Category Archives: Online Advertising

Don’t Be Content With Your Traditional Content

So what is content, anyway?

And I’m not talking about the state of peaceful happiness and satisfaction. Though, I suppose good content should support that.

Content has been the buzzword of the marketing world lately, as the businesses and brands work to better engage with their audience.

Recently I spent the better part of a week with about 2,600 marketers from around the country who are all working to get better at content marketing. Content Marketing World, a conference developed by the Content Marketing Institute, is the largest event of its kind and seeks to educate marketers and continue to advance the industry.

I could have asked each person at the conference to define content and received a different answer. In my eyes, therein lies the key to developing great content.

It comes in many different forms and is consumed in many different forms. And there isn’t one right answer in how to do it well.

Among several quotes that stuck with me from CMWorld came from Scott Stratten, the president of UnMarketing, in his keynote talk: “Sometimes content is just giving a damn.”

Well, duh, right?

As easy as it sounds, it’s really a fundamental switch from brands just talking at their audience. Or toward their audience. Or kindof near their audience. Or, let’s face it, throwing something out there and hoping it sticks with their audience.

Stratten’s keynote drove home the message that good content needs to be a dialogue between a brand and a consumer. It needs to connect with your audience on a personal level and start a meaningful dialogue that isn’t necessarily about selling your product. It comes down to understanding your customer’s needs – and remembering that your product isn’t the solution – what your product does is the solution.

Gone are the days of traditional marketing, where strategies focused on print or broadcast media. Effective marketing now needs to occur across multiple platforms, be customized to your audience and delivered fast. And, above all, it needs to be accurate.

Audiences are looking for a relevant conversation (umm, content!) about your product that means something to them. Great content can allow you to connect with your audience in a way that is practical and engaging without needing to sell them. “Every occasion isn’t a selling occasion,” Stratten said.

With my journalism background, his message particularly resonated with me because it isn’t far from that world. Marketing shouldn’t be about spin and PR. Much like journalists report the most important elements of a news story, as marketers we should report the most important elements of our brand and get that information out in a manner that is timely, effective, honest and real.

It’s as easy (and as difficult) as that.

Google AdWords: Should you use Sitelinks for your Campaigns?

I had the opportunity to chat with a Google AdWords representative this week regarding a paid campaign we’re running. While I can’t go into the details of the specific campaign, it was a good opportunity to get a refresher on some of the features that you might not always think about. One of the features we discussed was using sitelinks for your campaigns.

Let’s start with a refresher of what sitelinks are:Sitelinks

If you’re not familiar with them, you’ve probably seen these sitelinks in ads before and wondered how they got there. Well, it’s super easy. Either at the campaign or ad group level, you have the opportunity to add this feature in. It essentially doubles (or maybe quadruples, depending how you use them) the space your ad takes up, which can be really powerful for catching someone’s attention and getting the click.Extensions

When you’re looking at your campaigns, click on “Ad extensions” and then use the dropdown to select “Sitelinks Extensions”. From there, you can click the extension button button and go to town!

Google recommends adding in at least 4 extensions for your campaign or ad group and it can link to any page on your site.New Sitelink

Just like when you’re writing other ads, this is kind of like writing a mini-add for the specific page. You have the option of adding link text (25 characters), a link URL (doesn’t display, so it can be as long as it needs to be), and a description (2 lines, 35 characters each). The description is optional. The dog food ad, for example, opted not to use it, instead just letting the link text tell the story. And, you can schedule it. Maybe you only want to run sitelinks on the weekend when things are more competitive and you want that extra edge, for example.

The rep that I spoke to indicated that the use of sitelinks actually plays into the algorithm of how ads are displayed, with Google favoring sites (somewhat) that are using them. (Don’t go getting too excited! It definitely didn’t sound like sitelinks is the only way to do well in the AdWords algorithm. You still need to do all of the other things you’ve always been doing!)

And that’s where things got a little murky for me.

On the one hand the bit of an algorithm edge you might get makes deciding whether to use sitelinks a no-brainer! Of course you want any up you can get in the algorithm!

But, the more I started to think about these campaigns, I remembered that we’re also running really tight campaigns, targeted to very specific products… and there really isn’t another page that I want paid visitors to look at.  I want them to be searching for the product we are selling, and convert on that page. Sure, there are other pages on the site I could add to siteilnks (mostly other products), but that’s not what I’m trying to sell in that campaign. So… are sitelinks really a good idea for this client?

