Monday, July 13, 2009

Interactivity and Video - The Next Frontier.

TV 2.0, interactive video, choose your own adventure. Whatever you want to call it, entertainment is moving toward a much more engaging model.

TV has been a very passive activity - sitting on a couch and being entertained. Video games pushed the couch experience to a much more social level, but has been limited to gamers and youth. Online video has changed how we consume video - smaller bit sized snippets usually referred by friends - but even this is changing with better streaming quality and HD availability.

The Obama inauguration was a pivotal point in pushing how people engaged video - being able to stream something that was typically always in the domain of the big networks and even add interactivity like chat along side. Now Facebook has made their streaming platform publicly available, so anyone can take advantage of this interactive technology. Michael Jackson's memorial service used it, and has launched an application to leverage this as well. (Although with there is little interactivity watching someone sleep).

A new viral campaign has tapped into the idea of 'choose your own adventure' using You Tube in an anti-weapons campaign (sorry, couldn't embed). The result is a very interesting and sticky experience.

Interactive video is the next frontier of entertainment. It won't kill the traditional passive viewing, but there is a huge opportunity to link these various technologies together to create a new experience. Layer in other opportunities like mobile and there is a tri-fecta of new media engagement about to happen.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Latent Impact of Search Marketing on Yahoo

I work with Harmit Kamboe who authored this post and he has some valuable insights on search marketing...

Having worked in search marketing for a few years, I was curious to see if there was an easy way to measure the latent impact (delayed conversion) of search marketing on online sales/consumer actions.

As marketers we sometimes forget that the prospect converts at his/her own convenience and not ours. Sometimes, the prospect may convert right away and sometimes the prospect may convert at a later date.

I was unable to find a rule of thumb on how many conversions may happen on a delayed basis. This is why I was delighted when I had the opportunity to run a campaign on Yahoo for a change instead of Google-only campaigns.

Latent Impact Data Gathering (Google versus Yahoo):
While Google adds back the “delayed” sale into the sales/conversions reported for the day that a user first clicked on to a search ad, I think Yahoo does a smarter job in this respect. Yahoo reports the sale/conversion on the actual day the “delayed” sale occurs. This may well be 3, 4, 5 or even 30 days after the user clicked on a search ad.

In the case of Google, one has to re-run the reports to see how sales/conversions for the previous days/weeks contributed to lowering the earlier recorded Cost per Order. In addition to that, one has to download and store the historical data offline, and then compute the latent impact across several days.

The Yahoo campaign produced some interesting results in comparison to Google.

Overall, the cost per order/conversion was much lower on Google than on Yahoo when the campaigns were live.

Here are some top line stats with respect to the test program that I ran on Yahoo:

Program dates – April 7 to May 1, 2009

  • The first orders on Yahoo came in on April 13 – however, in the case of Google, the first conversions flowed in on day 1.
  • Of all the conversions reported – 69% of the conversions happened during the time frame the campaign was “live”.
  • A respectable 31% of the conversions occurred after the campaign was over. This clearly demonstrates that search marketing has a measurable latent impact on the mind of the prospect. The last sale/conversion came in on June 7, a good 37 days after the campaign was considered over.
  • The Cost Per Order reported after these additional 37 days helped decrease the CPA by 31%. Once I factored this “delayed/latent” Cost/Order, Yahoo as a search marketing channel was not far off from Google as in terms of cost efficiency.

Conclusion & Recommendation:
Search Marketing has become a hostage to its own success. Clients expect a strong positive ROI from the get-go and are unwilling to wait for “all results” to come in. As online marketers too, we must keep coming up with better and more complete ways of measurement.

Based on my experience, in this case, one of the easiest things we should do is to wait before we report the “final” numbers on a campaign.

I am hoping that by sharing this information, fellow online marketing professionals will have a third party stat to convince clients or in house marketers to budget for at least 1 in 3 responses/conversions coming in after the campaign is over and record success accordingly. If anyone has some other similar stats, please share it with us below.

Originally posted on