Adopting a Mobile-First Approach

As a strategic advisor to brands, my role is to provide insights while recognizing and respecting limitations to what brands can and cannot do. 2015 is no different than any other year from a tech development standpoint: the docket is still jam packed with many priorities waiting on deck for implementation.

With my phone and email blowing up this week about Mobilegeddon (Google’s algorithm change giving preference to mobile-friendly sites), I tied to recall how far back the first time I heard Google say that they would eventually give ranking preference to responsive sites. Was it 2 years ago? 3? So far, the day-by-day tracking some of the SEO companies are doing to quantify the impact show single-digit declines in rankings on mobile vs. desktop since the change has been rolling out over the course of this past week. Some companies will be more impacted than others, and other SEO companies are reporting a surge in mobile-friendly sites that just went live this week.

There was also recent news in two reports that US mobile ad spend will surpass that of desktop by the year’s end (Marin and eMarketer). This, combined with the Mobilegeddon news and eMarketer’s prediction that mobile search will surpass desktop search in 2015, means that it is time for marketers to pivot, adopting a mobile-first approach.

A mobile-first approach means that during strategic marketing discussions, mobile is no longer an add-on or an asterisk or an afterthought (or worse, given no thought at all). It means just the opposite: design and copy should be developed for mobile as the first priority. This is a pretty radical change for online marketers.  I was at a conference recently where the brand manager of a large packaged goods company said he now tells his team “show me how the creative looks on a mobile device first.” As most know, typically, it’s the other way around. His suppliers and his team have to get in line with this way of thinking.  Continue reading

Online Lead Generation: Tracking 101

It is surprising how much investment some brands put toward generating leads online and then only read front-end results when assessing the performance of a digital campaign.

Note that “front end” can mean two things:

  1. Driving traffic to the site
  2. Completing an online form

If driving traffic is a campaign’s sole KPI, presumably there is a good reason. If not, keep reading because this is typically not a best practice and likely indicates that unsophisticated tracking is in place. If completing an online form is the sole KPI for the campaign, that’s better than merely measuring traffic, but it’s still impossible to know if the leads are actually qualified and converting further down the stream. So while the front end conversion metric is indeed a KPI that needs to be monitored and managed, unfortunately, it won’t inform whether or not a person took the second step to purchase anything. Continue reading

Viewability Needs to Matter for all Advertisers, Big and Small

I have been exposed to many advertisers who are pushing hard for 100% viewability terms for standard banner buys, which I saw referred to yesterday as a crisis by the IAB. In December, the IAB recommended 70% as the standard, but the large agencies are forcing 100% in their I/O terms, and they are having success obtaining it. Large media budgets, not surprisingly, can be the catalyst for change.  This level of change, though, is of a larger scale than we’ve seen before.

Beyond the suppliers who are the obvious party being squeezed is this scenario, the other disadvantaged party is the small advertisers. This segment is either buying their display direct with the DSPs and/or publishers or being represented by small agencies.  Neither has the wherewithal to fight with the same might as the large agencies can. Continue reading

Forrester Wave Cross-Channel Attribution Providers 2014

On Friday, Forrester released their most recent Wave Report on cross-channel attribution technology providers. The companies evaluated fell into 4 buckets: Leaders, Strong Performers, Contenders, and Risky Bets. The companies assessed were bucketed as follows:

Leaders: Visual IQ, AOL Convertro, and Google Adometry

Strong Performers: EBay Enterprises (Clear Saleing), MarketShare, Marketing Evolution

Contenders: Rakuten DC Storm, Abakus

Risky Bets: None*

*While no companies fell in the Risky Bets category, there were some that were knocked out of the running beforehand including C3 Metrics, Encore Media Metrics, and Ignition One/Knotice. Forrester acknowledges that each is a “digital-savvy attribution vendor” but didn’t meet Forrester’s criteria for the report. As someone who once contemplated having the company I worked for participate in a Forrester Wave, I personally believe it is preferable to be knocked out early on rather than risk being classified as a “Risky Bet.” Getting into the Wave is expensive and time consuming, and it sometimes appears that newcomers have to pay their dues which means potentially accepting a lower classification before working their way up in the next report. Since most of Forrester’s Wave reports come out every two years, companies who decide to make a go of it are in it for the long run. The payoff to the Leaders is huge. I have had friends at companies in the Leader position tell me that they basically become order takers once the Wave comes out. And I have also been in the unfortunate position of losing a marquee client because the company I worked for was not represented in the Wave at all.

In terms of the Attribution Wave, I have spent a good deal of time in the past year evaluating most of the providers in the study. Continue reading

Beacons: Strong Offers will Drive Adoption

There is much talk about beacons this holiday as another big department store, Lord & Taylor, officially announced that beacons will be rolled out in their retail locations in time for Holiday. These are clearly early days for beacons, and it remains to be seen how effective they will be at driving sales in the fourth quarter.  The beacons enable offers to be pushed to shoppers while in the store. Continue reading

Mischief Night: A Look at Online Retail Hijinks

Does anyone remember URL targeting, in which through a “normal” media buy, an advertiser was able to hijack a person trying to go to one site and navigate them to another?   This was legal, as was Gator  — another popular ad-supported media machine that eventually went away for similar, deceptive reasons.

There is some tremendously illegal and egregious internet activity in 2014 that deserves the attention of the serious security people trying to catch it and shut it down.  Not nearly as serious but annoying nonetheless is the legal, albeit black hat activity, that happens occasionally with online retail.

On the eve of “Holiday” (Christmas, not Halloween), let’s consider for a moment how the gloves come off by many affiliates and retailers on the biggest online shopping day of the year — Cyber Monday. Continue reading

The State of Social Media Marketing in 2014

I have read a couple of blog posts the past week alluding to a “social media bubble.” For the past couple of years, social media was the focus of pretty much every conference I attended.  The conversation mostly centered around the value of social media in terms of its ability to drive ROI.  The most memorable comment I can recall was at an eTail West session in which the speaker said “how do you measure the ROI of a bathroom in a store?”  It never really got much clearer than that over the years in terms of how social media could be cleanly linked to an acceptable ROI result.  There was much work done on trying to place a dollar value on a Facebook fan which no best practices ever resulted from that I am aware.  From that, social media became about driving awareness or improving SEO results.  Some brands and retailers determined that fan quality was preferred over quantity but again, not much transpired in the way of tying the actions of the most engaged fans back to actual ROI.  Real strides were made by some marketers in the way of assuring authenticity on their pages, which was a great byproduct of the debate for some brands but not all.  Unfortunately, now there are black hat tactics in the way of bots mimicking human actions on fan pages to simulate engagement, so not all is authentic out there in the social mediasphere.

So in hearing about this social media bubble, I can see why it could be, but it is doubtful anyone really believes social media is going away any time soon. Continue reading