Monthly Archives: July 2020

OnePlus Nord Review: An Affordable Phone with 6 Good Cameras

July 27, 2020 No Comments

OnePlus’ new phone, the Nord, isn’t available in the US at the moment, but its value is hard to beat. You get a 90-Hz screen, a big battery, great performance, and 5G for 399 euros.
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Helping Startups Succeed When VC Funding Slows Down

July 27, 2020 No Comments

It’s becoming quite apparent that the Startup world is experiencing a slowdown and there appears to be no quick-end in site, unless you scrap everything your doing and start over. According to many articles from very reputable news sites around the web, the common issue at hand is the lack of funding coming from Venture Capital Firms. In addition, due to this shift in funding, Startups are now forced to change their thinking on how to grow their business on a shoe-string budget. In this post, I will discuss the importance of hiring a digital marketing firm that can not only get their business off the ground, but also do it without relying on the stress of getting additional funding to keep the doors open for another month.

Why is Venture Capital Slowing Down?

Across the major news sites and tech blogs, there has been a slew of articles discussing the apparent slowdown of Venture Capital funding across the globe (not just in the USA). According to the Forbes article entitled Tech CEO Shares Difficulties of Raising Venture Capital in a Down Market, the authors Samantha Walravens & Heather Cabot of GeekGirlRising stated “According to a 2016 report from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association, funding in Silicon Valley startups fell 19.5% in the first quarter of 2016 compared to a year earlier, and is down 10% for seed stage companies in the first quarter 2016, amidst fears over the global economy and the run-up in startups’ valuations.

To reinforce this trend, another article from Bloomberg.com, entitled “Is There a Slowdown in Venture Capital?” Phil Libin goes on to say that the reason for the pause and/or decline in Venture Capital funding is due to the current lack of interest of those “Me Too Businesses” that once thrived with the evolution of  smartphones and social media. However, he does go on to say that right now is a great time for startups that can offer something new and original. See the video below for the interview (courtesy of Blooomberg.com)

Is Online Finally Catching up to Traditional Media?

In another yet predictable twist, it appears Social Media has finally started to crack that old TV Advertising Egg and is creeping its way deeper into the annual $ 70+  Billion Dollar TV Ad Budget. According to the AdAge.com article “TV Budgets Shifting to Social? Yes, It’s Time to Worryauthor
Debra Aho Williamson states “… eMarketer believes the conversation about social and TV will change. For buyers who want the best way to reach their audience, the growing video businesses of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat now present a viable alternative to TV.

Williamson also goes on to say that even though this shift sounds monumental, the actual amount of Ad dollars from TV to social is very small. On the other hand, she believes that this trend can very easily become a real “game changer” in the near future. So, with the potential of more advertising dollars making their way to the online marketing world, Startups are going to have to rely more on Digital Agencies to promote their product/service.

Getting Big Agency Results on a Shoe-String Budget

Since VCs and Investors are only interested in funding companies that offer something new, exciting and most importantly different, what does that mean for those “me too businesses”? Due to this natural shift in the business ecosystem, Startups need to find a more affordable way to launch their “baby” to the world without going bankrupt in the process. To help with this scenario, startups need to find a reliable Digital Agency that can jump right in and “move the needle”. This agency would need to provide guidance and help build the foundation needed to compete in this highly competitive online space. Here’s a recent article entitled “What Every Startup Needs to Know Before Choosing a Digital Agency” which can help highlight other services that Startups can benefit from.

Here is a brief outline of the services that startups need to remain competitive

digital agency services

In Conclusion:

Many Startups, especially Early-Stage Startups, operate on very small Ad budgets and are often second guessing themselves on where they can get the “best bang for their buck” with regard to online advertising. Based on the trends mentioned in this article about  the decline in VC funding Social media getting more of the overall Ad budgets, it’s pretty clear that Startups need to focus on finding an affordable digital agency that treats them like a partner and not another typical client.

Digital Marketing Agency | Google Ads Consultant

What Google says about nofollow, sponsored, and UGC links in 2020: Does it affect your SEO rankings?

July 26, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • While nofollow links solely dominated the web for 14 years, Google recently announced two new additions: sponsored and UGC links.  
  • Shortly afterward, Google made further amendments to all three links. 
  • This article breaks down where things currently stand.  
  • Joseph Dyson discusses whether the new link attributes impact rankings and concludes with suggestions on how businesses can improve online visibility.  

Whether you’re an SEO newbie or a seasoned pro, we’re sure you’re familiar with the cardinal rule of the game: evolution.  

Stagnancy isn’t a common sight in the digital marketing world 

Google is constantly releasing new updates as it moves toward more seamless and accurate crawling, indexing, and ranking.  

