Monthly Archives: January 2011

The Two Sides of SEO

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Today, I pass onto you this clever commentary I stumbled upon in SearchEngineLand courtesy of Bryson Meunier:

“Often, when people in the industry talk about the two sides of SEO, they’re talking about black hat and white hat tactics.

Having worked as an SEO since 2003 and in Internet marketing since 2000, both with Fortune 50 and mom and pop businesses with business goals as different as night and day, I think the distinction is deeper than just black hat and white hat.

It seems the best way to illustrate this is with a description of two SEOs, in the literary tradition of Goofus and Gallant:

Two Sides Of Link Building
This SEO refers to herself as a link builder, and spends all day checking reports from the software that automatically sends out reciprocal email requests. She doesn’t necessarily care if they’re effective or annoying to millions of people because she has a paycheck coming in and, hey, this is business.
That SEO convinced a client to permanently redirect a temporarily redirected domain, and gained more than 100,000 authoritative links in the process, which allowed them to jump from page two to one, where they have ranked consistently in the top 5 on a very competitive brand-agnostic keyword for the last two years without adding the keyword to the title tag or the body copy, which conflicted with their style guidelines.

Two Sides Of EDU Links
This SEO goes out and celebrates at the end of the day because she has identified and secured links from three authoritative EDU domains in the course of the day.
That SEO has a client who works for a university who changed domains ten years ago and let the domain expire instead of redirecting it and is not having success talking to Educause about subverting their policy about not re-acquiring the expired domain in order to let the client reclaim these thousands of old links that are rightfully theirs and could be helping them compete for competitive keywords because it is a rule that they’ve made, and other university clients who find out what SEO is will want to do the same thing.

That SEO looked in vain in Google’s webmaster help center for answers on how to handle link recovery issues such as this, and found nothing. When he reached out to his company’s Google rep, she referred him to the webmaster forum, but he couldn’t post a question due to confidentiality issues.

Two Sides Of Goals and Metrics
This SEO can’t sleep because he’s anxious about whether his PR8 links that he bought will bring his toolbar PageRank score to 5/10 and allow him to report the good news to his client.

That SEO sleeps well knowing that she is meeting her goal of natural search impressions, clicks and conversions that she forecasted for the client at the beginning of the project, and implementation of recommendations is on track to help her reach her goals in the end.

Two Sides Of Allegiance
This SEO thinks Google is the enemy and writes in her blog and in social media outlets regularly about how hypocritical the search engines are.
That SEO thinks of herself as an extension of the search engine’s search quality team, and regularly reports competitors who violate the webmaster guidelines as part of the SEO process. That SEO uses search engines in life as much as anyone, and gets upset when the search results aren’t relevant. That SEO thinks having a rigorously controlled Google Webmaster certification program similar to the AdWords and Analytics programs would be a great trust signal that could help Google fix their current spam problem.

Two Sides Of Implementation
This SEO makes changes to his website all day and night without anyone knowing or caring what is done.

That SEO just got off a four hour conference call with Legal in order to explain how search engines work and why it’s going to be beneficial to the business to make the title tags more descriptive. Changes to the website will not happen for months.

Two Sides Of Process
This SEO finally goes to bed at 3am because he’s been scrolling through tweets all day. He didn’t actually make any changes to the website that he’s optimizing, and probably spent too much time tweeting back and forth with @WestchesterSEOCompany1234 about Matt Cutts’s cats, but tomorrow is another day.

That SEO has to keep a detailed project plan of what’s being done when so that all stakeholders in the SEO project will know what’s expected of them when, and SEO requirements will not delay the launch date of the web site or require additional resources that weren’t in the budget.

Two Sides Of Discourse
This SEO guru focuses on bare bones implementation in the service of getting the client to the top of the search results with available resources for however long the tactics work.

