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Show Search the Money!

Greg Sterling
Show Search the Money! Greg Sterling

Among consumers the trend is unmistakable. More and more people are using the Internet as a basic daily utility -- and search is a key part of that experience. However, on the advertiser side of the equation, especially among small businesses, adoption of search-based, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a much more nuanced and complex phenomenon, as two new surveys reveal.

First the usage data. Nielsen//NetRatings reported late last week that roughly 39 percent of Americans -- 114 million people -- used at least one search engine during the month of January. That represents approximately 76 percent of active U.S. Internet users. Another recent study by C&R Research found 84 percent of U.S. mothers who use the Web would miss it more than any other single type of media if compelled to give up one.

In addition, comScore Networks recently reported that in major urban markets across the United States, high-speed Internet access is poised to surpass dial-up access. In San Diego that has already happened. It’s about to happen in Boston and New York. The trend toward broadband is clear. We’ve passed the inflection point. And there’s considerably more empirical information that reflects the rising importance and usage of the Internet among key demographic groups.

When it comes to geo-targeted online search, more consumers clearly are using search to find local business information. Early last month, The Kelsey Group and BizRate.com conducted an online survey of more than 5,500 online buyers. The results showed that 25.1 percent of commercial searches (“looking for a business, shopping or doing research before buying”) were local. The data also showed that 44 percent of respondents were performing more local commercial searches than one year ago. Furthermore, 64 percent of these respondents rated search engines as better than traditional offline sources of information, such as printed Yellow Pages, newspapers, magazines and direct mail.

What all this data shows is a clear trend toward Internet use, and search use in particular -- in some cases at the expense of other traditional media, including TV.

Now, on to the advertiser data.

The Kelsey Group recently conducted two separate online surveys of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) regarding their attitudes and experiences with PPC advertising. One study, undertaken with ConStat, Inc. focused on the small business market generally and had a range of respondents, including those currently using, interested in and not interested in PPC. That survey had 460 respondents. The other survey, conducted with WebAdvantage.net, focused exclusively on businesses now using PPC advertising and had roughly 200 respondents.

The conventional wisdom is that where usage goes, so goes the advertising dollar.

That logic would suggest near-term shift in budget allocation to PPC and other online forms of advertising. However, the results of these two surveys show that over the next two or three years at least, we may find Internet and search engine usage will continue to grow, even at accelerated rates, while advertiser dollars move online much more slowly and unevenly -- in dribs and drabs in certain segments. 

Here are some key findings from both surveys:

  • The majority of respondents to both surveys, and current PPC users, were small businesses with fewer than 10 employees and many had fewer than four employees.
  • Among current PPC advertisers, approximately 50 percent had been using it for one year or longer. Approximately 72 percent indicated they were somewhat satisfied to very satisfied with their results.
  • Roughly 52 percent said their spending on PPC would increase either somewhat or substantially next year. Nearly equal numbers said they would increase their total ad budget to accommodate the increased spending vs. reallocating funds from other, existing advertising sources.
  • About 70 percent of current PPC advertisers were paying less than 50 cents per click, with the majority paying less than 25 cents. But overall, 45 percent of PPC advertisers were spending $5,000 or more on PPC.
  • PPC is still attracting businesses primarily that transact over the Internet -- 64 percent of advertisers -- and have a sizeable proportion of their customer base coming from their Web sites. Because of this, their customer base tends to be less local. 
  • A majority of those not currently using but interested in PPC, or 73 percent, expect to implement it within the next year.
  • However, PPC is still largely viewed as a niche marketing strategy. The belief that it is “not appropriate for our business” was held by 60 percent of those not interested in PPC. The largest single category of advertisers that expressed that view were current Internet Yellow Pages advertisers.

Because respondents were self selected, these data cannot necessarily be extrapolated to the entire SME population. More detailed information about these findings and their implications will be presented at The Kelsey Group’s “Drilling Down on Local Search” conference,  March 30-31 in Santa Clara, California.

