of rich snippets, and the power of the new functionality with Islands:

Islands does not yet support English, and is now live in Turkey with plans to roll out in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan in the coming months.

For more, you can check out this rather theatrical introduction to Islands:

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10 Common Link Building Problems

For a long time many publishers viewed link building as a practice that stood on its own. The purpose was to get links to drive search rankings. It served no other marketing purpose at all.

This has led to large numbers of sites being hit by link penalties or new algorithms like Penguin. Successfully recovering from link related penalties requires a comprehensive approach to link removal. Part of that is understanding what types of links you need to remove.

What follows are 10 of the most common link problems that have resulted in link related penalties or lost rankings due to a Google algorithm update.

1. Article Directories

Article directories were hit in the initial Penguin release on April 24, 2012. If you are currently adding article directory links, then stop the program right away.

In addition, if you have some links that resulted from article directories, then work on getting them removed. If you can't get them removed, then use the Google Disavow Tool to request that they be ignored by Google.

For those who want to debate the merits of this tool, we have used it, and it works like a champ.

2. Low-Quality Directories

There isn't clear evidence that low-quality directories were explicitly punished in a Penguin release as yet, but it does not really matter. The right policy here is clear. Participate in the major directories: Yahoo Directory, DMOZ, Best of the Web, and Business.com.

After that, consider a very small number of directories specific to your vertical market. If you find yourself with 10 or more directory links, something is wrong. Directories are not a volume source of links.

3. Low Relevance Guest Posts

Guest posting on sites that you are truly proud of is a great idea. But this can be overdone too. For example, if the post is not relevant to your site, or the site is not relevant to your post, don't do it.

For your guest posting efforts, shoot for the highest possible targets you can. Would you brag about being posted on a particular target site to your customers? If not, then keep looking for a better target.

4. Low Relevance/Accuracy Infographics

This is a popular strategy many people use to promote their sites. Infographics are cool looking, and they can communicate certain types of information very effectively, which is why they are popular with users and publishers.

However, many people have fallen into cranking out infographics, focusing on volume, not quality. This is another one to stop.

Still need convincing? Here is what Google's Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts had to say in my recent interview with him:

"I would not be surprised if at some point in the future we did not start to discount these infographic-type links to a degree."

I think that low quality infographics (for example, ones with inaccurate information) or low relevance infographics are a natural target for Google, thought these things may be hard for them to detect algorithically. However, infographics may get targeted a bit more broadly as Google has concerns about whether people accepting infographics really care about endorsing the page that they end up linking to.

Important footnote: Algorithmically detecting these types of links is obviously somewhat hard, but when you submit a reconsideration request a human gets involved. Sticks out like a sore thumb to them!

5. Paid Guest Posts

To me, paid guest posts are one of the more obvious ones, but a lot of people still do this. One big flag for this is a site that has a significant number of incoming links from posts that have rich anchor text embedded in the middle of the text.

If you do guest posting work for your clients, you should never pay for any posts. In addition, the links you get your clients should always be simple attribution links at the bottom of the post.

Aim for very high end (brand building caliber) targets. This is the type of branding and link building work a Googler would love.

6. Anchor Text

This one may upset some people. As I predicted in "SEO Revelations for 2013", I believe Google will take action (or more action) against sites that have too much rich anchor text in their backlink profile. You could argue that their EMD update was a step in that direction, but there is much more they can do here.

Some rich anchor text is fine, but when your Reebok ZigNano ProFury sneakers page has 25 links pointing to it, and all the anchor text says "Reebok ZigNano ProFury Sneakers" or some derivative of that it looks a bit manipulated, know what I mean? You might as well paint a bullseye on your back. Human reviewers looking at your reconsideration request will pick this out in a heartbeat.

7. Doorway Pages

An oldie but goodie! These are thin content pages/sites that exist only to capture search traffic and then to get people to go to another site (in this case the site with the penalty).

This is a practice that can a publisher banned all on it own. You need to dump these as fast as you can!

8. International Sites

I always chuckle when I see a site with lots of links from Polish sites where the page is written entirely in Polish and right in the middle somewhere is this rich anchor text phrases in English. Ouch. You might as well go to building 43 at Google wearing a sign with your URL on one side and the words "I am a spammer" on the other.

More broadly, ask yourself: does that international link have any relevance to your brand at all? If you market a product or service solely in the U.S., why would you have any international links? It just doesn't make sense.

9. Blog Carnivals

Stated with an optimistic eye, blog carnivals are communities where people share content, some editorial review is, or isn't, provided by the person running the carnival, and other publishers can then come find articles for publishing on their site.

Unfortunately, Google doesn't like blog carnivals. Like article directories, they have had way too many problems with them being used as link schemes. Best to stay away from these, and any other "marketplace" for content.

10. Poor Quality Content of Any Kind

You can argue about how this might be measured by a search engine. Here is a place where social media signals may add some real value as a signal.

Does your site, or articles you write, get social love? Or, do they get little attention at all? You could also look at the time on page type signals. Do people spend 2 minutes or more on the page, or do they stop by and run off right away?

The authorship initiative by Google is the start of an overt effort on their part to figure out who is publishing quality content. And, as I mentioned in my SEO Revelations article, they are already measuring and acting on time on site signals.

We don't necessarily make people remove these in the process of moving towards a reconsideration request, but we do press them hard to alter their strategy. Publishing content without regard to its quality is bad for your brand, and it will hurt your search rankings one way or another.

Some Overall Rules of Thumb

There are may other types of bad links we have encountered along the way, that I chose not to highlight above. The above list are the 10 most frequent scenarios we encounter and not an exhaustive list!

Here are a few more questions you should ask yourself to determine whether a link is good or not:

Is an argument required for you to prove it's a good link? A good link should not be the subject of an argument. No argument is required with good links, when you see a good link you know it right away. Once you start debating whether it could be considered a good link, or justifying it, it isn't.Would you build the link if Google and Bing did not exist? Any good link is something that has value even without search engines.Does the nature of the link enhance your brand in front of your target customers? Would you show it to a target customer as evidence that you are a high-quality, trustworthy business?Did the person giving you the link intend it as a genuine endorsement? If not, Google wants to torch it, and so should you.Summary

Link building should just be a form of branding and marketing. Reviewing your link profile and identifying the problems is a key part of the process. But, it is only the start. Once you get your penalty removed, you need to adapt your link building efforts to avoid doing these types of things again.

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7 Exercises to Revitalize Your Marketing Approach

Have you ever felt that your marketing strategy was beginning to take on some unhealthy habits or perhaps fattening up in all the wrong places? Perhaps it�s been awhile since you took a long hard look at your strategy and looked at it for what it should be, an ever evolving and improving means of communicating with your customers.

Keeping pace with quickly changing Internet marketing trends can be exhausting, and frankly overwhelming. However, it is essential that your team offers new and inspired ideas to your prospects and customers. Why? Because if you don�t, someone else will.

2012 has many changes in store including: Over � of the population will be online, smartphone shoppers will reach 68.6 million, and more than 90% of social networkers will be on Facebook. What should that tell you? It�s time to get off the couch and start strengthening your marketing strategy to better target your customers.

#1 – Stretch Your Content

Whether you�re new to marketing or are a marketing expert this is one step you should never skip. Avoid becoming overwhelmed by simply taking the time to stretch out your current marketing assets. How can this be done?

Repurpose existing blog posts as articles or social media postsCurate content from other news sources to share with your networkDrive traffic to existing content by creating multiple varied social media posts#2 – Don�t Skip Your Warm Up

I�m sure you�ve all heard the expression �walk before you run�. The same can be true when creating your online marketing strategy. If your strategy is based solely on ideas your own ideas then are you really considering the needs of your customers? Before we jump into the 5k marathon it is important that we step back and identify some vital information about our customers. This can be accomplished in many ways including:

Identify the habits and preferences of your customers onlineRun A/B testing on campaigns to help formulate your hypothesis#3 – Take Your Marketing Strategy For A Jog

After identifying what strategy you believe is best suited for your customers it�s time to test. You may find that what you thought you could do, isn�t quite working out and your plan needs tweaking. Take this opportunity to make changes while your plan is still in the planning phase, you wouldn�t want to make a run for it and pull a muscle – that could put you out of the game for weeks!