On September 10th 2019, Google set the bar higher than before by adding two new attributes alongside the preexisting “nofollow” attribute, which had been in place for over 14 years.  

Before we get to the new additions, let’s break down the original nofollow attribute as a quick refresher.  

What’s a nofollow link? 

A nofollow link is a hyperlink with a rel=“nofollow” tag.  

What does this mean? To put it as simply as possible, the nofollow tag signals search engines to ignore a link. The destination URL doesn’t get a boost in search engine rankings, as nofollow links don’t pass PageRank (an algorithm that helps Google rank web pages on SERPs).  

When it comes to link building, receiving a nofollow backlink can be a bummer, as your rankings are left in a state of limbo. While web users are redirected to your website, the domain that offers you the link simultaneously informs Google to not send any “link juice” your way.  

However, nofollow links still have hidden perks. They drive traffic (despite leaving rankings untouched), increase brand awareness, and help leads discover and familiarize themselves with your business.  

But wait, why are nofollow links used in the first place?  

Google originally announced the concept of nofollow links in 2005 to fight comment spam. They were quickly embraced by the SEO world and are frequently used to avoid breaking SEO rules set by Google.  

Links that added value to content but couldn’t be vouched for were categorized as nofollow links. In addition, paid links also included the nofollow link attribute. This announcement played a big role in preventing businesses from buying link juice.  

But what changed?  

While nofollow links had been extremely effective thus far, they were an oversimplified solution to a complex problem. Instead of taking subjective intent for including hyperlinks into account, they offered a cleanly demarcated black and white scenario that proved to be a nuisance for many businesses.  

The only two options were nofollow links or dofollow links, the latter being the default for all hyperlinks. 

The introduction of sponsored and UGC links

In 2019, Google announced two major additions to standard nofollow links: sponsored links and UGC links. 

Marketers heaved a major sigh of relief in the announcement’s wake, as they could now use the two new attributes to help Google better understand the link’s intent and use.  

But that wasn’t all. In March 2020, Google made further amendments to its previous announcement.  

Here’s where things currently stand: 

Sponsored links

According to Google’s latest update, the sponsored attribute (rel=“sponsored”) is specifically used for hyperlinks that are promotional in nature.  

Prior to their creation, paid links were categorized as nofollow links, which proved to be extremely misleading. The new sponsored attribute helps Google identify advertising links separately.  

The benefit? Enhanced categorization and less confusion. Link receivers and providers can easily decipher sponsored links from “untrustworthy” nofollow links. 

UGC links

The UGC (user-generated content) attribute was created to help Google determine which links are, as the acronym indicates, generated by users.  

This was a lifesaver (we’re not exaggerating) for webmasters who had been struggling to indicate that specific hyperlinks were not endorsed.  

The UGC attribute is used to link to sections of websites where users generate their own content, e.g. comment sections, forums posts, etc. 

Nofollow links

Google’s latest announcement took the weight off nofollow links—quite literally.  

Previously, the nofollow tag was used for both paid and user-generated links. However, the new categories (“sponsored links” and “UGC links”) made things much simpler by placing paid and user-generated content in different categories.  

The nofollow tag is now solely used for non-trusted links.  

While nofollow links were not used for crawling and indexing before, Google’s 2020 update indicated that they would be used as a “hint” for crawling and indexing. While people quickly began to consider this a win for ranking purposes, the picture wasn’t as rosy as it was made out to be.  

Currently, each of the three links (nollow, sponsored, and UGC) is used as a mere hint, not a direct ranking factor. While they may be crawled, they will not substantially impact rankings. 

Which link attribute should you use?

While adding more options should ideally make things simpler, it can backfire if you’re not sure about proper attribution.  

Here’s how webmasters should use the new attributes: 

1. rel=“sponsored”

Use the sponsored attribute strictly for paid or sponsored links. While affiliate links are also considered sponsored links, Google hasn’t directly made that clear yet. 

2. rel=“ugc” 

Use the UGC attribute for all user-generated content.  

3. rel=“nofollow” 

Use the nofollow attribute if you want to link to a specific page but don’t want to be associated with it for any reason (unreliability, incredibility, untrustworthiness, unfamiliarity). 

The nofollow tag will indicate that you don’t endorse a particular link and would not like to offer them ranking credit.  

How should you boost your rankings? 

While using these tags is a great way to assiduously categorize your content, it’s not a big win for your rankings… or your link building partners.  

Granted, you may notice a slight boost. However, it’ll be negligible at best.  

Google’s public search liaison, Danny Sullivan, encapsulated this perfectly: 

Nofollow UGC sponsored links does it affect SEO

While the latest update came much later in 2020, it was already being actively discussed in 2019. Sullivan was quick to dismiss claims that rankings would go through the roof once the new “hint” model was released.  

