Author Archives: LB

Google+: Social Marketing+ So Much More

It finally happened… my curiosity got the best of me. At first I couldn’t bear to even read about Google+ considering the amount of time I have spent in the past few years setting up and maintaining my Facebook page. Why would I need yet another means to share pictures and stories with my friends & family (and distract me at home & work)? The truth is I probably don’t. However, I am just a single social person. My prosperity is not dependent on my efforts to brand myself or in getting my message out to the masses.  BUT the overall success of our clients truly is based on these factors. I can no longer ignore the fact that there is a major new player in the world of Social Marketing. And this heavy hitter can provide some very exciting advertising opportunities for our client base.

At AdTech New York in November, keynote speaker Christian Oestlian, Lead in Social Advertising with Google, explained exactly why and how brands and companies should be using Google+. Christian broke down the information by highlighting 5 of the most common     problems facing marketers and then providing a Google+ solution for each.

  • Marketing Disconnection – Companies social efforts often vary drastically from the implementation of their other marketing plans. Google+ Page, Direct Connect – Users can connect & communicate with your brands directly through your Google+ page. Google provides the ability to drive customers directly to your brand’s online identity with one simple search by including ‘+1’ in the search.
  • Recommendations without impact – Valid recommendations fall through the cracks and are often not dispersed throughout all facets of a brand’s identity. Google +1 button – Allows a brand’s users/fans to recommend you with a simple click anywhere they see you online. In Oestlien’s own words, it is “marrying the power of personal recommendations with the immediacy and power of recommendation on Google search.” According to Google surveys, 90% of people rely on the recommendations of friends/family when making any new decisions.
  • Comments without Conversation – Until now companies have been serving up their message to social networks without a way to actually engage prospects. Google+ Hangouts – A way for brands to have real conversations with their actual audience through the group video chatting function. The impact of face-to-face interaction w/ your target consumers is immense. Answer customer service questions, play live testimonials, gather a business group for brainstorming, and on and on.
  • Messaging lacks personalization – Marketers have been limited in creating messages that are  personally targeted. They have to try to reach a larger audience all at once with just one broad message. Google+ Circles – This feature allows brands to directly target specific segments of their prospective customer or audience base. Companies can direct followers to varying circles in order to better target which content they will see. It also offers a solution to the common marketer dilemma of how to manage a professional and personal social platform.
  • Lack of Awareness/Transparency – Companies have limited insight into the details of how people are interacting with and sharing info associated with their brand. Google+ Ripples – Analytics providing a clear view of who is sharing what about your brand and with whom. Ripple actually creates a timeline of how posts are shared and interacted with. This is an invaluable tool for dissecting the flow of shared info and learning who your best advocates are and which content offers the greatest reach.

Google+ has managed to bridge the very real gap between search & social. Google can now track users from search to websites and back to social. This allows Google to target users continuously as they surf the web. For example: A user visits the Jiffy Lube website and views the oil change info then leaves the page without scheduling the service (converting). When they hit G+ you could serve this user with a targeted ad – “Don’t wait to change your oil! Click here for a $7 off coupon.” Priceless.

In case it isn’t obvious yet, I’m sold. The ability to link all aspects of our client’s online identity together and create a cohesive brand that fans/customers/users can search & engage with is amazing. In closing, I have to agree with Sherilynn Macale, the Social Media Editor for The Next Web, who believes, “Google+ is the future of search branding and marketing, encouraging the brand-to-user and user-to-brand experience through more intimate and personal engagement.” Now we just need to get our clients on board!

Author: Jacoba Deming

Affiliate Marketing: It may be the one ingredient missing from your recipe for marketing success!

Affiliate Marketing is essentially the practice of using one website to drive traffic to another. In other words, it’s a way for Advertisers to outsource a portion of their marketing activity. Affiliates (or publishers) will choose Affiliate offers that they feel will work best for their audience and their marketing preferences. They can promote the offers as they see fit and will be then be compensated for each customer or site visitor they bring to the Advertiser through their own marketing efforts.

There are no complicated set-up processes or initial requirements to get started with Affiliate Marketing. An advertiser that chooses to run an affiliate program simply needs to provide the proper marketing materials for each type of promotion they are willing to accept. For example, if they only want banner or display traffic, they will only make banner images and ad copy available to publishers. However, if they are also willing to accept email traffic/leads they would need to provide several email creatives (both html and text versions). The Advertiser also needs to decide on their ultimate goal for participating in an Affiliate Program and how much they are willing to pay out for each completed action (sale, click, site visit, etc). Below is a fictional example of basic affiliate marketing.

