Marketers, How Valid Is Your Test? Hint: It’s Not About the Sample Size

The validity of a test is not tied to the size of the sample itself, but rather to the number of responses that you get from that sample. Choose sample sizes based on your expected response rate, not from tradition, your gut or convenience.

A client I worked with years ago kept fastidious records of test results that involved offers, lists, and creative executions. At the outset of our relationship, the client shared the results of these direct mail campaigns and the corresponding decisions that were made based on those results. The usual response rates were in the 0.3 to 0.5% range, and the test sample sizes were always 25,000. If a particular test cell got 130 responses (0.52%), it was deemed to have beaten a test cell that received 110 responses (0.44%). Make sense? Intuitively, yes. Statistically, no.

In fact, those two cells are statistically equal. With a sample size of 25,000 a 0.5% response rate, your results can vary by as much as 14.7% at a 90% confidence level. That means that there was a 90% chance that the results from that test could have been as much 0.55% or as little as 0.43%, making our test cell results of 110 responses (0.44%) and 130 responses (0.52%) statistically equal. I had to gently encourage the client to consider retesting at larger sample sizes.

There are statistical formulas for calculating sample size, but a good rule of thumb to follow is that with 250 responses, you can be 90% confident that your results will vary no more than +10%. This rule of thumb is valid in any medium online or offline. For example, if you test 25,000 emails and you get a 1% response rate, that’s 250 responses. Similarly, if you buy 250,000 impressions for an online ad and you get a 0.1% response rate, you get 250 responses. That means you can be 90% confident that (all things held equal) you will get between 0.9% and 1.1% in the email rollout,  and between 0.009% and 0.01%, with a continuation of the same ad in the same media. (Older editions of Ed Nash’sDirect Marketing — Strategy, Planning, Execution contain charts that you can reference at different sample sizes and response rates).

A smaller number of responses will result in a reduced confidence level or increased variance. For example, with a test size of 10,000 emails and a 1% response rate (100 responses), your variance at a 90% confidence level would be 16%, rather than 10%. That means you can be 90% confident that you’ll get between 0.84% and 1.16% response rate  with all things being held equal. Any response within that range could have been the result of variation within the sample.

Marketers are not alone in using their gut rather than statistics to determine sample sizes. Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman confesses in his book “Thinking, Fast and Slow“:

“Like many research psychologists, I had routinely chosen samples that were too small and had often obtained results that made no sense … the odd results were actually artifacts of my research method. My mistake, was particularly embarrassing because I taught statistics and knew how to compute the sample size that would reduce the risk to an acceptable level. But I had never chosen a sample size by computation. Like my colleagues, I had trusted tradition and my intuition in planning my experiments and had never thought seriously about the issue.”

The most important takeaway here is that the validity of a test is not tied to the size of the sample itself, but rather to the number of responses that you get from that sample. Choose sample sizes based on your expected response rate, not from tradition, your gut or convenience.

How Tech-Savvy Kids Are Wrecking the Effectiveness of Google Ad Campaigns

Are your Google ad campaigns being wasted on kids accidentally clicking ads on their mobile phones? If you’re targeting Google’s Display network, then there’s a good chance you’re wasting a lot of your ad budget. Learn how to put an end to this today.

If you were a kid during the ’80s or the early part of the ’90s, you likely didn’t realize that you were the last of your kind. Every generation of kids going forward will, outside of an apocalyptic event, never know a world not driven by technology. When creating your Google ad campaigns, think about how often you see kids as young as five or six absorbed in playing games or watching videos on a mobile device.

What does any of this have to do with your meticulously crafted Google Ads? If they end up running on the same apps on which those kids spend a lot of their time, plenty.

How Mobile Apps Throw Off Your Numbers

The Display Network provides the capability of allowing your ad to reach 93% of online users. That includes websites, videos, and apps. The potential created can be limitless, but so can the damage that can be wrought by your ad’s inclusion in a mobile application.

It makes sense for marketers to have their ads seen on websites relevant to their product, and that is where Google Ads can be of real benefit. The problem comes in when those same ads appear in the latest version of a child’s favorite mobile game.

The Fat Finger Problem

Think about your actions when playing a game on your phone or some other mobile device. The only ads you will click on are those appealing to your interests, and you likely close the rest. Sometimes your finger placement is wrong, and you end up accidentally clicking through an ad.

Those accidental clicks go up exponentially when children close out ads. All those accidental clicks fool you into thinking you are getting lots of interest in your product, thanks to strategic ad placement. That makes it hard to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns and figure out where you may want to make changes.

