There’s a scene in Minority Report – the 2002 Spielberg-directed movie – where Tom Cruise sees ads popping up that anticipate his needs.
Jason Aaronson explains in a 2002 ClickZ article:
For those who haven’t seen the movie, the relevant part for this article is the depiction of electronic billboards and displays. Using a retinal scanner, the billboards (such as those on the walls of a subway) call out the name of the passerby. One ad, for American Express, shows the passerby’s name on an American Express card, with the “Member Since” field dynamically updated to reflect that person’s membership. A Guinness ad speaks to Tom Cruise’s character as he walks by, saying, “Hey, John, you look like you could use a Guinness!” The most interesting example, however, is when Cruise’s character walks into a Gap store. The ad welcomes him back and asks if he enjoyed the shirts he had bought previously.
To produce the movie, Spielberg assembled a “think tank” of MIT futurists to imagine what the world would look like in 2054.
Anyone participating in online advertising over the past few years know this isn’t complete fiction – or that farfetched. Our ability to track and tailor advertising has increased dramatically.
For once, the future may be closer than we think.
Personalization and Customization will define upcoming web technology
In his forward-thinking (and practical) book, Marketing in the Moment, Michael Tasner shares that customization is playing an increasing role in personalizing our online experience.
“We are starting to expect our name to appear at the top of websites, and advanced shopping and checkout options that suit our buying habits. As the Web becomes more and more intelligent, personalization will become the norm.”
Facebook, Pandora lead the rise of recommendation engines
Katie referred me to this article from Time that provides a good overview of the science behind recommendations.
The trouble with recommendation engines is that they’re really hard to build. They look simple on the outside — if you liked X, you’ll love Y! — but they’re actually doing something fiendishly complex. They’re processing astounding quantities of data and doing so with seriously high-level math. That’s because they’re attempting to second-guess a mysterious, perverse and profoundly human form of behavior: the personal response to a work of art. They’re trying to reverse-engineer the soul.
We used to learn about new works of art from friends and critics and video-store clerks — from people, in other words. Now we learn about them from software. There’s a new class of tastemakers, and they’re not human.
Personalization and Customization are two separate things
Usability expert Jakob Nielsen describes them as follows:
- Customization is under direct user control: the user explicitly selects between certain options
- Personalization is driven by the computer which serves up individualized pages based on needs
Nielsen calls personalization over-rated. But since his article was written in 1998, I would suggest technology has evolved to a point where this is untrue.
It almost makes advertising unfair…
Or at least until your competitors catch up.
Maybe that has to do with the first-mover advantage, or maybe it’s just a rock-solid advertising tactic. The more targeting options you have, the more relevance you can deliver.
High levels of customization and personalization are enabled by collecting large amounts of data and recording someone’s browsing history. This is a major concern for some, while others don’t give it a second thought.
Wherever you stand on this, privacy will become a key issue to address as these technologies develop.
This is more big-picture, this-is-how-tech-is-evolving stuff than something you can go out and implement today. But I’m certain these trends will play an increasing role as months go by.
I’ll be keeping a very close watch for how we can be using this to our advantage.
[Important: This is time-sensitive - I can only provide this to the first 10 hotels that apply at the bottom of this post]
I just posted about the future of web ads, and want you to try this for your hotel. You need to see for yourself the revenue that can be made.
Plus, I’d like to create some case studies with some hard, dollars and cents numbers.
Here’s the thing: I’ve already beta-tested some of these techniques with a handful of pilot hotels, and we brought in a lot of money. Now, I’d like to try this with a few more locations. For this experiment:
- I’ll personally handle the entire campaign setup process (research, keywords, ad copywriting, structure, etc)
- I’ll personally manage and monitor the campaign as it runs
- I’ll pay all the click costs to Google
Since I’m going to be trying some experimental tactics, I don’t expect you to pay me up front.
Instead, let’s do this: you just give me a cut of the revenue I bring in. When you get paid, I get paid. Sound fair?
Just a few simple criteria:
- You need to have a coupon code function – or similar field – in your website booking engine to track bookings through this channel
- You need to provide a coupon code for 5%, 10%, or $10 off the lowest available published room rate
- You cannot have an existing Google Adwords campaign running
- You need to be willing for me to use your campaign results as a public case study here on the blog
All clear? Apply now…
The first 10 hotels that apply below will get this free Google campaign setup.
If you meet the criteria above, and want to give this a try, please enter your details here…and we can discuss:
Peter, a hospitality professor in Berlin, asked me this question the other day:
I realize this is not your field, but you did suggest that the Twitter policy on advertising might influence advertising in general, and with its requirement of resonance as measured by re-tweets or favouriting, Twitter is insisting on interaction with an ad in a way that FIFA sponsors, for example, with their names on cans and T-shirts, do not provide.
I just wondered if the general consumer is maturing beyond the brand name itself and now increasingly requires a relationship with a product or service which makes FIFA-style advertising less profitable, and whether this has been measured.
