Programmatic advertising online could be called problemmatic advertising

Thinking of jumping in on buying online ads? Or letting advertisers put their ads on your site? Think online advertising is cheaper than “traditional media” like TV, newspapers, billboards and direct mail?

How to make your online ad buys not a problemBuyer beware, and not just for the reasons cited in this NY Times article:

As of a few weeks ago, advertisements for JPMorgan Chase were appearing on about 400,000 websites a month. It is the sort of eye-popping number that has become the norm these days for big companies that use automated tools to reach consumers online.

Now, as more and more brands find their ads popping up next to toxic content like fake news sites or offensive YouTubevideos, JPMorgan has limited its display ads to about 5,000 websites it has preapproved, said Kristin Lemkau, the bank’s chief marketing officer. Surprisingly, the company is seeing little change in the cost of impressions or the visibility of its ads on the internet, she said. An impression is generally counted each time an ad is shown.

The change illustrates the new skepticism with which major marketers are approaching online ad platforms and the automated technology placing their brands on millions of websites. In recent years, advertisers have increasingly shunned buying ads on individual sites in favor of cheaply targeting groups of people across the web based on their browsing habits, a process known as programmatic advertising — enabling, say, a Gerber ad to show up on a local mother’s blog, or a purse in an online shopping cart to follow a person around the internet for weeks.

Source: Chase Had Ads on 400,000 Sites. Then on Just 5,000. Same Results. – The New York Times

Sure, keeping your ads off objectionable sites is a noble reason for refining the sites where your ad appears, but the reality is, having your ad appear on a clickbait site is unlikely to get you a conversion (sale).

If it wasn’t profitable to build clickbait sites to just serve up ads, they wouldn’t exist. If that’s what you want to do, we can show you how to be the scum of the earth, better in our seminar.

Think about the ads you see online- and how many you interact with (assuming you aren’t part of the  30% of internet users who have enabled adblocking in your browser). If you are like a lot of people, it takes a whole lot to make you click. How many people do you know who say I’m going online to look at ads?

The ads that are potentially most likely to be seen? Video pre-roll, the ad that runs before your video, comes in two flavors- must watch and skippable after x seconds. Video pre-roll has to have amazingly compelling intro to get you to watch it through- unless, of course it’s targeted so well that your questions may be answered in the commercial. Here’s an award winning pre-roll campaign for an agency trying to get your attention-

And here is a Cannes Award winning campaign for Geico that you can’t stop watching, but, it may or may not get you to buy car insurance from them.

The thing both these spots get right- is realizing you don’t really want to watch a pre-roll commercial, so they’ve made it interesting. It’s not a TV spot- it’s a youtube spot- built for the platform and working hard to not be intrusive.

As to all the other ads websites, most you can ignore. Easily. Even in your Facebook feed, how often do you click on an ad?

Here are some tips to make sure you have a better chance on conversion.

  • Remarketing to people who’ve been on your site already is usually a better bet. You know these ads well- you’ve gone to look at something at Amazon- and may have even purchased it, but it keeps showing up on your feed forever. Hint: better bet is to show ads of how to use “it” or accessories for “it” than to keep hammering the ad of “it”- unless you are offering a discount (which may tick your customers off if they bought it for more on your site already- so have a price guarantee). The basic rule of sales applies- people do business with people they know- so these ads tend to preform well.
  • Advertise to people who know someone who is your happy customer. While it’s hard to get people to post “Hey, I just bought “it” at your store, without a potential reward, it can happen. More likely, is advertising to people who are similar to people you’ve already sold to. Facebook allows you to upload a customer list and they will find people who are friends of the people who have bought from you in the past.
  • Advertise to people who are like the people you’ve sold to. This is also a Facebook option, using their software you can match demographics and geography and other factors to your customer list and advertise to people who are more likely to buy from you.
  • And maybe the least intuitive ad- isn’t an ad at all. Create informational videos, instructional videos, or reviews and target people by their interests. Think about your research before buying- do you look for reviews? Watch comparison video’s, unboxing, assembly? This kind of content can solve a buyers questions- and possibly drive them to buy more than an ad. Target the ads carefully, because ideally, these types of posts should work organically, without a ton of ad dollars.

For most advertisers dipping into “programmatic” the numbers sound amazing that are offered by programmatic networks, what’s amazing is the verification of actual display of ads is self reported, not audited like conventional media for distribution, insertion, reach and frequency. It’s the wild west of advertising accountability out there, which means it’s really up to you to figure out how to track your ad spend for effectiveness. There are all kinds of ways to do this, that add a level of complexity, but can also help you refine and improve your ad buys.

We explain some of these tools in our Websitetology seminar, but if you have further questions, you can always call and talk to us about how to most effectively guarantee that your programmatic isn’t problemmatic.

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New easy way to make thumbnails for PDFs

Back in January of 2012 we posted one of our most popular tutorials- how to make a JPG preview of a PDF document uploaded to your WordPress site.