How to Avoid Miscounting Random Clicks From Mobile Apps

The following steps outline how you can examine your campaigns and see where your ads are placed.

  1. Select a specific ad campaign from your Google Ads dashboard.
  2. Click “Placements” from the left navigation sidebar.
  3. Click “Where Ads Showed” from the top navigation.

You should see a listing of previous ad placements for that campaign. Enter “mobile” into the search box to narrow the results down to mobile apps.

Excluding Mobile Apps

The Google Ads platform gives you the ability to opt out of having your ads displayed within mobile applications. You can do this by:

  • Clicking the checkbox to the left of the placement, then
  • Clicking “Edit” and
  • Selecting “Exclude from ad group” or “Exclude from campaign.”
  • Next, click “Exclusions” from the top navigation to view all the placements you’re excluded from.
  • Click the blue edit button to add more to campaigns or ad groups.

A Matter of Money

Business owners can benefit the most from completely excluding their ads from all mobile applications. The extraneous clicks could end up costing them quite a bit, as they will not result in the desired conversion.

They can do this by adding “App categories > All Apps” to the Exclusions list within your Display network campaigns.

Pulling It All Together

Not all clicks lead to the promise of a conversion, especially unintentional ones done by kids on mobile apps. You can review your ad placements in the Google Ads platform by clicking on the “Placements” button in the left navigation sidebar.  This will show you the placements you’re targeting.  Click “Where Ads Showed” to see where else your ads were displayed and determine if you need to exclude any of those additional placements.

Most businesses should exclude “All Apps” to save yourself a lot of headaches and reporting issues.

Want more tips to improve your Google Ads campaigns? Get your free copy of our “Ultimate Google AdWords Checklist.”

 

Denny Hatch Takes on a Direct Brand With Direct Marketing

Harry’s is what’s now classified as a direct brand. But is traditional direct marketing more powerful? Politically correct or not, “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings” reminds us that the piece we write today may be chuck full of insight and wisdom now, but demands a fresh new look only a few milestones down the road.

Harry’s is what’s now classified as a direct brand. But is traditional direct marketing more powerful? Politically correct or not, “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings” reminds us that the piece we write today may be chuck full of insight and wisdom now, but demands a fresh new look only a few milestones down the road.

Denny Hatch’s name should not be an unfamiliar one here. Former Target Marketing editor, blogger and general gadfly, Hatch retains the mantle of data-driven marketing’s provocateur, par excellence, now sadly deprived of his joy at being able to limit his writings to twice the number of characters of the original Twitter. His new marketing blog is full of good stuff.

For his recent 700-character, “Getting Your Prospects to Say ‘Yes’ ” piece, he has turned his sights on Harry’s, the upstart direct-to-consumer razor company featured in this Maverick space almost a year ago. At that time I asked you, our readers:

Will the powerful copy and offer, the Harry’s against Goliath approach, go viral or sufficiently viral to extend the reach of the promotion well beyond the media that has been paid for? Will it bring the cost of trials and conversions down low enough to be “affordable,” attracting customers whose loyalty generates sufficient lifetime value to amortize the total marketing costs over that lifetime and let Harry’s end up with more than a sustainable profit?

direct brand Harry's
Credit: Peter J. Rosenwald

Although headlined, “Make Your Bet on Harry’s or Goliath,” readers were only asked whether they believed that the soft, brand-focused approach would be enough to build a loyal and profitable client base. This direct brand ad and similar treatments break all of the DM101 rules and, because they keep appearing, either they are driving a satisfactory response or, sooner or later, the remains of Harry will be marketing history.

The Denny Hatch traditional direct marketing answer to the “will you bet your money on Harry?” question is a snarling “no.” And he is willing to put his “cheek” (so to speak) where his money is, by offering Harry’s a Denny original, an ad designed to test the “on your face” Free Trial offer against the company’s editorial lede with the same Free Trial offer.

Hatch’s proposed direct marketing ad, seen here, is a classic old school mail-order: “FREE,” “GUARANTEED,” “No Cost,” “No Risk,” “No Obligation.” The call to action couldn’t be improved: “CLICK HERE FOR NO-RISK FREE TRIAL.” And the copy appears to be signed-off by a real person. It’s got everything.

direct brand vs. direct marketing ad
Credit: Denny Hatch’s Marketing Blog by Denny Hatch

But is “everything” what moves today’s consumer, or is the intriguing narrative about changing a $13 billion industry better attuned to today’s sensibilities? Problem is: Will we ever know the results? At this writing, Harry’s soft-focus direct brand ads are everywhere I seem to go on the web.