#4 – Add Variety To Your Marketing Approach

The dreaded marketing rut, every marketer has been there at some point. You may have had success with particular content types and built your strategy around that one tactic. Today we must rely on not only creating content that our customers will enjoy, but creating it in the format that they are most likely to consume. Popular forms of content that should be a part of our marketing hub and spoke could include:

VideoImagesStatus UpdatesMicrobloggingCase StudiesArticlesAudioBlogsWebinarsTestimonialsBuying GuidesE-Newsletters#5 – Avoid Cravings & Falling Back into Bad Marketing Habits

This is another step where having the support of your colleagues is important. Perhaps you had a bad month: blog readership is down, engagement on social networks just isn�t taking off, or your clients are unhappy with results. Instead of reverting into your former bad habits, this is an opportunity for growth. If something isn�t working, change it or determine what small tweaks you can make in order to increase your chances for success.

#6 – Monitor Progress

Measurement is one of the most important exercises in your marketing mix. Without proper measurement, you will be ineffective in scaling and duplicating your process. Set a series of goals and benchmarks for your team and track which bad habits you�re losing, as well as the strength and momentum your revitalized marketing plan is gaining.

#7 Don�t Expect Results Overnight

No matter what the late night television infomercials tell you, it�s impossible to lose weight or become healthy overnight. Taking your marketing strategy to the next level is a journey that will help your team build process along the way. The time that it takes to generate results will vary from company to company depending on your industry, if you are B2B or B2C, and who your audience is. Don�t become discouraged, if you stick with your newly energized marketing strategy you WILL see results.

I�m well aware that many of these �exercises� are easier said than done. However, I am a strong believer that it�s time for us to get tough and make a change. Deciding to make a change, is half the battle. I�m curious to know: What have you found is your biggest marketing hurdle?

AdWords Image Extensions Bring Images to Google Search Ads

A picture can say a thousand words, and this is especially true when it comes to advertising. And AdWords is expanding their reach with the search results ads by now allowing advertisers to use image extensions with their ads so that images may show up along with the AdWords ads.

It's beta, and is officially called the image extensions beta. Here's an example:

Google says that one in six searches give results with visual content – this would include things like image search results, news story thumbnail images, and YouTube videos. And images in search ads is something that advertisers have been asking for as long as AdWords ads have existed. Google feels that images can convey details that text ads might not, such as colors and designs.

Google will display images when they feel the context of the search is one where users are likely to want images in their results. They use the example that image extensions are more likely to show for searches such as [luxury car designs] rather than [locations of nearby car dealerships].

It is important to note that you must have the rights for the photos you wish to use, so you can likely expect to see some issues arising in the future regarding things like affiliate product images or other copyright images that sellers wish to use, or that companies might want the monopoly on.

The image extensions beta is English only, but available globally. In order to get into the beta, you need to contact your account manager, or fill out this form to request an invite.

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5 Ways Social Media Supports All Critical Areas of Any Company

Making social media work for your company is not a matter of "if". It's a question of "how".

Social media marketing affects and supports all critical areas of the organization – from sales and marketing to HR and client services.

Here's how you can show those pesky, stubborn, decision-makers that social is a key investment for the growth of their organization and has multiple benefits to each discipline.

How Social Media Supports Sales

This is my favorite subject. Social media is the place where online relationship development happens.

Your salespeople need to know how to use social media as their primary sales tool. Salespeople have a tremendous advantage to find out everything about a prospect via social and use social as a relationship management tool (CRM and connect with prospects via warm introductions and networking).

This is obvious in LinkedIn, but there are also less obvious, but worthy sales opportunities in Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. In all social networks, salespeople can find, connect, engage, build relationships, and sell. Sales are the key to success of any company and social media is the key to business development in a mobile-social world.

How Social Media Supports HR

Just as in sales, HR professionals can utilize social media to find top talent. Again, LinkedIn, my tool of choice, clearly illustrates this. Ninety-three percent of all recruiters use LinkedIn to find their next client.

In fact, social media has become a place where HR people have truly taken the lead. Understanding the high demand for great talent as a competitive edge, HR pros have taken to social media sites like LinkedIn almost like teenagers to texting.

How Social Media Supports PR

This is the where social media truly rocks. PR professionals and those managing the reputation of companies know well that social media is the core tool for building rabid fans around a brand and then protecting that brand.

Social media is the place to post and promote events (before, during and after), whether they are for B2C or B2B purposes. Reaching reporters and driving community relations can be done on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Tools such as Social Mention, Google Alerts, and fancier tools like Viral Heat, HootSuite, and others provide those managing the brand with immediate visibility into target brand perception. Commenting and sharing stories on sites like Digg, Stumbleupon, Reddit and others allow PR pros to control the online brand.

Any company that engages in PR needs a substantial social media program. Period.

How Social Media Supports Marketing

In marketing, we're looking to build traffic and visibility to enable qualified lead generation. Where else but in social media can original content be shared to drive interest around your company brand?

Sites like the Google+, Digg, Reddit, Stumbleupon, YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, to name a few can help marketing teams get their content out to influencers and buyers alike. Social can take the marketing message deeper and with more engagement than most other marketing vehicles because social is just that, social.

Social signals impact SEO as well, so social content sharing and authorship of valuable optimized content assist marketing teams in gaining organic search visibility. The blog as the cornerstone for the delivery of the marketing content is a social tool that provides various marketing opportunities from viral sharing of posts to engagement by commenting.

How Social Media Supports the Big Boss

Finally, the head-honcho, the CEO, C-suite or board member who wants to share his or her thought-leadership. Social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube give way for executives to build and grow visibility around their personal brands (with the help of their PR and marketing teams).

Online events such as webinars, webcasts, and Google Hangouts can be driven by social networking efforts. Executives who commit to driving thought-leadership can do so easily with the use and consistent creation of content via a blog. Content can take the forms of live audio, video capture and creation, and editorial on topics that matter to the target industry.

Learn More at SES Toronto 2013

At SES Toronto next week on June 13, I plan a deeper, more detailed dive on this topic in the Social Media in the Boardroom session. You can also find a preview of my presentation in this month's SES Magazine.

By the way, there's still time to register for SES Toronto. I look forward to seeing you at my session on June 13!

 How to Measure Social Media ROI5 Steps to Calculate Social Media ROI Using Google AnalyticsSocial Media ROI: 14 Formulas to Measure Social Media BenefitsSocial Media ROI: How To Define a Strategic PlanSearch & Social Synergy: Build Buzz, Get Links, Grow Your BrandHow to Leverage the Social CEO

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3 Reasons Why the New Google Shopping is Bad for Ecommerce Merchants

Google has announced that they will transition Google Product Search away from being free for merchants to list their products into a commercial model built on the Product Listing Ads program. The new paid program will simply be called Google Shopping.

What this means is that the free traffic merchants have been getting for nearly a decade through what was called Froogle/Google Base will no longer be free, and essentially turn into a paid comparison shopping engine.

Google Product Search has ranked as the top comparison shopping engine because of its ability to send large quantities of high-converting traffic.

The change of Google Shopping to a paid comparison shopping engine will definitely have major negative consequences to ecommerce merchants.

One Big Change: New Shopping SERPs on the Way

Google says they are already experimenting with new Shopping SERPs which include bigger images and a sponsored label to indicate that someone is paying to be there. Check it out:

Why The New Google Shopping Sucks for Ecommerce MerchantsThe new Google Shopping creates a rift to PPC management firms and merchants who are accustomed to using Google AdWords – bidding at the keyword level and creating product text ads for certain ad groups. The new Google Shopping will not work like that. Why?Merchants and Agencies will be required to use a merchant’s Google Product Search data feed to submit to the new Google Shopping. Most merchants and PPC agencies don’t have experience with data feeds.Bidding is product based, not keyword based. You can only submit your feed and bid via attributes in the feed in Google’s Product Listing Ads interface.Some small merchants won’t adapt fast enough to take advantage of the program and will lose out on traffic and sales.The potential for more sales is there, but at what cost? The new Google Shopping will require a high level of technical management with the data feed and constant optimization of the product bids in the campaign. This time and money suck will put a strain on merchants.Get a Jump Start [Deadline: August 15]

Join the program to get $100 off. Create your first new Google Shopping ad and get 10 percent off your clicks for the rest of the year.