While all those nofollow links you’ve collected over the years will still help you generate traffic, you’ll ultimately have to turn to other strategies to notice a substantial boost in rankings 

Here are some effective ways you can climb SERPs: 

Maximize outcomes from link building

Link building is easily the most fast-acting and sustainable way to improve rankings. In short, link building involves receiving dofollow backlinks from websites with high domain authority (a score that determines a website’s ranking on SERPs).  

As you build quality backlinks, Google will perceive your website as an authoritative and trustworthy source. In fact, Google uses the quality and quantity of backlinks to rank websites on SERPs. The boost in rankings will help you increase conversions and improve brand identity 

It’s important to note that your backlinks should come from a website with good to high domain authority. The higher, the better; however, 50–60 is a good starting point for small businesses.  

In addition, make sure you receive dofollow backlinks as opposed to nofollow backlinks. As discussed before, the latter will help you generate traffic. However, your rankings will remain in a state of limbo for the most part (refer to Danny Sullivan’s tweet if the blind optimism kicks in!).  

Recommended link building strategies

If you’re new to the realm of link building, we recommend using these strategies: 

  • Leverage the broken link building method 
  • Build strong connections with non-competing businesses to offer and receive links 
  • Incorporate more internal links in your content  
  • Try your hand at guest blogging 
  • List your site in reliable directories 
  • Convert nofollow backlinks into dofollow backlinks by contacting the respective business  

Create a mobile-friendly website 

Google recently announced mobile-first indexing, which means that Googlebot will be using the mobile version of a page for ranking purposes first. While this may come as a surprise to some people, we’re sure most of you are nodding your head “matter-of-factly”.  

The large majority of Americans (a whopping 96%) own a cellphone. If you’ve created a stunning and interactive desktop-friendly website but haven’t been prioritizing mobile-friendliness, you may be inadvertently damaging your rankings.  

Take Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to determine your website’s accessibility for mobile phone users.  

If you don’t like what you see, your customers probably won’t either.  

Climb SERPs by creating an eye-catching and seamless mobile-friendly website that helps you generate quality traffic and grow your business.  

When combined with link building, mobile-friendliness can go a long way in helping your business become more visible on search engines and break into the Google three-pack 

Create, update, and optimize your content 

While you may have checked off all the boxes, leaving the content section untouched can take a toll on your business.  

Opting for web design and development isn’t enough. If you don’t create, update, and optimize your content, you’ll fall behind and get engulfed by your competition.  

Create value-added and engaging content to make sure your website actively circulates SERPs.  

And that’s not all

We suggest updating old content on a monthly basis in light of new updates and announcements by Google. As we highlighted before, Google is constantly upping its game. Keep up with ranking factors and algorithm amendments to ensure you’re covering all the bases.  

And, of course, don’t forget to optimize your content.

Get in touch with keyword specialists to master keyword research and incorporation. Use the right mix of short-tail, long-tail, geo-targeting, and LSI keywords to help your business become a frequent sight on the first page of Google for industry-specific and local searches.  

According to research, over five million blog posts are published each day.  

How do you make your content stand out? While keywords help, they’re not the be-all and end-all of optimization. In addition, use title tags, meta description tags, header tags, customized URLs, and canonical tags to master the art of on-page SEO. We don’t need to say much; your rankings will be all the proof you need! 


As the SEO world becomes increasingly competitive each day, claiming your spot simply isn’t enough. You have to go the extra mile to preserve it.  

Whether you’re creating optimized content or leveraging link building, ensure consistency to retain online visibility and SERP rankings.  

Keep at it and you’ll manage to not only achieve but also maintain your target KPIs over time.

Joseph Dyson is a Senior Account Manager at Search Berg with extensive experience in lead generation and digital marketing. He offers link building services and frequently contributes to the Search Berg blog with marketing tips and insights.

The post What Google says about nofollow, sponsored, and UGC links in 2020: Does it affect your SEO rankings? appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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How To Increase Facebook Traffic Without Sacrificing Revenue

July 25, 2020 No Comments

Here are simple actions that boost your Facebook campaign traffic without throwing tons of extra budget at the campaign or sacrificing efficiency.

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero

TikTok unveils $200 million fund for U.S. creators

July 25, 2020 No Comments

TikTok today announced a $ 200 million fund, aimed at helping top creators in the U.S. supplement their earnings, and potentially coax the next Charli D’Amelio out of the woodwork.

Called the TikTok Creator Fund, the money is aimed at helping “eligible” creators on the platform earn a livelihood, it said. Eligible for now is defined as 18 years or older, meeting a certain (unspecified) baseline for followers, and consistently posting original content that is in line with TikTok’s community guidelines. The platform will begin accepting applications from U.S.-based creators starting next month and distribute the capital over the coming year.