That SEO guru doesn’t have a lot of time to write articles or speak, as she spends most of her day realizing her natural search goals and planning for the future, but when she does contribute to the industry it’s less on reverse engineering algorithms and more on creative ways to help her clients get more and better traffic by focusing on synergies between what SEOs and search engines need

Which Side Are You On?
Ask yourself: what kind of SEO are you, and what kind of SEO do you want to be? In my experience, it’s very easy to be “this SEO” as the majority of SEO gurus out there are trying to sell SEO services to small businesses with authority issues that don’t have resources to compete fairly or find creative ways to help clients become more visible in natural search results.

But when I’m hiring an SEO to help our company help clients take their natural search visibility to the next level, I’m weeding out “this SEO” in the interview process and looking for “that SEO” with great communication skills who focuses on business value of natural search traffic, quality of execution and attention to detail, and has a knack for creative problem solving.

I’m not suggesting that there are only two types of SEOs. I think there’s a more nuanced explanation that’s closer to the truth. However, I’m simplifying the issue to prove a point.

In these examples, “this SEO” is the one that gets covered often in this industry because the barrier to entry is lower, but it’s also the example that has very little to do with my work as an SEO and the work of others like me.

Fortunately, publications like Search Engine Land start to fill the gap with columns like Industrial Strength, and SMX caters to “that SEO” by focusing certain sessions on using natural search to drive business value.

There are also great books that cater to this audience like Vanessa Fox’s Marketing in the Age of Google and Audience, Relevance and Search: Targeting Web Audiences with Relevant Content. Unfortunately. these things are the exception to the rule, and the signal to noise ratio for someone in the SEO industry who wants to be the kind of SEO that I and others like me aspire to be is low.

If you are an SEO or you’re writing about SEO, please do your part to strengthen the signal by not assuming all SEOs are interested in what you consider to be SEO, and keep in mind that there are people out there who make a living as SEOs whose lives don’t resemble the lives of other SEOs in the slightest.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

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Bryson Meunier is an Associate Director of Content Solutions at Resolution Media, an Omnicom Media Group Company, and a primary architect of Resolution Media’s natural search product and Digital Behavior Analysis.

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Courtesy of Media Post

We knew it was coming, and the Jan. 1 front page of the New York Times didn’t let us forget: “Boomers Hit New Self-Absorption Milestone: Age 65.”
Expect to see a full year of stories that begin with this announcement, some of which make no sense whatsoever. My hometown paper started one recent story with the following sentence: “Fueled by aging baby boomers, a growing number of Kentucky’s elderly residents are falling victim to physical abuse, neglect and financial exploitation — with no end in sight.”

Can anyone make sense of this sentence for me? Are Boomers changing the face of elder abuse because they have suddenly become abused elders? Or are they fueling the problem as elder-abusing caregivers as their own parents pass age 90?

The sentence makes no sense, and simply reminds us that when the mainstream media focus on Boomers, they often make generalizations that are either wrong or irrelevant.

Boomers all Share the Same Stage of Life

What is important about Boomers in 2011?

In 2011, the average Boomer turns 54, and the generation that still spends more dollars on more products than any other is now firmly and completely embedded in middle age.

Not old age — middle age.

What matters about Boomers is not that they are old (even assuming that people feel old at 65), but that no one in this famously youth-obsessed generation can still pretend that she is young.

Before now, marketers had been in denial about how to reach these consumers, assuming either that Boomers can be taken for granted to follow ads targeting their younger peers, or that they won’t resent being treated like seniors. Now that Boomers are so clearly neither young enough to justify the former nor old enough to appreciate the latter, marketers need to find new words and ways to engage the 78 million consumers who are in their own unique stage of life. How to start?

Lifestage marketing

To speak directly to Boomers, you need to find words and images that acknowledge this unique stage of life between being young and old (at VibrantNation.com we sometimes call this stage “post-minivan but pre-retirement”). People who find themselves in the unique life stage between 45 and 70 won’t listen to messages written for either 35-year olds or 70-year olds.

