Friday, March 10, 2017

Why Smart Internet Marketers Are Opting for Native Advertising

According to a report on Shopify, global retail ecommerce sales are projected to grow to $3.4 trillion (U.S.) by 2019. This is a huge surge compared to 2015's figure of $1.548 trillion. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of internet marketers seem to be taking advantage. And many are smart enough to be employing something called native advertising.

Native advertising is any paid content that is made to match the form of the platform it appears on without being disruptive. This may mean promoted tweets on Twitter, suggested posts on Facebook and editorial-based content. It can be presented in the form of a video, an image or an article. And no, it is not the same as content marketing.

How's that? Content marketing involves finding a way to place the product being promoted within the content provided. In contrast to native advertising, this is relatively obvious.

Native advertising is less obvious. It is not even that focused on product promotion. Instead, it usually comes across as sponsored posts on social media platforms and other sites, as promoted tweets, feature videos on Youtube, suggested reading/viewing and more. Native advertising is designed to blend seamlessly into the style and structure of the content of the page and the website on which it is displayed.

In the words of Vladmir Bashkin, business development director of Adnow, a fast-growing native advertising and content-discovery platform, “Native advertising is the ninja of digital marketing: quiet yet visible, subtle yet effective. And you know that ninjas kick ass; so does native marketing”.

This statement encapsulates the reasons I believe all smart internet marketers should leverage native advertising for their marketing campaigns. Those reasons:

1. It does not disrupt the browsing experience. We have all experienced banner ads or, more annoyingly, popup ads when we browse. Those forms of digital advertisement are intrusive -- hence, their relatively low click-through and conversion rates.

Unlike these forms of digital marketing, native advertising feels so natural that there is much less of an abrupt transition from the natural web page content to advertisement. Personally speaking, I don't find that they disrupt my browsing experience. In fact, I find the links to the suggested content at the end of the article to be complementary and helpful.

2. It promotes brand awareness in a way nothing else can. Have you ever come across shows on network TV sponsored by established brands? Or maybe you saw the article posted by Dell on the New York Times website on January 8, 2014. It didn't promote Dell’s products directly. It just presented beautiful and informative content -- by Dell. These are examples of sponsored and branded content, respectively.

Efforts to build brand awareness can also occur in the form of a single sponsored magazine issue, in the way that Target bought all the ad space on the August 22, 2005, issue of The New Yorker.

Then there is the method of strategic product placement. Ever watched American Idol? If you have, you have surely noticed the Coca-Cola cups held by the judges on the show.

There are many more methods of native advertising, but this is one way to make your brand go viral, in a positive way.

3. It can bypass security measures meant to keep ads at bay. Native advertising does this for one major reason; at face value, it is not an ad. You do not need an ad space on a website to put up native advertisements. Native ads, instead, comply with the editorial structure and standards of the publisher (online or offline) on whose site they are placed. They are part of the content on site pages on which they appear, so they do not appear as ads; they appear as content.

In addition, anyone can install ad-locking software on their computer, tablet or mobile phone, which will deal comfortably with banner and pop-up ads. But native ads will always slip through. That means that native advertising has a higher potential to reach a much greater number of people.

5. Statistics favor native advertising. Business Insider reports that native ads budget hit a height of $4.7 billion in 2013 and are projected to climb to $21 billion in 2018 as more online marketers discover its benefits. It was reported to perform much better than traditional display, especially on mobile where it has more than 1 percent of CTR.

According to emarketer, native advertising is already offered by 73 percent of online publishers, with another 17 percent planning to take the same path. In addition, 32 percent of consumers are open to sharing a native ad with friends, family and colleagues while only 19 percent of consumers will share traditional banner ads. Note that these are stats from as far back as 2015.

That's why, in 2017, it's evident that the world is moving the way of native ads, and you should too if you want an optimal yield from your marketing strategies.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

3 Tips on Becoming a Pay-Per-Click Expert

Online advertising is one of those industries that is always taking heat for one reason or another. Some of it is just the nature of advertising, some of it has to do with expectations of the future of internet usage. However, online advertising has been, is and will almost definitely continue to be an integral part of every brand’s advertising stack.

Specifically, pay per click is not going anywhere, which means that every marketing and advertising professional knows that part of their recipe for success (and promotion) is building up their skills in online advertising and becoming a PPC expert.

I've used PPC to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars for my own businesses, and so can you. I'm not some kind of guru, wizard or prodigy. In fact, when I launched my first campaign I made a ton of mistakes, lost boatloads of money and almost put my company in bankruptcy.

But I eventually got over the hill and am now an expert in using PPC. It's a tough journey to become a pro, but the ROI is well worth the struggle. Here are the top three tips for mastering PPC, increasing your brand’s revenue and engagement and being recognized as an expert.

1. Learn the platforms.

The first step to becoming a PPC expert is to become familiar with the major platforms. Until you know how to use the tools, you won’t know what’s possible.

The two pillars of PPC are Google AdWords and Bing Ads. The two systems are similar and both Adwords and Bing Ads offer certifications for their programs. While studying isn’t always the most fun, it is as usual the best way to get ahead in this industry.

Once you’ve learned about what’s available to everyone, consider what platforms would work especially well in your industry. For example, if you work in ecommerce, fashion, home decor or other visually appealing industries, consider looking into Pinterest’s Buyable Pins, which allows users to purchase your products directly from the social media platform.

Remember to pace yourself as you learn -- these platforms will be the tools you use to build your campaigns, so you should be comfortable enough with each to factor in each one’s strengths and weaknesses for various uses.

2. Understand your audience.

Now that you have the tools, you’ll need to understand the goal: getting your audience’s attention. A great place to start with this is with buyer personas, if your brand has developed them. If not, they’re an excellent first exercise!

Study where your audience “hangs out” online. Do they use Google or Bing primarily (or are they into a smaller, more niche search engine such as DuckDuckGo)? What’s their income level? What social media channels do they love and which do they ignore?

Most importantly, understand what causes your audience to search for your brand. Why do they want what you sell? When do they want it? How often do they purchase it?

Once you’ve mapped out your audience as much as possible, you’ll be equipped to create campaigns that will appeal to them specifically. This is especially important with search engine advertising, which is the most competitive type of PPC, but applies across the industry. As a bonus, however, know that the success of your PPC campaigns will also help you refine who your audience actually is, as opposed to who you’re pretty sure they are!

3. Learn by doing (and watching).

After you’ve acquainted yourself with the tools and have a target audience in mind, it’s time to start doing! Your first few campaigns will likely be a bit bumpy as you get used to the constrained format of PPC, so don’t feel badly if the campaigns aren’t immediately successful.

A great way to get better faster is to look at your competitors' PPC campaigns. Look at what they’re doing that’s unique and what seems to be an industry trend. It will be up to you to determine what’s a common theme that, if you ignore, will help set you apart, and what’s a pillar that actually works, which means you should do it too.

After you’ve become comfortable with PPC, you’ll notice that the lessons you learn apply to other aspects of marketing as well. You’ll be more adept to suss out target markets, develop comfort in bidding wars and your tagline game will be much more on point.

As Stephan Sarandrea, director of strategy for the award-winning PPC firm Siteflood, explained to me: “PPC combines the artistry of marketing -- the valuable content and eye-catching designs and catch phrases -- with the science of signage. Each ad is quite small, so you’ll need to be economical with your usage of the space. The combination of the two can be very challenging to work with, but can also be a very fulfilling puzzle, not in least part because PPC is so metric driven! You’ll learn within a few days if you’re improving and watching the clicks roll in when you craft the perfect tagline is one of the best feelings, especially after spending days or weeks A/B testing.”