The promise of payouts is coming at a key moment for the app and its Chinese parent ByteDance . TikTok has been facing mounting criticism in the US, its biggest market by revenues, over how it handles user data and its ties to China, with calls from the Trump administration to ban the popular app outright.

And in response to that, TikTok has been making moves to present a more friendly face to the US. It has pledged to add 10,000 more staff in the US, and this week rumors began to circulate that investors in the US are considering buying a majority stake in the TikTok business back from ByteDance to establish control of the company out of China’s hands.

(It’s not clear if the latter is testing the waters of sentiment, or just an outright rumour, but as an aside to that, these days, ByteDance and TikTok try to go to great lengths to show they are not connected, if you go by how they handle their PR: Chinese spokespeople will not answer TikTok questions and refer journalists to the US team.)

Vanessa Pappas, GM of TikTok’s U.S. business, said in a blog post that ByteDance is starting the Creator Fund at $ 200 million and plans to increase it over time. She did not disclose how TikTok would decide what sum would be paid to an individual creator, and whether there would be any additional conditions to getting a payout. (We have asked about this and how many followers creators might need to have to be eligible, and will update as we learn more.)

TikTok already helps its creators sign brand partnerships and sponsorship deals, and it provides monetization for live-streams. The platform also has a $ 50 million Creative Learning Fund to introduce teachers to the platform, which has been used by some 1,000 teachers in the U.S. already. And a Creator Marketplace connects brands to creators to collaborate on paid campaigns.

“Through the TikTok Creator Fund, our creators will be able to realize additional earnings that reflect the time, care, and dedication they put into creatively connecting with an audience that’s inspired by their ideas,” she said.

TikTok currently employs about 1,400 people in the U.S. and recently crossed the milestone of 2 billion installs globally. Last year, it said it had 26 million users in the U.S.

Several lawmakers including Senators Chuck Schumer and Tom Cotton have expressed concerns in recent months that TikTok’s user data could end up with the Chinese government. China-headquartered ByteDance insists that it does not share any user’s data with the Chinese government, and that it stores its U.S.-based user data in the U.S. and Singapore. Earlier this week House lawmakers voted 336-71 to bar federal employees from using TikTok on government-issued devices.

TikTok, which appointed Disney streaming executive Kevin Mayer as its chief executive officer in May this year, also insists that it is a Cayman Islands incorporated firm.

For now, it seems that the programs that TikTok is launching are squarely aimed at fighting that fire in the US. It did not respond to a request for comment asking what it was doing to help creators in other markets supplement their earnings.

India, where TikTok has more than 200 million users and over 1 million creators, banned TikTok and 58 other apps developed by Chinese firms late last month over cybersecurity concerns. Its neighboring nation Pakistan issued a “final warning” to TikTok earlier this week over what it deemed “immoral, obscene, and vulgar content.”

Social – TechCrunch

AI Helped Uncover Chinese Boats Hiding in North Korean Waters

July 25, 2020 No Comments

A combination of technologies helped scientists discover a potentially illegal fishing operation involving more than 900 vessels.
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Seven brand health metrics and how to measure them

July 24, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Brand health is an umbrella term for metrics that shows you how well your brand is doing.
  • These metrics include – Net promoter score, share of voice, brand reputation, unprompted brand recall, prompted brand recall, purchase intent, and brand equity.
  • Founder and CMO at SEO PowerSuite and Awario, Aleh Barysevich, walks you through the calculations for each of the metrics.
  • There are three common ways to measure brand health – focus groups, questionnaires, and social listening tools.

Brand health is a collection of metrics that shows how much your branding contributes to achieving your goals. It applies equally to multinational corporations and tiny new Instagram businesses: no matter the size of your company, your clients are either affected by your branding, or they aren’t, or they are affected to some extent. Knowing the details of your brand health will help you see the strengths and weaknesses of your branding, and help you decide on the future actions regarding it.

In this article, we’ll go through the metrics that determine brand health.

Each of the metrics is important in its own way and reveals a different aspect of brand health. It may be that your brand awareness is superb, but the purchase intent is suffering. It might be that your customers love your brand, but the overall brand reputation is not that good (perhaps, there was a reputation crisis some time ago). Unless you look at each metric closely and calculate the numbers behind the vague concepts such as “brand awareness” and “brand reputation”, you’ll never know what’s hurting and what’s benefiting your sales when it comes to branding.

So let’s dive into calculations.

1. Net promoter score (NPS)

Net Promoter Score is calculated based on your customers’ responses to the following question:

How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?

