Extreme Makeover

We launched our new website today!  Based on customer input we cleaned things up and created a simple, straight forward and user friendly site.  We added a couple of advertising programs that weren’t on the original site.

More importantly, I’ll be returning to my blogging duties.  I apologize for being MIA and have taken heat from clients and prospects alike for not maintaining an updated blog.  Stay tuned for new posts, witty banter, and relevant content for your online ad campaigns.

In the meantime, enjoy meeting our Marketing Consultants by visiting our team page here.

— Michael

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Ad copy faux pas

Within our office we often get into debates about fashion faux pas.  One of our Account Exec’s, Brandon, absolutely despises wedges and is adamant that they should never be worn under any circumstance.  Garrick often wears skinny jeans on casual Friday’s and we debate how “skinny” is too skinny for a grown man.  Others argue the shortcomings of Ugg boots.  It seems like every time I walk through the mall with my wife I see an article of clothing and say, “who in the world would actually wear that?!?”

There have been countless occasions when I’ve looked at our clients ad copy and think the same thought… “who in the world wrote that?!?”  Your ad copy is the critical first impression.  One wrong word here or there can lead to the loss of a sale.  In the same way you want to make sure your skinny jeans aren’t too skinny, you should make sure your ad copy has the right balance of word choice.

As a follow up to yesterdays post, here’s a list of 7 things Yahoo! Advertising says you  should not do to your ad copy:

  • Unsubstantiated Ad Promotions: Be sure that any sale or percentage discount mentioned in your copy is prominent on the site’s landing page. This will help assure that clicks convert to sales.
  • Keyword Scope Mismatch: Diverse offers perform best when paired with general keywords, and while niche offers perform best with keywords that are very specific. Try not to bid on keywords that are too specific or too general for the offer, as they will not be targeted to the interested audience and are less likely to convert to sales.
  • Lists: Avoid creatives that are simply a list of products that you offer. Use short sentences and be sure to mention any competitive advantages.
  • Unknown Branding: Prominent mention of household brands is usually a plus, but using obscure brand names or non-famous personal names in copy performs more poorly than copy that just focuses on the offer.
  • Vague Offering: Avoid copy that is so general, jargon- or slogan-filled that the user can’t determine what you are really offering, or what your advantages are. Focus on how the offer answers the keyword inquiry.
  • Unnecessary Info: Do not mention products unrelated to the keyword, as this can confuse users about what is being offered.
  • Generic Templates: Avoid copy that is too basic and easily identifiable as a template, especially for shopping comparison sites. Keep specific copy categorized in campaigns with descriptions tailored to the general focus of the keyword, and the shopping season, as well.
  • Give us a call if you need some feedback or assistance with your creatives.  We’d love to help.

    — Michael Won

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    Ad tips for the Holidays

    Now that Halloween is behind us, it’s time to focus on everyone’s favorite time of year.  Ok, maybe not everyone… as a surfer, the water temp drops and the mornings are so chilly I don’t want to head down to the beach.  Other than that, the malls are full of Holiday cheer, Starbucks is serving pumpkin spice lattes, the morning air is cool & crisp, and it’s a time for families to come together and truly appreciate each other.

    Yahoo! Advertising recently released their 13 tips for effective ad copy during the holiday season.  As you’ll see, many of these tips are fundamentally  effective year-round.  Cheers!

    Best practices for marketing holiday gifts

    • Personalization: Be sure to promote any monogramming/name engraving or other personalization offers that are available, whether the gift is for children or adults.
    • Uniqueness: Many people like to know that a gift for their loved one will be rare or “one-of-a-kind,” and not simply something that is available in every store.
    • Have a Holly Jolly Holiday: Holiday gifts for both kids and adults are for fun, so be sure your ad copy emphasizes the fun factor appropriately.
    • Family Occasion: Emphasize family togetherness for holiday offers like recipes, food, candy, board games, etc.
    • ’Tis Better to Give than to Receive: Ads that contain copy about giving gifts tend to perform better than copy talking about receiving them.
    • Holiday and Seasonal References: Tailor copy that is appropriate to the festive season with special holiday language and references.
    • Big Selection: An emphasis on a large selection from which to find exactly the right gift is important when bidding on general holiday shopping keywords.
    • Shiny and New: People like to know that their gift will be hip, trendy and the latest fashionable thing.
    • Gift Wrapping: If a gift wrapping option is offered, be sure to mention it.
    • Free Content: Spotlight anything about the offer that is free.
    • Shipping – Fast and Free: People prefer free shipping when it is offered at all times. During the holidays, fast/same day or overnight shipping verbiage is equally important, since the user must be sure that the item will arrive in time.
    • Famous Brands and Trademarks: Appropriate use of trademark symbols with official brand names can increase user confidence and click-through rates.
    • Deadlines and Calls-to-Action: Subtle language encouraging a click today can perform well. Sales with a specific end date, or an upcoming holiday deadline to prepare for, encourage the user to click and get the deal before it’s too late. (But be sure that your copy does not promote a date or season that has already passed!)

    — Michael Won

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    Yellow & White make… green?

    A commercial and residential phone book were walking past a haunted house when they hear a terrifying scream.

    Commercial phone book: “Did you hear that?  It came from the haunted house!”

    Residential phone book:  “We need to go in and investigate.”

    Commercial phone book: “No way man.”

    Residential phone book:  “What’s the matter?  You yellow?”

