SEO Services For Serious ROI. Blog Posts For Serious SEOs.

Why Most Ad Agencies Can’t Be Taken Seriously

Search marketing fundamentally is a direct response mechanism, and ad agencies don’t get direct response. And that’s why books like Google’s ridonculous new-ish book about “ZMOT” – aka Zero Moment Of Truth – aka this brand new thing called… wait for it… the purchase decision – are going nowhere. The book basically aims to make brand advertisers into direct response afficionados.

Psst… Here’s a tip. The ad agencies don’t care. Here’s how ad agencies win awards that prove their value to clients.

Advertising Lies: “Engaged Audience” In Advertising

The purpose of advertising is defeated by “engaged” audiences. I came across an old advertising saw in Vanessa Fox’s recent article about the Food Network vs AllRecipes traffic battle, namely that advertisers want an engaged audience. That’s idiotic.


Engaged audiences don't click.

Ask any AdSense publisher who clicks his ads most, and you'll hear that search engine traffic is great. Heck, Chiticka has an ad product exclusively dedicated to monetizing publishers' traffic earned from SEO.

Within blackhat SEO, it's also known that providing a poor user experience - where the item sought for in the search isn't present on the landing page - generates high AdSense clickthrough rates. The AdSense block is the most relevant thing on the page - it best matches the keywords searched for, and is the best next step for the visitor. So they click.

Compare that to direct traffic. People coming to read content are the MOST banner blind visitors within a website's audience. Engaged audiences don't give a damn about the ads. They ignore them the most - they're used to the ad slots, have seen them several times already...

Brand advertisers supposedly want these audiences because they're there for the content, therefore are the most likely to be interested in the topic. OK, fair enough - lots of search traffic is off topic to a site's core topic, in contrast to the direct traffic. But that doesn't help much if those people are ignoring the ads.

The best solution in such cases is social media - you're not ignored, because you're not broadcasting at your target [direct, engaged] audience, but speaking to them personally. Offering recipes, chatting with them on Twitter etc.

Google Talks Mobile, Local and CPA At Goldman Sachs Con

Here are my notes on the interesting points in Google’s presentation to Goldman Sachs’ Tech and Internet Conference. It’s noteworthy not just for seeing the trends in where they’re going, but for the principles that govern their thinking and the way they want to be perceived.

1) Google saw Japanese users paying relatively less attention to ads vs organics results. They moved the Roman characters to a third line so it interfered less with the appearance of the Kanji script (Japanese lettering). This resulted in users paying more attention, clicking more and raising revenue. This was a “better user experience.”

Naturally, the following question was regarding the line between user experience vs revenue. Specifically, charges that Google makes the background too light and indistinguishable such that people don’t realize they’re ads.

Answer: They’ve run tests and picked particular colors for the sake of making it sufficiently obvious, e.g. for users of a particular Mac laptop. (Around 6:30 – 8:00 minutes in.) Thought: Are they serving different style sheets according to device? Hmmm … sounds quite similar to things I’ve shared in my book regarding dynamic navigation on lead gen sites.

- The interviewer asked whether it’s the case whether intermediaries and destinations are now going to be competing for placement – takes some cojones to not just throw softballs :). The downside is that he doesn’t follow up and challenge any of the spokesperson’s comments but just accepts whatever is said. Not clear if he’s being too polite or is not sufficiently informed or if he feels the answers are satisfactory.

Google Places

“The focus is just on providing the best experience to the user,” “a place where they can find all the information they need on the business,” including reviews. “If that’s not the business’ site [responding here to complaints about displacing the organic listing for the business' site], then “that’s just the way it is.”

- But Google places ties into the ability to just click through and book a room, for instance…
- Google’s providing the opportunity to go to “OTAs” (online travel agencies? slang for booking sites a la Expedia I guess?) as well as the original site. Good for user experience [and for the auction's bids]. “We’re very clearly not doing the booking on Google itself, not entering into fullfillment.” [At least, until you fully integrate ITA Software and run a Google Comparison Ads type CPA auction? (G Comparison Ads are financial price-comparison ads that allow people to compare interest rates on mortgages etc.]


