Affiliate Marketing, Mobile Advertising, Online Marketing, Performance Marketing, Social Marketing

Content Marketing – Challenges and Recommendations

 

As previously discussed, Content Marketing is becoming a key element in every marketing strategy. It now stands out as one of the most powerful techniques available for businesses that wish to strengthen their relationships with existing followers and reach new customers. However, not all businesses know exactly how to use it wisely and effectively.

According to Forrester, most B2B marketers have a difficult time creating relevant and engaging content that customers will want to read and share. Less than 15% of surveyed marketers have said that they believe their content greatly contributes to their businesses and actually provides an added value. Hence, the huge potential of Content is definitely far from being maximized, and there is quite a long way to go. Keeping the following points in mind could greatly increase your engagement with users and improve your Content Marketing effectiveness altogether:

Self-promotion Overkill

Elegantly showing how proud you are of your brand vs. over-pushing this notion is a fine line to walk; It is a skill content marketers should develop and carefully adopt when executing their daily activities. It is a strategic decision for marketing departments to make, one that can have a tremendous positive impact on a brand’s content creation aspects.

  • According to recent studies, almost 90% of brands nowadays share only their own research and views with their readers. This makes it difficult for their audience to regard them as objective sources for information, and will surely have an effect on reliability and engagement.
  • Referring tastefully to your own brand on one hand, while maintaining a broad-scale informative tone on the other, can be the key for balance and success. For example, quoting researches and studies carried out by other brands, or adding explanatory user-generated content into the mix could be a great way to create balance and lead to success.
  • Other studies show that more than 50% of online readers are altogether distrustful of various types of sponsored content. The extent is so great that some users have already developed “banner blindness” and do not pay any attention to online ads and banners. It is therefore not surprising to find that readers appear to be even more skeptical and distrustful of overly-promotional content that excessively promotes a specific brand.
  • “Trust” is the keyword for creating successful engagement, and its importance must be recognized for successful content implementation. Your content should therefore be smart, subtle, non-intrusive and relevant. Consumer attention span is rather short, and you don’t have many chances before being “blacklisted”. So make sure you do it right.

Lack of Focus on the Target Audience

According to research carried out by The Content Marketing Institute, some 65% of brands fail to grasp one of the most basic principles on which marketing strategies are built: Realizing who the target audience is, understanding what they want, and focusing your messages on what they need. This concept is the bread and butter of online marketing at large, and becomes even more relevant when referring to Content Marketing. Content marketers create the actual words and messages that at the moment of truth either intrigue a user or make them move on. Assuming your intention is to make them read your content, and hopefully spread it to others in their network, you must understand who your potential readers are, and what things interest and excite them at this moment of truth.

  • First, it is important to get the basics right: Your target audience must be specifically and clearly defined. The better you carry out your research and understand your audience, the more granular you can become, making your message sharper and more effective.
  • Continue by defining your demographics and identifying your customers’ problems and challenges. Afterwards, use your content to solve these and simplify things for them. Many marketers reach this point, but then commit the mistake by creating content that they think is interesting, rather than content that their customers would find interesting.
  • Try to zoom out and put yourself in their shoes. If you find it too difficult, you can even conduct a small survey: Prepare a few questions, and present them to a number of people within your target audience. It is most likely that you will not receive any surprising answers, but even one different angle that you haven’t thought about could be meaningful and significant enough.
  • For example, imagine your website revolves entirely around cooking, and features various explanations and recipes of different cuisines. If you are a big fan of Italian food, but your target audience lives in Asia, and is mostly interested in Asian food, they would obviously prefer reading more about the latter. On the other hand, do not forget that they still like food and cooking in general. A balanced mixture of content would therefore be a good path to take: You can discuss other cuisines, but keep the bulk of your content about the Asian kitchen. Always keep in mind that in order to make things meaningful and relevant, your content’s balance should lean more towards your audience’s interests and needs.

On a final note, if you acknowledge these points and implement them in an organized manner, sticking to a clear strategy and documentation routine, you will already be ahead of the game.

Mars Media Group’s Marketing Team regularly stays current with the latest Content Marketing trends, and is always on the lookout for more creative and innovative ways to further push the conventional limits.

Affiliate Marketing, Mobile Advertising, Online Marketing, Performance Marketing

Display Advertising in 2015

The world of digital advertising never stops changing, and the pace isn’t getting any slower. New technological developments and marketing concepts set the tempo, and it is important to keep up and stay on top of things.

