Friday, 27 August 2010

Using social media for business

How well is your business embracing social networking tools and what are the potential opportunities for companies to access the wide user base and active participants on many of the core services. We've recently developed some factsheets on the 3 main services - Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, so if you'd like to receive a copy of these, please contact us.

Social media marketing won't work for all companies, but it is an area that should be explored and the basic structures put into place. We've been running a Twitter account for over a year now, as a source of news and communication with our 'followers'. We've also developed our company pages on LinkedIn and Facebook for Web Marketing Workshop, and our subsidiary companies Web Search Workshop and Web Training Workshop.

Please take a look and follow our pages if you wish, to see how we'll be developing these services over the coming months. And if you'd like to discuss the opportunities for your business in more detail, please let us know.

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Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Facebook introduces Places

There has been widespread coverage in the press and on blogs and Twitter over the past week regarding the launch of Facebook Places. In response to the growing trend in location services, such as Foursquare and Gowalla, Facebook has now entered the fray and is offering a new service to their millions of users (although initially this is just working in the US).

This article from Advertising Age gives a good summary of the new service and how this can be used as a potential marketing tool. However, as always happens with Facebook services, there are also considerable concerns about the privacy settings with the new Places tool, and how friends can also log your location, without your knowledge - as described in this second piece.

The new Facebook Places services certainly adds another resource to the options available from the social networking site, but how it will be used by users and the benefits to marketers remains unclear at the moment.

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Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Google AdWords launches Enhanced CPC

The Google AdWords blog has announced the introduction of Enhanced CPC, a new automated bidding feature that can help advertisers improve the ROI of their campaigns through manual bidding.

By using a campaign's historical conversion tracking data, the Enhanced CPC system will automatically adjust the maximum CPC (cost per click) bid for a keyword based on the likelihood that the ad will convert. As a result, Google says that advertisers should receive more conversions while maintaining or reducing their overall CPA (cost per acquisition).

Enhanced CPC has the unique ability to consider a number of factors when predicting the likelihood of a conversion and may adjust a bid depending on how well a particular search or display network partner site in the Google network has converted in the past. It will also recognise when specific words within a search phrase convert well and so adjust a bid when users search on variations of these terms. Google says that the system will also detect attributes such as the user's location, language settings, browser, and operating system and analyze how these attributes may impact the likelihood of an advert converting.

This certainly sounds like an impressive new feature and one that could help advertisers achieve better results with reduced effort. However, like all elements of an AdWords campaign, this will need to be tested and the more conversion data to work from, the better. Some of Google's automated tools have not worked well for some AdWords advertisers in the past so it may work well for some and not others, so this is another aspect to test!

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Monday, 16 August 2010

Online advertising passes $2bn mark in Australia

The latest quarterly figures published by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) in Australia mark another milestone as the $2 billion barrier has now been passed by online advertising expenditure over the past 12 months. Using data compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), total expenditure of $2.043 billion is shown for the 12 months ended 30 June 2010.

The latest report also shows that online advertising expenditure reached $552.5m in the past quarter (April-June) of 2010, which is another record quarter and a 22% increase on the same period in 2009.

Looking at the yearly figures, all three of the categorised sectors of the market saw growth in the past 12 months, with general display advertising increasing by 11%, classified advertising by 9% and search and directories advertising seeing the highest growth rates again with an increase of 16%. For the past financial year, general display advertising accounted for 26.8% of the total online expenditure, with classifieds reaching a 23% share and search and directories advertising taking the majority share at 50.2%.

Some other categories covered by the report show that email based advertising reached $33.8m during the past 12 months and video based advertising comprised $25.3m of advertising expenditure. In the past quarter, spend in this category was up to $9.6 million from $5.7 million in the previous quarter (Jan-March 2010). The dominant pricing method is still Cost per Thousand (CPM), with 75% of general display advertising based on CPM while direct response accounts for just 25% for the past year, however year on year comparative data is not yet available for these two advertising sectors.

Although these figures are impressive and continue to demonstrate the strong growth area of online advertising compared to other forms of advertising expenditure, the quarterly report still lacks accurate data from some of the main sectors - notably Google, who refuse to provide their income data from search and video advertising, so that this remains an estimated figure. Also Facebook does not participate in the survey so this growing area of advertising is also an estimated figure in the overall results.