Have traditional banner ads become less effective over time? Is more interaction now required?
Of course, banner ads are one of the most basic forms of advertising on the Internet, with a history going back to the 1980s when Prodigy used banners to promote Sears products. It makes sense to think considering how much the Web has changed over the past 10 years, traditional banner ads have been decreasing in effectiveness. (Which is the topic of this controversial 2009 TechCrunch article by Eric Clemons)
I’m sure there’s some research out there on the aggregate effectiveness of banner advertising, but I’m more interested in the practical ways you can increase performance from your advertising.
Google’s Display Network
In tests I’ve run for my client partners, we’re seeing strong sales performance from even the most basic of banner ads. I’ll be testing this with other images and improved landing pages over time, but based on the initial results, this seems to be an opportunity right now.
Another opportunity might be Facebook banners — though the advertising model here is a little different than Google. Using eye-catching images on this platform seems to be a critical success factor (duh). It’s difficult, if not impossible, to compare metrics from AdWords to Facebook. But at the end of the day – depending on your offering – you may find better returns on Facebook.
Google does allow some demographics targeting, but Facebook is even more about the ‘who’ (rather than the ‘what’ of search-based Google queries).
So, are banner ads dead?
No, I don’t think so. But as in all online marketing, publishers have to become a little smarter and look for methods to deliver display advertising only to the people they’re trying to reach. Now more than ever, untargeted advertising will fail.
3 success factors of any online promotion
- getting the right message
- …in front of the right people
- …at the right time.
Do you do any banner ad or display advertising online? If so, where — and what have the results been?
If someone leaves your website, don’t you wish there was an easy way to bring them back? Well now there is – with Google Remarketing.
What is Remarketing?
Remarketing allows you to show custom ads to people who have visited your website in the past. Your site visitors would see these ads served on Google’s content network of websites, which reach about 80% of the online audience. (Including CNN.com, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, About, etc)
Here’s a good video overview from Google (they even use hotels in their example):
How can it help my hotel?
People visiting your site for the first time may not always make a booking, so the ability to reach out to these people again with an targeted offer can be powerful. Especially when you create unique messages for different audiences who:
- Did not make a reservation
- Completed a booking
- Read your blog
- Signed up for your email offers
- Viewed your special offers page
Each of the above groups could be presented with a separate offer. It brings some of the laser-targeted precision PPC is known for to the huge network of Google advertising partners.
Plus, showing the same ads to people as they move from site to site can give the impression you’re advertising everywhere.
How to setup Google Remarketing
Here’s a good video overview:
And some good tutorials:
- Everything you need to know about Google Adwords Remarketing by Portent Interactive
- Everybody deserves a second chance: using Remarketing to reach abandoned shoppers by Search Engine Land
- Google AdWords Remarketing Campaigns: See how we set up our own campaigns by bg Theory
If you need help setting up Google’s remarketing for your hotel, send me a message here.
For a free report on how to optimize your hotel’s PPC campaign, visit Pro Adwords Management.
In the latest issue of The Economist, you’ll see this ad from The Broadmoor in Colorado:
They guarantee “an exceptional meeting or it’s free.”
What do you guarantee?
Twitter has finally begun to gradually introduce an advertising platform - Promoted Tweets – allowing businesses to publish promotional tweets. Since Twitter has revolutionized how we communicate online, it only makes sense their advertising program is a little different.
What do hotels need to know about Promoted Tweets?
There are 3 core principles of the program:
- Twitter will insert the ads into the Twitter stream, clearly label them as promotions, and give them all the functionality of standard tweets
- Ads are confined to the standard Twitter character limit (140 characters)
- Promoted tweets that aren’t attracting attention are to be pulled out by Twitter.
I listened to a number of insiders here at ad:tech San Francisco, and some of the key points that are emerging…
It works best if you’re already doing well in Twitter
Twitter CEO Evan Williams:
[Twitter ads] will definitely work best for companies who Twitter works well for generally
In other words, if you don’t adopt the mindset of being interesting and useful, you can’t simply buy your way into the Twitter community.
Relevance is key for success
Relevance is the big issue when it comes to Twitter advertising. Advertisers will bid on keywords based on a CPM basis initially, but Twitter intends to use a “resonance score” metric to see how much reach and impact individually sponsored tweets have. User interaction with ads will determine the price and longevity of specific ads.
On the Twitter blog, Biz Stone says if your message doesn’t connect with your audience, you’ll be removed:
There is one big difference between a Promoted Tweet and a regular Tweet. Promoted Tweets must meet a higher bar—they must resonate with users. That means if users don’t interact with a Promoted Tweet to allow us to know that the Promoted Tweet is resonating with them, such as replying to it, favoriting it, or Retweeting it, the Promoted Tweet will disappear.
Relevance – as measured by audience interaction – was core to the success of Google’s advertising model. Twitter’s development of the Promoted Tweets program seems to be the next step in the online advertising evolution. I see a strong chance for it to influence other advertising platforms.