The scoring is most often based on a 0 to 10 scale. The responders are then grouped into three categories:

  • Promoters (score 9-10) are loyal customers that spread the word about your brand.
  • Passives (score 7-8) are satisfied customers that don’t promote your brand and are vulnerable to competitive offerings.
  • Detractors (score 0-6) are unhappy customers who can damage your brand reputation.

To calculate your NPS, subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters.

The results could be from -100 (if every customer is a “Detractor”) to +100 (if every customer is a “Promoter”), therefore, a positive NPS is considered a good result. However, the score should be 50 and more to clearly show that the word of mouth is working for you.

Companies are also encouraged to ask follow-up questions to reveal the reasons behind the scores they get.

2. Share of voice

One important brand health metric is brand awareness. To know if your branding is working, you have to discover how much people talk about your brand, if at all. However, the number is ambiguous on its own. You might discover that people talk very little about your brand of toilet paper. Is it due to the unpopularity of your brand, or is it because people generally don’t talk about toilet paper? It’s hard to tell. That’s why you need to factor in a share of voice metrics.

Share of voice shows how much your brand is dominating the conversation compared to other brands in your niche.

Brand health metrics share of voice

To calculate the share of voice, all you need is a good social listening tool like Awario or Brandwatch (full disclosure these are my tools). Once you create an alert for your brand and your competitors, a social listening tool will go through conversations on social media networks, news sites, blogs, forums, review sites, and the web and calculate the percentage of conversation that’s dominated by your brand. As the tool will also calculate the percentage of conversation dominated by each of your competitors, you can then dig deeper to analyze what the successful competitors are doing better in terms of branding.

3. Brand reputation

While we’re on the subject of social listening tools, let’s talk about the third most important metric – brand reputation. While it’s important that people talk about the brand and that the customers are satisfied and willing to recommend your product, it’s also vital to know how the audience perceives your brand in general.

In our age of instant information, the news about brands travels fast and far, building the reputation and creating problems that the company could not be aware of.

Social listening tools usually have a built-in feature. To perform sentiment analysis, create an alert for your brand. The tool will analyze band mentions on social media networks, news sites, blogs, forums, review sites, and the web to discover brand sentiment: the percentage of good, bad, and neutral mentions around the brand over time.

Brand health metrics sentiment analysis

You can look at spikes of negative mentions to spot reputation crises (and attend to issues that have caused it), and look through positive mentions to get positive user feedback.

For the overall idea of brand health, you might want to calculate a sentiment score. To do that, exclude neutral mentions altogether, and calculate the percentage of positive mentions.

Alternatively, you can calculate the net sentiment score. Simply exclude neutral mentions and use the formula:

Net Sentiment = (% of Positive Mentions – % of Negative Mentions) / (% of Positive Mentions + % of Negative Mentions).

4. Unprompted brand recall

Unprompted brand recall is a measure of how many people think about your brand when asked to think about your industry.

Unprompted brand recall is a metric that usually works well for the most popular brands. However, it’s worth striving for unprompted brand recall, even if you’re far off at the moment.

To calculate the metric, ask participants the following question:

“Thinking about [industry], what’s the first brand that comes to mind?”

Then sum up all participants who named your brand. Divide this number by the total number of people asked and multiply it by 100 to get a percentage score.

5. Prompted brand recall

While big brands will probably be more successful in the first category, this one gives the opportunity for smaller brands to once again assess their brand awareness and/or purchase intent. It also includes a single question that can change depending on whether you’re interested in further metrics on brand awareness or purchase intent:

Please tick all the [industry] brands that you’ve heard of / Please tick all the [industry] brands you would consider buying [product] from.

Then, you list your brand along with your competitors’ brands and see which ones the participants will pick. A low score on this metric is definitely a bad sign.

6. Purchase intent

Purchase intent shows how likely are people to go from knowing your brand to buying your products. As many other metrics in this article, this one requires a place in a questionnaire.

The calculation is very straightforward, ask participants the following question:

“Based on what you know about [brand], how likely are you to buy from them?”

Measure the results on a Likert scale. Sum up the number of people who answered “very likely” and divide it by the total number of people asked to get a Purchase Intent score.

7. Brand equity

Brand equity is the result of combining two metrics from this list. When looking at the overall brand health, brand equity is something that companies pay the most attention to.

First, you calculate what’s known as Brand Strength. This is a measure that combines the net promoter score and purchase intent.

The formula looks like that:

Brand Strength = (Purchase Intent + NPS) x 100.

The result is then multiplied by the figure of the Unprompted Brand Recall:

Brand Equity = (Brand Strength x Unprompted Recall) x 100.

Organize your results

Use a good old Excel sheet to organize your data. Look at the low numbers and dig deeper into the areas of your branding that are falling behind. Turn to competitor research when you’re out of your own ideas for improvement. Or maybe before you get to that state.