The owner of a custom camera bag business would like to increase the daily volume of traffic to her website as well as her general site conversions (volume of purchases). She decides to work with a trusted Affiliate Network to help her better reach the right audience. She provides her account manager with 5 banners of various sizes that highlight and promote her business. Once the campaign is live in the network, an Affiliate that owns a camera review site decides to test out the campaign. They can log into the network and download the banners and their own unique link so that all Impressions, Clicks and/or Conversions will be credited to them. They simply place the Advertiser’s banner on their site to start promoting the offer. Every time a visitor clicks on the banner and is directed to the camera bag site, the Affiliate will be compensated. All campaign activity is tracked and reported and the Affiliates are typically paid out monthly on their earnings.

Once an Affiliate Offer has been set-up and the tracking tested and confirmed, it is ready for Affiliate promotion. At this point the Advertiser basically has an Automated Ad Campaign running! There are several well-known companies that have been taking full advantage of the Affiliate Marketing space for years now. Both Blockbuster and Netflix run extensive Affiliate Programs (and have been for years) to increase the number consumers that opt-in for Free 1-Month Trials. They have been incredibly successful at creating an “ideal” affiliate opportunity. The offer costs nothing for the consumer, can be targeted to just about ANY demographic and the Affiliate gets paid for each and every “free” sign-up. Everyone wins! Dating, Gambling/gaming and Coupons/deals are also among the top industries utilizing Affiliate programs today.

What are the benefits for Advertisers?

While the affiliate model may not make sense for every company that is seeking site traffic, leads or conversions, there are certainly plenty of benefits for those that choose to give it a try.

  • Risk-Free – Pay for performance model. The Advertiser only pays for a pre-determined action.
  • Better reach – Affiliates will promote your offer to audience groups that would not have been exposed to your ad otherwise.
  • Free Branding – While your ad is continuously displayed to online viewers, you only pay for specific actions those viewers take. You will leverage awareness for your product or services.
  • No up-front fees!
  • Unlimited growth potential. Some Affiliates marketing models allow for individual affiliates to build their own teams of affiliates, further increasing your reach.
  • Choice of Compensation Methods – Rev Share (payout a pre-determined % of revenue earned), Cost per Click (CPC), Cost per Action (CPA), Cost per Lead (CPL), etc.

Author: Jacoba Deming

As a Navy Mom…

As a Navy Mom, I would like to speak about our recent loss of 30 U.S. personnel, 22 of which were Navy Seals.  I remember the feeling I had when my son first announced that he joined the Navy.  First, it was the feeling of fear since we were in the middle of a terroristic war, then it was a feeling of relief that he chose the Navy and not the Marines, Army or Air Force.  The Navy always seemed like “the safer” of the Armed forces.  The Navy is rarely covered as a part of the combat missions going on overseas.

The Chinook helicopter that was shot down on August 6th was attempting to come to the aid of a team of soldiers engaged in a firefight.  They were on a mission to capture a senior Taliban leader in the Tangi Valley who was responsible for a series of attacks.  Although an American airstrike later killed the Taliban fighters believed responsible for shooting down the helicopter, it doesn’t ease the pain the family members are feeling from their loss.  This was the most deadliest day for American soldiers since the war began.

I must admit that prior to my son’s enlistment, I never really paid much attention to the news regarding the war, the loss of life, the injuries, both mentally and physically, or the sacrifices made by both our soldiers and their families.  I am fortunate that my son has not been placed in a combat zone since his enlistment.  I only struggle with the fact that he is so many miles away from home and that I am missing out on a chunk of his life that I will never get back.  Spending Christmas morning opening presents in front of a Skype camera just isn’t the same as being there in person.  However, this Christmas when I open presents with him in front of Skype, I will remain thankful that my son is safe and sound and out of combat.  Media Works wants to thank the thousands of men and women who serve in the armed forces every day and the families that are there to support them along the way. They are the reason we can live and work in freedom every day.

Author: Gail Miller

Attempts at Internet Regulation In An Explosive Market

Let’s face it: within two decades, the internet has gone from a highly specialized form of military communications to something that we can’t function without. Compared to forms of traditional media, the internet’s growth has exploded faster than anything ever seen- It took 38 years for television to reach 50 million people. It took the internet 5 years. It took Facebook 9 months.

So it’s not surprising that it has taken Washington a while to catch up.

