YouTube’s Advertising Problems

YouTube controversy

Google-owned YouTube has had a pretty busy couple of weeks. And it’s all about advertising and just how tricky it can be.

The first issue that they faced was over a newspaper investigation which found that UK government paid advertising was being run alongside extremist content. Very embarrassing at best and at worst a very expensive mistake: some big hitters (Verizon, AT&T) have suspended their YouTube advertising spend at least for the time being. And these budgets are in the hundreds of millions of dollars – enough to impact the Google share price by $25bn in less than a week.

The second issue that YouTube faced was some controversy around its relatively new ‘restricted mode’. Restricted mode is a filter which can be turned on within YouTube to filter out potentially mature content that you may not wish someone in your family to see. Sounds like a reasonable idea – but how does it work? How can YouTube tell what content is offensive and what isn’t? It is very difficult, even for the big brains over at Google. When the panic was reaching its peak over the first issue mentioned in this blog, restricted mode seemed like a great idea. But it soon started adding a lot of LGBTQ into restricted content, for which it rightly attracted a lot of criticism.

How can YouTube / Google start to get control of the situation and move forward in light of this very difficult period? I think there are four areas to consider:

  • More control over the type of content on YouTube: This is a really difficult one, but one that YouTube needs to step up to. It needs to either define what content is inappropriate (where is the line between freedom of speech and hate speech?) or flag content very clearly that should be restricted – for users as well as advertisers
  • Balance between meeting the needs of content creators and advertisers: YouTube is stuck in the middle but needs to listen to the needs of both – without either, the website will face even more troubles ahead
  • The Google Display Network needs to be tightened up: Advertisers need to be able to clearly define who they are looking to engage with and YouTube needs to be able to deliver against that brief. There will always be a bit of a leap of faith for an advertiser, but running the risk of having your advert appear before an extremist video is a leap to far
  • YouTube needs to clarify what Restricted Mode is all about. It came to prominence as a knee-jerk reaction to the advertising controversy and what they saved in time, they paid for in good-will from viewers and content creators. Clearly explaining what is being hidden and why would go a long way to resolving this.

What do you think that YouTube and Google should do to resolve these pressing issues?

Image via the fantastic

Display Advertising: The Basics

Display Advertising 101

Display Advertising 101

I think in the world of digital marketing, it is easy to assume that everyone knows everything about everything! But very often you just want to ask the simple questions – if you feel like this about display advertising, this one is for you. It doesn’t include the complexities, just the basics: hope you enjoy!

What is Display Advertising?

Display advertising is a way to get some representation for your campaign onto a targeted website. There are a number of options in terms of the advert size, location and format. There is also a wide variety of websites where your advert can be displayed. Different types of adverts include MPU (300 pixels x 250 pixels), Leaderboard (728 x 90) and Skyscraper (160 x 600)

There are two ways to place a display advert:

  • Google Display Network – this is a network of millions of websites who sell their space via Google. The Google Display Network is accessed via Google Adwords and you are able to use keywords to target the websites where your advert will appear. You can also target specific websites which are part of the network.
  • Direct with website – many websites sell space on their website directly. You can contact these websites and negotiate directly with them.

You can use a non-moving image which will normally be in a ‘png’ or ‘jpeg’ format, or a moving image such as a ‘gif’ format. This will depend on your budget, designer and website (not all websites can accommodate gif images).

Display advertising is good for:

  • Raising awareness
  • Using eye-catching imagery for your campaign
  • Using well targeted websites to promote your campaign

Display advertising is bad for:

  • Driving a response from an audience – display adverts have a low click through rate
  • Displaying complex information – fewer words means a more effective advert

How to Measure Display Advertising:

  • Clicks – the number of times that someone clicks on your advert
  • Impressions – the number of times that your advert is displayed
  • Click Through Rate – the number of clicks divided by the number of impressions
  • Cost per Click – the amount that you have paid per click

Display Advertising Tips

  • It is likely that you will be charged not by the click, but a cost per 1,000 views, known as Cost per Mille or CPM – consider this when planning your budget
  • Spend time researching which website is best to advertise on – where do the audience who you want to speak to spend their time online?
  • Add a tracking code to your URL via Google Custom URL Builder to track traffic from your advert
  • Display advertising should be used to raise awareness, not necessarily to drive enquiries or action from the user

Facebook Advertising

Facebook Advertising

Following on from my post last week about Twitter advertising, I thought that I should also cover advertising on the other major social network, Facebook.

