Category: Informative

If you started working on search campaigns in early 2000 – you will know how difficult it was to really-do-real-time-optimization of your search campaigns. Your clients were jumping on your head with a gun ready to be pulled when you should them the change log with few bid changes…and you wished there were automated tools out there…Few hardcore search agencies went with developing their own tools using APIs; while few opted in to use some 3rd party tools. I’ve been lucky enough to be exposed to pretty much most tools that are out there for bid management.

As a search marketer – how frequently do you think you should optimize your bids?  and that’s a trick question.

If you can’t afford the complex 3rd party tools, I think the Google automation tools are a big-big-relief. And, it works. You can know more about it here :

The beauty of this tool is the simplicity in application of logic and bid rules. Here is a quick evaluation of what Google Automated rules do for you and do not do as compared to other bid management tools in the market :

Feature Google Automate Any 3rd Party Tool
Rule based Bids Yes Yes
Ad Activation Yes No
Keyword Pausing Yes Yes
Ad Pausing Yes Yes (Not All)
CPA Based Bid Mgmt Yes Yes
Budget Changes Yes No
Hourly Changes No (but can be done) Yes
Multiple Search Engine No Yes
Search Funnel Yes No
Create New Keywords No Yes (Not All)
Custom Programs No Yes

Google won’t want to kill the tools out there, but with DoubleClick opening up to other search engines it will soon become a key contender in the bid management space. I can say out of my experience that the Google Automated rules are a breeze if applied correctly and really does wonder to your account – no need to upload/download keywords/ads into a3rd party tool. and, if the website you are driving traffic to is using Google Analytics – the scenario becomes even more favorable.

Incase you contest that Google cannot do dynamic page based keyword generation or ads and you have to go via the API to build it. Well, Google recently introduced ‘dynamic search ads‘. Its a bit different than traditional automated ads; but also works very well. Still in Beta, but am sure the end result is going to be again – simple & useful.

All in all – Google is out there to learn from the tools and deploy…and they will continue to co-exist until such time.



With Facebook Developer forum (F8) just announcing some really cool new dimensions in the Facebook product, there are some serious implications for the social marketer thinking of tapping into the social network called – Facebook.

Here is an Asia prespective…

The era of the ‘connected web’ is turning into a reality with every passing development of Facebook, something that AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft and Google have been trying to crack over the past few years.

The conversations will no longer be about a Facebook or a ‘Like’; but as marketers we need to start thinking of ‘OpenGraph’ and how can your application become a part of the user’s live ‘Feed’. The new development also has put the ‘wall’ behind the focus and everything about Facebook is going to be about the ‘Profile called You’

During the initial phases a lot is going to get focused on the ‘new profile’ page; which lets your characterize who you are and makes available all the information about you easily accessible. And, chances are most of the users will like to clean up this set of information as quickly as follows. But what will follow that will of most interest to us as marketers.


  1. Increased time spent on Facebook – there is more to know about everyone you know in your life. As per ComScore users spent 2,500 million minutes on Facebook as of December 2010. I bet that is going to increase.


  1. LifeStream – “Those Sponsored Stories are not just going to be about me liking Samsung,” he said. “They will be about me watching my favorite program on my Samsung device” [Ian Schafer, CEO of Deep Focus]. Marketers will need to think real time, almost to an extent where brands will need content to synergize with what the audience is interested in to ‘listen’ or ‘watch’ or ‘play’ or share! This is going to be a BIG challenge for all marketers.


  1. OpenGraph – while the user no longer needs to change authorization of the application; this will make apps being able to link up quite easily across user groups and profiles. The battle for the most used application will begin soon. Brands are again going to struggle to come up with kickass applications idea to make apps – engaging, monetizable, and sharable! But think again – is this the opportunity to extend that iPhone app to Facebook – make it seamless?


  1. Word of Mouth – will the top channel by which consumers will abide by and this is what Facebook is going to capitalize on for the marketers.


The opportunity with this development is huge. But Asia will take some time to get on the bandwagon with adopting to this changing face of Facebook. But, more and more it will become relevant for advertisers to be on Facebook and not just a Facebook page – but a brand environment that thrives on – connections & conversations.

Whats your timeline Marketer?

Continuing from my previous post, I’ll focus on bounce rate and most advertisers wonder WHAT should be my bounce rate. So after looking at multiple data set here is what I think of – What is a good bounce rate or should be!