In the end I decided to pass on this feature for this client at this time. In the future we might build out additional content that would be a valuable sitelink, but for now, it simply doesn’t make sense for them.

But that’s not to say that sitelinks aren’t a valuable tool for other campaigns. What do you think? Have you used them for an AdWords campaign? How did it go? Did they improve your performance? Should I reconsider? Tell me in the comments!

On the Case: Is Legitimate?

After my research to determine if Banner Topper was a scam, I decided to keep the detective hat on and turn my attention to search homepage

The Question: Is GoodSearch Legitimate?

The Claim: One cent for every search you conduct using is donated to the charity of your choice.

The Catch: There are exclusions.

A quick look at the frequently asked questions section reveals a laundry list of searches that don’t contribute to your cause. Let’s run through each, along with our best guess as to what they mean:

  • Image Searches: Any search the user makes from the image search tab.
  • Video Searches: Any search the user makes from the video search tab.
  • Search this Site: Searches using the internal search on a website with a custom search box.
  • URL Searches: Search terms ending in .com, .org, .net, .edu, etc.
  • Searches for Popular Sites: Any search for a site with a well-known URL such as Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, ESPN, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc.
  • “Also Try” Searches: After a search is conducted, these are suggested terms that appear above the results with similar search phrases.
  • “Trending” Searches: After a search is conducted, these are suggested terms that appear on the left of the search results page.
  • “Related Searches: After a search is conducted, these are suggested terms that appear at the bottom the search results page.
  • Fraudulent Searches: Any searches generated from fraudulent use of the site. No further detail was provided but all search engines are faced with similar issues regarding users or bots trying to overload their systems with invalid searches.
  • Same Term Searches: A searches for the same term within a 24 hour period. Once a logged-in user searches for the term, all subsequent searches for the same term that day will not count toward the search total.

According to a GoodSearch representation, Word Definition Searches and Stock Quote Searches, which are also listed as exclusions on the FAQ page, are now valid search types.

The most concerning exclusion is “popular sites” such as Facebook. According to Google’s keyword tool, there are approximately 277,000,000 searches each month in the U.S. for Facebook. Another popular site, YouTube, receives over 83,000,000 searches a month.  GoodSearch does not publish the criteria for sites deemed as “popular” and a comprehensive list has not been provided. When asked, the GoodSearch representative noted that this exclusion includes, “the top 20 or so most popular sites.” This leaves the door open for GoodSearch to subjectively exclude any high traffic sites they choose which could dramatically decrease the volume of donations if the list grows.

Our other concern is that this search engine is powered by Yahoo. If you prefer using Google for your day-to-day searches, you’ll likely notice different types of search results that some would argue are less relevant.

Aside from the “popular sites” exclusion, GoodSearch appears to be a legitimate way for an individual to raise a modest amount of money for their preferred charity.

The Social Business News Wrap | Volume 32

Techies Make Forbes’ List of 100 Most Powerful WomenForbes' 100 Most Powerful Women

I’ve noticed that a lot of my blog posts tend to be about women. Not so much this series as my Home Based Businesses series, but it’s there. This week is no different. I have to give a little shout out to the tech professionals, including Facebook’s Sheryl Sandburg. Sixteen technical professionals have made Forbes’ list of the 100 Most Powerful Women.

Now, I am no big feminist in the sense that it tends to be interpreted today, but I think it is pretty impressive that these sixteen women (most of whom are American) have not only broken into the tech field which I think most would say was heavily dominated by men not so long ago, but have become so successful as to be included on this list that includes world leaders and so many “firsts”.

She’s the first: Forty percent  of the women on the list are “female firsts,” such as African head of state (Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf), billionaire to sign The Giving Pledge (Sara Blakeley), and CEO at IBM (Ginni Rometty). Even more impressive are a the women who are multiple “firsts,” such as Judith Rodin, first president of an Ivy League and of the Rockefeller Foundation. And Hillary Clinton.”

