Why Google Panda is good for online advertisers

20 Mar

It’s been almost a year since the much vaunted Google Panda update received its global rollout, during which time industry professionals have at length covered the various winners and losers in the SEO rat race. More recently, however in an update rolled out in late January Google could have just created the biggest winner of them, online advertisers. Here’s how…

Top Heavy Ads

It’s been no secret that the Panda update has been quick to penalise sites which, in Google’s own words “display a large fraction of the site’s initial screen real estate to ads.”  Essentially Google argue that if a site is too ‘top heavy’ with advertisers, or dedicates too much of its space to ads over content then the user will suffer. While Google has claimed the impacts affect less than 1% of search results, many publishers are claiming it to be much further reaching. With an additional 500 updates to Panda scheduled for 2012 alone, Google has recommended that publishers focus on improving the users overall content experience and make it as easy for them to find and enjoy the content they are looking for.

Where did all the ads come from?
Research from Metric Science, a media evaluation company, suggests that the average number of banner ads on a page now sits at just over 5, a pretty sizeable amount for just one page of content. Add to this more interruptive formats such as contextual ads (those annoying hover overs), site skins and interstitials and you get a pretty cluttered and congested environment.  But it wasn’t always like this….

It was only sixteen years ago that online saw the sale of the very first ad banner on HotWired. Back then online was new, exciting and expensive. Fast forward to a decade later (and a dot com crash in between) and prices had begun to decline dramatically. Online display had become a more mature market, one in which existed unparalleled supply. There were more media owners and networks than ever before – everyone was rushing to monetise their online content.

While the industry continued to grow rapidly and advertisers shifted more of their budgets online, the pace of growth could not keep up with the increased availability of advertising inventory.

Naturally as CPMs (cost per thousand impressions), the defacto standard for buying and selling banner ads, began to fall, media owners looked to ways to maintain revenue levels. For many the answer was to simply put more ads on their pages, squeezing as many ads on to their already congested sites as possible. Ofcourse, the reality was that this only further devalued CPMs – more ads = more competing messages = more ineffective ads.

Re-Defining Advertising Quality

There is a somewhat famously overused advertising quote from John Wanamaker  – “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is I don’t know which half.”

For online advertisers, this statement couldn’t be more true. You may be surprised to hear that on average over half of the banner ads served on the internet are never seen – some such as Realvu claim that this figure is as high as 90%.

Ad serving and reporting technology has for years not been able to catch up with the growth of the industry as a whole. Thankfully, this is now changing – and using freely available solutions advertisers are now able to better understand the advertising that they buy. Consequently they are beginning to ask, why they should have to pay for ads that are never seen? And rightly so…

Those networks and media owners who move quickest to adopt these new technologies will prosper, while others will continue to sell congested ads on congested pages without being able fully demonstrate their effect and relative value.

Google and the latest Panda update is one step closer to improving the overall quality, as opposed to quantity of online advertising. Hopefully the rest of the pieces will also fall into place sooner rather than later.

Dot Com Advertising Bubble Again?

14 Feb

I was a student when the dot com bubble burst and as such I guess it kind of passed me by, not in the sense that I ignored it, but more in the sense that it wasn’t impacting my life. In hindsight I wish that my professors were a little more on it and shoved it in our faces, but like everyone else who weren’t directly involved its hard to grasp how big the storm is when you sit in the middle. Now I get the impression that people learned from this experience and the Internet along with the economy that surrounds it has become one of adolescence. At this stage of maturity the failures of the dot com bubble have been noted and the realisation that online isn’t the Holy Grail that everyone thought it could be means that everyone is back at putting in the effort needed to keep the business of online alive.

Noticeably now that other advertising genres become cheaper, such as print and radio both of which I suspect have similar production costs the online arena must justify it’s place in the marketer’s mind. Lucky the technology is so persuasive and measurable, although saying that it could be onlines achilles heel, especially when things don’t perform.  I doubt we are in a bubble, at least not like before, but the other side of this recession, will prove to be a different playground than it was before.

Good Morning Mr X, would you like a Starbucks Coffee?

1 Feb

its not often you’ll see WebMarketR go offline and looks at traditional media, but when it is as cool/invasive as this I felt it only right to spread the news. Now that we are hitting recession good and proper and I have been preaching about the wonders of online advertising and its cost effectiveness, I was taken a back when I read about billboards using some clever technology to workout the ‘kind’ of person walking by. To quote the article by AP News;

Small cameras can now be embedded in the screen or hidden around it, tracking who looks at the screen and for how long. The makers of the tracking systems say the software can determine the viewer’s gender, approximate age range and, in some cases, ethnicity – and can change the ads accordingly.