If Harry’s would run a valid split test of Hatch’s direct marketing ad against one of its regular ads, we would know which one had the better clickthrough. And if we waited long enough, we would know which would have the better lifetime value. (A parenthetical aside: The trouble with measuring lifetime value is that, theoretically, you have to wait until everyone is dead. That’s likely to be longer than you care to wait.) Hopefully, we’ll be able to get some data in this case and share it with you sometime in the future.

When there is more to come, journalists advise you to “watch this space”!

5 Hottest Trends in Digital Out-of-Home Advertising Right Now

Digital out-of-home advertising (DOOH) is one of the fastest growing and interactive forms of advertising around. When done correctly, digital out-of-home advertising is accepted more than any other type of advertising due to its advancements. It is not only a selling tool, but a way for advertisers to interact with their clients.

New York City crossroads digital advertising display
New York City crossroads digital display | Credit: Brooklyn Outdoor by Candice Simons

Digital out-of-home advertising (DOOH) is one of the fastest growing and interactive forms of advertising around.

When done correctly, digital out-of-home advertising is accepted more than any other type of advertising due to its advancements. It is not only a selling tool, but a way for advertisers to interact with their clients.

With digital advertising, comes the concern that audiences will be able to turn off the advertisement. However, with DOOH this is not the case. These types of advertisements can’t be turned off and are hard to ignore.

Digital out-of-home offers innovative technology and powerful software that makes digital out-of-home ads a force to be reckoned with.

Here are the most noteworthy trends to keep an eye out for:

1.Data-Driven Advertising

Integrating live-streaming into digital displays gives clients with the ability to provide audiences with real-time information. Giving updates on events such as the scores of sporting games or voting polls, gives audiences a clear picture of the “now.”

Although traditional out-of-home advertising is the top medium used to create lasting impressions with clients, DOOH takes this to the next level. Combining data and technology with a general marketing campaign takes advertisements from visual to experience.

2.Visual Experiences

When companies make the mistake of not incorporating out-of-home into their marketing campaign, they miss out on a great way to deliver strong visuals.

People are incredibly receptive when it comes to visuals. For this reason, digital ads care a captivating way to provide direct experiences for consumers.

Out-of-home gives clients the ability to reach audiences at bus stops, in taxis and on their routes of daily commute. This has a major impact on consumers as they are exposed to OOH ads so often, they unconsciously influence them. This is especially true when paired with mobile advertising.

3.Smart Ads Through Smart Phones

Statistics show that nearly 70 percent of Americans are smart phone users, making them the most convenient way to connect with audiences. The way to do this, is through installing beacons on digital advertisements.

Beacons are real-world data generators that give clients the opportunity to turn advertising locations into signals that market directly to their target audience. By integrating beacons into DOOH, brands can engage in real-time with consumers.

4.Brand Building the Right Way

Taking advantage of new technology and measurement platforms is an accurate way to analyze brand data and allows consumers to connect with the right audience. Out-of-home advertising is the catalyst of brand building by giving brands the ability to reach large target audiences by marketing to their specific behaviors.

5.Ads That Mean Action

OOH advertising is a tried and true method in getting audiences to take action. Engaging with consumers through a combination of OOH and mobile devices, means engagement is at the fingertips of target audiences.

Consumers are always turned on and on-the-go. This gives OOH the unsurpassed ability to bridge the gap between audiences and brands that drives action from consumers. It is without a doubt that anyone who includes OOH into their marketing mix will surely benefit.

No, B2B Media Doesn’t Have an Ethics Problem

It broke my heart when I read the recent blog post “B2B Media, The Ethics Virus & The Pursuit of Consumer-Grade Experiences,” which argued the majority of B2B/trade publishers have a problem of selling out editorial integrity to advertisers. In the piece, Publishing Executive editor-in-chief Denis Wilson wrote, “If you think your organization is immune (from editorial integrity issues), I’d wager you’re a minority or just wrong.”

It broke my heart when I read the recent blog post “B2B Media, The Ethics Virus & The Pursuit of Consumer-Grade Experiences,” which argued the majority of B2B/trade publishers have a problem of selling out editorial integrity to advertisers. In the piece, Publishing Executive editor-in-chief Denis Wilson wrote, “If you think your organization is immune (from editorial integrity issues), I’d wager you’re a minority or just wrong.” Also, that “B2B media has an especially nefarious legacy of playing fast and loose with the journalistic craft.”