The women from the tech field that have made the list are:

  • Sheryl Sandburg, Facebook COO, #6
  • Virginia Rometty, IBM CEO, #12
  • Ursula Burns, Xerox Chairman and CEO, #14
  • Meg Whitman, HP CEO, #15
  • Safra Catz, Oracle CFO, #23
  • Susan Wojcicki, Google Senior Vice President, #30
  • Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO, #32
  • Laurene Powell Jobs, Emerson Collective Founder & Chair, #39
  • Cher Wang, HTC Co-Founder and Chair, #46
  • Padmasree Warrior, Cisco Systems Chief Technology and Strategy Officer, #57
  • Amy Hood, Microsoft SFO, #63
  • Sun Yafang,  Chair – Huawei Technologies, #77
  • Kiran Madzudmar-Shaw, Biocon Ltd. Founder & Chair, #85
  • Weili-Dai, Co-Founder Marvell Technology Group, #88

 Twitter Cards…Are You Using Them?

Twitter announced a new product for lead generation earlier this week. The Twitter card program from a year ago have been expanded and updated as more and more brands turn to social media for advertising.

The Twitter Advertising Blog released a statement about the update to Twitter Cards, “When someone expands your Tweet, they see a description of the offer and a call to action. Their name, @username, and email address are already pre-filled within the Card. The user simply clicks a button to send this information directly (and securely) to you.”

If you’d like to get started using Twitter cards for your brand, the developers board has a great little tutorial as well as a starting point, making it easy for brands to extend their reach on the Twitter platform.

As of right now the Lead Generation card is only available to Twitter’s managed clients, but that will probably change as demand grows.

How are you leveraging Twitter for your brand?

Is Banner Topper a Scam?

One of our clients recently received an unsolicited email from Banner Topper, which began like this:

Let me introduce you our patent pending internet advertisement technology which will instantly bring your website on first page of all major search engines, such as Google, Yahoo and Bing without Pay Per Click competition.

As I already wrote, you don’t have to worry about competitors, because once you get keyword, nobody else can use it during whole year. You will have exclusive rights on your keywords during first year and you will also have first right of renewal.

The client was skeptical (as they should be) so they reached out to their web marketing experts (us!) to determine if this was a viable online marketing opportunity.

Banner Topper

Banner Topper Investigation

The first red flag is the poor grammar from the email itself. “Let me introduce you our…” and “…once you get keyword, nobody else can…”

The second red flag is the too-good-to-be-true claim of no competition. Something about not having competitors and getting exclusive rights to keywords smells fishy.

A quick Google search reveals the following “Banner Topper reviews”:

I’m using both technologies, cause I think they’re both good in their way, but you can decide which model is best for you.”

After all comparisons you can decide which model is best for you. I’m Personally using both of them and getting very good results.” (no, not TechMarketing)

“After аll comparisons уоu саn decide which model іѕ bеѕt fоr you. І’m Personally uѕіng bоth оf thеm аnԁ gеttіng vеrу good results.”

Yes, these all look like suspicious blogs and review sites set up specifically to spread propaganda and generate inbound links to Banner Topper’s site. This would be red flag number three.

So what are real Banner Topper reviews saying?

In February, a thread on, a message board about SEO techniques that typically break the ethical code of quality search engine optimization, was started asking their community to provide insights on Banner Topper. Granted, this is a message board so anything goes, but these are the kinds of comments people are sharing:

A user with over 1000 posts says:

“it works based on spyware toolbars etc, which create additional ads in the browser.”

Another member with over 100 posts commented:

“I received an unsolicited email from them today. You know it’s a scam when their website has no address, company information, about us or satisfied clients. But they have had the domain for a month, lol.”

A third member with over 100 posts states:

“Wants 15K to have my real estate KW at the top of Google and they have a brand new website….”

The regulars at this message board aren’t buying it. We’ll call that red flag number four.

A question about Banner Topper being a scam also showed up on Yahoo Answers. The winning answer mentions that it relies on Adware or user installed browser plugins and its future may be questionable. This would be red flag number five.

The list goes on and on and we haven’t even talked about the website itself; which is full of suspicious content. We’d say five red flags is enough reason for us to confidently recommend staying far, far away from Banner Topper. 

Photo credit

The Social Business News Wrap on TKGenius | Volume #30


Ten Years of LinkedIn linked in turns 10

LinkedIn celebrated a decade on the Web this week. Even as TKG is marking our 15th Anniversary this year, we recognize that we are the wise, old grandpa of the industry. We used to market ourselves as not “old guys in ties”, but our fearless leader turned 39 this week too, so I think our experience, our longevity in the midst of the brevity that makes up so much of the Web is a good thing, and it’s good for LinkedIn for the same reasons.

