- Why everyone who says “banner ads are dead” is wrong.
- How the next generation of display ads will behave like mini web apps.
- HTML5 and how it’s going to change the way display ads look and act.
Had a fun time on Wednesday last week participating in “Display Advertising for Brand Awareness,” a roundtable webcast along with several other luminaries from such companies as:
- ReTargeter (the organizer) — one of the top retargeting networks
- Bizo — an online marketing platform sepcifically for B2B marketers
- Vizu — helps measure the impact of your online branding & advertising
- Flite — similar concept to Canned Banners, except Flite has a more sophisticated GUI and is intended for advanced users needing to design rich media creatives, as opposed to standard banner ads
This ended up being a great discussion around display advertising in the context of brand awareness, as opposed to direct response, which often dominates the focus of online advertisers. Listen to the recording for some great thoughts on:
- Best practices for ad creative in the context of a brand awareness campaign
- How retargeting can be best used to generate brand awareness
- The future of online branding
Dax Hamman, Chief Revenue Officer at search retargeting platform Chango, mentioned us in a piece today on Search Engine Land. The piece describes the huge opportunity available to search engine marketers (SEMs), who can now use search retargeting to extend their PPC dominance to the world of display advertising.
Why is search retargeting such a MASSIVE opportunity for SEMs?
Here’s a hypothetical scenario: when someone searches for “laptop” on Google, they’re probably looking to buy one, or at least researching products and seeking out retailers and pricing. This intent is incredibly valuable advertising data; someone searching for “laptop” has just raised their hand to a sea of retailers and announced: “Hi, I have between several hundred and several thousand dollars to spend on a laptop.”
Search for “laptop” and dozens of companies instantly start competing for your business.
The searcher may click on one of the ads, but they probably won’t immediately make a purchase; laptops are expensive and a consumer is bound to research several models before making a decision.
If I’m a search marketer at Lenovo, do I only get one chance to grab the buyer’s interest with my search ad? With traditional search, the answer may be yes…the buyer might make a decision after an initial search for “laptop” that puts hundreds of retailers and products out of the running. For example, the buyer searches for “laptop,” does a little research, and from then on, only considers buying Apple laptops, meaning that Lenovo, along with the entire PC laptop industry (which is massive), is out of the running after only one Google search.
A great opportunity to sell a laptop, LOST.
Enter search retargeting (a little more on how it works). The laptop buyer may not have clicked on my search ad, but search retargeting lets me capture the buyer’s intent and use it to show the buyer follow-up display ads. This gives me, the marketer at Lenovo, dozens of additional chances to recapture the buyer’s attention as they surf the web. And if the buyer refines his/her research by searching for “desktop replacement” or “best laptop battery life,” then I am now able to feature display ads for Lenovo’s desktop replacement laptops that have great battery life.
When this kind of targeted follow-up advertising is aggregated over millions of searches and tens of thousands of potential buyers, the lift in performance and ROI over traditional search ads alone can be massive.
Helping search marketers transition into display
The key, of course, as Dax points out, is scaling and segmenting your display ad creative in the same way that SEMs can quickly test, refine, and segment their text ads.
But display ads are so much more complex (more on text-only ad versus display ad complexity). Given that creating text-based search ads requires no extra software or resources at all, the challenge of moving into display can seem quite large, as it may necessitate hiring expensive designers, and going through lengthy review and revision cycles.
It doesn’t need to be that convoluted. Streamlining the display ad creation process for SEMs is one of many things Canned Banners is developing tools for. More to follow on how we’ll be helping SEMs tap into this massive opportunity.
Had a piece published on BtoB Magazine’s website yesterday. The inspiration came from walking the floor at Salesforce.com’s 2011 Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. We talked to countless marketing automation vendors, and very few had any clue about display advertising. It was all email, email, email (oh, and one vendor touted a tracking solution for newspaper ads…how cutting edge). The whole marketing/salesforce automation industry seemed to be stuck 10-15 years in the past. Virtually no one we spoke with was familiar with “retargeting” (or “remarketing” if that’s your bag), despite the fact that it’s one of the best B2B marketing tools to come along in years.