This may seem counterintuitive, but your resume isn't about you -- it's more about what you can deliver to a future employer. So, what's important on a resume? We recommend sticking to the facts that highlight your achievements, and nothing but the facts -- no flowery prose, no pages-long biography. Your resume is your calling card to your employer, and it may or may not be used by interviewers to ask relevant questions. Make it simple and accessible for them.


  • Focus on results, results, and results.

  • Less is more -- don't use language that's specific to your company. Make your achievements accessible and understandable.

  • Always put your graduation date. While interviewers may not ask this, why would you conceal it when it may provide more context for them?

  • No, it doesn't have to be two pages -- it can be one or three or four. Just keep it simple.

Cover letter
What's most effective? No one thinks of themselves in the third person. If you want someone's attention, make it personal, and use language and facts in your cover letter that will be relevant to the reader. Many people overuse the word "I" -- as in "I can show results" instead of "You will see results." Make your conversation about the person with whom you're speaking, not about yourself.


  • Keep it brief and to the point.

  • State your intentions.

  • Relate your skills directly to the position and/or company.

  • Don't state that you're "great" or "perfect" -- stick to facts.

  • Include an action statement that you will follow up on a specific date.

Improve your networking skills
Make it count. Don't network for the sake of networking -- your goal is to get a job. Make every meeting you schedule with someone in the industry or with the desired company count. Make it specifically about a business solution, not about your employment status. Talk business -- not your situation.


  • Do your homework. Know the company, its products, and its mission statement.

  • Follow up in a meaningful way. We live in a 24-hour turnaround culture, so send a follow-up email, but remember that handwritten notes make an impression.

  • Link up. Use LinkedIn and Facebook to your advantage by knowing the background of the person you'll be meeting.

  • Be active in professional associations.

  • Be active in general. Do something related to your search every day.

Improve your credentials
Obviously, certain fields have their own credentialing thresholds. For example, in high finance, you have a better chance of getting a job with a CFA designation than you do with a mere Series 7 certification. But many fields -- such as digital media -- have no such credentialing. You can strengthen your credentials and your network by participating in professional organizations, as noted above. You can also look to something like Upstream Habitat or other digital training resources, whether you're a buyer or seller. 


  • Introduce yourself to editors and offer to write articles for their trade journals.

  • Start a blog. Follow and participate on other blogs.

  • Find and pursue speaking engagements.

  • Continue to learn. Again, always do your homework.

Taking the previously described steps should help candidates attain more interview opportunities. Once you've made it to this crucial step, how prepared will you be? Will you talk more about yourself or about the company for which you hope to work? Will you know enough about your interviewer and take advantage of the opportunity to ask the right questions? That could be the best gauge of your interview performance, and your interview performance will more than likely be the best gauge of your job prospects.


  • Hiring managers and human resource managers use LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social networking sites for candidate development. Make your profiles for these pages the best they can be.

  • Publish your articles, public speaking engagements, and relevant presentations somewhere that a web search can find them.

  • Read bios and backgrounds of people you will meet.

  • During the interview, ask questions about specific plans and solutions.

  • Know the trends and competitive set of the company -- this is vital to your preparation.

  • Understand company's current business strategy, and identify any gaps you might exploit toward a strategic advantage.

  • Arrive 15 minutes early.

  • Be armed with information, articles -- anything illustrating you've done your homework.

  • Interviewing is not about you -- it's about how you fit into the corporate mission and culture, and whether or not you will become an asset to that employer.

  • What are you bringing to the future boss, clients, and shareholders?

  • Don't be in a rush while interviewing. Use the power of the pause -- it gives you time to collect your thoughts.


  • Be authentic. It's authenticity that people remember -- your genuine attitude, abilities, and past accomplishments. These qualities are always in demand.

  • Being prepared is essential. The "my dog ate my homework" excuse no longer flies. Technology enables us to become mini experts on corporate cultures, products, and services. Knowing details about a company makes a powerful impact on hiring managers.

  • Listen and speak up. We all talk too much about ourselves; we need to listen more and ask appropriate, thoughtful questions about the company. Biggest turn-off? Not answering the interviewers' questions.

  • Look the part. If the company has a receptionist, call him/her and find out the corporate dress code. If there isn't a person at the company to call, call a friend in the industry. Hint: Dress up, not down, for an interview. Example: If the company is casual, dress corporate casual.