First thing first – bounce rate can be at a page level or at the site level – I’ve looked at a more granular level (page level) as I think every site has a flow so we need to ensure the performance at each of these touch points. Feel free to compare your site against this. No one to my knowledge has tried to do this compare table; but there is no harm :

Page  Best Bounce Rate Worst Bounce Rate
Homepage 40% 75%
Contact Us Page 70% 90%
Product Catalogue Page 30% 65%
Product Details Specs Page 20% 55%
Product Support Page 30% 70%
Contest Page 50% 90%
Contest Form 50% 95%
Contest T/C 70% 100%
General T/C 70% 100%
Overall 48% 82%

Few things to note with this table :

1. This is for a normal website not a micro-site or site made in flash. As site in flash with improper analytic implementation will give you data-heart-attack.

2. These numbers are averaged across a sample site data base of 100 (some which i’ve created some others have created).

3. As a guiding principle to make life easier anything above 50% bounce rate can call for worry due to poor site design; but if the site is meeting the objective i won’t bother with this metric too much; or may be it is your learning point.

Net net – a relative metric which compares performance in terms of content engagement – use it wisely.

Hope this helps 🙂

Its been 7+ years I’ve been part of this ever growing digital media space – while the industry spends have grown this side of the world is yet to grow with it from a ‘strategic usage’ point of view.

The heart of this thread is how is the CTR 0.06% (600 clicks of a million impressions) better than CTR 0.10% (1000 clicks of a million impressions) on the same website between 2 different creatives – is it a factor of the creative or bad/good media planning?

I still feel CTR is a double edged sword just like Compounded Interest Rates.

Most marketers will not look at the finer details of the media plan to see the efficacy of it – were weight-ages attached to the creative served, did the ad serving system auto optimize the best CTR ad, creative B was better than creative A in terms of getting the attention, did you buy too many impressions or too less?, was there more competition at the time the ads were served, and finer details list are long!

Marketing programs comprise of 3 different set of objectives – creative objective, media objective, and business objective.

CTR sits between Creative Objective & Media Objective and eventually impacts the business objective. And no one in my experience have correlated this relationship and derived a better marketing program out of it – cause it costs money!

Everyone will point the finger at the media placement for a poor as the creative costed a BOMB to make and no one will question it, it was suppose to work and was approved by the management! But, so was the media plan!

So coming back to 0.06% vs 0.10% : both are rate of response to the creative message that went out on the same media platform – creative B must have been more engaging for the consumer to click on, the message was more promising. What this means is that for the future the 0.10% CTR creative information can be used to make future creatives (i am sure the media plan will remain the same). Think over it – look at the recent media plans you’ve signed off – don’t they all look the same!

And best practices say – if your CTR is low change your creative!

Next topic – R for (Never Seen) Return on Investment (ROI)

This post emerges from the tiring & multiple attempts online media managers make to traditional marketing managers of how online media works. And, I’ve been challenged when a manager comes up to me and say target this search marketing campaign to 18-24, SEC A, Metros, with annual income of less than 5 Lacs. O.K – is it April fools day already & again?

As humans we are used to one directional messages when it comes from marketers, but with evolving human behavior & interactivity – we all want more – similarly we need to change the way we segment our markets more importantly consumers online.

India as it is has low internet penetration; where we know that 70% of the users are SEC A. It’s about time traditional marketing managers got realistic.

Interactivity doesn’t mean “download wallpapers” For heaven’s sake stop creating micro-sites with the lame purpose, no content and talk about interactivity. That’s a long way. And, a whole bunch of people agree with me on this.

First step to unlearn is to watch your own online surfing pattern (please don’t make it the gospel truth). Aggregate these patterns across people you know, take a comfortable sample size of 25 people & observe for a week or so. Now take your product/service & segment it given your sample size against online media; chances are 50% of the 25 people will fit into your target audience from the traditional perspective.

Your assignment now is to identify tasks or content consumed by your target audience & then build your online strategy. You’ll instantly see the connect with all the 25 people or at least 98% of them.

Read more before you talk internet jargon. There is a whole bunch of online possibilities which your brand has not discovered. Whatever happened to the spirit of Marketing!

Couple of weeks back I had posted that legal & paid content year is 2007, now with a recent report from – I can take this as a vote of support from one of the industry’s largest digital audio distribution site. “Soundbuzz’s analysis further projects that the music industry will grow to Rs 4,100 crore in 2009 from Rs 1,450 crore in 2005”.