I may have taken the post personally, having been a B2B publisher on and off for 40 years. I never sold a word and, must admit, I have no memory of thinking my competition did either. I do not suggest all B2B publishers are beyond reproach when it comes to bending to advertiser pressure. I do say the vast majority do not do so, nor do they have a culture of selling out.

When I came up in the business, there were storied trade publishers like McGraw Hill, Chilton, Gralla, Penton, CMP and many others. There were fat magazines with solid content that industries relied upon, such as Variety, Automotive Week, Billboard, American Banker and Aviation Week. I used to read Crain publications like the old Ad Age with as much enjoyment as consumer books. Women’s Wear Daily, famously known as WWD, had such quality journalism it gained a significant consumer readership.

In the post, Wilson talks about how B2B publishers today are finally learning “quality original content drives audience engagement and monetization.” Those publishers mentioned support my view the industry was built on quality content.

The ASBPE Focus on Ethics

Ethics was indeed discussed at the ASBPE conference. As Wilson points out, that is to the credit of the journalists in attendance. I heard everything Wilson did, but recognized that those few stories of difficult advertiser pressure were presented not as the norm. The example of one publisher giving into ad pressure was worthy of discussion, because that publication had never crossed a similar line before.

We heard about when the rigid wall between church and state required an editor to stop dating an advertising sales assistant or be fired. Another example described when a feature story was written about an industry problem for which a big client happened to advertise a solution. The advertiser relationship had not driven the story. The fact the publisher had to pull their hair out over whether to run the ad opposite the story opener speaks to their integrity. They were worried that although ad and story had no causal relationship, it would simply look like they did. In my opinion they made the correct decision to run the ad opposite the opener, that it was helpful to readers and no lines were crossed.

Yet Wilson and I reached different conclusions as to why ethics was discussed so prominently. To me, it was a reflection of a profession that thinks that is how important editorial ethics are, not to cure endemic problems.

Think back to all the articles Publishing Executive and other media publications ran when native advertising first became a thing. Despite most of us having published advertorials in the past, there was overwhelming pushback that native adverting crossed a line. It was not just theoretical venting. Truly, a majority of B2B publishers during those days told me their staffs would not let them entertain the notion of native. The knee-jerk resistance speaks to a culture not in the habit of doing things for advertisers.

Editorial Contributions

The article correctly acknowledged the importance of editorial contributions from industry experts who happen to work for advertisers or potential advertisers. I’ve been an editor and publisher my entire career, but today as I write for Publishing Executive I am a vendor. My instincts have me steer clear of writing about what I sell and Wilson and I discuss anything I fear may be too close to the line. That has worked out well.

In his post, Wilson attributes industry contributors to low budgets. No doubt that is a huge driver; but there is more to it. I was associate publisher of a trade book called Modern Horsebreeding in the ’80s. Guess who knew much more than all of our writers? The veterinarians and pharmaceutical companies. We did occasionally run articles by their experts — there were no such thing as blogs — though never once tied them to advertising.

When I published a magazine and then website about RFID technology, we were thrilled to get some deeply knowledgeable pieces from industry experts. Sadly, most were not advertisers. But this was terrific content and simply had nothing to do with advertising. If a prospective advertiser really liked that we ran their engineer’s helpful information, great. We’ll take all the good vibes we can get with prospective advertisers. Conversely, when an advertiser complained that we didn’t run their content, we would invite them to suggest a topic. We provided written guidelines they must adhere to, advertiser or non-advertiser. We edited each piece and were glad to consult as they worked on it. I believe approaches like these and those of PubExec are the norm.

The Opposite Reality

From what I have seen, advertiser pressure is something ad salesmen feel more than it being a routine reality. I personally sold ads for decades and ran ad sales teams. Ad salespeople are always hopeful the magazine runs articles plugging clients; it’s in the blood. They sometimes whine to editors about running more copy on their clients. In my experience, editors mostly ignore them with thinly veiled pity.

One speaker at ASBPE said advertisers were purposely overlooked and not written about to avoid the appearance of corruption. As Wilson wrote, “the sticky politics of accepting vendor contributions wasn’t worth the trouble.” In my experience, this is far and away the bigger secret we all carry: advertisers tend to get screwed. We heard how one company mandated that editors not use advertisers as sources for stories. I have personally seen multiple situations where editors avoid calling executives at advertiser companies for quotes out of fear it would look like the publication was kissing advertiser butt.

Big advertisers are often the larger companies in any given industry. These same companies have the biggest budgets for research. These companies are often actually involved in many newsworthy issues and situations because of their commercial reach. It would be self-defeating to avoid tapping their knowledge; yet because of the fear of appearing unethical, I have seen this time and time again.