Ads will begin in search results
ReadWriteWeb calls the scheme “delightfully boring“:
Advertisements will begin in search, with keywords being bid on and a single advertisement appearing with frequency dependent on its performance. Then the ads will be extended to 3rd party applications like TweetDeck and others…Finally, ads will begin to appear on Twitter.com, tailored to the interests of users, as easily observed by their messages published and received.
The benefit of Twitter advertising
The ads could become a good way to maintain visibility for important keywords (searches) if the stream is “polluted” with a lot of noise.
For example, many “hotel” related Twitter search queries are full of chatter useless to someone looking for (or working with) a hotel. Sponsoring a tweet that sits on top of this chatter stream could significantly raise your visibility and prevent it from being ‘drowned’ in other tweets.
Messages are currently limited to a small group of test marketers, including Red Bull, Starbucks, Virgin America. (All strong Twitter users already) Expansion of the platform depends how users will react to the Promoted Tweets platform.
Twitter hopes to eventually insert advertisers into the timelines of messages that users see from people they network with – when the message seems appropriate.
Key point to remember
Promoted Tweets values personal interaction. Advertising isn’t enough. You’ll have to focus on creating quality content that your fans love.
Dallas Lawrence says this well in his Mashable article:
During the past year, Twitter has trained successful online brand marketers, reputation managers, and digital thought leaders to focus on the “value of providing value.” Unlike almost any platform to date, Twitter has urged, nudged and down-right forced messengers to infuse value into the dialogue, 140 characters at a time. With Twitter now offering an expanded road map for pay-for-play engagement, those entrusted with managing online reputations forget these lessons at their own peril.
Hyatt Regency San Francisco has a great location near the Embarcadero/Ferry Terminal area. The area gets lots of foot traffic, and I think they’re doing a great job with this display advertising:
Why am I not seeing more of this? Is it a zoning issue – or do hotels just hate using their building as a billboard?
If you have a great downtown location with lots of passersby, you should be taking advantage of it.
Last week, I was introduced to Jody Merl, and her company, Innovative Travel Marketing. I found her business model intriguing – something that could benefit a lot of people right now.
Josiah: Can you explain your barter concept a bit – what does Innovative Travel Marketing do?
Jody: Innovative Travel Marketing uses barter as the financial tool to bring added value to your marketing buy. As a strategic media buying and planning company, we barter with the media and hotels.Whether it’s radio, television, outdoor companies, trade magazines or consumer magazines, ITM trades with them, and that’s a benefit for the media. It’s very hard for one hotel to go to XYZ publication and say “I want free full page ads” because that publication may have no need for that hotel.
Our company acts as a fulfillment house to the media if they want hotel rooms anywhere in the country or printing done for their magazine. They may want help to close the deal. So we provide all the different merchandise, media and travel services to our media clients.
These deals are initiated by ITM reaching out to the hotels because we know where we actually need the inventory. Having done this for so many years, we know that we use millions of dollars of hotel rooms in major markets.
90% of our business is repeat business and word-of-mouth-business where hotels come to us to do a barter deal and have us help them buy media. But on the flip-side we also reach out to new hotels that are opening where we know we need that inventory.
How do you make money arranging these deals?
We’re also a media buying company. We do buying for our customers and provide hotel inventory to the corporate barter community. We make money between the cost of our services versus how we trade the hotel credit. We don’t charge any fees upfront, it’s really on the end of the trade.
How do you establish deal values for both parties?
The hotel value has to be the prevailing rate they’re selling rooms for online. It can also be established on an average daily rate.
With media it depends on the different types of media – whether it’s air time, what segment of the market, so we negotiate media rates that lets everyone gets a full value.
The media is negotiated and the hotels are getting a great deal because hotel rooms that are utilized are given more value than empty rooms. And the hotel benefits from future business. It’s a win/win for everyone.
When I speak to hotel clients, they’re thrilled with the business we direct to them because it’s not just a room that is given away or discounted so much online. They’re getting an end user. On the media side, the media representatives love the clients that we put in the magazines or on the air because they can show the placements to others. It’s a great sales tool for them.
Ever since reading Seth Godin’s book (has it been 10 years already?!), Permission Marketing has been the cornerstone of all marketing I’ve tried to do since.
Creating an environment where people request information from you sets the stage for them to be much more receptive to your messages, and is much more in line with the ethic of the web.
Now, due to a combination of government legislation and our own performance testing, most of us plan our campaigns around this concept.
But I think the big thing we need to realize is that permission isn’t forever.
We need to understand that there will be a point in time when the permission we’ve received ends.
- Maybe the person already received the information they needed from us.
- Maybe we’re not providing the information that person was originally looking for.
- Maybe that person is simply no longer in the market for what we have to sell.
Instead of fighting this, embrace it. Move forward with building your audience of people who do want to hear what you have to say. Let the others go.
Permission must be continually earned. Strive to constantly provide value in order to keep attention.