Digital Vs. Physical

Will it get real – time will tell 🙂

I’ve been lucky enough to witness the growth of Internet in India & contributed my 2 cents in this growth 🙂

It’s closing to a decade since Internet came to India, and I mean from Unix/Telnet/Gopher to what your uncle in the US of A has at home, we have arrived in the digital arena.

Startups which were milestones in the Indian internet domain like has paved way for businesses like FutureBazaar, eChoupal, Yatra, Indiatimes, IRCTC (wow) & many others. Account hacking to very affordable internet connections. Doordharshan to IPTV, cinema halls to multiplex with digital distribution, boy the list is endless! The business growth has been phenomenal.

What do the prospect look like?

Since 2000, Stephen Covey has added the 8th effective habit and the Monk has sold his Ferrari, but it’s long before Indian marketers/brand managers will actually start harness the power of the Internet for it’s engaged audiences. That’s how much potential there is!

The Indian internet population stands at 37 million and is expected to grow 54 million by the end of 2008 and the government is happy declaring 2007 as the year of broadband, I am really excited to see the potential of this growth. With an average 21% growth YoY, this is a set of audience you don’t want to miss!

7 Possible Happenings for 2007

Ok, your best friend in the top FMCG organization used internet for his new marketing campaign and amazingly everyone is talking about it. Now, it’s your turn. 2007 is going to be the year of engaging content & cutting edge delivery media which goes beyond the standard internet. Yes, welcome digital media, but don’t start to talk about web 2.0 yet.

1. Entertainment: Marked as one of the fastest growing consumed information by the consumer, entertainment is here to grow. Beyond movies, this year entertainment sources like gaming, music & user generated entertainment content will drive great interests. I know atleast 50 people from my Orkut friend list of little over 200 who tried out the famous “coke & mentos” experiment. This year, expect a lot more experiments with video. If CNN IBN gets it right they can very well come up with a dedicated online channel for their Citizen Journalist. Another, entertainment source on the internet is going to be gaming. Watch out for number of people playing games this year and these are not hard core games but everyday games. So AdverGaming is another media to watch out in 07. Streaming Video on Mobile should become a reality by mid 2007, if the 3g services come to country, I hear people are working on it.

2. Digital TV: Ok, finally DTH is here & CAS will be confusing for a while. Digital entertainment offers much more than stereo sound, better picture quality. I see digital television scratching on t-commerce. Yes, buying thru your very own TV and this is not Tele Shopping! But buying every day popular brands on the tele. Don’t expect a revolution here, but yes a very exciting & niche category to watch out for. Again, services like TataSky offer interactive gaming & other host of customizable digital content. I am yet to see how TataSky can think beyond the usual.

3. Legal & Paid Content: Cheaper video & audio CD’s will help control piracy levels. But what YashRaj, RajShree is doing & what Hungama did is brilliant. At a time when Ipod sales in India is catching momentum, these guys will give access to legal content at fraction of the costs. Everyone is going to be happy here.

4. Making Money on the Internet: Travel as a category will continue to grow this year more portals will enter the market and bottom-lines are going to be shared by all. Intuitive interfaces, cheaper rates & consumer interaction will decide the fate of these sites. Most travel sites have ignored their users and international sites just know exactly how to keep their visitors coming back and making them their favorite site for buying travel options. Consumer goods, electronics, computer & peripherals, accessories and host of other every accessory will contribute second in total ecommerce transactions in the coming months.

5. Web 2.0: Will it or Won’t it? 2006 saw some real good web 2.0 sites coming up and they quickly got bought out by industry players. And, these are sites which go beyond social networking. My favourite of them all is which is a review site for restaurants, pubs, etc. the one am waiting to go live this year is – which is suppose to help track life style changes. Others include & which were bought over by MIH Internet India. I don’t expect any action on web 2.0 from the marketing perspective before end of 2nd quarter of 2007, it’s just that marketers don’t understand internet as a media still!

6. User Generated Content: As the users who got on to the internet earlier they are now becoming matured internet users. Some of the challenges that a marketer will face would be to participate & actively listen to this user generated content. The rate at which the medium is growing is quickly our shadowed with the learning rate of the user. The task here would be to constantly challenge & engage the audience – give them something to do, something to talk about, something they can relate to their lives in the virtual world.