There are some marketers who are doing this well. Here are a few examples I can think of.

Not Your Daughter’s Jeans. I’ve always admired Not Your Daughter’s Jeans for a brand name that says: “You aren’t defined by the same goals (or body) you had in your 20s, but you’re still cool enough to deserve good-looking jeans.” That’s an example of life stage marketing that acknowledges there is an important and lengthy stage between being a young mother and “mature.”
Depends. A brand that has been a tagline for jokes about old age showed how to engage Boomers this year with a campaign targeting people in their 50s who also experience temporary incontinence. A television ad targeting women showed a respected orchestra conductor who also experiences post-menopausal incontinence. Kimberly-Clark did a great job acknowledging that age-related health problems and finding yourself at the prime of life are not inconsistent conditions.

And, finally, in a tech gadget survey we conducted in anticipation of this month’s Consumer Electronic Show, 13% of Boomer women told us they own e-readers, suggesting that Amazon, Apple, and Barnes & Noble should be paying particular attention to consumers whose life stage gives them the time, discretionary income, and interests to buy these new devices.

No matter what the media say, spend more time in 2011 thinking about the 54-year old Boomer than the 65-year old Boomer. You’ll gain more business with her, and you’ll be better positioned to serve Gen X when its first member turns 50.

100% Organic: 25 Super Common SEO Mistakes

What follows are innocent mistakes that many SEOs make. Courtesy of SeachEngineLand.  Some of these things catch even the best of us…

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1. Google AdWords Keyword Tool Set To Broad Match

The Google AdWords Keyword Tool defaults to “Broad match” mode, which yields useless data from an SEO perspective — useless in that the numbers are hugely inflated to include countless phrases incorporating the search term specified. For example, the Keyword Tool reports 30.4 million queries for “shoes”, but that includes multi-word phrases such as “dress shoes,” “leather shoes,” “high heeled shoes,” and even “horse shoes,” “snow shoes,” and “brake shoes.”

In Exact mode, the search query volume for “shoes” drops to 368,000. The difference between those numbers is striking, isn’t it? So always remember if you are doing keyword research for SEO in the AdWords Keyword Tool: untick the box next to Broad match and tick the box next to Exact.

2. Disallowing when you meant to Noindex

Ever notice listings in the Google SERPs (search engine results pages) without titles or snippets? That happens when your robots.txt file has disallowed Googlebot from visiting a URL, but Google still knows the URL exists because links were found pointing there. The URL can still rank for terms relevant to the anchor text in links pointing to disallowed pages. A robots.txt Disallow is an instruction to not spider the page content; it’s not an instruction to drop the URL from the index.

If you place a meta robots noindex meta tag on the page, you’ll need to allow the spiders to access the page so it can see the meta tag. Another mistake is to use the URL Removal tool in Google Webmaster Tools instead of simply “noindexing” the page. Rarely (if ever) should the removal tool be used for anything. Also note that there’s a Noindex directive in the REP (Robots Exclusion Protocol) that Googlebot obeys (unofficially). More on disallow and noindex here.

3. URL SERP Parameters & Google Instant

I just wrote about parameters you can append to Google SERP URLs. I’ve heard folks complain they aren’t able to add parameters to the end of Google SERP URLs anymore — such as &num=100 or &pws=0 — since Google Instant appeared on the scene. Fear not, it’s a simple matter of turning Google Instant off and URL parameters will work again.

4. Not using your customer’s vocabulary

Your customer doesn’t use industry-speak. They’ve never used the phrase “kitchen electrics” in a sentence, despite the fact that its the industry-accepted term for small kitchen appliances. Your customer may not search in the way you think makes intuitive sense. For example, I would have guessed that the plural “digital cameras” would beat the singular “digital camera” in query volume — yet it’s the other way around according to the various Google tools.

