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- www.nextwavehosting.net).

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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An Easier Approach to 360 degree photography

We’ve picked up a new toy at the office recently: the LG 360 Cam. It allows you to take those cool 360 degree photos you can swivel around with using your phone’s gyroscope or a pair of “VR” goggles you stick your phone into.

This review on CNET covers just about everything you need to know:

The LG 360 Cam is an easy-to-use and comparatively inexpensive 360-degree point-and-shoot camera. It’s compact and its clever case doubles as a handgrip. Its mobile app lets you preview and review your shots as well as control the camera. You can shoot with just one lens at a time for non-360-degree images.

For most people, the only way to take these kinds of photos is to whip out your phone, install an app, and slowly stitch together multiple photos into one big one (with a little algorithm magic) in the hopes it all comes together. Not so with this LG, which features a stupidly simple solution to the issue—it stuck two very wiiiiiiiiiiide cameras on each side, put a button on the front, and called it a day. This no frills approach is extremely successful, there are few things to screw up—you shoot once (or twice for safety!) and you’re done. You can control the camera with an app on your phone, so you can leave the room before you shoot your photo.

We think the best part about this is the price. On a good day you can pick one of these up for less than $100. Photography is a notoriously expensive hobby, but this isn’t an example of that.

So why are we talking about this on a site about the web?

Well, there’s a reason! We were approached by someone recently to shoot photos for their house which they intend to sell on their own. It seemed like a great opportunity to break out the new camera and embed some 360 photos in the ad.

Combine this with some Google Cardboard or one of those plastic headsets, and you almost don’t even need an open house. Almost.

Disclaimer: No one paid us to say any of this, we just enjoy geeking out about cameras every once in a while. The links in the article are affiliated, however. So if you decide to buy, you’d be doing us a solid.

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