Advertisers, too, might surprise you. I will never forget at my RFID publication a news investigation that we ran on the cover slammed perhaps the largest company in the industry at that time. They were not advertisers and I thought, well, we’ll never see a dime from them. But it was an important, well-reported story. To the lasting credit of an SVP of Intermec, he told his ad department to place some cover ads in our new magazine. He felt the industry had to support quality journalism.

I repeat: Of course I have heard stories of pay-to-play. The few I’ve heard are memorable because they are rare, not pervasive. One former VP of editorial told me long ago he was made to run feature interviews with some advertisers. Again, that stood out in his mind because it was the opposite of everything else in his career.

I am not saying B2B publishers are ethical saints. Wilson made some excellent suggestions in his post on what editors should watch out for. However, I do believe the B2B publishing industry overall is not rife with virulent ethical lapses.

Transit Advertising Tips for Success

Exposing your advertisement to the diverse crowds of people who use mass transit is a great way to market your company. Strategically placing and designing your ad is a creative way to reach to your target audience. There are certain tips that will ensure you are marketing your advertisement in the most effective way. Read on to find out more about what transit advertising can do for you and how to use it effectively in your marketing campaign.

Exposing your advertisement to the diverse crowds of people who use mass transit is a great way to market your company. Strategically placing and designing your ad is a creative way to reach to your target audience. There are certain tips that will ensure you are marketing your advertisement in the most effective way. Read on to find out more about what transit advertising can do for you and how to use it effectively in your marketing campaign.

Advantages of Out-of-Home Transit Advertising

One reason that transit advertising is so effective in out-of-home advertising is that it’s hard to ignore. Passengers riding on a bus or train, or waiting at a station, are likely to be there for several minutes, making your ad impossible to ignore. Your audience will have plenty of time to study your ad and let the information sink in.

Being able to choose the size and location of your ad is also a huge advantage. Exterior locations, such as buses and bus stations, provide the benefit of your ad being seen by passers-by. Companies can create ads that capitalize on this by featuring colorful and innovative designs.

Types of Bus Advertising

Buses are very effective in out-of-home advertising due to their exterior and interior ad space. Interior ads have the advantage of catching and holding the attention of consumers who will be riding the bus. While Exterior ads have the benefit of offering exposure to everyone the bus passes. If you are interested in bus advertising, here are options to choose from:

  • King and Queen Signs: These are the largest of advertising signs, located on the sides of transit vehicles and attached with an aluminum frame.
  • Tail Signs: These are conveniently located on the rear of the vehicle. This provides ad exposure for some time by vehicles who end up behind the bus in traffic.
  • Interior Cards: These smaller ads are located inside the bus and only seen by passengers. These can be located on the tops of bus windows and on the divider behind the bus driver.

The newest development in bus advertising is the bus wrap, which entails covering the entire bus in an ad. This is typically an ongoing expense where you rent advertising space on a monthly basis. Although this can be expensive, if within budget this option  pays off with great exposure. Bus wrap advertisements are not limited to using the whole bus, but options are available for the sides, back and front as well.

Designs and Schedules

Keep in mind exterior transit ads have a small window of time to be viewed by the public, so choose your design carefully. Be sure to use eye-catching images that tell a story with as little text as possible to capture the attention of passers-by.

People are visually receptive. Although indoor advertising has the advantage of reaching a more captive audience, it is best to rely on images and designs with minimal wording.

It is also important to consider the route of the bus or train you are advertising on. You can strategically reach your target audience by choosing to advertise specific routes.

Although mass transit has always been a popular form of transportation, the economical benefits are making the option even more popular.

The Sustainability of Consumer Trust

I refuse to jump on the privacy “scandal” bandwagon. It is rough listening in this week to certain lawmakers fail to recognize the absolute benefits accrued by consumers through the responsible collection and use of data for commerce, advertising and innovation. Yes, data handling requires stewardship — but that doesn’t mean “data” in and of itself — constitutes anything close to being a harm that needs to be regulate.

I refuse to jump on the privacy “scandal” bandwagon.

It is rough listening in this week to certain lawmakers fail to recognize the absolute benefits accrued by consumers through the responsible collection and use of data for commerce, advertising and innovation. Yes, data handling requires stewardship — but that doesn’t mean “data” in and of itself — constitutes anything close to being a harm that needs to be regulated, as if there were no rules already in place.

