Personal Scalability With AdWords Automated Rules

I have previously discussed how a person can be 'scalable' in terms of increasing productivity over time by keeping up with the technological changes.

Google's introduction of Automated Rules is one quantum leap for those who want to make a jump in their productivity.

This quantum leap will require a quantum leap in learning and managing Adwords, as this is not just a new 'small' feature. Using these rules assumes that you are highly familiar with all the mechanics of how the platform works, so you can create automated rules for it. This is a completely different skill, and on a more strategic level.

Advertisers who master this skill will go to the next level of productivity, and those who don't will stay where they are.

On a separate not, this feature serves a good blow to all the bid management companies who provide this service through applications that use the AdWords API. Their challenge is to innovate beyond what Google is currently offering and make sure they are way ahead, in order to survive.

How Facebook is Causing Big Headaches for Google

Emerging as one of the biggest destinations online, Facebook is not only gaining more traffic and money, it is beginning to disturb Google in a very deep way. This analysis is definitely not comprehensive, but aims at evaluating some of the most important activities an online marketer engages in and tries to achieve.

- Community Building:

A very important goal of any website or brand, is to build a community which is basically a group of people who love the brand/site use/buy it frequently, love to talk about it and visit it often. This is done through collecting users' email adresses and getting their permission to receive emails from the site. The user comes to the site, browses, and if they like it they submit their email to 'join' the site. This can be a simple 'give us your email' box or as part of a registration or purchase process.

The right way is to verify these email addresses, by having users click on a confirmation link that they receive (which hopefully doesn't go to their junk folder!)

Every step of the way, you are loosing people, from the form you are using, to the registration steps, to the confirmation email, a certain percentage of users is being lost.

All of these come with a lot of costs; development, hosting, maintenance, design, etc...

- Keeping in Touch:

After you have gone through the painful process of creating a community, you will have to go through the process of maintaining it. This is done by sending out regular updates, emails, tutorials, freebies, offers, and whatever you believe might help you improve that community. This of course comes with a cost, and a lot of effort. The cost of cleaning up your list, maintaining it, and sending emails. The larger your community the more cost is involved naturally. Many companies exist only to help you send emails and manage your community.

AdWords is one the most cost-effective ways of driving relevant traffic and building the community, and you can easily target the right people and optimize for the traffic that converts and becomes part of your community. But AdWords can only help in driving traffic and can help you identify the right traffic.

On your Facebook fan page, and all the ugly processes and operations you have go through are summarized in one click.


And every status update you do is sent out to all the fans. This functions like an email broadcasting tool, and it is very similar in nature. When we get emails, we only see the subject and the sender. If interested, we click through to read the full story. The same happens with a status update, your fans see the source and see the title. Actually, they see more than a title, because the status bar has more space, and if you have links the images on the destination page will be extracted for you to make it more appealing to your audience.

Not only that, any action that any user engages in with your fan page is broadcast to all their friends. When someone registers or comments on your site, in contrast, nobody knows.

- Long Tail:

The model Facebook is adopting is similar to Google's in terms of addressing the needs of all kinds and sizes of advertisers. A dry cleaner with a monthly budget of $20 can advertise on Facebook, (as well as a multi billion dollar company) and when you have millions of these small advertisers, it amounts to a lot of revenue.

The problem is that Google doesn't have a social platform with which they might hope to compete with Facebook.

What Google can do with this situation is try and get more Facebook developers on board to include AdSense ads in their applications, which they are doing, so they can get a piece of that pie.


Brands and Web Analytics

This is my attempt to describe how using web analytics we can get some insights on one brands, one of the most difficult things to measure. This presentation contains information and examples on how to use the numbers to know more about the actual brand vs. the brand you aspire to be. 

Main ideas... 

Definition: the brand is basically the sum total of what people who interacted with you think about you. It is not what you claim to be. Still not sure who created this definition but it is the best one I found so far.

Quantifying the brand: analyzing where people spend most time on your website, analyzing the keywords they use to come to your site shed a lot of light on what kind of brand they think you are, and shows whether or they care about the stuff you are promoting. Even if you have more content about topic X, but people are spending far more time on topic Y, then your site is "about" topic Y. At least in the eyes of consumers, which is what really matters, which is your actual brand.



MediaME Forum 2010 - Amman

It was great being in Amman for this forum, catching up with some friends and meeting new people. This is my presentation and the video. 




Why Web Pages of a Site Shouldn't Be Dramatically Different

One of the reasons why eyes hurt more on the computer than on TV, is that for every click we do (every page we view) we have to get acquainted with that new page. On TV the picture moves on its own, and the only interaction we do is very basic (changing channels, adjusting volume, etc.).

On the web, each part of our journey on a site needs a decision on our part, so every new page we view needs at least a couple of seconds for us to get familiar with it, and then decide which links we want to click on or whether or not we want to continue reading, or just leave the site.

If pages in a user's journey are very different from each other, then each click will require a certain amount of extra time for the user to adjust to the new page, and that consumes a good part of the visit to your site.

