Category Archives: search

Social Media Marketing is Digital

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I read an article in the Times titled “A Google Gold Mine Below the Search Bar” that got me thinking about how I teach social media marketing to my graduate students.  The article discusses the importance and success of product listing ads on the Google search page that come up when people type certain words into the search engine.

A product listing ad is one that has pictures of products and information, often including pricing.  The pictures attract attention from viewers and the prices provide key information directly related to the purchase.  It seems that retailers really like these ads.

So, why bring this up in teaching social media marketing?  The paid search ads are now much more prominent than the organic search results on the page.  In mobile, paid results may be the only thing that a viewer sees in a search because of the small screen size.  Search can be super effective for a strategy because it leads directly to sales and it is very track-able.  Marketers need to evaluate the value of search marketing in the mix and its effect on sales relative to the social media marketing effort.  The analysis would include sales results and cost for a clear ROI for each.

Regardless of which is more effective students of social media marketing must learn general digital marketing in order to make effective decisions for brand communications.

Here is a link to the NYTimes article.

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@Pathinteractive Customer Journey

I recently attended Path Interactive’s presentation on the customer journey at Google’s event space in the Chelsea Market.

Some interesting points that were covered:

1. Not all conversions are equal. If a conversion costs a lot of money, it’s less efficient than one that was less expensive.

2. Some conversions may result in customers who are more valuable in terms of the actions people take post conversion- such as those who share with others.

3. Search serves as bookends of a journey. People often initiate a journey with search and end the journey with a search. This makes keywords very important.

4. As customers go through the journey different types of communication may be necessary. Early on in a journey people search general info, later on more comparison data or customer specific information.

5. Marketers can use Google Analytics to integrate non digital data or data from other platforms.

6. In Google Analytics it helps to look at mobile sessions to determine what people are viewing on their mobile devices to tailor the experience.

7. It’s possible to benchmark within your industry using Google Analytics.

8. The presentation ended with a panel of Path Interactive’s clients.

Thanks @Pathinteractive and @Google for a great session.

Does Digital Work?

I recently came across this statement from a Center for Media Research Brief:

According to a 2014 Millward Brown Digital Study, current digital advertising spending trends show that digital marketers fairly evenly allocate budgets across ad formats. However, the majority of digital marketers say that digital advertising hasn’t lived up to its promise and feel that branding ads bought via programmatic methods raise concerns. They are searching for the best way to connect with consumers on an emotional level to bridge the delta between the branding promise of digital and real-world success.

Well, no wonder. When brands use programmatic buying for online space they seek to reach a particular target market based on criteria that they set for the audience characteristics. While it may be important to reach particular individuals the effort is not campaign-based. As such, an ad aimed at someone while they are online and not seeking specific information or looking to engage with a brand may not deliver the desired results.  Ad networks sell targets who partake in certain actions, which may or may not be brand related.  Chances are that those people reached in this way and in the target have already seen the ads and they are not working. 

A better strategy would be to set the goals for the campaign, determine the target and reach them at moments when they are receptive to the message. 


A Sick Application


Last night when I was suffering from the stomach flu, I searched Google using the desperate and relatively long tail key word phrase “how to stop throwing up.”  Clearly I was in pretty bad shape, but somehow still thinking of my blog.  I remembered an article  I had read a while back that explained how the CDC, The Center for Disease Control in the US tracks social media for illness to determine outbreaks.  My memory was correct in that the CDC not only tracks flu outbreaks via social media they have even launched a contest to encourage citizens to predict the 2013-2014 flu season.  Here is the beginning of the press release from the CDC:

CDC Competition Encourages Use of Social Media to Predict Flu

November 25, 2013 — CDC has launched the “Predict the Influenza Season Challenge,” a competition designed to foster innovation in flu activity modeling and prediction. The registrant who most successfully predicts the timing, peak and intensity of the 2013-2014 flu season using social media data (e.g., Twitter, internet search data, web surveys) will receive an award of $75,000 and CDC recognition. Full details of the contest requirements – including eligibility rules, how to enter the contest, and scoring – are available via the official contest announcement at

Aside from the CDC there is an app called Sickweather that uses social media to track outbreaks of a variety of illnesses scanning Twitter and Facebook.  The result is an interactive map showing the areas around the country for infections and other health issues.  I thought this was interesting, but not particularly useful for me.  I was quite aware that the stomach flu was going around.  At least three kids in my child’s class had the flu and on Wednesday, my child got it.  It was passed to me in spite of extra hand washing.

Unfortunately even knowing that the illness was present did not make it possible for me to avoid getting ill. The sickweather app might provide some interesting information, but can’t make up for the realities of parenthood.  One area where it may be helpful is in cases of food poisoning.  Sickweather could track names of restaurants that made people sick.  However, publicly posting this information without clear evidence may have its own issues.

The amount of knowledge and potentially predictive behavior is fascinating, though my illness would not have shown up on Twitter or Facebook.  Google likely has the stronger data set given that it includes search information and also social media.

Here is to avoiding illness and keeping up the fluids…

Click here for: The article on Sickweather from the Star Tribune


Should Marketers Buy Popular Key Words?

The Marketing Science Institute publishes a very interesting marketing newsletter highlighting research in social media and sometimes mobile marketing.  In MSI Insights second issue in 2013 they summarize a study by Jerath and Ma titled “Consumer Click Behavior at a Search Engine: The Role of Keyword Popularity” which examines consumer online search behavior.  The researchers found that key words with low popularity were more likely to lead to clicks by viewers on both organic and paid results.  The data suggest that as consumers delve more deeply into examining a purchase the words become more specific to their needs and they are therefore more likely to click on those results.  The implication for marketers is that they should consider less popular key words and determine the likely scenarios for search as consumers get closer to the purchase.  More general, popular key words may play a bigger role earlier in the purchase funnel.