Sometimes it is lawyers being sticklers that gets in the way — such as a bank’s lawyers insisting the term “home loan” be used and never “mortgage” (since technically the latter is a “legal instrument” that the bank does not offer). Many times the right choice is obvious but it’s internal politics or inertia keeping the less popular terminology in place (e.g. “hooded sweatshirt” when “hoodie” is what folks are searching for).

5. Skipping the keyword brainstorming phase

Too rarely do I hear that the site’s content plan was driven by keyword brainstorming. Keyword brainstorming can be as simplistic as using Google Suggest (which autocompletes as you type and is built into Google.com) or Soovle (which autocompletes simultaneously from from Google, Bing, Yahoo, YouTube, Wikipedia, Amazon, and Answers.com). The idea is to think laterally.

For example, a baby furniture manufacturer discovers the popularity of “baby names” through looking at popular terms starting with “baby” and decides to build out a section of their site dedicated to related terms (“trends in baby names”, “baby name meanings”, “most overused baby names” etc.).

6. Mapping URLs to keywords, but not the other way around

It’s standard operating procedure to map all one’s site content to keyword themes (sometimes referred to as primary keywords, declared search terms, or gold words.) What’s not so common is to start with a target (i.e. most desired) keyword list and map each keyword to the most appropriate page to rank for that keyword and then optimize the site around the keyword-to-URL pairs.

For example, “vegan restaurants in phoenix” could be relevant to five different pages, but the best candidate is then chosen. The internal linking structure is then optimized to favor that best candidate, i.e. internal links containing that anchor text are pointed to the best candidate rather than spread out across all five. This makes much more sense than competing against oneself and none of the pages winning.

7. Setting up a free hosted blog

Free hosted blog platforms like WordPress.com and Blogger.com provide a valuable service. Over 18 million blogs are hosted on WordPress.com. They’re just not a service I would sign up for if I cared about SEO or monetization. They aren’t flexible enough to install your own choice of plugins or themes/frameworks to trick out the blog with killer SEO. And for Heaven’s sake, don’t make your blog a subdomain wordpress.com. For $10 per year, you can get a premium WordPress.com account under your own domain name.

Did you know putting AdSense ad units on your WordPress.com blog is against the service’s Terms & Conditions? Much better to get yourself a web host and install the self-hosted version of WordPress so you have full control over the thing.

8. Not properly disabling Google personalization

Not long ago, Google started personalizing results based on search activity for non logged in users. For those who thought that logging out of Google was sufficient in order to get non-personalized results, I’ve got news for you: it isn’t. Click on “Web History” in the Google SERPs and then “Disable customizations based on search activity”. Or on an individual query you can add &pws=0 to the end of the Google SERP URL (but only if Google Instant is off, see above).

9. Not logging in to the free tools

Some of the web-based tools we all use regularly, such as Google Trends, either restrict the features or give incomplete (or less accurate) data if not logged in. The Google AdWords Keyword Tool states quite plainly: “Sign in with your AdWords login information to see the full list of ideas for this search”. It would be wise to heed the instruction.

10. Not linking to your top pages w/your top terms on your home page

The categories you display on your home page should be thought through in terms of SEO. Same with your tag cloud if you have one. And the “Popular Products” that you feature. In your mind translate “Popular Products” into “Products for which I most want to get to the top of Google.”

11. Not returning a 404 status code when you’re supposed to

As I mentioned previously, it’s important to return a 404 status code (rather than a 200 or 301) when the URL being requested is clearly bogus/non-existent. Otherwise, your site will look less trustworthy in the eyes of Google. And yes, Google does check for this.

12. Not building links to pages that link to you

Many amateur SEOs overlook the importance of building links to pages that link to their sites. For commercial sites, it can be tough to get links that point directly to your site. But once you have acquired a great link, it can be a lot easier to build links to that linking page and thus you’ll enjoy the indirect benefit.

