Posts Tagged ‘original content’

Search Engine Optimization And The Struggle Over Content

October 16, 2007

Because organic search results account for approximately 70% of traffic sources, we know how critical it is to maintain high rankings for keywords related to your product (visit Medium Blue’s informative commentary on Organic SEO vs. Pay-Per-Click Advertising). Following this reasoning, during an SEO optimization program for our clients we advise adding relevant content to their websites to boost keyword density, thereby increasing their rank and exposure.

But the matter becomes complicated because of the other online channels through which we advertise. Here is one illustration: one of our account executives gets a sales call from xyz.com about their advertising opportunities. We set up a time for them to come by the office and present their programs. They’re excited to meet and present to us, and even sometimes bring bagels (but then forget the cream cheese :P). We agree our client would get decent exposure to a targeted audience for a relatively small price. But after the sales representatives from xyz.com leave, I’m stuck with the nagging thought that all we’re doing is taking content from the website we’ve built for our client, and have optimized for our client, and handing it over to xyz.com only to compete with us in organic search rankings.

The scary thing is that clients are catching on to this conundrum as well. I just got out of a meeting where a client basically asked, “Wait, I’m paying you to optimize my site, but you want me to advertise on this other site, which in effect pits my content against itself in natural search rankings?”

Uh-oh…

Yes, that’s what I’m asking you to do. However, we need to think in broader terms, particularly when dealing with higher priced items. When it comes to products that cost more (such as real estate), internet buyers spend a considerable amount of time educating themselves. Also, many websites (such as ones that deal with real estate) are going to post your information whether or not you’re paying for it (for instance, Streeteasy.com). So why not buy a hand in controlling the content for which consumers are already searching? Why not pay to have more exposure on these sites as well? Most importanly, I think you’re giving the consumer another channel through which to feel educated. And the benefit of a consumer feeling educated about a product is that the window from expressing interest to putting down money becomes much shorter (again, this specifically applies to real estate buyers, but I don’t think I can post the research because it’s proprietary [many apologies]).

So yes you’re distributing content that makes you compete with other organic search results. But you are also increasing your brand’s awareness, utilizing a measure of control for the content consumers are viewing, and, finally, aiding in the consumer’s search and helping them feel they’ve done their homework. That sound like a decent return on investment to me.

Monetizing “Web 2.0,” Part 2

May 8, 2007

I think one of the biggest hurdles we face in monetizing the burgeoning field of social media (i.e., content that is consumer-generated) is how we have misconceived the problem in the first place; it seems a more radical conception of what “Web 2.0” really means for the advertiser must first be achieved before moving forward in this question.

Revolution = Re/evolution

If new media and Web 2.0 truly represent the democratization of media, etc., one thing we at Madison Avenue have yet to be forthright about in our plethora of self-gratifying blogs is the true structure of our “old” advertising model: totalitarianism.

Although many marketers are planning on using social media in the near future, many executives still report they are afraid to embrace this new technology. While we keep trumpeting the arrival of a digital revolution and the seismic shift we are about to experience, we remain wary and hold the future at arm’s length because we want to protect our expensive branding campaigns, abhor the possibility of losing control over that content, and have become comfortable with delivering our message in a one-way conversation again and again and again, ad infinitum (or, at least as much as our clients’ budgets allow).

This is my concern: the majority of the discourse I see in my (ever-growing list of) RSS feeds is usually centered around the idea of how to use new media as a tool for our current campaigns… I believe this is completely missing the point. We have become robots, stuck in the mode of 1) Create an ad campaign, 2) Beat the message over the heads of consumers repetitively (and maybe throw in a contest to encourage participation). As Web 2.0 comes along, many marketers have written in a manner such as: “Wonderful! Now we have tons of new channels to get our message out!” Do not miss the subtle but critical fallacy of this thought. In our “old” model, we place a pitch with some graphics into a magazine which (we hope) spurs the social interaction of a purchase, and perhaps some word-of-mouth marketing by consumers happy with our product as a bonus. Now we weave a pitch into a blog and there may immediately be dozens of comments, some about the post itself, and some in connection to other comments consumers have already left about the post. Do you see the difference? An immediate dialogue; instantaneous interaction. This is a world apart from a magazine ad…

Thus, I feel it is imperative to recognize that Advertising 2.0 should be conceptualized as its own entity, rather than a slightly modified iteration of our current practices. In essence, the current mode of advertising is incompatible when users have power over content. So, what might this re-evolution of advertising look like? Can it be profitable? Come back after I finish some brainstorming (I can tell you right now that my jumping off point for my thought process, as of this moment, will be the techniques and theory behind adventure education).

Exploiting “Web 2.0” to Promote Television Shows

April 10, 2007

Some attempts to promote television shows by utilizing the power of social networking sites have proved creative, but somewhat ineffectual.  Recently, however, the people behind ‘How I Met Your Mother‘ put together a promotion on MySpace that produced (measurable!) results. The television show ‘Bones‘ also started a new five-week campaign using MySpace; this particular push requires heavy engagement by the viewer, but there is not yet any word as to how successful it has been.

One of my personal favorites, ‘30 Rock,’ has yet to embrace the power of social networking sites beyond its own NBC-sponsored attempt, which I feel is a travesty: although it has been renewed for a second season, it has unimpressive ratings and could use more creative muscle beyond message boards and some behind-the-scenes interviews. For instance, in one episode, Judah Friedlander is seen using his cellphone to record a video of a funny shouting match between Tina Fey’s and Jane Krakowski’s characters; why not extend the scene, record it using a camera phone, and post this original content on YouTube? Also, most fans I know love Jack McBrayer’s character: his story has enough dramatic momentum (a funny/nerdy southern boy trying to make it big in the big city) that I do not understand why we are not seeing his own three-minute webisodes on YouTube. It seems that the answer may be NBC’s desire to keep control over original content, as they expand material on the web, but make it available only on NBC.com, effectively keeping any revenue generated by the content firmly within their own camp.

But, what about the effect a successful campaign could have on viewership? If you create new viewers through a successful push, I think that would outweigh pleasing the fans you already have by posting content on the corporate-sponsored site (my logic behind this is that the only people engaging the content on a corporate site are already dedicated fans, not brand new ones). What do you think? Would an increase in viewers be more beneficial than attempting to keep a firm hold on revenue generated by online content?

Also, NBC, please feel free to steal my ideas about promoting 30 Rock… and contact me if you want more freebies 😉