Category Archives: Blog

Dealer Locators Put Consumers in a Circle of Confusion

Mobile, GPS Twitter, Google Local Adwords and more have the World Wide Web morphing  into the Local Narrow Web where consumers are looking online for friends, movies, dinner, products and services in their neighborhood.  Brand sites have to get better at local information to show local price, local dealer location and local promotions or risk disappointing your most likely customers.

In many instances, the trip from the dealer locator to the store is made way too difficult.  How many times have you found a product on a brand site, and then linked from there to a dealer site, that only links back to the original brand site where you started?  We call it the circle of confusion.

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Because dealers don’t have the tools to put good data on their site, they simply link to your brand site.  You send the consumer to the dealer site, they send the poor guy back and so it goes and goes.

Or worse, you send the consumer to the dealer’s site where they find competitive information and get what they want somewhere else.

Or, you just give the consumer the street address and maybe a map to the dealer’s store which isn’t any more friendly then the old fashion yellow pages and may be even less effective as the consumer will continue to search online elsewhere for better information.

The solution is fairly easy.  Build microsites for your best dealers and link to them in your dealer locator.  Let the dealer use an online tool to customize and update the information.  Now, the consumer gets product information, price, local promotion and place to buy, all on one page.    Also use these microsites as Google landing pages, Facebook Fan Pages, email links and more.

Break the circle of confusion and make a sale.

Ad Builders Add Digital Outputs to Reach More Consumers Online

We’ve been building ad builders for major brand companies since 1997 and we’re now finally seeing RFPs that are asking for the ad builders to do more than just build traditional pieces.

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This chart is an over simplification of what is being done but it will give you an idea of what we are seeing going on in the market place.

Because more consumers are researching online it only makes sense to deliver a sale’s message where buyers are looking.  So, instead of just merging brand content with dealer information to make a newspaper ad, why not also spin a landing page for a Google local adword campaign or a dealer landing page for the dealer locator.   Same content just a different output.  And, with online content there is either a greatly reduced or nonexistent publishing cost.

Interestingly too, we’re seeing that an ad builder works best if it does both, that is, traditional and digital outputs.  If it only does traditional we’re missing out on 70% of consumers who research online before making a durable goods purchase.  If we only do digital output we neglect what is still a substantial part of a dealer’s advertising spend and risk making the dealer work to hard to solve his everyday advertising needs.  A dealer needs one online tool to do it all.

Brands Are Getting Better at Connecting Customers to Local Dealer Info Online

We’re seeing a major emphasis on thinking beyond brand sites to connecting consumers to local dealer information recently.

We deal with great brand name companies that sell products through dealers.   For the last several years we’ve seen these brand sites improve dramatically but only recently have we seen the interest increase for providing customers better dealer information online.

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This chart gives you a very basic idea of what we see is happening on the internet today.

Brands are providing tools online for their dealers to build digital output for use all over the internet.

It’s an online admin tool where a dealer can combine information about their store and their promotions with up-to-date content provided by the brand.   Brands then publish that information in dynamic websites that are used as a Google landing page, a dealer link in their dealer locator, a sub-site within the dealer’s own local site and more.

Now, the brand controls the message, tracks the results, generates leads and even makes online sales on the dealer’s behalf, as they block the competitors’ out.

Consumers get accurate product information, price, place to buy and local promotions all in one click.

This is not only a better way of making a sale, it’s also a lot more user friendly then linking to a dealer site that is outdated or loaded with competitive information.

We expect to see even more in 2010 as consumers using mobile and social media demand more local information to be made available online.

You Don't Need Mobile to Have Geo-Targeting

As mobile devices improve there are a lot of articles being written about how powerful geo-targeting is going to be and it’s time to get involved.  As blog posts go, here is a great one from Garrick Schmitt of Advertising Age.

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While the post is a great resource for all that is going on in location based services, it highlights the problem too.  There are too many platforms to work with right now.

More importantly, it misses the greatest geo-targeting tool in marketing today,  Google Local Search.  In case you’re not aware, Google knows the physical location of everyone who is searching, and they can feed adwords to specific geographies.  So, you help a great dealer in a market, run a Google Adword campaign within a 25 mile radius of his location.   Consumers don’t have to enter any geo-qualifiers to see his adword, they click-through to learn more and download a coupon that they can take to the store.

Google Local Search, is geo-targeted, cost-effective, inexpensive and you can track every step of the way.  Not to mention, when you provide the landing page you control the brand message, too.

There is no reason to wait for mobile to mature to use geo-targeting.  Google Local is ready right now!

Consumers Don't Mind Targeted Ads, Because They're Searching

I just read and interesting blog post by Zachary Rodgers at ClickZ.  It’s all about Google’s introduction of Ad Preferences several months ago where a consumer could fine-tune the ads they see based on their interests, or completely opt out of behavioral targeting.