What do you think about the new Google Shopping? Post your thoughts in the comments below.

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Autodesk’s Carol Bartz Named New Yahoo CEO; Sue Decker To Leave As President

According to news out today from the Wall Street Journal, Carol Bartz, the former CEO (and current executive chairman) of software company Autodesk, will be named the new Yahoo CEO. Bartz has been praised for her management and deal brokering skills but has never run an internet company, nor does she have an advertising background. General reaction seems to be mixed.

Bartz’s background has led some to speculate that she will simply be a transitional figure to restart talks with Microsoft, which said it was interested in new discussions with Yahoo once a new CEO was in place. However, Microsoft has also indicated it’s not interested in an outright acquisition anymore. Rather the company wants to buy the search/paid search business from Yahoo with revenue guarantees.

But bisecting search and display could be a strategic mistake for Yahoo. That’s what the company previously itself indicated in declining Microsoft’s later offer to buy the search business after the initial acquisition talks had failed.

If Bartz is a CEO for the long term she may want to install some of “her own people” in the executive ranks. I don’t know Bartz and don’t know whether she’d be inclined to do that. However another reorg or shake-up at Yahoo would potentially lead to more distraction for a company that has suffered much distraction over the past year. There’s a good deal of speculation going on regarding whether current Yahoo President Sue Decker, who serves with Bartz on Intel’s board, will stay or go.

Hopefully for Yahoo Bartz is up to the challenges she’ll face in getting the number two search player back on track.


Update: Here’s the Yahoo press release confirming the appointment of Bartz as CEO and Sue Decker’s departure from the company after a transition.

Notes from the short conference call (just completed):

Yahoo Board Chairman Bostock:

Bartz was the only person who was offered the CEO role. We’re confident she’s the right person for the job.

Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz (mostly verbatim quotes):

My focus is on turning the company around and creating value for employees and shareholders. I wouldn’t have taken the job if I didn’t believe there was a huge opportunity here.

I see this company as a company with enormous assets that frankly could use a little management.

On “media vs. tech”: I think that’s a lot of nonsense. I have a little brain power to learn what it takes to understand media. There are people here who can jump start my education.

We’re going to focus on being best in our markets (whether geographic or vertical). We’re going to get outward looking, get out there and kick some butt.

There have been too many people on the outside giving Yahoo advice, what to do, what not to do. That’s going to stop; let’s give this company some friggin’ breathing room.

For related discussion, see here on Techmeme.

Retail Paid Search Competition Heats Up with New Entrants

Retailers spent more than $2.3 billion on paid search advertising with Google AdWords and the Yahoo Bing Network in 2012, according to AdGooroo data (disclosure: I work there) making retail the most robust category for paid search in terms of ad spend.

With all that money being spent by retail advertisers on site traffic, it is reasonable to ask who is spending all that money in PPC, and how dynamic is the list of winners and also-rans. And more specifically, how hard is it to climb past one's competition in the ranking?

To address these questions, we recently published a research report ranking the top 50 advertisers in 2012 in 15 of the largest retail sub-categories based on U.S. AdWords first SERP ad impressions, with year-over-year comparisons to 2011, and the results shed some light on the competitiveness of paid search for retailers.

The bar chart below provides an overview of the advertiser dynamics within each retail sub-category by decomposing four aspects of the top PPC advertiser rankings. More thorough explanations and analyses for each ranking measure follow below the chart:

New to the No. 1 Ranking in 2012New to the Top 10 in 2012New to the Top 50 in 2012New to the Sub-Category ranking (i.e., were not ranked in 2011)

Top Advertisers

There is not a lot of movement in the number one ranking position. In fact, the top advertiser (with the most 2012 US AdWords ad impressions) changed in only two of 15 sub-categories versus 2011.

Interestingly, one of the changes in the number one position can be seen as a reflection of the marketplace drama that played out in business headlines over the past year. Specifically, in the Children's Goods sub-category:

The Disney Store was overtaken for the number one paid search impressions spot in 2012 by Toys R Us, which reportedly sought to improve its online presence last year as part of a larger strategy to compete more vigorously. In fact, Toys R Us increased its paid search impressions from 136 million in 2011 to 201 million in 2012, while the Disney Store's paid search impressions dropped from 208 million to 188 million from year-to-year.

The other change in number one position occurred in the Grocery & Food Retailing category, where Publix displaced Safeway in 2012.

The Big 10

Although easier to penetrate than the number one position, competition for a top 10 PPC ranking was fairly stiff as well, with only six sub-categories having three or more new top 10 entrants in 2012.

Taking a closer look, new Top 10 entrants in each category represented a mix of household name brands and smaller Internet-only players, suggesting that some of the big brands are just starting to consider PPC to be a critical advertising medium and that being a smaller brand is not as much of a handicap in PPC as one might think.

In Jewelry, for instance, Kay Jewelers and Jared broke into the Top 10 in 2012 along with lesser known DiamondNexus and Gemvara, while in Beauty and Cosmetics, household names, YourAvon and MacCosmetics, climbed into the top 10 in 2012 with JustNaturalSkinCare.com.

Top 50

Seven of the 15 retail sub-categories saw 10 or more new top 50 PPC entrants in 2012, including Consumer Electronics, Home Improvement, Beauty & Cosmetics, Flowers & Mail Order Gifts, Jewelry, Auctions & Classified, and Grocery & Food.

Twenty percent or more of the 2011 top 50 SEMs were displaced. Their slip from the top 50 could be reflective of robust head-to-head PPC competition, an inability to make paid search pay out or to defend the medium when marketing budget was allocated; or even a shift in their overall business model.

Some well-known brands that slipped out of the top 50 were Troy-Bilt, Homestore.Cisco, Nexxus, Tresemme, Lilian Vernon, Swarovski, and Fred Meyer.

New to the Game

The proportion of new entrants to each shopping sub-category's 2012 advertiser ranking varied from 1 percent to an astonishing 25 percent. Apparel & Fashion was the second largest sub-category (to Consumer Electronics) in terms of the total number of active advertisers in 2012 and it was easily the most dynamic sub-category, with one quarter of the advertisers in 2012 not appearing in 2011's ranking. (Perhaps this is normal in such a taste-driven vertical.)

Home Improvement was the second most dynamic sub-category with 13 percent of the advertisers in 2012 not appearing in 2011's ranking. Ten percent of the advertisers in Consumer Electronics' 2012 ranking and 9 percent of those in Beauty & Cosmetic's ranking were new as well.

On the other end of the spectrum, the least dynamic sub-categories overall were Stationery, Cards & Printing (3 percent new), Flowers & Mail Order Gifts (2 percent), Healthy & Pharmacy (1 percent) and Shoes (1 percent).

What's It All Mean?

There are many barriers to entry in retailing, including the cost of inventory and the need to deliver real innovation compared to other sources of supply in order to win and retain customers. Perhaps just as important is the need to build awareness and preference among those consumers so as to benefit from shopping consideration and loyalty.

Paid search queries and the resulting first SERP ad impressions are demonstrable evidence of both consumer awareness and loyalty because SEMs must achieve click-throughs to continue to be rewarded by AdWords with first SERP placement.

Putting aside the number one ranking, the dynamics within retail sub-categories showed fairly high levels of volatility in the top 10 ranking (average of 23 percent new entrants in 2012) and top 50 ranking (average of 20 percent new entrants in 2012), as well as a wide range of overall volatility across the sub-categories, with Fashion & Apparel far out in front (25 percent new entrants).

Although paid search has always been a difficult and highly competitive medium, these patterns demonstrate the volatility of the impression rankings. Advertisers that focus their PPC efforts can gain in the rankings relative to other competitors, as was demonstrated in 2012 by new, smaller and lesser-known brands as well as by many larger household name brands.