Whether or not I, as a voter, saw Russian-administered content online, in an alleged bid to stir up controversy and division among the American electorate, is an understandable concern. It should be investigated — because we need to isolate and diminish any and all “malicious” actors in our digital economy and democracy. Fraud, too, is a harm that must be isolated, identified and eradicated. You’ll have no debate from me here.

But let’s not conflate malicious actors with bona fide relevant advertising and content being presented to, and engaged by, consumers — a wholly beneficial outcome that public policy must acknowledge. Data, commerce and advertising are not dirty words — they are engines for job growth, innovation and — yes, even government revenue through taxes. Ads finance content freely available and useful to consumers and other businesses — and pay for journalism, too, and a diversity of content on the Net.

But all of this responsible data collection and use are useless if there is no consumer trust.

I argue that the U.S. approach to data regulation — legal restriction where sensitive personal information is collected, transferred and applied through sector-specific laws concerning health data, certain government IDs, personal finance, children’s data and credit — and where Fair Information Principles are applied for other data categories that do not have such propensity for harm. Consumers are extremely well-served by this regimen. It is far more harmful to have a breach of credit data, for example, than to have business entities share consumers’ advertising profiles in non-sensitive categories — the latter data use being wholly beneficial. U.S. data protections thus are wisely targeted and measured.

Ads pay the freight — and the economy grows as a direct result. Better for an ad to be relevant to an audience. I believe this is superior (at least for Americans) than other highly prescriptive regimes (read, Europe) that make little distinctions between data categories and require “opt-in” permissions for any and all types of data sharing, including that related to advertising and marketing. If consumers are inundated with opt-in requests for less sensitive types of data use, even for categories of use where they directly benefit, then inertia and fatigue will prevail and useful data flows won’t happen. I’m hoping businesses handling European citizen data will find ways to prove me wrong!

Is the motivation of such draconian restrictions in Europe really privacy protection as a fundamental human right? Or is it somehow questioning commerce, competition, diversity, trade and innovation, and other important social aims financed by advertising — all sacrificed on the altar of permission? Yes, consumer control should be a default with ad data — but affirmative consent should be reserved for data categories where the propensity for harm is real. This point of view, in Europe at least, is rhetorical — because the law is the law. And as of May 25, the General Data Protection Regulation is enforceable on all global entities touching EU citizen data. God Save the Queen and her data subjects, and perhaps all of us.

At a recent privacy conference, one of the primary architects of the European Union’s ePrivacy Regulation (a follow-up to GDPR) said, “What we are aiming at is to abolish surveillance-driven advertising.”

Surveillance-driven” advertising and “surveillance capitalism” — are Europe- and privacy-academic speak that seeks to link or conflate interest-based advertising with government surveillance of citizens. I mean, really? Ad tech may include companies not known to the consumer, and because brands enlist outside ad tech companies to help them make advertising inventory more relevant (and useful) to site and app users, and disclose such data sharing through enhanced notice mechanisms and privacy policies, somehow this still constitutes “surveillance” with all of its negative connotations. Let’s not forget that the intended result of these investments in consumer engagement is a more relevant ad, not a dossier!

We can see where some (important) heads may be motivated.

Back to the U.S.

Even something as innocuous as an ad served to a device — we have plenty of guidance for privacy rules of the road: Fair Information Practice Principles that are global, Data & Marketing Association Data Standards 2.0, Digital Advertising Alliance Principles and the YourAdChoices program (a client), IAB technical standards … and an active Federal Trade Commission (and other agencies, in certain data categories) overseeing the ecosystem, and enforcing privacy expectations — is both self-regulatory and legal.

The idea that the United States is a laissez-faire data free-for-all is pointedly not a correct assessment. In the digital world, we have 20-plus years of self-regulation, based on nearly 60 years of self-regulation offline. All of this premised on building and bolstering consumer trust. We have federal and state law in important data sectors. Through all of these decades, we’ve had an FTC minding the advertising/marketing store, growing the market, and — enforcing privacy and security of data through meaningful enforcement actions and consent decrees that serve as teaching tools to other businesses.

Instead of grandstanding and undermining years of hard-earned consumer trust, more policymakers — and perhaps industry leaders, too — should recognize how responsible data flows serve the consumer. Thus, they should back existing industry regimes that promote stewardship and governance — and hold us to it. Serving consumers, earning their trust, after all, is a shared goal by all responsible stakeholders.

Pepsi Fumbles Context of NFL Playoffs

Context and relevancy are supposed to be the next big things. But even in the world of TV, where programming is known months in advance, brands still drop the ball — like Pepsi did in the NFL conference championship broadcasts last week.