Let’s sum up what you’ll need for measuring brand health metrics.

  1. Focus groups
  2. Questionnaires
  3. A social listening tool

This is a shortlist for measuring something as huge and as important as brand health. Don’t put this off – the sooner you start measuring your results, the sooner you’ll know how to improve your branding and increase sales.

Aleh Barysevich is Founder and CMO at SEO PowerSuite and Awario.

The post Seven brand health metrics and how to measure them appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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What Every Startup Needs to Know Before They Select a PPC Marketing Agency

July 24, 2020 No Comments

As someone who has been fortunate enough to be a part both the Startup and Digital Agency World, it pains me to witness the many recurring mistakes that are happening by bringing these two worlds together. The Agency wants the business and the Startup wants the best and smartest people to “grow their baby”. It all sounds like a “no-brainer’ right? Well, this perfect situation can sometimes be clouded by one of the most bastardized words in the client-agency relationship – Expectations. In this post, I will highlight some of the misconceptions that could, at the very least, help the next Startup as they prepare to show their product/service to the world.

How to Play the Digital Agency Game:

Don’t get me wrong. There are many highly reputable Marketing Agencies in the world that do not fit this description. On the other hand, there are some other Agencies that work on a different playing field that is not financially supportive of Startups. Most agencies take a 15% commission of Ad Spend regardless of performance or the companies financial situation. These agencies often provide a “Production Line” level level of service that question the actual time spend which leads to the overall client performance. Beware of agencies that promise GOLD and deliver pennies.

What Startups really need from an Agency:

  • 100% transparency of where and how their money is being spent.
  • Daily Direct communication with the Strategist/Marketer.
  • Less than 24 hour turn-around times for typical updates.
  • Level of ongoing Education on how the digital advertising world works.

Big Agency Regurgitation

I have witnessed many horror stories over the years from prospects/clients from either a performance or client relationship with a previous agency. The one thing that all of them had in common was the lack of achievable expectations. Situations such as poor communication, lackluster performance and just an overall bad experience have not only left a bitter taste in their mouth but also question the entire agency experience. Moreover, this feeling of being “burned” has motivated their thinking to bring the marketing “in-house” as the only alternative to reaching success. This is not a good thing….

Conference Intoxication

As a big fan of conferences, they often open your eyes to a whole new world of innovation, prosperity and vision for business owners and that’s a great thing. However, it can sometimes backfire to the point of confusion and anxiety of what to focus on first. It is very easy for Entrepreneurs to get “over-excited” about the latest bells and whistles in software, automation and analytics. They are told that once they have these tools in their toolbox, they can turn their business into a fortune 100 company instantly.

Unfortunately, a reality check is needed to bring everyone down from this “high” and re-focus on the core issue at hand which is identifying, engaging and converting with their core audiences within a sensible budget. Remember, investing in Shiny Objects make you vulnerable, not successful.

The Misunderstanding of Monetization

In some instances, both advertisers and agencies, often forget to track every interaction point and that little oversight can be an unfortunate mistake. This assumed “low-hanging” fruit for tracking things other than traditional eCommerce/Lead Gen Forms such as (below) can completely skew overall performance and future optimization which could be devastating to startups as they hunger for continual growth.

  • Contact Forms
  • Email Newsletter Signups
  • Live Chats
  • Phone Calls
  • Pageviews of a particular page can lead to

Mistrust of the Case Study

Case Studies are a great source for understanding the successes of a particular experience that allow the reader to adapt to new ideas and strategies. However, you need to be careful not put to put too much emphasis on the successes of these studies because of the substantiated factors which often lead inaccuracy. Here are some examples:

  • Geography (Some of these studies reference a specific GEO area and not the wider population)
  • Singular view and opinion. Often, these studies are done by a small group of people which may have biased opinions based on data collected.
  • Case Studies are often used as a “Toot your own horn” strategy to generate more business. (Google is pretty good at that)

Don’t Bet the Farm

I can understand the anxieties of Startups where they want to launch their business with a big bang. However, spending too much too fast (especially in the PPC marketing world) can completely ruin their chances for steady sustainable growth. It’s imperative to start testing “right out of the gate” as well as identifying the quick wins and losses. Moreover, you will need to develop strategies to generate relevent traffic and awareness through alternative methods such as Social Media, SEO and quite frankly “word of mouth”. To prove this theory, just a take a look at these screenshots from SpyFu’s Monthly Trend function.

ppc startups

Outside Opinion Overload

Yes, it’s important to get as much feedback as possible when launching a new company. However, getting advice from people who think they know certain aspects of online marketing because they read an article or attended a conference, can be a slippery slope. Taking advice and/or criticism from someone “on the outside” that completely contradicts the vision of both your business partners and hired experts can be harmful to the business. This 3rd party opinion is often made without any understanding of what it takes to implement as well as its expected outcome. Whether it’s strategies about Landing Pages, Brand vs. Non-Brand, or even simple things such as Promotions and Offers can have a negative effect on revenue if not discussed by everyone on the team.