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To make a short story even shorter, consumers don’t go to the site in large numbers and when they do, far more leave things as they are or fine-tune to their interests than opt out.  Like 10 times greater!

This isn’t surprising for all of us who are trying to reach consumers online and lead them into a sale.  Google Local Search is already the perfect place for marketers to find consumers who say they are looking for a  product in a specific market where we  know we have a good dealer.  That’s why they come to Google in the first place and why we buy adwords to help them along.

Nevertheless it’s reassuring to see that consumers are acting as we thought they would and are willing to let us help them find what they want.

Google Gets 71.57% of Searches, Bing Drops to 9.34% in November

Bing sure made a big splash when they launched several months ago and had lots of people talking about Google losing their dominant position.  So far Bing has been a bust and trending down.

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In an earlier blog post we saw where Google’s success rate went up over 17% this past year to surpass Yahoo’s and Bing’s success rates.  Which is an indication that Google has been improving and consumers are finding what they want.  Which translates into no reason to change.

For marketers it gives us the mandate to make sure we’ve got Google search covered before we start spending too much time and money elsewhere.

With so much changing so fast with interactive marketing it’s comforting to see at least one good thing stay good for another year.

Overall Advertising Spending Down. Online Advertising, Not So Bad.

eMarketer just came out with another great report on overall advertising spending this year and their prediction for the future.

First, the bad news.

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Ouch, 2009 felt bad but seeing this chart makes me feel glad just to still be in business.

Now, for a little good news and for the reason that many of us are still in business, we shifted to online several years ago, like 1995.

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If classifieds and e-mail weren’t down so much in 2009, the total online picture would be showing growth all the way until 2014.

Advertising dollars are shifting online not because it’s the cool thing to do but because it’s where the consumers are and have been for some time.  We didn’t shift to follow the money, we changed a long time ago to follow the consumers and now the money is finally catching up.

Mobile Couponing to Grow Dramatically in 2010 and Beyond

If you’ve ever been to Japan you would realize that mobile couponing can become very popular, as it’s been there for years.  As our phones are getting bigger and better screens, it’s now predicted that mobile couponing will explode in the U.S. in the next four years.

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The Yankee Group who did this research predict that what is $5 million in transactions this year, will grow to $2.37 billion in 2013.  That’s a lot of merchandise being sold.

They warn that there are a few technical hurdles to overcome, which will happen, and they feel that consumers are ready for saving money and already understand the basics, so watch out for a big explosion.

From a brand perspective this will save money on printing, distribution and obsolescence.  It will allow us to change out promotions at a moment’s notice and track downloads and redemptions.  All good things.

To see an example click here.

Google Search Adds the"Latest" Results from Twitter and More

Google recently announced that you can select to see the “Latest” results as an option when you search.  My first thought was how nice that would be for breaking stories as you get the latest articles and even Twitter comments.  And, like Twitterfall.com the feed constantly updates itself.

Then, I tried it for a product search and was surprised to see these results.

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It looks to me like there is one smart tire dealer out there twittering about a sale on a day that a huge snowstorm is working its way across the country.  What value this effort has for a dealer remains to be seen.  Is it worth the time to have an employee tweet all day about a tire sale during a blizzard?  I read the tweet but have no idea where in the world Buggies Unlimited is.

But, what if this tweet came from a brand or a national chain?  I might have just learned that Sears is having a sale on snow tires today.

I also read that Google doesn’t currently plan on showing adwords with these results.  I’m sure they’ll change their mind about that as they can feed ads based on geography thereby giving a local retailer a great way to target their spending.

Local advertising techniques are in a constant state of change and we’ve got to change with them.

Print Numbers Way Down in October

We’re very involved in the evolution of local advertising as it moves from traditional media to digital.   Many times over we’ve seen the ROIs that easily make the case for adding digital to the mix but it takes a long time for marketers to change their behavior.

We’ve watched print newspaper readership and their advertising revenues decline and we’ve seen those dollars steadily move to the internet for local advertising.

Another indication of the revolutionary change that is taking place can be seen in the way print revenue is declining for printers.

I just read that commercial printing for October of this year is down 13% over last October as catalogs, brochures and direct mail continue their downward trends.   Now, it’s still a sizable $7.7 billion but October hasn’t been this low since 1994.  One of the leading voices for the print industry is Dr. Joe Webb from WhatTheyThink.com and I like his view on what is taking place and what printers need to do.

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This is really good advice for anyone involved in traditional media.   Change or become irrelevant.  We have to quit thinking only about radio spots, ad slicks, brochures and direct mail.  It’s time to add streaming video, ad banners, microsites, email and local search to the mix.