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Directory Advertising Tips

Directory advertising is very different to other forms of print advertising. When someone picks up a directory we are practically assured that they are ready to buy, you ad has to reflect this state of mind. “Brand ads” which fit in nicely in some print or magazines will not cut it in a directory. These is one reason for you ad in a directory – that’s the get the directory user to ring/email/visit your website – to complete the call to action. Remember, the user is making a choice between alternatives – your ad is surrounded by competition and you have to stand out from the crowd. Sometimes you competitors will really give you a hand in this respect – by placing absolutely tragic ads in a directory, forcing readers to look elsewhere. There are a few rules to follow when creating a directory ad which are set out here. This may seem like “Director Ads 101” and perhaps even a little patronising, but you would be surprised the mistakes even the largest of companies make. Creative beats Cleaver Cleaver? Directories are not the place to be ‘cleaver’. It’s the last mile and you can’t afford to try and out…

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Directory Advertising for Small Businesses

If you are looking at taking an ad in a directory then there are a few points you should consider before entering that process. First things first and a point that is overlooked: this type of advertising is ‘directional’, it’s needs driven. When someone picks up a directory there is a very high probability that they have made a decision to make a purchase. A directory is going to help them make a choice between the visible alternatives. If you are not in that directory, then you are not going to be in that selection process. A decade ago, that may have been the case, but with the rise in online searches for local businesses, that theory is slowly being eroded. The caveat here is that a huge amount of purchasing decisions are still being made using print directories as a reference point something that simply cannot be ignored. Without travelling down that road of where people actually make their final decision (print or online), let’s just assume that you are going to or are looking a putting an advert in a directory here are a few pointers worth keeping in mind. Correct medium? Firstly, is a directory the medium…

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Marketing Mobile Coupons and Mobile Tickets

Dominos (www.dominos.com), in the USA anyway,  have taken a real leap forward in my opinion with their new mobile coupon offering. For some time now, Dominos have encouraged customers to ‘opt-in’ to their mobile medium i.e. give details of nearest store, mobile number and permission to be contacted via text. They have partnered with www.air2web.com/ who look after the mobile coupon marketing for them. Opt in customers then receive ‘mobile coupons’ which they can use when they are buying online or online via dominos mobile site. As dominos know the geographic location of customers (because of the store location) they can offer local specific offers through their coupons. Last year Dominos signed up one million people to opt in to receive mobile coupons, three times as many signups as the previous year showing their customers acceptance to that type of mobile couponing. Franchise operators will be encouraged to use the new mobile couponing, but it’s up to the local businesses to decide on the specific offers as tastes and products will vary geographically. Their wap site – mobile.dominos.com looks as if it’s only set up to accepts orders from the States and I wonder if they will be adding this…

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Coupons, Coupons and more coupons

With the R word abound, coupons are resurgent but their route to the consumer is changing. Some time back, I worked in the Directory business. Our core product was print and we were constantly battling against a rising internet tide. Instead of building boats, we were trying to build dams and continually sought ‘hooks’ to get households pick up the print edition. One of the enticements that worked particularly well was a section of printed coupons. Testimony to their success was the fact that renewal of the coupon business was near 100%. So the advertisers were getting a satisfactory return on the investment, enough for them renew their contracts year on year. But there was something very ‘lick and stick’ about them, even stigmatised. I remember one potential advertiser (“potential” here is a euphemism for “he didn’t sign up”) referring to them dismissively as ‘butter vouchers’- an unveiled reference to that fact that certain welfare recipients receive the said same as part of their benefit entitlements. It’s that attitude, both spoken and more often unspoken, that I think limited the coupon as a valuable promotional vehicle in Ireland. In the same frame of mind and also belittling the coupon, In…

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Responsibility for the Recession

Some very unusual survey results were released by Harris Interactive.  Conducted in April, it surveyed people as to ‘who was to blame for the recession’, the results are reproduced below: Total 18-34 35-44 45-54 55+ Advertising Agencies 66 60 59 65 75 Print media 59 51 57 61 67 Other News Media 56 51 55 54 62 Talk shows on TV or radio 55 48 56 53 59 Cable news programs 54 51 52 54 58 Network and local news programs 53 48 53 52 59 Friends and family 46 47 50 46 42 Two out of three Americans believe that advertising agencies have some responsibility for the current economic crisis (euphemism for “Recession”), wait for it: because they caused people to buy things they couldn’t afford I always knew advertising was persuasive, but I never thought it was able to bully consumers into retail outlets. The older theage  group, the more of them laid the recessions squarely at the fee of the advertising fraternity. I would love to see the same survey conducted here to see where exactly we vent our spleens.

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Localised Search

Google gives you every opportunity to make sure that your business not only appears in its search engines, but that it also has a ‘local’ dimension to it. Some companies seem to throw their hat at the whole search scene as they feel that, in the greater scheme of things, they, as a local business, won’t be found. But the search engines and SEO in general really do place an emphasis on companies being locally found. In the USA it’s a tad more sophisticated with Google primarily using the searchers IP address to ‘geo-locate; US IP’s are in general much more geographically clustered, and then serve up results based on their location. Certainly for local searches I have done they have been ‘localised’ to city level but no further as my IP would not be a reasonable reflection of my actual location.  One ISP I used some time back showed my location as being in another county – so don’t rely too much in the IP to get you there. But people, looking for services especially, will search locally – Plumber Drogheda or Builder Galway, Courier Dublin etc. So, unless you have optimised your site to be found in those…

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New Google Analytics

A post on the Google Analytics blog informed all that Google was going to change the information that it reports in the referring URL when search results are clicked. From their example of the new referring URL they gave a string, which when it is laid out and the ampersands removed, contains like this. There is no definitive source for the meanings of all of some of these parameters, speculation at best on many of them: http://www.google.com/url? sa=t source=web ct=res cd=7 url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.example.com%2Fmypage.htm&ei=0SjdSa-1N5O8M_qW8dQN & rct=j q=flowers usg=AFQjCNHJXSUh7Vw7oubPaO3tZOzz-F-u_w & sig2=X8uCFh6IoPtnwmvGMULQfw However the parameter  “cd=7” looks like it’s the part that tells you that the click came when you ranked number 7 for that particular search term. You’ll be able to filter a particular search term and then see your site position in the search results, which can be done over time. It will give you a good indication of the rank and the resultant traffic. It wont appear automatically in your analytics – you have to set up a filer for those results.