Apparently, further education is needed.
We asked Neil Young, and he didn’t know what retargeting was, either.
What makes display advertising so great for B2B marketing? It’s the targeting. Just a few years ago, when you ran display ads, you had no option but to buy relatively broad swaths of ad space on specific websites (or sub-sections thereof). This could get you in the ballpark in terms of audience, but if you bought 100,000 impressions on some trade journal like Plastics & Rubber Weekly, you still didn’t really know who was seeing your ads. Imagine any given viewer and think of all the buckets they could fall into:
- Existing customer
- Competitor’s customer, researching alternatives
- Ready to upgrade
- Deeply familiar with the ins and outs of your solution
- First week on the job and looking for answers
- Rubber fetishist; went to the wrong website
- And so forth…
Wouldn’t it be awesome to know which bucket each viewer belonged in? However, when you don’t know these details about your viewers, you’re forced to employ lowest-common-denominator ad content filled with cliches and platitudes that everyone ignores (“Results-driven enterprise-class solutions”…generate your own here). The result? No one pays any attention to your ad and no one clicks on it. You’ve wasted your ad dollars, and you might mistakenly blame the medium (display advertising), but it was really the targeting that fell short.
And targeting is extremely important in B2B marketing. The audience for industrial plastic extrusion and thermoforming solutions is quite small when compared to the audience for Ford trucks, but it’s probably worth several billion dollars a year, so there’s a lot at stake.
I don’t claim that display advertising will, by itself, sell complex B2B products and services. No one says that about print ads or email either. But if you can target display ad viewers on an individual level, then the whole web becomes like an inbox. You can show messages to your prospects all day long if you want (actually, this isn’t a good idea; there are lots of targeting and frequency capping techniques available to make sure you’re not overwhelming your audience with ads).
More helpful reading on this blog:
Some vendors you might want to check out:
- Bizo—business marketing is their sole focus so they have a lot of demographic and targeting options available
- AdRoll—site retargeting par excellence
- Chango—search retargeting. Great primer from them on how retargeting techniques correspond to level of prospect intent.
Today ADOTAS.com saw fit to let me weigh in on the security and liability implications of Google’s apparent $500 million settlement with the Justice Department.
I doubt the self-serve ad world is going to come crashing down under pressure from government lawsuits, but it should give everyone a reason to ponder the implications of taking money from sleazy advertisers. With money at risk, self-serve ad platforms, and the online advertising world in general, may be a bit more judicious in choosing their clients and passing on the shady ones.
I think overall, a purging of scammy advertisers would be good for online advertising. It would raise the overall image that online advertising has. Despite some people’s privacy concerns, online advertising still has a tremendous amount of untapped potential to efficiently target the right ads and offers to the right people at the right time in the right place, and so on and so forth (as opposed to television, which gushes a never-ending stream of irrelevant, tacky ads no matter what your individual buying habits are).
With a lower proportion of shady ads, you might also see people click on ads more often. Any market economist will tell you, there’s nothing like trust to grease the wheels of commerce, and a lack of trust to bring everything to a screeching halt. If retail banking were like the internet, you could never be very sure whether a bank branch was just a phony facade trying to sell you counterfeit Certificates of Deposit. But it’s not. Why? Because of strict government regulation and the threat of punishment if banks engage in criminal behavior.
I’m indifferent to the particular case against Google…I have no idea whether Google did anything wrong. But if government oversight makes it easier for my company to make a legitimate buck on the web, then I’m all for it.
Anyway, go and read the column here.
April 29, 2011—Canned Banners rolls out self-serve, ecomm option
“Etailers within Shopify’s platform have one more option when it comes to advertising: flash banner ads. This week, Canned Banners rolled out a new banner creation platform, which is self-serve, for the site.”
Visit BizReport.com to read more.