With 2014 already long behind us, becoming familiar with the big picture of 2015’s online marketing trends is quite essential. This includes continued mobile optimization, increased social media spend, and growth in content marketing. However, there are some rather interesting developments in the field of Display Advertising, which are also important to keep in mind:

 

1. Data as a key player: Perhaps one of the more important trends to impact the online advertising world as a whole, and Display Advertising in particular, is related to data itself. Companies are looking more and more into big data-driven analytics to cross-reference between search activity, sales, purchase history, site interactions and browsing habits.

This information allows a better understanding of exactly what their customers are looking for, where they are likely to go next, and what actions they might carry out. Big data analytics and metrics have already begun being an integral part of an online marketer’s agenda, and their role in 2015 should be even more significant.

2. Context will be just as important as the content itself: Another notable prominent development is the understanding that quality content is just as important as its location and surrounding. The awareness to context has been recently growing, and it is expected to skyrocket to new levels in 2015.

Thanks to new and improved data-driven technology, it is now becoming easier to make sure your content reaches audience in the most contextually-relevant places, making it very likely for people to be interested in what you have to say.

3. Cross-device measurement and channel attribution: Understanding exactly which channel has made a conversion has always been relevant. However, major developments in the field have only been made quite recently. Initially, Facebook raised the bar in 2013, with acquiring Microsoft’s online ad serving and measurement service Atlas.

The people at Google haven’t been fiddling around either, and acquired advanced marketing attribution platform Adometry in 2014. These big players have realized the great importance back then, and the rest have started following.

Since 2014, we have seen more and more advertisers and agencies focusing on developing solutions for understanding exactly which channel has brought the lead and made the purchase. This trend should continue and become even stronger throughout 2015, due to technological developments and to a more profound understand of its importance.

The impact should be felt throughout the entire world of digital advertising as a whole, and on each individual marketing channel specifically – including Display. It should make things easier in that regard, and shed some light on precise performance metrics attributed specifically to your Display campaign.

4. Cookies will lose their importance: Up until recently, tracking users was done quite easily, using a simple cookie that followed users around from place to place. However, user behavior has changed, and things are now different: With the strong foothold mobile has gained, many users now regularly browse the web through several different devices, making it difficult to track them with simple cookies.

In addition, awareness to online privacy has grown, and cookies are being disabled more and more often. As a result, ad-tech companies have started developing new tracking tools, and advertisers have begun realizing even more that the information found in a user’s online ID and profile can be quite useful and reliable. Learning how to use this information can lead to more accurate targeting and eventually better performance. We should expect to see significant progress in this direction throughout 2015.

2015 has only kicked off, and it already seems packed with a whole new set of exciting dynamic developments. To keep track of these trends and to make sure you stay on top of the Display Advertising game, contact us at info@m-m-g.com

Affiliate Marketing, In-Game Advertising, Mobile Advertising, Online Marketing, Performance Marketing, Social Marketing

Life Time Value (LTV)

Most companies nowadays regard users as their most valuable asset, simply because good, loyal and long-term users are not easy to find. There is no doubt that customers are the bread and butter of every company’s business model. However, too many businesses tend to focus more on transactional customer value, without dedicating enough thought and resources to the user experience that takes place after the conversion.

Needless to say, it is important to invest in making your product or service better. However, it is equally important to focus on finding ways to ensure your existing customers are satisfied, and stay with you for as long as possible after the conversion is made. Otherwise, the cost of acquiring each and every customer can seriously outweigh the amount of revenue that could be made from them. Specifically when referring to the world of mobile applications, in which both users and budgets are plentiful.

So how do you actually measure their value? Quite easily, through LTV (Life Time Value). In a nutshell, LTV describes the amount of profit that could be generated by a customer throughout their lifetime. Many companies are already using this business metric to help them understand how much a customer is really worth to them, in terms of actual revenue. It is broadly based on the concept that investing more money in early stages and ensuring a high-quality experience can help in gaining loyal customers whose increased business and engagement will yield more profits in the long run.

In other words: If you know that a certain customer is three times more valuable, for example, than some other customer, it would be wiser to invest more in the first one and make sure they fulfil their potential. When it comes to the competitive world of mobile applications and games, measuring users’ LTV may be a highly challenging task. However, once you manage to have it figured out, you will be on top of things and know where it would be most effective to invest your attention and marketing budget.

In order to help our partners gain easy access to these useful insights, we have developed a unique technology-driven platform: The LTV Optimizer. By tracking in-app events and analyzing user behavior, this tool finds and targets the optimal users who are most likely to engage as much as possible with a specific game or application. The optimizer features advanced targeting options, and can provide valuable information on users, including OS, device type, category, and country. It can make your life as an advertiser pretty easy, as all optimization is carried out on our end.