This becomes much more important in pages that are part of one process on the site (registration, shopping cart, uploading photos, etc). Ideally these processes should run as smoothly as possible. The only changes among these pages should be related to what the user did. If they uploaded a file for example, only an indication to the succes of failure should be given, and the only part changed on the page should be clearly showing the next step in the process.

Content Management Systems as Marketing Tools

Althought the name is related to "managing" content, and usually they are used only to add articles, and simple user management, CMSs have evolved to give the marketing person huge power over functionality, business rules, and layout tweaks.
This presentation was shared in our Web Analytics Wednesday - Dubai Group, using my favorite (Drupal) as an example on the capabilities it provides marketers in managing our online products much more effectively and efficiently.


Why The Next Big Thing is the Previous Big Thing

"The Next Big Thing" is a very nice thing to figure out. To be ahead of the market, to invent something that nobody thought about, and make a revolution. That's all cool stuff, nothing against it. As everything else, because the potential gains are enormous the risks are enormous too.

You can't 'know' what the next big thing is. You can speculate, do your homework, take the risk, and hope for the best. Again, nothing against that. I'm just analyzing what needs to be done.

The preious big thing, however, is the trend, brand, or idea that is no longer in fashion and buzzing, but started to gain credibility as a viable business option, and it is on its way to maturity.

In this case you have the most profitable option because you are benefiting from the momentum, maturity, and experience that has been gained in the industry.

Email marketing is a great example. It even sounds outdated! But it is still one of the most cost-effective and profitable marketing methods out there. There are many providers giving you tons of options, the analytics and testing are evolved, and there's a ton of data about people's behavior and responses. Furthermore, you can learn a great deal about it, and become really good and sophisticated in your offering.

All these factors make it much easier for you to sell the previous big thing, and since it is still not completely flat in terms of growth you can charge a big premium for it.

Unless you can afford the risk and budgets of going into the "next" big thing, sticking to the "previous" one can be much more profitable.

Moore's Law, Hope, and Threats

You've probably heard about the exciting / scary rate at which computing power is changing over time. Moore's law predicts computing power to double every 18 months.

The exciting part:

The speed at which things are improving, means that you triple, and in some instances quadruple your productivity just by constantly adopting new features of the software you use (which are sometimes a reflection of the increase in computing power).

Example: Google AdWords launched a new interface, with a bunch of new features. Some of the most important of these features involves providing a flexible reporting interface for your keywords, ad groups, and campaigns. The result is that you can answer a question about your campaigns with one click. Previously you needed to create a special report, wait for it to get ready, export it to Excel, and then do your analysis. This used to take 4-5 minutes. When you have five or six questions, that might mean 15 minutes. May times you don't have that time to fulfil your curiosity. Now you do. And because you do, that means you are much more in touch with your account performance, and can quickly respond.

This is the typical thing that happens with new technological breakthroughs. You get much more productive and effective, using much less time and resources.

If you are the type that loves to learn and adapt quickly, this is great news for you.

The scary part is for big companies and teams who assume that if it takes X hours per week to achieve task Y, it will continue forever. Things get much worse for these people if they are not the learning type. The way they cope with more clients and work is "expansion". Hire more people, make it more complex, and suffer in the process.

In summary, scalability is now built in in anything we do, because as the technology we are using improves performance and adds new features, so does our ability to do more work in less time.

Web 3.0 Basics for Web Analytics Wednesday - Dubai

I previously discussed the relationship between Web 3.0 and SEO. This is the presentation version which was shared in our last meeting.

Web 3.0 and Search Engine Optimization

Although the coolest potential applications of Web 3.0 are potentially achieved when our machines start talking to each other in a smart way, making decisions on our behalf, and suggesting meaningul things based on past data, and our preferences, one of the first steps to get there is simply structuring data in a way that computers can deal with immediately, instead of having to extract meaning and pattern from any piece of text.

Semantic search engines extract meaning by "reading" the text and inferring that France is a country, Nescafe is a coffee brand, and The Dalai Lama is a person. This is great, but requires a lot of computing power, and has a lot of challenges in understanding different kinds of text, and the different meanings the same word can have in different contexts.

The simple way to help search engines "understand" content, is to extract those entities ourselves and give them to the search engine.

Structured data simply means that certain "entities" are tagged in a way that describe them as the entities they are. For example, instead of writing

"I live in Dubai, United Arab Emirates" you can tag the same sentence with tags that make "Dubai" a city, and not just the letters D-U-B-A-I, as follows:

I live in<div class="adr">
  <span class="locality">Dubai,</span>

  <span class="country-name">United Arab Emirates</span>


The user will still read the same sentence, but search engines and other sites working on structured data will find your content much easier because your entities are identified. Moreover, you can export your reviews, products, information, and anything you want with ease to other sites that classify certain information.

For example, if your site offers product reviews, and your reviews are tagged properly, other shopping sites or shopping engines will be able to extract the relavant data from you, and thus make your products available without much effort on your part.

This is clearly going to become an essential part of search engine optimization, and as anything else in technology it will only pickup when a large enough number of websites start using it. Then we will witness a transformation of our web experience.