13. Going over the top with copy and/or links meant for the spiders

Countless home pages have paragraphs of what I refer to as “SEO copy” below the footer (i.e. after the copyright statement and legal notices) at the very bottom of the page. Often times they embed numerous keyword-rich text links within that copy. They may even treat each link with bold or strong tags. Can you get any more obvious than that? I suppose if you put an HTML comment immediately preceding that said “spider food for SEO!” (perhaps “Insert keyword spam for Google here” might be more apropos?)

14. Not using the canonical tag

The canonical tag (errr, link element) may not always work but it certainly doesn’t hurt. So go ahead and use them. Especially if it’s an ecommerce site. For example, if you have a product mapped to multiple categories resulting in multiple URLs, the canonical tag is an easy fix.

15. Not checking your neighborhood before settling in

If you’re buying a home, you’d check out the area schools and the crime statistics, right? Why wouldn’t you do the same when moving into a new IP neighborhood. Majestic SEO has an IP neighborhood checker. This is especially important for the small-time folks. You don’t want to be on the same IP address (shared hosting) with a bunch of dodgy Cialis sites.

16. Doing too much internal linking

Don’t water down your link juice so much that only a trickle goes to each of your pages. An article page should flow PageRank to related topics not to everything under the sun (i.e. hundreds of links).

17. Trusting the data in Google webmaster tools

Ever notice Google Webmaster Tools’ data doesn’t jive with your analytics data? Trust your analytics data over the webmaster tools data.

18. Submitting your site for public site review at a conference where Google engineers are present

Doh! (Insert Homer Simpson voice here.) Unless you’re absolutely sure you have nothing weird going on within your site or link neighborhood, this is pretty much a suicide mission. Corollary: talking to Matt Cutts at a conference without covering your badge up with business cards. Note this mistake was contributed by a guy we’ll call “Leon” (you know who you are, “Leon”!)

19. Cannibalizing organic search with PPC

Paying for traffic you would have gotten for free? Yeah that’s gotta hurt. I wrote about this before in Organic Search & Paid Search: Are they Synergistic or Cannibalistic?.

20. Confusing causation with correlation

When somebody tells me they added H1 tags to their site and it really bumped up their Google rankings, the first question I ask is: “Did you already have the headline text there and just change a font tag into an H1, or did you add keyword-rich headlines that weren’t present before?” It’s usually the latter. The keyword-rich text at the top of the page bumped up the keyword prominence (causation). The H1 tag was a correlation that didn’t move the needle.

21. Not thinking in terms of your (hypothetical) Google “rap sheet”

You may recall I’ve theorized about this before. Google may not be keeping a “rap sheet” of all your transgressions across your network of sites, but they’d be foolish not to. Submitting your site to 800 spam directories over a span of 3 days is just plain stupid. If it’s easy enough to see a big spike in links in Majestic SEO, then it’s certainly easy enough for Google to spot such anomalies.

22. Not using a variety of anchor text

That just doesn’t look natural. Think link diversity.

23. Treating all the links shown in Yahoo Site Explorer as “followed”

Don’t ask me why YSS includes nofollowed links in its reports, but it does. Many YSS users wrongly assume all of the links reported under the “Inlinks” tab are followed links that pass link juice.

24. Submitting a Reconsideration Request before EVERYTHING has been cleaned up

This may not be “super-common” because many SEOs have never submitted a “Reconsideration request” to Google. But if you have or plan to, then make sure everything — and I mean EVERYTHING — has been cleaned up and you’ve documented this in your submission.

25. Submitting to the social sites from a non power user account

Nothing goes flat faster than a submission from an unknown user with no history, no followers, no “street cred”. Power users still rule, Digg redesign or not.

Bonus tip: Stop focusing on low- (or no) value activities

Yes I’ll beat on the meta keywords tag yet again. Google never supported it. All it is is free info for your competitors. Guaranteed there are items on your SEO to-do list like this that aren’t worth doing. Be outcome-focused, not activity-focused. Focus on what matters.