Because it is not as susceptible to youth and flights of fancy as MySpace and Facebook; being geared towards businesses and professionals, LinkedIn has a sustainability that other sites may not enjoy. Is it your first thought when celebrating a baby or when posting vacation pictures? No. It is however, most people’s first Web stop when they get a promotion, when they need a new job or they have just graduated from college. Facebook can give you a place to show off your graduation photos, LinkedIn can show your degree and accomplishments to prospective employers looking to hire.

So while LinkedIn probably doesn’t lure you to spend hours and hours browsing, it has a specific purpose which has been served quite well for the last decade. I know TKG uses it as a tool to find prospective employees, business world know what is happening at TKG and to keep our fingers on the pulse of business in our area and around the country.

Jeff Weiner, CEO at LinkedIn (which now boasts over 225 million members) said on the LinkedIn blog earlier this week, “This week, LinkedIn is celebrating our 10th anniversary. While much has changed for us over the last decade, one thing has remained consistent — our unwavering focus on how we can help our members be truly successful in their careers. From the earliest days in his living room, Reid and his co-founders knew that by always first asking “what do professionals need, and how can we deliver it to them?”, we could create something that would impact their lives in a truly transformative way.”

They have also posted a Brief History of LinkedIn written by founder Reid Hoffman. It’s been fun watching LinkedIn grow up, and as the Web continues to change shape and function, I am sure that LinkedIn, like TKG will be changing shape and function as well, keeping the most important aspects always in the forefront of our operations.

 Instagram is Already Beating Out Pinterest? instagram vs. Pinterest

This is surprising to me, because Instagram is so, so simple. I actually find Pinterest much more engaging and feel that it has a lot more to offer than Instagram. Apparently I am in the minority. According to a study out this week, Instagram already has over 100 million users and some very big brands among them. These brands include heavy hitters such as Nike, Starbucks, MTV, Mercedes and Adidas, with the last three more than doubling their involvement with Instagram over the last quarter.

The study notes that while Pinterest has garnered a larger percentage of big brands, the brands using Instagram more heavily have a greater following and interaction with users.

If you would like to see how you are performing on Instagram, or see how a competitor is doing, SimplyMeasured, the authors of the study offer a free diagnostic tool to measure your Instagram is trending. Enjoy! Free Instagram Analytics Report

The Google Glass Revolution Raises Privacy Concerns

google glassBack in March we wrote about Google Glass and how the device could revolutionize the way marketing is done online. Now that a few hundred prototypes have been dispersed around the county, what do people have to say?

So far the reviews have been a mix of love and displeasure, and there has been a lot of conversation around privacy due to the device. NBC News reporter Rosa Golihan explains her experience with the device and confirms that it can cause angst among others.

Some people are unfamiliar with what the glasses can actually do, while others are aware of its capabilities and concerned about possible photographs and recordings being taken that they are unaware of. The concern is so serious for some that, there is a petition to the White House on We the People to ban the use of the device until legislation is passed to explain acceptable and unacceptable uses of Google Glass.

Vice President of Innovation and Research at Singularity University, Vivek Wadhwa, shares the privacy concern raised by others, especially because of recording capabilities of Google Glass. The device can allow a user to record at any time, without the knowledge of the people being recorded. This capability could shape a lively debate on privacy and intellectual property.

While some users are enjoying the experience of Glass, the device was mocked on this past week’s episode of Saturday Night Live for its imperfections.  How do you feel about Google Glass? Share your comments below.

Are Yellow Pages Ads Worth It?

Your marketing funds are limited, and you want to be sure that you are making the best use your budget. At one time, Yellow Pages ads were the gold standard in advertising. Most homes had a Yellow Pages phone book, and it was a reliable source of local business information. However, as Internet search engines have improved their local search results, have the Yellow Pages become irrelevant?

Yellow Pages Irrelevant?

Yellow Pages Irrelevant?

Return on Investment
Yellow Page ads are pricey, and it’s hard to calculate your return on investment. Of course, your Yellow Pages sales rep promises that the book is still relevant and an ad is worth the cost – probably the bigger the better. But you are not so sure, and you are right to be skeptical.

I did a quick search in advertising-related forums and found that it was a mixed bag. Some business owners were finding that their Yellow Pages ads were more likely to attract additional advertisement solicitations, rather than paying customers. Others were happy with their results and will continue advertising.

