Thursday, July 31, 2008

Online ads Go Local

If you have been thinking about doing online advertising, then you may be in luck. As a Los Angeles online advertising firm that is forging strategies and tactics in the online arena for measurable results, we know that today, a commercial message is often thought of as an intrusion. It has to be creative and compelling for someone to read it, let alone interact with it.

Today's Wall Street Journal Media & Marketing section had an article about the fact that newspapers are finally starting to think locally for online ads. In the past they believed they had an edge over Internet advertising because they supported communities. Plunging print ad revenues have forced newspapers to re-think things. Over the past two years, the number of local salespeople selling online ads for newspapers went from 5,900 to 15,500 (Source: Borrell Associates.)

As our Creative Director Brad Stone often says, "Many people ask us what is the secret formula for a successful marketing, advertising or communications campaign? It’s creativity that gets to it. Emotions. Appeal. That’s what drives the difference for success." Brad's work for Guess, Ralph Lauren, Rampage, Nextel, Neutrogena, and Glacier Bay Vodka stands apart when it comes to concept and design.

When it comes to advertising and design in Los Angeles, MarCom can manage both traditional as well as online ad campaigns such as Pay-per-Click (PPC). In fact, we have actually saved clients including the Entertainment Career Connection money in that arena. Depending on your industry category, PPC can be quite costly. This client sells accredited courses and mentor programs in the film, radio and recording industries. Here's what we have done for them to save money in online advertising campaigns. In less than one year, we reduced the Entertainment Career Connection’s PPC budget from $29k per month to $9k per month, while increasing SEO and social media marketing campaigns. For one third the budget they are getting 170 percent of the business, we have decreased Entertainment Connection’s original PPC budget by 67 percent of what it was, and increased the number of leads by 67 percent.

The market for spending on local ads expanded to 57.2 percent last year thanks to Google and whose ads target consumers searching the Web for products and services. Together they control 53.3 percent of the local online ad market, which is up from 25 percent in 2006.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Los Angeles SEO Consutants

We have been Los Angeles SEO consultants for quite some time - way before most people even knew what search engine optimization, or SEO, was all about. I remember starting about ten years ago writing forum posts for a client. Next I got involved doing articles, then ghostwriting blogs, and following that, reputation management for a fallen executive.

I met Mike Keesling about four years ago. His background is multi-dimensional, which is one of the reasons he is such a good marketer. He not only does SEO, but he helps our clients with their business strategies online so they can earn more revenues.

Mike produced the first Energizer website campaign for Chiat\Day advertising. After that, he started doing SEO, and one of his clients has maintained a top five ranking for their primary keyword phrase “oahu vacation rentals.” Just go to Google and type that phrase in. The results say it all.

One big lesson that he has taught me, is that because of Google, things are always changing and you must be patient. For instance, during what has come to be know as Google’s Florida Dance --which dropped 97 websites out of the top 100 in fifty different categories -- his client was dropped under their key word "oahu vacation rentals." Mike gave his best SEO advice ever, which was to do nothing. He recommended that they just wait and ride it out and he was proved correct about 23 days later.

MarCom used to be strictly a Los Angeles Public Relations firm. Then we realized, during the high tech and dot com era, that many of our clients actually needed it all - marketing, advertising and PR. Today, thanks to the emergence of the Internet, there's been a paradigm shift in marketing. Now I can't do PR without an SEO program in place. Why? Because the media are out there searching for stories online too! And if our clients are optimized with links on the Internet back to their website, they rank well in the search engines, and the press can validate the company.

One thing many people don't realize is that you not only need patience, but you also need an SEO and a social media marketing strategy. With more companies joining the marketing rush on the Internet, it is taking longer to rank on the first pages of Google.

As one example, I have been writing optimized press releases and articles for our client for about a year now. Her key word strategy was to optimized pet urn, and pet urns, then pet memorials. So every article or release that I write, links those key words back to her site. Her sales on pet urns have increased substantially. And now we are ready to choose a new key word to optimize. Again, patience is the key, and it is an ongoing marketing project.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The State of Internet Advertising

According to ZenithOptimedia research the Internet will account for 10.2 percent share of 2008 global ad spending. Television comes in at 37.6 percent and magazines at only 11.6 percent. It’s no wonder that all my magazines now fit in the mailbox – their pages keep getting thinner. But then we have known this for quite some time as more and more people adapt to getting their news from the Internet. In fact analysts have predicted that it will take another ten years before the medium is well established.

I still prefer reading the hard copy of the Wall Street Journal every morning. Speaking of which, today there was a long feature article on the front page of the Wall Street Journal regarding Google’s push to sell ads on You Tube, the place online where they claim people watch videos more than one billion times a day.

Historically, it was 2002 when Google revamped its sales model for search ads – when a Google user searches for something online, ads related to the search words pop up next to the results. Right now Google makes most of its money via the text ads that are part of online searches. That means if you are looking for the latest trends in education, these ads come up in the results page -- the ones in the middle are called “organic” listings, while those in the grey blue boxes along the top and the sides are Google text ads. But the company wants to expand its video ads and claim the other 89.8 percent of the global ad dollars that are not currently being spent on the Internet – meaning video and display advertising. After all that is why Google bought You Tube in 2006.

Just imagine – some day when you go online you’ll get all the same stuff we get today. Television commercials at the beginning, middle and end of people’s personal You Tube videos – maybe display ads on blog posts – and billboards will be everywhere along the Internet highway.Google refers to the video spots as "preroll" and "postroll" ads, which could run before and after video clips, and companies that post video clips would get the option to sell these ads, and share the revenue with Google. Advertisers consider them very effective.I don’t mean to sound sarcastic, because after all this is our business here at MarCom New Media.