Of course this wasn’t an exhaustive list. There are many, many more. I could easily make this a three article series too. I will try to resist the temptation. 😉

What mistakes are you seeing your co-workers, clients, and competitors make? Share them in the comments!

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

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Stephan Spencer is the Vice President of SEO Strategies at Covario. Formerly the founder and president of natural search marketing firm Netconcepts (recently acquired by Covario), and he is also the inventor of the GravityStream SEO proxy technology, now rebranded as Organic Search Optimizer. He is also an author of the O’Reilly book The Art of SEO along with co-authors Rand Fishkin, Jessie Stricchiola, and Eric Enge. He blogs primarily on his own site, Stephan Spencer’s Scatterings.

The Agency of the Future

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By Uwe Hook  Courtesy of IMediaConnection

A few weeks ago, news broke that ZenithOptimedia U.K. will be going through a restructuring. There are rumors that Starcom MediaVest Group might also shuffle things around in the U.K. And this is just the beginning: Every week we learn about marketing professionals coming and going, departments being dissolved, departments being merged or created. In addition, new agency models are coming to life, from the crowd-sourced to the brand innovation studio for the 21st century.

What will it take for agencies to prosper in the new marketing reality?
As the marketing industry continues to mature, and as new channels and platforms need our attention each and every day, it’s imperative for us to contemplate the structure of the agency of the future. Our livelihood will depend on it because not being ready for the demands of the future will likely lead to the demise of your agency.

Office mansion or garage? Neither.
Just this month, Bloomberg and Fast Company painted a black and white picture of the future of advertising agencies. Bloomberg believes in big agencies:

“The little hot shops, says Lubars, who are thumping their chests and declaring the end of mass marketing and the death of the Big Dumb Agencies, do so as a business posture, an attitude for journalists, and a sales pitch to clients. ‘They don’t believe a word of it,’ he says.

“What he sees instead is an evolution, firms heading to the same place from different directions. Technologically able marketers are trying to scale up into full-service agencies; and full-service agencies are mastering the new channels and a world with 6 billion individual markets. ‘They’re racing to figure out what an idea is,’ says Lubars. ‘We’re racing towards technology. It’s easier to pick up the technology. That’s why we got there first… They are desperate to take down the agencies that are doing it now.'”

Meanwhile, Fast Company predicts Armageddon for holding companies:

“In its fight for survival, the advertising industry is at war with itself. Generalists are competing with specialists. Interactive shops are vying to become full-service agencies, while traditional shops are yearning to become digitally integrated. ‘The Great Race,’ as Forrester Research dubbed it in March, drives a more intense competition over an already shrinking pie, and there won’t be room for everyone. En route to the center, agencies are chasing one another to the bottom. ‘I spoke to a high-level CMO the other day,’ says Profero’s Reitkopf. ‘She said, ‘I work with a holding company’s promotions company, its social-marketing company, its response-marketing company. Every time we’re in the room together, it’s fine, but the minute I walk out to get a cup of coffee, someone will follow me and tell me they can do what the other agencies do for cheaper.’ Adds Harley CMO Richer: ‘Agency networks supposedly combine all these experts together on your behalf, but it only really happens when the business is at risk of walking out the door. Before then, these creative entities are locked off in separate P&Ls. They’re not built to solve clients’ problems, they’re built to satisfy individual P&Ls.’

“That may be a vision for the industry as a whole. With all the defections of top agency talent over the past year — Alex Bogusky from Crispin, Gerry Graf from Saatchi, Kevin Roddy from BBH — it’s easy to imagine a new advertising ecosystem of pods built around industry stars who have left their lumbering institutions behind. The holding companies will still exist, but around them could emerge a chaotic pattern of startups, independent talent, and connectors who thrive with minimum overhead. That kind of industry would be a fraction of the size of the current one. It would create opportunities for the most talented and hurt everyone else. It would be harder work, with fewer assistants and fewer million-dollar paydays. But this smaller business would be aloft on its new creative potential rather than sinking under the weight of its past.”