Solution: Soak up all of the feedback you can get, discuss with your team and agree to label these new ideas as “TEST” Campaigns and analyze the heck out of them.

Forecast Projection Failures

How many times have you seen someone simply create excel formulas which magically forecast the future of online marketing revenue based on a single monetary amount. (For example, if we increase our budget from $ 10,000 to $ 100,000 we will generate an additional $ 1 million dollars.) Yeah, I wish that were all true. However, that is not the case. The math may sound great to a Venture Capitalist/Investor, but it’s just not realistic.

  • Take in account the following scenarios:
  • Market Saturation Levels
  • Seasonality Highs/Lows
  • Potential Technical issues
  • Search Engine Algorithm changes
  • Increased Competitor landscape

“Off the Mark” Target Audiences

Hate to say this, but I have witnessed startup companies that thought they new their audiences and it wasn’t until they over-spent their PPC dollars and countless Landing Page A/B test to come to that realization. Selling a product or service requires more than just a few hours of typical market research. When it comes to online marketing, either hire a PPC Consultant or purchase PPC Competitive Research Software such as SpyFu.com to see some of these invaluable competitor information:

  • Monthly Budget Trends
  • PPC and SEO Keywords
  • Top Text Ads
  • Their own PPC and SEO Competitors
  • Review monthly and seasonality trends
  • Compare up to (3) three competitors and see which terms they are all bidding on.

Here’s an example:

PPC Competitive Analysis

In Conclusion

Whether you are building a Startup company or growing an existing one, the agency experience should be a positive one. However, dealing with the “dog eat dog” agency world when it comes to trust, expectations and continual growth is unfortunate and should never happen. I hope this blog post, at the very least, has provided some insight into preventing these situations as well as learning from them. Finding the right agency partner is just as important as finding the right target audience.

Digital Marketing Agency | Google Ads Consultant

After ad revenue drop, Twitter tells investors it’s eyeing subscription options

July 24, 2020 No Comments

After reporting Q2 earnings that showed a marked dip in ad revenue, Twitter has said its exploring alternatives — dangling the possibility of a subscription option.

Earlier today the social media giant reported ad revenues of $ 562M, down almost a quarter (23%) on a year ago — saying that the pandemic and “civil unrest” leading many advertisers to pause campaigns had both contributed to the decline. While the US, its biggest market, saw a drop of 25% in ad spend.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey told investors it’ll likely run subscription “tests” this year (via CNN), though he also said the bar for charging users for aspects of the service would be set “really high”.

So presumably it’s not considering a ‘your first ten tweets are free’ style pay-to-tweet model.

“We want to make sure any new line of revenue is complementary to our advertising business,” CNN reports Dorsey remarking during the investor call. “We do think there is a world where subscription is complementary, where commerce is complementary, where helping people manage paywalls… we think is complementary.”

The prospect of a paid version of Twitter — free from trackers, annoying ads and irritating algorithms which meddle with the clean chronology of the timeline — has been a holy grail for certain Twitter addicts since (basically) forever. So plenty of its most fervent users will be watching keenly to see exactly what Dorsey cooks up.

We’re spitballing here — but perhaps Twitter could charge, er, certain high profile, high risk users billions of dollars per month for the privilege of tweet-threatening the rest of humanity… Just a thought.

Twitter casting around for ad revenue diversification looks interesting in light of broader digital privacy trends that have put the ad tracking industry under increasing (and increasingly awkward) scrutiny.

Certain adtech players and mechanisms are facing challenges under European data protection rules, for instance, while there are also moves afoot in California to further tighten the consumer protections introduced this year, under the Consumer Privacy Act, which could see more US users blocking the tracking industry’s access to their data.

Last week’s massive Twitter security breach also hardly throws a positive light on the company from a privacy perspective. Dorsey addressed the breach in remarks on today’s call, with CNN reporting he apologized to investors — admitting the company “fell behind” on its security obligations.

“We feel terrible about the security incident,” he said. “Security doesn’t have an end point. It’s a constant iteration… We will continue to go above and beyond here as we continue to secure our systems and as we continue to work with external firms and law enforcement.”