Every time a user completes one of the tracking points, their action is measured and evaluated. The points we measure may slightly vary from time to time, but the general idea roughly remains the same. For example, in order to assess a user’s value in a game, these are the typical four stages that are measured:

1) Tutorial completion: The user receives an initial explanation of how to play the game and explores its features.

2) Registration: The user registers and starts playing the game, becoming actively involved in it and engaging with in-app events.

3) Stage completion: After the user becomes initially involved in the game, they continue playing and progressing within the game, completing more and more stages.

4) Significant in-game stage: Eventually, the user reaches a certain point within the game, which is difficult to complete without making an in-app purchase. This is the most crucial stage in terms of ROI, and a user who completes it receives high ranking. These are the optimal users, as they have made an in-app purchase once, and are likely to do so again. This is why they usually receive the highest score.

The more advanced a stage is, the smaller the amount of users who reach it. I.e., some 70%-80% of users reach the first stage, while only 3%-5% reach the final stage.

The optimizer tracks the users’ action in each and every stage, and analyzes the accumulated information. Factors such as in-app events and social engagement are important as well, and are mapped and categorized, along with all other parameters. These are then added up, weighed and measured, and essentially lay the foundation for a comprehensive user profile. The evaluation and ranking are then carried out accordingly, based on the profile. The concept is fairly simple: The higher a user ranking is, the better their engagement with your app.

The in-app behavior analysis is executed in real time, thanks to our proprietary technology, based on complex large-data driven algorithms. The platform’s metrics-based predictions allow precise optimizations to be carried out per our partners’ requirement, according to factors such as performance, user engagement with the app, social interaction, and potential revenue. Knowing in advance which users are likely to receive a high score can assist in ensuring that more marketing efforts and budgets are allocated towards their direction, in terms of reach and segmentation. This will ensure that your apps/games reach the right customers, who will remain active and loyal in the long-run and increase your ROI.

For more information on how to get that edge over others and seize the future, contact us at info@m-m-g.com

Affiliate Marketing, Mobile Advertising, Online Marketing

Changing The Game With Mobile Advertising

The year 2014 marked the largest increase in total ad spending in the US, since 2004 according to eMarketer.

The amount of money invested in ads has risen by approximately 5.5%, to the sum of $180.12 billion.

Since the introduction of Apple’s first iPhone in 2007, and the first Android-based device, HTC Dream, in 2008, the world has begun changing in a completely new direction. People spend more and more time a day with their mobile devices and tablets, using them for doing almost everything. Some even regard their mobile device as more essential than their own wallet. The implications are significant, and the entire world of online marketing is changing accordingly. In this regard, the direction is clear and evident, and can be summed up in one word: Mobile.

Mobile Advertising, the rising advertising medium in the past few years throughout the world, has taken the lead this year, in the American market. Advertisers have spent approximately 83% more on tablets and smartphones in 2014 than in 2013.

Advertising in the Mobile medium is done in many ways, as the possibilities are almost endless. Some of the more popular solutions include in-app advertising based on interest, rewarding users to make in-app purchases, location-based advertising, and tools for tracking and optimizing campaigns in real-time.

Mobile advertising constitutes 10% of all media ad spending in 2014, with revenues of some $17.7 billion – leaving newspapers, magazines and radio far behind, surpassed only by TV and desktops/laptops.

This can probably be attributed, among other reasons, to the ever-growing mobile usage trend, gaining more and more popularity worldwide with every year that passes. According to eMarketer, up until now in 2014, the typical US adult has spent in average 2 hours and 51 minutes per day with mobile devices. This is 42 minutes more than in 2013’s study, according to which the average American adult has equally spent 2 hours and 19 minutes on mobile devices and on computers.

The continuous steady climb of ad spending is partially stemmed in the growing revenues from internet media companies, specifically those investing in mobile advertising. According to eMarketer assessments from early 2014, digital ad-selling companies, Facebook and Google in the forefront, will constitute some 18% of total media ad spending by the end of the year. The year 2016, according to the forecasts, will mark mobile ad revenues summing up to 65.8%.