It was a multi-step process. It was a pain.

thumbnail of Adobe_Trademark_Guidelines_11012014

Adobe Trademark Guidelines PDF 2014, click to download.

There were plenty of reasons to upload a PDF- but, all WordPress would provide was a link. People want to see what they are clicking on to download.

There are many reasons why you would want to do this. First and foremost, uploading PDFs using the basic WordPress uploader just provides a link to the document- without a way for your user to see what the PDF looks like.

The reason you are using PDF’s instead of a JPG is because PDFs, if created properly, are search engine friendly and handicap accessible. To make a PDF properly, it’s not made from a scan- it’s made from an document-so that you can highlight and copy text from the PDF. If you are making a PDF from a scan, make sure you use the “recognize text” function to perform Optical Character Recognition on your scan. It won’t be perfect, but it will be close.JPG’s are not search engine friendly, whereas PDFs are.

Source: Websitetology – How To Make Thumbnails for PDFs

Since WordPress 4.7 or so, the media library will show a preview of a pdf you upload, but it still only places a link.

Lucky for us,

Just download, install and activate PDF Image Generator from the WordPress Plugin Repository and bam! Instant previews of every new PDF you upload. One thing, even though the library interface gives you the ability to specify justification, it doesn’t work. After the PDF image is in your editor window- click on the image and get the edit option- and pick your preference. The above Guidelines is right justified.

Note, your server must have ImageMagick and GhostScript installed or it won’t work (ask your hosting company- or host with us-

We’ve found this plugin to be invaluable, especially handy for manufacturers, news sites or government organizations that need to post a lot of PDF documents to share.

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Big data for small business from credit card processors

The nice thing about e-commerce is it’s easy to collect a lot of valuable data.

  • What brought them to your store.
  • What they looked at, for how long, and if they bought.
  • Where they live.

But, when running a small local brick and mortar business, asking all those questions would just tick off a customer. Any Radio Shack shopper remembers always being quizzed for their address so they could send you endless mailings.

Loyalty cards were a strategy to gain customer insight- and soon all our wallets were bulging with cards from the grocery store, the gas station, the drug store and the hardware store. Call them rewards cards or frequent buyer cards or VIP, but there was always a quid pro quo, in exchange for the data- the customer would get a discount. The retailer had to pay to get access to data it already had- but, wanted to put a name to it. Generally, this is a strategy pursued by larger companies, smaller ones, couldn’t be bothered with it.

Enter a new player. In the race to the bottom to get a scrape of every sale, one of the big boys of credit card processing – FirstData, decided to up their game- rolling in a whole suite of data apps along with their credit card processing and terminal. How big is FirstData? They supposedly process over half of all credit card transactions.

Their product is called “Clover” and you can buy it from them direct, or through all kinds of middle men. Most of them make their sale pitch purely about how they are cheaper than the other guy- few have much else in their bag of tricks, despite this group of tools that are also included.

If you use Insightics with Clover, you have an incredibly powerful analytic tool that will give you a comprehensive view of customer spending, for cash, check and card transactions.

  • See where your customer density displayed on a map. This will allow you to see where marketing efforts have been working and where there is potential for future promotions.
  • Identify products that are trending one way or another. This will help you see changes in product trends in your local environment and also help in making pricing/specials decision making.
  • See how your competitors are doing. Are you riding the same waves as other similar businesses in your area or are you ahead or behind them?
  • Know how weather affects traffic into your business. This will allow you to make staffing decisions based on forecasts.  Know what sells best based on the weather.  Yeah, it’s true.  Consumer buying decisions change with the weather.
  • Add notes as data points as often as you like. When you make a staffing change, menu or inventory change, marketing or promotion, really any changes you make to your business can be added to Insightics to help you find out if it was a good move or if it really had a positive return on your investment.

Source: Small businesses can now use big data |

Typical of a mega business trying to speak to small businesses- FirstData/Clover/Insightics can’t put together a super clear presentation or even decide what the name of the product is (It may now be called Clover Insights). There is an API– which should make it easy to hook into the data for integration in your CRM/Marketing automation system.

They have a friendly video introduction of the product- with the typical token hipster business, but don’t let that scare you:

Being able to see where your customers live, track sales data vs your competition (remember, they are called FirstData for a reason) and overlay that vs weather, days of the week, and to give you insight a cash register wouldn’t all built into the credit card processing solution. They’ve also integrated their platform with a whole bunch of apps- some free, some with monthly fees- to add loyalty/rewards cards, or gift cards etc. See the list here: Clover App Market.

Of course, the flipside to all this is that your competitors are also seeing your data- although anonymized.

And since the Clover system is a POS- even cash sales numbers are being gathered.

If you are interested in finding out more on how to save money on credit card processing- and add the benefits of big data, or to find out how to make more use out of your data, just drop us a note and we’ll be glad to steer you in the right direction.

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