Online Marketing

Online Marketing vs. Digital Media

What's in a name?
A lot. It shows in a word how you think, and shows your perspective and approach. It crystallizes in one small sound bite the your approach, and tells something about you and me.
When people call it "digital" they immediately lose me. It shows that they miss the point. It shows that they think of it as just another form of media. There is print media, broadcast media, outdoor media, and digital media. As if this is just another way to display a message. The same message that we have on a newspaper, only in digital form. That's the thinking, and that's the problem.
Most probably the TV that you watch is "digital", it is not analog anymore, and of course, it is "media". But it is not "digital media".
The main differentiator between online and offline marketing and media is the internet connection that allows response, intereactity, tracking, and post-click actions when they come to your site. It is not simply a new form of advertising that is digital.
These characteristics of online marketing necessitate a different way of dealing with your campaigns. Because you can interact and track, the process needs to take into sonsideration all the cycle from impression to click to funnel to conversion. You can't simply just put banners out there. That's why it necessarily becomes marketing and not just media management. Understanding the consumers, analyzing their behavior, and helping make the campaign more effective is an essential aspect of online marketing, which is what many people miss when they simply call it "digital media".

Adwords: The Nearest Thing to a Perfect Market

It took Google some time to figure out how to make money with their innovative search algorithm. When they figured it out it was one hell of a model. Although they didn't invent search advertising, but they are the ones the most famous for superbly helping advertisers, and later on publishers to make great profits.
One of the biggest challenges in advertising is reaching your message to the right audience at the right time, which is something quite difficult to achieve with the traditional advertising methods. With AdWords, your ad appears next to search results exactly when people are interested in what you have to sell.
Some of the things that make it a great system, is that there is no fixed price for ad placement, and you don't have to negotiate for prices (you can't even if you wanted). The self-regulating system makes you pay only when people click on your ad and visit your website, so you only pay for visitors coming to your site.
The really cool thing is how the pricing is determined. First you decide the maximum amount of money you are ready to pay for a click, and they never charge you more than that amount. Second, Google's discounter makes sure to let you pay less than the maximum amount you are willing to pay, thus rewarding good and relevant advertising instead of just deep pockets.
Here is the main advantage for advertisers who have relevant interesting stuff to perform better than their high-budget counter parts.
What's more is that if your ads don't achieve a certain click-through ratio they will stop showing since this means that they are not relevant for searchers. How many companies will not allow you to advertise because you are not creating good enough stuff?!
What makes AdWords resemble a perfect market, is that prices are determined naturally, and vary according to the hidden forces of supply and demand. More importantly the most adaptive and relevant advertiser wins at the end, and not the most powerful.
Strict editorial rules are applied to acceptable ads. They give a first impression of a tough system, but a second look proves that these standards are for the advertiser's benefit.
For example, the use of superlatives is prohibited, you cannot say the word "best" in your ad copy. This only shows that you are boasting and it doesn't actually convey information for the readers. "Award-winning" on the other hand is acceptable and allows the reader to decide for themselves whether or not to trust your ad.
Another example is prohibiting advertisers from using the exclamation mark more than once in each ad, and it is not accepted in the headline of the ad. Studies show that using the exclamation mark in real estate ads, gives the impression that the house on sale is not as valuable as the seller is claiming. "Why is he stressing the facts so strongly, I can read the information myself!"
A new feature was recently launched allows advertisers to use AdWords for market research. The search queries report gives you a list of all the queries that have triggered your ads, and got you clicks. Two main benefits of this; first, you get to know what keywords are triggering your ads (when you set your keywords to broad match, related words can also trigger your ads to show). Second, you get to know what people are really looking for, and what percentage of them is looking for a certain keyword(s), or product.
I have used this tool with on account, and got more than 900,000 queries after spending around $5,000 for the website I was working on. This is a huge number and the insights it gave us were invaluable.

Why Celebrities Can't Endorse Websites

Let's start first by defining some aspects of the Web, and the people who use it.
The Web is a different medium than the mainstream media in several ways.

  1. Power to the users (once named surfers): Users choose what they want to read on the Internet. On TV, although you can choose which channel to view, you are stuck with whatever you are presented with.
  2. Interactivity: Not only is the web an interactive platform, it gives us the full range of choice between being totally passive, and just reading or viewing what's on there, and being totally active by logging in, writing, commenting, etc. We can also have any of the choices in between those two extremes. Even in the most passive of choices, you still have to click through to different pages to continue browsing, while on TV, you can just sit there till you sleep.
  3. Person of the year 2006: More and more power is gained by the web, which is in its second version, and most Web 2.0 citizens want thier voices heard. The Web is emerging as an alternative underground tool where people who don't have access to huge mainstream media can find a way to express themselves and reach out to people.

The highly active users of the Internet are fed up with celebrities spamming thier lives, and looking for alternatives. They are also keen on becoming celebrities themselves. The long tail shows that there will be lots of small celebrities, who are enabled through Web 2.0 technologies.

The Web is for people who want to look for their own personal preferences. People who don't need to watch tonight's show just because everyone else is watching. Furthermore, it is for people who want to contribute, share, and make their voice heard.

Therefore, having a celebrity endorse a site or a web service might alienate these people. They want to be celebrities, not just see them. Mainstream celebrities are symbols of the media that these people are moving away from.

When might celebrities be useful?

  1. When they are Internet celebrities: Of course! These celebrities can easily be identified with by the users, and they aspire to be like them in some way or another.
  2. When online and offline merge: The line between mainstream and web applications and media is blurring, and this strategy might work for programs or channels that have both aspects to them. Luvoo is endorsed by Carmen Electra, and it is a TV show based on their matchmaking website.

I'll be checking this theory myself with a project I'm currently working on. Although I'm conviced that Internet users have the power to promote the people they think are popular, I will keep an eye on examples where this is and isn't working.