According to Magna Global, in 2017, mobile ad spending will reach some $42 billion in total.
“From 2015 to 2017, growth will be fueled by improved market conditions, such as provider consolidation, measurement standardization and new targeting technologies, along with a sustained interest in the mobile medium from advertisers,” Stephanie Baghdassarian, research director at Gartner, said in a statement.
This strong and steady mobile upturn and the foreseeable usage trends lead to predicting that in the year 2018, over 70% of digital ad spending will be on mobile.
It indeed seems that the future of digital advertising lies in Mobile Advertising.
Many advertisers and publishers have already begun realizing this, and started taking action in order to benefit from this vast world of mobile advertising and the great potential it holds within.
In order for you to stay on top of things and be a part of this change, it is essential to embrace it, to discover how you can ride the wave and use it to your advantage.
It can be quite easy to get lost in this rapid and adventurous world, so it is equally important to keep in mind that you are not alone. In fact, it is better having a companion, someone experienced to guide you through it, to understand exactly what you need, to provide you with all the relevant information and to make sure you find the best solution for you.

Affiliate Marketing, Mobile Advertising, Online Marketing, Performance Marketing, Social Marketing

Google, Yahoo ad networks fund online piracy websites, USC report claims

Article by Andrew Couts, Digital Trends.com

A report from the University of California’s Annenberg Innovation Lab claims that Google, Yahoo, and others are helping fund online piracy through advertising – a claim Google says is “mistaken.”

Google and Yahoo are among the top ten largest contributors of advertising revenue to websites that facilitate online piracy, according to a report released Thursday by the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Innovation Lab. A similar report will be released by the USC Lab each month.

Online and mobile advertising network Openx, which was backed by AOL Ventures, topped the report’s list, while Google came in at number two. Yahoo, and its ad exchange Right Media, ranked sixth, followed by Quantcast, another major player in online analytics and advertising.

The report’s rankings were based off of the number of “top infringing sites” on which code from these ad networks were found.

While Google landed one of the highest profile spots on the Annenberg list, the search giant provided the researchers the components for their ammunition. Google’s own Transparency Report, which lists the domains that have received the most Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Takedown requests, filled out the report’s top piracy website list. Further, the report was inspired by a study, “The Six Business Models of Copyright Infringement,” funded by Google and PRS for Music on Brands, which found that peer-to-peer websites that feature illegally distributed content received 86 percent of their revenue from advertising.

Jonathan Talpin, director of the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab and a former film industry executive, does not hide his motivation for releasing the report.

“Large pirate sites distribute illegal content and continue to steal trademarked, copyrighted content and siphon millions of dollars away from the creative community, making it much harder for artists to make a living,” said Talpin in a statement. “We do not believe that government regulation alone is the answer to the Piracy problem, but rather that the self-regulation of major sectors like the online advertising industry could make it harder for the ‘Kim Dotcom’s’ of the world to unfairly exploit artists. We look forward to working with advertising agencies and networks in the coming months to address this issue.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, the fight against online piracy is a personal one for Talpin, whose friend, musician Levon Helm, was forced to go back on tour to pay for throat cancer treatment after the rise of pirate sites like LimeWire and The Pirate Bay.

“All musicians know … why their incomes have plummeted,” Talpin told the L.A. Times. “Everyone knows piracy has destroyed the music business.”

Despite Google’s data being used in the Lab’s report, the company says that it believes the researchers are a “mistaken” in their findings, and asserts that it has been a leader in the fight against online piracy. Long criticized by the Hollywood entertainment industry for its role in the online piracy ecosystem, the search giant announced last August that it would begin pushing websites accused of copyright infringement further down in its search results.

“We have not seen a copy of this report and don’t know the methodology, but to the extent it suggests that Google ads are a major source of funds for major pirate sites, we believe it is mistaken,” a Google spokeswoman told Digital Trends in an email. “Over the past several years, we’ve taken a leadership role in this fight, partnering with industry organizations to cut off the flow of money to piracy sites, as well as investing significant time and money to keep copyright-infringing content out of our network.”

“The complexity of online advertising has led some to conclude, incorrectly, that the mere presence of any Google code on a site means financial support from Google,” the spokeswoman concluded.

Yahoo did not deny that ads served through its Rights Media Exchange business have ended up on piracy websites. But it did say that it has rules in place to stop the flow of advertisements to “sites that violate laws or Exchange Policies,” and will stop running ads on those sites once it has been notified of such a situation.

“Our customers are contractually obligated to comply with our Exchange policies, which specifically prohibit introducing content that appears to promote unauthorized use or reproduction of material that is covered by copyright law,” said a Yahoo spokesperson in an email with Digital Trends. “We take several active steps to enforce this policy using a combination of targeting technology and human intervention to locate, isolate and eliminate suspect sites. Once we detect sites that violate Exchange Policies, we block them from receiving ads via the Exchange immediately. When we are notified about ads serving via the Right Media Exchange on sites that violate laws or Exchange Policies, we investigate and block the sites as appropriate.”