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Thursday, 12 August 2010

Google launches small business blog

Google has recently launched a new blog for small business, to add to the long list of specialist blogs that are published by the company. Google says that this new blog will be "a central hub that brings together all the information about our products, features and projects of specific interest to the small business community".

This will combine tips and advice from all the Google services that can have an impact on small and medium-sized businesses, such as how to use templates for creating video ads on YouTube, tips for using Gmail or how to respond to the business reviews on Place Pages.

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Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Add replies to comments in Google Places

Google has introduced an option for verified Google Places business owners to publicly respond to reviews that have been written by Google Maps users on the Place Page for their business. Google Maps has encouraged the addition of reviews to help prospective customers make informed decisions about local businesses, so that users can share their opinions by writing reviews directly on the Place Page of any place they've visited.

However, sometimes these reviews can be critical (and may also be posted by competitors!) so that Google is now enabling companies to engage with the people who have reviewed their business. Google adds that both positive and negative feedback can be good for a business and help it grow, although negative reviews certainly need to be handled carefully in terms of reputation management.

At least this option is now available to business owners and their comments are indicated on the reviews section. By responding to praise or criticism in a positive manner can enable companies to build stronger relationships with existing and prospective customers. Google has provided some tips and instructions on how to respond to reviewers.

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Friday, 6 August 2010

Advertising developments on Facebook

Two recent articles on the ClickZ website look at some of the recent developments and trends with advertising on Facebook. The first looks at the way some large US and Canadian companies are beginning to use Facebook for advertising by incorporating the web version of their weekly newspaper circulars into their Facebook pages.

For example, ShopLocal serves Facebook users the a 'virtual circular' for the nearest branded store based on the current city in their profile. Users can enlarge and print barcode-enabled coupons, as well as author comments underneath each of the specials. They can also click a "share" button for each individual coupon/special to include in their newsfeeds. Examples from other retailers are also included in the article.

The second piece reports that Facebook is currently testing ratings and reviews within adverts on the site, including the use of Facebook's thumbs-up "Like" icon, a user rating between 1 and 5 stars, a short comment, and then the user's name. At this stage it's not clear how long the ratings and reviews ads have been tested or whether they will be rolled out in the future.

However, if these 'socially-enhanced' ads do eventually become a core component on the site, it would certainly draw the interest of marketers since the inclusion of a friend's rating and review of a product or service could in theory increase click-through rates and conversions.

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Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Google rolls out ACE tool to US campaigns

Google has announced in its AdWords blog that the ACE tool is going to be rolled out to all advertisers, starting in the US from this month. ACE - or AdWords Campaign Experiments - is a free tool within AdWords that makes it easier to test and measure the impact of changes to different campaign elements, including keywords, bids, adgroups and placements.

This new feature was first announced in a beta versions several months ago and is a significant enhancement for advertisers to test and review potential campaign improvements. Google says that advertisers in the beta test period have reported that ACE has helped them feel more confident in the impact of their campaign changes, making it easier and less risky to try different strategies and optimize more frequently.

Experimental changes to a campaign can now be run side-by-side using ACE, with the original campaign in a simultaneous split test. This approach lets advertisers run shorter tests that start and stop whenever they want, with less concern about results being affected by seasonality or other factors. Google says that advertisers will get more precise impact estimates and more chances throughout the year to test and improve performance.

The new ACE tool will appear under Campaign Settings for US advertisers initially and is still showing as a beta test, but this will hopefully be rolled out globally very soon and become a valuable part of an AdWords toolset.

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Monday, 2 August 2010

Web marketing newsletter published for August

The latest issue of our monthly Web Search & Marketing newsletter has been published for August, covering some of the recent stories on web search and online marketing trends.

This month's edition looks at several new features that have been added to Google AdWords over the past month. Firstly, Ad Sitelinks which are designed to provide more entry points to a website and thereby increase the clickthrough rates from an AdWords listing. Then there is Google's new broad match modifier keyword targeting feature in AdWords which provides advertisers with a middle ground between broad and phrase match targeting.

Finally for this issue, it reviews how Yahoo! has begun testing search results with Microsoft, which will determine whether the search giants can launch their partnership later this year.

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 regular newsletter you can see the archive by date or by subject.

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