As usual, the truth is somewhere in between: The likely solution is that successful agencies of the future will have a core group of professionals. This core group will accommodate both the size of the brand and the scope of engagement. Account management will continue to be crucial for client retention and, more importantly, better understanding the heart and soul of the brand. Small agencies often have challenges becoming part of the organization, while bigger agencies often see account management as being account servants. The core group will consist of highly paid professionals from all facets of life to serve the brand better and deliver real value based on insights.

TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE, CLICK HERE.

Digital Out Of Home Ads Increasing

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by Garry McGuire IMedia Connection

Digital-out-of-home (DOOH) is demonstrating its value as a relevant, consistent, and effective medium for advertisers. It’s predictable and easy to buy. But reaching maturity, and realizing broad acceptance and prosperity, will take more work.

Here’s my point of view on the key issues facing DOOH network operators, and how they should be addressed.

Focus on audience
DOOH media is planned and bought much the same way as broadcast, online, and print — by audience profile. The significance of people consuming more media out of the home than in-home has become important to advertisers. The right message delivered to the right consumer, at the right time, along the path to purchase — this premise is now particularly important when targeting an audience.

Stay informed.

For more insights into the latest trends in emerging marketing technologies, attend the iMedia Breakthrough Summit, March 20-23. Request your invitation today.
The chief marketing officers and the agency planners out there don’t buy place. They are not looking to get their message running in certain kinds of venues. They want to reach a certain viewer profile broken down by characteristics like age, gender, and lifestyle. The only exception to that is true out-of-home shops that are selling billboards and, thus, selling specific locations and areas.

Digital-out-of-home is more of an online and broadcast environment than it is out-of-home. By selling audience and not place, the medium is going to get bought more broadly. Place is a great qualifier on a media buy, but the big dollars in the media world right now are in broadcast and online, and those are bought based on audience.

Here’s the sort of pitch that we see resonating with people who control media budgets.

If you operate a gas station network, for example, don’t talk about how many screens are running. Talk about the demographics of the people spending time in front of those screens as they pump gas. You want to convey the size of the audience of men and women, 18 to 52 years old, who have an average household income of $100,000 or higher, and are in front of those screens repeatedly. If you have a retail network, don’t talk about the fact that your screens are in a convenience store environment. Talk about how you represent a viewing audience of 10 million alpha moms, or whatever most powerfully characterizes your viewership.

Make this easy for advertisers and media partners
It’s been pointed out many times by media pros, but I’ll repeat it. It takes far more time and energy right now to plan and execute a small DOOH buy than it does to book a much larger broadcast buy. That has to change. The DOOH industry has to make it easy for advertisers and media planners if it wants to firmly be part of the mainstream.

Make yourself available
The biggest agencies have their own internal media planning systems. If you want to be part of major buys next year and beyond, you must figure out how your media inventory shows up in those systems. If you’re not in there, you’re not on the plans. The biggest agencies that control media dollars have in-house systems for broadcast, and they are quickly moving to systems for DOOH, as well. Starcom MediaVest is already using such a system.

If you can’t beat them, join them
You need to use the common nomenclature, measurement metrics, and pricing methodologies of the media business. You can’t invent your own and force them on a well-established industry.

Adapt to the industry’s needs
Be ready to transact the way that media industry members want you to transact with them. It has got to be the way they want to measure it. It has to be the way they want to price it. If you have a sight, sound, and motion DOOH network, and you are positioning it up against broadcast, you better be able to convert from cost-per-thousands (CPMs) to gross rating points. You cannot walk into a broadcast buyer’s office and talk about CPMs. That’s not how they work.

What happens is that planners struggle and then give up on trying to execute a cross-network buy because they can’t do an apples-to-apples comparison. That then means those DOOH networks that don’t report and sell the way agencies want simply don’t get bought.