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3 More Big PPC Mistakes Even Pros Make & How to Fix Them

My last post talked about three big mistakes that PPC pros make, and how to fix them. Believe it or not, when I asked long-time PPC pros to share their biggest mistakes, there were more than I could fit in one column!

With that, here are the rest of the biggest PPC mistakes even the pros make, and how to fix them.

Geo-Targeting Mistakes

“Stupid things I've done: Made a state specific campaign, targeted a different (wrong) state.”

“Accidently targeted the entire U.S. instead of the small Texas city a dentist was in. Luckily I caught it after day 1!”

“Set up a campaign for a local appliance repair shop, forgot to set local geotargeting. Didn’t catch it until 3 days later and saw the first search query report. Wasted money.”

Geotargeting isn’t easy, especially in view of the recent launch of Enhanced Campaigns, which offers bid modifiers by location.

Like the example of the Texas dentist, I once ran a campaign with broad keywords that was supposed to be targeted to one city – targeted to the entire U.S. instead. I caught it a day later, but not before hundreds of dollars were spent on unqualified traffic.

How to avoid geo-targeting mistakes: Put some time into mapping out campaign structure before you even think about setting up the campaigns in the engines. With Enhanced Campaigns, you’ll have settings not only at the campaign level, but at the location adjustment level. Check the work of new hires before anything goes live to make sure the geo settings are correct. After the changes are live, check the settings again in the online interface to make sure everything is the way it should be. And check the campaigns the next day for any anomalies!

Keyword Mistakes

“I worked on setting up a medical industry account and didn't check any of the ads for acronyms that double as drug names. The account never ran...”

“I added a list of negative keywords as positive keywords. Didn't notice for 4 hours and spent a day’s budget in that time.”

“Month 3 on the job: set up bidding on competitor terms with dynamic keyword insertion on – in a highly brand-protective finance niche. Client, understandably, went ballistic.”

“Put “+2013” as a keyword in campaign with a budget of $1,000/day when modified broad match first came out. Client’s entire budget = $333/day. Didn’t catch it for a few days.”

“Added “keyword” as a keyword during bulk upload.”

The last one, infamously, was mine. I couldn’t figure out why our campaign spend quadrupled overnight, and it took me a few hours to discover that I’d added “keyword” as a keyword. People actually clicked on the ad like crazy!

With so many details to consider, like match types, dynamic keyword insertion, spelling, and other factors, it’s easy to slip up when adding keywords.

How to avoid keyword mistakes: Run your “off the cuff” keyword ideas through a keyword tool. Seeing hundreds of irrelevant keywords in a list will help you to notice what should be eliminated. Be very careful with DKI. Frequently, I’ll use Excel to create all possible ad permutations for DKI – it’s easier to spot the bad matches when seen in the context of the ad. And if you work for an agency, sending the keywords to the client for approval helps, too. Sure, it’s embarrassing to have a client ask “Why would we want to bid on +2103?” But better that than to have them see their bill after you’ve mistakenly spend money on that keyword!

Conversion & Tracking Mistakes

“I didn't check conversion codes in AdWords when taking over new account. Client had been tracking & optimizing for the wrong things.”

“Launched a display test with a big budget. Forgot to check on day 2. Spent a lot of money. ZERO conversions. Sad client, poor me. Moral of story: if you test, watch like a hawk or else end up paying (literally) for your mistakes.”

“PPC mistake: not properly checking tagged URLs in Bing Ads (adCenter at the time) and paying for clicks to 404s.”

“I made decisions based off wrongly installed conversion tracking code.”

How to avoid conversion and tracking mistakes: Technical issues such as wrong or missing conversion tracking and URL tagging can derail even the most seasoned PPC professional. Accurate conversion tracking is so important that it’s a good idea to perform a regular conversion audit to make sure you’re tracking everything you want and need to be tracking. Periodically check all your URLs to make sure the pages are still live. And, as with all the other mistakes, check results frequently! Catching errors early goes a long way to mollifying a frustrated client or boss.

Mistakes aren’t bad if you learn from them. Here’s hoping you can learn from some of these!

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Google Unveils New Metrics for Brand Marketers

Digital marketers praised Google's new measurement tools, but said they might not go far enough to make display advertising more accountable.

On Wednesday Google said it's offering the tool, Active View, which is designed to measure whether an ad has actually been viewed.

"This is a way to help advertisers only pay for display ads that are actually seen, and that's a good thing for the whole industry," said Augustine Fou, a digital strategy advisor. However, he said, Google may have a difficult time winning adoption. That's because ad agencies and ad networks have become accustomed to buying and selling billions of impressions – regardless of whether they're seen.

Fou said he's reserving judgment about the tool's effectiveness until he learns how it technically works and measures what's a "viewable" ad.

"They said they are going to use a statistical estimation of [what's viewed]. That's not good enough," he said. "The devil is going to be in the details."

Kevin Lee, CEO of Didit, said Google's plan is a step in the right direction.

"Many would prefer that Google took its proposal a step further and allow for some form of ad engagement measure or allow for duration variables to be set longer than one second in-view," he said via email.

To define a "viewed impression," Google said it's using the Interactive Adverting Bureau's proposed standard: a display ad that is viewable on the screen for at least one second.

"We think that with brand new metrics comes a new brand moment - one that will encourage brands to invest in the web, help publishers show the value of their digital content, and stimulate digital media's own golden age," Neal Mohan, VP, display advertising at Google, wrote Wednesday in a blog post.

Google also said it's rolling out another tool, Active GRP, or gross rating post. It is designed to allow advertisers to instantaneously adjust their advertising campaigns.

"GRP, or a gross rating point, is at the heart of offline media measurement. For example, when a fashion brand wants their TV campaign to reach 2 million women with two ads each, they use GRP to measure that," Google said in a blog post. TV advertisers use GRP, which measures the reach (the percentage of people in a potential audience who have been exposed to an ad) and frequency (the number of exposures to the same message).

Active GRP, which has been launched in a pilot program for Google DoubleClick for Advertisers customers, is built into its ad-serving tools.

In August 2011, Nielsen launched Online Campaign Ratings. It's a GRP-style rating service hinged on Facebook data, while also combining the research company's TV and online consumer behavior panel. What's more, other vendors such as comScore have rolled out products designed to help ad buyers measure only those impressions that are potentially visible to a user.

Fou said he typically advises his clients to use paid search advertising. For those using display advertising, he recommends that clients pay on a cost-per-click basis, rather than for impressions.

This story originally appeared on ClickZ:Anna Maria Virzi wrote Google to Measure: Did Someone See That Ad?

This article was originally published on ClickZ.

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Google Wins YouTube Copyright Case In Spain

Google says that it’s won a copyright infringement case in Spain over the uploading of copyrighted videos by YouTube users.

Telecinco, a Spanish broadcast TV channel, had argued that YouTube is responsible when its users upload videos that infringed on the channel’s copyrights. According to Google’s blog post about the legal decision:

The court rejected Telecinco�s claim, noting that YouTube offers content owners tools to remove copyright infringing content and this means that it is the responsibility of the copyright owner � not YouTube � to identify and tell YouTube when infringing content is on its website. This decision reaffirms European law which recognizes that content owners (not service providers like YouTube) are in the best position to know whether a specific work is authorised to be on an Internet hosting service and states that websites like YouTube have a responsibility to take down unauthorised material only when they are notified by the owner.

Despite those European laws, a German court recently found YouTube liable in a case involving users who uploaded copyrighted music videos. Google has said it will appeal that verdict.

Review Sites’ Rancor Rises With Prominence of Google Place Pages

Friends or enemies? Partners or competitors? Google’s relationship with review sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp is as complicated as ever, and the disputes are likely to increase as the search giant pursues mobile and local ambitions that center around its controversial Place pages.

The rancor stems from the way Google aggregates content from various review sites onto its Place pages, showing snippets of reviews posted by users of other sites. While Google undoubtedly drives traffic to the review sites, the aggregation tacitly encourages users to think there’s no need to go anywhere else. Critics also argue that Google is puts its own Places results higher than links to review sites in organic search results, even if the review sites have better content.