Context and relevancy are supposed to be the next big things. But to actually serve contextually relevant content isn’t just a challenge for personalized, digital media. Even in the world of TV, where programming is known months in advance, brands still drop the ball — like Pepsi did in the NFL conference championship broadcasts last week.

For Sunday’s NFC Championship game in Philadelphia, played between the Minnesota Vikings and the Philadelphia Eagles, Pepsi seemed to run just one commercial: A Dallas Cowboys spot that ran at least three times during the game in the Philadelphia area:

So, OK, somewhere the ad buyer said, “This is an NFL game, run our best performing NFL commercial.” What’s the big deal?

Well, that was silly for a bunch of reasons. Not least of which is that the Cowboys didn’t even make the playoffs this year. So, most of their fans aren’t tuning in.

What makes it even worse is this was a game that drew heavy Minnesota and Philadelphia audiences. Sure, fans from across the country watched too, but I bet Philly and Minnesota fans made up half of the audience.

And all of those viewers have one thing in common: They don’t like the Dallas Cowboys.

Minnesota fans have some history with Dallas.

And Eagles fans … well former Eagle Bennie Logan said it best:

Former Eagle Bennie Logan on the Eagles-Cowboys rivalry.
Former Eagle Bennie Logan on the Eagles-Cowboys rivalry.

Pepsi running this commercial over and over again to Eagles and Vikings fans isn’t just ineffective, it’s insulting. Pepsi might as well have run a Coke ad.

The thing is, in the past, this was OK. You may even think it’s OK today. But it’s not going to be OK tomorrow.

If we’re going to meet the challenges of relevance at the personal level, we need to get our heads out of the sand about marketing at the macro level. You’re never going to bring effective relevancy to your digital content if you can’t recognize that a Dallas commercial was a bad idea this playoff season.

Understand what’s going on with your audience when they’re engaging with your marketing. Why are they there? What do they need? What’s happening around them? That’s what’s going to make your marketing stand out in the years ahead.

Europe’s Forthcoming Data ‘Freeze’ and Why We Need to Care

European policymakers are transfixed with setting personal information controls on the private sector, and — beginning May 2018 — will give its citizens “default” power to shut down all such data usage for advertising purposes unless consumers provide affirmative consent. It’s called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and its companion ePrivacy Regulation.

Paris
Eiffel Tower” | Credit: TOUREFFEL.PARIS THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF THE EIFFEL TOWER by Eiffel Tower

There was a modicum of good news recently when the U.S. Department of Commerce’s “Privacy Shield” program was given a passing grade by the European Union, enabling private-sector cross-border data flows on European citizens between the U.S. and Europe. Thousands of U.S. companies participate in Privacy Shield. They rely on the program to help collect, process and transfer responsibly information for more relevant advertising, human resources, and other commercial and operational purposes. (It applies to charities, too.)

European policymakers are transfixed with setting personal information controls on the private sector, and — beginning May 2018 — will give its citizens “default” power to shut down all such data usage for advertising purposes unless consumers provide affirmative consent. It’s called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and its companion ePrivacy Regulation.

In the U.S., much digital information about consumer devices and browsers — such as their browsing history and app usage — is painstakingly “anonymized” by companies according to industry-wide self-regulatory codes. [Disclosure: One of my clients is the Digital Advertising Alliance.] Sweat equity through independent accountability programs safeguard such data from being used without proper consumer notice (transparency) and opportunity to exercise control through an easy-to-find, easy-to-use “opt-out.” However, in Europe, any digital information that “could” be used to re-identify an individual — even if anonymized from a U.S. perspective, such as an IP address — is considered personal by definition. Affirmative consent — most likely an “opt-in” though “consent” details are yet to be articulated — will hold sway. Common U.S. notice-and-opt-out regimens won’t suffice.

Imagine all the responsible data flows — even those clearly beneficial to consumers and the global economy — that will simply stop May 25, 2018, in Europe because of a hugely stricter consent mandate. American companies can only watch and wait to see who may be called out by EU data protection authorities, eager to fine a company up to 4 percent of its global returns, as provided for in the law.

Good policy? Or good politics. In reality, EU lawmakers are asking its citizens to pay a huge price. And that’s not my opinion as an American — it’s a fact in a Europe-born study. Look at what’s at stake:

  • €535 billion of the European Union economy benefits directly and indirectly from digital advertising;
  • 66 percent of digital ad spend depends on data, and 90 percent of digital advertising growth depends on data;
  • Ad units tied to data are 300 percent more valuable than standard run-of-network ads (because they are more effective)

That’s part of the economic argument. But there are social and political ramifications, too.