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Adspend 2009

Looks like another bad say at the Ad office in 2009. New forecasts by Zenith Optimedia suggesting that worldwide Ad spend will be down by 7% – a drop of almost $31b to $453b. To put that $31b in perspective, it’s about half of the planned total Irish Government expenditure 2009. The only winner is online growing about 8% overall to $54b (display down, search up). The big losers are newspapers declining by about 12% nearly neck and neck with magazine advertising falling 11%. Unless the traditional media (all formats) actually begin to ‘hunt the money’ and go after the internet audience then they will be in a loose / loose scenario. They risk money taking flight from their traditional platforms to moving into arenas that some of them haven’t exactly exploited.  They have at their disposal the most valuable commodity on the ‘net – information. All they have to do now is use it.

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Free Newspapers March 2009

Interestingly the circulations of the two free newspapers are out, nothing actually interesting in that, but interesting to look at it from a retrospective point of view. Since the bell sounded for round one, the Herald has taken a different stance on its circulation strategy. Firstly it maintained a safe distance in the early months, then reducing numbers again during the mid year migration to sunnier parts and then back on top for the return of the school run. The Metro however has maintained a relatively even keel since its inception, hatching around the 70k-75k mark for over two years. Notably since the outbreak of peace and with the proposed merger, the light between the titles has been minimal – showing the lack of fight in either animal.

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New Search Engines

Two relatively new search engines to have a look at. One looks like a mega spam fest and the other, while narrowly focussed, is very interesting. www.stumpedia.com is the first and I think it really has a short life span. It allows registered users to submit sites then other registered users vote these sites it up or down the search results! As I said – spam heaven. I registered and searched for ‘Ireland’ where there were four, yes 4, results returned; “Dublin” returned no results at all. Whilst I wish them luck in the venture and as much as I think it’s interesting, I also feel that it not going anywhere fast. Alternatively www.newssift.com is a much more interesting prospect. It’s a business search engine that uses semantics to provide “meaning-based results”. It says that it has indexed thousands of articles from various new sources and the searches are based on meanings and relationships not specifically the actual keyword. According to their own blurb they believe that these search results give better, more rounded results than other search engines. Once you conduct a search is then gives you ways to redefine your original term by filtering it. The filters are…

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March Circulation

The Republic of Ireland Circulations for March, for the papers that participate in monthly ABC’s we released. Collectively they are showing 6.5% year on year decline and losing some 13,000 collectively copies since the beginning of 2009 alone. The tabloids are again taking the brunt of the drop in the morning market. The stereotypical view of the ‘redtop’ reader working on site or in an allied trade may actually be true and the redtop paper’s circulation seems to be intrinsically linked to the construction sector. Month on month the tabloids did get a slight lift (as they do historically) from the Cheltenham festival, The Sun getting the best lift. The lift is better than their morning rivals and the Jade Goode factor is also in there as the paper had a close relationship with here prior to her death at the end of March. Staying with the month on month – the Daily Mail took a bit of a downward shift as did its larger sister on Sunday. The Sunday tabloids are down month on months bar The Star. The Sunday Times making some inroads not only by the month but also annually having the highest growth over the past…

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Multivariate Testing

I listened to a great presentation during Search Marketing World recently given by Russell Sutton of Conversion Works and his thoughts and insights on Multivariate Testing. This allows you to test the effectiveness of different page designs/layouts on traffic retention. If some of your landing pages have high bounce rates then you could well do with looking for clues as to why the rates are so high. As Google point out, visitors will leave a web page within a couple of seconds if they don’t find a compelling reason to go deeper into your site. If that compulsion is lacking on your site then it could be contributing to the high bounce rate. If you have invested heavily in your website, SEO or indeed a PPC campaign, then these high bounce rates are very costly. Whilst there is a huge emphasis on getting traffic to your site, there is not always the same emphasis placed on: firstly retention of that valuable traffic and secondly having that traffic convert. i.e. getting to site visitor to take a desired action which can vary from getting sales to simply downloading information. There are plenty of software packages out there to help you with…

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SEO and Hotels/Accommodation

I did some work on the area of Hotels and Accommodation recently. As the JNIR report pointed out so clearly, the accommodation business is really driven by internet search with 51% of Irish respondents saying that they used the internet to look up travel information in the past 6 months. Furthermore some 324,000 Irish people had booked hotels or accommodation in the past six months online. So, for a hotel or any business offering accommodation, internet search is simply too important to take lightly. But I question whether businesses are responding to changing search queries? A great piece of research from Hitwise UK in February showed that that Internet searches for Valentine breaks to UK destinations only had increased 50% in comparison to the previous year. Similarly searches for “Valentines Weekend Paris” and related expressions were down 30% on the previous year. These changes are most likely linked to the economy and the prevailing uncertainty. For the Valentines break searches were still being conducted for some form of romantic recreational respite (the alliteration is free there!) but the 2009 searches more locally and cautiously focussed. I set up a ‘money related’ Ad on an Adwords account for a business in…