7. PC & Internet Penetration: Rs.10,000 PC sold a dream, which is yet to become a reality. I believe the government & private organizations should come together and make available last mite connectivity & hardware for the mass’es to start using the technology. Indians are smart people, but approach has to be bespoke. So localization of interfaces, applications which are relevant to mass’s will matter. It is not a distant dream where the PC penetration rate would start to double. And, the beauty of digital media is it’s ability to adapt to the delivery platform. Thus, PC may not be the only way to reach people – alternative digital mediums such as the Mobile Phone, will also lead as a reach enabler in the year 07.

At the end, I am hoping to see the digital media market to mature this year beyond the dot.coms which are active. We would definetly have a digital brand to recon with like the Amazon & Ebays of the world.

To a great 2007!

This post emerges after a extensive discussion with a old friend Mohak, on how search engine marketers around the world are talking about “Performance Based Marketing” or a “Cost Per Lead” business model, especially in the case when two SEM co’s are offering a lead price of Rs. 1000 and Rs. 1200 for the same product to the same advertiser? How do you decide which one is worth your money?

I’ll try to answer precisely that and some bits more.

1. Advertiser

A leading online portal selling airtickets online. They’ve estimated that they can incur a cost of Rs. 2000 per ticket sold to earn a revenue of Rs. 500. Now they want to optimize this spend to revenue ratio and bring it to Rs. 1500 & double their revenue. SEM must contribute at the minimum 60 sales per day.

2. Search Marketing Company

XYZ Limited charges a project setup fee and will deliver authentic ticket sales at Rs. 1500 per ticket as asked by the advertiser, but may not want to commit on the number of sales.

This is what the search metrics that the SEM firm has to sustain.

Search_Metrics The search firm has to ensure 1,000,000 impressions of ad per day with a bare bone 1% click thru rate delivering 10,000 clicks.

On a category like travel I’ve taken a conservative conversion rate of 1.25% and a spill over rate of 0.5% just to bring in some reality into the number crunching. (Read: Lead as Sale)

Given all this, the search marketer would be able to deliver at least 75 sales per day thru it’s efforts.

How does the Search Marketing firm make its dough?


The SEM firm now needs to work out its own numbers in terms of spends and how much money they can make to make this a profitable project.

It is evident that the SEM firm is operating at a 41% return on investment and earns its dough of Rs. 433 per ticket sold!

It looks all so simple when put up in an Excel sheet and see number’s crunched.

But the SEM company works hard every day to earn more and keep it’s costs under control – it’s not all that simple! Complex tools are used to sustain levels and they keep a track of data virtually every hour of the day!

3. Advertiser’s Devil Advocate

Assuming, you are an advertiser you would want to bring the CPA further down? The obvious answer is – Yes. But, reality is that you cannot operate below a maximum max CPA, given searchscape’s dynamic nature, number of competitors and effects of seasonality. And, Don’t push your luck with the lowest CPA’s, you will burn your fingers with poor performance.

4. What Should The Advertiser Do or What Should Be The SEM Suggest?

Search is not a one time activity which you should start and pull out from. At any given point of time the number of advertiser will differ given the category, geography and time of the year.

If you are an amateur to search marketing, start with the break even cost of acquisition (cost of acquisition = revenue), and slowly decrease CPA’s post at-least 1 month of data (keeping in mind the season/vertical/geo). If, you have a gratification attached with your product or service your conversions would be higher.

4.a Landing Page

Your landing page is the key offering to the search visitor, let the SEM partner help you design one or take their input in creating one which would be effective. Taking traffic to the home page or a page which doesn’t talk the same language as your ad copy will significantly impact your conversions.

4.b Ask the SEM co for Help

Take confidence in your search marketing expert, ask them for help in deriving an achievable CPA. Don’t suggest a number which the CMO or CEO or your Marketing Manager likes, it would not lead you anywhere. The closer you work with your search experts the better results you can expect from your search marketing campaigns.

Don’t stick to historic data i.e. one month you achieved a CPA of Rs. 1000 the following month it can either go up or down, this is especially applicable to projects done for very short periods.

In The End

If you are new to search marketing start with a simple project which is based on pure spends and a project management fee.

Once you have evolved into a slightly matured player and understand the dynamics of search marketing – build in performance metrics – and you would see how actually search engine marketing can make a difference to your marketing campaigns.

As for the Rs. 1000 or Rs. 1200 CPA offer goes, another SEM firm pitched for a CPA of Rs. 900! Now, the advertiser is confused 🙂