Moving Online
Even Yellow Pages itself recognizes the move away from paper books. For several years, they have given their offline customers a free listing under their main category on the website. Today anyone can get a free basic listing. Unfortunately, it’s a very basic listing, without even a link back to your site (although it does link to a ‘more info’ page on the site). Placement within your category is based on how much business you do with them – unless you choose to pay extra for guaranteed placement. You can also buy maps and extra information to place with your listing. In other words, all the things a Google Places listing gives you for free.

The Bottom Line – Know Your Audience
The most important thing when making this decision is to know and understand your audience. What are your businesses demographics?

A Yellow Pages ad might be worth it if you are in an area with unreliable Internet or broadband service. In those cases, people may be more likely to turn to the phone book to find what they need. Elsewhere, people are more likely to turn to their always-on Internet connection than to dig through a phone book.

Does your business target an older demographic who will still reach for the printed Yellow Pages when they need a local business in a hurry? For example, I was over at my grandparents’ house the other day and found evidence of a phone book being used! Exhibit 1: a broken window. Exhibit 2: the phone book opened to a window repair company.



There are tons of examples of businesses that service older people with urgent needs who may benefit from staying in the books.

Keep Track
Besides getting data from your analytics program, simply asking how a customer found you when they call in and then keeping record of that will help to determine if it is worth it. I know it’s a hassle and may require extra training for your employees, but the information you gain would be very helpful.

If your phone isn’t ringing or your dedicated landing page is not seeing traffic from your Yellow Page placements, it is worth taking a second look.

If you do decide to buy an ad in the Yellow Pages book, at least include your website address in the ad. Even people doing an initial search offline might like to learn more about you before calling.

What about you? Do you advertise in the Yellow Pages?

How Video is Changing Online Advertising and Content

With the popularity of videos online, it’s not surprising that online advertising has started to appear in the form of video.  Rich media advertising specialists, Celtra, now incorporate precise reporting of user engagement and interaction with video based advertisements.

According to a recent study by Celtra, mobile video advertisements offer a completion rate of nearly 50%, meaning that almost half of all videos ads that are initiated are watched completely. To put this into perspective, the industry average click-through-rate for a standard online display ad is 0.11%.

Why does this matter for businesses?mobile video advertisement

Whether you use display advertising or not, this shift in consumer’s willingness to click on and view video advertisements enables businesses to reach their audience in ways never seen before.

Sure, we all have seen a commercial on TV. But did you choose to watch that commercial? No, it is just an interruption to the show you are interested in seeing.

And of course you’ve seen an ad online, but how often do you click on one? Many consumers are weary of online display ads, thanks to the banner ads and spam from the early days of the Internet.

This new evolution in online advertising allows businesses to say more, show more and do more with their online advertising. It gives them a chance to re-purpose commercial content or present a product through a presentation, not just a static image in a display ad. And users are responding and consuming the content.

While rich media display ads can be expensive, the completion rate and ability to target the audience you want, makes it worth giving a chance.

If online display advertising doesn’t fit into your marketing plan, consider creating more video content that you can share through your website and social platforms. According to REELSEO, video improves online visibility and drives more action online than plain images and text.

Don’t worry about not being a Hollywood director; online video content doesn’t have to be perfect to be effective.

Have you had success with video based advertisements or content? Share your story with us in the comments below!

A Tweet-to-Runway Show: Genius or Not So Genius?

Discount retailer extraordinaire (and one of my personal favorites) Target has launched a new advertising campaign, to promote its “Everyday Collection”. The Everyday Collection is Target’s most recent campaign, meant to showcase standard household and grocery items sold in their stores in a new light.


Doing the smart thing, and making sure the campaigns fit well across all mediums, the Everyday Collection went all out digital with a live online event called a Tweet-to-Runway Show, or “a runway spectacular inspired by everyday tweets.”

The Twitter runway event went live on January 24th on YouTube with examples of products featured in Everyday Collection ads. Some of the items include steak, chips, brownie mix and ramen noodles. Each ad includes a model dressed in white in front of a white Target logo. The model reads an everyday tweet that goes along with the product be featured.

To get Twitter users to participate, Target provided $20 gift cards to those who had their tweet featured.


Target really scores big here because they made sure that their traditional advertising campaign had a strategy that could be applied through social media and that didn’t lose the look or feel of the campaign. Not only that, but it encouraged user engagement with a great incentive!

While being funny, silly and kind of ridiculous, Target managed to position themselves and their brand as digitally savvy—all while promoting lackluster products.

What do you think about this social media integration? Genius or Not So Genius? Check out some of the Tweet to Runway videos and let us know what you think in the comments below!