As the world’s largest social network, just over 1.2 billion members at the last count, and with each user having an average of 338 friends, the news feed is a tough place to get your message to stand out – particularly if you only have a small number of likes on your page.

Facebook is a commercial organisation, and it is entitled to start to monetise the network.  That’s why the only way to guarantee that people see your post is to advertise.  If you have people who have liked your page, they will see every post that you make only if they regularly interact with your content (i.e. like, comment or share).  Otherwise, Facebook will ‘filter’ the amount of content that is seen by your fans.

So, what are your options when advertising?  Helpfully, Facebook starts (as all good marketers do) with what results you would like:

Page Post Engagement: if you have a particular post which you think is great and sums up your page, then choose this option – it will promote an individual post, so make the media interesting (e.g. video, infographic, etc.)

Page Likes: a great idea if your audience is relatively small – get your page seen by people who don’t like your page yet – a quick way to get targeted followers (you can target later in the process)

Clicks to Website: these ads appear in the right hand column and will take users directly to the URL of your choice; a handy display advertising tool

Website Conversions: to use this, you will need to add some tracking code to your website to measure the results, but this tool will help you drive people to a particular action

App Installations: this tool will help you to drive the number of people using your Facebook app up…

App Engagement: …and this tool will encourage people to use your app more!
Event Responses: if you have an event already created in Facebook, you can create an advert to support this event – very useful in specific industries

Offer Claims: this has been growing in popularity over the last few months.  If you have an offer that you would like to promote, this will appear in news feeds and show users who in their network has already claimed the offer.  As ever, be careful of over-redemption!

I think that at the moment, many people baulk at the idea of spending money on social media: after all, it’s meant to be free isn’t it?  But I think the sheer size of the networks, the amount of content being shared (i.e. noise) and an improvement in the tools provided by the networks themselves will make social media advertising the norm by the end of 2014.

What do you think?

Twitter Advertising

Oscars Selfie

Oscars Selfie

Every week you will hear about the staggering statistics around Twitter. Around 500 million tweets per day, and only this week saw the most retweeted tweet ever – Ellen DeGenrers’ selfie which received more than 2 million retweets by the end of the ceremony.

All of this information will make marketers feel excited – what a huge audience and engagement, quickly followed by a feeling of doom – how on earth am I supposed to get my message heard in all of that noise?!

There is no substitution for doing the right thing (e.g. Interaction, engagement, quality content, entertaining, etc.), but with all of the noise, you may choose to promote yourself on Twitter – after all, you are probably spending money on PPC to support your SEO strategy.

So, what are your options when embarking on a Twitter advertising campaign?

You can choose from three options:

1) Promoted Tweets – you can promote an actual tweet which may say something about your company or what you offer. This will appear at the top of people’s news feed

2) Promoted Account – you can promote your account as a whole too. Your Twitter account will appear in the ‘Who to Follow’ box, and you will soon be able to insert some ad copy to enable you to promote your account further

3) Promoted Trend – if your MD has dreamt about trending, then this is their opportunity to promote the hashtag which will drive people to your content – however, hashtags do come with a health warning, they can be hijacked, just ask McDonald’s

As you would expect from such a huge network, the options for targeting are impressive. You can target by geography, interest, user name, device or gender. And you can set your budget with an upper limit, so it shouldn’t break the bank. And the analytics that come with Twitter advertising are impressive, so varying degrees of conversions capable of being measured.

Have you tried Twitter advertising yet? What results have you achieved? Share your story here!

Pay Per Click Best Practice

PPC screenshot

PPC screenshot

The challenge of gaining insight from Search Engine Optimisation is going to be increasingly difficult with the rise of ‘not provided’ search terms, so organisations may turn to Pay Per Click to deliver search marketing insight. 

