Getting Traffic from Contextual Networks
Moderated by Detlev Johnson from Position Technologies. Unfortunately there are only about 30 people in the room…must be another session that is drawing lots of folks. Detlev introduces the concept of contextual advertising, and advises that we may be missing some good traffic without using it.
Chris Bowler from Agency.com speaks first. He welcomes us to his city, Chicago. Starts with an introduction to contextual targeting, which is outside of search and based on relevancy between the content of the page and a set of advertisements. Shows an examples of dog-related ads served at nameadog.com. Whether your ad appears will be determined by relevancy, bid, and with Google, the quality score (that marketers have grown to know and love). Yahoo’s Publisher Network, known as Content Match, also works in a similar manner, with less relevancy score and more keyword bid price and ad. This will be changing with Panama.
Google will not reveal exact number, but it appears they have approximately 250,000 publisher sites. Yahoo has quoted to him about 5000 only. The difference is that the Yahoo content ads are largely syndicated within the Yahoo content network. MSN has a pilot program in BETA by invite only that started in October. Expected to launch in 2007. Other contextual players include Industry Brains, Quigo, Kanoodle, Vibrant Media (which uses the “intelitext” ads sometimes found in content).
A couple charts showing the growth of content targeting over the past few years. For one client, content accounted for 12% of traffic, now up to 36% in 2006. Same clients with actual numbers shows search numbers at around 47k vs content 6554 in 2004 and search 48765 and content 27704 in 2006. Search CPC is .75 versus content CPC at .55 on average. They want to draw down the search spending to pick up a better rate, if traffic is the number one method. In the case where traffic is the goal, they see 25-64% of overall traffic com ing from Content. On the other hand, clients running for more conversions or leads only show 5-15% of totals are content targeted clicks.
3 key trends, the “3 C’s.” Control, Customization and Creative. Control: he feels it is the interest of both G and Y top provide more control to the advertiser in order to reach desired goals. Yahoo Panama upgrade will allow for a much greater ability to manage content versus search. This will allow for separate copy for content ads. Customization: the ability to not just take the whole network as it is, but to customize which categories you want to be on. Yahoo can do this, but you need to contact their representatives to get to category level targeting. Also, Yahoo is willing to build custom networks. They want to roll this out in a self service basis eventually.
Google is also seeking greater customization and ease of use in 2007, but did not detail what they were going to do. Creative: We are largely looking at a text based network, with more graphic oriented advertisement flexibly starting, including banners, flash, and video. Yahoo Graphical Text – repurposed copy to be “more intrusive” than just the standard sponsored text link you would see. 3 takeaways: contextual ad programs drive incremental volume. It is separate from search network, and needs to be managed separately. Contextual targeting enhancements will be a focus by both Google and Yahoo in 2007.
Next up is Anton Konikoff from Acronym Media. He wishes he could start with a story about puppies (laughs). He has a different story. As with any tale, there is a protagonist: Acronym. There are no evil forces. Then Anton walked in one day to a big client ‘s office to pitch contextual, because it increases reach, gets around the search inventory interface, and can be operated by same management system. The client asked a lot of questions. First, what is different about it? Banners always targeted content. The big difference is that is can be bought on a CPC model (yes you can buy banners that way as well, but the algorithmic relevance allows for a higher degree of confidence in targeting the customer.)
Text ads next to text content! This is good because we as human read text content and sometimes don’t even notice it is an ad. We are conditioned to read text, especially if it is relevant. Talks about Google site targeting, which is an excellent opportunity to engage with sites that are specific to your audience. This is ROS and CPM buy. He has however yet to hear a success story from Site Targeting. The latest from Moutnain View is Vertical/Demographic targeting. Less targeted than content or site targeting but being tested.
Next question: how am I sure that my ad will not appear in less than favorable context? The answer is yes it may, and that you hope the CEO will not notice. He talks about how Four Seasons Resorts wanted to think about it. They have a problem that they only target households with a greater income than $600,000/year. This is a harder target to hit. You can add negative matches. You can also use contextual for quick response and damage control. He feels this product is great for effective broad distribution in a Public Relations sense.