Get better at data and analytics
Major media research firms are all now very active in the DOOH sector, and we’re seeing substantial work — such as Arbitron’s “Digital Place-Based Video Study” and Nielsen’s “Fourth Screen Network Audience Report” — being done to define audience characteristics.

We’re also seeing guidelines emerge and be refined in North America and Europe that encourage common ways to measure and report audience metrics, network by network.

Big research is really important in this sector because it makes DOOH easier to buy. The exciting thing is that all the research that is coming back from the field is coming back largely the same. There’s a positive trend reinforcing the impact and efficiency of DOOH. Those great results can’t be dismissed as anomalies because the body of evidence is now too large and consistent.

It’s that breadth of research that will hopefully stop what has emerged as a bad trend in this sector — the willingness to do custom research on media buys. We all want to sell our media so much that we offer custom research on every single ad buy. But that’s a mistake. The costs are too high, and it only adds to a story that’s now well established. Let’s focus instead on the larger industry research.

Speak with a common voice
DOOH network operators need to stop sniping at each other and start talking together about how this media format reaches, engages, and has an impact with consumers outside their homes. As long as we are fighting with each other about who has the best fitness network, or coffee shop network, or whatever it is, none of us will get bought. The media business doesn’t want to listen to us as we air our dirty laundry.

There is a lot of media money out there, and it is constantly moving around from different buckets. DOOH networks have a far better chance of drawing down from those buckets if they move off of trying to sell against their direct competitors and focus, instead, on selling the efficacy of the category.

The tide will rise for everyone if we speak with a common, positive voice.

Garry McGuire is the CEO of Reach Media Group

What Makes a Blog Successful?

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It’s a question that many people would like to have the answer(s) to. After all, the proliferation of blogs—giving way for an entire new cyber-term, the ‘blogosphere’—is one of the main engines for the expansion of the internet itself. In this context, there are obviously going to be more and more people searching for the ways and the means to turn their ordinary blog into a successful blog.

At the most basic level, creating a successful blog is much the same as creating any kind of successful website, though there are certain special considerations due to the niche that blogs occupy and the purpose which they have.

Let’s delve into some of the finer details, then, that can help you achieve your blogging goals:

For starters, don’t try to create a mega-blog that covers any and all topics, but rather curtail the focus of a given blog (and, if you really want to blog about other topics, create separate blogs for each). This is basically an issue of avoiding biting off more than you can chew—a move that will most surely prevent you from achieving a successful blog.

Highly-ranked blogs are inevitably those that focus in on something quite specific and offer highly relevant information on that topic and only that topic; follow this model and you will be setting up the right kind of framework for your blog.

Secondly, make sure that you’re aware of the general buzz in your particular area/topic when you start writing your blog entries. A blogger that knows a lot about their particular topic is going to be the blogger that can actually pump out the kind of highly relevant information we mentioned above, so don’t just start rambling before you’ve done a little reading and researching.

As a part of this process, it is a good idea to go ahead and subscribe (RSS feeds, etc.) to a few different blogs, something that will help you stay updated. At the same time, as you go about discovering all the different voices of the blogosphere that pertain to your niche, you’ll want to try to get the word out about your blog in particular, and whenever/wherever you can drop a link back to your page (and have the owner of that other blog approve it and post it to their blog) you’ll be doing yourself a solid.

Then, there is the simple issue of the actual written content you post in your entries: perhaps nothing will be quite as important for achieving success as this. Not only are you going to want to post new content to your blog on a regular, vigorous basis, but you’re going to want to make sure that the content is quality: well-written, truthful, and relevant to your blog’s topic.

You’re going to need to weave a few keywords in there and use labels/tags in order to further enhance the visibility and quality of your blog.

And don’t forget: you’ll want to always make your entry titles as catchy as possible, and to include keywords in the titles and in the first few sentences of each and every post—that’s where they really, really matter!

Courtesy of Social Media Today.