Friday, 27 February 2009

Big growth in mobile ad revenue forecast

The ClickZ website summarises a new report from The Kelsey Group that forecasts a strong growth in the US mobile advertising sector as mobile handsets continue to develop and be used more widely and for more applications, particularly with the advent of smartphones such as the iPhone.

The estimates show mobile advertising revenues growing from $160m in 2008 to $3.1bn in 2013, which is a compound annual growth rate of 81.2%. This ad spend is divided in three categories, with 2008 figures showing $21m on display advertising, $39m on search, and $100m on SMS campaigns. By 2013 the report forecasts a change in this mix, with the majority of the spend being dedicated to search - projected as $567m to be spent on mobile display ads, $2.3bn on search, and $270m in SMS.

There is a slowdown in mobile ad expenditures at the moment due to the global economic crisis and the experimental nature of much f the current advertising, but spend is expected to rise quickly after 2010 with search seen as the more reliable and measurable focus for advertising as existing web users transfer more of their time onto mobile activity, particularly with local search advertising seen as a strong area for growth.

The adoption of mobile web usage and ability for advertisers to reach consumers on a mobile device is becoming easier through the increase of applications for the iPhone as well as other providers makes compelling content for a variety of handsets ubiquitous. Google is also making it easier for small businesses to advertise through the extension of Google AdWords to mobile.

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Thursday, 26 February 2009

Tracking website visits from the iPhone

The Google Analytics blog has posted an article about tracking website visits from the Apple iPhone. The increasing usage of the iPhone will potentially mean new opportunities for websites to receive traffic, particularly for local business marketing, and the use of Analytics data can help website owners identify this traffic and how users access the website pages.

Google has already provided an option for AdWords advertisers to promote their businesses on the iPhone (plus other Internet browser enabled mobiles) and now Analytics has created a default 'segment' to track the visitor activity from this source. This data will enable site owners to compare any differences between mobile activity and traditional web-based visits and so identify any potential issues with the website design in this format.

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Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Searching the 'Deep Web'

An article in the New York Times reviews the issue of the 'Deep Web' - sometimes known as the 'Invisible Web' - and the difficulties for search engines to find this information. Despite Google claiming to now index over one trillion web pages, this is still believed to represents just a fraction of the entire web, since there is much more content that lies beyond the reach of search engines - such as database information, content controlled by login access, financial information, shopping catalogues, medical research, transport timetables and more.

The report focuses on a number of new search and index technologies that are trying to improve this coverage of the web's hidden content, such as Kosmix and DeepPeep. The former service, for example, has developed software that matches searches with the databases most likely to yield relevant information, then returns an overview of the topic drawn from multiple sources. If tools such as this do manage to delve deeper into the web's content, the quality and application of search results will be greatly expanded and, as the article claims, could ultimately reshape the way many companies do business online.

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Friday, 20 February 2009

Yahoo! tests new format search adverts

The New York Times covers the trial that Yahoo! is currently running with a new form of PPC advert, which integrates images and video. This is something Google already offers, but only for selected advertising with their third-party content network, whereas Yahoo!'s new test is targeting their main PPC channel on the Yahoo! search network.

Called Rich Ads in Search, Yahoo! is hoping that the higher profile and better clickthrough rates shown from the initial tests will attract more advertisers to use this format of advertising, and will also drive more clicks and therefore revenue from their search results.

Although Yahoo!’s traditional strength has been in display advertising, as the current economic recession has deepened in the US, many advertisers have shifted money to search, which gives them direct, measurable results. Yahoo!’s recent fourth-quarter results have reflected this trend, with search revenue showing an 11% growth and display revenue falling by 2%.

The article reports that Yahoo! has been testing these new adverts in a number of formats, with dog-food company Pedigree displaying a small video for a commercial when a user searches for the company name. The video opens up into a larger format and plays once clicked. Similarly, a search for Staples displays in a similar light-blue box with the company’s logo on the side, which is also a link to the corporate site. Alternatively, retailers can include a search box within the advert panel to enable searchers to enter a ZIP code, which will then take them to the advertiser’s website that lists the nearest stores or branches nearby.

Yahoo! is currently charging a monthly fee for the service, compared to the traditional auction-based pricing of search advertising. It is reportedly only allowing only a selected number of large, brand-focused advertisers to test the program. According to Yahoo!, some advertisers in the pilot program saw an improvement by as much as 25% in click-through rates, although an independent agency reported lower results, around 5-10% higher than the regular text adverts.

