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Social advertising

Google’s foray into Pay-Per-Action advertising got a lot of play this week, including from me. But late last week, I noticed a smaller player with an even more interesting twist on Web advertising. It made me start to wonder about all the different models and where they are going.


When Web advertising first started, you mostly saw fixed placement where you negotiate for a banner ad in a particular place on a specific page, paying for a time period (such as one month) just like a billboard. Fixed placement is not the way a rookie marketer should break in—you need to know what you are doing before you negotiate a long-term, hard-to-change commitment. But that was the only game in town.
Then rotating banner ads and keyword-based advertising emerged, starting with the per-impression model, where you pay for each time the ad is shown, just like a magazine. Usually referred to as CPM (cost per thousand—“M” is the Roman numeral for one thousand), you pay each time your ad is displayed on the screen, whether its clicked or not.
Then the world changed with the per-click model. Although pioneered by Goto.com (later renamed Overture and swallowed up by Yahoo!), it’s often called CPC (cost per click) or PPC (pay-per-click). It just means that each time someone clicks on your advertisement, you’re charged a fee. The original PPC systems ranked each ad by its pay-click bid, but Google introduced the idea that click rates and other factors should also influence the rankings, which now all major PPC providers have emulated.
Shopping search engines, Snap.com and a few other pioneers quietly introduced per-action pricing, but now that Google announced its beta program this week, the industry is paying attention. Often called CPA (cost per action) or PPA (pay-per-action) you pay only when the customer takes “action”—typically a purchase of your product. This is no different from the way affiliates get paid, but we never really thought of affiliate marketing as advertising—it seemed different. Well, maybe it isn’t.
Are SquidOffers social advertising?But here’s something that is different. Squidoo has announced a twist on the venerable old fixed placement advertising. Pay Squidoo for a month to put an offer out there—so far this is merely time-honored fixed placement—with a twist. SquidOffers allows surfers to vote for the best offers, which then rank higher. (Is this social advertising?)
Seth Godin explains how he expects SquidOffers to be used, and I wonder if this is the same kind of tweak on fixed placement that Google’s click rate insight was on per-click advertising. I doubt it will turn out to be as important a tweak, but it is an interesting way to bring social interaction into advertising.
The more people do with social media, the more it seems can be done. The defining difference of the Web has always been the links. Web 2.0 is now causing the content to change based on participation. The content connections are no longer more important than the people connections.
I’ve always been a huge proponent of measuring the success of your site, and for adapting to what customers do, and for calculating the value of your customers. Given an ever increasing array of advertising choices, it’s getting to the point where you can’t really operate unless you do these things. A few years ago I thought the Internet allowed you to optimize your business based on metrics—now I think it forces you to.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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