Just got this via email:
Yahoo! continuously evaluates and prioritizes our products and services, in alignment with business goals and our continued commitment to deliver the best consumer and advertiser experiences. After conducting an extensive review of the Yahoo! Publisher Network beta program, we have decided to close the program effective April 30, 2010. We expect to deliver final publisher payments for the month ending April 30, 2010 to publishers no later than May 31, 2010. All publishers eligible for 1099s for the 2010 tax year will have those mailed by January 31, 2011.
Because our content will no longer be delivered to your ad unit spaces after April 30, 2010, we recommend removing all YPN ad code from your pages by that date.
For the opportunity to continue earning revenue, we suggest using Chitika, a leading advertising network that syndicates Yahoo! Content Match and Sponsored Search ads. Chitika has set up a special process for YPNO beta publishers to participate in its platform. Click here for more information.
Sad to see Yahoo! either bowing out from and/or outsourcing so many of their businesses. Given Yahoo!’s huge reach as a publisher and the idea behind audience matching at the likes of Quantcast, Yahoo! should have been fairly well positioned to run a distributed ad network. But since they sold off search they just keep cutting pieces. I would have thought that running a contextual network would have been additional free volume Yahoo! made while creating optimization algorithms for their own properties.
Given their pending tie-in with Microsoft, it is a bit surprising to see them recommending Chitika (though the recommendation is a nice win for Chitika). Part of selling the search tie up deal with Microsoft was the idea of economies of scale driving increased yields. And now AdSense (which is already probably at least as dominant in contextual ads as Google is in search) just lost another competitor. For as saturated as online ad networks are, it is surprising that AdSense has such a big lead and that Microsoft didn’t make catching up with PubCenter a higher priority.
Creating a distributed ad network would give Microsoft 5 big weapons in the search game
- collecting lots more data about the web
- more direct relationships with many webmasters
- forcing Google to cut their margins on the distributed ads (if they want to bleed you dry on Office then reciprocate the favor on their AdSense ads)
- the ability to have a network to re-target searchers on
- having a backfill set of inventory to do some home cooking, promoting new releases and the Bing brand for pennies on the Dollar, just like Google did with Nexus One
One strategic positive for Yahoo! is that they have pushing harder into the original content development, but if they become more profitable with that will some of their content licensing partners start increasing their rates?
And if there is any sorta sustainable economic rebound (doubtful), then I would give it 2 to 1 odds that Yahoo! buys Chitika in the next 3 years
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A lot of PPC advice is focused around direct marketing strategy i.e. you identify an audience and deliver them what they want. You convert at rate X. Repeat.
For the most part, this works well. However, you may be missing an opportunity to spread your message to a wider audience, and this benefit could come free.
Try to make your offer truly remarkable. Is your offer worth remarking upon? If not, could it be twisted so it could be, or put in a form that makes it easy to repeat?
Become A Purple Cow
Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable is a book by Seth Godin. The central theme is that offering me-too products and services is boring. Such goods and services won’t be remarked upon. Since we live in a world of saturated media, to be unremarkable is to go un-noticed. To not be noticed is the death of a business. If you haven’t read the book, I suggest you do – it’s a great read, and it’s short and to the the point.
The lesson of being remarkable translates well online. Online marketers have picked up on it, using remarkable qualities of a message, or format of that message, to help ensure a message gets spread.
The same tactic can be used in PPC.
Landing Page Competition
Take a look at your competitors landing pages. Do any of them stand out? Do they stand out in the sense that the message would be worth you repeating to someone else?
That quality of being remarkable, or being repeatable, is a valuable marketing tool. Sometimes, all it takes to become remarkable is to twist your existing message into something unexpected. Like turning a typical cow into a purple-colored cow. It’s still a cow, but the way it appears makes it stand out.
However, this isn’t just a cosmetic concept. Not only should you have a remarkable angle, but it’s best if you also need a remarkable, unique product or service.
If this sounds familiar, it is – it’s a riff on the old concept of a unique selling point.
The unique selling point has three specific components:
- Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer. Not just words, not just product puffery, not just show-window advertising. Each advertisement must say to each reader: “Buy this product, and you will get this specific benefit.
- The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot, or does not, offer. It must be unique—either a uniqueness of the brand or a claim not otherwise made in that particular field of advertising.
- The proposition must be so strong that it can pull over new customers to your product.
The modern twist is that your message should also be repeatable. People should want to spread your message, and be able to do so easily. The benefit is that your message reaches a wider audience than it otherwise would.
Obviously, this will not suit every product or service. For example, it’s hard to imagine toilet paper ever being truly remarkable, and being unremarkable has hardly affected toilet paper sales!
However, it’s an interesting way to think about what you do. Is there some aspect to your service that you can twist in order to make remarkable and memorable? Could you promote it in such a way that people will be “forced” to remark upon it? For example, you could use a quirky YouTube video on your landing page and encourage people to embed it in their site.
What does this have to do with PPC?