How is campaign management different? Yes you have to separate them. What they have found is that unlike search, ad hoc campaigns don’t work as well. They recommend “evergreen campaigns” when using content targeting. You need to predict spikes in searches, and “surf on that coverage” as well. Positioning is important, and there is less real estate available. It is critical to be in the top three for maximum exposure. What to do different about creative? The consumer may not be as far along in the purchase cycle, for example, and you may want to use more educational project differentiation copy. You can customize ads based on narrowly defined contextual categories that are more relevant. He admits there is no answer set in stone as to how to best do creative.
He goes over a short case study of a client targeting teen audiences. They bought content advertising for ring tone related terms. They also did a campaign for Scholastic last year, and they targeted kids. How do you know what kids are going to type into search versus parents? Much more difficult…however you do know where they tend to congregate, and can target effectively that way. They used a Clifford the Big Red Dog site and it worked well. Also, the worked with sports sites through Kanoodle and Quigo to target some sports related ads.
Lastly, clients asked: how to get started? Of course, you should start with keywords that work in search. Start in a very precise fashion, using exact match and as many negatives as possible, then carefully phase in other keywords. If you start with what works best and carefully broaden, you will be less likely to fail. How to optimize? Be careful with broad match. Test, test, test. Roll out to category and targeted networks like Quigo, Industry brains, and Context Web after testing initially on G and Yahoo. How to measure success? Same goals and CPA objectives. CTR is irrelevant. You need above the fold impressions, and multiple touch points. Recommends an in depth analysis of latent conversions and lifetime value. Don’t’ assume that behaviors will match up to observed searcher behaviors. Bottom line: he loves it, and fully expects to switch 50% of clients’ budgets to contextual.
Don Steele from Comedy Central. He is happy that the other speakers said what they did, since he can build on it but make it funnier since he is from Comedy Central (laughs). Talks about the comedycentral.com objectives. They gets about 6 million + unique users. For the most part their strategy is “we build it and they will come.” It is a content depository. It is funny stuff, but not necessarily about kicking people in the ntus but that is funny in another way.
They use the content for #1: Branding opportunity. They also use this for pre-broadcast opportunities. Great way for them to reach the audiences they desire by prepping a show. Secondly, they use it for traffic arbitrage. They use contextual for more eyeballs to the site, and to support their ad sales objectives. Also, they use search and contextual to support ancillary businesses, mobile, online store, and record business. They strive to support and own their brand in search. Talks about how their content is all over other places like YouTube, MySpace, etc. they are not against these sites hosting the content, they just want it done with “proper credit.” They try to use contextual search to bring visitors to their own version of the content.
They are not such bad guys. Shows an example of “bad press” about brand at arstechnica.com (from 12/1/06 an article about Comedy Central going after YouTube). They actually host an ad on the side of the page driving people to the “official site of the Colbert report. The relevancy factor. The key for them is to be sure they are creating highly targeted and relevant ads to support their content. He ads that Viral is great for them…about once a month sometimes happens in the viral vein which drives millions of visits. They do not use RSS feeds to create content. For example, if someone is talking about 9/11, they do not want to advertise about Comedy central there. You cannot simply walk away from this after setting it up.
Goes over some more examples. Talks about the Colbert report, and how he sometimes sues his “Colbert nation” to get people to vote for online things. His favorite team is the “Saginaw Spirit,” and they were having a contest to name the new mascot. They actually hosted an add on a fan site of theirs which led to a bunch of good traffic. Shows another example of an ad in a Columbus GA newspaper (online) giving them traffic in the same vein. (Yes I have used the word vein twice so far…must be something about that word today). They also used banners and keywords to try and capitalize on the elections. It was a traffic opportunity as well as a branding opportunity. It was interesting to see what they were paying on a CPC basis versus what they may have been paying on a CPM basis. The ads appeared, maybe not as high as the ad agency ads, but the cost was drastically less. Showed an interesting chart that revealed not much of traffic was coming from search, and much more (78%) came from content match over the period of the election. Site Targeting made up 18%, and search only 4%.
Summary: our efforts in contextual search have helped to extend brand online and driven a lot of traffic. When possible, the 1 to 1 relationship between keywords and context will secure low priced and string performing ads. They must be fluid…as soon as their content is up, it needs to be bid upon.