The Annenberg Innovation Lab was not immediately available for comment.

Here is the Lab’s top-ten ad networks that help fund piracy:

1. Openx
2. Google (including Double Click)
3. Exoclick
4. Sumotorrent
5. Propellerads
6. Yahoo (including Right Media)
7. Quantcast
8. Media Shakers
9. Yesads
10. Infolinks

Affiliate Marketing, Email Marketing, In-Game Advertising, Mobile Advertising, Online Marketing, Performance Marketing, Social Marketing, Video Marketing

Engagement – Not just a hollow commitment

In today’s online market, the biggest problem websites face is keeping their users interested and loyal. In the online advertising world, we refer to this problem as Engagement.
A lot of people don’t know that there are many easy and simple ways that they can keep their users engaged, and by doing so, increase their websites income and exposure.
In this first article of a series we will elaborate on just a few of the ways you can engage your users.
When you want to engage your users you need to ask yourself one very important question: “What do they want?”
In order to keep your users engaged and loyal to your brand you need to supply them that certain something they are looking for and in the best case scenario, what they can’t get anywhere else.
In today’s market, people are mostly looking for the social utilities- a way to let the whole world know what they are doing, what they are thinking and share any little piece of information- relevant or not.
A website that wants to stay in touch with his users must supply them with the social tools and let them express themselves in a creative matter.
One of the most popular tools for social engagement is the Toolbar. We will split the toolbar tool into 2 different but equally important tools: The downloadable toolbar and the online toolbar.
The downloadable toolbar is very popular and you can find many websites that offers users to download the toolbar for free. After they download it they can add apps, links and tools to the toolbar and make it more accessible for them. Great, but where is the engagement part? Well, you need to remember that the toolbar comes fully branded and with several built in links and tools that allows the website to connect with the users via live updates, pop ups and many more. The bonus part is of course the profitable side of the toolbar. The website earns from the ads and searches users see and performs in the toolbar. Not only do you get a great way to stay connected with your users, you also get an amazing monetizing tool.
The second one is what we call a WebToolbar and is a toolbar that sits in the website and doesn’t need downloading. This toolbar supplies users with an immediate way to act socially and let anybody know what they are thinking. You can find on this toolbar the most common social tools like Facebook, Twitter and more. This tool lets you enjoy real time engagement from your users.

Affiliate Marketing, In-Game Advertising, Mobile Advertising, Online Marketing, Video Marketing

Is viral video really a good advertising method?

Whether it’s on Facebook or via e-mail, people today enjoy sharing everything with their friends and even total strangers.
A picture, a song or a video- everything today is quick and on the air. Advertisers have realized the power of social engagement and many campaigns are designed to go on-line only.

We see many companies today choosing to advertise their product on-line rather than the classic T.V. method.
One of the most popular campaigns is that of Old Spice. The famous “Look at your man, now back to me” ads were very popular and ran mostly on-line. The Old Spice YouTube channel had more than 11 million views and over 160,000 subscribers. Those are really huge numbers that regular T.V advertising just cannot compete with.

Unlike classic video ads, on-line video ads allow advertisers to engage their customers with many simple tools like links, likes, surveys and more. Advertisers get immediate response on their campaigns and can revise their ads accordingly.

Today, when subscribers data is the most important piece of information you need, on-line video advertising is a must have platform for any advertiser.

Affiliate Marketing, Email Marketing, In-Game Advertising, Mobile Advertising, Online Marketing, Performance Marketing, Social Marketing

Amazon – the first ever affiliate program, or not

Amazon announced on February 2000 that it had been granted a patent on all the essential components of an affiliate program, as the patent application was submitted in June 1997. There’s a myth about the establishment of the first ever affiliate program and it goes like this… Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon.com had a nice chat with a woman about how she intends to sell her new divorce book on her website and then he came up with the idea – the woman will link her site to Amazon and receive a commission on the sales, making this model what we call today an “affiliate program”. The initial launch of “Amazon Associates Program” took place on July 1996, however digging up a little deeper we find that there might be more to it.

Experts in the field say that Amazon did popularize the idea of affiliate marketing but they were actually a bit late to be officially announced as affiliate program pioneers. Websites like PC Flowers & Gifts.com (October 1994), AutoWeb.com (October 1995), Epage (April 1996) and others took the first steps in the affiliate market a little before Amazon. In addition, experienced folks on the web mention the adult industry as the first or among the early innovators in affiliate marketing.

While Amazon claims to be the first ever affiliate program, we believe that the answer is not that clear, so it depends on who’s answering.