Currently, the Federal Trade Commission has jurisdiction over email advertising, website advertising, SEO and any other online message that could be considered misleading to consumers. The FTC’s position on the internet can be summed up from the following excerpt from its 17-page guide, Dot Com Disclosures:

“Although the number of companies advertising online and the number of consumers shopping online are soaring, fraud and deception may dampen consumer confidence in the e-marketplace. But cyberspace is not without boundaries, and fraud and deception are unlawful no matter what the medium. The FTC has enforced and will continue enforcing its consumer protection laws online to ensure that products and services are described truthfully in online ads and that consumers get what they pay for. These activities benefit consumers as well as sellers, who expect and deserve a fair marketplace. Many of the general principles of advertising law apply to Internet ads, but new issues arise almost as fast as technology develops.7

Efforts to regulate the internet have been varied, but consistent over the past several years. Bloggers are now required to disclose any connections to products and services they mention (http://mashable.com/2009/10/05/ftc-blogger-endorsements/) and Congress has been exploring options for legislating cybersecurity (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leslie-harris/cybersecurity-lots-of-ans_b_866644.html).

Recent discussions over behavioral advertising have resulted in the FTC agreeing to let the advertising industry try to self-regulate before it takes action. The Interactive Advertising Bureau has published a set of guidelines for behavioral advertising (http://www.iab.net/public_policy/behavioral-advertisingprinciples) that coincides with principle’s the FTC proposed back in 2009 and the Self-Regulatory Program For Behavioral Advertising has become an effective program for helping companies incorporate those changes.

Take a second to look over the Program’s website and determine if the behavioral ads you are running are compliant. (http://www.aboutads.info/)

Author: Laura Brown

2011 – The Year of The Tornado

Lately, it seems like every evening news broadcast starts with “a tornado touched down in                          today”.  Springfield, Massachusetts is not a place that would normally have to worry about tornadoes until now.  Like so many other cities in the past two months, Springfield was added to the list of devastation and destruction.

This year has been the deadliest year for tornado outbreaks since 1953.  More than 500 people have lost their lives by twisters in 2011.  The high death toll has led many to ask if tornadoes are becoming more frequent – and more deadly.  NPR spoke to a meteorologist with the National Severe Storms Laboratory about trends in tornado activity.  The outcome of the conversation “April certainly had historic tornado tallies, but before the tornado outbreaks on May 24 and 25, May was one of the slowest months on record”.  What stands out most about this year’s twisters is the number of related deaths.  Urban areas like Birmingham, Ala., Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Joplin were all hit this year.

Scientists don’t really know why the conditions that spawn tornadoes have been happening more frequently this year.  It’s not clear what role, if any, climate change is playing.

So when you think you’re having a bad day, remember all of the tornado victims.  Suddenly, your day’s not looking too bad!

Author: Gail Miller

The Growth of Daily Deals

As a girl who was raised in the Tennessee country, I’ve been constantly faced with completely new and interesting experiences since I moved to Baltimore earlier this year. Things like “crab cakes” and “public transit” and “major league baseball” have become weekly or daily occurrences, and I am blown away on a regular basis by all the different things to do in the city.

So it comes naturally that I scour my daily Groupon and LivingSocial emails for good deals around the city.

As a marketer, I’ve been paying close attention to the growth and adjustments of these daily deal sites as more and more competitors have started entering the market- and rightly so. CNBC  said in December that Groupon was on track to be the fastest growing company of all time, with revenue projections of $500 million in 2010. The real number was even higher- an internal memo leaked by the Wall Street Journal in February put Groupon’s 2010 revenue at $760 million, a 2300% increase over 2009. Add to this a controversial television campaign that debuted during the Super Bowl and the fact that internet giants Facebook and Google have recently begun their own coupon services, and daily deal services definitely have my vote as “the Next Big Thing.”

So the looming question is: what’s next for Groupon and can it continue to sustain such huge growth now that the market is saturated with competitors? After turning down an estimated $6 billion buyout offer from Google in December, Groupon is expected to launch an IPO in the second half of 2011 (http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/15/us-groupon-idUSTRE73E02S20110415) that will potentially value the company at $15-20 billion dollars. However, it is the effect of Facebook Deals that will hold the most interesting effects on Groupon as the rest of the year develops. Can Groupon continue to hold its niche as the internet giant closes in?

So far, the signs point to yes, and the clue is that location-based networking service Foursquare has (surprisingly) continued to see growth despite the introduction of Places to Facebook’s basket of services. Facebook’s gigantic user base notwithstanding, Foursquare has grown by over 5 million users since its main competitor came into existence. As a case study, this seems like good news for Groupon: amid growing concerns of internet privacy and behavioral marketing, consumers just don’t seem eager to see Facebook as the one-stop-shop “WalMart of The Internet.” It therefore seems appropriate that Groupon and Foursquare are expected to make an official announcement soon that they are teaming up to offer highly specialized deals based on current location.

For the moment, it seems the internet is big enough for everyone. How long that lasts, however, is the question of the year.

Author: Laura Brown