Digital Marketing and ROI – The Rules Rewritten

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All media is now digital. Holdouts which have not yet converted are desperately trying to figure out how to make the transition happen. As of February 2009, television signals will only be broadcast digitally; a leap necessitated by the immutable laws of physics, economics and government.

For similar reasons, all advertising is going digital. Even the billboards. All great advertising of this age has a digital element. It has to. Advertising is after all, the primary motivating force behind (and often in front of) all media.

Digital media is amazing. It is relatively easy to produce and even easier to share. Search engines and social media networks have opened a world of experience to approximately 1/3 of the world’s population. That’s a surreal number of people sharing a daily digital environment. The most interesting thing about them, from a digital advertiser’s perspective is; each click can be tracked, analyzed and evaluated. We are learning exactly how to target ads to specific consumers and thus have a far higher chance of converting those consumers than previous generations of marketers did.

The rules of media are being rewritten.

The first and most important rules of any media are, write for your audience and present where the audience actually is. People are increasingly finding their information and entertainment online. Though subscriptions to newspapers are declining, visitor numbers at online newspapers are growing rapidly. Similarly, more than 50% of US television viewers now use their computers or monitors as their primary access point to their television shows. In August, YouTube drove more search traffic than Yahoo! did.

The second rules of media involve getting your messages to as wide an interested audience as possible. Using online advertising channels, businesses can reach far more people at a far lower cost. It is much easier to create and “transmit” a website, a flash animation, or even an A/V file. The growing audience is easier able to find information specific to their interests and needs due to the very nature of digital media. Digital media tends to enable (and rely on) user-choice interactions. At search engines, users input keywords and phrases to find information. In social media, users push and receive information to and from their personal networks. This interaction makes it simpler for advertisers to put information in places people who are interested (those who entered a specific search term or are part of a greater network) can easily access it such as beside or within search results. Digital interaction enormously lowers costs.

Lastly, the third rules of media involve the rules of evolution. The media adapts to the medium. The Internet has become the backbone of communication. Media is about communications. Adaptation is necessary to prevent decapitation as the two examples below demonstrate.

Earlier today the founder of Craigslist, Craig Newmark, was interviewed on WebmasterRadio.fm. His speaking voice is surprisingly slow and mellow, very unlike the frantic dot-com luminary I was expecting to hear. A man of many accomplishments, Craig Newmark’s greatest one (to date) has led to the unintended destruction of the local daily newspaper. As a result, Craigslist has, more than any other entity on the digital landscape, rewritten the rules of personal or classified advertising.

Later on this week, I will be speaking with Shuman Ghosemajumder, the “click quality czar” at Google AdWords in another WebmasterRadio interview. Another surprisingly slow speaker, Shuman is a thoughtful and analytic person. He helps run the greatest advertising marketspace in the world. Google AdWords is the program which places three-line text ads beside search engine results, in your Gmail and serves those same text-ads to web sites that contain content similar to the focus of each unique advertisement. Last week, Google reported that 99% of it’s $5.7something billion in Q3 revenues came from AdWords. Billions of dollars in advertising revenues in a three month period! Guess where that enormous ad-spend came from? Small to large businesses that formerly spent their advertising monies in print, terrestrial radio or television. More than any other entity on the digital landscape, Google has rewritten the rules of business advertising.

Craigslist and Google are arguably the two largest disrupting entities in advertising today. Both are digital and both have exercised virtually incalculable influence over the trajectory of communications in the earliest years of the 21st century. They have been so incredibly successful because they present exactly what their audience wants at a fraction of the cost of their non-digital predecessors. Imagine the aggregate costs of all the newspapers, phone books, community directories, TV guides, encyclopedias, TV shows, books and libraries to get a sense of the disruptive cost-savings presented by Google. In doing so, they have made the world’s information highway easier to navigate than the real-world often is.

The return on investment for advertisers in the digital world is both obvious and easy to improve on. Because search and digital marketers have so much information about on-site and general user behaviors, we can target client messages with far greater efficiency. Regardless of economic conditions, search and digital marketing will continue to deliver stronger bang for each buck than any other form of advertising. The simplicity of that statement is actively being written into the rules.


Digital Marketing and ROI – The Rules Rewritten
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About Jim Hedger
Jim Hedger works with Metamend Search Engine Marketing as a SEO Consultant, lead copywriter and head blog writer. Jim has been involved in the SEO field since the days of the dinosaurs and felt he had lost a personal friend when Disney went "ol' Yeller" on Infoseek. Over the course of his career, Jim has gotten drunk with Jeeves the Butler, tossed sticks to that sock-puppet dog from Pets.com and come out of a staring contest with Googlebot confidently declaring a tie. When not traveling between conferences, Jim lives with a perpetually annoyed cat named Hypertext in the Pacific techno-outport of Victoria British Columbia. WebProNews Writer
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