- Don’t shrink a desktop experience onto a mobile – design for the mobile experience itself.
- There are some points where mobile is outright better than desktop – knowing where you are, having a speaker/mic, GPS integrated, etc.

- Names two areas where click-to-call monetizes well on mobile: home insurance and home security and alarm systems…

- They’re not too excited about adding lots of salespeople for local, but prefer simplifying the ad product to get more SMBs on board.


He’s very bullish. Wants to get product inventories and companies’ CPA bids to match against their search inventory. Strategy has been to go after the top 500 retailers in the US and to grow that way.

- What about using flashier ads, essentially taking the integration of product ads’ images a step further?

- They tested banners in China and that worked very poorly. Their preference/paradigm is to include the relevant info on a page – be it pics, pricing, merchant reviews, product reviews etc.

- The ultimate goal is that they can have both higher CPAs as well as more transactions in absolute numbers going on – they can show the products that are most likely to convert. [I read this as Google's going to optimize AdWords to show ads from higher converting advertisers, further squeezing the fat out of the ecosystem - e.g. of dumb advertisers with deep pockets and low conversion rates.]

- Google Checkout is not something they’re forcing on companies who want to use Google CPA. [Of course not, they're just incentivizing it with notably higher CTRs. They can't openly say that they want to integrate this closely because that would get them in hot antitrust waters.]

Google URL Builder: Trick To Bulk Tag URLs for Google Analytics

Ever try creating lots of Facebook ads that you wanted to track using Google Analytics? If so, you probably know Google’s URL Builder, which generates URLs with tracking tags. (See post-script for an explanation if you’re not familiar.) It does this for a spectacular amount of URLs at a time! Exactly one URL at a time, to be precise.

Frustrated by Google’s URL Builder tool? Here’s how to build URLs with tracking tags in bulk.


2 Facebook Ad Creation Programs For SMBs – Replacement for FB Ad Manager

The Problem With Facebook Ads

People buying Facebook ads have been getting progressively more sophisticated and large-scale. The problem with scaling is that the web interface is clunky and that the Bulk Uploader is only available for high rollers spending $1000/day + on Facebook ads. (more…) Review – Should You Join A PPC Coaching Community?

Earlier in 2010 I had the good fortune to be offered a free review membership at in exchange for a review. With the necessary disclosure given, here’s my take on PPC Blog. (more…)

For Your Swipe File: Clever Direct Response Flyer

I saw this flyer at the busstop and had to grab it to share with you guys. I think it’s brilliant advertising, and here’s why. (more…)

AIDA Really Means QPBC

I have a problem with the ‘AIDA’ formula we as marketers use.

AIDA stands for ‘Attention, Interest, Desire, Action’ and is a rough summary of the buying process/marketing process. Unfortunately, it’s too vague of an instruction set for marketers, and vague instructions lead to screw-ups in carrying them out.

So I’m changing AIDA to QPBC. It’s less catchy, but a hell of a lot more practical as far as instructions go. It’s clearer.

QPBC stands for Question, Problem, Benefit, Call. (more…)

Online Ad Rates: Are You Buying The Traffic You Think You’re Buying?

I was browsing the analytics of one of the top financial sites around. Just about everyone in the financial blogosphere knows this site. (more…)

View-Thru Attribution Management – My Experiment Design

An increasingly popular question in attribution management and in advertising measurement is what effect ads – that were viewed but not clicked on – have. These ads are known in the lingo as ‘View-Thrus’ or ‘View-Throughs.’ The related question people usually have is what percentage of credit to give view-thrus for conversions that came via multiple touchpoints (e.g. the customer saw and/or clicked several ads, before buying).

I’ve come up with an idea for an experiment to measure the effect of such “view-thru” ads on conversion, as well as on acquisition costs. (An acquisition cost is the cost-per-action of acquiring the lead/customer.) (more…)

My Year In Review, Scratchpad Style

Here’s what I’ve experienced and learned in the past year. Feel free to skim, but as with my scratchpad first discussing submarine crawling, what you read here today may be industry-changing search news in 6 months… (more…)