There’s no reason your landing pages can’t have a viral component to them that encourage people to remark on your product of service.
You have people’s attention – you paid for the click – and you still need to convert people to a desired action. One of those desired actions could be to have people run with your message and repeat it in other channels. You could embed social media components, like video and Facebook groups, that facilitate people repeating or remarking upon your message.
The pay off is that you create attention in other channels, and if the message does go viral, then you get a whole lot of extra marketing value for free.
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In the previous article, we talked about starting a PPC business, and a little about differentiating yourself from your competition. Let’s take a look at practical ways to do this.
Given that the PPC provider market is crowded, you first need to figure out a point of differentiation.
Points of differentiation include level of service, locality, knowledge of an industry, price, level of awareness, etc.
Take a look at your competition and work out what you can do better, or how you can slice up the market to find a niche you can own i.e. can you specialize in a vertical, like consumer shopping or travel, or focus on one particular region? If so, is there enough of a market to make such a specialization worthwhile? Estimating market size can be a little tricky, but look for relevant industry reports and studies to help you.
Why is differentiation important? Copying someone else’s approach leaves you at a disadvantage, because you’ll always be one step behind.
A developed, competitive market, like PPC, isn’t kind to late-comers offering very similar services, so it’s a better idea to find a point of differentiation and work it hard in order to carve out a name for yourself. Those who come after you might be able to ape your approach, but not your experience. So long as you keep adapting to your market, and refining your offer, you’ll always be one step ahead of the copyists.
It’s not enough just to be different, of course. Being different by charging ten times what the market is charging won’t result in any extra business, unless someone can demonstrate ten times the value. Therefore, be sure to link your point of difference to a genuine value proposition. Answer the question “Why should someone pick you, and not the other guy”?
Developing The Message
Once you’ve decided on one or two points of difference that add real value, you next need to develop your message.
The message is a simple outline of what you do and the value you provide. It is also referred to as the elevator pitch in that it is short, succinct and to the point. It can be difficult to reduce your message to a clear paragraph, so here are a few tips on how to do it. One useful technique is to think of it in terms of questions and answers.
Ask, and answer, the following questions:
What value do you provide your customers?
This value has to be real, not imagined. For example, a provider might imagine a PPC customer values a traffic report hand delivered each month, but that might not be something real clients place any value upon. To find out what potential clients value, it pays to do a little market research. This could be as easy as attending marketing events and asking people questions about the frustrations they have with online marketing. Where there are frustrations, there is money to be made.
What problem do I solve?
If clients tell you their frustrations and problems, you can formulate solutions. It might sound simple, but often clients will pose their problems in the form of a solution, which can be a bit misleading. For example, I client might say “we really need some SEO!”. What the client probably needs is more web traffic, at a low cost, and of course, there are many ways to solve that particular problem, SEO being but one.
Blend the answers into a tight, focused two paragraph explanation of the problem you solve linked to the value you provide. It’s great if you can work in an explanation of why you’re the best person to provide this value.
“We are TravelClickMasters.com. We provide Pay Per Click services to the travel industry. Our services help travel companies boost visits to their web site, and increase booking rates. Typically, our clients have increased web site visits by over 300%, whilst lowering their overall PPC advertising costs, by using our specialized services. TravelClickMasters is run by Scott Jones, a marketer with 12 years experience in the travel industry”.
It won’t win any medals, but it’s a start
Note how we’ve emphasized the value we provide to clients. It often pays to be explicit i.e. “increased web site visits by over 100%”, as opposed to general i.e. “increased web site visits” because increasing site visits by a nominal figure isn’t something that screams value.
The rest of your copy should expand and support your key message. For example, use before/after case studies that demonstrate the value you create, in this case showing increased traffic levels and booking numbers. Use testimonials. Outline your experience and knowledge of your niche.
Next, test your message out on friends and colleagues. Are they crystal clear about what you do and the benefits your provide?
Note any word or term that causes confusion. For example, “Pay Per Click” is industry jargon. It is suitable to use such a term for people who have had experience of pay per click marketing, but you’ll need to recraft the message for a general audience. Decide who is the most likely audience for your website, and craft the message accordingly.
Your web design needs to sync with your message.
First impressions really do count on the web. A study of website credibility factors found that people judged a websites credibility not by privacy policies, security, etc, but by how the website appeared. People will read further if your website looks and feels right.
Use the message as a key part of the the design brief. Web designers appreciate this detail, and will incorporate it into the design.
For example, if your brand is upmarket, then the website should look glossy. The same glossy design will not work for a brand based around low prices. The message would be mixed, and wouldn’t ring true.
Your Message Is Everything You Do
The way you answer the phone, the way you write emails, the way you present yourself should all support the message. If you specialize in, say, travel, you should be talking travel. You should use industry jargon and touch on industry issues.
So, the message is not just something you write on a webpage. It’s something you become. Going through this exercise is a great way of figuring out what it is you really want to become.
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