PPC can be a fantastic tool for delivering good quality traffic to your site, but it can also be a long and expensive learning curve if you don’t approach it right, so here are some of my favourite PPC tips:

1) Make sure you can measure:

Before you start your PPC campaign, ensure that you can measure what the results will be.  Assuming that you are using Google Adwords (although Bing is a very un-tapped opportunity!), the quality of reporting is fairly high, but it will not be able to see how engaged a user is according to the keyword that they have used to get to your site.  This means that you will need to link up your Google Analytics (or other analytics tool) to your Pay Per Click activity.  Without this, you may be spending money without knowing if it’s money well spent.

2) What is a conversion?  

It is unlikely that every visitor to your website from PPC will complete the objective that you would like them to (e.g. to purchase).  So, you need to have an understanding of what success looks like. What value for the company would a sale deliver, and what value would a completed enquiry form deliver?  What about if the user searches, goes to your site and calls your phone number?  Can you measure this user moving from online to offline with a unique phone number?

3) Test your ads:  

One of the benefits of digital is that you can often quickly track if something is working or not.  So, release your creativity by testing different wording on your ads.  The number of characters that you can use per line is limited, but you could try a different copy to see which works best for your users, e.g. is a ‘hard-sell’ or ‘soft-sell’ the most effective approach?

4) Know how to enhance your campaigns:  

There are a number of ways that you can fine-tune your campaigns to make them more efficient or effective.  You can insert the words that users search with into your ads through dynamic advertising; you can show different messages to mobile or desktop users; you can show different messages to users who have or haven’t been on your site before; you can even alter your bidding strategy by day of week or time of day.

5) PPC is only half the story:  

You can spend a fortune of driving great quality traffic to your site but if your landing page or website is a poor experience, your money will be wasted.  Always bear in mind that PPC is only half of the story of success – your website should have a great landing page and user journey to accompany your campaign. 

Facebook Advertising

Facebook Advertising


Following on from my blog last week about Facebook Likes, I have received a couple of questions about Facebook adverts.  In my last blog, I said that it should only be used as a last resort – that is because there are so many things that you can do before you spend any money! 

But sometimes, you need results quickly and Facebook ads are a good tool to help you grow your audience quickly.  Here is the process that you will go through when you set up a Facebook ad – in my experience, it’s well worth spending time thinking about this before you embark on your Facebook marketing campaign:

What type of advert?  Firstly, you need to work out whether you want an advert of a sponsored story.  I would say that if your brand was widely recognised by consumers, then a sponsored story would work, but for small and medium size businesses, I would recommend a Facebook advert. 

Facebook Ad  Sponsored Story 

What will it cost me?  Facebook ads billing is pretty similar to Google Adwords.  You pay on a PPC (pay per click) basis.  Facebook does offer what your click cost is likely to be once you have inputted your advert details which helps you to set your budget.  Budgets can be set per day or over the lifetime of the advert. 

What do I write in the advert?  There are a number of variables which you can change for your advert.  You can direct your audience to any part of your Facebook presence – an app, a video or your homepage.  You can also choose the image for your advert (make it really eye-catching and impactful!) and the copy in your text – this should also be impactful as it would be for any advert.  Load it with benefits which help your audience out. 

Who do I target?  One of the benefits of Facebook advertising is that you can highly target your audience.  You can target your audience by the below criteria:

  • Location – this can go right down to city level, and you can set a radius, e.g. 20 miles of Birmingham. 
  • Demographics – you can split by sex, age, education and even relationship status (particularly handy if you are selling a lifestyle product)
  • Interests – Facebook is able to develop a profile of a member through their interests, powerful information to you
  • Connections – you can target your audience by what connections they have, or don’t have.  This is a great way to target people who are already connected to your competitors. 

How do I measure?  The key to any advertising campaign is the measurement – has it achieved its objective?  Facebook insights are powerful and very detailed particularly by downloading the CSV files.  They should contain all of the information that you need to measure the campaign success. 

What is your experience of Facebook advertising?  Have you had success or been liked by fake Facebook accounts?  Leave a comment and let me know!