Google's Place Pages in Organic Search Results

Possibly the most outspoken critic of Google’s Places policy is travel review site TripAdvisor, which says Google recently informed it that will no longer limit content featured on Google Places, but will instead feature it “as they so choose,” according to TripAdvisor founder and CEO Steve Kaufer. TripAdvsor’s complaints include that Google picks out one review to display more prominently. “It�s not a good way to represent the opinions of all of our users,” says Kaufer, “and severely takes away from travelers’ ability to make informed decisions.”

TripAdvisor has gone so far as to accuse Google of abusing its dominance in search through unfair business practices, and Kaufer has been writing an ongoing series of blog posts answering questions about the issue.

Restaurant and bar reviews site Yelp has similar gripes to TripAdvisor. “We have the majority of the content [in the category],” said Stephanie Ichinose, a Yelp spokesperson. “Is this the best way for consumers to find Yelp content?”

Yelp Reviews on a Google Place Page

The issue isn’t limited to Places pages. In Products, too, Google can raise the ire of review sites, that say the search giant is simply giving too much away. “When they are seeing all that [on Google],” said ResellerRatings.com CEO Scott Wainner, “they don’t need to go to our site.”

Google says it won’t comment specifically on any situation but says its main goal is to help users find the local information they’re seeking. “Each day we send millions of customer referrals to local businesses and third party websites, such as review sites, through local search,” a Google spokesperson told me. “The overwhelming feedback we get from users, business owners and website owners is that they value the answers and traffic they receive from local search.”

What review sites should do about their unhappiness is a complex question. Legal action, a technical block or “noindex” metatag are options, but fairly drastic ones.

“Google has also advised that if we want to stop content from appearing on Google Places we would have to reduce/stop Google�s ability to scan the TripAdvisor site,” said Kaufer “Needless to say, this would have a significant impact on TripAdvisor�s ranking on natural search queries through Google and, as such, we are not blocking Google from scanning our site.”

TripAdvisor, Yelp and ResellerRatings all say they’re in active discussions with Google, and TripAdvisor has asked Google to not index them, “until Google Places begins showing TripAdvisor’s traveler reviews and information the right way,” said Kaufer.

Yelp wouldn’t divulge its next move. “I think it’s safe to say we continue to work toward an experience that makes both of us happy,” said Ichinose.

ResellerRatings has basically changed its business model after measuring the impact of Google. Previously, the company had been trying to license its content, but now it’s focused on charging the reviewed companies for tools to manage their online reputations. “We had to adapt and change,” said Wainner.

Content Promotion Tips for Online Community Managers

In a few weeks I’ll be giving a talk at the University of St Thomas in Minneapolis to a class on community management on a topic that I think will interest many of our readers.

Online Community Management is a function that has existed in the digital world for a while now, stretching back to the days of bulletin boards and online forums. Today that role looks a bit different.

Not be confused with a Social Media Manager, a Community Manager is typically the “voice of the brand” on the social web as well as the voice of the community back to the brand. Functionally, this translates to social media listening and engagement but also includes some promotion of brand messaging.

The growth and popularity of social media has exploded the audience and participation of public online communities, so the need for people skilled in the art and science of community management has also increased. Since some of the Community Manager responsibilities cross over into brand content promotion, that’s where this post is focused.

Key Considerations for Community Manager Content Promotion:

Topics – How does the brand want to be known? What is it already know for? What topics represent the value the brand delivers for customers and the broader community? When it comes to being the “best answer” for questions that the community has, what topics or even keywords describe those questions and answers?

Some of the topics can be determined by answering those questions and many more will be revealed during the course of working with the community. The starting point is, “What does your brand stand for?” and “What does your community care about?”. Those topics can be mapped to key objectives for the brand and how involvement with a social media or online community will help the brand reach those goals.

Content Sourcing – Guided by a list of topics that represent the goals of the brand and the community, content promotion sources can be identified and filtered. The Marketing people will be (or should be) feeding Community Managers with information on planned company marketing, PR and communications events. An over Content Marketing Plan and Calendar can do this pretty effectively.

From a tactical perspective, content sourcing for a Community Manger can involves a mix of content types, such as:

Community Content CurationIndustry Content CurationBrand Message PromotionBrand Content CurationCrowdsourcing Community Content

There are many sources to look for these types of content from using search engines (news, image, blog) to industry newsletters, to searching social networks for trending topics. �The most basic and effective source of content is the community itself. Create a cycle of asking them questions, aggregating answers and recognizing their participation. Check out this post for multiple�creative content sourcing ideas.

Editorial Calendar – Planning social content is a mix of pre-determined topics and content types as well as allowing for dynamic and spontaneous content based on events and opportunities. Here’s a blog content calendar template�that includes:

datestopicstitlesdescriptiontarget audiencebuying cyclekeywordscategoriespromotionsrepurposingmedia typesinternal citations3rd party citations/sources

Hub and Spoke – For many companies, the most practical model for content and social media where a blog serves as the hub and social networks are the spokes. There are other models depending on the social media maturity level of the brand and community, but hub and spoke is an effective starting point.

Social Content Optimization – Search is priceless for connecting brand social content with people who are actively looking. �For Community Managers, that means being provided with a keyword glossary from the SEO team. Keyword Glossaries are a tool to help you understand what phrases are high in demand. Armed with a list of keywords mapped to brand content and sorted by popularity, Community Managers can make word choices to improve attraction of search traffic without compromising the message.

Social Content Promotion – The best rule of thumb for social content promotion is to only share what’s worth sharing – whether it’s brand, community or industry content. When a marketing manager ask for some lame thing to be tweeted, plussed and posted to the Facebook Fan page – just say no. And explain what qualifies as “promotable” content that adds value to the community. Social content promotion can be a slippery slope and brands will only reap what they sow. Creating value first, empathizing with the community and being creative with brand promotion are all essential. Here’s a great post on promoting social content�that also helps make it more findable.

Social Content Repurposing – On a daily basis, some social content like a Tweet might be reasonably�repurposed for sharing on LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook. Some might be duplicates. Some might be longer or more visual representations of the original. What will work for your community might not work for others, so test and observe.

A classic example of repurposing:

Curate industry statisticsPost one statistic every day or once a week to the corporate Twitter account, or LinkedIn, or on an image to Google+ or FacebookLeverage said statistics in the company newsletter, blog posts and in presentationsCompile statistics into a blog postCreate a PPT using dramatic images with the stats in a clever font – promote on Slideshare, embed on blogCreate an infographic using these statistics – break the infographic down into PPT slides and share on SlideshareCreate a video with statistics illustrated on top of B-roll video clips and promote on YouTube, embed on blogConduct short interviews with industry thought leaders where their opinions on the curated statistics drives the questions – publish on blogAnd so on and so on…

It is not advisable to repurpose using all of these tactics, as the duplication would alienate your community. But this should give you some ideas on repurposing.
Monitoring & Measurement – Goals drive measurement and there are a variety of performance measures for building and engaging with a community. When it comes to social content�promotion, quantitative measures of reach and qualitative measures of engagement are worth tracking at daily, weekly and longer term intervals. Short term tracking reveals opportunities and direct impact. Longer term tracking helps identify overall trends.

I’m going to stop here, because this was supposed to be a quick 500 word post and I see it’s now over 1,000!

I’ll leave you with a question though: �To what degree should Community Managers be expected to promote brand social content?

Photo: Shutterstock

How to Leverage the Social CEO

Have you read the latest survey making the rounds? The one from KRC Research and Weber Shandwick that proves what everyone but your CEO already knows? If you haven't seen it, it's worth a read, outlining why your CEO should be on social media and what you're missing if he or she isn't using it.

Read it. And then maybe forward it to your boss.

The study of 630 executives in 10 markets discovered the majority of executives want their CEO to be utilizing social channels. According to the results, 76 percent of executives believe it is a good idea for CEOs to be social and 69 percent of executives who have social CEOs would like to see them participate even more frequently!

With the number of CEOs participating in social projected to increase 50 percent over the next five years, it seems the days of the elusive CEO hiding in the boardroom are over. In today's social economy, visible storytelling sells, and who better to tell your story than the person responsible for leading the charge?