Now that is some cool stuff. You could even go as far as to say that it is targeting like we have never seen it, unless you saw Minority Reports, which points to the next logical step, especially if your mobile phone became an identifier chip. For me the above still works better than the behavioral targeting methods being carried out by some online ad networks, which while have a lot of uses, fail for me at the moment in two key areas. The first being an infringement on civil liberties and freedoms, as no longer do you loose amenity and the second and perhaps the more important point for marketers to consider is the element of in your face brand marketing to your ‘unknown’ audience. To be more explicit, it was not till I lived in my first flat alone did I have a need to know about what laundry detergent to use, or what vacuum cleaner to buy and a whole gambit of other things. Mass marketing taught me all these things, it told me what to take from the shelves. Behavioral marketing could never learn that it needs to persuade me. This billboard advertising allows all the right doors to be left open, while being able to make guesses about my life stage. Sheer brilliance if not one step closers to be a freaky world, where I’m nobody except to my friends at Madison Avenue.

Are Social Networks The New Word Of Mouth?

12 Jan

Okay so this is not a brilliant title, but it is a question that I have long tussled with. On the one hand it is obvious for anyone to see that social networks can group large number of friends together quickly, better than that, all your friends are together in one place; something that I doubt is often achievable unless it’s your wedding day. On the other hand is the way people live through social networks an exasperated version of themselves?

As a individual marketing tool, it can propel people to the top of the social calendar, like when are the host of regular or unforgettable parties. Sure on the the face of it you are as popular as can be, but is that popularity a merely superficial status with little or no meaning behind it based on an embellished identity. Is someone who has 300 friends on facebook really going a better carrier of a message than someone with 100 friends?

Here I must admit I’m slightly stumped for an answer, as it comes down to the individual, while 300 facebook friends seems a dilution of attention and therefore one has to question the friendship bond and thus influential status, however one must also pay kudos to their individual reach.

I look at Myspace, which became the tool of indie artist to express and get themselves out there. With a little help from friends (known and unknown) you can increase notoriety and achieve fame just like Lily Allan. This was the success of Myspace, which lent itself to a new generation of networks to be born. So what of Facebook, if I say something exempary about a brand, will anyone listen? will they care? and how can marketeers capitalise on this? what is a friend worth to a brand?

Ultimately, the power that an individual has to influence a group rest in the respect the invidual has earned, this maybe through exempartory achievements which are sporn through success and/or high social integration. I’m a firm believer that if you say something in context on a network or otherwise then people will listen and the word of mouth affect will work. However, the right people still have to say it? the quality of friendship is more important than quantity. In essence old principals still apply and while social networks can be used as word of mouth tools, but in my opinion conversations on them are too short to have the impact that an enthused individual down the pub will have.

How can marketers capitalise on social networks? well nothing comes for free in this world and it is still about the right message, delievered in the right way to the right people. This article from chasnote.com talks more about ROI in social media, but one things brands do need to be aware of and that is of negative PR, which on will spread like wild fire, and have numerous groups formed around the issue, my favourite I HATE EXAMS.

Happy New Year to the WebMarketR Crowd

8 Jan

First post of the new year, so this is us greeting you all with well wishes for 2009, we hope that it will be a prosperous one despite economic turmoil and all that jazz. Both Babac and myself are happily rested after the break and plan to give WebMarketR a little more attention and love. That means more posts, constant design changes until we can agree on something and hopefully our spin on things.

Plus we both have twitter accounts that we tweet on, so keep an eye on what we have to say here and here.

Is Online Advertising Recession Proof?

29 Dec

Working in the industry I guess I have to be careful about what I say here. Unlike Alistair Darling I try to be careful about my use of words when talking about sensitive subjects as recession. But I was reading an article in Business Week today, which prompted this long lingering question of how recession proof are we. Their article I think sums up much of what those of us who work in the industry think; which ultimately Online verses traditional ad formats has some versatility in its implementation. Strategic campaigns can be well place, if marketers know that the budget will be around to fund them, but Online gives you shorter lead times, to make choices between tactical or strategic campaigns depending on the brands interests are at that time. This ability to be free from months of consulting, planning and execution can be priceless in an increasingly erratic economy and it is for this reason that Online should fair better than most. Recession proof, not totally, but I know which side of the fence I would like to be when storm hits… roll on 2009.

Merry Christmas

25 Dec
Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

Wishing you all a festive holiday and see you all in 2009.