Contextual Advertising

Advertising Scratchpad

1145118186 9f612e3d22 m Advertising Scratchpad (Scratchpad photo by Leonard Low.)  I’m preparing to advertise something I hope will become linkbait, and it’s made me dig into some advertising ideas.

Just before I begin, for those of you who are unfamiliar, scratchpad is a column I write (usually on my own blog) featuring an informal style that’s kind of like a brain dump. I just put all my lingering ideas on a topic down on paper, which allows me to communicate more ideas in a single sitting.

1. Is Poor Mans’ Retargeting Viable? I’m using Compete.com’s referral analytics as well as Quantcast’s “audience also likes” data for the sake of doing poor man’s retargeting (I’ve also written about this technique in practical terms here at SEJ). I want to use that to make my campaign more effective. (Read those two posts if you haven’t already, so that you’ll understand what I’m talking about when I say Poor Man’s Retargeting.)

Friendly folks like Barbara Boser (of 3 Dog Media) have collaborated with me to compare on-site analytics to Compete’s referral analytics.

I sent Barbara the report I generated with Compete’s data, and she compared it to the internal web analytics of a big site. Her response to me was that Compete was not 100% accurate, but didn’t go into the details. Aaron Wall (of SEO Book) gave me an opinion to the same effect, again without details.

Nevertheless, I’m still seeing valuable patterns/themes in the data from Compete and Quantcast that suggest that the poor man’s retargeting technique is valuable. Certain sites keep showing up, or else certain content themes (e.g. online marketing is a theme). Knowing what the sites are about beforehand helps me in this respect, but if I didn’t I could still get a data-entry monkey to visit the sites and tag/categorize them in an excel spreadsheet. Or have a scraper script do the same.

What this has also revealed to me is that poor man’s retargeting can better be described as mixed demographic/contextual retargeting.

In this way, poor man’s retargeting differs from behavioral retargeting. With behavioral retargeting, people are shown your ads regardless of what they are browsing, so long as they already took your desired action (e.g. added something to the shopping cart, read your blog etc.). This has the advantage of being very precise, because it targets users by cookies.

Poor man’s retargeting has the advantage of greater temporal relevancy, which is almost as good as permission marketing. That is, you’re showing Nissan ads to a 50 year old Caucasian male with a college education, while they’re browsing the site serving baby boomers’ car information needs. Behavioral retargeting might show them the ad after they browsed Nissan.com, on food, sports, news, and entertainment sites etc.

2. It’s a beautiful day in the [ad market] neighbourhood!

For all of us that focus on AdWords or CPM network or affiliate ads … there is a MASS of privately sold advertising available on the web, much of which is dirt cheap.

I’m talking about CPCs ranging from 5 cents a click to 25 cents on the expensive side! If you have the budget for it, now is a great time to be testing different ad buys.

Mostly you need to buy it at a flat rate relative to how long it’s displayed (e.g. a month) but the publisher or network will often show you other advertisers’ average click-through rate. And anyways, the minimum required buys are affordable to virtually any budget. A campaign can be tested and optimized with just a few hundred dollars in ad spend!

Have you used Compete or Quantcast for planning your ad campaigns? What results did you get? And if you’re buying advertising through private deals, what kind of CPCs are you seeing for your ads? How about conversion rates?

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