Social – TechCrunch

Mobalytics raises $11M and adds eye tracking metrics to its automated gaming coach

July 24, 2020 No Comments

Back in 2016, Mobalytics wowed the judges at Disrupt SF with its data-based coach for the exploding competitive gaming world, winning the Startup Battlefield. The company is building on the success of the past few years with a new funding round and a compelling new collaboration with Tobii that uses eye-tracking to provide powerful insights into gamers’ skills.

Mobalytics began with the idea that, by leveraging the in-game data of a competitive esport like League of Legends (LoL), they could provide objective feedback to players along the lines of how fast or effective they are in different situations. Quantifying things like survivability or teamplay provides an analogue to similar measures in physical sports.

“On an athlete you have all these measurements, like pulse oximeters, ECGs, the 40-yard dash,” said Amine Issa, co-founder and “Warchief of Science.” Not so much with PC games. Their challenge at that time was to take the LoL API provided by Riot and transform it into actionable feedback, which the company’s success in the years since suggests they managed to do.

But Issa had always wanted to use another, more direct and objective measurement of a gamer’s mental processes: eye tracking. And last year they began an internal project to evaluate doing just that, in partnership with eye-tracking hardware maker Tobii.

“If you know where someone is looking, it’s the closest thing to knowing what they’re thinking,” Issa said. “When you combine that with the larger picture you can put together something to help them along. So we spent six months conducting research, taking players of different levels and roles and studying their eye tracking data to find some metrics we could organize the platform around.”

Not surprisingly, there are characteristics of the highly skilled (and practiced) that set them apart, and the team was able to collect them into a set of characteristics that any player can relate to.

Well, the gif compression isn’t so hot, but you get the idea — the purple square indicates attention. Image Credits: Mobalytics

“We had to think about how to build a product that people want to use. One thing we learned after TechCrunch is that even a simple score from 0-100 doesn’t work for everyone. You need to provide the context for that. So with something like eye tracking, you’re getting 30 data points per second — how do you break that down in a way that players understand it?”

Talking to professional gamers and coaches during the study helped them form the main categories that Mobalytics now tracks with the aid of a Tobii device, like information processing, map awareness and tunnel vision.

“It’s important to be able to tell a narrative to people. Say you get ganked a lot,” said Issa, referring to the unfortunate occurrence of being picked off by enemy players while alone. “Why are you getting ganked? If your vision score is high but map awareness is low, that’s one thing. Did you know all the information and go in arrogantly, or were you not aware? League is a very complicated game, so players want to know, in this specific fight, what did I do wrong, and what should I have done instead?”

That second question is a tougher one (though perhaps AI MOBA players may have something to say about it), but the metrics are powerful in and of themselves. “Pros are fascinated by this technology,” Issa said. “There’s a lot of ‘I had no idea’ moments. Coaches have said, these are my fastest players but it’s cool to see that as a quantifiable variable.”

A post-game dashboard lets you know your strengths and weaknesses. Image Credits: Mobalytics

Tobii’s head of gaming, Martin Lindgren, echoed this feeling: “Pro teams aren’t interested in being told what to do. They want the data so they can draw their own conclusions.”

Tobii now has a gaming-focused eye-tracker and integrates with a number of AAA games, like Rise of the Tomb Raider, where it can be used in place of fiddly aiming using the analog sticks. As someone who’s bad at specifically that part of games, this is attractive to me, and Lindgren said opportunities like that are only increasing as gaming companies embrace both accessibility and try to stand out in a crowded market.

The companies have worked together to improve the eye-tracking coaching, for instance lowering the number of games a user must play before the system can accurately track their in-game actions; Lindgren said the collaboration with Mobalytics is ongoing — “definitely a long-term partnership” — in fact Tobii’s relationship with the founders predates their startup.

Image Credits: Tobii

The ultimate goal of Mobalytics is to have a gaming assistant that adapts itself to your playing and preferences, making intelligent suggestions to improve your skills. That’s a ways off, but the company is getting the hang of it. Its first product, the LoL assistant, took a year to build, Issa said. A more recent one, for Legends of Runeterra, took three months. Teamfight Tactics took three weeks.

Admittedly it was more difficult to design one for Valorant, which, being a first-person shooter, is wildly different from the other games — but now that it’s done, a lot of that work could be applied to an assistant for Counter-Strike or Overwatch.

Expansion to other games and genres is the reason for raising an $ 11 million Series A, led by Almaz Capital and Cabra VC, with HP Tech Ventures, General Catalyst, GGV Capital, RRE Ventures, Axiomatic and T1 Esports participating.

“It was a very different experience from the post-TechCrunch one, where you’re in the spotlight and everyone’s throwing money your way,” said Issa. “But we’ve built a successful product on LoL, expanded to four games, today we have more than seven million monthly active users… Our plan is to double down on what’s worked for us and create the ultimate gaming companion.”

Gadgets – TechCrunch