Social CEOs have been shown to:

Improve the company reputation.Demonstrate the brand's innovation.Humanize the company.Increase business results.Set a social example for employees.

But you, the savvy marketing manager, probably already knew all of that. How do you convince your CEO to drop the hate and get on the social media soapbox?

1. Educate Them

For your CEO to care about social media he or she needs to understand why they should care. That it isn't enough the business has made a social investment they, personally, need to make an investment as well. It may take some educating before your CEO is open to the idea of blogging, shooting video or even creating that Twitter account you keep mentioning during internal staff meetings, but they'll get there.

Help get them on the same page by providing information about the benefits of being a social CEO. Pull research data like the survey mentioned above from Weber Shandwick or BrandFrog to illustrate the power of having a sociable CEO and the long list of benefits it brings to the company.

Pull together case studies that look at how social CEOs have increased the company's bottom line and brand awareness by being involved. Putting a face to this social media CEO “thing” and tying it back to clear ROI is how you're going to persuade an otherwise antisocial CEO to start getting involved.

2. Introduce the Tools

You can help your CEO feel more empowered and in control of his or her social media presence by narrowing down the available platform choices. There's no need to overwhelm them by making them feel they need to be everywhere Knowem is.

Start small, start where your CEO will be most comfortable and focus on the sites that will give the company the most bang for its buck, whether it's a branded account on Twitter or a new channel on YouTube.

Find the medium your CEO will feel most comfortable using for expression and updates.

3. Address Fears

Ask 10 CEOs why they haven't gotten involved in social media and you may get exactly that many answers:

They're afraid of negative feedback.They have nothing to say.They may say the wrong thing.They don't have time.They don't know how to start or what sites to use.They don't understand it.They simply don't want to!

Instead of discounting these fears, address them! Identify the reasons and the fears associated for not getting involved and break them down.

For the CEO with nothing to say, work with them to create a strategy (yes, you do need a social media strategy for your brand) so they have talking points broken out and a calendar to clearly follow. Adding structure and a schedule to social media will make it more manageable. You wouldn't throw your child into the pool without teaching him to swim. Same concept.For the CEO who doesn't have time, introduce him or her to social media management tools like Buffer or Raven Tools that they can use to help schedule and monitor updates. Let your CEO know he or she doesn't have to be on Twitter all day in order to establish a true presence. Take off some of the always-on pressure.For the CEO afraid of saying the wrong thing, lean again on that social media strategy to help identify topics worth discussing, as well as how to handle touchy situations that may arise. By giving them guidelines to follow for how they should be engaging, you help take the guesswork out of it.4. Provide a Game Plan & Check In

Once you've gotten buy in and your CEO is onboard, create a plan for the next three months, outlining their presence and their activity.

If they're going to be blogging, what are the topics they'll be covering? When do they need post drafts due? When will they be published?

If your CEO is about to get active on Twitter, help them get the account created – give them a fresh background and profile image – and show them who they should be following, how to find other people to follow, how to use Twitter search and other tools, and help them get their feet wet so they feel confident using the platform.

If your CEO is going to create video blogs, create your recording schedule and introduce him or her to the tools that will be used.

Once the plan has been set into motion, monitor it. Don't leave your CEO out to dry, all awkward and floppy. Check in on a regular basis. Offer feedback and make sure he or she is sticking to the plan you laid out. If they seem to be struggling, hop in and offer support and guidance. Lead the way.

5. Map Successes

Celebrate wins, no matter how small. Offer high-fives for great updates or blog posts that gain legs and earn traction. By highlighting and congratulating his or her successes, you'll make your CEO more invested in their social media use.


Encourage your CEO to become your chief storyteller by educating them about the important of social on your business, addressing fears and plotting a course of social media action. By doing so you'll not only advance the company vision, but you'll strengthen the company as a whole.

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Do Search Engines (Google) “Harm Minority Owned Businesses”?

Yesterday WatchdogWatch.org, which monitors NGOs (“watchdogs”) found and blogged about a filing with the FCC in the larger context of its proceedings on net neutrality. The filing is by an organization representing minority owned media and business. The issue raised is whether the concept of “net neutrality” should be expanded to include search engines and appearance in search results:

The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, representing 16 national organizations, [� ] raises the provocative issue of whether net neutrality requirements should be applied to search engines.

The MMTC report (.pdf) says the following about alleged search engine “bias” against minority owned businesses (and especially small business):

Google, recently accounted for over 71% of the entire U.S. search market,109 giving Google an unprecedented ability to influence this market. Controlling the results of such a substantial share of the Internet search market gives Google an ability to influence what websites are accessed and thus which web based businesses are able to generate the traffic necessary to succeed. The National Organizations are concerned about reports that Google is “heavily biased towards established brands” and erects “significant barrier[s] to new entrants and inevitably suppress[es] innovation.” This trend could have a particularly harmful impact on minority-owned businesses, many of which are attempting to gain a foothold on the web while lacking access to capital. Search engine practices that assign visibility to businesses based on wealth rather than merit would impose a classic cycle of invisibility to minority enterprises: without access to capital they cannot secure visibility; but without visibility they cannot secure access to capital.(emphasis added.)

There are a number of assumptions in this set of claims that may either simply be false or merit actual investigation before any meaningful discussion can occur. For example there’s a leap of logic that argues SERP visibility equals access to capital. Hockey stick growth for an internet startup, which may depend on SEO in part, could mean access to capital/funding. But access to funding or loans at the small business level is going to be independent, for example, of Google or other search engine visibility.

In addition, the notion that Google or search engines more generally are “heavily biased toward established brands” would be news to News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch, who might argue that they should be. Indeed, AP and others have made similar arguments. See for example:

Big Brand Media Wants A Google Bailout Sorry, Tom Curley: Don�t Expect A Google Ranking Boost For The AP

I spoke to Bruce Levinson at some length about all this. Levinson is with the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness, which publishes WatchdogWatch and wrote the post above. He recognizes the absence of facts behind the claims in the filing. His view is that there should be an investigation of whether the injuries (or hypothetical injuries and bias) described in the report actually exist. After speaking with him I would agree that some sort of study might be worthwhile.

I told him, however, that Google has no way of knowing which businesses are minority owned (large or small) and that its algorithm doesn’t and in fact can’t consider this factor. In the context of its local algorthim, Google’s increasing bias is in favor of local, small businesses and against larger, wealthier entities (e.g., aggregators, directories). But let’s assume for a moment that some sort of empirical study found that minority owned businesses were in fact disproportionately “less visible” in Google search results.

What would the “remedy” be? We quickly get into analogies to affirmative action, which would be problematic for all involved. Would search engines need to rectify imbalances by offering privileged status to certain types of results. This would bring a massive outcry.

To reveal my own bias, I support affirmative action but feel that any program that sought to favor certain kinds of businesses or search results would fail on multiple fronts. The problem, if there is one, is better addressed in the “real world” in terms of monitory business programs and access to capital. But it may be worthwhile to determine whether search engines and SERPs do in fact show “bias” or have a “disparate (adverse) impact” on minority owned businesses.

Postscript: I received an email after posting this story that makes the valid point that entities with more resources for website design and promotion are going to rank better than those that have fewer resources. This is a very legitimate point. The argument is: this “bias” toward “well designed” sites ultimately disadvantages smaller companies vs. larger ones. That may well be.

However it’s another question as to whether, among small companies, there’s a specifically “disparate impact” or adverse effect on minority owned businesses.

Yahoo Genome Brings Big Data to Advertisers

Yahoo has unveiled its answer to big data-driven audience targeting. The company's new Genome offering combines the huge inventory capacity of the network it's formed with AOL and MSN with Yahoo data and an added layer of third-party data from Yahoo-owned Interclick.

The product, to be made available in July, is intended to satisfy "a big unmet need for targeting and greater insights," said Rich Riley, Yahoo EVP Americas.

Yahoo introduced Genome yesterday at a splashy event in Soho, New York at the Internet Week headquarters, which was kicked off with a talk by Billy Beane, general manager of Major League Baseball's Oakland A's. Beane's story of applying new data and statistics to increase efficiencies in choosing players was featured in the book and film "Moneyball."