But if you read the WSJ article, you’ll see how things have been slowed down much like the entertainment industry strikes – thanks to copyright litigation, which has made the YouTube advertising push more complex. This is great news for us because it gives us a chance to digest strategies for our clients for Internet advertising. I love all the food related projects code names the company came up with for all of their latest initiatives –“Project Spaghetti” which is designed to help untangle the challenges with its advertising operations, which was 98 percent of Google's Q1 revenue. As always, people in high tech are always thinking about food.

Google also recently acquired DoubleClick Inc., to ramp up their display ads revenue, but that has not done too well. The company is known for inserting ads onto Web sites in addition to offering a way for ad agencies to manage and track online ads. They say these display ads are only generating a few hundred million right now.

We have one client called The Entertainment Career Connection that provides educational apprentice programs for the film, radio, television and the music recording industries. EC has mentor programs in more than 100 U.S. cities in all fifty states. After Mike Keesling, our SEO expert did SEO for three of their websites, we are now focusing on branding, public relations and social media marketing, in addition to their PPC campaign, he began to manage their Pay per Click (PPC) campaign. It was at around $29k per month.In less than one year we reduced the Entertainment Career Connection’s PPC budget from $29k per month to $9k per month. After six months of a carefully planned and executed reduction of the PPC budget, PPC media was at $11k, and after the SEO campaigns kicked in, plus after re-skinning the websites, we reduced the PPC campaign to $9k in about a year, while increasing SEO and social media marketing campaigns. We like the SEO technology environment better than PPC because it costs less than the ads.

Here’s the kicker -- for one third the budget they are getting 170 percent of the business, as we have decreased Entertainment Connection’s original PPC budget by 67 percent of what it was, and increased the number of leads by 67 percent. Their websites is getting excellent rankings for the keywords including: The Recording Connection, The Film-Connection and Radio Connection.

In the end, it will be up to the consumers to drive successful advertising online. I got an email this morning on my blog from a guy who really liked one of my old blog posts, "Consumers Define Social Media Marketing." Check it out and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

MarCom's New Website - SEO Tips for Launching

Thanks to our strategic partner, Rigney Graphics, we just launched our new MarCom New Media website. The reason we changed our name from MarCom Broadband to MarCom New Media, is because today Internet marketing is all about the new media. The term has settled in, and we believe people understand what it means. But what many people still need guidance on, is what MarCom does - search engine optimization (SEO), online PR and social media marketing (SMM) strategies and tactics.

In designing a new website, there are a few rules we thought we'd share based on client experience, and our knowledge:

Be prepared. Have your navigation and content map ready before you meet with a web designer or web design firm. If you have tracking analytics on your old site, then take a look at where people come from and how they get around on your site. This is a good tool for what to do and what NOT to do on the new website.

Talk with an SEO expert early on. Many web designers don't know the details about SEO. They design, and you should not expect them to know what has taken us a decade to learn. So bring in an SEO expert team, like MarCom, to advise and work closely with your design team before it is too late. One client of ours decided to have a new firm redesign three of his sites into one master website. Despite having guidance from Mike Keesling, our resident SEO expert, they didn't listen. They used Flash, and they initially did not have the old websites redirect to the new one. This risked losing all the last year's SEO efforts. Now only time will tell what damage has been done.

Look for a good web design firm. Check their references, and look at sample sites. Do not expect miracles overnight. Our site took about 6 weeks. And any good site will take time. Rigney Graphics is one of our strategic partners, and they design excellent websites - including ours. Also make sure the copy you write and prepare for them is letter perfect before you have them add it to the design, or it will waste their time, and your money with revisions.

Tagging website Pages. This is the magic of what excellent SEO can do for your website so customers can find you. Typically you want your page content to each have focus for one keyword or key phrase in three places per page. Each page then gets meta tagged with that same keyword, so the engines will be able to find relevant content as people in Google look for what they want.

If you have a Flash website - note the search engines can't read it. But the good news is that Adobe Systems Incorporated just announced today that they have teamed up with search industry leaders to to improve search results of dynamic Web content and rich Internet applications (RIAs), which is currently undiscoverable by search engines. This will provide more relevant automatic search rankings of the millions of RIAs and other dynamic content that run in Adobe Flash Player. It may take up to a year though, so keep an eye on the developments...

Embedded flash will work. Our client The Wiley Protocol uses this in their site with embedded Flash movies. The search engines read content, so the more content with your key words, the better your chances of being ranked on the first pages of the engines, so customers can find you. A trick is that you can post a blog on your home page as long as it is on your site and not on Blogger or WordPress. This will have an RSS function that can help Flash sites until later.

Make sure you have a tracking analytics program. There are free programs like Google Analytics, but others like HitsLink are better at tracking your website traffic. This will allow your SEO team to tweak key words, site content and link building strategies so your optimization will improve month to month.

You need a keyword analysis. Do you know what words your customers use to find you? For MarCom New Media as an example, people may search using Los Angeles Internet marketing firm, or search engine optimization firm in Los Angeles. Note how I have linked to this key word, and it goes to our website page about search engine optimization. That is called a link back to our site. You want many legitimate links to your new site.

Put up a Press Room and post articles and a newsletter. We find that Press-feed offers the best tool for a press room, that includes an excellent RSS feed built right in. Plus it is easy to post releases, newsletter or articles, that are then stored so people can review them later, and that offer excellent content with your relevant key words, which the search engines like. Check out our MarCom Press-feed.

Include an interactive function to get people's names. For future marketing, the best way to build your own opt in list is to have options for people to safely fill out a marketing survey, like we have on our MarCom home page, or an interactive newsletter sign up.

Re-skinning your website. This is a term for re-designing your site without disrupting its SEO. One of our other current clients is about ready to re-skin their three websites - so by the end of July, check back and you can see the before and after:; and