    Ok, sorry for the silly joke.  What’s even sillier is the huge stacks of phone books delivered to my condo building every year.  I live in a rather large development so there are enough phone books in the mail room to easily fill 2 pallets.  These phone books sit idle, wrapped in plastic, hoping for someone take them home.  Week after week these things sit there untouched.  The only time I was tempted to pick one up was when I needed paper to ignite my charcoal chimney (that’s right folks, real men bbq with coals, not gas).

    Well it looks like this nuisance is coming to an end.  At the end of 2010, Verizon Communications received permission from New York, Pennsylvania and Florida (with Virginia pending) to stop distributing phone books.  This is a milestone that is far overdue.  I don’t remember the last time I heard anyone say “check the phone book” when they needed a phone number.  Nowadays, all you hear is “Google it” or “check Bing.”  When you need to find someone or something, you can find it much faster online and get more information than you would in a phone book.  (Don’t believe me?  Go to www.Spokeo.com and search for your own name.)  On top of that, phone books only record information in your local area while the internet provides access to people around the world.    The bottom line is very few people depend on the yellow or white pages so I fully expect to see this trend continue.   My only question is:  What took so long?

    We’re seeing a similar shift in newsprint.  Advertising in phone books and newspapers are down as these companies try to figure out how to monetize their online assets.  Advertisers are shifting their budgets online.  Newsprint and phone books need ad revenue to survive so we’ll see how they continue to evolve.

    My favorite benefit of eliminating the yellow and white?  We’re going more green.

    – Michael

    Nett Solutions is a SEM agency working with Yahoo! and Google. We are a SoCal based company built of an eclectic cornucopia of: marketers, mothers & fathers, husbands & wives, college grads & MBA’s, surfers, church-goers, athletes, comedians (and those who think they are comedians). Our common bond is that we like to help people succeed.

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    Can Bing slay the King?

    My big sis is 2 years older than me.  Her first summer in Jr. High marked the start of her road to independence.  She wanted to hang out with her clique of friends rather than with the family.  She wanted to go to the mall to see and be seen.  Her daily schedule was to wake up to do her hair (white Aqua Net spray can, bangs teased really high… it was 1986), try on 8 different outfits before “settling” for one, and then would call her posse to come over and hang out at the house (we were latch key kids so we had the house to ourselves).  On any given day we had at least half a dozen of her friends over.  As a little 5th grader I was content spending my days playing Atari 2600.  However this summer was different.  Whenever the “big” 7th & 8th grade boys would come over they decided it would be fun to pick on me.  Day in and day out they would pick fights with me, tease me, and try to bully me around.  I had no choice but to take it like a man.  If you have an older sibling, you know what I mean when I say I hated them.

    Years later we started becoming good friends.  They still picked on me but it was more of a big brother-little brother relationship.  Then a funny thing happened.  I hit my growth spurt.  It soon dawned on me that I was taller and stronger than some of them.  When they picked on me I began to fight back… and win.  There were other guys who were bigger and stronger than me but one by one, little by little, I began to hold my ground against the older brothers. 

    Well it looks like the little search bro (Bing) may be growing up.  Last month Nielsen announced that Bing finally surpassed Yahoo! in US search volume with a share of 13.9%.  Yahoo dipped to 13.1%.  Of course it all depends on who you ask and how you measure market share.  Calculating search market share is a lot like rating the best steakhouse… everybody’s rating system is slightly different.  For example, comScore still has Yahoo well ahead of Bing in search volume by a hefty 6% margin.  Without getting into an argument about which source is the most accurate, I’d like to focus on the one common theme amongst all the search rankings:  Bing is growing.  Bing has been growing consistently all year.  Bing, IMO, will continue to grow.  I remember just last year how people were writing off Microsoft as a major search player.  My how quickly this industry changes. 

    This may not seem like a big deal to the general public but if you’ve followed the search industry for a while, I’m sure you understand the impact.  Google and Yahoo! have held their ground in the #1 & #2 spots for a number of years now.  For years the two have been battling for users like “Kate plus 8” and “the Real Housewives” battle for reality show viewers.  Replacing Yahoo! as #2 is like switching Batman’s Robin or the Lone Rangers Tonto.  The questions have always been a Yahoo! vs. Google debate.  MSN has been an afterthought for quite some time.  If Google is the head cheerleader and prom queen, then Yahoo! is the well known student body president.  MSN?  MSN was always that quiet, shy, nerdy girl with coke bottle glasses who you would only acknowledge when you needed to copy homework.  Well guess what folks?  That quiet, nerdy girl just got Lasik, has been hitting the gym for a year, and got accepted into an Ivy League school… keep an eye out because she may transform into someone very powerful.   

    The idea of turning the “MSN search engine” into the “Bing Decision Engine” may be a matter of semantics to some.  Others may find that Microsoft has successfully reverse engineered the search process to deliver much better results.  Who knows, it could just be the multi-million dollar advertising campaign to promote Bing.  Whatever they did is working.  They are growing consistently and that is the ultimate goal.

    Will they be able to slay Goliath?  They’re a long way from toppling Google’s 65% market share but they’re heading in the right direction.  Will Google Instant counter Bing’s growth?  We’ll see.  Our October Newsletter will feature an article which answers the most common  questions we’ve been asked about Google Instant.  Keep an eye out for it in your Inbox.  If you aren’t subscribed to our Newsletter, you can sign up by clicking here.

    – Michael

    Nett Solutions is a SEM agency working with Yahoo! and Google. We are a SoCal based company built of an eclectic cornucopia of: marketers, mothers & fathers, husbands & wives, college grads & MBA’s, surfers, church-goers, athletes, comedians (and those who think they are comedians). Our common bond is that we like to help people succeed.

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