Though Beane didn't draw direct comparisons between baseball and the online ad business, insights provided in his speech are appropriate analogies. In baseball, he said, "You can measure every single event and the value of every event."

Genome follows in the footsteps of other audience networks that incorporate several data sets to target online ads. The magnitude of the inventory available in the network should differentiate it from smaller data-centric audience targeting networks.

Yahoo said the system will combine its registration, search, and behavioral data with information from 25 data sources, along with advertiser data, to perform predictive modeling for ad targeting and optimization. The platform will be used to target ad formats including display, mobile, and video.

While so-called big data is all the rage, it appears many advertisers have yet to apply the data they have at their disposal in a meaningful, systematic way.

"It's really difficult for us to use all the interesting data in order to make it actionable," said Michele Morelli, SVP display, lead generation and digital marketing for Citibank. Morelli spoke on a panel during the Yahoo event.

She also suggested that the systems like Genome might not fulfill the ultimate needs of companies that advertise across several forms of media, rather than just online. An online solution is not necessarily appealing to Citibank, Morelli said, adding that her company needs a "marketing solution."

This article was originally published on ClickZ.

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These 4 Head-Smackingly Simple UX Changes Grew Sales 50%

Online commerce continues to growth in the double digits every quarter, and with more money being spent online, online vendors are constantly being presented with the opportunity to increase their online sales.

The idea of spilt testing and conversion rate optimization are certainly not new, but there is a lot of room for improvement in the approach.

Split testing is a critical path item for improving the conversion potential and performance of your website, but it's not a vacuum. There are other important considerations you need to consider before you start testing – like what to test.

Known Unknowns

The easiest path is to test the obvious items, those you are fairly certain will have an impact on your conversions.

The most obvious are elements like:

PriceHeadlinesSocial ProofLayoutsSales Copy

These pieces of your web page have become the standard starting points for conversion testing, but what about the elements on your site that are adversely affecting conversion that you are unaware of?

Unknown Unknowns

The old saying goes that the more you know, the more you don't know. So how do you gain insight into problems you don't know about?


It is a simple concept that is not executed on as often as it should be. Take the time, and make the necessary arrangements, so that you can watch you users use your website.

UserTesting.com is wonderful for this. It has helped us find specific problems that were directly leading to lost revenue, that we had no idea even existed.

The trick here is creating a scenario where you can play Big Brother, because you will never get the full truth from asking.

You need to let your customers navigate your web pages and conversion funnels, and pay close attention to both their mouse movements and the specific language they use to describe their behavior.

Dollars and Sense

A few months back I wanted to test a full shopper loop, from query through checkout, to see where we were leaving money on the table.

We had been running a number of A/B tests and seeing good results but this didn't give any visibility into how visitors were experiencing our site; how they were thinking about it.

Here's what we learned:

1. Cluttered Category Pages

Our category pages were too cluttered with descriptions, and actually made it daunting for our visitors to read all of the crammed description copy we had written



2. Missing Pricing Information

Visitors were getting to our products pages with prices and add to cart buttons, but because of the layout of our category templates, they were not seeing the prices - becoming frustrated, and leaving!

The solution in this case was so simple; all we did was add a small image in the header telling users they needed to scroll down for pricing!



3. No 'Add to Cart' Button

The next issue is almost laughable in retrospect, but people were missing our "add to cart" button. Why? Because it didn't look like a button, it was simply a plain text link that said "add to cart".

Directly in line with Steve Krug's manifesto, the solution was to stop making our customer's think, and make the button look like a button!

The new button now looks like this:

4. Checkout Confusion

The final head smacking moment came while watching users go through the checkout process and submit test orders.

Between clicking the submit order button and the thank you screen there is a 2-3 second delay while the order processes, but the users don't know that! So while all of this heavy lifting of hitting the payment gateway, hitting the inventory server, etc. is all going on – the user is left staring at their screen wandering if anything happened.

This led to countless occurrences of people repeatedly clicking the submit button, clogging up the order processing functionality, and causing the shopping cart to stop dead in its tracks. It is nauseating to think about how many orders were lost due to this lack of attention to detail on our part. The fix, again, was so simple: just tell the user's what's going on – set an expectation, and here it is:

So. Freaking. Simple.

Closing The Feedback Loop

Again, in retrospect these are all head-smackingly simple changes, but we never would of thought about them had we not physically watched users go through the process.

It is amazing how much actionable information you can instantly glean from watching and listening to people use your website.

The slightest little thing that has never occurred to you, your boss, or anyone else on your team – may be the one small change that is costing your money.

After making the four simple changes above, daily online sales have increased by almost 50 percent! And this is only the beginning, the real lesson here is that you can't change what you don't know – so you need to be proactive and turn the unknown unknown's into known unknowns, so you can fix them.

What are some small changes that have led to big results on your websites?

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Searching for the Superbowl Start Time: How Are The Engines, the NFL, and CBS Doing?

Last year, I took a look at the spiking searches leading up to the Superbowl to see how the search engines, and those who want to be found in them, satisfied those queries. This morning, I took another look, and while things are a bit better from a searcher�satisfaction�perspective (primarily due to increased blended results pulling in news content), the primary organizations that likely want to connect with Superbowl viewers (such as the NFL and CBS) are still, well fumbling the ball a bit. If only they’d read last year’s article, in which I provided a clear game plan for a touch down. (You may be wondering, am I really planning to carry this metaphor all the way through the article. And I’m thinking perhaps I won’t.)

As with last year, the tidbit of knowledge that searchers are looking for more than any other is the game start time.

Diving in to the details, this continues to hold true — when and where is the game:

Even if neither the NFL or CBS read my article last year, a bit of market research via Google Insights could have told them the same thing. Searchers are looking for the same thing every year. This can’t possibly take anyone by surprise.

Surely CBS and the NFL would love to engage with this audience. Both sites have all kinds of content available about the Superbowl that they’re clearly hoping people interact with before, during, and after the game. If they could show up for all these searches about game time, think of the page views! The ad impressions! And undoubtedly a certain percentage of visitors would see the great complementary content and keep the web site open during the game for an even greater number of pages views. This audience might find the content so compelling and useful that they’d remember it next time they were watching a sporting event and would come back again and again. Yep, seems like a great plan to me. If only those organizations could be found for what people are really searching for.

Let’s take a look. Earlier, Matt McGee noted that all the engines are doing better this year with the generic [superbowl] query by way of their Onebox-style results, but what about true algorithmic results for what people are really searching for?

[superbowl start time]

According to Google trends, [superbowl] is the top spiking search this morning.�Google answers the question with its Onebox result, which is coming from nfl.com. This placement, however, is entirely due to Google deciding they should pull NFL content in order to better answer the question, and has nothing to do with the NFL’s efforts to be visible to searchers. �The NFL does rank 5th organically, but the visible domain is superbowl.com, which just makes for confusing branding.

All told though, these are the kinds of search results that make me sad. I spend a lot of my time explaining why spamming isn’t worth it. And then results like this come along. Even the news results are cringe-worthy. The first news result begins with an impressive bout of keyword stuffing:

Super Bowl Start Time: Super Bowl Kickoff Time: Super Bowl Ads. Super Bowl 2010: With the Super bowl time starting now, the excitement level of fan is just getting augmented.

The second news result isn’t any better:

Here are the answers to your questions for which you just landed on this page.�Q1: What is the Superbowl 2010 Start Time Kickoff Time? Q2: What Time Does Super Bowl 2010 Start or Superbowl Schedule?

Really Google News?

What about the organic results? Well, you be the judge. The first result includes text such as:

The Super Bowl start time is pretty well set. The pre-game shows starts at 4:00 P.M. Eastern and the game itself gets underway at 6:00 P.M. Eastern. All the television stations have the Super Bowl time slot already scheduled. The Superbowl is always played on the last Sunday in January or the first Sunday in February. In 2007, the Super Bowl will take place on February 4 in Miami, Florida at the Dolphins Stadium. Superbowl 2008 is scheduled for Phoenix, Arizona. The pre game show and the half time show always include the top performers and entertainers in the country.