Yahoo! clearly hopes that this new type of search advertising will prove attractive to companies who pay high prices to develop their commercials and logos and want to be able to show those wherever they can. It may prove an important development for Yahoo!'s search performance as the company remains under pressure from financial analysts to consider selling its search business to Microsoft, who continue to express an interest in such a deal to grow their share of the search market.

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Thursday, 19 February 2009

Email seen as core marketing tool

The MediaPost blog reports on some new research of more than 3,000 marketing executives in the US which asked them about their online advertising priorities for 2009. Just over 80% selected e-mail as a strong advertising performer, compared to 57% who chose search as the second leading performer. Amongst the other categories, 42% chose online display advertising as a strong performer, 23% selected social media and 9% chose mobile marketing.

In terms of advertising budgets for 2009, 58% expected to increase their spend on email marketing campaigns and 54% said the same for search marketing. 44% claimed to be targeting more spend in social media, whereas 35% would be cutting back on offline media and 22% would be reducing their spend on display advertising on the web.

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Wednesday, 18 February 2009

An introduction to Analytics 'bounce rates'

The Official Google blog has posted a short article about the use and importance of 'bounce rates' within Google Analytics reports. This is said to be the first in a series of blog posts about 'The Power of Measurement', designed to help website owners understand how difference metrics can be used and what they mean.

The article explains the simple attributes that bounce rate figures have, namely that it is a metric that is really hard to misunderstand, because it measures the number of people who landed on your site and refused to give you even one single click. It is also a metric that is available in most web analytics tools, and it is quick and easy to use, because the bounce rate figures will help you understand where and how to make changes on your website. An example is used in the post to illustrate what the bounce rate figures may be saying and what action can then be taken.



Monday, 16 February 2009

Leading search engines combine to clean up results

The New York Times reports on a move by the 3 main search engines - Google, Yahoo and Microsoft - to clean up the amount of 'clutter' on the web by creating a new web standard that will allow website publishers to remove duplicate pages from their sites. This should allow the search engines to remove lots of duplicated or 'dead' pages from their indexes to make them more efficient and potentially more comprehensive.

This cooperation between the search engines follows the previous standards developed for the sitemap protocol and this time targets those large dynamic websites (such as e-commerce stores) that generate multiple URLs that all point to the same page. This effect can confuse the search engine 'spiders' that are trawling the web and lead to the indexing of the same pages multiple times. Some estimates claim that as much as 20% of URLs on the web may be duplicates, although this is possibly on the high side.

Google has lead the way with this move, providing website owners the chance to indicate when a URL is a duplicate, and if so, which is the principal, or “canonical,” URL that search engines should be indexing. Yahoo and Microsoft have agreed to support the same standard. This new Canonical Link Tag, as the standard is known, should make it easier for both publishers and search engines to address the problem, but of course the most important thing is to make web publishers aware of this and to give them the incentive to add the tag to their pages.

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Friday, 13 February 2009

A background on Twitter

The New York Magazine features a long article about Twitter, the current flavour of the month and the latest 'hot web company' that is apparently being courted by the likes of Facebook and Google. The problem is, as the article reports, although this 'micro-blogging' service has become huge over the past year, there is no long term plan to make revenue as there are some limitations to how advertising or other options could be used. The report assesses the differences between Twitter and Facebook, with a review of how this increasingly popular service is being used.

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Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Internet advertising grows by 27% in 2008

The new figures for Internet advertising in Australia have been posted by the Internet Advertising Bureau, using data compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers from a sample of over 1,000 website properties in the country.

This latest data shows that overall growth in this advertising sector for the past year was up by 27% to the forecasted figure of $1.7 billion - a growth of $364m on the 2007 figure of $1.34 billion. The market is now expected to break the $2 billion barrier by the end of this year, although growth rates are slowing and the current economic situation may hinder this growth (or potentially increase it as more spend in channelled online and away from other media).

The Search and Directories category remains the main growth area, although since Google refuses to reveal their numbers, the figures remain a significant estimate. However, year on year this category grew by 30% to $807m. In the fourth quarter of 2008, the sector grew by 27% compared to the same period in 2007, to $224m. It also grew by 6% over the third quarter in 2008, which is the critical figure as the 'credit crunch' began to bite during this period.