  • Be front and center. You belong there! They called you in for the interview -- relax and enjoy. You're armed with great questions, important detailed information, and you have the ability to listen.

  • Bosses don't bite. They're people, too, and many appreciate being asked for their business opinions. Many people would be open to being asked, "How was your weekend?" Asking questions and advice help build solid relationships.

  • Representing your work ethic with actual results will speak volumes. It's all about the results. Don't talk about how great you are -- show them the money by talking about actual results, whether it's saving the company time, money, building clients' trust, or building revenue. It's all about the bottom line. Don't ask what the company can do for you -- ask what you can do for the company!

Erika Weinstein is co-founder and president of Stephen-Bradford Search.

Berens: Consumers ultimately may embrace, reject, or be resigned to targeted advertising, but at worst the stakes are still pretty low so long as we're just talking about ads. However, that's not true if their browsing history is used in other ways, say when they're applying for health insurance. In its most recent report, the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future argued that Americans are more concerned about "big business" encroaching on their lives than "Big Brother." How legitimate are these concerns? What does the industry need to do to reduce them?

Leibowitz: There have been a number of reports, including The Wall Street Journal's "What they Know" series, detailing the pervasiveness of consumer data collection and discussing the variety of ways companies may use and monetize such data. And, as these reports indicate, much of this data collection is invisible to consumers and out of their control. Consumers have legitimate concerns about such practices. To allay those concerns, the advertising industry needs to step up to the plate by making its practices more transparent and by developing effective tools to give consumers more control. Now that does not mean burying some cryptic or unlimited disclosure in a long privacy policy -- something like, "We collect whatever data we can and use it however we want," or "There may be other parties collecting your information while you are on this site but we're not sure." Rather, consumers should be able to make informed and meaningful choices about whether their data is collected, and if so, how it is used. 

Berens: How does the phenomenal recent growth of both social media and mobile internet access -- not to mention how the two work together -- complicate the privacy debates and the work of the FTC?

Leibowitz: Social media and mobile services provide substantial benefits to consumers. They both also raise a variety of different privacy challenges. For example, because social media services are extremely popular with young consumers, there is the basic concern about who can access the information they post. Moreover, as anyone with a young teen in the home recognizes, there is the related concern about the extent to which younger consumers are able to fully comprehend the long-term repercussions of sharing their data. With respect to mobile services, the small screen size on hand-held devices raises practical challenges for presenting privacy disclosures or other information to consumers.  Similarly, the number of different entities involved in providing mobile services -- including operating system vendors, device manufacturers, app developers, third-party ad networks -- means that a consumer may find it extremely difficult to determine who is providing what service and which entity's privacy practices apply in a given situation. Finally, because of its sensitivity, the use of geo-location data in connection with certain mobile services raises additional privacy concerns despite the real-time benefits it provides.

Berens: Does the FTC have any comment on what credit card companies are doing with behavioral advertising, as per this story in the WSJ this week?

Leibowitz: The Commission is aware of the reports regarding this, and FTC staff is currently following up. 

Learn more about ad:tech New York here.

Brad Berens is chief content officer, digital marketing sector (iMedia, ad:tech, Digital Collective, MLX & CMO Executive Summits).

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

Four powerful engagement metrics
Once you accumulate the engagement value and number of visitors you can do amazing things with those two numbers. It's very straightforward to see which campaigns, keywords, or referral sources produce the greatest engagement value. But there's much more you can do.

With engagement value and the number of visitors you can calculate two of internet marketing's most powerful metrics, the value per visit a measure of marketing effectiveness, and potential -- which is a measure of a marketing asset's effectiveness compared to its peers. For example, value per visit for a marketing campaign can be found by totaling all engagement value attributed to that campaign and dividing it by the number of visitors from the campaign.
By comparing the value per visit of campaigns you can easily see which campaigns have the greatest marketing effectiveness per visitor. Because this measure is the same for any channel driving visitors to your website you can compare marketing effectiveness between email, search engine, social media, and even real world events.