  • Much like U.S. consumers, Europeans prefer data-supported ads to paying for content — eight in 10 report such a preference;
  • Fully 68 percent say they would never pay for online content or use services such as email if they had to pay for it;
  • And 92 percent would stop using their favorite site or app if they had to pay for it;
  • Even 42 percent are “happy”: to see data used to deliver personalized ads.

European businesses, agencies and publishers have gone so far as to press policymakers that their respective countries’ own democratic and economic health is at stake — inherent in the power of data used in advertising:

  • Up to 50 percent of advertising growth will simply disappear if data cannot be used to make more relevant ads;
  • 70 percent of European citizens would abandon the Internet for news if they had to pay to replace the news content financed by digital advertising;
  • Internet usage would crash by 88 percent if EU citizens were forced to pay for online content and services;
  • And what of competition, diversity of content and innovation? The impact on small, independent publishers would be five times more pronounced than the impact on large media companies.

Yes, American companies are in the cross-hairs once GDPR and ePrivacy take some combination of enforcement effect next May — perhaps bad policy for seemingly good politics. Yet Europeans themselves are challenging such an objective — overreaching data controls punish consumers, employers and even democracies.

That’s a mindful lesson for all of us.

Boost Your Clicks With AdWords Sitelink Extensions

If your goal is acquisition, Google’s pay per click AdWords platform has proved for many to be a viable way to increase leads or sales for your business and, depending on your keyword and bids, can be cost-effective.

google adwordsIf your goal is acquisition, Google’s pay per click AdWords platform has proved for many to be a viable way to increase leads or sales for your business and, depending on your keyword and bids, can be cost-effective.

However, if you’re not in the PPC know, then you may not be aware that Google is now allowing up to eight sitelink extensions in paid search ads AND they are interactive, tappable scrolling buttons on mobile devices (vs. text links on desktop).

What does that mean for you?

Quite simply, Google is giving your more opportunity to catch your target audience’s attention with strong, relevant calls to action or other enticing keywords that are clickable; whereby, you can drive traffic to a targeted page.

These extra descriptives can help increase your clickthrough rate, and possibly conversion rate.

Now, some marketers don’t take advantage of this. But I say if you don’t, you’re leaving opportunity on the table!

What You Should Know

  • Including a Sitelink in Your Ad. When you’re creating a new ad, you’ll see prompts to add a new sitelink extension. If you have an existing campaign, but you didn’t take advantage of this feature, you can go back and add it under “All Campaigns,” select the ad you’d like to add the sitelink to, then select “+Extensions” and “+New Sitelink.”
  • Types of Extensions. Here are some top extensions to help drive traffic or clicks:
    • Teasers and Call-Outs. This would be a unique selling proposition that makes you stand out from your competition. Some may include call outs like “free shipping,” “100% guaranteed,” “special offer,”’ “free report” and similar. These sitelinks would then link to a promotional page that speaks more to the teaser and has a goal of getting a conversion.

This would be your physical address if you’re driving traffic to a physical location. This can then link to a directions/map page on your website.

  • Phone Number. This would be if you have the Google “click to call” feature driving traffic to a phone number.
  • Testimonials or Reviews. Some advertisers would put a strong excerpt from a testimonial page or “5 stars” review here, then link to the full reviews page.
  • Call to Action. Another popular tactic is to include calls to action that may answer a question the prospect is looking for, or help them find a solution. Such as “call now,” “get a quote,” “request appointment,” “order now,” “customer favorites,” “top sellers,” “special trial offer,” “on sale now,” etc.
  • Sale and Promotion Extensions. Where you can actually have things like “25% off your entire order” or “last chance sale,” where you can even enter the dates the sale is running in the ad!
  • Combining Lead-gen and Sale in One Ad. Using sitelinks can be a great way to kill two birds with one stone. In your one ad, you can have different sitelinks for different goals. One sitelink term may say something like “free report” and the other may say “top sellers.” One links to a squeeze page to collect an email address (lead generation). The other goes to a sales page to a product going directly for a sale.

Tracking your sitelink performance is easy. When in your AdWords dashboard, just look for clickthrough rate performance under “Acquisition,” “All Traffic,” “Ad Words” and “Sitelinks.” It’s that easy.

According to Google, the mere presence of sitelink extensions may boost clickthrough rate on average by 10 to 20 percent, and for branded terms, 20 to 50 percent.

So what are you waiting for?!

As part of your online marketing mix, if you have a percentage of your time and budget allocated to pay per click (PPC), then testing sitelink extensions in your ad is a MUST.

Good luck.