Of the other 2 monitored categories, Display Advertising grew by 27% in 2008 to $465m and by 24% year-on-year in the fourth quarter, to $130m. Compared to the third quarter in 2008, this marked a 4% growth in advertising spend. Finally, the Classifieds sector grew by 23% for the year, up to $439m, and by 10% year-on-year for the quarter, to $108m. However, compared to the third quarter, this sector shows a drop of 5% - the first ever and possible signs of the slowdown affecting online advertising.

The detailed summary of these figures can be downloaded as a PDF report from the IAB website.

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Monday, 9 February 2009

Personalised adverts attract higher conversions

A report by Media Post covers some recent research in the US which indicates that 39% of consumers  are more likely to click on a web advert if it is personalised, while that number rises to 58% among those who shop online at least several times a month. The survey also says that the bigger the spender, the greater the interest in personalised ads, indicating that more regular and familiar online shoppers respond better to this form of advertising.

The results of the survey, conducted by ChoiceStream, showed that 70% of consumers admit that their purchase decisions are at least sometimes influenced by having seen an advert for an item, as other recent surveys have also suggested, and a smaller percentage of consumers admit that they are influenced by brand advertising as well, with 39% admitting that they are more likely to buy from companies that they have seen advertised elsewhere.

In terms of the personalisation aspect, 60% of shoppers surveyed were aware that retailers use information about their online shopping behaviour to target advertising to them, and 78% of consumers are interested in receiving personalized content.

More results from the research can be found in the article, plus a link to download the full survey in PDF format.

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Friday, 6 February 2009

Google introduces Latitude

The Google Blog has announced the launch of a new service called Latitude. Promoted as a tool to find out 'where your friends are', Latitude offers a similar tool to that found on the iPhone, whereby you can use GPS positioning to find the location of others using the same service. Latitude is a new feature for Google Maps on a mobile device and also a gadget for iGoogle users on a computer.

Currently available in over 25 countries. Latitude users can see the approximate location of friends or business colleagues who have decided to share their location. So, in real time, users can find where another individual is, based on their mobile or laptop, through an icon on a map. It also allows communication via SMS, Google Talk, Gmail, or by updating a status message. According to Google, 'it's a fun way to feel close to the people you care about'.

Of course, as this new technology is developed for a variety of purposes, privacy remains a key concern and Google says they have built 'fine-grained privacy controls right into the application' and ultimately everything is opt-in, so all users control access to their positioning, including the ability to actually set their location to somewhere other than they actually are, on a friend-by-friend basis!

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Thursday, 5 February 2009

Google develops Gmail to grow market share

Reuters reports on the growth of Gmail as one of the leading online email systems, through gradual and low key enhancements over the years. When first launched, Gmail had to start taking market share from the established Hotmail and YahooMail services, and has done so through the introduction of new features and services developed in the Gmail 'Labs'.

Google makes money from Gmail through the ads listed to the right of all mail 'conversations'. These ads are part of the Google AdWords content network and generate revenue every time the email user clicks on an advert and therefore Gmail has become one of Google's main areas of development to grow Internet usage share, alongside the original search tool and YouTube.

According to comScore, unique visitors to Google's sites increased 32 percent worldwide to more than 775 million in 2008. In contrast, Yahoo had a 16 percent gain to 562.6 million visitors and Microsoft had a 20 percent increase to about 647 million visitors.

As an example of the new features added to Gmail, the article highlights 'Mail Googles' which aims to prevent the user sending a regrettable message if they are drunk - of course, as long as they remember to use this feature! This month Google introduced a feature that automatically downloads mail to a web browser so that messages can be read offline. Other recent features include an alert for users who forget to upload promised attachments and one that lets users send free SMS messages to friends via Gchat (currently only available in the US).

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Monday, 2 February 2009

Web marketing newsletter published for February

The new February issue of the monthly Web Marketing newsletter has been published, covering some of the recent stories on web search and online marketing trends.

This month's edition looks at Google's local business listings and some new enhancements that have been added to their local business adverts. It also covers the use of goals within Google Analytics and how these can provide valuable data about the way a website converts visits to customers. Finally this month the newsletter reports on the recent story about Wikipedia and how the sheer size and activity on the site is creating editorial problems for this online resource.

If you want to sign up for future issues of this newsletter, please do so by using the form at the bottom of this page. To view back issues of this newsletter you can see the archive by date or by subject.