The second powerful metric is potential. Potential is a measure of the marketing effectiveness among peers: For example, how well a campaign, landing page, or asset does as compared to its peers. To calculate potential, calculate the value per visit for all peer items and then compare the item of interest against the average of all. For example, if you want to see if a new product's web page is effective you would start by calculating the average value per visit for all similar product web pages. Then calculate the value per visit for the new product's web page. If the new web page has a lower value per visit than the average then you need to improve the new page.

Using engagement analytics to find the truth in web analytics
This chart is an example of an executive insight dashboard. It shows how looking at only the number of visits can be misleading. In this example from a real campaign the grey line shows visitors decreasing in Q2 and then slightly increasing in Q3. What you can't see in web analytics is that there is a large increase in high-quality visitors and marketing effectiveness in Q3, as shown by the gold line. The value per visit, or marketing effectiveness, is shown by the green bar and reflects the big jump in marketing effectiveness.

Measuring marketing effectiveness with engagement analytics
Engagement analytics is clearly the way to:

Simplify analytics
Using just four metrics, visits, value, value per visit, and potential any marketer can identify which channels, campaigns, and assets have the greatest marketing effectiveness.

Increase marketing effectiveness across channels
The old web analytics measures are just a proxy for what we really want to measure, how well we engage our visitors and how effective our marketing is. In the past web analysts had to infer whether a visitor was engaged. Engagement analytics measures a visitor's level of engagement by their actions and behavior so it is valid and more precise. Since we can use the same engagement value metric across channels it gives us one number with which we can compare all marketing channels that end with a conversion on the website. This breaks down the silos between marketing channels and enables us to spend our marketing dollar more effectively.

Multiply marketing when combined with web analytics
You don't need to throw out Google Analytics, Omniture, and Coremetrics or any of your web analytics tools. They can still help you build traffic. Add engagement analytics and you get the best of both worlds, increased high-quality traffic.

Traditional web analytics can tell you when your website is attracting more visitors and it can tell you which pages are attractive. But in today's competitive marketplace you need more. You need to use engagement analytics to learn what your visitors find valuable, when your marketing efforts are effective, and when your site visitors are engaged.

Ron Person is director of analytics of Sitecore.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.


Despite this growth, Brazil-based brands have been relatively slow to create social campaigns. This could be down to nervousness on the part of the brands: A study by Forbes and Weber Shandwick revealed that 41 percent of Brazilian executives thought that the risks of social media outweighed the benefits.  Perhaps as a result, engagement is still relatively low. But consumer demand might be about to change all that: A 2011 study by Oh! Panel reported that more than 61 percent of Brazilians search for product information on social media channels before making a purchase.

The most popular Facebook pages in Brazil belong to celebrities rather than brands. No great surprise that the most popular of them all is Brazilian footballer Ricardo Kaká, with 17,521,444 fans. (Next in line is novelist Paulo Coelho, with just shy of 9 million fans, and Brazilian TV presenter Luciano Huck with around 7 million.) There's a football theme here: Claro tops the Twitter chart in Brazil with almost 3.5 million followers for the @ClaroRonaldo Twitter feed, the result of a partnership with Brazilian football legend Ronaldo (not to be confused with Portuguese player Cristiano Ronaldo).

Brands are starting to make their mark. The brand page with the largest fan base is Brazilian soft drink brand Guaraná Antarctica with around 6.5 million fans, followed by Skol (5.8 million) and L'Oréal Paris Brasil (4 million).

Brand campaigns are still fairly heavily focused on gaining "likes" on Facebook, something that (as in the rest of the world) is likely to change as the novelty of Facebook wears off. But for now, we see campaigns such as Heineken Brazil's "1 Like, 1 Balao" ("1 Like, 1 Balloon"), which did what it said, turning "likes" into balloons for the office and videoing the office as it filled with balloons. The campaign got the brand thousands of new followers, but how these translate into sales for Heineken remains to be seen.

The sheer numbers in Brazil make it the world's social media darling. This may be a relatively new market, but it's growing fast, and it is, for me, the most exciting social media market in the world.

Patrick Eve is the managing director of TranslateMedia.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

"Brazil flag on thumb up gesture like icon" image via Shutterstock.


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