The second result is at least a bit more timely, but something is suspicious…

So when is the Super Bowl 44 start time? What is the Super Bowl Time? Football fans all over America would be anxious for the game to begin on 2010 Feb 07 at Land Shark Stadium, Miami, Florida. The Super Bowl 2010 start time is pretty well set. The pre-game shows starts around 4:00 P.M. Eastern Time and the game itself gets underway at 6:00 P.M. Eastern Time. All the television stations have the Super Bowl 2010 time slot already scheduled.

These are the top two results for today’s hottest query? Sigh.

Does Bing do any better?


The top organic result doesn’t even have a title or description, and the second result is for last year’s game (for that matter, so is the third result, and the ninth result is for the game in 2008). Bing also lists the same spammy pages Google returns. (The top organic result on Yahoo! is also for last year’s game and doesn’t include the NFL site at all.)

How could the NFL done a better job?

I have three primary suggestions:

Use 301 redirects rather than 302 redirects - superbowl.com uses a 302 redirect to nfl.com/superbowl/44. It’s great that they’re redirecting, rather than simply creating duplicate domains. But a 301 is the way to tell search engines that the real content is elsewhere.Create a permanent location for the Superbowl rather than start from scratch every year – The NFL is hosting its current superbowl content at nfl.com/superbowl/44. Next year, it will likely be at nfl.com/superbowl/45. This seems logical, but a better approach from a search engine perspective would be to host the content at nfl.com/superbowl/. Once the content for Superbowl 45 is ready to launch, move the content for Superbowl 44 to nfl.com/superbowl/44 and place the content for Superbowl 45 at nfl.com/superbowl/. Why? Because that URL can build up links, authority, and relevance to Superbowl-related queries over time. The current structure requires search engines to learn a new URL for Superbowl queries every year. This situation is common with recurring events, such as conferences. For consistent rankings that improve over time, create a permanent landing page that always contains the latest content. This is generally a better user experience as well as visitors can bookmark one URL that they can return to later.Put the words that people are searching for on the page - As you can see above, it should be no surprise to the NFL that people are searching for variations of [superbowl start time] and [what time does the superbowl start]. And yet, those words don’t appear anywhere on the page. The page does have a countdown ticker, with no words at all around it:This may be somewhat useful for visitors who do end up on the page, looking for start time information. Of course, this information is of no value from a search engine perspective, not only because the words from a searcher’s query don’t appear, but because with images and Javascript turned off, the page is an empty white box:

Where’s CBS?

CBS doesn’t rank in the top ten for this search on any of the major search engines. Surely they want to be found. They even have “exclusive pre-game content”, and this set of searchers is an ideal audience for that. Well, they have the same problem as the NFL in that they’ve locked all of their content away from search engines. Here’s how the page looks with images and Javascript turned off:

They also have neglected to use any words that searchers are using. Their home page not only doesn’t use words related to “Superbowl start time”, it doesn’t even list the start time! And that promo about exclusive pre-game content? Doesn’t actually specify that the “game” in question is the Superbowl. Which is OK contextually. But will never help the page be found in search engines for a query such as [superbowl pre-game].

What about the advertisers?

So the NFL, CBS, and the search engines haven’t done a great job at connecting with searchers who want to know what time the game starts (6:25 eastern, by the way). Are advertisers smarter about search this year? As I did last year, I’ll be keeping score, so be sure to come back after the game and see how they did.

Marketing Automation Software: Tips for Choosing the Right Solution

Marketing software must be powerful and versatile enough to accomplish specific tasks and automate processes, yet also user-friendly and scalable. The purpose of automation is to help you save time, increase revenue, improve communication and better measure the return on your investment in all marketing activities. However, the right solution for your company must also integrate with your existing solutions and be manageable by the people expected to input data or make sense of the output.

All of these considerations make choosing the right marketing automation software a serious task and not one to be decided on a whim.�As an account manager at TopRank, I am often asked to recommend, set up, and manage marketing automation software for our clients. One of the major lessons I’ve learned is that it�s important to choose a platform that is not only within your budget now, but will continue to meet your company�s needs down the road.

This collection of tips is designed to help you make a software choice that aids in the achievement of your business goals today and will continue to serve you well at scale.�Keep in mind these 5 key factors when selecting or testing a marketing automation software solution:

Capabilities and Features

Before talking to any sales reps or scheduling demos, it�s important to assess what you expect from a marketing automation solution. Are you looking for a way to fill in the gaps in reporting between sales and marketing?� Create killer email campaigns and landing pages?� Beef up your web analytics capabilities?

Any marketing automation software worthy of consideration will have similar core features, including:

Lead nurturing, scoring, and trackingEmail and landing page creationClosed-loop reporting

Beyond the basics, the extra features are where certain platforms really shine.� HubSpot, for example, offers decent value, as it comes packaged with blogging software, SEO analyzer, dynamic calls to action and a lot more.� Note that these extra features come with an extra price tag, so make sure you plan to use them.


Reporting capabilities are essential to getting the most out of marketing automation software, yet while this is a key feature of all platforms, there are variations in how data is displayed and how easy it is to set up.

When going through demos, be sure to spend a lot of time here.� Make a list of the kinds of questions you want answered by analytics and ask sales reps to show you what it would look like live.� These should be customized to your particular business and marketing mix, but some good standard reports to see are:

Overall effectiveness (leads, conversion rates, ROI) broken down by tactics of your marketing mix (PPC, email, social, organic).Performance comparison of campaigns within a tactic.Performance comparison of landing pages.Inbound keyword performance.Actions of an individual contact across the sales cycle.

Make sure you look at both high level and granular reports, and also take into account which reports come standard and which would need to be custom built. �For example, ClickDimensions is capable of highly customizable reporting, but reports must be set up manually within Microsoft Dynamics CRM.


Marketing automation can vary a great deal in terms of complexity. In general, greater functionality comes at the expense of increased complexity, so it�s important to be honest about what you really need in terms of functionality. What resources are you willing and able to invest to make it all work? �It�s much better to use a simpler platform to its full potential than a more complicated option as a glorified landing page creator (this is more common than you might think).

Some companies choose to start out with a less robust, but more user-friendly, platform like HubSpot. They then upgrade to a more complex marketing automation software solution like Marketo or Eloqua a few years down the road.

CRM Integration

Much of the power and appeal of marketing automation software lies in its ability to help you get more out of the leads you already have. In order to do that, it�s vital to achieve a close integration with your CRM.

The majority of marketing automation software options claim to integrate with the major CRMs, including SalesForce, Microsoft Dynamics and Oracle. However, some integrate �closer� than others with particular CRMs and there are also differences in the amount of time and effort required for integration.

Other platforms are non-biased in terms of CRM integrations, such as SalesFusion.� Others still work with a range of CRMs but favor a few, such as Marketo, whose software integrates out of the box with SalesForce and Microsoft Dynamics, with third-party integrations with NetSuite, Oracle, and SugarCRM. Less commonly, a platform may be squarely targeted at just one CRM, such as ClickDimensions, which is aimed squarely at Microsoft Dynamics and doesn�t support any other CRMs.

This can be an important consideration, as more investment in a particular CRM usually means a tighter (and potentially less expensive) integration, more functionality, and a stronger commitment to updates and support.


Price shouldn�t be the most critical attribute when evaluating marketing automation software solutions, as a good solution will pay for itself when correctly implemented and used to its full potential.� However, you won�t get to this point overnight, so it�s important you can pay the bills in the interim.

Make sure you factor in any extra fees involved with setup, mandatory training, and CRM integration, as these can add a considerable amount to the standard monthly fee.� It�s a good idea to inquire about these with a sales rep, as website pricing pages often don�t list them (and they can sometimes be negotiated).

Marketing automation software can take your marketing mix to the next level and help your sales department close more leads, but it�s important to pick one that works for your company�s unique needs, resources and budget.

Simply put, it can amplify the effectiveness of a marketing strategy that�s already working, but it can�t make an ineffective strategy work, and it won�t substitute for a lack of strategy!

What are your best tips for selecting marketing automation software? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments!

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